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A Song Of Ice And Fire: Tropes J to R
This page covers tropes found in A Song of Ice and Fire.

Tropes A to I | Tropes J To R | Tropes S to Z | YMMV


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     J 
  • The Jester: Several fools appear at various courts
    • Patchface is a trained jester and former slave who was purchased by the Baratheons and survived a shipwreck on his way to Storm's End. He's lost all of his jester abilities, but shows signs of being a Mad Oracle. Only Shireen tolerates his company. Melisandre states that Patchface is a very dangerous man and sees death around him in her visions.
    • Sansa saves The Alcoholic Ser Dontos from Joffrey's wrath by persuading him it would be more humiliating to make the man a fool. For a long time she considers him her only friend in the city, comparing him to the fairytale jester/knight Florian the Fool. However, he's eventually revealed to have been co-opted as an agent of Littlefinger.
    • Butterbumps is a singing, acrofatic fool for the Tyrells.
    • Moon Boy serves at the Red Keep and can walk on stilts. He's also on Varys' payroll.
    • The Monster Clown Shagwell dresses like a jester and cracks jokes while braining you with a three-headed morningstar.
    • Walder Frey has his mentally retarded grandson Aegon serve as a jester, including wearing the requisite hat. As a result, Aegon is generally referred to as Jinglebell.
    • Dolorous Edd is a very jester-like character, always snarking under the guise of being The Eeyore, and like a jester, he's able to get away with making those comments to a higher up (in this case the Lord Commander) in a way that others aren't.
  • Jigsaw Puzzle Plot
  • Join or Die:
    • The wildlings give this offer to Jon Snow when he and his partner Qhorin Halfhand are captured. However, to make sure he's truly switched sides, they also force him to kill Qhorin. Since Qhorin knows a man of his infamy wouldn't last long as their captive anyway, he goes along with it to give Jon a good cover to be a mole among them.
    • One of the recruitment methods of the Night's Watch, even those condemned to die may save their lives by choosing the Wall over the headsman.
  • Jumped at the Call: Marwyn the Mage. Sam has barely finished giving him Aemon's message about Daenerys' dragons before he's started throwing together the stuff he'll need for the journey.
  • Just Like Robin Hood:
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners starts out as this, with some pretty clear expies of the Merry Men (including a revered leader Shrouded in Myth, an alcoholic Badass Preacher, The Big Guy, the Archer Archetype, and The Bard). After a change in leadership, the group increasingly become Knight Templars, changing its goal from protecting and aiding the victims of war crimes to hanging war criminals, people suspected of being war criminals, and relatives of war criminals.
    • The Kingswood Brotherhood, which existed in the recent past, was another band of merry outlaws, whose specialty was kidnapping nobles and holding them for ransom. Their leader, Simon Toyne, was a fallen nobleman, and at least once did a very Robin Hood-like act of participating in a tourney in disguise. Initially, the Kingswood Brotherhood were considered defenders by smallfolk, and were shielded from capture so long as this lasted.

    K 
  • Kangaroo Court: Tyrion's trial for the death of Joffrey.
  • Karmic Death: Due to the high attrition rate of characters, many villains get their just desserts. A few are intentionally karmic in their execution:
    • Gregor Clegane dies in horrific agony due to Oberyn's poison. Winning the duel only prolonged his suffering.
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners are working on making as many Freys as possible pay for the Red Wedding.
    • Janos Slynt played a part in the betrayal and beheading of Eddard Stark. He winds up beheaded as well. By Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and Ned's illegitimate son.
    • Some Northern lords are getting in on the Frey-killing as well. Lord Manderly's delicious Frey Pie in A Dance With Dragons, which he serves to other Red Wedding conspirators, including a bunch of Freys.
    • Tywin's death just oozes this. His abuse and contempt for Tyrion as well as his near suicidal refusal to see beyond his son's whoring, boozing exterior finally comes back to kill him in the most embarrassing way possible; and believe it or not, it only got worse for Tywin afterward.
    • The Tickler tortured people to death, while constantly asking them questions. Arya eventually stabs him to death, while asking the exact same questions.
    • A teased chapter release from The Winds of Winter reveals that this also happens to Raff. He previously killed Lommy, who had an injured leg, because he was too lazy to carry him. Arya cuts his leg, has the exact same conversation with him, and then kills him the same way.
  • Kicked Upstairs:
    • Although Jaime is immensely proud of his appointment to the Kingsguard at such a young age, it was intended by King Aerys solely as an act of spite against Tywin, whose favoured firstborn would thus be ineligible as an heir.
    • Jon attempts to do this with Janos Slynt, a failed candidate for the post of Lord Commander who has been insubordinate and who Jon believes to be plotting against him with Ser Alliser Thorne. He appoints the man as commander of a new garrison at Greyguard, citing his experience as a guard commander and status as a former Lord in an attempt to flatter him into accepting. Slynt openly refuses his orders, in public, and Jon executes him for insubordination.
    • Tyrion is denied his rightful inheritance of Casterly Rock — instead Lord Tywin sets up an Arranged Marriage with Sansa Stark, with the chance to rule the North through their son. Tyrion is actually tempted by this, as he's just as eager to get far away from his Big Screwed-Up Family. He's also given Littlefinger's job as Master of Coin, a job he's hardly suited for given his profligate ways.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch:
    • When Tyrion murders his father in cold blood, he clearly crosses a moral line, but his victim is such a jerk that it's hard not to cheer him on.
    • While it's quite clear that Arya becomes increasingly morally grey every time she kills someone or is involved in causing a death, it's compensated for the fact that all of them more or less deserve it.
    • Amory Lorch (a child-murderer) gets fed to a bear by the sociopathic Brave Companions.
  • Kids Are Cruel: The series contains several major examples:
    • Robert Arryn is a sickly child who develops a fondness for sentencing people to be thrown off a cliff.
    • Arya Stark is a sympathetic character who is still fairly heroic, but she's also become quite a cold-blooded killer.
    • Joffrey is a teen by the time the series begins, but there are several stories about his childhood cruelty — and when he becomes king, he starts to like the idea of ordering men to duel to the death to settle disputes.
    • To a much smaller extent, Little and Big Walder. They indulge in some literal kicking the dog and are pretty mean to Hodor. In A Dance With Dragons they both start palling around with Ramsay Bolton and get much worse.
    • In "The Mystery Knight," it's a bit of a shock to learn that Gentle Giant Dunk was a sadistic little shit as a street urchin in Flea Bottom.
  • Kill 'em All: As a phrase, A Feast For Crows really sums up the series' plot and theme. By the end of A Dance With Dragons, all but one of the original "Five Kings" are dead though new players have of course taken their places.
  • Kill It with Fire: The best way to deal with undead wights. There's even a song about it. Presumably fire works on the Others as well, but obsidian, or "frozen fire," also works. Jon also interprets an ancient passage about "dragonsteel" to mean that Valyrian blades would work as well. Somehow Valyrian steel seems to be imbued with dragonfire.
  • King of Beasts: Lions are a popular sigil among the noble houses of the Westerlands, most notably House Lannister. Lannister propaganda uses Animal Stereotypes to reinforce the idea of their superiority to everyone else.
    Tywin: The lion does not concern himself with the opinions of the sheep.
  • Kingmaker Scenario:
    • House Tyrell serves this function in the War of the Five Kings. When House Lannister and House Baratheon are the dominant forces for the throne, Tyrell first sides with Renly Baratheon, giving him the largest army, then sides with the Lannisters, giving them the victory over Stannis.
    • Samwell Tarly does a version of this during the nomination of the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. The votes are locked between two major claimants who refuse to back down. Sam convinces each of them to step down in favor of a third party, Jon Snow.
    • Cristen Cole is remembered as "The Kingmaker" during the succession dispute that started the Dance of the Dragons war. Although the king had proclaimed his eldest daughter to be his heir, the king's younger son claimed the throne for himself. Cole installed the son, causing a war that would eventually see neither of them hold the throne.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: There's a very Pet the Dog moment where Margaery gives the young King Tommen a trio of kittens, which he names Ser Pounce, Lady Whiskers and Boots. He seems to be more interested in playing with his cats than playing the Game of Thrones.
  • King Bob the Nth: The Targaryens, with the monarchs' unwieldy official titles identifying them as e.g. "Aegon, the Fifth of his Name (etc.)", or "Aegon V Targaryen" for short. The tradition has been kept up since the Rebellion, even though there's so far been no King Anything the Second.
  • Kissing Cousins: The people of Westeros find Brother-Sister Incest and Parental Incest detestable, but first cousin (and more distant family relationship) marriages are fine.
  • Kneel Before Zod
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Ser Loras, Ser Barristan, Ser Garlan, the old Kingsguard (at least according to the rose-tinted glasses of those who remember them) and many characters from the "Dunk & Egg" stories. Most of them are Deconstructed Character Archetypes to a greater or lesser extent. Brienne plays the trope more or less straight, with the twist being that she is female. Sandor Clegane so despises this trope that he has refused multiple offers of knighthood, even when he joins the Kingsguard.
  • Knight Templar: Stannis Baratheon is a rigid and merciless man who never compromises on anything. He has an even bigger Knight Templar advisor, the priestess/sorceress Melisandre, who wants to burn all false gods in preparation for the last battle against evil. The rise of the Church Militant of the Swords and the Stars provides even more opportunities for the trope. Finally, the Brotherhood Without Banners have gone from Robin Hood Expys to this under Lady Stoneheart aka Catelyn
  • Know When to Fold 'Em:
    • Torrhen Stark became known as the King Who Knelt because he chose to submit to Aegon the Conqueror rather than fight a battle he could not win.
    • After a failed rebellion, Balon Greyjoy accepts his defeat, even though it comes with two of his three sons being killed and the third taken hostage, biding his time until the day when he can rebel successfully.

    L 
  • The Lady's Favour:
    • Catelyn gave one to Brandon before he went to duel Petyr Baelish, though in this case there is no real possibility that her hero won't come back in one piece; in fact, she begged him to leave the boy in one piece.
    • Jorah Mormont wore the favour of Lynesse Hightower and won a tourney, defeating all opponents and even gaining her hand in marriage.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Aeron Greyjoy is not the thigh-slapping kind at the best of times (although Theon remembers him being much more good-humoured before he got religion), but Theon tries a joke on him anyway;
    Theon did not need to be told that Black Wind was Asha's longship. [...] Odd that she would call it that, when Robb Stark has a wolf called Grey Wind. "Stark's is grey and Greyjoy's black," he murmured, smiling, "but it seems we're both windy."
    The priest had nothing to say to that.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: A rare example of this in a very cynical series - Stannis, looking for a lord who can bring the North under his control, offers to legitimise Jon Snow and free him from his vow to the Night's Watch. He refuses, partly out of an eerily familiar ironclad sense of honour, and before the night is out he's been, largely coincidentally, elected as Lord Commander of the Watch (for which Stannis' offer would have made him ineligible).
    • An amusing minor version — the one thing Lord Tywin hates is being laughed at, but that's exactly what happens when a mean black tomcat punches his dinner in front of King Robert. It's implied that the cat is Balerion, once owned by Rhaenys Targaryen as a pet kitten until she was murdered on Tywin's orders.
  • Last Minute Baby Naming: Justified. With the Grim Up North conditions behind the wall, the mortality of children is so high that naming one that hasn't yet grown enough to walk is considered Tempting Fate.
  • Laughably Evil: Vargo Hoat might lead a mercenary gang of the worst psychos for hire in the known world, but he's got a humorous lisp that even his victims mock. He's also rather dim-witted, getting outsmarted and outmaneuvered many times before meeting an end that is pure Nightmare Fuel.
  • Laxative Prank: Done seriously. Tyrion is too busy trying to save the city to struggle with Cersei's schemes so he uses a mild poison to get her out of his hair for one day.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Implied for Jaime Lannister. According to his brother Tyrion, he "never untied a knot when he could slash it in two with his sword."
    • Stannis' Lords and admirals think any strategy or tactic other than a headlong charge is cowardly, even after it loses them most of their army and their entire fleet at Blackwater when they refuse to even use scouts or consider the fire from the castle itself. To them more danger just means more honor for facing it.
    • Ser Loras Tyrell insists on leading a force over the wall of Dragonstone, and is horribly scalded by boiling oil (but succeeds in taking the castle). Exploited Trope, as Cersei expected him to do so and hoped he would endanger himself in the process.
  • Leitmotif: A very rare literary example with "The Rains of Castamere". Even in-universe this is known as a Lannister song, and while it's especially associated with Twyin Lannister, it's something of a "Lannister anthem" in general. In terms of the story the song also frequently precedes moments of sudden death of important characters.
  • Left for Dead: Sandor Clegane, who is (probably) now the gravedigger on the Quiet Isle.
  • Left-Handed Mirror: Arya and Sansa Stark. The Southpaw Arya is a Tomboy and a Deconstructed Character Archetype of the Rebellious Princess archetype, while her right-handed sister Sansa is the girly-girl and a Deconstructed Character Archetype of Princess Classic.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The Hound is becoming one of these. It started out as just a nickname for Sandor Clegane, but later on, Sandor's helmet winds up in the hands of the criminal Rorge who terrorizes the countryside while wearing it. After Rorge's death, Lem Lemoncloak indicates the degree to which he is He Who Fights Monsters, as he decides to start wearing the helmet to frighten the enemies of the Brotherhood Without Banners.
    • Following the death of the first Reek, Ramsay Bolton takes on his identity and pretends to be Reek while helping Theon. After Theon loses control of Winterfell, Ramsay takes him prisoner and mentally and physically breaks Theon in order to make him the third Reek.
  • Legion of Lost Souls:
    • The Night's Watch can be seen as bearing a number of similarities with the real-life French Foreign Legion.
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners is a literal legion of lost souls.
  • A Lesson In Defeat: The final lesson to become a new maester is to sit in a dark room with a tall, sharp candlestick made of dragonglass. Many try to light the candles, but are only rewarded with bloody hands and wasted time. The wiser new maesters wait the night. The lesson is that, though maesters strive to understand the world, there are some mysteries that simply cannot be uncovered. This lesson is broken all to hell when the glass candles in Archmaester Marwyn's study begin burning.
  • Liberty Over Prosperity: The Wildlings view themselves as choosing freedom over all else, preferring to live in a very harsh, cold, and sometimes giant-infested land, than to be "kneelers".
  • Lighter and Softer: The Dunk & Egg books, owing to their smaller scope and bittersweet endings.
  • A Lighter Shade Of Gray: Tyrion Lannister certainly has his unscrupulous moments, but on the whole he's a decent person who just wants a little respect and love.
  • Light Is Not Good: Seemingly part of the "ice and fire" theme of the series overall, in which all extremes are destructive. The red priests describe R'hllor as the champion of life and goodness, but all signs point to a much more malevolent force. The reverse is not true, as the darkness to R'hllor's light is overtly evil.
  • Lightning Bruiser: What makes the Hound one of the most dangerous fighters in Westeros, when he's not drunk off his arse.
  • Like a Son to Me: Maester Cressen saw Stannis Baratheon in this light, having been maester for the Baratheons for decades and watching Stannis grow up. This makes his shaming before the court, and his death, that much more tragic.
    Cressen, thinking: Stannis, my lord, my sad sullen boy, son I never had, you must not do this, don't you know how I have cared for you, lived for you, loved you despite all? Yes, loved you, better than Robert even, or Renly, for you were the one unloved, the one who needed me most.
  • Line in the Sand: Theon in A Clash of Kings.
  • Line-of-Sight Name:
    • Ser Rolly Duckfield, one of Griff's men in A Dance With Dragons; like other lowborn characters who receive knighthoods (e.g. Davos and Bronn), he wasn't born with a surname, and made up/acquired one upon being knighted. In Rolly's case, while being knighted in a field, he noticed some ducks nearby.
    • In A Storm of Swords, Jaime questions Ser Osmund Kettleblack on who knighted him, and Osmund responds "Ser Robert... Stone". Jaime wonders to himself if this was a real person (presumably a bastard sellsword made good) or whether Osmund made him up, combining the name of the deceased king with a glance at the castle wall.
  • Little Miss Badass: Arya Stark.
  • Little People Are Surreal:
    • Shows up at the House of the Undying in A Clash of Kings, to play up the weirdness that surrounds the place. At the entrance, the person who brings out the shade of the evening for Daenerys to drink is the "smallest dwarf she had ever seen", and when inside the House, through one of the doors in the long hallway, she sees a naked woman being ravished by four dwarfs (presumably a metaphor for the division of Westeros).
    • The trope is clearly alive and well in-universe, as the primary interest in dwarf slaves in Essos is as circus freaks.
  • Living Shadow: Introduced in A Clash of Kings, these shadow-beings are revealed to be the children of Melisandre.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: How many? Well, for a long time, the huge character sheet wouldn't tell you who the five kings in the "War Of Five Kings" were, just because some of them weren't important enough to list. The reader of the unabridged audiobook of A Game of Thrones actually holds the certified world record for most characters voiced in an audiobook - 224.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places:
    • Tyrion, down to the lack of parental affection. Should be noted that he had actually found it with Tysha, the first girl he loved. He was lead to believe this wasn't the case, however, thanks to Lord Tywin.
    • Sansa, what with her infatuation with Joffrey and wide-eyed hero worship of Cersei. That sure doesn't last long.
  • The Lost Lenore: Lyanna Stark for Robert Baratheon. He's convinced that she was stolen away from him and raped repeatedly by Rhaegar Targaryen. His rage and pain over the incident still hasn't cooled after more than 15 years, though Ned believes he didn't truly know her for who she was.
  • Lost Technology: Valyrian steel can be reworked by experts, but no one knows how to make more of it anymore. Some marvels of engineering, such as the Wall and Winterfell's hot-springs heating system, are probably beyond the tech for the current age. Glass candles ceased functioning for many years before recently lighting again. Valyrian technology as a whole seems to have been higher than current technology anywhere else, considering the great roads and walls that they left behind. Magical aid is credited with many lost pieces of technology — and magic itself is something of a lost technology — but it's unclear how much magic actually had to do with them.
  • The Lost Woods: The vast weirwood forests in the north, especially those with white heart trees, due to their association with the children of the forest and the "green men". Also, the Haunted Forest beyond the Wall, due to the Others.
  • Lovable Coward: Samwell... at first (he becomes somewhat less cowardly but remains lovable).
  • Lovable Traitor: Littlefinger.
  • Love at First Sight: Subverted several times. A glory-drunk Ser Jorah Mormont falls for fair Lynesse Hightower from afar, and Sansa becomes infatuated with Joffrey. Neither relationship ends well. Robert Baratheon starts a war over Lyanna Stark despite the fact that he barely knew her, and Robb Stark dooms his cause by sleeping with and then marrying a girl whose castle he had just captured. Nearly every instance of love at first sight in the series ends up having negative consequences. Meanwhile, the most stable romantic relationship in the books, Ned and Catelyn Stark, started out as an arranged marriage where neither loved each other at the start, but grew to love each other over time.
  • Love Dodecahedron: A spiderweb:
    • Renly is married to Margaery but spends a lot of time "praying" with her brother Loras, and in the meantime is being crushed on by Brienne of Tarth, who later seems to have developed (possibly reciprocal) feelings for Jaime Lannister, who is in a secret relationship with his sister Cersei.
    • Robert Baratheon loved Lyanna Stark, but married Cersei Lannister, who loved her brother Jaime but also wanted to marry Rhaegar Targaryen who wound up marrying Elia of Dorne but later kidnapped and raped Lyanna Stark. Jon Connington is also revealed to have harbored feelings for Rhaegar.
    • Lysa Tully married Jon Arryn but loved Petyr Baelish, who loved Catelyn Tully, who was betrothed to Brandon Stark, who had an affair with Barbrey Ryswell, who later became Roose Bolton's sister-in-law. But Brandon died, so Catelyn married and grew to love Eddard Stark, who may have loved Ashara Dayne, who was impregnated by one of the Stark brothers and was beloved by Ser Barristan Selmy.
    • A simple Love Triangle for contrast: Prince Aerys Targaryen and his Heterosexual Life Partner Tywin Lannister both had a thing for Tywin's cousin Joanna. Tywin got her. (Triang Relations Type 10). This may have been the Start of Darkness for The Mad King's resentment of his Hand and (now former) best friend.
  • Love Father, Love Son: The Tangled Family Tree of the Freys has included at least one example of this trope taken up to eleven: Lord Walder's seventh wife, Annara, is rumoured to have had an affair with his great-grandson by his first wife, Black Walder (who's also bedded two of his brothers' wives and at least one of his cousins). Given Lord Walder's taste for May-December Romance, they were probably around the same age.
  • Love Makes You Evil: "The things I do for love...", which is given an Ironic Echo to show that Love Redeems as well.
  • Love Ruins the Realm:
    • Several characters note that just about all the war and strife afflicting the land can be traced back to Rhaegar marrying Elia of Dorne instead of Cersei Lannister, then absconding with Lyanna Stark.
    • Further back in history, Prince Duncan's decision to break his arranged marriage to marry a commoner (Jenny of Oldstones) and abdicate the crown may have led to his and his father's deaths in the Tragedy at Summerhall, and certainly contributed to the downfall of the Targaryen line.
    • In A Dance With Dragons, Ser Barristan notes several examples from the past where royalty chose to marry for love with disastrous consequences, and finds himself agreeing with Shavepate that it might not be so terrible if Dany's sellsword boyfriend were killed in the upcoming battle.
    • Robb Stark breaks his marriage pact with Walder Frey and instead marries Jeyne Westerling, which sparks a revolt within his kingdom that kills him and fractures the North.
    • A more roundabout case is Tyrion and Tysha, he's a dwarf son of a High Lord and she's a crofter's daughter, so it's not exactly the usual example, but they Marry for Love which provokes a vicious response from Tywin Lannister. The horrific consequences of that, lead to Tywin Lannister suffering a much belated Karmic Death from his vengeful son but the context of that event, the end of a bloody war with Tywin having secured the realm for a new king and restore the peace, ends up restarting hostilities in Westeros.

    M 
  • Mad Doctor: Qyburn.
  • Mad Libs Catchphrase: Reek, Reek, it rhymes with ______. Usually the word in question is relevant to the situation ("sneak" when he's being asked to spy, "weak" when he's cursing his own cowardice, etc).
  • Mad Love: The loony Lysa Tully Arryn, whose terrible taste in suitors makes her an easy pawn for Petyr Baelish.
  • The Magic Comes Back: Dragons are linked to the presence of magic in the world. With the return of dragons, magic becomes far stronger.
  • Magic Versus Science: A Feast for Crows reveals that the maesters running the Citadel, apart from "eccentrics" like Marwyn, want to eliminate magic.
  • Magitek: Many of the feats of engineering are thought to be aided by magic. The Wall is built far larger than normal architecture would seem to allow. There are a number of glass candles that have started working again with the return of dragons. The fact that Valyrian roads have remained unchanged for centuries without upkeep suggests magic. Qyburn's experiments into human anatomy seem to involve necromancy.
  • The Magnificent: Tormund Giantsbane, Tall-talker, Horn-blower and Breaker of Ice; Tormund Thunderfist, Husband to Bears, the Mead-King of Ruddy Hall, Speaker to Gods and Father of Hosts.
  • Malignant Plot Tumor: The re-awakening of the Others and the return of the long night begins almost as a sub-plot to the main stories of Dany's experiences in Essos and the civil war in Westeros, and gradually snowballs in importance, so much so that people stop rooting for who they like and start rooting for whoever is most likely to mobilize the kingdoms against the Others.
  • Mama Bear:
    • Cersei Lannister, while a horrible leader, has protecting her children as her strongest motivation. Catelyn Stark gains a darker shade with this trope as well. Ironically, their protective instincts only serve to make things worse. Cersei screws up everything she touches. While Catelyn is full of good advice, her kidnapping of Tyrion (who was innocent) due to suspicion that he tried to murder Bran, led to a Lannister retaliation and was one of the major catalysts that created the perfect storm for the War of the Five Kings.
    • The women of Bear Island are a fitting example. While their husbands fish, it often falls to them to fight off ironmen raiders. On the gate of the ruling House Mormont's keep is a carving of a bearskin-clad woman with a suckling baby in one arm and a battleaxe in the other.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Cersei, although she's hampered by being petty and full of bad ideas. Littlefinger's a much smoother operator. Tyrion can sweet talk his way in and out of anything. Varys may trump them all.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Many lordly households have more than five kids, but the ones to stand out are Oberyn's eight daughters by five different women, and Walder Frey's twenty-nine legitimate children by eight wives (as well as a number of bastards), ranging in age from men in their sixties to an unborn child.
  • Master Poisoner:
    • All Maesters have at least the potential to be this, as they are trained in making both the substances that save life and those that end it.
    • Oberyn Martell is also very knowledgeable about poisons, and his daughter Tyene Sand is likewise, having learned from him.
    • Unsurprisingly, being a bunch of assassins, the Faceless Men are adept in the use of poisons. One of them, referred to the as the Waif, specializes in them. While an adult woman, she looks like a child as a result of spending all of her time surrounded by dangerous substances.
    • Littlefinger is no slouch in the poisoning department, either. He's been behind most of the major plot-relevant poisonings we've come across, and may even have supplied the poisons in at least two. Oberyn's poisoning of Gregor Clegane even occurred thanks to a situation he set up, even if he didn't do the actual poisoning himself. And, he has been known to surprise at least one maester with his in-depth knowledge of sedatives and their side effects.
  • The Man They Couldn't Hang:
    • One of the members of the Kingswood Brotherhood outlaws was known as Oswyn Longneck the Thrice-Hanged because of this.
    • Zig-zagged with Beric Dondarrion. While his reputation is for surviving a hanging and other should-be-fatal injuries, he actually died and was resurrected a bunch of times. However, he has also been hanged non-fatally once, when his band cut him down before he could die.
  • Marital Rape License: In full effect, along with a Marital Abuse License.
    • Cersei despises her husband and avoids sex with him whenever she can, only giving in when he's drunk and might become violent. She reflects on the injustice of the law on a couple of occasions, and takes revenge by aborting any children he might have given her. And ultimately by having him killed, of course.
    • Ramsay Bolton manages to test people's tolerance of it to breaking point — Barbrey Dustin advises him that if he wants to keep Stark loyalists on his side then the screams of pain coming from his and "Arya's" bedchamber had better stop.
    • Jaime recalls standing guard over the royal bedchamber when Aerys was on the throne, and arguing with his sworn brother whether their vows extend to protecting the queen from the king.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In Westeros, magic has existed at a low-to-nonexistent level for generations as of the start of the series, and much knowledge of magic is lost or unreliable, so this trope is very common. Characters within the series often try to label events or objects as magically influenced, often coming up with conflicting interpretations. Various dreams and visions may or may not be actually prophetic. It doesn't help that some characters known to have real magical powers supplement them with mundane chicanery.
    • Melisandre has demonstrated a certain level of real magic on several occasions. In A Storm of Swords, she performs a ritual to cause the deaths of three other characters. All three other characters do die soon thereafter, but each as a result of unrelated plots that started well before Melisandre cast her spell.
    • Beric uses his magic to light his sword on fire during a trial by combat, but the sword breaks during his duel. Did the fire weaken the sword, as mundane wildfire does, or did his magic backfire because his cause was unjust?
    • Was the red comet at the beginning of A Clash of Kings an omen, or just a coincidence?
    • Although the evidence is the The Gods Must Be Lazy, several people who pray to the Old Gods nevertheless have their prayers answered, albeit not in the way they expect. Sansa prays for a knight to rescue her — she gets Ser Dontos and the Hound. Arya's prayer for vengeance appears to summon the assassin Jaqen H'ghar. Theon begs a chance to be the man he once was, then finds himself facing the wildling women who've been sent to rescue "Arya Stark". That the wierwoods they pray to are revealed to be an information network for Bloodraven also blurs the issue.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Bran Stark and Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers are the two main sources of the Creepy Crows motif in the series, and have names that are respectively the Welsh and Irish Gaelic words for raven.
    • A number of family names suggest their house's character, such as the rigidly honorable Starks of the frigid north, and the Jerk Ass Greyjoys. Tully derives from the Irish word for flood, an appropriate choice for the overlords of the Riverlands.
    • Several characters have names that are references to folklore and mythology:
      • Janos Slynt turns out to be two-faced, as the Roman god Janus.
      • Lancel Lannister is (one of several people) having an affair with the queen, reminiscent of Arthurian Lancelot.
      • Cersei, whose name is a homophone of the temptress Circe, who was famous for turning men into beasts.
      • Hodor may be an approximation of Höðr, a disabled (blind) god in Norse Mythology.
    • The Kettleblack brothers (as in "the pot calling the...") are involved in a scheme by Cersei to accuse Margaery of crimes that Cersei herself is guilty of.
    • Ami Frey is a very friendly young woman.
    • Dany installs as king in Astapor a former slave named Cleon, who becomes a corrupt tyrant the moment she leaves. The choice of name is undoubtedly a reference to the Athenian statesman Cleon.
    • Varys, as a master of disguise and manipulation, has several personas of which he frequently "varies". A possibly unintentional extension of the bird symbolism in the series is that his name is a homophone for the Finnish word for crow, "varis".
    • Bronn acts as brawn for Tyrion.
    • Lem Lemoncloak is nicknamed for his yellow cloak, but has a suitably sour personality.
  • Medieval Prehistory is shown in the mammoths, dire wolves and aurochs of the setting, and a case could be made for the giants being the extinct ape, the Gigantopithecus. The unicorns of Skagos have also been theorised to be the extinct Elasmotherium. At one point a reptile that sounds an awful lot like a velociraptor is also described.
  • Medieval Stasis: Westerosi technology has improved very slowly over its extremely long history. The continent was once ruled by the Children of the Forest, with stone age technology, who were then conquered by the First Men with Bronze Age technology, who were then partially replaced by the Andals with Iron Age technology. In the last thousand years, technology has not significantly improved. In fact, some ancient marvels of engineering, such as the Wall, Harrenhal, and the hot-springs-heated Winterfell, are probably built on Lost Technology. However, it's outright-stated that much of the timeline is cobbled together from legend and myth; Sam discovers that the written records only go back to the Andal invasion (which going by the numbers of Night Watch Commanders was 2/3 of the way into it's history), and points out many discrepancies and outright impossibilities in the established timeline in A Feast for Crows .
    • However, it appears that no new real technology (as opposed to Magitek like wildfire) is ever created in Westeros; everything new is brought by conquerors, such as the aforemented First Men and Andals. Maybe the next big step in progress will be heralded by an Age of Sail invasion fleet with cannons.
  • Mega Corp.: The Iron Bank of Braavos lends money to kingdoms. It's not above taking sides in foreign political conflicts that suit its interests.
  • Mentor Archetype: Littlefinger for Sansa Stark; Syrio Forel, Jaqen H'ghar and the Kindly Old Man for Arya Stark; Jeor "Old Bear" Mormont and Qhorin Halfhand for Jon Snow; the Three-Eyed Crow for Bran; Ser Arlan for Dunk
  • Mercy Kill: "The gift of mercy," most notably given by Sandor Clegane to a mortally wounded soldier. Arya refuses to give it to Sandor himself after one of his battle wounds festers. She abandons him to his suffering.
  • Mildly Royal: George R.R. Martin examines how the behavior of monarchs and nobles are supposed to go on very specific lines and the consequences for straying outside this. Sometimes, behaving as if commoner lives and attitudes matter yields great results like with Daeneyrs while other times, it undermines your reputation such as with Tyrion.
  • Mildly Military: The Night's Watch is a combination of a military order, a monastic order, and a gulag. Naturally, it doesn't run quite the same as a normal army.
  • Miles Gloriosus:
    • Ser Creighton Longbough, who is quite happy to tell you about how he slew Ser Herbert Bolling and fought valiantly against the "Knight of the Red Chicken" at the Battle of the Blackwater.
    • Joffrey has aspects of this, giving his swords ostentatious names and boasting about military successes as though he were personally involved.
  • Mind Rape: Warging into a sentient mind is described this way. Bran later does it to Hodor , and both of them find it intensely unpleasant.
  • Minored In Ass Kicking: Despite being a Guile Hero who relies primarily on his wits, Tyrion Lannister participates in the battles of Green Fork and Blackwater, revealing himself to be a reasonably competent fighter. Oh, and he once bludgeoned a mountain clansman to death with a shield.
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Played for drama given the horrible consequences it caused. Elia Martel had been visited by numerous suitors, the best of whom was Baelor Hightower. However, her brother Oberyn had a habit of making fun of them all, and when Baelor farted in their presence, Oberyn dubbed him "Baelor Breakwind", and after that, Elia couldn't look at him without laughing, which put the chances of them wedding at zilch. Elia ended up marrying Rhaegar Targaryen instead, with negative consequences. In the present, Oberyn considers his behavior to have been his greatest failure.
  • Missing Mom: Jon Snow's not-officially-identified mother.
  • Mobile Maze: The House of the Undying.
  • Monster Clown:
    • Shagwell of the Bloody Mummers wears motley and pretends to be a jester, though he is really an Ax-Crazy sellsword. He uses a morningstar as a parody of a jester's bladder-on-a-stick.
    • Stannis' jester Patchface has just been pretty creepy so far, but in A Dance With Dragons, Melisandre (fairly creepy herself) notes that she senses great evil in him.
  • Monument Of Humiliation And Defeat: The Iron Throne is this; Aegon the Conqueror made it out of the swords of the men who surrendered to him. It's supposed to exalt his power, but there's a twist: it's also supposed to be impossible to sit in comfortably, forcing the king always to be alert.
  • Mood Whiplash
  • Moody Mount:
    • Stranger (ridden by The Hound) and Smiler (ridden by Theon). This is a Justified Trope, since these are war mounts, trained for battle.
    • Ser Loras exploits this trope when Ser Gregor rides one in a joust; he rides a mare in heat, driving the stallion wild and uncontrollable.
  • Mook Horror Show: There's several similar instances (at Winterfell when Theon held it; at Harrenhall under the Lannisters; and at Winterfell again under the Boltons) where "good guys" spook "bad guys" by committing undetected murders of their forces.
  • Morality Pet: Brienne, for post-Heel-Face Turn Jaime. The two Stark girls, for Sandor Clegane.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Defied by the Citadel regarding Qyburn; he's kicked out when they find out he's been performing human vivisection, and he's no longer allowed to style himself "maester".
  • Moral Myopia: All over the place due to Deliberate Values Dissonance. Examples include:
    • The Sand Snakes are very vocal in their desire to utterly destroy House Lannister in revenge for their father Prince Oberyn's death, yet are horrified when they hear Cersei Lannister is plotting the death of their young nephew.
    • The Ironborn have some laws which explicitly only condemn crimes committed against other Ironborn (for example, they can't be taken as thralls or salt-wives).
  • Moses in the Bullrushes: Aegon Targaryen.
  • The Mourning After: Tywin's heart is forever hardened after his wife Joanna's death, to such an insane extent that he never smiles though he does get it on with whores. Hoster Tully is also never quite the same. Robert, one of the most epic cases, goes so far as to get hammered and then call Cersei "Lyanna" on their wedding night. And then there's Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, whose long fixtation on Catelyn (not to mention the severe Break the Cutie process he went through because of it) lead to him turning severely Yandere and creepy consequences regarding Catlyn's daughter, Sansa.
  • Mr. Smith:
    • Bastards are given generic surnames which differ depending on the region: "Snow" for the north, "Rivers" for the riverlands, "Hill" for the westerlands, "Stone" for the Vale, "Waters" for the crownlands, "Storm" for the stormlands, "Flowers" for the Reach, "Pyke" for the Iron Islands, and "Sand" for Dorne.
    • Ser Osmund doubles this by claiming that "Ser Robert Stone" knighted him, a name far too generic to actually track down. Jaime suspects that it's a Line-of-Sight Name.
    • Qyburn calls his towering creation "Ser Robert Strong." House Strong was effectively destroyed many years before (they ruled Harrenhal) while "Robert" is quite common given the long reign of King Robert Baratheon.
  • The Munchausen: Tormund Giantsbane, who admits as much with one of his many nicknames, "Tall-Talker."
  • Murder, Inc.: The Faceless Men are a foreign religious order who worship death, to the point that one of their two primary services is painless euthanasia. They are also the most skilled assassins in the world, able to murder anyone for the right price. Contract killing is a sacred act to them. There is also a lesser guild of assassins called the Sorrowful Men, who apologize to their victims the instant before they kill them.
  • Musical Episode: Songs play a vital role in social life of the Seven Kingdoms. Serving as propaganda, storytelling or as noisy cover to discuss treasonous ideas. A Storm of Swords in particular features almost all of the most notable songs in the series : "The Dornishman's Wife", "The Last of the Giants", "The Kingswood Brotherhood", "The Bear and the Maiden Fair" and most famously of all, "The Rains of Castermere".
  • Mutilation Conga: Beric Dondarrion still bears all the scars of the many fatal injuries he was resurrected from, including a missing eye and the mark of a hangman's noose.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • Cersei Lannister gave Joffrey free rein, but does this with Tommen after Joffrey's death.
    • Lysa Arryn does this with Robert. Both of these examples find a strange balance between coddling their children's flaws so they don't outgrow them and smothering them to prevent them from maturing.
    • Olenna Tyrell makes no apologies for running her son Mace's life, stating, "All these kings would do a deal better if they would put down their swords and listen to their mothers." Averted in that Olenna is way more competent than her son is.
  • My Gods What Have I Done: Ned has this reaction when hearing Bran's life was saved by his direwolf, as he realises the direwolves were sent by the Old Gods to protect his children, only now one's been killed by his own hand and the other driven away. Sure enough the fate of his daughters mirror that of their direwolves; Sansa is at the mercy of the queen, while Arya becomes a fugitive in the Riverlands.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong:
    • Most of the Kingsguard. Jaime relates being informed by one of his compatriots that his job is to guard the king, not judge him—in response to Jaime suggesting they intervene and stop Aerys from beating his wife. Jaime ends up famously averting it.
    • The common soldier also has this trait; when the Karstarks are discovered to have been plotting betrayal, it's suggested that their soldiers be tortured for information on the plot. Stannis points out that they wouldn't know anything beforehand; when the time came for them to turn on their allies, they would have obeyed their lord as they always do.
  • My Nayme Is:
    • Westerosi culture features a lot of archaic, alternate, or non-English spellings of common names, such as "Eddard" instead of "Edward". The letter Y crops up quite often in names, especially as a vowel. Knights are titled ser rather than the traditional English "sir."
    • There's a whole lot of surnames that are unusual spellings of animals, fruit, etc. (typically those featured on the family's coat-of-arms): i.e. Plumm, Codd, Hogg, etc.
  • Myth Arc: The Others, The Prince Who Was Promised.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the numerous gods of death with a statue in the House of Black and White is Bakkalon, also known as the Pale Child, which also happens to be the name of a deity in Martin's "The Thousand Worlds" setting, and figures heavily in his 1975 novelette "...and Seven Times Never Kill Man!"

    N 
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: A standard of the series. The Hound, the Mad King, the Kingslayer, the Mountain That Rides, the Bloody Mummers, the Crow's Eye, the Red Viper, the Titan's Bastard, the Darkstar, and so on.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Band of Nine, derisively referred to as "The Ninepenny Kings". As well as the Golden Company mercenaries run by followers of House Blackfyre with a plan to seat the supposed to be dead son of Rhaegar Targaryen.
  • Necromancer:
    • The Others, who raise the corpses of people and animals as wights.
    • Qyburn aspires to become one for a long time, but lacked test subjects. After Cersei gives him the pick of the dungeons, Qyburn is able to create Robert Strong, his enormous undead champion.
    • Thoros of Myr who brought back Beric Dondarrion a bunch of times, with him losing more of himself/his humanity with each resurection, although he sees it as a Healing Hands type power.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Or in this series' case... an army (or three of them) to a dragon-fight. Or, build the continent's most impressive, land-assault-proof castle and hole up in it when facing flaming, aerial attackers.
  • Never Found the Body: Jaime is wary of the reports of Raynald Westerling's death at the Twins, given that they consist of him jumping into the river with a couple of crossbow bolts in him. Likewise young Tyrek Lannister, who disappeared during a riot in Kings Landing; he even wonders if Varys arranged the riot to cover him being snatched.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • In-universe, Jaime's murder of Aerys. It doesn't help that he tells almost no one why he really did it.
    • There are people on all sides who are appalled at the actions of House Frey at Edmure's wedding, and they never show up but someone reminds them of it. The Brotherhood begin a campaign to hang any Frey on sight, and their very name has become an insult.
  • Never Say That Again:
    • Just about the only time Tyrion ever really loses his temper with Shae (well, apart from that one other time) is when she makes fun of his height and compares him to a child. Clearly something of a berserk button.
    • After discovering the truth about Tysha, Tyrion warns Tywin against using the word "whore" again. He does, and Tyrion shoots him.
  • Never Split the Party:
    • Jaime is criticised for splitting his siege of Riverrun into three camps, allowing them to be overrun separately. Tywin immediately shoots down the criticism, pointing out that the Genre Savvy Tullys sited the castle at a river fork specifically to force their enemies to split, thus making defense that much easier.
    • The rivers work a little bit against Robb Stark by only allowing him to attack two of the three Lannister camps at once, leaving the third camp free to retreat and continue the war.
  • Night of the Living Mooks: People killed by the Others come back as nearly unstoppable wights who kill people. Jon becomes convinced that the Others can reanimate any corpse they find, whether or not they made it a corpse in the first place. Is he right? ...Would you take the risk?
  • No Dead Body Poops: Averted:
    • In A Storm of Swords, Tywin Lannister very obviously defecates after being shot. With a crossbow. On the toilet. And he does not, in the end, shit gold.
    • In A Dance with Dragons, Grand Maester Pycelle shits himself after he's dealt a fatal head wound. Varys had to open a window because of the stench.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: Brienne of Tarth. Doesn't help that she's widely described as being pretty ugly into the bargain; she suggests that growing up big and ugly and being bullied a lot was part of the reason she wanted to become a knight.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Robb Stark is crossbowed, stabbed in the heart, and decapitated, before having his direwolf's head sewn onto the corpse as a final insult.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The term "the Seven Kingdoms" has become this by the beginning of the story. For one thing, they're all provinces of a single kingdom, and along with the original seven nations, the Iron Throne also now has jurisdiction over the Iron Islands and the Crownlands, for a total of nine provinces.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: In A Dance With Dragons, some of Stannis' men end up eating their dead when they are trapped by a massive snowstorm during the march to Winterfell. They get burned alive for it.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: GRRM is of the opinion that you should be allowed to decide on pronunciations for yourself. This is probably because he didn't want to have to decide how to say "Xaro Xhoan Daxos" or "Jaqen H'ghar." The TV series immediately begged his help.
  • Noble Fugitive: Viserys is a bit of a Deconstructed Character Archetype. Straighter examples in Daenerys, Ser Barristan, Jon Connington, and Tyrion.
  • The Nondescript: the Tickler, Gregor Clegane's Torture Technician, could disappear in a crowd of three; Television Without Pity described him as an "interestingly casual man."
  • Non-Human Sidekick: The Stark's direwolves and Dany's dragons.
  • Noodle Incident: A number of incidents are referred to early on, with clues popping up over the course of the series. Examples include the tragedy at Summerhall, the Doom of Valyria, and the events at the "tower of joy."
  • Not Just A Tournament: "The Mystery Knight" takes place during a tournament that's secretly a gathering for conspirators trying to start a second Blackfyre rebellion.
  • Not So Different:
    • The Starks are shown to have been ruthless in maintaining their power in the past. Long before the series begins, a branch of the Stark family called the Greystarks joined with the Boltons in a rebellion against the Starks. The Stark lord at the time crushed the rebellion and wiped out the Greystark branch of the family.
    • The war starts with Gregor Clegane's men rampaging through the Riverlands in a deliberate campaign of atrocity. By the time viewpoint characters like Arya and Brienne make it there, all sides (including the supposed 'good guys' of the North) are acting in a similar fashion, including Robb's scourging of the West.
    • Tywin Lannister's hatred towards Tyrion blinds him to how alike they are. Tyrion himself admits this as Tywin dies. Genna, Tywin's sister, expresses a similar opinion.
  • Not-So-Omniscient Council of Bickering: The Small Council of the Seven Kingdoms. Individually, they all know important bits of most of what's going on. Collectively... it's each man for himself, working towards their own (often mysterious) agenda and backstabbing/replacing each other whenever possible. It's often suggested that a monarch who can put together a capable and cooperative council will need to do little else, although Cersei's attempt to do this merely creates a coterie of Yes Men.

    O 
  • The Oath-Breaker:
    • Jaime Lannister. He killed the king he was sworn to protect, and everyone - even the people who acknowledge that Aerys needed killing - treats him like the lowest of the low, even in a Crapsack World full of child rapists, Torture Technicians, and mad kings (like the one he killed to save King's Landing).
    • Runaways from the Night's Watch, who are summarily executed. Failing to obey direct orders is met with the same treatment.
    • Jon breaks his vows under orders from Qhorin Halfhand and nevers lives it down with some of the Night's Watch. He also breaks his vows with Ygritte, which leaves him with much more complicated emotions.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Lord Wyman Manderly when dealing with the Freys and Boltons following the Red Wedding and the Bolton takeover.
    • Lampshaded by Dontos The Fool to Sansa Stark. She laments her own naivete in the game of thrones, but Dontos points out that all The Chessmaster characters watch each other like hawks, but pay little attention to those they think are stupid. Sure enough no-one suspects Sansa is planning an escape with Dontos until after it happens.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: Many scenes at Harrenhal and the Dreadfort contain this trope. The actions of the Karstark men hunting down Jaime count as a minor one, while the murder of Willem Lannister and Tion Frey counts as a major one
  • Occult Blue Eyes: Someone who has been raised from the dead by the Others has uncanny shining blue eyes with no life in them, usually described as looking like the cold light of distant stars.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: The Kingsguard... in theory. Robert began changing this, and Cersei finished it.
  • Offstage Villainy: Done chillingly well with Ramsay Bolton. Pre-Dance he had only appeared in person under his own name in one chapter at the end of the third volume, yet was already one of the biggest sources of Nightmare Fuel in the series. Once he comes onstage he manages to get worse.
  • Oh Look, More Rooms!: The House of the Undying. Navigating it is part Secret Test of Character, part Vision Quest, and part labyrinthine prison, as the Warlocks don't want Daenerys to leave.
  • Older than They Look: The waif is a Faceless Man (Faceless Woman?) who is thirty-six years old but looks like a child close to Arya's age. Her body is unnaturally small because she is around dangerous poisons all the time and the face she has probably isn't her real one anyway.
  • Old Master: Ser Barristan Selmy, Syrio Forel and Jeor "Old Bear" Mormont.
  • Old Retainer:
    • Ser Rodrik Cassel, Master-at-Arms of Winterfell, to House Stark.
    • Maesters Cressen, Luwin, and several others.
  • Old Soldier: Many examples, including Qhorin, Jeor Mormont, Yoren and Rodrik Cassel.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Invoked by the Citadel; maesters wear a chain with each link representing a field of study they've mastered, and are expected to earn as many as they can. The very best maester in any given field is offered a managerial/tutelary position as "Archmaester" within the Citadel, but they still tend to have earned many links in other fields as well.
  • One Gender School: The Citadel, much like the medieval universities it was inspired by.
  • One-Liner: "There are no men like me. There's only me".
  • One Steve Limit: Averted, especially as families often name children for ancestors or those with whom they're attempting to curry favor.
    • Ned Stark names two of his children Brandon and Rickon, probably after his brother and father who were killed by the Mad King. Robert Arryn (and probably Robb Stark) is named after King Robert Baratheon; there has been more than one Jon running around (Arryn, Connington, Snow, two Umbers); there's two Balons (Swann, Greyjoy); it seems to be a House Stark tradition to always have a Brandon in each generation (The Builder; The Shipwright; The Burner; The Daughterless; The Broken); and there's more Aegons, Viseryses, Aeryses, Daerons, and Baelors than you can break a spear at.
    • House Frey is a particular exception for all the Walders and Waldas, named to suck up to family patriarch Walder Frey - even the other characters get confused, and good luck trying to remember whether you're reading about Black Walder or Red Walder or Bastard Walder without referring to the family tree. Winterfell takes on two young wards, both named Walder Frey. They're called Big Walder and Little Walder in reference to their age, but Little Walder is bigger than Big Walder, which greatly amuses the two boys but confuses everyone else.
  • The One That Got Away: Lyanna, for Robert. Tysha, for Tyrion. Catelyn, for Littlefinger. Lynesse Hightower, for Jorah Mormont.
  • Only Child Syndrome: The Starks are conspicuously short on cousins for such an old and important House. The Karstarks are said to be a distant branch of their family tree, but closer than that, Eddard seems to have had no uncles or great-uncles whose descendants Winterfell might pass to should his own family be wiped out. Their habit of sending younger brothers to the Wall may have contributed to this.
  • Only Friend: Friend might be stretching it a little, but its made pretty clear that Davos is the only person that Stannis trusts and respects completely. With Stannis, that's probably as close to friendship as you're going to get.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Plenty of people, such as Spare Boot, Kegs, Shitmouth and the Tickler. Actually discussed with the character of Hot Pie when Arya ponders whether he remembers his real name.
  • Oracular Urchin: Jojen Reed, with his prophetic "green dreams."
  • Order Reborn:
    • Attempted by Jon Snow, who believes the Night's Watch needs to be whipped back into shape in order to face the return of the Others. Deconstructed — he pisses too many people off by trying to change things too drastically and too quickly, and eventually gets several knives in the back for his trouble.
    • The High Septon is more successful with the Faith Militant and Warrior's Sons, abolished by the rulers of Westeros because they threatened their power. Queen Regent Cersei allows them to be reestablished, much to the dismay of the Lannisters who've paid a bit more attention to history.
  • Order Versus Chaos: Symbolised by the lands of the South and the lands beyond the Wall. The civilized Southerners actually represent chaos because of their endless intrigues, wars and power plays while the free folk represent order in that they unite under the leadership of the Kings Beyond The Wall.
  • Otherworldly And Sexually Ambiguous: One of the faces of the Faith of the Seven, called The Stranger, is neither male nor female and signifies death.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons look like like winged, legged serpents with thick scales. They breathe fire and cook their meat before eating it. They are hermaphrodites, and lay scaled eggs that must be bathed in fire before they hatch. Like fish, they grow according to the size of their environment. They have animal level intelligence and can be trained to accept a rider, making them useful weapons of war. Their presence seems to be linked to the effectiveness of magic. When the story starts, they have been extinct for years though they got better, thanks to Daenerys. They may also have a taste for human flesh. Their internal body temperatures appear to be tremendous: steel weapons stuck in them almost immediately are red, melting hot. Similarly, their blood is so hot it glows, akin to molten metal.
  • Our Elves Are Better: The Children of the Forest were a non-human race of short brown-skinned forest dwellers, said to be beautiful by human standards, with magical powers and longer lifespans than humans. They warred with the First Men when they arrived in Westeros, but eventually a peace was made, called the Pact. When the Others attacked the lands of the Children and Men during the Long Night, the two races stood together in the War for the Dawn. They were victorious, but the steady encroachment of human civilization, and the arrival of another group of humans, the Andals, caused the children to dwindle and eventually die out. Or that's what the maesters say. In A Dance with Dragons the children finally put in an appearance, in the cave of the three-eyed crow.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: "Merlings" are mentioned in A Song of Ice and Fire but never actually seen except as statuary or pictures (a merling is on the banner of House Manderly, for example), and are most likely mythical. Tyrion sarcastically says that the fisherfolk of Lannisport sometimes see them, when Lord Commander Mormont mentions that wildlings have recently seen white walkers, another mythical race which, unfortunately for the characters, turns out to be very, very real.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: The Qartheen fashion for women means leaving one breast exposed.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Called skinchangers, beastlings, and wargs, and they take control of animals rather than turn into them, and can do this with other animals besides wolves.
  • Our Wights Are Different: The corpses reanimated by the Others are described as such. They have blue eyes, black hands and can only be killed by fire.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • The people resurrected with the flames of R'hllor are the Revenant variety, and Coldhands is likely one of these as well.
    • Qyburn's "creation" Ser Robert Strong is a Construct type.
    • People killed by the Others end up as the traditional Voodoo type. They seem to retain their memories, but lose the ability to talk and any shred of humanity. The can keep fighting even after being decapitated. Their severed limbs are still animate as well, but will eventually rot away. The only sure way to kill them quickly is setting them on fire.
    • The stone men are a technically living Plague-bearing type, especially toward the end of their lives.
  • Outside-Context Villain:
    • The Seven Kingdoms are embroiled in war and intrigue, almost completely unaware that supernatural ice-demons are threatening to invade from the North.
    • The Seven Kingdoms were completely unprepared to fight dragons when Aegon arrived on their shores. Consequently, Aegon managed to conquer six of them in short order.

    P 
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Parental Favoritism: Tywin Lannister hates Tyrion for his deformity and for causing his mother to die in childbirth. He grudgingly tolerates his presence in the family, but refuses to grant him any inheritance. On the other hand, Randyll Tarly is so openly disgusted with Samwell that he threatens him with murder if he does not disinherit himself. Catelyn Stark openly resents Jon's living at Winterfell, for the reason that he isn't her son. Ramsay Snow may have killed his brother Domeric Bolton because of this.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: This line regarding Jon's unpopular and much-derided decision to employ a former rent boy as his personal manservant;
    Ser Malegorn stepped forward. “I will escort Her Grace to the feast. We shall not require your... steward.” The way the man drew out the last word told Jon that he had been considering saying something else. Boy? Pet? Whore?
  • Party Scattering: The Starks, gradually. Foreshadowed when Rickon doesn't want anyone to leave Winterfell, worried they'll never come back. First split into Jon; Ned/Sansa/Arya; Catelyn/Robb/Bran/Rickon. After Ned's death, Sansa is captured, Arya escapes, and Robb and Catelyn go to war. Bran and Rickon split up when they flee Theon's captivity in Winterfell. Finally, after Robb is killed, Catelyn is zombified and Sansa escapes King's Landing, it reaches the point where none of the surviving members even know for sure if any of their family are still alive.
  • The Patriarch: Naturally, any of the Lords. Walder Frey, Tywin Lannister and Doran Martell are probably the best examples of the trope, if only for having such Big Screwed Up Families to keep in line.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
    • The Starks, though it's noted to have taken some years to get used to each other.
    • Khal Drogo and Daenerys.
    • Deconstructed with Sansa and Joffrey - she's expecting it to work out this way, having been brought up on stories of courtly romance. It doesn't.
    • Roose Bolton and Walda Frey seem to greatly enjoy each other's company; they were only matched because he was offered his choice of bride's weight in silver as a dowry, and picked the fattest one.
    • Edmure and Roslin Frey, despite the horrific circumstances of their wedding.
    • Myrcella Baratheon and Trystane Martell.
  • Person as Verb: By A Feast for Crows, "Frey" has already become a byword for "untrustworthy person", even among people on the same side as them.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Ned Stark is initially hesitant to let his children adopt the direwolf pups in the beginning of the series out of concern that they won't be able to control them when they mature (adult direwolves are bigger than ponies). Daenarys Targaryen also faces this problem when her dragons grow large enough to eat livestock and children. Drogon in particular gives her a lot of trouble.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Both Jaime and Cersei have several moments.
    • The small bits of (relative) tenderness Sandor Clegane regularly shows Sansa during her forced stay in King's Landing.
    • Melisandre reveals that she's kept Devan near her to spare Davos the loss of another son. The trope is taken literally in A Dance With Dragons, when Ghost takes an instant liking to her. The moment is spoiled, however, when Ghost seems to forget who Jon is while in her thrall, making his approval seem unnatural.
    • The generally haughty and unfriendly Theon has a few sweet moments with Jeyne Poole/"Arya Stark" in A Dance with Dragons, culminating in his rescuing her from Ramsay.
  • People Of Hair Colour: A major plot point more than once. The Baratheons' dominant tendency towards black hair is enough to convince Ned that Cersei's children are not the King's, and the Targaryens' white hair is so distinctive that they're forced to disguise it if they wish to go incognito (leading inevitably to veritable forests of "X is a secret Targ" Epileptic Trees.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Arya Stark. She starts off with the goal of reuniting with her family, and is dragged all over the countryside by various protectors in pursuit of that. Ultimately the Red Wedding brings an end to that plan, and after more wandering the countryside, she escapes to Braavos and joins an assassins' guild.
  • Pity Sex: The pity-sex-by-proxy version is subverted. Tyrion's first sexual experience is with a woman who seems to just love him for who he is. Then it turned out that his brother Jaime hired a prostitute to play the part of Tyrion's loving girlfriend. Then it turned out that that was a lie Tywin forced Jaime to tell Tyrion — the woman wasn't a prostitute and really did just love Tyrion for himself.
  • The Plague:
    • The bloody flux, also figuratively called "the pale mare," is an acute and virulent disease that is virtually identical to dysentery, going so far as to sharing its medieval name, "the flux." It gallops through the Yunkai forces outside of Meereen, handicapping their seige.
    • Greyscale is a chronic, disfiguring disease that causes numb grey lesions to spread across the body, making the victim appear to be turning to stone. Victims in an advanced state are called "stone men" and live together in isolated colonies. Its symptoms share similarities with leprosy and smallpox. Supposedly it's relatively harmless in children, merely leaving them disfigured (notably Shireen Baratheon), but the wildlings disagree and kill afflicted children as a matter of course. Victims of Greyscale are so scorned that Jon Connington hides the fact that he has it rather than seek treatment because he won't risk abandonment by his followers.
    • The Great Spring Sickness that killed Daeron II.
  • Playing with Syringes: Qyburn, who is struck off by the Citadel but continues his research (which at its most explicit is described as "cut[ting] open the living in order to better understand death") on prisoners in Cersei's oubliettes.
  • Polyamory: Aegon the Conqueror was married to both of his sisters; each of them rode one of the three famous Targaryen dragons. It's been suggested to Daenerys that she should have two husbands likewise.
  • Politeness Judo: Sansa Stark's main defence and weapon when she engages in Passive-Aggressive Kombat. Epically used to block Tyrion's snark on numerous occasions, but with indicators before she ever got to that stage that it was there (mainly against Arya... in company, at least). She uses it on several characters to greater or lesser effect and is slowly raising it to an art form.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • The relationship between Tyrion and his father has broken down so much by "A Storm of Swords" that Tyrion doesn't pass on that Littlefinger tried to frame him for the attempted murder of Bran Stark (Tyrion may also have been trying to protect Jaime, given why he threw Bran out the window). This means Littlefinger is free to claim both the Vale and the Riverlands in the belief that he's no threat to House Lannister.
    • The whole plot by Arianne to crown Myrcella could have been avoided if her father hadn't kept her in the dark regarding his plans for her, and she hadn't read one conveniently-vaguely-worded letter and then refused to confront him about it, instead fostering a bitter sense of betrayal for years before initiating a plan which almost results in the deaths of her and Princess Myrcella.
    • Robb Stark's single biggest mistake in the whole war was not telling his uncle Edmure Tully about his plan to lure Tywin into the Westerlands. If he had told him, then Edmure wouldn't have made his disastrous You Shall Not Pass stand against Tywin; Tywin's forces would have been decimated by Robb's on Lannister home ground, putting the pressure on them instead of the Riverlands, Stannis would have sacked King's Landing, destroying the Lannister's central power-base, and Tywin would have been forced to surrender. Bolton would have never had cause to turn traitor, and Walder's reaction to the arranged marriage falling through would have been sulking in a corner.
  • Posthumous Character: Many of the characters in the series have already died by the first page, including Rhaegar Targaryen, Aerys Targaryen, Jon Arryn, Lyanna Stark, Ashara Dayne, Elia of Dorne, Ser Arthur Dayne, etc; Ser Arlan of Pennytree in the Dunk & Egg Saga.
  • Post Rape Taunt: Euron Greyjoy raped Victarion's wife and claimed it was consensual, in order to force Victarion to kill her under Ironborn law.
    Euron: She came to me wet and willing. It seems Victarion is big everywhere but where it matters.
  • Praetorian Guard: The Kingsguard, the Queensguard, and the Rainbow Guard. Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard killed his king, just as the historical Praetorians were prone to doing to the Roman Emperors. The Dothraki have bloodriders, sworn to defend their khal and be put to death when he dies.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton both make a point of putting political exigency before immediate personal gain — a lesson their respective heirs, Cersei and Ramsay, have both failed to learn. Despite being horrible people, they're both shown to be effective peacetime rulers (albeit in a very Machiavellian mould) for this reason.
    Roose Bolton: A peaceful land, a quiet people. That has always been my rule.
  • Prank Date:
    • Tyrion and Tysha, courtesy of Jaime, who paid her to do it. Horribly subverted when his father Tywin has her gang-raped, and orders Tyrion to participate. Or so Tyrion's told. The truth is even worse; she was exactly what she said she was, and Tywin's punishment was just for having the audacity to think she could marry a Lannister.
    • In a more normal, but still somewhat malicious example, A number of Renly's knights had a bet going regarding who could seduce Brienne and take her virginity and consequently, all treated her with false kindness and flattery in hopes of winning the bet. Brienne was deeply hurt when she found out about this, because their flirtation marked the first time she was treated with anything other than scorn by men and she actually was in love with one of the participants.
  • Prayer of Malice: Before she goes to sleep, Arya recites to herself a mantra which lists the names of her enemies, all of whom she plans to kill, and at one point, when she has an opportunity to engage in prayer, she recites the same list.
  • Precursors: Valyria.
  • Prequel / Prequel in the Lost Age: "The Hedge Knight", "The Sworn Sword," and "The Mystery Knight," aka the "Dunk & Egg" stories.
  • Preemptive Apology: The modus operandi of the Sorrowful Men, a guild of assassins.
  • Pre-emptive Declaration:
    'Jaime Lannister to Ryman Frey': "Only a fool makes threats he's not prepared to carry out. If I were to threaten to hit you unless you shut your mouth, and you presumed to speak, what do you think I'd do?"
    'Ryman: "Ser, you do not unders-" (cut off by Jaime backhanding him in the face)
  • Pretty Boy:
    • Loras Tyrell, the "Knight of Flowers" is noted as being slender, long-haired and pretty, though he is just as masculine as the other knights.
    • Also, Joffrey Baratheon, who is described as a combination of his sister Myrcella and his uncle Jaime, who also happens to be his father.
    • Jaime was apparently one in his early youth, when he and his beautiful sister were almost spitting images of each other.
    • Lancel Lannister is also said to resemble a younger Jaime.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen was described as incredibly beautiful.
    • Aegon "Young Griff" is described as taking after his true father, with eyelashes "as long as any woman's," purple eyes, and a lithe, skinny build. And once he gets all that dye out...
  • The Presents Were Never from Santa: Edric Storm got regular presents from his father King Robert, but Stannis says they actually came from Varys.
  • Pride: On at least two occasions that we know of, Jaime has an opportunity to explain to somebody the very good reason that he killed Aerys — first to Ned immediately after the fact, and later to Brynden Tully. But the idea of being contrite, of explaining his actions in the hope of forgiveness to somebody who looks down on him for what they think he is, sticks in his throat and he can't bring himself to do it.
  • Private Military Contractors: There are many named sellsword companies. Each has their own traditions and reputation, ranging from scum like the Brave Companions to the elite and expensive Golden Company. The world is also filled with independent sellswords and hedge knights, who bounce from job to job. Bronn is the series' most notable sellsword.
  • Private Tutor: Syrio Forel teaches the Braavosi style to Arya Stark.
  • Promoted to Scapegoat: House Frey gets promoted to scapegoat by Roose Bolton and Tywin Lannister as a "reward" for the Red Wedding. To a lesser extent, Roose Bolton is also Promoted To Scapegoat by Tywin, who makes him Warden of the North so he'll have to deal with the Ironborn invaders and Stannis Baratheon and probably die in the effort— which will conveniently leave leadership of the North open for Tyrion and Sansa's future sons in the spring.
  • Promotion to Parent:
    • Robb Stark, who fails for the most part.
    • Griff raises Aegon Targaryen on his riverboat with the help of a few tutors, and seems to have done a pretty good job.
    • Viserys is this with regards to Daenerys, and firmly lands in Abusive Parents territory.
  • Prophecy Twist: Melisandre foresees that if Stannis marches against Kings Landing, his brother Renly will crush him, but if he attacks Storms End he'll defeat his brother. Turns out both happen; at Storms End Stannis uses Melisandre's sorcery to kill his brother, forcing the majority of Renly's army to come over to his side. He then marches against Kings Landing, only to be crushed by a combined Lannister/Tyrell army led by 'Renly's ghost' (actually someone wearing Renly's armour in an El Cid Ploy).
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • The Dothraki, who live to conquer. They have no system of commerce, only gifts and plunder.
    • The wildlings are ruled by strength rather than bloodlines.
    • The Ironborn, who look down on paying for anything with gold, or even working for their food. They take pride in stealing what they want and living on the labor of thralls.
  • Psychic Dreams for Everyone:
    • "Green dreams," as defined by Jojen Reed, are prophetic dreams had by some humans, but most commonly by greenseers. Several characters have what appear to be prophetic dreams, some of which have come true by A Dance With Dragons.
    • Skinchangers have a different type of psychic dream, being able to control their bonded animals in their sleep.
  • Psycho for Hire:
    • Tywin Lannister is so fond of using these for his foraging missions that Arya wonders how many monsters are on his payroll. Of particular note are the Brave Companions, better known as the Bloody Mummers, a sellsword company made up of killers, rapists, sadists, a cannibal, a pedophile, a Monster Clown, and other psychopaths. The Boltons happily make use of them when they turn their cloaks.
    • Tyrion himself has the sellsword Bronn and the raiding Mountain Clans as minions.
  • Psycho Rangers - The Frey/Bolton alliance is like a disturbing parody of the Stark/Tullys.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Viserys.
  • Punctuated Pounding:
    • Brienne when killing Shagwell. Both of them are momentarily berserk with rage by the end of it.
    • Used as Troubling Unchildlike Behavior when Ayra Stark encounters The Tickler again; she stabs him to death while repeating the interrogation questions he'd ask all of his victims.
    "Is there gold hidden in the village? Is there silver, gems? Is there food? Where is Lord Beric? Where did he go? How many men were with him? How many knights, how many bowmen? How many, how many, how many, how many, how many, how many?"
  • Punctuation Shaker: Jaqen H'ghar, amongst others. Lampshaded when Arya is unable to pronounce "R'hllor".
  • Punny Name: Ser Ill In Pain, sorry, Illyn Payne. Also, Dickon Manwoody. Seriously, GRRM?
  • Puppy Love: Bran has a crush on Meera Reed. Trystane and Myrcella are said to make a very sweet "couple".

    Q-R 
  • The Quest: Brienne's search for Sansa Stark. Quentyn Martell seeking the hand of Daenerys Targaryen.
  • Racial Remnant: The Targaryen family are refugees from the Doom of Valyria and, together with Houses Celtigar and Velaryon, are the last remnant of the Valyrian people in Westeros. They're easily identifiable by their distinct white haired appearance.
  • Rags to Riches:
    • Davos grew up in Flea Bottom. He became a smuggler, working his way up to captain of his own ship; he rescued Stannis Baratheon from a siege and was knighted for it, also becoming firm friends with the high lord and being taken into his confidence as The Consigliere. His Brutal Honesty and Undying Loyalty in this role eventually see him made Lord of the Rainwood, Admiral of the Narrow Sea and Hand of the King.
    • Littlefinger is a deconstruction of the same concept; he's worked his way up from the very lowest dregs of the nobility to Lord Protector of the Vale by being a Manipulative Bastard and by deliberately instigating upheaval so as to further his own chances of advancement.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Night's Watch, the Brave Companions, and the Brotherhood Without Banners.
  • Rainbow Motif: The Faith of the Seven uses rainbows to symbolize the seven aspects of God. Prisms are also used because they create rainbows, notably on the High Septon's crown. Renly's Rainbow Guard is a reference to the Faith.
  • Rape and Revenge:
    • Lysa has sex with Petyr Baelish where he is not in a fit state to give consent and believes she is her sister Catelyn, on at least two occasions: once when Catelyn rejects him and he drinks until he passes out, and the other after his duel with Brandon Stark where he is injured and feverish. Lysa appears to think of it as having been consensual, but she's insane; Petyr appears to genuinely believe he had sex with Cat on at least one occasion. He later ends up killing Lysa, although his motivation is not made clear.
    • Oberyn Martell wanted nothing more than to kill Ser Gregor Clegane, the man who raped and murdered his sister Elia at the Sack of King's Landing. He eventually exacts his revenge years later, but at the cost of his own life.
  • Rape By Proxy:
    • It is revealed in back story that Tyrion once married a prostitute, but the marriage was ended when his father Tywin found out about it, and as punishment Tywin made Tyrion watch as his guards raped her, finally forcing Tyrion to go last. This becomes arguably even worse when we find out that she wasn't actually a prostitute; she was what she claimed to be, a cobbler's daughter met by chance on the road. This is generally considered to be Tywin's Moral Event Horizon and directly leads to his death when Tyrion finds out that she was not a prostitute.
    • Also, Ramsay Bolton forces "Reek" a.k.a. Theon Greyjoy to perform oral sex on Ramsay's thirteen-year-old bride Jeyne Poole.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn: Happens quite a lot. The Brave Companions, Gregor Clegane and his men, and the Dothraki are particularly fond of it. This is more-or-less what the traditional Ironborn culture is all about. While some rulers will geld rapists, it's done more out of a need to maintain law and order than because Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil. When King's Landing looks like it's about to fall, it's accepted that even the notoriously strict Stannis will be unable to prevent the mass rapes that will ensue, and neither he nor Lord Tarly (also tough on rapists) will stop their men taking plunder. For his part, Tywin Lannister exploits the trope in the Sack of King's Landing by blaming the deaths of the Targaryen children on rampaging soldiers rather than his orders.
  • "Rashomon"-Style:
    • A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons each feature a different POV of the same conversation between Samwell and Jon.
    • This trope shows up quite a bit in Archmaester Gyldayn’s Histories, which are written in the third person by an in-universe historian. His sources give differing accounts of the same events that are so wildly contradictory that one could hardly believe they’re talking about the same people.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Tyrion losing his nose is inspired by Martin's work on The Twilight Zone. In an episode he wrote it was decided that two knights would fight without helmets. The result was a stuntman losing his nose.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Some characters wear costumes that would be considered "girly" in real life western culture, but have more masculine significance in their own culture.
    • The warrior class of Slaver's Bay wear outlandish costumes and styled hair, though they prove to be pretty worthless in combat.
    • Lord Roose Bolton of the Dreadfort and his pale pink robes. In the past, the Boltons really wore the flayed skins of their enemies as capes. Westeros doesn't seem to see pink as a feminine color to begin with.
    • Loras Tyrell, the Knight of Flowers, bedecks himself in armor and costumes with a flower theme, the symbol of his great house.
    • The members of Renly Baratheon's Rainbow Guard each wear a color of the rainbow, which is a symbol of the Faith of the Seven.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: The Night's Watch often serves this purpose for criminals, disgraced ex-soldiers and Black Sheep members of noble houses. This backfires on the Watch big time when some of these former criminals kill Lord Commander Mormont.
  • Reassignment Backfire: Happens to several characters who are sent to join the Night's Watch.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Lord Tywin delivers a brutal (and ironically, undeserved) one to his son, Tyrion.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Rare, but Eddard Stark and Jeor Mormont both do their best to keep this ideal, even if they aren't perfect.
    • As Hand of the King, Tyrion is often this.
    • For that matter, for all his flaws, Lord Tywin Lannister is this when he's serving as Hand (not so much as a battle commander). His steady hand is able to balance out the psychopathy of both Aerys and Joffrey, and the smallfolk loved he is largely the reason the Mad King's reign is remembered as a time of peace and prosperity until the end (after Tywin had already been replaced).
    • Kevan Lannister seems to have learned well from his brother, and while not quite as decisive balances it by also being slightly less ruthless. This is why Varys has him killed.
    • Surprisingly, Grand Maester Pycelle has elements of this in Books 4 and 5 when working with Kevan which is why he meets the same fate.
    • Daenerys tries to be this in Mereen. She fails miserably.
    • Jaime Lannister of all people is beginning to show signs of this, especially in his sole chapter in A Dance with Dragons. While he still has a way to go in perfecting it, he goes out of his way to come to fair settlements with the rebelling Riverlands families, and is understanding when the locals won't let his men garrison inside Pennytree Holdfast, even ordering his men not to steal provisions from the abandoned houses they end up shelting at.
  • Recruited From The Gutter: Smuggler Davos Seaworth delivered a lifesaving ration of onions to Stannis Baratheon while his fortress was under siege and starving. As repayment, the lawful Stannis raised him to knighthood and shortened the fingers of his left hand to punish him for his smuggling. Davos remains one of Stannis' most loyal servants.
  • Red-Headed Hero: Robb, Bran and Sansa.
  • Recruiters Always Lie: Yoren is implied to use any tactics available to drum up recruits for the Watch, though as most of them are in prison to begin with they don't exactly have much to lose. Martin has jokingly commented that Dolorous Edd was convinced to join the Watch when Yoren told him it was a good place to meet girls.
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Sandor Clegane's scars and Tyrion's deformity cause most people to assume that they're monsters. Although both can be pretty brutal when they want to be, they ultimately subvert the trope.
    • Roose Bolton is normal-looking except for his creepy "pale" eyes.
    • A literal example in Victarion Greyjoy, whose infected hand becomes magically healed by a red priest. It appears horrifically burned, but it's apparently painless and supernaturally strong. The hand coincides with Victarion becoming increasingly convinced that he is favored by the gods to seize Dany's dragons for himself and kill anyone in his path.
    • Biter's filed teeth and Rorge's slit nose, both directly caused by their villainy.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Fire and Ice is a central theme, so there are a number of examples:
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Jaime Lannister will probably never get over his reputation.
  • Refuge in Audacity: After the Red Wedding, the Frey's say that the Starks all simultaneously warged into wolves and began slaughtering people.
  • Regent for Life: Several characters make a go at becoming this, with varying success.
  • Religion is Magic: Magic is left vague and mysterious, but a good portion of the magic we see is rooted in a religion of some form. Several followers of R'hllor are able to perform magical feats. Other types of magic, such as skinchanging and prophetic dreams, are linked with greenseers and the old gods.
  • Religion of Evil:
    • The faith of the Ironborn tends to come across this way, since their deity is basically Cthulhu-plus-Dagon and a popular form of worship is drowning people in the course of their typical raping and pillaging.
    • The faith of R'hllor presents itself as good and loving and as a necessary bullwark against the "Great Other," who aims to wipe out humanity. However, their sinister priests are shown burning people alive as sacrifices and practicing necromancy.
    • The Many-Faced God worshiped in the House of Black and White is rather hard to pin down. The priests offer painless euthanasia to the suffering, and their founder led the Braavosi out of bondage. They also offer Arya Stark shelter and support in return for a debt. However, their priests are Faceless Men, a feared and Shrouded in Myth guild of shapeshifting assassins who are brainwashed into a total Loss of Identity.
    • Craster sacrifices his male children to the Others. It's unclear if he does this to eliminate male rivals in his home, to keep the Others at bay, because he worships the Others, or some combination of the three.
  • The Remnant:
    • The Brotherhood Without Banners is the remnant of a group sent out to bring the King's justice on Gregor Clegane. They turn into La Résistance after the Lannisters take control of the throne, thus becoming the law. After their leader Beric Dondarrion dies for good, they turn into a sad remnant of their former selves when they get a new leader who steers them toward personal vengeance.
    • The Sons of the Harpy, a "resistance" to Daenerys' rule over Meereen, killing freedmen and "Shavepates", who are regarded as collaborators.
  • Replacement Goldfish:
    • Sansa for her rescuer and mentor Petyr Baelish due to her striking resemblance to Catelyn, her mother and his ill-fated love. He's currently planning a match between her and another heir for political reasons, though.
    • Ser Jorah confesses to Daenerys that she reminds him of Lynesse.
    • Cersei's musings on Aurane Waters include comparisons (of whim-dependent favorability) to Rhaegar.
  • Rescue The Princess: The whole point of Robert's Rebellion was to rescue the kidnapped Lyanna Stark.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: Jaime speculates that Joffrey overheard a comment from Robert that Bran Stark would be better off dead than a cripple, and arranged for him to be murdered in an attempt to win his father's approval.
  • Royal Blood:
    • The Targaryens and their related cadets of the Blackfyres and Baratheons, obviously. However, all the Great Houses barring the Tullys and Tyrells can claim direct descent from kings of the time before the Seven Kingdoms were united, which causes some political friction.
    • Melisandre at least is of the opinion that Royal Blood has inherent magical potential, being a significantly more powerful resource than the ordinary stuff when used in Blood Magic.
  • Royal Inbreeding: The Targaryens often (though not always) wed their sisters, which is generally seen as an abhorrent, unholy practice when done by anyone other than the Targs, and a slightly questionable one even for them. Most of the noble houses have no problems with first cousins marrying, however, Tywin Lannister and his late wife for instance.
  • Royally Screwed Up:
    • The Targaryens, though it's touch and go: each Targaryen seems to teeter on the line between being either a total nutter like Aerys, or a great leader. Barristan suggests that the gods flip a coin when the baby is born, but in Aerys' case he seems to have been driven to insanity later in life.
    • The Baratheons are hardly any better; Robert was a lazy, inconsistent ruler as well as a drunk and adulterer, his brothers went to war over his throne, and the two children who've succeeded him are actually his wife's bastards by her own brother. Joffrey in particular seemed to share the worst qualities of both his biological parents and his legal father, and the graces of none of them.
  • Royalty Superpower: Melisandre certainly believes in this ("there is power in the blood of kings"), which is one reason why she's stapled herself to Stannis Baratheon as the only rightful descendant she knows of from the Targaryen line. Daenerys seems to have legitimately inherited the once-thought-extinct ability with dragons apparently restricted to Targaryens and those related to them. And, several of the Starks can warg, an uncommon skill south of the Wall these days and linked to their First Men heritage as Kings of the North.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most characters in the series. Robert Baratheon is a notable exception, at least by the time of the novels.
  • Rule of Three: The Rule of Three runs through Dany's whole story - contrast the Rule of Seven in the Westeros chapters. She's one of three children (as are a lot of past Targaryen generations), she has three handmaidens, three dragons, three ships. She sends her three bloodriders out from Vaes Tolorro to find civilisation, and only the third succeeds, returning with three envoys from Qarth, only the third of which is any help. The Undying's prophecy is stacked to the gills with threes - the famous line that "the dragon has three heads", along with "three fires must you light, one for life and one for death and one to love... three mounts must you ride: one to bed and one to dread and one to love... three treasons will you know: once for blood and once for gold and once for love". She conquers three Ghiscari cities, with only the third being successful long-term.
  • Running Gag:
    • Shagga's "I'll chop off your manhood and feed it to the goats!" It's Shagga's catchphrase until Tyrion starts getting in on the act. He says he'd rather do it to himself than marry Lollys. When he tries the line on Shagga, he points out that Tyrion has no goats. Tyrion replies, "I'll get some, just for you." There's even a version showing up in the Dunk and Egg stories, though with dogs instead of goats.
    • People asking "Which king?" during the War of the Five Kings in response to another party referring to their king.
    • "As useless as nipples on a breastplate" is quipped by multiple people throughout the series. The gag continues when Ser Jorah Mormont scrounges up a breastplate with pierced nipples in A Dance With Dragons.
    • Everyone insisting that "the dragons are dead", despite evidence to the contrary.

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