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Game Of Thrones: Tropes P to S
Tropes A to B | Tropes C to D | Tropes E to F | Tropes G to K | Tropes L to O | Tropes P To S | Tropes T to Z |

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    P 
  • Parental Abandonment: Many characters have dead or missing parents, including: Dany and Viserys, Jon, Bran, Tyrion, Cersei and Jaime, and a number of side characters.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • Tywin Lannister favors Jaime (by manipulating him to do what Tywin wants), while generally ignoring or openly despising Cersei and Tyrion.
    • Catelyn Stark loves all her children, but has special affection for her daughter Sansa (whose hair she brushes personally) and her son Bran (whose injury causes her a Heroic BSOD).
    • Balon Greyjoy favors Yara over Theon because Theon spent half his life as a hostage of the Starks. Most of Theon's poor decisions are motivated by a desire to earn his father's respect.
    • Samwell Tarly's father forced him to join the Night's Watch so his younger son could become his heir.
  • Parental Incest: Craster and his harem of daughter-wives.
  • Party Scattering: The Starks, gradually. By Season 4, each has their own storyline and most are unsure if any of the others are even alive.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat:
    • The Lannisters in particular are masters of it.
    • In both "The Wolf and the Lion" and "Fire and Blood", Varys and Littlefinger have scenes that exemplify this trope.
    • The dinner scene with Cersei, Joffrey, Margaery and Loras in "Valar Dohaeris".
    • In "The Lion and the Rose", Jaime initiates a verbal confrontation with Loras, and Oberyn and Ellaria faces off against Tywin and Cersei.
    • Most of the Spice King's dialogue with Daenerys is this.
  • Pass the Popcorn: Walder Frey continues to slurp his wine while watching his men massacre Robb and his followers during Edmure's wedding.
  • The Patriarch: All the major houses have one, of course, but Tywin Lannister wins the prize.
    Lord Tywin: The house that puts family first will always defeat the house that puts the whims and wishes of its sons and daughters first.
  • Peaceful in Death: Despite the horrific manner of his death, Renly's body looks remarkably at peace. When laid out in a regal and dignified way, Margaery can't resist mentioning how handsome he was, and Littlefinger agrees.
  • People of Hair Color: Although not racial, many noble houses are distinguished by their hair color.
    • This becomes a major plot point in Season 1 when the Baratheons' dominant tendency to black hair is enough raise (perfectly correct) doubts about the parentage of King Robert's three blond children.
    • The Lannisters are jerkass blonds.
    • Platinum-white hair is the most distinctive feature of the bloodline the Targaryens practiced Brother-Sister Incest for hundreds of years to maintain.
    • The trope is also subverted by families like the Starks, who are all shades: Ned, Arya, and Bran are brown; Jon Snow is black; Catelyn, Sansa, and Robb are red or reddish-brown; and Rickon is dark blond.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage:
    • By "Lord Snow," Daenerys and Khal Drogo seem pretty damn happy together.
    • Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully as well, though it did not start that way.
    • Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey appear to be this at first, but it gets subverted when it turns out the Freys are just invoking this trope to catch their guests off guard.
  • Pet Monstrosity:
    • The Stark children each get a direwolf pup that is soon capable of ripping out throats. Robb even becomes infamous among his enemies for taking his into battle. Fortunately, the wolves are also very loyal to their masters and generally don't attack without good reason. They do become aggressive if there really is a good reason, but their owners tend to ignore these warnings.
    • Daenerys' dragons are also this, though as they grow they begin to frighten even her.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • After being portrayed as a Would Hurt a Child Jerkass bordering on irredeemable, Sandor Clegane protects Sansa several times during her imprisonment in King's Landing.
    • Tywin Lannister has a few pet the dog moments when he unknowingly takes Arya as his cupbearer. His speech revealing why he never killed Tyrion as a child also humanizes him.
    • Varys stops scheming for a moment to give Tyrion the only credit he'll receive for defending King's Landing from Stannis's invasion.
    • After four seasons of being a total asshole, Alliser Thorne has a brief heart-to-heart with Jon Snow in which he admits a mistake and explains that he's an asshole due to the necessities of wielding authority.
  • Phallic Weapon: In "Dark Wings, Dark Words", Joffrey fires his crossbow from the hip, and the camera angle clearly implies this trope. This is after he has lovingly shown and described it to his fiancée, and he has already shown that he gets turned on by violence and killing.
  • Pinball Protagonist:
    • Arya Stark starts Season 2 with the goal of reuniting with her family, but is dragged all over the war-torn Riverlands by one group after another until a series of devastating disappointments lead her to abandon Westeros altogether.
    • As a valuable piece in the game of thrones, Sansa Stark is deliberately kept powerless, which forces her to always react to events rather than take action herself.
  • Pity Sex: Inverted when Tyrion takes pity on Sansa by not having sex that would require exercising his Marital Rape License.
  • Planning For The Future Before The End: Jon Snow tells Ygritte that they will go back to their secret cave together. Her response is simply, "You know nothing, Jon Snow."
  • Playing Drunk: Tyrion plays up his drunkenness, making very self-deprecating jokes, to get away with threatening the king.
  • Playing with Syringes: Qyburn lost his maester's chain for experimenting on the living.
  • Plot Armor: Although GRRM has said he deliberately targets characters who should have plot armor, he has also stated that his reputation for killing characters is exaggerated. Primary characters frequently survive situations that require at least some plot armor and Adaptation Expansion sometimes adds or alters scenes in the TV series to require more plot armour for pacing or drama.
    • Davos Seaworth survives the destruction of his ship, washes up ashore without drowning, and is picked up by Stannis loyalists before he can die of exposure.
    • Ramsay Snow's shirtless fight with the ironborn requires a few Idiot Balls, being Made of Iron, and no one having a ranged weapon.
    • In "Watchers on the Wall," Gilly sneaks past the wildlings to reach Castle Black and sitting ducks like Sam and Olly are barely targeted. It gets Double Subverted later when Jon and Ygritte's reunion is interrupted by Ygritte getting killed, after which Jon is free to cradle her without interference.
  • Plot-Triggering Death:
    • Jon Arryn's death is what causes Eddard Stark and his family to become tangled in the game of thrones.
    • The majority of Season 4's King's Landing arc stems from the death of King Joffrey.
  • Poke the Poodle: Tyrion's "confession" in the Eyrie describes a number of acts which, while not exactly innocent, are hardly the stuff villains are made of.
    "Where do I begin, my lords and ladies? I am a vile man, I confess it. My crimes and sins are beyond counting. I have lied and cheated, gambled and whored. I’m not particularly good at violence, but I’m good at convincing others to do violence for me. You want specifics, I suppose. When I was seven, I saw a servant girl bathing in the river. I stole her robe, and she was forced to return to the castle naked and in tears. If I close my eyes...I can still see her tits bouncing. When I was ten, I stuffed my uncle’s boots with goat shit. When confronted with my crime, I blamed a squire. The poor boy was flogged, and I escaped justice. When I was twelve, I milked my eel into a pot of turtle stew. I flogged the one-eyed snake. I skinned my sausage. I made the bald man cry into the turtle stew, which I do believe my sister ate — at least, I hope she did. I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel—"
  • Pokémon Speak: HODOR!
  • Politeness Judo: Sansa's main weapon when she engages in Passive-Aggressive Kombat.
    "You're right, Your Grace, I'm stupid. Of course you'll be in the vanguard.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Joffrey shows basically no respect for women (which is not much less than he shows anyone, really) and considers making homosexuality punishable by death.
    • His grandfather, Tywin Lannister, expresses similar disdain but does make the point that he distrust his daughter because she's a Smug Snake, not because she's a woman.
  • Polyamory: Aegon the Conqueror was married to both of his sisters, Rhaenys and Visenya.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The War of the Five Kings results at least partially from very poor communication between the Starks and the Lannisters when Catelyn arrests Tyrion with little evidence and without questioning him at all first. In addition, Cersei never even tries to explain to Ned Stark that she didn't actually kill Jon Arryn.
  • Posthumous Character: Lyanna Stark, Joanna Lannister, Aegon I The Conqueror, Rhaegar Targaryen, "Mad" King Aerys Targaryen and Jon Arryn are among the characters mentioned frequently but already dead by the beginning of the series, though Arryn is seen briefly (lying in state) in the pilot episode.
  • P.O.V. Cam: We get these when Stark kids are seeing through the eyes of a direwolf.
  • The Power of Love: Averted horribly when Daenerys tries to use this to bring Khal Drogo out of a coma. Of course, it doesn't work, which is on par with the theme of the series.
  • Praetorian Guard:
    • The Kingsguard are seven knights sworn to serve for life protecting the king. Traditionally they are supposed to be great warriors and paragons of chivalry, but few actually live up to this and like the real Praetorians one of them was responsible for the death of the previous king, though unlike them it has not become a habit.
    • Dothraki khals are attended by their bloodriders, but their Asskicking Equals Authority culture means they are Bodyguarding a Badass.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The series contains large amounts of pragmatic adaptation due to the transition from a series of DoorStopper novels with a rotating third-person limited POV structure complete with inner monologue to a televised ensemble piece with only 10 episodes per season.
    • The books often deliver character development and exposition in narration or internal monologue, so the show must find creative ways to deliver the information in dialogue, such as Littlefinger telling his backstory to his prostitutes, Tyrion detailing his first marriage during a drinking game, or Davos and Stannis having As You Know conversations about their past.
    • The show excises flashbacks entirely and makes prophecies much more inwardly focused. Flashbacks would require an entire secondary cast and extensive prophecies are tricky to write and pay off satisfactorily. As such, Daenerys' visions in Qarth focus on her own story rather than long-dead or faraway characters, Ned's memories of his sister are replaced with other foreshadowing devices, Quaithe becomes a foil for Jorah instead of a prophecy sounding board, and Bran and Jojen's prophetic dreams provide directions as often as not.
    • The timespan of the series is expanded compared to the novels. Whereas the books cover at most three years by the end of the fifth book, the series will not reach that point until at least Season 5. To account for the ageing of the child actors, each 10-episode season is framed as a year.
    • Numerous events are added, rearranged, or eliminated for the plot pacing of each season, making story arcs resolve at different times. This causes storylines from seperate novels to run parallel and makes certain characters present for events they aren't present for in the books.
    • Tywin, Robb, Theon, and Littlefinger are offpage for long periods in the novels, but a television show cannot afford to have such popular or important characters disappear for whole seasons. Instead, they are made more prominent in someone else's story (Tywin with Arya), have offpage expoits shown firsthand (Robb's campaign and marriage, Theon's imprisonment), or a little of both (Littlefinger's offpage work winning the Tyrells plus meeting other characters as well).
    • Arya's story in A Clash of Kings is streamlined in Season 2 as a cat-and-mouse game to hide her identity. Therefore, instead of earning a place as cupbearer to Roose Bolton (who was moved to Robb's camp) by aiding a Trojan Prisoner gambit, Arya is plucked from captivity to be cupbearer to (and hide her identity from) known character Tywin Lannister, who remains at Harrenhal instead of engaging Edmure Tully in battle.
    • Jon and Dany's stories in A Clash of Kings are very introspective with little action until the final chapters. To create more action, the series seperates Jon from his squad to spend more time with his love interest and confronts Dany with betrayal and the kidnapping of her dragons.
    • The POV structure of the book necessitates two shadowbaby assassins to understand their creation and use: the first Catelyn sees in action and the second Davos sees born. This second shadow resolved a subplot concerning the surrender of Storm's End and Stannis' bastard nephew Edric Storm, but instead the show presents the same shadow being born and in action and has Gendry replace Edric Storm in Season 3.
    • In the books, Jon Snow and Arya are also able to warg their direwolves while sleeping. In the series, only Bran's dreams are kept because they are essential to his Story Arc whereas Jon and Arya's stories can work without them.
    • In the books, Barristan Selmy joins Daenerys under the alias Arstan Whitebeard, which is enough to disguise him from readers since Daenerys has never seen him before. On the show, of course, the actor is easily recognizable, so he reveals his true identity right away.
    • Loras is older than Margaery in the novels, but writer Bryan Cogman has stated that the opposite is true on the show, no doubt because Finn Jones is six years younger than Natalie Dormer. The older Tyrell brothers Willas and Garlan are also Adapted Out completely, with their important roles grafted onto Loras or Margaery.
    • Daenerys encounters two sellsword companies at Yunkai in the novels: The Storm Crows and the Second Sons. The series fuses the characters of both into the Second Sons. How the adaptation will handle the two companies' divergent roles in later books is uncertain.
    • Characters with unusual appearances or impractical-to-create afflictions are given more conventional looks to save on makeup/costuming and to avoid looking ridiculous on screen:
      • The vibrantly coloured surcoats and enamelled armor of the lords and knights described in the books is generally muted, as are the garish costumes of characters like Daario Naharis and Salladhor Saan.
      • The outrageous hairdos of Slaver's Bay are omitted, as are Daario's flamboyant blue-dyed hair and Lord Tywin's shaved head and muttonchops.
      • Daenerys and Viserys' purple eyes were left out because the contact lenses interfered with the actors' performances.
      • Tyrion in the books is deformed as well as a dwarf and loses most of his nose. Peter Dinklage portrays him without the deformity and a prominent scar instead of a grotesque one.
      • The criminal Rorge also lacks a nose in the books but keeps it in the show.
      • In the books, the ruling class of Slavery's Bay wear overly elaborate garments called tokars that must be handled very carefully and held by one hand to keep from falling off. Since they would be a nightmare for the cast and crew to work with, the tokars were switched out for simpler robes.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • Tywin Lannister perhaps embodies this the best, as he has no qualms with employing brutal men, but will berate them if they fall into Stupid Evil territory.
    • Roose berates Ramsay for torturing Theon For the Evulz, since Theon was more valuable as an intact hostage.
  • Prank Date: Tyrion and his first wife Tysha, courtesy of Jaime.
  • Prayer of Malice: Before she goes to sleep, Arya recites the names of those who have wronged her, all of whom she plans to kill.
  • Precision F-Strike: Despite the show's copious sexual content and violence, characters actually are rarely heard swearing, so when one does utter, for example, the F-word (such as the Hound's Wham Line "Fuck the King!") it carries more impact. Many characters never even utter anything as strong as "damn".
  • Pretty Boy:
    • Ser Loras Tyrell; George R.R. Martin even described the character as "...the teen idol of Westeros." Sansa Stark has a crush on him because of his good looks. Two lowborn Lannister soldiers consider him to be prettier than the Queen. In "The Climb", Lady Olenna calls Loras "...the pride of Highgarden, the most desirable bachelor in all of the Seven Kingdoms."
    • Jon Snow is prettier than half of Craster's daughters, according to Craster himself.
    • Lancel Lannister
    • Olyvar, Littlefinger's spy and brothel employee.
    • Tommen when played by Dean-Charles Chapman as of Season 4.
  • Previously On: Helps a little with the Continuity Lockout.
  • Pride: In case the lion on their coat of arms and the motto "Hear me Roar!" didn't give it away, this is a unifying theme for the Lannisters. All of them have a subtly different take on it.
  • Princess Classic: Deconstructed with Sansa and Margaery.
    • Sansa was raised by her mother to be the perfect princess and is eager to fulfill this role, only to find her Prince Charming is a petulant psychopath ruling over a Crapsack World.
    • Margaery is an astute politician and manipulator who puts on the persona of a charming and harmless princess to all and sundry. This has gained her the fanatical support of most of the common people, whom she's highly charitable with.
  • Private Military Contractors:
    • Davos hires his old friend, the notorious pirate Salladhor Saan, to provide additional ships for Stannis Baratheon.In Season 4, he also proposes hiring the expensive Golden Company to aid in Stannis' war.
    • Daenerys goes to Astapor to purchase Unsullied, eunuch slaves who are considered the finest soldiers in the world. Later she also meets up with the Second Sons, one of the many "Free Companies" utilized by the various cities and states of Essos.
    • Westeros is also filled with independent sellswords and hedge knights who bounce from job to job, most notably Tyrion's Lancer Bronn.
  • Private Tutor:
    • Septa Mordane is this to Sansa and Arya.
    • Arya also learns Braavosi-style swordsmanship from Syrio Forel.
  • Professional Killer:
    • Karl Tanner of Gin Alley, the leader of the Night's Watch mutineers, reveals that he was once a cutthroat who earned seven silvers per hit.
    • The Faceless Men, a guild of hired killers from Braavos capable of completely altering their faces (hence their name) are considered the best, and Arya meets one, who gives her three free kills in return for saving him and the two prisoners he was with.
    • Bronn admits that for the right money he'd kill anyone.
  • Promoted to Scapegoat: The Freys and Boltons suffer this after the Red Wedding. Their reward of overlordship forces them to deal with the remaining Stark and Tully loyalists, the Brotherhood Without Banners, the Ironborn, and the devastation and crime spawned by the war, while the Lannisters recuperate at King's Landing.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles:
    • Season 2: John Bradley (Samwell Tarly), James Cosmo (Lord Commander Jeor Mormont), Jerome Flynn (Bronn), Conleth Hill (Varys), Sibel Kekilli (Shae), and Charles Dance (Tywin Lannister).
    • Season 3: Oona Chaplin (Talisa Maegyr), Rose Leslie (Ygritte), and Joe Dempsie (Gendry).
    • Season 4: Kristofer Hivju (Tormund Giantsbane), Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth), Iwan Rheon (Ramsay Snow), and Hannah Murray (Gilly).
  • Promotion to Parent: Viserys was this to Daenerys, but unfortunately of the abusive variety.
  • Properly Paranoid: The wildlings' insistence that you must burn dead bodies to prevent them coming back as wights under the control of the White Walkers.
  • Prophet Eyes: Wargs, when they take on their Bond Creature's skin.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • The Dothraki live to conquer. They have no economy except gifts, tribute, and plunder, and defeat means a Traumatic Haircut. To them, any man who cannot ride is no man at all, and a dead khal is succeeded only by the strongest warrior(s) among his followers.
    • The ironborn take pride in being reavers. Traditionally, they do not wear jewelry not won in battle and prefer raiding to siegecraft and seamanship to horsemanship. The Greyjoy words, "We Do Not Sow," brag that they living by plunder rather than labour.
    • The wildlings believe that you take what you can get and keep what you can hold, which is why they fight each other as much as the Night's Watch and rarely present much of a threat to the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Psychopathic Manchild:
    • Viserys Targaryen and Joffrey Baratheon are both childishly petulant and vindictive.
    • Despite layers of The Vamp and Mama Bear, Cersei has never really outgrown being the little girl who had a servantgirl severely beaten for stealing a necklace.
    • Lysa Arryn throws tantrums like a spoiled child when things don't go her way and hides in the Eyrie in hopes the world will forget her.
    • While Littlefinger's plans are certainly mature, his main motivations seem to be his childhood affection for Catelyn Stark and his resentment of the limitations of his humble beginnings.
  • Punch Clock Villain:
    • Bronn is pretty mellow when he's not fighting, but he makes it clear that he'll do anything for the right price.
    • Lannister soldiers are shown slaughtering the entire Stark household, even the septas, but when we see a few relaxing at camp, they're pretty normal people.
  • Punctuation Shaker: Jaqen H'ghar.
  • Puppet King:
    • Robert lets himself become one almost voluntarily, since he never really wanted the crown. Instead he largely leaves governing to his small council while he eats, drinks, whores, and hunts.
    • Subverted by Joffrey, who is installed as one but goes spectacularly off-script at the end of "Baelor" and leaves his puppetmasters powerless.
    • Tommen becomes one in Season 4.
    • Robin Arryn is nominally Lord Paramount of the Vale, but he is young and childish so the real power is his Beloved Smother Lysa and later his stepfather Petyr Baelish.
  • The Purge: In "The North Remembers", Joffrey has all of Robert's bastards hunted down and killed. It's rather disturbing to watch, considering many of the people involved are children (including one infant).
  • Pyromaniac:
    • This appears to be a genetic trait among the Targaryens, many of whom have an obsession with heat or fire and (sometimes correctly) believe themselves immune to it.
    • During the wildfire explosion in "Blackwater", everyone looks horrified except Pyromancer Hallyne who's giggling
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Robert's Rebellion in the backstory, especially for Robert whose main motivation was to rescue his beloved Lyanna Stark from Rhaegar Targaryen. When Lyanna at the end of the war, Robert was left with the throne instead of the woman he loved.
    • By Season 4, House Lannister holds the Iron Throne with their enemies all either broken or retreating. However, their manpower is badly depleted from hard fighting, the Crown is deep in debt to the Iron Bank, and their gold mines have dried up.
    • Daenerys overthrows the regimes in Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen and frees the slaves, but as soon as she is gone the Wise Masters of Yunkai return to slaving and her regime in Astapor is overthrown by a freeman butcher named Cleon.

    Q-R 
  • Queer People Are Funny: Several characters on the show mock Renly and Loras' homosexuality.
  • The Quest:
    • Arya's attempts to reunite with her family.
    • Bran's journey to the Three-Eyed Raven.
    • Brienne's search for the Stark girls.
  • Race Lift: Pirate Salladhor Saan and merchant prince Xaro Xhoan Daxos have been cast with actors of African descent, and Xaro has additionally been changed to an emigrant from the Summer Isles.
  • Racial Remnant: The Targaryens are remnants of the Valyrian Empire marked by their distinctive white-blonde hair.
  • Rags to Riches:
    • Davos grew up in Flea Bottom, worked his way up to smuggler captain, became a knight for smuggling Stannis food, and is now King Stannis' Consigliere.
    • Littlefinger worked his way up from the very lowest of the nobility to Lord of Harrenhal and consort to the Lady of the Vale through his skill at moneymaking and Xanatos Speed Chess.
    • Xaro Xhoan Daxos rose from a penniless immigrant to one of the foremost men in Qarth.
    • Ser Bronn of the Blackwater began the series as a grubby sellsword in the Riverlands.
    • Janos Slynt, a butcher's son, rose to Lord Commander of the City Watch and then Lord of Harrenhal until Tyrion banished him to the Wall.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Night's Watch and the Brotherhood Without Banners.
  • Rant Inducing Slight: Renly yells at Robert during their hunting trip after being belittled one too many times.
  • Rape and Revenge: Oberyn Martell is out for vengeance against all those who had a hand in his sister Elia's rape and murder, starting with the perpetrator.
  • Rape By Proxy: Tyrion once married a prostitute named Tysha, but the marriage ended when his father Tywin found out and punished them both by making Tyrion watch as Tysha was raped by a group of guardsmen.
  • Rape, Pillage, and Burn:
    • The Dothraki indulge in this, which comes back to bite Khal Drogo when he needs medical help.
    • Ser Gregor Clegane is Lord Tywin's go-to guy for this. Ned is so appalled that he attaints him and sentences him to death. After the attempt to stop him fails, Gregor continues this throughout the war.
    • Tyrion successfully plays on the fear of this trope to motivate the wavering defenders of King's Landing during the Battle of Blackwater, telling them to fight not for gold, glory, or honor, but to stop Stannis' army from sacking their city and raping their women.
    • The wildlings climb the Wall and ravage any settlement they can find.
  • Rapunzel Hair: Common for a fantasy series, plenty of female characters sport this: Catelyn, Cersei, Talisa, Ros and several noblewoman and prostitute extras.
  • Red Baron: Sandor "The Hound" Clegane, Ser Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, Ser Jaime "The Kingslayer" Lannisternote , Aerys "The Mad King" Targaryen, Daenerys "Mother of Dragons" Targaryen, Robb "The Young Wolf" Stark, Tyrion "The Imp" Lannister, Brynden "Blackfish" Tully, Qhorin "Halfhand", Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell.
  • Reaction Shot:
    • During the wildfire explosion in "Blackwater," the view switches between the carnage itself and the expressions of the onlookers: Sandor looks genuinely fearful, Tyrion looks remorseful, Joffrey almost smirks, and Pyromancer Hallyne is giggling.
    • Played for Laughs during Tyrion's Overly Long Gag dragging his chair around the table to face off with his father. The other councillors range from amused, bemused, outraged, or worried about Tywin's reaction, while Tywin himself just glares.
    • During a mocking version of the "War of the Five Kings" with dwarfs, the view switches between the action and a polarized party. Joffrey, Tywin, Cersei, Tommen, Pycelle and the smallfolk find it amusing, while Tyrion, Sansa, Oberyn, Varys and the Tyrells are quietly disgusted or appalled by it. Loras dispenses with the pretension and leaves early on.
    • During the Trial by Combat in the "The Mountain and the Viper" reaction shots are shown of Tyrion, Tywin, Cersei, Jaime, and Ellaria, all of whom have crucial stakes in the outcome.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Lord Commander Mormont appears to be taking his killer down with him after being (literally) stabbed in the back, but then his wounds weaken him too much and his opponent escapes to stab him some more.
    • Littlefinger believed the tales of the plucky little hero beating the odds to win the maiden's heart. Unfortunately, Littlefinger was not a swordsman and Brandon Stark was. After that, Littlefinger realized he had to play things his way.
    • Theon beheads Rodrik Cassel with an ordinary longsword rather than an Absurdly Sharp Blade of Valyrian steel like Ned Stark uses. To make matters worse (perhaps on purpose), his victim only leans against the block with his arms rather than placing his neck against it.note  The result is as gory and horrifying as one can imagine.
    • Daenerys' Season 4 storyline highlights the consequences of her previous actions. Overthrowing regimes and killing the masters―who are not Always Chaotic Evil―isn't enough to fix the slaves' problems. In many cases, freedom actually lowers their quality of life because they were dependent on their masters for food, shelter, and security. In addition, allowing her dragons to roam wild has made them fiercer and more dangerous to innocents as well as her enemies.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • The Greatjon only appears in Season 1 due to schedule conflicts with actor Clive Mantle.
    • The executioner Ser Ilyn Payne has been absent since Season 2 due to actor Wilko Johnson's serious cancer.
    • A relatively minor Season 5 character has not been recast following the death of actor J.J. Murphy.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
    • Loras' ornate armour, clothing, and accessories always have a floral pattern. Justified, since his House sigil is a rose, but he's still seen as being over-the-top about it, and is known as "the Knight of Flowers"
    • Costume designer Michele Clapton described Oberyn's style as feminine worn in a really masculine way. Examples include his floral pendant and noticibly brighter and more colourful clothing than typical Westerosi males.
  • Realpolitik: The game of thrones is all about this. Scrupulous players who disdain this fact tend to enjoy shorter lives.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: In the novels, Arya doesn't hate feminine things so much as wish they weren't forced on her, but the show gives her this exchange:
    Tywin: Aren't most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil, with flowers in her hair?
    Arya: Most girls are idiots.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Ned Stark does his best to keep this ideal, though the effectiveness of his rule is debatable.
    • For all his faults, Lord Tywin was this as Hand to the Mad King, whose reign only fell off the rails after Tywin resigned. He is also instrumental in stabilizing Joffrey's reign after the Battle of Blackwater.
    • Daenerys likes to see herself as this and decides to stay in Slaver's Bay to practice it.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Renly Baratheon tells Robert exactly what he thinks of his "glory days."
      Renly: Which days, exactly? The ones when half of Westeros fought the other half and millions died? Or before that, when the Mad King slaughtered women and babies because the voices in his head told him they deserved it? Or way before that, when dragons burnt whole cities to the ground? [...] I suppose it was all rather heroic, if you were drunk enough and had some poor Riverlands whore to shove your prick inside and "make the eight"!
    • Tywin Lannister is a grand master of this. He always has one on hand for Stupid Evil henchmen and gives at least one to each of his children—telling Jaime his personal glory is ultimately worthless, Cersei that she is not as clever as she thinks, and Tyrion that his birth circumstances and lecherous behaviour mean he'll never become heir.
      Tywin: You are an ill-made, spiteful little creature full of envy, lust, and low cunning. Men's laws give you the right to bear my name and display my colors, since I cannot prove that you are not mine. And to teach me humility, the gods have condemned me to watch you waddle about, wearing that proud lion that was my father's sigil, and his father's before him. But neither gods nor men will ever compel me to turn Casterly Rock into your whorehouse.
    • Lord Karstark points out that Robb pardoned his mother for releasing an enemy, but wants to execute him for killing members of the same enemy family.He fails to mention that the enemies he killed were defenseless children
    • Jon Snow's compassionate critique of the wildlings:
      Jon: I know your people are brave; no one denies that. Six times in the last thousand years, a King-beyond-the-Wall has attacked the kingdoms; six times they failed. You don't have the discipline. You don't have the training. Your army is no army. You don't know how to fight together.
    • During his second trial, Tyrion calls out his father and all of the nobles of King's Landing for never seeing past his deformity and giving him the respect he deserves for saving their lives.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: Being sent to the Wall is seen as this, so it is largely staffed by reprieved criminals, disgraced members of old regimes, and Black Sheep members of noble houses. Crosses over with Trading Bars for Stripes since rangers are intended for combat.
    • Cersei plans to do this to Ned Stark in "Baelor". Joffrey, however, has other plans.
    • Tyrion banishes Janos Slynt to the Wall in "The Night Lands" because he does like him, cannot trust him, and wants to replace him with Bronn.
    • Lord Tywin offers this to Tyrion in exchange for a confession in "The Laws of Gods and Men".
  • Recruited From The Gutter: Former smuggler Davos Seaworth remains loyal to Stannis Baratheon because Stannis knighted him for smuggling lifesaving rations when he was Reduced To Rat Burgers during The Siege of Storm's End. He even respects Stannis' decision to shorten four fingers as punishment for his past smuggling.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Being based on a series called A Song of Ice and Fire, this happens in spades:
  • Red Right Hand:
    • Shade of the Evening stains the Warlocks' lips and mouths blue, making them easy to spot... when they aren't hiding it with magic.
    • Sandor Clegane's burns and Tyrion's dwarfism lead many to assume they are monsters even though they subvert the trope.
  • Red Shirt: Soldiers, guardsmen, and warriors on all sides are all either this or Mooks depending on Sympathetic P.O.V.. When Tyrion blows up Davos' crew, are they redshirts or mooks?
  • Red Shirt Army:
    • The Night's Watch is composed mostly of thieves and murderers who join to avoid their punishments. The rest of the kingdom forgets about them as they freeze and fight.
    • Robb's diversionary army is seen as completely expendable in-universe.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Although far from totally reformed, Jaime knows nothing he can do will ever make some characters remember him as anything but The Oathbreaker.
  • Refusal of the Call: Renly initially rejects Loras' suggestion that he should be king in "The Wolf and the Lion", but the idea gradually becomes more appealing after he argues with Robert, and he finally embraces it in "You Win or You Die". By "Fire and Blood" he has already crowned himself king with the help of the Tyrells.
  • Regent for Life: Several characters make a go at this, all of whom are probably an improvement over Joffrey ruling in his own right. Tywin Lannister is perhaps the most successful.
  • Relationship Reveal:
    • Bran discovering Cersei and Jaime.
    • Loras shaving Renly's chest.
  • Religion Is Magic: Magic is left vague and mysterious, but a good portion of it is rooted in a religion. Followers of the Lord of Light can birth Living Shadows or resurrect the dead, and the weirwoods of the old gods are tied to warging and prophecy.
  • Religion of Evil: The faith of the Lord of Light presents itself as good and loving and a necessary bulwark against the god of darkness who aims to wipe out humanity. However, their sinister priests are shown practicing human sacrifice and necromancy.
  • Remember the New Guy: Dolorous Edd is suddenly part of Lord Commander Mormont's group, although the scene from the book where he meets up with them is cut.
  • The Remnant: The Brotherhood Without Banners was founded by the remnant of those Ned Stark sent to bring Gregor Clegane to justice.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated:
    Lord Tywin: I see that the rumors of your demise were unfounded.
  • Rescue The Princess: A major motivation for Robert's Rebellion was to recover Lyanna Stark from Rhaegar Targaryen.
  • Revealing Coverup: The attempted assassination of Bran was the only thing that gave Catelyn reason to believe he was thrown, leading her to discover clues pointing to the Lannisters.
  • Revealing Hug:
    • In a Deleted Scene, Margaery stares thoughtfully at Renly's armour while comforting her brother Loras after Renly's assassination. Loras is mourning the death of a lover; the more pragmatic Margaery (who served as The Beard to her husband) is contemplating what their next step to the Iron Throne might be after this setback.
    • Littlefinger gives a very telling look of disgust after Lysa embraces and kisses him.
    • After she gives false testimony at the Eyrie, Sansa tearfully embraces Lady Waynwood, then opens her eyes to give a perfectly sober and meaningful look at Petyr.
  • Revenge:
    • Robert Baratheon dreams of killing Rhaegar Targaryen every night because Vengeance Feels Empty.
    • Robb swears vengeance in "Fire and Blood".
    • Loras and Brienne swear vengeance against Stannis after Renly is murdered.
    • Oberyn Martell comes to King's Landing seeking revenge for his sister's rape and murder.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • In "The Ghost of Harrenhal", Loras intends to storm out and put a sword through Stannis' righteous face until Margaery and Littlefinger convince him he would be killed before he ever got close.
    • In "The Mountain and the Viper", Oberyn Martell suffers a fatal Thwarted Coup de Grâce because he wanted a confession of guilt first.
  • Reverse Arm-Fold: Loras adopts this pose in Season 3 whenever he wishes to appear relaxed; examples include his greeting of Cersei and Joffrey in "Valar Dohaeris", while he walks away from Sansa in "Dark Wings, Dark Words", and Tyrion and Sansa's wedding ceremony.
  • Rightful King Returns: Heavily Deconstructed by the Succession Crisis that results from too many characters seeing themselves as this and by the frequent disparity between rulers' claims, capabilities, and reputations.
    • As the last scions of the exiled Targaryen dynasty, Daenerys and Viserys see themselves as this and believe the people eagerly await their return to inevitably unite the realm and restore peace. After the Spice King disabuses her of this, Daenerys decides she must prove herself to be The High Queen before returning.
    • As the true heir to the Baratheon dynasty (which overthrew the Targaryens), notorious Determinator Stannis Baratheon resorts to dark magic and fratricide in his quest for the Iron Throne. Unfortunately for him, many see him as King Joffrey's Evil Uncle and dismiss his true accusations of adulterous twincest as a self-serving lie.
    • Robb Stark and Balon Greyjoy are both regarded as this by their followers but are called rebels by other factions for reasserting their regions' former independence.
  • Right Through His Pants:
    • Jaime and Cersei are seen having sex while wearing most of their clothing. Lampshaded by Benioff and Weiss in the commentary for the episode, where they joke that Jaime is not only a master swordsman, but also a master of having sex without taking off any clothes.
    • Tyrion is also rarely seen naked during his sex scenes, as opposed to his partners.
    • Completely clothed Stannis Baratheon has sex with completely naked Melisandre.
  • Right Through the Wall: Sansa is grossed out by her aunt Lysa's loud screaming during her sex with Petyr.
  • Roaring Rampage of Rescue:
    • Robert Baratheon's entire rebellion was fueled by his desire to rescue Lyanna Stark.
    • Robb Stark's war starts out this way.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • Played for Laughs when Tyrion gives one to the hill tribes before battle in "Baelor", only get an accidental Tap on the Head when they rush into battle.
    • Daenerys gives one to her khalasar. Reality Ensues when some choose to leave anyway.
    • Tyrion gives an even better one at the Battle of Blackwater to inspire the wavering defenders.
      "This is your city Stannis means to sack. That's your gate he's ramming. If he gets in it will be your houses he burns, your gold he steals, your women he will rape. Those are brave men knocking at our door. Lets go kill them!"
    • DoubleSubverted by Stannis, who barks out a single, straighforward sentence to rally his men after a devastating setback, but it still works.
      "Come with me and take this city!"
    • Normally unsympathetic Ser Alliser Thorne gives one at the Battle of Castle Black.
    • Theon Greyjoy, of all people, gives a good one in "Valar Morghulis" to convince his men to make a Last Stand. It is immediately subverted when his men give him a Tap on the Head and flee. Dagmer does concede that it was a good speech though.
  • Royal Blood:
    • The Targaryens and the Baratheons (who are almost a cadet branch). Additionally, all the great houses except the Tullys and Tyrells can claim direct descent from the kings who ruled before the Seven Kingdoms were united.
    • Melisandre believes royal blood is more powerful for Blood Magic.
  • Royal Brat: Just look at the image on the trope's page.
  • Royal Inbreeding: The Targaryens usually wed their siblings.
  • Royally Screwed Up:
    • The Targaryens provide the page quote for the trope, arguably due to a long-standing tradition of Brother-Sister Incest.
    • Joffrey seems to combine the worst aspects of each of his already-unpleasant parents (also brother and sister).
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most characters in the series, with Adipose Rex Robert Baratheon as a notable exception by late in his reign.
  • Royalty Superpower:
    • The Targaryens familial affinity for dragons allowed them to become kings.
    • Melisandre claims royal blood has power for blood sacrifice.
    • The Stark's affinity for their direwolves takes on shades of this when one remembers they were once Kings in the North.
  • Rule of Cool: Why would anyone build a clockwork map of the world? Because it looks really really cool, that's why. The little-cogs-in-a-larger-machine effect satisfies the Rule of Symbolism as well.
  • Rule of Three: Daenerys is one of three children, hatches three dragons, and conquers three cities, settling in the third.
  • Rule of Seven: Seven Kingdoms, Seven Gods, Seven Hells, seven Kingsguard, etc.
  • Rule of Symbolism:
    • Each season ends with a scene relating to a symbol of fire or ice, alternating between the two each season. They also seems to have a bi-seasonal switch between a Supernatural ending and a Mundane ending.
      • Season 1: Daenerys' dragons hatch (fire), (supernatural).
      • Season 2: The White Walkers attack the Fist of the First Men (ice), (supernatural).
      • Season 3: Daenerys Targaryen (of a family strongly associated with fire) frees the slaves of Yunkai, a city that is located in a desert (fire), (mundane).
      • Season 4: Arya Stark (of a family strongly associated with ice) sails (on water, aka ice) away from Westeros. (ice), (mundane).
    • In "Winter Is Coming", the Starks find a stag and a direwolf Mutual Kill. This is seen as a disturbing omen in-universe. The direwolf also has six pups which map directly onto the Stark children (including Heroic Bastard Jon Snow, who gets an albino that was separated). Theon is also quick to accept the idea of killing the pups, which foreshadows his future.
    • Tywin Lannister is introduced in "You Win Or You Die" butchering a stag (the sigil of House Baratheon) while his army assembles for what will become the War of the Five Kings. A Deleted Scene from Season 3 also shows Tywin catching fish (the sigil of House Tully).
    • In the midst of a melee, it is Non-Action Guy Magnificent Bastard Littlefinger who holds a knife to Ned's throat to underscore his backstabbing.
    • During their dinner in "Valar Dohaeris", the Tyrell siblings sit side by side while Cersei and Joffrey sit at opposite ends. Guess which relationship is harmonious and which is dysfunctional.
    • Joffrey dislikes wearing floral patterns because he considers them effeminate, yet his wedding crown features several entwined rose buds, illustrating Margaery's growing influence on him.
    • Sandor "The Hound" Clegane wears a snarling dog helmet and is Joffrey's human Right-Hand Attack Dog until he gets tired of being kicked and bites back. He also develops a Morality Pet relationship with both Stark girls that culminates in him being mortally wounded protecting Arya from a perceived threat.
  • Ruling Couple: Renly, Margaery, and Loras are presented as a threesome version, which actress Natalie Dormer describes as a trinity. The alliance is rooted in Renly's romantic relationship with Loras and his marriage to Margaery is its official face. Although Margaery is only a consort, Renly treats the Tyrells as his equals since they provide at least half his support, seating Margaery in a throne on par with his own, Talking in Bed with Loras about matters of state, and even incorporating the Tyrell colours into his sigil.
  • Running Gag:
    • During the first two seasons, Cersei tears up any paper she doesn't like. Tyrion lampshades it by asking if she has perfected the art.
    • Tyrion slaps Joffrey and gets away with it many times in the first two seasons.
    • Theon being trolled by the blowing of a horn. A very effective use of Mood Whiplash.
    • WHAT did Podrick do to those whores!?
    • Cersei is the curtsy police. When Shae sketches an awkward curtsy, Cersei calls her on it and instructs her how to do it properly. When Brienne bows rather than curtsies to Joffrey, Cersei interrupts to scoff at her.

    S 
  • Sacred Hospitality: Taken very seriously in Westeros, even by wildlings beyond the Wall. Once you've eaten bread and salt under someone's roof, you're their guest and are officially under their protection. As illustrated by Bran's story of the Rat Cook, violating it is a crime even the gods cannot forgive.
    • The law is flagrantly broken by Walder Frey at the Red Wedding, as well as the Mutiny at Craster's Keep and when Sandor Clegane robs a Riverlands family.
    • Lady Olenna also breaks this law by poisoning King Joffrey while a guest at his wedding.
    • When Jon Snow plans to murder Mance Rayder to disperse the wildlings, Mance is Genre Savvy enough to offer him food and drink, which makes the decision much harder for Jon.
      "Are you capable of that, Jon Snow? Killing a man in his own tent when he's just offered you peace? Is that what the Night's Watch is now? Is that what you are?"
  • Sacrificial Lamb: The three members of the Night's Watch (Will, Gared, and Ser Waymar Royce) who appear in the pilot. And Lady. And Jory, squeaking in just under the 5-episode limit.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Robert and Eddard in Season 1; Renly in Season 2
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • You're free to leave your cell in the Eyrie at any time; the cells only have three walls. Of course, the missing fourth wall is also the one that would keep you from falling to your death. Lysa Arryn also implies that the cells have sloped floors to pull prisoners toward the edge, as Tyrion discovers when he nearly rolls out in his sleep.
    • Joffrey makes a minstrel who offends him choose between losing his fingers or his tongue.
  • Samus is a Girl: Brienne of Tarth defeats reknowned knight Loras Tyrell to win a tournament before removing her helmet to reveal she is a woman.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: Joffrey does this after hearing a song mocking his family. His courtiers aren't sure whether they should be joining him or not.
  • Sarcastic Confession: When Tyrion agrees to confess his crimes to Lysa and Catelyn, he begins listing pranks he committed in his youth, including something about bringing a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel...
  • Saying Too Much: Loras does this in "Kissed by Fire" when he reveals his secret betrothal to Olyvar.
  • Scars Are Forever: All over the place, from facial wounds to severed limbs.
    • Sandor Clegane has serious burn scars on his face cause by his brother Gregor.
    • Littlefinger recounts that he still bears a token of Brandon Stark's "esteem" from navel to collarbone.
    • Tyrion bears a prominent scar from his wounding in the Battle of Blackwater.
    • In addition to his missing hand, Jaime Lannister has several facial scars from his ordeal in the Riverlands.
    • Jon Snow has a few scars from Orell's eagle attack.
    • Theon's torso is mottled with scars from his Cold-Blooded Torture and he is missing a few pieces besides.
  • Scenery Porn: The series really loves to show beautiful establishing shots of its locations, both real and computer-enhanced.
  • Schiff One-Liner: Three of the first eight episodes end in a darkly humorous One-Liner.
  • Screw Politeness Im A Senior:
    • Olenna Tyrell. And how.
    • Walder Frey is also like this in "Baelor".
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: In a rare villainous example, Locke chooses to torture some of his noble captives rather than ransom them because he resents that they can buy their way out of trouble. However, later he turns down a ransom for one of them because it isn't enough.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: In "Mhysa", Davos goes against Stannis' wishes by freeing Gendry before Melisandre can sacrifice him.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • After Robert's death, Renly and Loras flee King's Landing with their retainers when Ned refuses to join them in taking decisive action against Cersei and Joffrey.
    • Loras and Margaery leave the Stormlands after Renly is assassinated.
    • Ser Barristan, when Joffrey and Cersei try to force retirement on him.
    • Perhaps most blatantly, Sandor Clegane deserts during the Battle of Blackwater with the epic line "Fuck the Kingsguard. Fuck the city. Fuck the king." Delivered to said king's face no less!
    • In the Season 2 finale, Dagmer and the Ironmen. "We're going home!"
  • Second Love: Tyrion feels this way about Shae until she testifies against him.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: Dany seals up Xaro Xhoan Daxos (with Doreah) in his own vault as revenge for betraying her.
  • Secret Relationship:
    • Renly and Loras attempt to be discreet about their romance due to the homophobia of Westerosi society.
    • Tyrion and Shae conceal their romance after Tywin commands Tyrion not to take her to court and vows to hang the next whore he finds in Tyrion's bed.
    • Jaime and Cersei, since Twincestuous adultery with the queen is frowned upon.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man:
    • Renly in relation to Robert and Stannis.
    • Tommen and Joffrey Baratheon, even though Joffrey is not exactly manly himself.
  • Separated-at-Birth Casting:
    • Emilia Clarke and Harry Lloyd, who portray the Targaryen siblings, possess an uncanny similarity.
    • Finn Jones and Natalie Dormer, who play the Tyrell siblings could pass for brother and sister in real life. In the novels, Cersei observes that Margaery and Loras look more alike than she and her twin Jaime, and this also applies on the show.
    • Dormer also bears a striking resemblance to a young Diana Rigg, so it's fitting that they play granddaughter and grandmother on the series. (There are even images of Rigg as Emma Peel giving a similar off-kilter smile to the one that's become Dormer's trademark.
  • Sex Equals Love: Daenerys and Drogo form a romantic bond once Dany gets tutored on how to take control of her sex life.
  • Sexposition: The series is credited with popularizing this trope and naming it.
    • So many of the show's exposition scenes take place during sex or in brothels that Ros was made into a regular character to receive all the sexposition.
    • Littlefinger uses his background as an illustration on how Ros and another prostitute should go down on each other. In doing so, he reveals a lot about his history and future plans.
    • Viserys opens up about his background to Doreah while screwing her in a bathtub.
    • Theon reveals his misguided expectations about his homecoming during a romp with a captain's daughter.
  • Shaggy Dog Story: A lot of the subplots and arcs turn out to be this:
    • Arya's quest since the end of Season 1 to return to her family features a lot of Wacky Wayside Tribe and danger but ultimate ends in a Hope Spot at the Red Wedding and another at the Bloody Gate which ultimately convinces her to give up and leave Westeros.
    • After a whole season of building his own power and defending King's Landing, Tyrion faces a Bodyguard Betrayal and by the time he recovers all his accomplishments and alliances have been lost or claimed by others, leaving him back where he started.
    • Tyrion tells one while awaiting his trial by combat. He describes in great detail his fascination with his simple-minded cousin crushing beetles, but the story peters out without any resolution. The implied meaning is that suffering happens for no greater reason than a simpleton smashing bugs.
  • Shameful Strip: Joffrey orders Sansa stripped and beaten in public in petty revenge for Robb winning a battle, but Tyrion intervenes.
  • A Shared Suffering: The relationship between Cersei and Tyrion Lannister begins to resemble a brotherly one after Tywin reminds them both of the joy of living under his domineering thumb.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Whether he's at court, on a hunting trip, or commanding an army of about a hundred thousand men, Renly is always handsomely dressed for the occasion.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat:
    • Sansa grew up thinking life was a fairytale and is enchanted by the decadence of the royal court, leaving her total unprepared for its deadly side.
    • As a Royal Brat, Joffrey certainly gives this impression.
    • Brienne accuses Jaime of being this to snap him out of his depression after losing his sword hand.
  • Shield Bash:
    • Tyrion kills his first man by this method.
    • Brienne hits Loras' helm-covered head with her shield in the melee, but he recovers from the blow.
  • Ship Tease: Jaime/Brienne
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Jon Snow, Robb Stark, and Theon Greyjoy share one as they wait for a shave in "Winter is Coming."
    • Renly and Loras' have one together in "The Wolf and the Lion," during which Loras urges Renly to make a claim for the throne, and another in "What is Dead May Never Die," where they argue about Brienne of Tarth. Loras has a third one in "Kissed By Fire" when he beds Olyvar.
    • Gendry does the Hot Men At Work version while forging a sword in "The Ghost of Harrenhal."
    • Joffrey goes shirtless between trying on outfits in "Dark Wings, Dark Words."
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog:
    • Ros' arc. A Canon Foreigner introduced mostly for Sexposition, she goes through Break the Cutie in Season 2 and becomes a spy in Season 3 only to be killed in a brutal and sexualized manner to illustrate the cruelty of two men who have already had multiple scenes dedicated to just that.
    • The entire Northern Rebellion straddles the line between this and The Hero Dies after the Red Wedding. The initial quest of getting justice for Ned Stark and reclaiming Arya and Sansa fails horribly, and Robb, Catelyn, and Talisa are murdered, making the Starks and Tullys political non-entities in Westeros.
    • Oberyn's quest to avenge the rape and murder of his sister ends with the Mountain killing him the same way he killed Elia.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Jon and Sam, two characters in a fantasy world, telling each other what they wanted to be when they grew up: a ranger and a wizard, respectively.
    • The helmets of Lannister soldiers are quite similar to those of the German soldiers in Alexander Nevsky, which were, in turn, based on the Stahlhelm of Nazi soldiers.
    • One of the names Viserys mentions when listing the Targaryen dragons is Vermithrax.
    • Shade of the Evening both gives the Warlocks power and changes the color of their lips.
    • An HBO special: In "Two Swords", when asked why he's willing to kill civilians but not steal, Sandor Clegane says "A man's got to have a code," the line Omar Little of The Wire used to explain why he was willing to steal but not kill civilians.
    • In "The Lion and the Rose", the suggested names for Joffrey's new sword include Stormbringer and Terminus.
    • "Breaker of Chains" has two references to Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Shireen mentions that Davos once read the word "knight" as "kuh-niggit", and the Meereenese champion's harangue is a Low Valyrian translation of the French taunter scene.
    • The Valyrian phrase "Valar morghulis" or "All men must die." In the Tolkien Legendarium, the Valar are godlike angelic beings and "morgul" is an Elvish word for black magic.
    • In "The Children", Ygritte's funeral pyre in the woods heavily resembles Darth Vader's in Return of the Jedi.
  • Shrouded in Myth:
    • Facts from the distant past are prone to be embellished into legends. For instance, Aegon the Conqueror forged the Iron Throne from less than two hundred swords rather than the reputed thousand.note 
    • After curb-stomping his enemies twice, Robb quickly becomes an in-universe Memetic Badass accused of Lycanthropy because his pet direwolf fought beside him.
    • Because this trope is acknowledged in-universe, some characters are suspicious of magical things that actually exist, such as dragons and White Walkers. For the first few seasons, Daenerys' dragons are commonly dismissed as just a story by people who have not seen them.
  • Silk Hiding Steel:
    • This is the Tyrell's family philosophy, though they would doubtless prefer the rose-and-thorn analogy. Their women appear as Proper Ladies and Grand Dames and their men as Knights In Shining Armour or jolly fat men, but they might be just as ruthless as other houses.
    • Sansa begins as a pure Ingenue but hones this trait to survive her Break the Cutie arc in King's Landing.
    • Despite her earlier rebelliousness, Arya immediately puts on a sweet-and-innocent facade when it suits her, such as while serving as Tywin's cupbearer or setting up to kill a Frey soldier in "Mhysa"
  • Sibling Yin-Yang:
  • The Siege:
    • Robb's first goal in the War of Five Kings is to break Jaime Lannister's seige of Riverrun.
    • Stannis Baratheon besieges King's Landing in "Blackwater", the climax of Season 2.
    • During Robert's Rebellion, Stannis was Reduced To Rat Burgers inside Storm's End by Mace Tyrell.
    • The wildlings under Mance Rayder attack Castle Black from both sides of the Wall in "Watchers on the Wall".
  • Sigil Spam: Many of the Great Houses have their emblem on everything.
    • Sandor Clegane has a helmet in the shape of a dog.
    • Robert, Joffrey, and Renly all wear crowns with antler designs and Baratheon guardsmen have horned helms.
    • Lannisters love buttons, clasps, brooches, etc. in the shape of lion's heads.
    • Oberyn Martell's robe is ornamented with tiny golden suns.
    • The Tullys carve fish into pretty much every column they possess and wear armour that resembles scales.
    • The Tyrells don't have a single article of clothing without a floral pattern, as Lady Oleanna points out to one of her relatives:
    "Another golden rose. How original. I eat from plates stamped with roses. I sleep in sheets embroidered with roses. I have a golden rose painted on my chamber pot, as if that makes it smell any better. Roses are boring, dear."
  • Silent Credits: Used in "The Rains of Castamere" to allow the audience to absorb the shock of the brutal deaths of Talisa, Robb, and Catelyn.
  • Single Line of Descent: Played straight, averted, and justified.
    • Played straight by many houses whose patriarchs seem to lack siblings. The Stark children have no cousins except Robin Arryn, since Ned's siblings all died or took the black before having children, though they are very distantly related to the Karstarks.
    • Averted by the Lannisters in earlier seasons; Lord Tywin is assisted by his brother Kevan and Kevan's son Lancel is squire to King Robert.
    • Justified with the Targaryens whose tradition of incest limited the branching of the family tree, leaving them very vulnerable to a Succession Crisis.
  • Sissy Villain: The eunuch Lord Varys subverts this trope brilliantly. Raised by actors, he knows how to play the role properly to keep the Queen and her council guessing. Even Magnificent Bastard Petyr Baelish doesn't quite know what he's up to. It's mostly an act-when he gets truly angry or serious he drops his usual polite, facetious tone and his voice becomes considerably lower, first seen when he delivers quite a hardass What the Hell, Hero? to Ned Stark.
  • Slave Liberation: Daenerys overthrows the slave cities of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen. However, she finds that overthrowing a few cities is easier than overthrowing a whole social system.
  • Slavery Is a Special Kind of Evil:
    • Daenerys definitely believes this and has dedicated herself to wiping out the slave trade in Slaver's Bay. She believes it so fervently that her Pay Evil unto Evil can stray toward He Who Fights Monsters.
    • Selling slaves earned Jorah Mormont an instant death sentence in Westeros, and he brings this up to convince Daenerys not to massacre the Wise Masters of Yunkai in "Mockingbird".
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). What do you expect from an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire?
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The series is noted for its cynical take on High Fantasy tropes like The Good King and Knight in Shining Armor, and characters with overly idealistic worldviews do tend to fare poorly, but characters who are too cynical (especially to the point of Stupid Evil) have their share of hardship as well.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Joffrey does this nearly every time he sits the Iron Throne.
  • Smug Smiler:
    • This seems to be Littlefinger's default setting.
    • Daario Naharis generally wears a mischievous grin, especially when eyeing up Daenerys.
    • Theon tends to smirk when he feels cocky, and pretty much everyone enjoys wiping it off his face.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Cersei is one of these most days. Her father dresses her down for it.
    Tywin : I don't distrust you because you are a woman, I distrust you because you're not as smart as you think you are.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Bronn accuses Pyromancer Hallyne of being one of these, even going so far as to suggest that the wildfire he's making is actually pigshit, much to the man's affront. Averted during the Battle of the Blackwater when his wildfire turns out to be the real deal.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat:
    • Varys and Littlefinger engage in it quite a few times.
    Baelish: "When they castrated you, did they take the pillar with the stones? I've always wondered."
    Varys: "Have you? Do you spend a lot of time wondering what's between my legs?"
    Baelish: "I picture a gash. Like a woman's. Is that about right?"
    Varys: "I am flattered, of course, to be pictured at all."
    Baelish: "Must be strange for you, even after all these years. A man from another land, despised by most, feared by all—"
    Varys: "Am I? That is good to know. Do you lie awake at night fearing my gash?"
    • Tyrion is a master of this.
    • A lot of barbs are exchanged between Renly and Littlefinger since neither man possesses any talent for fighting.
  • Snipe Hunt: Robert can't fit in his armor, so he sends Lancel to find the "breastplate stretcher".Even stoic Ned Stark finds it amusing.
  • Snow Means Death: The White Walkers seem to bring the cold with them.
  • The So-Called Coward: After describing himself as a coward, Samwell Tarley grows increasingly brave, first by killing a White Walker and then providing a capable defense of Castle Black. Pyp even marvels at how brave he is.
  • The Sociopath: In a show full of bad people doing bad things, Joffrey Baratheon and Ramsay Snow stand out.
  • Soft-Spoken Sadist: Roose Bolton is calm, courteous, and as cold-blooded a lord as Westeros can offer. His family uses a flayed man as their sigil and has a legendary reputation for torture.
  • Something about a Rose:
    • The rose Loras carries in "The Wolf and the Lion" hints at his Agent Peacock status―beautiful, but dangerous. Considering that the Mountain killed his previous opponent, viewers might assume the delicate-looking Knight of Flowers will suffer the same fate, but with a little Combat Pragmatism Loras takes down the brute on the first tilt.
    • Michele Clapton designed Margaery's wedding gown to reflect the character's personality: pretty and traditional, but with visible thorns to add an element of danger.
  • Something Else Also Rises: Renly jokes about Robert being aroused at the thought of assassinating Daenerys in "The Wolf and the Lion".
    Renly: Robert is rather tasteless about it. Every time he talks about killing her I swear the table rises six inches.
  • Sore Loser:
    • Ser Gregor kills his own horse and attempts to murder an unarmed Ser Loras (who only carried a shield at the time) after the latter defeats him in the joust.
    • Although Loras doesn't do or say anything negative to Brienne after she wins their melee competition, he's shown to be bitter about his defeat when he speaks to Renly in private.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Joffrey becomes one when he orders Ned Stark beheaded despite Cersei's plan to use him to defuse the war with House Stark before it really begins.
    • The survival of Bran and Rickon means House Stark isn't quite as dead as many characters believe.
  • The Spartan Way: The Unsullied undergo hellish training that makes them immune to pain and robotically loyal.
  • Speak Ill of the Dead: Cersei and Joffrey have no qualms about posthumously calling Renly a "degenerate" in "Dark Wings, Dark Words".
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Greatjon.
  • Spikes of Villainy:
  • Spirit Advisor: Jojen Reed appears in Bran's dreams about the three-eyed crow, advising him on how to follow it.
  • Spiteful Spit:
    • Greatjon Umber uses one to make his thoughts on the Succession Crisis clear:
      "My lords! Here's what I say to these two kings!" *spits* "Renly Baratheon is nothing to me, nor Stannis neither!"
    • Rodrik Cassel spits in Theon's face for his betrayal, forcing Theon to behead him to maintain his men's respect.
    • Ralf Kenning, the ironborn commander at Moat Cailin, spits some of his Blood from the Mouth in Theon's face to show his contempt for surrender.
    • Karl Tanner spits in Jon Snow's face to throw him off during their duel. Learning from this, Jon spits blood in the face of Styr of the Thenns to gain enough time to grab an improvised weapon.
  • Spoiled Brat: In "The Wolf and the Lion", Renly says his brothers consider him this. Loras' expression and silence indicate he agrees, but Renly retorts that Loras is even richer and more pampered than him.
    Renly: And how much did your father pay for that armour of yours?
    • Bronn accuses Tyrion of this, and from the perspective of an amoral sellsword raised in the gutter it's certainly true. You're part of the richest, most powerful family in the Seven Kingdoms, married to a beautiful Princess Classic and due to inherit half of Westeros (albeit the colder half) — who cares if you're the No Respect Guy, your sister hates you and your father's always been a cunt?
  • Spoiled Sweet:
    • Although he grew up in luxury, Renly is a genuinely nice guy who cares about the smallfolk more than most Westerosi nobles.
    • Margaery uses her families vast wealth to support many charities, such as orphanages, and is kind to the friendless Sansa Stark. However, these actions all have political advantages as well, leaving her real motives somewhat ambiguous.
  • Spoiler Opening:
    • Starting in Season 2, only actors who appear in the episode are credited during the opening, indicating which characters will be not be featured.
    • The opening credits evolving map features key locations in the episode and the series overall, so a new location telegraphs a new location in the upcoming episode.
  • The Squire:
    • Lancel is this to King Robert in Season 1, becoming a knight by Season 2.
    • Podrick Payne becomes Tyrion's squire in Season 2 and later squires for Brienne in Season 4.
    • Although not mentioned on-screen, the HBO Viewer's Guide states that Loras squired for Renly, which is faithful to the novels.
    • Ser Alton Lannister once served as Jaime's squire during a tourney.
    • Jaime recalls fighting the Kingswood Brotherhood beside Ser Barristan Selmy as a squire.
    • Robb agrees to take Olyvar Frey as his squire as part of his deal with Walder Frey in "Baelor", though the character is never seen.
  • Standard Royal Court:
    • King's Landing has the most fully-fledged court, complete with kings, Hands, regents, spymasters, treasurers, lawmakers, military commanders, mistresses, royal consorts, royal bodyguards, Grand Maesters, High Septons, household servants, and a crowd of courtiers.
    • Since he is on a military campaign, Robb assembles his nobles to discuss what course to take in "Baelor," but otherwise seems to rely on advice from his generals or inner circle.
    • Stannis' court is simplified to a contest (complete with Good Angel, Bad Angel shot) between Davos The Consigliere and Melisandre the Court Mage.
    • Daenerys regularly gathers her advisors to discuss matters of state and holds court to deal with supplicants.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Robb falls in love with an independent woman from Volantis, but he's bound by a political marriage pact to a Frey daughter he's never even met.
    • Renly and Loras' illicit romance comes to a tragic end in "The Ghost of Harrenhal" when Renly is assassinated.
    • Sam is in love with Gilly, even though he has sworn to take no wife and she is "wed" to her father.
    • Oberyn and Ellaria genuinely love each other, but they cannot marry due to the latter's social status as a bastard; as such, the best they can go for is concubinage. And Oberyn's death at the hands of the Mountain has left Ellaria devastated.
  • The Starscream: Many of the Great Houses have a lesser House hoping to undermine them.
    • The Freys and Boltons betray their overlords the Starks and Tullys in "The Rains of Castamere".
    • House Reyne was this to the Lannisters until Tywin wiped them out.
    • After "Blackwater", characters like Cersei consider the Tyrells to be this to the royal family.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: True to its medievalesque setting this is a general belief in Westeros, though not north of the Wall. As such, women with traditionally masculine aspirations like Brienne are looked down on and ambitious women like Margaery generally achieve power by controling the men in their lives.
  • Stealth Insult:
    • Sansa appears to have mastered this. One example is this:
      Sansa: I'm sorry, Your Grace. You're right, I'm stupid. Of course you'll be in the vanguard. They say my brother Robb always goes where the fighting is thickest. And he is only a pretender.
    • Arya as well.
      Arya: [...] they say he can't be killed.
      Tywin: And do you believe that?
      Arya: (directly holding Tywin's gaze) No, my lord. Anyone can be killed.
    • In "Garden of Bones", Renly knows very well the kind of self-serving person Littlefinger is, and is disgusted by it.
      Renly: You can trust Brienne. Her loyalty comes without charge.
    • Margaery subtly criticizes Cersei's fashion sense in "Valar Dohaeris".
      Margaery: Loras, isn't the Queen's gown magnificent? The fabric, the embroidery, the metalwork. I've never seen anything like it!
    • Loras politely suggests his very poor opinion of her neglect/mistreatment of the smallfolk.
      Loras: (smiling directly at Cersei) Margaery does a great deal of work with the poor back in Highgarden.
    • In "The Lion and the Rose", Loras proves that he can fight with words just as well as he fights with swords after Jaime threatens him.
      Jaime: Luckily for you, none of this will happen, because you will never marry her [Cersei].
      Loras: (smiles smugly) And neither will you. (pats Jaime on the arm)
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Heroic Bastard Jon Snow wields a bastard sword.
    • Stannis' sigil is a Baratheon stag within a fiery heart, but it could just as easily be a fiery "hart", another word for "stag".
    • The Freys guard their bridge with twin fortress and are known as Lords of the Crossing, suggesting that they might be "double crossing".
  • Stepford Smiler:
    • Sansa and Gilly both use it as a survival technique.
    • Loras usually puts on a charming disposition, but this mask slips near the end of the dinner scene in "Valar Dohaeris" and again at the wedding in "Second Sons". He also tells Sansa privately in "The Climb" that King's Landing the "most terrible place there is," indicating that he is suffering in silence.
  • Stepford Snarker: Sansa becomes a pretty brazen one in the second season.
  • Stockholm Syndrome:
    • The early part of Daenerys' marriage consist mostly of rape by a beast of a man whom she fears, but after a while she embraces his culture and comes to love him and his people. By the time he threatens to Rape, Pillage, and Burn the realm of those who tried to assassinate her, she seems aroused by the idea. It doesn't take entirely though, since she's repulsed by seeing the actual rape, pillage, and burn.
    • Ramsay Snow has perfected the art of instilling this into his captives.
  • Stock Scream: A faint Wilhelm can be heard as the Lannisters are finishing off downed enemies after the Battle of the Green Fork in "Baelor".
  • A Storm Is Coming:
    • "Winter is Coming" are the official words of House Stark.
    • King Robert foreshadows the War of Five Kings in the second episode of the series:
      Robert: There's a war coming, Ned. I don't know when, I don't know who we'll be fighting, but it's coming.
  • Straight Edge Evil:
    • Tywin Lannister is a proud, dignified, and humorless man characterized by his aura of perfection and ruthlessness in pursuit of his House's well-being.
    • Jaime Lannister discusses the trope in "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", commenting to the teetotal Roose Bolton, "You know how suspicious that seems to most people, don't you?" Bolton's not drinking is brought up again in "The Rains of Castamere", when his villainy is finally revealed.
  • Straight for the Commander: The assassinations of Renly Baratheon and Robb Stark prove this tactic need not be limited to the battlefield.
  • Straight Gay: Renly Baratheon has a more masculine appearance and demeanor than his lover.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Theon's fellow ironborn reject him for living on the mainland for ten years. He goes to great lengths to prove himself to them, but it only eats away at his sanity and ruins his life.
  • Strange Syntax Speaker: Jaqen H'ghar refers to everyone―first, second, or third person―by indefinite phrases such as "a man" or "a girl," although sometimes he suffers from Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping such as when he says "And you pour water for one of them now. Why is this right for you and wrong for me?"
  • Street Urchin: This is how Arya lives in King's Landing following her escape from the Red Keep.
  • Stunned Silence:
    • The reaction to the wildfire in "Blackwater".
    • Catelyn's reaction to Robb's death. The silence continues with a total lack of music or sound during the entire credits sequence.
    • The reaction to a drunken Tyrion slamming a dagger into the table and threatening to castrate King Joffrey.
  • Stupid Evil:
    • Joffrey and Ramsay stand out as being incapable of restraining their sadism at great cost to their cause.
    • Lord Tywin reproaches the Mountain for wasting able-bodied prisoners by torturing them to death.
  • Subordinate Excuse:
    • Despite presumably having other duties as heir to Highgarden, Loras devotes his life to being Lord Commander of Renly's Kingsguard as a convenient way to spend a lot of time with his lover and explain away the frequent private visits.
    • Almost the same can be said of Brienne, who pledges her life to protect Renly in order to just be near him, despite being heiress to Tarth and, as a woman, not even expected to physically fight for him.
  • Succession Crisis: One begins at the end of "You Win Or You Die", and is the main focus of later seasons.
  • Super Weight:
    • Type -1: Maester Aemon
    • Type 0: Most of the non-combatant cast, most peasants
    • Type 1: Ned Stark, Robb Stark, Theon Greyjoy, Jaime Lannister, Bronn, Stannis Baratheon, Ser Loras, Khal Drogo, Ser Jorah, Jon Snow, Yoren, Brienne of Tarth, Syrio Forel, Sandor Clegane, Ser Gregor Clegane
    • Type 2: Thoros of Myr, Daenerys Targaryen, Jaqen H'ghar, Wights, Greenseers (Jojen Reed)
    • Type 3: Mirri Maz Duur, Melisandre, Pyat Pree, Dragons (young), Giants, Wargs (Orell and Bran Stark)
    • Type 4: Dragons (full-grown), White Walkers
    • Type 5: R'hllor, aka the Lord of Light (if he exists at all)
  • Suppressed Rage:
    • Loras' body language cannot disguise the utter disgust and frustration that he feels at having to bend the knee to Joffrey in "Valar Morghulis".
    • The abrupt and rude manner in which Loras storms away from the wedding feast in "Second Sons" is merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of the true depths of his anger over his current situation (i.e. his forced betrothal to Cersei, his inability to mourn for Renly in public, etc.).
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Happens when Margaery explains to Sansa that a woman might not know what she wants sexually until she's tried it.
    Sansa: Did your mother teach you?
    Margaery: (smiles) Yes, sweet girl, my mother taught me.
  • Surprise Incest: Theon hits on a woman that met him at the docks, only to find out that she's his sister.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: Invoked. "The Rains of Castamere," a song about the slaughter of a major house that stood up against the Lannisters, is chosen as the signal to begin the Red Wedding specifically for its symbolic value.
  • Sword Pointing: In "The Ghost of Harrenhal", Loras points his sword right in Littlefinger's face and accuses the older man of wanting to sell him and his sister to Stannis as hostages. To Littlefinger's credit, he doesn't even flinch.
  • Sympathy for the Hero:
    • Jaime expresses a moment of this when he sees Ned Stark setting himself up for a fall.
      Jaime: Poor Ned Stark. Brave man, terrible judgement.
    • Varys is supportive of Tyrion in the gloomy aftermath of "Blackwater".
      Varys: There are many who know that without you this city faced certain defeat. The king won't give you any honors, the histories won't mention you, but we will not forget.

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