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Alternative Character Interpretation / Game of Thrones

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Considering the Loads and Loads of Characters in the series, many possible interpretations of them were bound to come up.


Meta examples:

  • Is Daenerys a charismatic and heroic protagonist who is a suitable candidate for the Iron Throne, or an increasingly ineffective and narrow-minded leader, with messianic delusions?
    • Her goals are noble (ending slavery), her character is commendable — loyalty towards her friends, and compassion towards the smallfolk.
    • However, her means include inflicting Cruel and Unusual Deaths, an occassional black and white view of the world, her habit of conquering cities and leaving them worse off than before, and the fact she seems to kill people on a whim, even when she has no proof that they'd done anything wrong.
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    • Some see the latter as evidence of a flawed hero who, like many characters grapples with the problem of being good and being powerful, others see her as suffering from constant Ignored Epiphany and the Mad King's daughter.
    • Or is she an imperialist, trying to retake what was essentially her family's former colonial empire 20 years after it forcefully took back its own independence and self-determination? Especially on a continent that's been reshaped by two previous waves of human colonization.
  • Renly is either the Only Sane Man among the Baratheon brothers who won't let the fact that he's a younger brother stop him from doing what he believes is best for the realm, or a weak and self-serving man with Delusions of Eloquence with no clear idea of governance, who is Too Clever by Half and a Puppet King in the mould of Joffrey and Tommen, with the Tyrells rather than the Lannisters in charge.
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  • Is Stannis a tyrant who made a Deal with the Devil and does increasingly desperate and evil actions for his own ambition, or the rightful and just King who becomes a Tragic Villain as a result of constant betrayals, slights and having his advice ignored, forced by circumstances to resort to pragmatic means to do his duty and preserve the realm from all internal and external threats?
  • Craster:
    • Is he a monster who practices incest with his daughter-wives and sacrifices his male offspring to the White Walkers in exchange for leniency, or is he merely a ruthlessly pragmatic jerkass who recognises that without these regular sacrifices, he and his ilk would otherwise be shambling through the Haunted Forest as Wights by now?
    • Consider that with his death, those of his daughters who weren't murdered by the mutinous Night's Watch members are now alone in hundreds of miles of White Walker-infested forest; it's pretty much a Downer Ending for them either way.
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    • Lampshaded in "Breaker of Chains", which reveals that the Night's Watch mutineers set up shop in Craster's Keep and had taken his daughters for their own, leading Edd to darkly quip, "Bet those girls never thought they'd miss their daddy?"
  • The end of "Mhysa". Considering that Daenerys is on a conquering spree across Essos and has just taken their city, do the newly liberated slaves really worship her as their savior, or are they merely smart enough to realize that free or not, this benevolent conquering woman with the large army and dragons at her command, is still going to be the new "master" at the end of the day? Considering what she did to their old masters, isn't it better to get in good with the new boss by sucking up to her as soon as possible?
  • Shae. She doesn't get any lines in her death scene beyond "Tywin, my lion," leaving it completely up in the air how she got into Tywin's bed, and how long it had been going on.
  • Are the Tyrells really kind loving rulers? Or are they jerks who don't really care who is the rightful King or who would even make a good King just so long as they are in charge?
    • Loras' claim to Renly he should usurp the throne comes across as quite odd considering he is passing over Stannis basically on the grounds Stannis doesn't have a nice personality, even though Stannis has had more years of experience running the realm and Renly taking the throne is breaking with the laws the realm's power is based on.
    • Also, after Renly's death, the Tyrells support Joffrey even though Loras said that he was a monster. So apparently a monster would be a better King than a guy who doesn't have a good personality? Although that may simply be Enemy Mine after Stannis killed Loras' boyfriend.
  • Tywin Lannister:
    • Is there some grandfatherly affection below his kind mentorship of Tommen or is he merely shaping the boy to be another pawn? When Tywin rushes to cover Tommen's eyes while Joffrey chokes, in his mind, is he sparing the trauma to a little boy or to the next ruler?
    • Was that speech to Tyrion true? Or was it just an attempt to escape a death he knew was coming? Probably the latter, but his utter contempt toward Tyrion's threatening him was just so complete that he might have really believed he was in no danger. And there's just barely enough support in Tywin's overriding concern for Family Honor (and Charles Dance's towering performance) to believe that the speech might, just might, have been true.
  • Is Ser Barristan Selmy truly one of the most honorable, morally upstanding men in the show and a true knight as others praise him to be, or a moral coward who may preach virtues but hides behind his oaths to avoid having to take a stand against dishonorable or evil actions?
  • Broadly speaking, does incest truly cause insanity, or is it simply a scapegoat explanation for more complex mental issues?
    • Aerys wasn't born insane, but grew mad over the course of his reign, which could have had any number of causes.
    • Viserys and Joffrey both had troubled upbringings that could easily be blamed for the roots of their issues.
    • Furthermore, other products of inbreeding and incest, such as Daenerys, Tommen, Myrcella and Gilly all seem perfectly sane.
  • Who does have the "right" to be the King or Queen of Westeros, really?
    • Is it Daenerys, the last surviving offspring of an incestuous dynasty consisting largely of psychos, who isn't even physically present on the continent (at least until Season 7)?
    • Stannis, the 'rightful' heir of the last King, Robert, who had overthrown the previous rightful King and didn't even manage to establish a dynasty?
    • Or maybe if usurping twenty years prior was OK, the present usurpers who don't have any "right" are just as good, even though they are claiming it under false pretenses?
    • There's Renly, who feels he would make the best king, or the Lannisters, after losing their most psychotic crown puppet and de facto controlling the throne could be a good bet under Tywin's competent leadership?
    • Or Robb and Balon, reviving the once existing traditions of, respectively, Kings of the North and Kings of the Iron Islands; don't they also have some sort of legitimacy?
    • All of them? No one?
    • The whole concept gets mocked a few times in-universe. It all boils down to descent from Aegon the Conqueror, who's only claim was that nobody could stop him from taking it. At this point the only "right" that matters is Right of Conquest.
  • Does the High Sparrow actually care about fornication, adultery, and homosexuality, or is it just a convenient excuse to lock up the wealthy and powerful? He basically says that his goal is a faith-based Westerosi socialism where "the many do not fear the few."
    • Also, is the High Sparrow truly as pious and altruistic as he says he is, or is he just as corrupt and power-hungry as any other noble but is much better at hiding it?
  • Brienne is either a Knight in Shining Armor who is far truer to her vows than others and the only true embodiment of chivalry in Westeros, or a Hypocrite Heroic Wannabe who offers her services to people who are nice to her and doesn't actually care about true knighthood — protecting the weak and upholding justice — and is not loyal to any cause bigger than her personal guilt and vanity.
    • Since Brienne isn't a knight nor does she consider herself one (based on what she told Podrick), she shouldn't be bound to any notion of knighthood. The show plainly showed she only swore her sword to Renly because she was in love with him (as Catelyn pointed out) and to Catelyn because Brienne admired her courage.
    • There's the fact that she never calls out Jaime on his family backing the Freys after the Red Wedding, personally greets Joffrey on his wedding despite the fact that both Renly and Catelyn hated him, and pursues her vendetta against Stannis even when he fought and died to liberate the North from the Boltons, and even after killing Stannis, she still insults and taunts his former supporters who she sees as tag-along cowards rather than people who support the Night's Watch mission against the White Walkers.
    • Some argue that Brienne is only sympathetic because of Moral Luck since the narrative has generally never presented her with hard choices, for instance potentially fighting against Jaime should he storm the castle. Brienne doesn't get to do that, because Blackfish sends her away via Heroic Sacrifice, and even after that, Brienne still waves Jaime goodbye even as Riverrun falls to the Freys, leaving Catelyn's death unavenged.
  • Does the Blackfish really not care about Edmure's life, or does he know that Edmure is too important for the Freys to kill? Or does he simply not trust them to keep their word if he does surrender? Or have the Freys done it so often and regularly that he can see through the bluff?
  • Ellaria Sand in Season 5 onwards. Is she driven by grief and frustration when Oberyn died that she’s willing to commit bloody murder? Or is she just using his death to get what she wants regardless that her actions are against his wishes?
    • Considering from her conversation with Jaime that she knew that he and Myrcella are not responsible for his death which she herself witnessed, you either think she’s lying just to make Jaime believe that they’re at peace and still unable to let go of her anger or she doesn’t care who’s responsible and in her mind, someone has to pay.
    • This also comes to mind if Ellaria knew or understood Oberyn very well who didn't want to hurt innocents, let alone harm an innocent girl or his own family members. Or she's maybe Loving a Shadow where she only sees more on his vengeful and rebellious side rather than his nice side?
  • Doran Martell - weak ruler with no gift for palace intrigue or just didn't consider that Ellaria and the Sand Snakes would make such a monumentally stupid decision as to slaughter an entire Great House and then try to claim power despite having no legitimate claim to it, several Martell bannermen who would be delighted to claim the Lord Paramountship for themselves and who have no reason at all to value Ellaria because of this - and, indeed, can reinforce their legitimacy by having the murderers of the previous Lords Paramount killed.
  • Lady Crane and Bianca. Specifically, Arya assumes that Bianca is the one who put the hit on Lady Crane out of jealousy. Jaqen never confirms this either way because he says it's not important, but Arya still decides it is Bianca just because she saw her mouthing Lady Crane's lines offstage, accuses her after saving Lady Crane's life and leaves. And on that note, Arya's Heel–Face Turn is spurred because she can't bring herself to kill an innocent woman, but how "innocent" is Lady Crane? True, she's kind to Arya and later she saves her life, either out of altruistic reasons or simply to return the favour, but she also casually reveals that she had Bianca disfigured based solely on Arya's word alone, and stabbed several of her lovers out of jealousy before patching them up again.
  • Is Arya Stark an Action Survivor who has spent the last several years learning to fight to avenge her family, or should it be mourned that an innocent girl that Used to Be a Sweet Kid has been surrounded by so much death that she has grown cold to it? Yes, Arya has certainly directed her violence on some well-deserving people, but what changed the girl who was initially remorseful for killing a stable boy attempting to manhandle her into the unfeeling character that watched the Hound, her companion, suffer what appeared to be a slow agonizing death and showed no remorse? And does she only target people who've wronged her personally and doesn't actually give anymore of a shit towards the small folk than the Lannisters or the Tyrells?
  • Is Euron Greyjoy a crass, arrogant hooligan, or a master showman who delivers what people want to see while being a much greater threat than anyone realizes? He seems to switch personas based on who he is interacting with, acting the crude, misogynistic brute to win the favor of the Ironborn, acting more suave and charming towards Cersei, and playing the part of a psychotic brute when facing his enemies. However, when he's speaking to Balon, he comes across as a cold, megalomaniacal sociopath, much like his book counterpart. Perhaps his Adaptation Personality Change isnt as severe as it seems, but simply the result of him playing to other characters' expectations.
  • Lyanna Stark. She was deeply in love with Rhaegar Targaryen and yet, she was perfectly fine marrying a guy who happened to have a wife and two kids while she herself was engaged with another man who had loved her. Either you considered selfish woman who doesn't even bother to tell Robert and her family about her love for Rhaegar and doesn't care that the relationship brought the realm into a bloody civil war that killed thousands of lives including her father and brother. Or she's a naive girl who thinks that everything is going fine as she marries the prince unaware that it brought disaster to her family and the realm.
  • Should we perceive the connection between Jon and Daenerys as an allusion to the Royal Inbreeding Brother–Sister Incest marriages of their ancestors, with the only amendment that Jon does not have a sister, and Daenaerys' brothers died? Especially considering that Jon is the son of Daenerys's brother Rhaegar, and she is accordingly the younger sister of Jon's father and thus can be regarded as his spiritual sister and ideological True Companions. Or the ending of the 7th season implied that their connection was be something forbidden, what should be prevented? Or even, the first and second should not contradict each other?
  • Sean Bean has stated that he feels that Catelyn Stark suspects Jon Snow's true origin, and that the real reason she can't help but scorn him is because Ned won't trust her with the the truth.
  • Bran Stark is effectively omniscient, has magical powers that include retroactively Mind Raping Hodor, and yet doesn't tell anyone about Daenerys's sack of King's Landing. Later, he is crowned king, and tells Tyrion that he "didn't come all the way down here for nothing."note  This has led many fans to accuse Bran of being a Magnificent Bastard Big Bad who has used his magical powers selectively to make himself king of Westeros.

In-universe examples

  • Brandon Stark. According to some characters (specifically, Littlefinger and Lysa Arryn), he was a straight-up Jerk Jock. To the rest (including characters who have a neutral opinion of him), he was not a perfect man but still a likable fellow not unlike Robert Baratheon.
  • Rhaegar Targaryen. Daenerys and Barristan regard him as a great man while Robert and Sansa view him as a rapist who kidnapped Lyanna Stark. Oberyn who was initially taken by Rhaegar's charm and good-looks regards him as an arrogant idiot who got himself killed and who made the realm suffer for his actions most especially for taking Lyanna who is already engaged and abandoning his wife, Elia, and their two children. In the books, various people from all different factions such as Jaime, Jon Connington, Maester Aemon, Cersei speak very highly of Rhaegar. Ned Stark in a private moment actually wonders if Rhaegar would be a whoremonger like Robert, and believes he wouldn't have been. He's also less vocal in voicing hatred to Rhaegar even though he has as much reason to hate him as Robert does. In fact, Robert, Sansa, and Bran (who learned this as part of his lessons from Maester Luwin) are the only ones who explicitly state that Rhaegar kidnapped and raped Lyanna. Daenerys also describes her brother as carrying Lyanna off at sword point, which she thinks of as romantic. Even the circumstances surrounding his relationship with Lyanna was a complete mystery most especially when their relationship resulted in the birth of Jon Snow. When it's revealed that Rhaegar annulled his marriage with Elia just to marry Lyanna who also loved him, it makes him more of a complete asshole who discards Elia and their two children like trash and he even names his third child, "Aegon", which sort of looked he intends to replace Elia's son with Lyanna's.
  • Different people's interpretations of Jaime killing the Mad King are used to show their characters: Ned, Robert and Stannis all despise him, Robert because it was unchivalrous and cowardly, Ned because it was dishonourable, and Stannis because it was Oathbreaking; Viserys, who was paranoid and crazy, believed that Jaime was a sleeper agent planted by Tywin as part of a vast anti-Targareyan conspiracy; Jaime himself is wracked with guilt but maintains that it was necessary; amoral mercenary Bronn considers it a praiseworthy act of pragmatism and self-preservation; Tywin sees it as Jaime finally coming to his senses and doing the right thing for the family; and Littlefinger and Varys don't judge him one way or another, as far as they're concerned, it's just a thing that happened.
  • Whether or not Robert genuinely loved Lyanna or not is something that many wonder, including Ned Stark, who rode into battle by Robert's side because of his sister's kidnapping. Robert says many times that he loved her greatly, and besides showing genuine grief upon visiting her statue in the Winterfell crypt, as well as dreaming of killing Rhaegar (Lyanna's kidnapper/rapist) night after night, he is incapable of loving his wife Cersei because he still mourns Lyanna. However, Ned recalls that Lyanna was not as passionate about their betrothal, and said once that Robert was unlikely to stop sleeping around just because he was married. Robert often recalls Lyanna as elegant and gentle, when in reality, Lyanna was strong-willed and a bit of a tomboy. So either Robert loved Lyanna for all she was, or he just appreciated her beauty. It could be noted that Robert told Cersei that he still loves Lyanna even though he's long forgotten what she even looked like.
  • Why did Drogon torch the Iron Throne instead of Jon, after he kills Daenerys? Given that dragons are stated to have a higher grasp of intelligence and not merely beasts, was it out of loyalty to somebody his mother cared about? Did he feel anger at Jon but did not want to hurt him, and so took out his rage on the next closest thing: The Iron Throne? And in a more far-fetched level of dragon intellect, did Drogon somehow know that the desire for the Throne is ultimately what really killed his mother?
    • Though if he does have a level of understanding of intellect or morality, what was his motivation for destroying King's Landing? Could it also be out of rage about the deaths of his brothers? That he was not blindly acting on Daenerys' orders, but genuinely lashing out in frustration?

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