These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Khal Drogo is set up as a major threat to all of Westeros but is reduced to a catatonic state after a festering wound is 'treated' by the blood magic of a maegi who had reason to despise him. He never even crosses the narrow sea to begin the invasion of Westeros.
Tywin, as head of the Lannisters and chief adversary for many of the other characters, but his death has nothing to do with his domination of the continent. His abuse of his son Tyrion finally catches up to him and he dies an ignominious death on a privy.
Viserys seems to be set up as a major villain, but he dies halfway through the first book, before he or any of his supporters set foot in Westeros.
Balon Greyjoy declares himself King of the Iron Islands and has set up a major campaign to raid the North, but dies off-page before he ever does anything. His brothers, however, take up the cause.
Renly plans on stealing the throne from Stannis and has put together the largest army in Westeros, but he's assassinated on the night before the battle without putting up a fight. Stannis takes the bulk of his forces into his own campaign against the Lannisters.
Daenerys' prolonged arc in Essos, while teaching her a lot of useful lessons about effective rulership and politics, has got a lot of readers tearing their hair out waiting for the dragon battles already!!
Remember how there's supposed to a Zombie Apocalypse of some kind with the coming of the Others? Five books into a seven book series and so far they haven't even reached the Wall.
Broken Base: The fanbase was actually a pretty contented one up until the publication of A Feast For Crows. With A Dance With Dragons finally out, the new broken base seems to divide between fans who love it and consider it a return to form, and those who hate it and consider it AFFC 2.0. And then there are those who loved AFFC and don't consider the idea of AFFC 2.0 to be a bad thing. The split in the fanbase seems to be a result of the increased focus on world building in AFFC and ADWD. Westeros and Essos are presented in more detail than ever before, but parts of the fanbase consider this to have occurred at the expense of plot.
Draco in Leather Pants: Littlefinger is wildly popular, despite being one of the most scheming and villainous characters in the series, and in many ways the Big Bad of the story (or one of, anyway). It helps that he's quite witty as well as described as handsome and stylish. More than one fan has even expressed a wish to see Littlefinger come out on top in the game of thrones. Sandor Clegane is also extremely popular despite his violent and morally gray behavior. He, on the other hand, is repeatedly described as hideously deformed.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Some readers find the grimness of the setting to lose its impact over the course of the series. One can only hear so much about all the raped women and skinned children and random murders and how utterly assholish everyone seems to be before they lose interest.
Garlan Tyrell, simply because he's a badass knight and a decent person. He's nice to Tyrion and does a minor case of calling Joffrey out on his behavior.
Dacey Mormont, who, despite having relatively little screentime and a paragraph's worth of dialogue in A Storm of Swords, gets a lot of fan love for her Action Girl status as a Mormont and for her Undying Loyalty to Robb Stark. Possibly also in sympathy for her being rejected for a dance and her subsequent brutal death at the hands of Freys in the Red Wedding.
Epileptic Trees: The various mysteries surrounding Robert's Rebellion, the Tower of Joy, Jon Snow's parentage, and Prince Rhaegar. The Others are one big Epileptic Tree.
Evil Is Cool: A good deal of fans love Littlefinger, despite his role in making things worse.
Evil Is Sexy: Many characters will do anything to get into Cersei's bed, including abandoning any sense of morality they might have to earn her physical favor. Even as she becomes less and less likable throughout the series, she is still one of its primary sources of erotic fanservice.
Fan Dumb: The series has a sizable fanbases with a strong internet presence, so it's not surprising that factions develop to wage flame wars on all manner of subjects, including the characters, the author, the direction of the series, and each other.
Fan Nickname: Un-Cat, Gregorstein/Qyborg/Franken-Gregor. The "Tower of Joy" is generally treated like a proper name to a tower and an incident there, though the phrase comes from an offhand description.
Genius Bonus: At one point in A Dance With Dragons, Stannis's army is marching to rescue the supposed Arya Stark. One of the knights asks if all of the trouble is worth it for a woman; this is a reference to The Iliad. The knight who responds to this comment is nicknamed "Middle Liddle," which is also the nickname of a commonly used lexicon of Ancient Greek.
Harsher in Hindsight: "A dragon is not a slave." Come A Dance With Dragons, Dany chains her dragons up in a pit and uses a whip to control Drogon. The worst part is that it was very foreseeable; the Valyrian dragonlords of old used powerful blood magic to keep their dragons tame, and Aegon simply locked his away when he didn't need them. Dany used...a mother's love.
Jon and Satin. Jon's nice to Satin where the other Watchmen are rude, he remarks on his good looks frequently in his P.O.V. chapters, and when Jon is made Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, he makes Satin his steward, a position demonstrated in Jon's storyline to be a fairly significant one, and one that lends itself to close contact between the two parties, not to mention that Satin was a prostitute (implied to have worked mostly for men) before he came to the Wall. Other characters in the series wonder about these two as well.
Stannis and Davos are another pair that give off this vibe — Stannis is cold to nearly everyone, including his wife, but freely admits to missing Davos when Davos is lost at sea after the Battle of the Blackwater, laughs and smiles in his presence though the maester who raised him says Stannis "never learned how to laugh", and honors Davos constantly despite the latter's common birth and the complaints of his other lords bannermen; Davos is completely devoted to Stannis to the point where he won't even criticize him for cutting his fingertips off, does Stannis' bidding even when he disagrees, and has called Stannis his god.
The first time one reads Margaery takes her court girls into bed, a double take is likely. Other characters wonder as well.
In "The Mystery Knight", there are hints of this with "John the Fiddler" and his childhood friend and loyal companion Ser Alyn. John has a drunken and rather flirtatious conversation with Dunk, and later Alyn is driven into a jealous rage and tries to kill Dunk. On the face of it this is for John's offer of a place on the Kingsguard which was already promised to Alyn, but given a Kingsguard has seven people in it, there seems to be something more to it.
Queen Selyse seems far more interested in the woman sleeping with her husband then her actual husband. She basically worships the ground Melisandre walks on.
Thoros and Beric.
Robb and Theon.
Ned and Robert. Ned uses phrases like "muscled like a maiden's dream" to describe Robert in his youth. Lampshaded by Jaime Lannister in the second book when he tells Cat:
Jaime: I think Ned Stark loved Robert better than he ever loved his brother or his father . . . or even you, my lady. He was never unfaithful to Robert, was he?
I Am Not Shazam: Ever since the show came out and generated more interest in the books many people have ventured into libraries and bookstores asking for the "Game of Thrones Books". Of course, newer printings of the older books and all new books have "Game of Thrones, The Hit Original Series From HBO" stamped on them now, anyway.
Stannis Baratheon's wife is a religious fanatic, his daughter is disfigured, his only friend is an ex-smuggler whose fingers he chopped off, his effort in his brother's rebellion is rewarded by being made Lord of some desolate island in the middle of nowhere, the lands and incomes that should have been his is given to his younger brother, and he is off fighting wildlings and gods know what else beyond the Wall when he should be regrouping and reinforcing his army. Stan needs a hug.
Arya. She's mentally unstable but due to all that's happened, can you really blame her?
As of A Dance with Dragons, Theon is now officially the biggest Jerkass Woobie in the history of Jerkass Woobies. Although by the end of the book he's not all that much of a Jerk Ass anymore.
Sandor Clegane, The Hound. He's at best a very dark Anti-Hero who never so much as minces his thoughts about how awful life truly is, but considering his own brother is Gregor Clegane, it's hard not to feel sorry for what he went through.
The late Viserys Targaryen when you get a good long look at his backstory.
Joffrey. One of the biggest douches in the series, but so fun to loathe.
A more amiable example would be Tywin Lannister, who generates admiration because of his badass aura and his history of being a rather effective battle commander and leader. He's of course balanced out for his cold attitude and his unfair treatment of his son Tyrion.
In yet another, totally different way: Lord Walder Frey. Let's face it: almost all of us are looking forward to when (as well as how) he buys the farm for a lot of very valid reasons. Not least to see the rest of the equally hatable Freys inevitably collapse into a vicious struggle for power and bump each other off left, right and centre.
Doran Martell comes out of nowhere as one in books four and five.
As of book five, Wyman Manderly almost certainly qualifies.
Olenna Tyrell, she helped assassinate Joffrey and absolutely no one has any idea she was involved. She's also the brains behind House Tyrell.
Margaery seems to have started taking notes from Granny Dearest, and even working for her, since she was old enough to write... Undermining Cersei handily on her own, plus other acts, strongly suggest that not everything she does is entirely Gran's idea, even if it has her style all over it. She may fully graduate, in time. If she's given the chance to.
Bastard Understudy: Sansa Stark, who could shape up into the above trope if Littlefinger has taught her right.
Lame Lothar Frey, who organised the slaughter of the Red Wedding and remained courteous to the Starks up until it happened.
Randyll Tarly became the fandom's answer to the Chuck Norris Facts fad. Tarly is a fairly tough customer in the series, but nothing close to the level that fans playfully describe him.
Jaime Lannister is known within the world as one of, if not the best, swordsmen around. The 2010 suvudu.com "cage matches" between fictional characters drew a large contingent of supporters for Jaime, who bested Hermione Granger and Cthulhu, among others, before facing off against The Wheel of Time's Crystal Dragon Jesus, Rand al'Thor. Martin wrote short descriptions of how he thought Jaime would win, which usually relied on Tyrion providing him a gameplan.
Wyman Manderly has attained this status (with praises that sound almost Chuck Norris-esque, e.g. "Lord Manderly is a vegetarian. Meaning, he does not eat Freys until first he puts them into vegetative state with his fists."). His earned badassery comes from the fact that everyone underestimated the fat jolly man, and that he had the audacity to feed Frey pies to people like Ramsay and Roose Bolton without them even suspecting, and even having the bard sing "Rat Cook" right to their faces without them realizing anything, and finally surviving his throat being cut.
Memetic Sex God: Oberyn. Also, apparently, Tormund Giantsbane, as evidenced by this forum thread encouraging fans to replace important quotations with "Tormund's member".
Moral Event Horizon: A number of characters have crossed the boundary from grey to black morality:
When King Joffrey orders the execution of protagonist Eddard Stark, who was meant to be spared.
Tywin Lannister crossed this line before the beginning of the series: When his son Tyrion fell in love with a thirteen-year old orphan, he lied to Tyrion that the girl was a paid whore. Tywin then had his entire garrison of soldiers brutally gang-rape the poor girl, forcing Tyrion to watch it alland then participate. Nothing Tywin ever does afterwards can redeem him from Complete Monster status because of this (though not even making an effort to, and screwing Tyrions' actual whore after hypocritically berating Tyrion for his whoring all through his life, and having the gall to have zero remorse for his actions and even to try and justify them on the grounds of I Have No Son, doesn't exactly push him towards redemption anyway).
Theon Greyjoy has perhaps the most notable one. Starting as something of a Jerk Ass with a downtrodden history that made him sympathetic, Theon crosses the line in a shocking way when he leads an Ironman invasion of his former home, Winterfell, and kills several people he grew up with. His most heinous deed is when he murders the miller's two young boys, (the younger one possibly his own son) and spiked their tarred heads to his gate to cover up the escape of Bran and Rickon Stark. And then A Dance with Dragons, using some of the best writing in the series, manages to bring him firmly back into the sympathetic category again because of the horrific tortures he receives from his captors.
The Red Wedding caused two characters to cross the line, namely Roose Bolton and Walder Frey. The former slaughtered his fellow Northmen only out of opportunism and personally killed Robb Stark. The latter orchestrated the massacre out of spite and laughed while it happened (not to mention that murdering a guest under your roof is considered one of the most despicable and dishonorable things a person can do in Westeros). However, the mastermind behind the Red Wedding was Tywin Lannister, but he had already crossed the Moral Event Horizon.
What Gregor did to Princess Elia and her baby. Even worse is that he laughs about it and was only 17 at the time. Also, he held his little brother's face in a fire because Sandor played with his toys. It's also hinted that Gregor killed his father, his little sister, and his first two wives. He once even killed a man for snoring too loudly!
An in-universe example: several characters consider Jaime Lannister's killing of Aerys Targaryen to be this. Since Jaime himself thinks it's his Crowning Moment of Awesome (with considerable justification, given that Aerys was planning to burn down the entire city of King's Landing with its residents still inside), this causes friction.
If Cersei had not long since passed the MEH, her treatment of Falyse Stokeworth would see her leaping across it. She tells Falyse and her husband to get rid of Bronn, and when the plan fails she condemns Falyse to be tortured to death by Qyburn without a second thought simply because her presence at court would inconvenience Cersei.
Varys arguably crosses it when he murders Kevan Lannister to deliberately destabilise the realm. Regardless of his supposed good intentions, he's dooming thousands more to die, even though it's supposedly for the realm's good.
In-Universe example: Jaime Lannister is forever known as the Kingslayer for murdering the man he was supposed to protect. To be fair, while the King in question was popularly recognized as The Caligula, the fact that most people don't know just how off his rocker Aerys was (planning to burn the Capital to the ground out of spite), and the misperception that Jaime killed him to further the ambition of House Lannister (Ned, in fact, believes that he killed Aerys because he wanted the throne for himself and was just playing a long game), is what really circles this trope off.
Fandom Example: Catelyn Stark, despite being a kind and caring mother and a woman with a strong sense of honor and duty. She is widely disliked because her first actions in the series are against the extremely popular Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister. Against Jon, she is openly disdainful generally, and in a moment of mad grief over her comatose seven-year-old son Bran, she tells him "it should have been you" before breaking down in tears. Soon after, upon meeting Tyrion Lannister at an inn, she arrests him for the attacks on Bran, mistakenly believing him to be the one responsible. This arrest serves as the trigger that sets the long simmering tensions in Westeros aflame, erupting into the War of the Five Kings.
Ramsay Bolton's very...fond of his Reek. This only makes being Reek even more terrifying, if that's even possible.
Also, in early books, Littlefinger's stroking Sansa's face, commenting on her attractiveness, saying he understands Joffrey wanting the "sweet prize" of her body, squicked out many fans. After book three, he's too obvious about his attraction to her for it to count as subtext, but, now that he's her uncle and adoptive father, it's even creepier.
"Very well, ser. Bring on your storm. And remember, if you will, the name of this castle."
Archmaester Marwyn, called "The Mage" by the other archmaesters for his interest in the occult. He is very well-traveled and he is mentioned a few times throughout the story but so far he has only actually appeared once, at the end of the fourth book. Possibly his popularity with the fandom is a result of his extremely proactive behaviour in what had been a very slow-paced book.
Wyman Manderly's granddaughter Wylla, who stands up for the Starks and gives Davos her support, despite her family's protests and attempts to silence her. Lord Wyman praises her bravado once he reveals his plan to Davos.
Lyanna Mormont, who doesn't even get an actual scene. One letter to Stannis from the ten-year-old daughter of Bear Island refusing to bend the knee, and she is everyone's hero.
Opening a Can of Clones: The Faceless Men; just look at the WMG page. This despite the fact that the only use of Actually a Doombot the series has so far pulled off was actually Melisandre's doing. This also seems to be based on an earlier understanding of Faceless Man powers that was jossed in A Dance With Dragons The Faceless Men keep around faces taken off of corpses and use blood magic to put them on their own faces. While this doesn't necessarily rule out impersonation via glamour, chances are that if a Faceless Man impersonates someone, the person they are impersonating is dead.
Replacement Scrappy: Darkstar was a self-confessed attempt to replace Oberyn Martell with a Bad Assmercenary. Unfortunately, his first appearance involves him failing to kill (but still maiming) the nice young Myrcella Baratheon. The nastiness of it (especially when compared with the character he replaced, who had no Kick the Dog moments) coupled with its failure, firmly established Darkstar as an ineffectualScrappy
The Scrappy: A few examples, with a cast so large. Some are due to characters having intentional flaws, while others are simply disliked as characters.
Darkstar, introduced in A Feast for Crows. Martin admitted that he wanted to recapture some of the aspects that fans liked about Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper of Dorne, but some fans rejected this minor character's overt attempts at Evil Is Cool.
People are deeply divided on the subject of Catelyn, but she's one of the most disliked of the main characters among the fandom due to her poor treatment of Jon and her rash behavior.
Arianne's chapters are disliked by some segments of the fandom mainly because her plot led nowhere. However these chapters actually reveal important setup for House Martell's plans for Dany. So your mileage really may vary on this one.
Dany's Meereenese supporting cast in A Dance With Dragons is very unpopular for a variety of reasons - difficult names, perceived blandness and the idea that the conflict in Meereen is ultimately irrelevant. Daario Naharis draws particular ire for his negative effect on Dany's character.
Dany herself, to some. In a series where stupidity tends to be swiftly rewarded with predictable results, she gets away with plenty of blunders yet keeps on surviving because she happens to have a very strong army, very competent subordinates and of course, dragons. Far more competent characters can only dream of ever having such resources at their disposal.
Squick: The series is known for its grittiness, gore, and creepy sex scenes. Often the squick is played for black humour.
Some people really react poorly to the sex scenes involving Tyrion. Other than him being an ugly dwarf, however, they're pretty normal.
Another disgusting but completely hilarious scene is when Jaime and Cersei Lannister have rough sex next to their son Joffrey's tomb. While Cersei bleeds from her period. Their incestuous relationship already brings a certain amount of squick to any sex scene.
Tywin Lannister in the end of book three is shot in the gut with a crossbow while sitting naked on the privy, and takes a postmortem dump. Tyrion later suggests that shit was dripping from the wound..
Littlefinger and his creepy obsession with Sansa Stark, which is wrong on so many levels.
Seasonal Rot: A Feast for Crows features only half the usual characters and places a lot of emphasis on new characters, giving the reader more of a commoner's perspective of Westeros than before. Many readers rejected the shift in emphasis, preferring the focus stay on the main plotlines and characters.
Shipping: Many examples, such as Sansa/The Hound, Lyanna/Rhaegar (they've both been dead fifteen years, but nothing will stop the ship), Jon/Dany, Tyrion/Sansa, Tyrion/Penny and even Theon/Jeyne despitethe implication that Ramsay had Theon gelded.
Wangst: Theon and Jon both complains a lot about having no real home or family of their own, but that drops away as bigger problems rear up in their lives.
What an Idiot: Walder Frey's decision to collaborate in the Red Wedding in the way he did. In the process he's joined sides with two backstabbing houses and taken most of the blame for the atrocities committed there. Although the House gained a big jump in nominal power, it's also received a bad reputation throughout the kingdom and had some of its members picked off by bandits as a result. Some fans believe that the cons vastly outweigh the short-term gains that his house has received.
Tyrion is the biggest one in the series, and that's saying a lot.
Jeyne Poole manages to claim this title in ADWD despite being a very minor character. Being married to Ramsay Bolton is exactly as bad as it sounds.
Theon Greyjoy, as Reek.
Penny: The sweetness of Sansa and the stature of Tyrion.
Sandor Clegane needs more hugs.
The smallfolk in general - the arrogance and pride of the five kings has doomed them to years of war and privation.
Cat. That poor, poor woman.
A kind of weird inversion occurs with Robert Arryn in the first book - the reader wishes that someone would just take him away from his overprotective mother and force him to man up. You know your mother is bad when the readers wish that you had been sent to be fostered by Tywin Lannister. Even his father noticed it and wanted to send him to Stannis Baratheon.
Hell, even Robert has shades of Woobieness to him. It's impossible not to see that the guy is absolutely miserable as king but knows there's no way out of it.
Robert: Damn you, Ned Stark. You and Jon Arryn, I loved you both. What have you done to me? You were the one should have been king, you or Jon. (...) Look at me, Ned. Look at what kinging has done to me. Gods, too fat for my armor, how did it ever come to this?
Jon Connington: He loses a pivotal battle during Robert's Rebellion because he is too decent to burn a city to the ground, loses the man who he quite probably loved, spends nearly two decades in exile protecting and raising that man's son, and is dying of greyscale so he will probably not live to see the end of his endeavors for good or for ill.
Lollys Stokeworth. If being The Load to her family and being viciously gang-raped "half a hundred times" by an angry mob and falling pregnant as a result wasn't bad enough, there are plenty of hints that Lollys may be mentally disabled. The fact that she is gets No Sympathy and is nothing but a source of amusement and derision for several other characters ramps this up.