Fanfic: Ned Stark Lives

At the very end of A Game of Thrones, the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, Lord Eddard Stark is seized for treason after trying to remove King Joffrey from the Iron Throne. He is then forced to take the black and go to the Night's Watch under threat that his daughters' lives will be spared, and that his son Robb Stark will stop his campaign in the Riverlands and return North. Everything goes according to plan until suddenly, Joffrey decides to chop off Ned Stark's head and start the War of the Five Kings.

But what if Ned Stark wasn't executed? What would have happened to the continent of Westeros if the War of the Five Kings became the War of the Four Kings, and that the Starks would return back North?

Ned Stark Lives!, its second and third installments explore this what-if scenario as closely as George R.R. Martin could have written it.

This series provides examples of:

  • A Child Shall Lead Them: In contrast to canon, Robb managed to return the reins of power to his father, and Jon resigned as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch to escort Bran to Coldhands.
    • After Ned went into a coma, Robb took over command once again.
    • Kings Joffrey and Tommen, followed, briefly, by Queen Myrcella.
    • King Aegon VI on his return to Westeros.
  • Adult Fear: When a maester comes to the conclusion that the grey ash falling all over Westeros came from a volcano - the only active volcano in Westeros being Dragonstone - Stannis is horrified at the possibility that his wife and daughter might have been killed. The Starks also realizes that Gendry is almost certainly dead and possibly Arya as well. Fortunately, all four of them turn up alive at Duskendale.
    • All of Cersei and Jaime's children are killed one at a time, the final one dying right in front of them as they watch on helplessly.
    • For the Starks, Arya and Gendry having to run from Selyse Baratheon because she wants their heads. There are times when Ned and Cat have no idea where they are, and can only hope they made it somewhere safe.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Joffrey pleads for mercy from Stannis after The Battle for Kings Landing and Stannis has bested him in single combat. He doesn't get it.
  • All Myths Are True: By the later chapters of Part II, this trope is happening so often that many characters are starting to believe that most (if not all) the stories they were told by the elders when they were kids were true.
  • Alternate Universe Fic: What if Ned Stark wasn't executed?
  • Anachronic Order: In Part III Bran tells Jon that Catelyn spoke to him by praying in front of a heart tree. Later in the fic Catelyn gets a POV chapter describing this encounter.
  • And I Must Scream: Implied to be what happens to all wights, as seen from Theon's point of view.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: Arya takes the news of Joffrey's death very well, Eddard is unsettled by how gleeful she is. The Northmen as well, celebrating after the news starts to spread around camp.
    • Also, they react the same way when told Tywin is dead.
    • And the same for Cersei.
    • Played with for Myrcella. No one's exactly happy that she's dead — and the Lannister supporters are genuinely saddened by the loss of an innocent life — but many are aware that one less claimant to the throne is better for the realm.
  • And This Is for...: To quote Sandor when he kills Gregor "For My Sister! For My Father! For Me!!"
  • Annoying Arrows: Averted. The armies that fight the Others have obsidian-tipped arrows that can be a One-Hit Kill.
    • Myrcella dies after being hit with an arrow.
  • Anyone Can Die: It's A Song of Ice and Fire, with the War of the Four Kings raging in the central regions. Come Part II, the second Long Night is upon the continent. What did you expect?
    • Also averted somewhat, as fans have noted, in that none of the Starks have died outside Roslin in childbirth.
  • Anything But That!: Quoted word-for-word by Ned when Cat threatens to bore him with a sermon or two from her faith's holy book.
  • Arc Words: The house words of House Stark, i.e. Winter Is Coming.
  • Arranged Marriage: Daenerys to Hizdhar zo Loraq though she plans to leaving him on the wedding day and eventually marry Aegon. She also arranges a betrothal between herself and Euron Greyjoy to receive his ships, but plans to kill him just before they reach Westeros.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Jon's charges against the Night's Watch are: aiding the wildlings, giving them knowledge of the Watch's defenses, helping them climb the wall, murdering another member of the Watch, and sleeping with a woman.
    Lord Steward Marsh: How do you answer these charges?
    Jon: Not true! Except that last part.
    • It quickly becomes clear that only Thorne cares Jon slept with a woman, and that's just because he hates him.
  • Asshole Victim: Tywin, Ser Meryn, Joffrey, Ramsay Bolton, Vargo Hoat, Armory Loch, Gregor Clegane, and Hizdhar zo Loraq so far.
  • Attempted Rape: As to be expected in this series, Polliver tries to rape Shelia. Hot Pie of all people kills him.
  • Ascended Extra: The fic gives POV chapters to many characters that didn't have one in the original series, even minor or mention-only characters. Hot Pie and Shae also get fairly significant story arcs.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: In Ned's dream, Brandon the Builder claimed that the Great Other cannot be killed, but merely imprisoned.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: The Wildlings, as in canon. In part 3, Jon gains the loyalty of a group through a combination of killing their leader and being The Chosen One.
  • Author Appeal: In case the title hasn't given you a hint, the fic is very Stark-orientated.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning:
    • Probably the only high point for Theon, when he gets crowned at the kingsmoot held to choose Balon's sucessor.
    • Aegon is crowned in King's Landing in Part III.
  • Awful Truth: Two of them in Part 2. Jon Snow considers the revelation of his true parentage to be one while Stannis suffers a mini Heroic BSOD when he realizes he's not in fact the Prince that was Promised, despite Melisandre's claims otherwise.
    • Tyrion admits to Kevan that Lancel had been having an affair with Cersei, that he played a role in Robert's death, and that Jaime is the father of Cersei's children. Kevan calls for more wine.
    • Cersei obliquely confirms to Tommen and Myrcella that they are products of incest.
  • Back from the Dead: Robb Stark, after being killed by Ramsay during their trial by combat. Fortunately, his soul escaped into Grey Wind's body and was promptly revived by Thoros soon afterwards.
    • Melisandre is revived in Elianta's body, but killed once again by Gendry.
  • Badass Family: The Starks, moreso now that they're reunited. The Lannisters as well, who start to fight more seriously for their survival after the Fall of King's Landing. Tommen even decides to become more of a man by learning how to sword fight with Jaime Lannister.
  • Batman Gambit: As in canon, Tyrion's a master of this.
    • In order to make the knee-bending ceremony as troublefree as possible, Tyrion proclaimed that only Robb and Edmure need kneel to represent The North and the Riverlands respectively. Just as he predicted, their bannersmen knelt as well so that the pair did not bend the knee "alone".
    • Shouting out Sansa's name during Sandor's duel with his brother. It saved the Hound's life.
  • Battle Couple: Arya and Gendry, although Ned and Catelyn both try to talk Arya out of fighting in their battles.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: In Chapter 9 of Part III, Jaqen H'ghar disguises himself as King Stannis and stabs Melisandre to prevent her from killing Gendry, using his disguise to ensure nothing happens to him.
  • Berserk Button: The normally composed Ned Stark punches Alliser Thorne in the face for questioning his choice to have Jon escorting Bran rather than stay to protect Winterfell. Though to be fair, he was under a lot of stress at the time.
    • Do not use the word "bastard" around Arya, unless you want to get all sorts of reactions from her.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Many of the Lannister soldiers end up killing themselves if they're caught and imprisoned, after it becomes clear that Stannis sacrifices his enemies to the Lord of Light (by burning them alive).
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The Third Battle of the Trident was so huge that it had be told from multiple POVs over two chapters.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Cersei as in canon. The other Lannisters recognize this, and try to keep from gaining any real power.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Played with. Beric Dondarrion's men save Ned, Arya and the other boys from Vargo Hoat, but Ned was already talking them out of killing them all.
    • A straight example in part II. During the Red Fork Battle between the Baratheon-Lannister-Tully-Tyrell alliance and the Others, the Vale saves everyone's bacon by attacking the others from behind right on time.
    • A straight example occurs earlier in the same story, when Ned, the armies of the North, the Night's Watch, and the Wildlings arriving to defeat the Others and save Winterfell.
    • Played with in Part III. Daenerys and Euron land on Pyke in time to save the Ironborn, who are being besieged by vengeful Westernmen, but no one is really happy to see Euron. Victorion still goes to kill him with Daenerys approving of it because she hates him too.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: The Lannisters, the Freys, and the Greyjoys naturally. The Bolton's are conspicuously absent of this trope. Roslin gives us an inside look at what growing up as a Frey is like, and how eager she is to leave them all behind.
  • Black and Grey Morality: See Screw the Rules, I Have Connections! below. There is no "white" morality in Westeros.
  • Blackmail: Littlefinger tries to blackmail Sansa into marrying Sweetrobin when he finds out that she was in an inn planning to have sex with the Hound, but she stabs him to death when he forcibly kisses her.
  • Body Horror: In Jon's first chapter of part 3, he communicates with Bran through the Weirwood Tree and sees that Bran's hand has fused with the roots of the tree.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The Greatjon of course.
  • Brainwashed: Euron uses his dragonbinding horn to force Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion to attack Dany. She survives, destroys the horn, and restores the dragons to their normal selves.
  • Bond Creature: The Stark children's direwolves, just as in canon.
    • Gendry and the dragon Elianta. This is because Melisandre awakened her with Gendry's blood.
  • Broken Aesop: From Robb's rebellion, Arya learnt that it is OK to defy a king if his demands are unjust.
  • The Bus Came Back: Jaqen H'ghar appeared briefly early in Ned and Arya's chapters, before returning in the sequel in Tyrion's chapters. And then again in Arya's quest to save Gendry.
    • After being missing for the entire sequel, Littlefinger returns with the vast army of the Vale to save the Baratheon-Lannister-Tully-Tyrell alliance from a massive force of Others and Wights. However, after being missing for so long and showing up so conveniently, this just makes Tyrion and Stannis more suspicious of him.
    • Hot Pie after remaining at Harrenhal returns in the sequel, and rejoins the Starks.
  • Butt Monkey: In contrast to his Tear Jerker status in canon, Theon is this. Besides losing Winterfell after occupying it for a short while, he gets captured after peeing on Tywin's grave during the ironborn's raid on Casterly Rock. Aaannddd... now he is seeing the fight with the Others from the other side.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Myrcella and Tommen see more of their mother's dark side as the story goes on and confront her about several of her misdeeds.
  • Came Back Wrong: All the wights, including Maester Luwin. And Theon.
  • The Chosen One: Jon Snow is Azor Ahai.
  • Christmas Cake: Alysanne Lefford, which is why she proposes to Tyrion.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Ramsay, in contrast to Robb Stark during their trial by combat, couldn't care less about fighting honorably and plans to cheat his way to victory. This worries Arya to no end. He still dies nonetheless.
    • Stannis applies this strategically assassinating Tywin with a shadow baby, using Melisandre's magic to defeat the Reach's armies, and uses Obsidian as arrow points allowing his forces to kill Others from a distance.
  • Continuity Nod: When Cat gives Arya The Talk, she casually mentions that Lysa was quite experienced about the whole thing, and she never knew why. This is because Lysa bedded Littlefinger when they were kids.
  • Cool Sword: The true Lightbringer, found in the deepest part of Winterfell's crypts.
  • Crapsack World: The North may have been spared from a ruinous war as compared to canon, but most of the Seven Kingdoms are still fighting the War of the Four Kings. After the Wall fell, the second Long Night is upon the continent.
  • Creepy Child: The preferred form of the Great Other when dealing with humans if Ned's vision and a Wildling legend are anything to go by.
  • Crossover Cosmology: The third Jon chapter in part 3 reveals that the Great Other is also The Stranger from the Faith of the Seven, as well as the Many Faced God, because he is the embodiment of the cold and darkness of death.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Samwell Tarly becomes even more badass, killing an Other that was trying to kill Mance Ryder.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Joffrey gets a suitably horrific death at the hands of Stannis, in contrast to how he died in the books. Also, every prisoner who ends up sacrificed to the Lord of Light.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The Stark kids being wargs. The kids themselves lean towards the Awesome part, their parents the Cursed part.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Stannis.
    • After the North ceases hostilities with the Westerlands, he uses a shadow baby to assassinate Tywin, knowing that Tywin's death will greatly weaken the Westerlands.
    • Also, he uses Melisandre's magic to wreck havoc on the Reach's armies. He also takes Loras and Margaery hostage, forcing Mace to commit his troops to Stannis's cause.
    • The Great Other is implied to be this as well since it takes advantage of Jon and Sam's knowledge of the wildling legend about it turning into a Creepy Child to goad Val and Jon into killing an innocent little girl it had possessed to observe Jon.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Catelyn names her fourth son after Edmure, who died in the Third Battle of the Trident.
    • Aegon names his dragon Elianta after his mother Elia Martell.
  • Death by Adaptation: Many people still alive in the books die here.
  • Death by Childbirth: Roslin dies giving birth to a daughter.
  • A Death in the Limelight: Maester Luwin.
  • Demonic Possession: An ability of the Great Other. In chapter 17 of Part 3, Jon's group encounters a group of wildlings in the far north. With them is a little girl with extreme Creepy Blue Eyes, who Jon and Val wind up suspecting to be the Great Other. Turns out its just a little girl it was possessing from far away so it could observe Jon. Jon is horrified by the implications since it means the Great Other could theoretically possess one of his friends and traveling companions.
  • Determinator: As in canon, Stannis deconstructs this trope. His refusal to compromise what is his puts the entire continent at risk because he can't work with rival factions to stop the Others. He seemed close to possibly calling a truce with the Lannisters and Tyrells, but the Others attack before he can give an answer. He refuses to leave Harrenhal even though the castle can't sustain his forces for much longer, and even he does, he then plans to execute Gendry knowing that the Starks will never forgive him for it. As of Part III, with Melisandre dead and all four dragons in Westeros under Targaryen control, Stannis' quest to take the throne is just dividing up people's loyalties at a time they should be working together, bringing him closer and closer to being The Millstone.
    • Also deconstructed with Cersei; her stubbornness is practically lethal. The realm is falling apart, no one wants Myrcella as queen, Casterly Rock has been sacked, the Lannister forces are nearly spent, the Tyrells are holding her, Myrcella, and Jaime prisoner and Others are destroying armies left and right. Her response? To keep fighting everyone else as if sitting on the Iron Throne still means something.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Just like in canon, Robb regrets his decision to release Theon back to the Iron Isles, while Cat regrets allowing Tyrion to have a trial by combat while he was at the Vale.
    • Theon's plans are this as as well (He did seize Winterfell, but failed to hold it, and the raid on Casterly Rock is successful, but he gets captured).
  • Disney Villain Death: Played straight with Ser Meryn and Ser Boros, when the wildfire starts exploding. Subverted with Joffrey, who is soon captured by Stannis and is immediately killed in single combat.
  • Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: The Lannisters make a point of showing the banker from Braavos the Gold of Castle Rock to embarrass him. Since the banker is actually a Faceless Man, he doesn't let it go unanswered.
  • Doomed by Canon: Subverted. Jaime almost loses his sword hand, but convinces the maesters to leave it on.
    • Played straight with Quentyn Martell, who still gets roasted alive by the dragons (although at least he doesn't take days to die).
    • Yoren and Lommy still die en route to the North.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Ned thinks his dream while in a coma is this. More disturbingly, it implies that Bran will not return from his trip to Coldhands.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Robb after learning of his wife's death.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Right when Jon is at the brink of death at the hands of the Others, Lyanna Stark, Rhaegar Targaryen, and Azor Ahai come to Jon in a vision to help Jon realize that he is fire itself, giving Jon the ability to conjure huge bursts of flame for a short period of time to kill the Others surrounding him.
  • Emo Teen: Loras Tyrell takes this to new heights after being held hostage by Stannis.
  • Enemy Mine: Happens many times. Most famously, the Lannisters ally with the Tyrells, and the Night's Watch (reluctantly) ally with the wildlings to fight the Others.
    • Tyrion treats with Stannis and Brynden Tully so they can stop fighting and deal with the real problem: the Others.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Tyrion, who explicitly dislikes Joffrey for his cruelty and sadism, is visibly disgusted after he hears what Stannis did to his body after killing him in single combat.
  • Exact Words: Stannis tells Ned that there are no birds for Dragonstone in Harrenhal, so he cannot send messages there, and swears not to send any. He conveniently leaves out that he has already sent the only Dragonstone bird in the Harrenhal rookery.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Varys and Barristan Selmy had this when Dany asked if Rhaegar had a second son. Varys finally figured out that Jon was that second son.
  • Expy: Winterfell when attacked by the Others is one for Helm's Deep during the siege in The Two Towers.
  • Eye Scream: How Gregor Clegane kills one of Stannis's men during interrogation after trying to learn more about his plans to invade King's Landing now that Tywin was killed.
    • Victarion puts out Euron's one good eye before killing him.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Wildlings are on the receiving end of this. After traveling to White Harbor with the Starks and the Night's Watch, the Manderlys (actually Axel Florent) refuse to let them enter the city.
  • Fighting from the Inside: Theon, after becoming a wight, manages to hold off his attacks so that Robb can kill him.
  • For Want of a Nail: Ned's stay of execution was due to Varys finding out about Littlefinger's backstab, and drugging Joffrey so that he was unable to pass sentence. As a result, the North is better prepared against the ironborn invasion.
    • Since Stannis assassinated Tywin, devastated the Reach's armies with magic, and didn't take his fleet up Blackwater, he and his army successfully take King's Landing.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Dany's clothes were burned off when Euron forces the dragons to attack her, so she had to spend the rest of the battle covered only in blood and soot. On her way to save her dragons she manages to fight off a few men a sword she picked up.
  • Gambit Pile Up: Daenerys planned to betray her husband, take her dragons back, and burn her enemies, but Hizdahr made arrangements of his own. He was planning to killing all her men so she would trapped in Meereen. Then Quentyn Martell showed up to marry her. When she refused, he tried to free her dragons, which gave Hizdahr time to interrogate Missandei and learn Daenerys' plan. When Hizdahr had his man attack her, Ser Barristan defeated them and Daenerys took him prisoner. When they got to the fighting pits, the pit fighters, hired by Hizdahr, tried to kill her. The whole thing ended with Daenerys breaking her dragons free and burning Meereen to ashes. Then Euron Greyjoy showed up...
  • General Failure: Theon during the raid on Casterly Rock so much that the rest of The Iron Fleet ditch him.
  • Generation Xerox: As in canon, Gendry looks like Robert at the appropriate age, while Arya resembles her aunt Lyanna. Here, it even extends to marriage.
  • Gods Need Prayer Badly: The Great Other will always exist and be strong as long as some people worship death and have evil in their hearts. He goes on to state that times of prosperity and long summer are linked to how much hope and justice exists in the world, which weakens him and the winters.
  • Good Parents: Ned Stark. Catelyn also starts to become more like one once she starts warming up to Gendry.
  • The Good King: Aegon was moulded to be one, and there's every sign of him being a genuine Nice Guy, informing Daenarys that, after she bends the knee to him, she never need kneel to him again, and chastises Ser Rolly Duckfield, head of the Kingsguard, who told her to do so. Whether he will remain so after Melisandre, possessing Elianta, burned half of him rather badly and Gendry kills her in his father's armour with his warhammer after Arya forces her to fly into the Red Keep, on the other hand, is unknown.
  • Happily Married: Ned and Cat; Robb and Roslin; Gendry and Arya.
    • For the last pair, the marriage has not been consummated yet.
  • Heel Realization: Eventually, Tyrion realized that when nobles play the game of thrones, it is the smallfolk who suffers the most.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Averted.
    • In the duel between Ramsay and Robb, Ramsay takes off his helmet allowing the already mortally injured Robb to stab him in the throat. Arya notes, that had Ramsay not taken his helmet off the blow would have glanced off his helmet.
    • During his duel with Gregor, Sandor exploited the fact that his opponent was not wearing a helmet and went straight for the head. He himself took off his helmet, but he ensured that his opponent was Deader Than Dead before he stopped.
    • Ned being hit in the head and going into a coma. It was very clear from the narration that without his helmet, he would have died.
    • Lampshaded by Jon in part 3. He doesn't like wearing helmets, but takes one with with him before going on a mission.
  • Heroic BSOD: Arya hits one when she learns Melisandre (King Stannis' red priestess) intends to kill Gendry, and kills two men that had been sent north to take him.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Sandor gets this during his duel with his brother, after Tyrion shouts out Sansa's name.
  • History Repeats: A Stark girl getting married to a Baratheon boy, although the boy is a bastard and the girl likes the boy.
  • Hoist By Their Own Petard: the wildfire the Lannisters stock up for the battle against Stannis blows up, destroying parts of King's Landing and weakening the defenses enough to allow Stannis to take the city.
    • The stone dragon Melisandre awakens with Gendry's blood eats her alive.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Ned Stark was once this, but ever since his encounters with the Deadly Decadent Court at King's Landing, he starts to become a better judge of character. He even advises his family to arm themselves with hidden daggers when they get to the Twins for Robb's wedding in case of the possibility that the Freys were planning to betray them. They were, but Walder Frey decided at the last moment not to, when he considered that he'll get a lot more with his grandson as Lord of Winterfell.
  • Horrifying the Horror: The Great Other was so scared of Jon (even before he joined the Night's Watch) that he hired the Faceless Men to kill him.
  • Human Sacrifice: The fate of every Lannister soldier who was unfortunate enough to get captured by Stannis. Melisandre was planning to do the same for Joffrey, but Stannis dissuaded her, reminding her that he wasn't of royal blood and gives him a trial by combat instead.
  • I Can Still Fight: The Greatjon, all the time.
  • I Have Your Children: When Stannis captures the Tyrell siblings, he uses them to make sure their father fights for him. Mace Tyrell starts to besiege King's Landing for the Lannisters after a Faceless Man frees Loras and Margaery.
    • Ned also wants to take Myrcella as a "ward" to ensure the Lannisters leave them alone.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Myrcella doesn't want to be queen and begs Cersei to let her renounce her claim to the Iron Throne. She just wants to live in peace with her parents. Jaime agrees with her, but Cersei won't have it.
  • I Lied: Not that he said the words directly, but Tywin had no intention of keeping to his side of the peace accord he signed with the Starks.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Lannisters lose much of their famous wealth when the Ironborn sack Casterly Rock. They could always mine more gold and rebuild the castle, but they don't have the time to do so and need to focus their resources on the current war.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Tommen dies of an illness while traveling to Highgarden to meet with Margaery Tyrell and escape the Others. Myrcella dies after being hit by an arrow.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Combined with the local version of Godwin's Law of Time Travel, though not because of actual time travel. In this timeline, because of Ned Stark surviving, the ensuing war is much more brief and less severe than the original War of Five Kings (for the North at least), with a great deal less death and overall more "just" outcome for the North. However, because Eddard is there to keep Winterfell intact, Bran does not leave for the Wall like he should have. This is made plain when Jon brings a message from Coldhands from beyond the Wall. He is expecting meet him when he crosses over, but he isn't there. So Ned's survival is a good thing overall in the short term, but even he knows that he can't stop the Others by himself, and that because of him, Bran's voyage beyond the Wall is dangerously behind schedule.
    • There is also the reforming of the Faith Militant. Bonus points for also being initiated by a Lannister, who comes to regret it.
    • The Mountain's head still gets sent to Dorne.
    • Hot Pie still pulls an I Choose to Stay, but at Harrenhal, not an inn.
  • Irony: Sansa, who was once obsessed with getting married, considers life as a celibate healer, while Arya, who had no interest in marriage, gets married at a very young age. Go figure.
    • The Prince That Was Promised destroying the Wall by blowing the Horn of Winter.
    • Cersei considers Margaery Tyrell her ally.
    • Cersei gets killed by the same thing that gets her brothers almost killed so many times: the inability to shut up before it is too late.
  • It's All About Me: Despite all his talk about serving causes greater than himself, Varys has shades of this when dealing with Littlefinger, in that he cannot stand being outwitted by Littlefinger. Hence, his "disabling" of Joffrey before Ned's public confession and his shock when Littlefinger blackmails him by saying that he is aware of the Spider's "overseas" dealings.
    • Cersei as usual shows this.
  • Knighting: In chapter 38 of Part 2, Ned knights Gendry as a reward for his service and bravery. And so he'll also be worthy to marry Arya.
    • Tyrion knights his squire, Podrick after he dies during the Battle of the Trident against the wights.
  • Jon, I Am Not Your Father: Rhaegar Targaryen is your dad.
  • Let's Get Dangerous: Sansa, though preferring to heal, had killed a wight during an attack on Winterfell. She's also the one who kills Littlefinger.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Ned towards Robert. Besides the canonical not telling him the true parentage of Cersei's children, there is also Lyanna actually loving Rhaegar.
  • Lighter and Softer: The North, as compared to canon. Robb's rebellion won him fame, Ned leaves King's Landing alive and the Northern lords generally held their heads high. For the rest of the continent (particularly the areas which saw continued warring), not so much. Once the second Long Night begins, all bets are off.
  • Loose Lips: Theon inadvertently tells Shae of his plans to take Casterly Rock, and she escapes to warn the Lannisters.
    • Arya leaked out her marriage to Gendry when he gets arrested at White Harbor.
  • The Lost Lenore: Roslin to Robb after her death in Part III
  • The Medic: Sansa wishes to become this in the later chapters.
  • Madness Mantra: After Gendry gets arrested at White Harbour, Arya goes on a name chanting mantra like she did in canon. Of course, the names now are different.
  • Manly Tears: Robb and Jon both openly weep when Ser Rodrik dies.
    • Robb, Ned, Tyrion, the Greatjon and Mance all weep when the get news of Roslin's death in childbirth.
  • Mercy Kill: Robb kills Theon after he becomes a self-aware wight and bows his head before Robb, mutely begging for a permanent death. Robb gives it to him, citing the friendship that they once had.
  • Mundane Afterlife: In a dream, Ned found himself in a great hall which looked like Winterfell's, and the past Lords of Winterfell (from Brandon the Builder to Rickard Stark) are feasting.
  • Mundane Utility: In canon, the Iron Bank of Braavos has a reputation of lending only to the rich and powerful. Here, all involved in the discussion agreed that they should engage the bank to evaluate the material wealth the free folk pay to the Night's Watch to secure their passage south of the Wall, and covert it to coin for the Watch's use.
  • Mythology Gag: In canon, the War of the Five Kings was named as such despite the fact that at any point of the conflict, there were only four kings. Here, only four characters declare themselves kings, and like in canon, at any point of the conflict, there were only three kings.
    • Also, Stannis continues to be the only king out of the original lot to survive the war.
    • Theon remembering his own identity after suffering a trauma.
  • Near-Death Experience: While in a coma, Ned had this in the form of dreams.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: Cersei was unconscious with an illness when Tommen died and throughout the funeral. When she wakes up and is told of this, she has a nervous breakdown. Jaime also reflects on how he wasn't there for either of his sons when they died.
  • Never My Fault: Cersei, just like in canon, always has someone to blame for her misfortunes and refuses to take responsibility for her actions. It gets her killed when she does it at the worst time, blaming her brother entirely for Myrcella's death (although she was partially right, since it was Jaime's idea to run away that led to that), but Jaime rightfully points out that many of their problems were caused by Cersei.
  • Nice Guy: Aegon VI is a kind and friendly young man, much in the mould of Aegon V, with Ser Davos noting that he treats two people who are technically his hostages, Arya and Gendry, more like new friends than anything else. Whether he will remain so after Melisandre's spirit took over Elianta, burned half of his body and was killed by Gendry in his father's armour, with his father's warhammer, is another matter entirely.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jon taking down the Wall by blowing the Horn of Winter. The fact that it was by accident does not help.
    • For a certain value of 'hero', Melisandre awakening the stone dragon only works to give Aegon one, which makes his crowning himself more legitimate.
  • The Night That Never Ends
  • Ninja Pirate Robot Zombie: In chapter 42 of Part 2, we encounter a zombified giant. It manages to put Ned into a coma before it's defeated.
  • No, Except Yes: "We're running?" "No, dear cousin. We are securing the future of the kingdom."
  • Not So Different: Both Arya and Sansa fell in love with men whom by right could not marry them.
  • Oh, Crap: Many, many times. Pretty much half the characters have this reaction, at least once.
    • Most Triumphant Example: Cersei realizing that she has pushed Jaime too far... and then realizing that, since Jaime is younger than her (by dint of a few seconds), he also counts as the valonqar.
  • Old Flame: Lemore to Oberyn. Their affair resulted in Tyene.
  • Ominous Fog: Which catches the Tyrell army completely off guard. Stannis uses Melisandre's magic to his advantage, so that he can remove a potential Lannister ally from the war.
    • Also spread by the Others.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Sandor to Gregor.
    • Oberyn Martell is deeply annoyed that Tywin Lannister, Gregor Clegane and Amory Lorch were all killed by other people, meaning he didn't get to kill anyone responsible for his family's murder.
    • Robb develops this feeling in regards to Theon.
  • Only Sane Man: As in canon, Tyrion and Kevan for the Lannisters, Rodrick Harlaw for the Ironborn, Davos for Stannis' court, and Jon for the Night's Watch.
  • Open Secret: By Part III, practically everyone knows that Sansa and Sandor are in love.
  • Out of Focus: Daenerys doesn't get a POV chapter until chapter 28 of the sequel. May be justified since the events of Westeros haven't really directly affected her storyline, so most of it stays the same until Varys arrives in Meereen.
    • Also conspicuously absent is Petyr Baelish, who hasn't been seen since Part 1. He returns at the end of Part II.
    • Jon Snow was not seen until the first chapter of Part II, as his story remained the same until the Northmen arrived at the Wall.
    • Oberyn Martell finally appears in the first chapter of Part III.
  • Papa Wolf: Ned toward all his children, of course, but also to Gendry, Robert's son and Arya's husband..
  • Poor Communication Kills: Daenerys planned to tell Quentyn Martell her plan to flee Meereen as it was happening so he wouldn't spill the secret. The official story was that she would marry Hizdahr and allow her dragons to killed. Quentyn tried to save the dragons, but got roasted. Daenerys told him the truth on his deathbed.
  • The Power of Friendship: Used in a very dark way in chapter 26 of Part 3. Jon's friendship with Sam is strong enough for Sam to be the needed love sacrifice to fully charge Lightbringer.
  • Prophecy Twist: As Jaime starts to throttle Cersei, she thinks it should not be happening, since Tyrion is the one supposed to do it... but then realizes that Jaime is her younger brother, even if by a few seconds, and has suddenly lost any reason to not kill her.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The Ironborn take Casterly Rock, but lose a thousand men. Theon is also taken hostage.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Jaime is struck hard after Myrcella dies and Cersei blames him - which he takes relatively well - but when Cersei tells him she is hoping he will die with some dignity, he is so enraged that he kills his sister.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: During the Others's march south, Winterfell's defences include Northern soldiers, men of the Night's Watch, wildings, and pretty much anyone who can hold a sword. Even the women, be they wildings like Val or southern ladies like Catelyn, take part in the fighting because there aren't enough men.
  • Reality Ensues: One main reason why Stannis fails to win more lords over to his cause is his religion and Melisandre's not-subtle intention to convert all of Westeros, violently if need be. When there are still followers of the Old Gods after thousands of years of contact with the Faith of the Seven, such a stand is unlikely to win allies.
    • Due to the North staying out of the War of the Four Kings, they were better able to deal with the Ironborn's assault on their lands. After this setback, the Ironborn naturally turn to the Westerlands, while the Lannisters are embroiled in said conflict.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Ned and Tyrion, for starters.
    • Averted with Ser Axell Florent, who makes all sorts of unreasonable demands at White Harbor.
    • Daenerys, during her parley with Ned, Tyrion and Randyll Tarly. She acknowledges that Ned had a very valid reason to rebel against her father and pardons him, and, although she intends to have Jaime Lannister killed, she is willing to listen to his story about why he killed Aerys.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Arya explains to Tywin that Needle is her dirk, and it needs to be repaired after it was nicked when she stabbed a gold cloak in the back. He and Tyrion are both dumbfounded.
  • Replacement Love Interest/Replacement Goldfish: Val comes to see herself as on to Jon after the death of Ygritte. She's not entirely happy about Jon's awkwardness on the subject.
  • Revenge Before Reason: The Tyrells initially planned to battle Stannis and then deal with the Others. Tyrion pointedly warns them that diverting their attention from the true enemy will certainly have grave consequences for the entire continent.
    • When he first heard of his sister's death, Oberyn Martell wanted to immediately go looking for revenge, despite Dorne not having the strength to fight their enemies. Doran was able to convince otherwise, and Oberyn has since admitted that was the right course of action.
    • As of her marriage to Gendry, Arya has likely developed a case of this as well. She now wants to kill Stannis, Ser Axel, and Melisandre because they arrested Gendry. Of course, doing this will only make things even more unstable in the Seven Kingdoms.
    • Played with by Daenerys. She has a peaceful parley with Ned Stark, Tyrion Lannister and Randyll Tarly. She gives a Ned a pardon for his role in the rebellion and Tarly didn't need a pardon because he had never wronged her. She butts heads with Tyrion because she insists on getting his brother's head, but managed to keep her cool. Even though none of them bend the knee, she parts with them on fairly good terms, except for Tyrion.
    • Oberyn intends to have all Lannisters, Stannis Baratheon and Ned Stark killed for being peripherally related to Elia's death. Quite jarring in the latter case, since Ned fought in the Rebellion to save his sister and to avoid being killed on Aerys' orders, had nothing to do with Elia's murder and almost broke his friendship with Robert over it.
    • Selyse is hell-bent on getting Arya and Gendry executed for killing her uncle, even though this would destroy Stannis' alliance with the Starks.
  • Runaway Bride: Daenerys plots to flee from Meereen the day of her wedding. And she does, with some bumps in the road
  • Sacred Hospitality: This time around, Walder Frey honors it, rather than go through with the Red Wedding. It also helps that Ned Stark still has his head and Robb didn't sleep with the medic.
    • Uncharacteristically, it was Walder himself who insisted on revealing Tywin's treachery.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: Cat invokes this to cover up Arya's murdering of two fellows on a king's errand.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Ned notes that if he and Roose fight in Ramsay's Trial by Combat, Roose might win; but Cat, Robb, the Greatjon and every other Northman present would kill every Bolton present in response, laws be damned. Roose seems to come to the same conclusion and refuses to champion his son.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Varys promptly abandons the Lannister campaign after it becomes clear that they'll never retake King's Landing from Stannis at this point, and leaves Westeros in search of Aegon VI.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Cersei's own actions end up creating the situation in which Maggy's prophecy is finally fulfilled. And she only realizes this as Jaime is killing her.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: What sets Roslin apart from the rest of her family is that she cares not for Robb Stark's battle prowess and victories in war, but that she wants her husband to be a good man.
    • Val seems to be this as well, considering her growing love for the noble and brave Jon Snow.
  • Smug Snake: Ser Axel Florent, Queen Selyse's uncle. He's an arrogant knight and R'hollor fundamentalist who threatens to hang anyone who doesn't kowtow to his will.
    • Cersei and Theon, the latter may be a case of Break the Haughty after being captured.
  • So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Quaithe. She was raped at 12 by her father and older brothers.
  • Something Completely Different: Chapters 6 and 7 of Part III are about the same event told from multiple POVs as it progresses.
  • Spanner in the Works: the Faceless Men had been hired by the Great Other to kill Jon, and Jaqen H'ghar was the man sent to Westeros to infiltrate the Wall and carry out the contract. He failed thanks to Arya saving his life during the attack on the Night's Watch's recruits group.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Tyrion states that he hopes Cersei has a nice dark hell to rot in when he learns of her death.
  • Squee: Tyrion's reaction to the arrival of Daenerys because it means he finally gets to see a dragon. He doesn't even mind the possibility of getting burned alive, as long as he gets to see a dragon. It's especially jarring considering how dour the rest of the chapter is.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Seems to be a curse following Stark girls in this continuity.
    • Gendry is well aware of his growing infatuation with Arya, and tries but fails to control his love for her. Fortunately, Ned is sympathetic towards their relationship and hopes that Stevron Frey (Walder Frey's heir) might be more willing to annul the marriage pact. Which happens, and eventually they get married in the weirwood.
    • Sandor and Sansa. Sandor is willing to risk travel to Winterfell to turn in Theon so as to get into the Starks' good books, while Sansa is willing to become an old maid if she cannot marry him.
    • To round it off, we have Lyanna and Rhaegar.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Tywin.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Averted with Petyr Baelish, who remains just as despicable as he is in the books.
  • Take a Third Option: There was a deadlock as to who will take command in the Stannis-Lannister-Tyrell grand alliance. Bronn threw out Tyrion's name, and enough people agreed for it to go through.
  • Thicker Than Water: Tyrion will be the first to tell you that his family, especially Cersei and Jaime, screwed the entire realm over to get what they wanted, but he is still the staunchest Lannister supporter out there. Howland Reed lampshades how odd it is that Tyrion knowingly support his family after all their wrongdoing.
  • Title Drop: Partially. Jon thinks about being ice and fire when he learns who his parents really are.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Even though she's eventually saved by Asha, Daenerys manages to hold her own against some of Euron's soldiers.
  • Trial by Combat: Given to Ramsay. The issue of champions is also discussed. Ned muses that if Roose agrees to champion his son, only Ned can face him. See Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right for how that turns out. When Ramsay decides to be his own champion, Ned and Robb both realize only Robb can face him as Robb's position will give him (some) protection against Bolton reprisal.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The family may still be together, but Arya proves that she can become a murderer if the right buttons are pushed.
  • Truth Serum: Melisandre has one that forces people to say the full truth to any questions made to them. She uses one on Hot Pie to learn anything she can about Gendry, and then on Arya and Gendry to learn the truth about certain events. Arya manages to partially escape its effects by warging into a cat.
  • Turncoat: Littlefinger turns over to Stannis's sides after a failed attempt to get the Tyrells in Joffrey's favor.
    • And of course, Theon.
  • Twincest: Jamie and Cersei, of course. Implied with two of Walder Frey's daughters who insist on being interviewed by Robb together, and are disappointed when Robb says that he can only marry one of them.
  • Undying Loyalty: As in canon, the Northmen to the Starks. The Greatjon continues to ride into battle with the Starks, rarely leaving their side.
    • Special mention should go to Ser Rodrik. When he's dying, Ned thanks him for saving his family and says that he is forever in his debt. Ser Rodrik merely replies that he did his duty.
  • Ungrateful Bitch: Cersei threatens to have Shae killed after Shae saved her and her children's lives. Tommen, however, commands that no one may harm her.
  • Violently Protective Girl Friend: Arya.
  • War Is Glorious: For the North, as their short war achieved its aim (getting Ned out of King's Landing alive). See Young Conqueror below for more details.
  • War Is Hell: The Riverlands are devastated by war, along with the lands which saw continued warring after the North's peace accord.
  • Was Once a Man: The Great Other reveals himself to not only be the Stranger from the Faith of the Seven, but that he and the other six were all once people in ancient Essos who eventually attained godhood thanks to the spreading of their deeds.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: Tyrion recognizes that the Seven Kingdoms are doomed if the great houses don't work together, so he tries to broker peace between several factions, which is pretty difficult since few people trust each other.
    • Stannis is actually the first to point this out: it's mainly the Tyrells (especially Loras, angry over Renly's death) who refuse to cooperate.
    • Rodrik Harlaw warns the ironborn against their conquest of the Westerlands following the same logic, but as usual he's ignored.
    • Jon for the Night's Watch again.
  • We Named the Monkey Jack: Tommen decides to name his donkey (an ass) Joffrey. Cersei refuses to let it happen, but Tyrion and Bronn both think it's a perfect name.
    • Tyrion later names a dog he's adopted Sandor.
  • Wham Episode: Part III, Chapter 6. Theon becomes a wight after being killed... but he still remembers who he is.
    • Part III, Chapter 20: Maggy's prophecy becomes a reality as Myrcella dies from an arrow... and Jaime is the valonqar that kills Cersei.
    • Part III, Chapter 26: Jon meets and fights the Great Other, discovers that it is also the Stranger from the Faith of the Seven and the personification of death itself, and kills Sam as the love sacrifice needed to fully awaken the power of Lightbringer.
  • Wham Line: Many.
    • "A rider came in this morning, from Moat Cailin. All three towers have fallen to the Others. Even as we speak, they are coming down the Neck. Soon they will be here."
    • Stannis to his assembly of lords: "I want you to send these men into to King's Landing and if they get the chance I want them to find and kill the dragon."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Ned calls out Stannis for trying to order Gendry's death after Stannis had promised not to use him as a sacrifice. Not only is Gendry Ned's son-in-law and the son of his best friend, he's Stannis' own nephew.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Dany may be this in public, but as she found out in the last chapter of Part II, Quaithe deserves the title more than her. It is implied from the narration that comparing her beauty to Dany's is like comparing Rhaegar's to Jaime's.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Varys, who manages to foil Littlefinger's plot to execute Ned Stark after he learns from one of his little birds that he was persuading Joffrey to kill him.
    • Daenerys finally decides to get out of Essos and conquer Westeros or the Others will destroy everything before she even has the chance.
  • You Got Spunk: Although he doesn't say anything, Tywin is amused by Arya's decidedly blunt and unladylike ways. He even considers smiling.
  • Young Conqueror: Although Robb eventually bent the knee and never gets to become the King of the North, his exploits in the short war meant that he becomes this in the eyes of his bannermen.