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Foil / Game of Thrones

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Similar to its book counterpart, a wonderful result of the Loads and Loads of Characters in the show is the extraordinary amount of foils:

  • Daenerys Targaryen:
    • To Sansa Stark. Both are young maidens who enter an Arranged Marriage pact, but Daenerys is married almost immediately to a brutal barbarian who turns out to have a sensitive side and frees her from her abusive brother whereas Sansa endures a long betrothal to a handsome prince who turns out to be a total sadistic sociopath who separates her from her loving family. Both were also victims of abuse: where Dany escapes the lifelong abuse she experiences when her cruel brother is killed by her husband, Sansa experiences the abuse after she is separated from her family and it doesn't stop until she manages to escape and reunite with one of her brothers six years later. At the beginning of the series, Daenerys starts out very shy and meek, but her childhood as a Noble Fugitive and the hardships she's faced since birth leave her better prepared for the brutal realities she faces, allowing her to make the best of her bad situation early on and turn things to her advantage, eventually working her way up to raising a powerful army, conquering several cities, and trying to liberate its slaves. Meanwhile, Sansa starts out the series as a sheltered girl who lives with her loving family in a castle, believing the stories of idealized princes — until the prince kills her father, she is kept prisoner by her family's enemies while a war rages on, the prince's forces slaughter her mother and brother, and she is used as a pawn, doing what she can to learn how to survive the Decadent Court and her family's enemies. In Season 6, she likewise utilizes what she's learned from her experiences, finally manages to escape back to one of her remaining family members when she reunites with her brother Jon, and uses her knowledge to help them retake their family home. As of Season 7, both Dany and Sansa are in positions of leadership in which try to better the lives of their people.
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    • To Robert Baratheon, the very man Dany despises as she views him as the usurper of her family's throne. Both are excellent at galvanizing support, can be ruthless to their enemies, seize power by right of conquest, and struggle with the realities of establishing a new order of things. Both show visible unhappiness at the realization that conquest is far easier than postwar administration and reconstruction, but Daenerys shows a commitment to learning how to rule and learning from her mistakes that Robert never showed, who fell into letting someone else perform all of his duties to free him up for leisurely pursuits such as drinking, jousting, and frequenting brothels.
    • To Joffrey Baratheon. Despite their similarities, the differences are astonishing. Joffrey and Dany were both raised in neglect, albeit Daenerys in near poverty and Joffrey in the lap of luxury. Both are products of Brother–Sister Incest from a powerful house hailed for their good looks with a certain sense of entitlement and a vindictive streak for those who cross them. However, whereas Joffrey grew up a sadistic Royal Brat, Daenerys grew up a Noble Fugitive who understands the plight of the lower classes and the value of kindness and does not hold the family name and legacy as the be-all and end-all of a claimant's 'right' to rule. It has to be earned through hardships and out of the two; only Daenerys has experienced her fair share of those. This makes her pride more relatable as well. It is one of the only shields of dignity she has in the entirety of a wide, dangerous world pitted against her.
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    • To Tyrion Lannister. She and Tyrion find something in common, being descendants of two families who hate each other, "two terrible children of two terrible fathers", who are also despised by their older siblings for "killing" their mothers.
    • To Jon Snow. Like Jon, she went from being someone who nearly all of society has written off due to birth status (Jon) or family name (Dany), to becoming the ruler of their dynasties. Both of them have reputations for being a Living Legend and as per Melisandre, are both possible contenders for being "The Prince Who Was Promised". Much like how Dany does everything she can to liberate the oppressed slaves in Essos and wants to incorporate foreign peoples into Westeros, Jon does everything he can to save the wildlings from death beyond the Wall and brings them into his kingdom. In Season 7, Tyrion and Davos make it even more explicit when they mediate a tense meeting by helping them see their commonalities: both rule because they were chosen by their subjects, not by birthright; both are concerned for the people's welfare; and both are beloved because of their strong character and concern for the common people.
  • Cersei Lannister:
    • To Daenerys Targaryen. Both are queens who buck at traditional gender roles and can be merciless to people who threaten them or their children, but where Cersei antagonizes her subjects and subordinates with disdain, Daenerys constantly gets distracted by her empathy for them and sidetracked by her need to save every individual.
    • To Catelyn Stark. Both are beautiful women who entered an Arranged Marriage to cement a dynastic alliance, but while Catelyn grew to love her husband and was content with her station, Cersei grew to despise her husband and constantly yearned for more power. Both are also Mama Bears who have difficulty controlling their newly-crowned sons after losing their husbands.
    • In-Universe, she tries to be one to Tywin. She makes Tommen a Puppet King, does nothing but try to increase her own power, tries to control meetings using several of Tywin's tactics, and considers herself incredibly smart even though she has some Stupid Evil tendencies. The problem is that she's not good at any of it, inspires neither fear nor respect from anyone, and, while Tywin only made one mistake that cost him his life, his mistreatment of Tyrion, every one of her schemes blows up in her face in the most extreme ways.
    • More subtle than the others, but Gregor Clegane. It could be argued that Gregor is what Cersei would be like if she was a man (which she wants to be). She shares his sadism, pettiness and rage, but lacks the physical ability to commit violence herself, resorting to having others do it for her. Also like Gregor, she is the eldest child in her family, and is abusive to her younger brother/s. This becomes more obvious in later seasons when Gregor becomes her zombie-slave, making him the embodiment of her violence and cruelty.
  • Joffrey Baratheon:
    • To Robb Stark. Both are young men who come to power in the wake of their father's deaths — one by the acclaim of his bannermen, the other in a power play at a Decadent Court. Robb has a legitimate claim to his lands and titles, Joffrey has no legitimate claim to his position. Both pursue relationships with women against the advice of their mothers which ultimately leads to their sudden and shocking demise by being murdered at a wedding. Despite his youth, Robb is A Father to His Men who leads from the front while Joffrey is The Caligula and a Dirty Coward. Robb is loved and respected by the North at the beginning of the war (though dissent breaks out later) while Joffrey is universally hated by his subjects. Their respective betrayals (by houses known to be dangerously Machiavellian) come as a moment of epic schadenfreude in the latter case and a horrific Moral Event Horizon for the former.
    • To Stannis Baratheon. These two become very direct foils in the Battle of the Blackwater when Stannis epitomises Authority Equals Asskicking by personally leading the assault, proving that despite his flaws he truly believes in his cause and is willing to put himself him in tremendous danger for it. Meanwhile, Joffrey brags endlessly before the battle but proves a Dirty Coward who turns tail in the heat of the same battle in which he's only observing anyway and panics at any setback and prevails only because others do all the work.
    • To Gendry. Both are the children of adultery on the part of the royal couple of Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister, but Robert's illegitimate son Gendry is unacknowledged, poor, hardworking, brave, kind, and clever whereas Cersei's illegitimate son Joffrey is his polar opposite: presumed to be the legitimate son of Robert Baratheon, spoiled, idle, cowardly, cruel, and idiotic. Gendry grows up in poverty in Flea Bottom, does not receive the special surname given to noble-born illegitimate children because he is an unacknowledged son of Robert Baratheon, does not know he is the son of a king until later on in the series, grows up as a blacksmith's apprentice with his apprentice fee funded by an unknown lord, and defends those weaker than himself. Meanwhile, Joffrey grows up in the royal Red Keep, mistakingly believes himself to be the son of a king, and relishes in using his power to abuse his subjects. Gendry befriends and mutually protects Arya Stark against the hell they go through while she is disguised as a commoner boy, and she cares about him deeply while neither of them knew he is of Baratheon blood. Joffrey is formally betrothed to Sansa Stark to make a Stark-Baratheon match via marriage, but relentlessly abused and bullied her and she grew to hate him.
    • To all the Stark children. They are taught that With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility. Joffrey doesn't give a crap about responsibility, only power, and uses it to live in excess luxury and fulfill his sadistic desires.
    • To Ramsay Bolton. Both are extremely sadistic Bastard Bastards who enjoy a cruel stint as an Evil Overlord and die for it. Joffrey was engaged to Sansa Stark and threatened to marry and rape her. That's just what Ramsay ended up doing. Joffrey's father was unaware he's a bastard so he inherited the throne by law; Ramsay had to prove himself to get legitimized, then usurped his father. Joffrey had his bastard half-brothers killed despite not being threatened by them; Ramsay killed his stepmother and half-brother because the baby was Roose's legitimate son. Joffrey died and Sansa was wrongfully accused of his murder, while Ramsay's death came at her hands. The main difference is that while Joffrey was mostly talk and only tortured people who were helpless at his mercy, Ramsay is terrifying as a torturer, fighter and schemer and can handle himself much better.
  • Renly Baratheon
    • To Ned Stark. Renly is a flashy-but-astute Non-Action Guy politician who knows how navigate the treacherous waters of a Decadent Court while Ned is a modest, stoic Proud Warrior Race Guy who is a Horrible Judge of Character and is therefore ill-suited for intrigues and ill-prepared to deal with his enemies in King's Landing. Robert loves and respects his best friend much more than his own brothers, and Renly is even a bit jealous of Ned, as the only attention Renly ever receives from Robert involves the belittling of his masculinity. Ned and Catelyn have an openly Perfectly Arranged Marriage whereas Renly and Loras — who are happily committed to each other — must maintain a Secret Relationship because homosexuality is a taboo.
    • To Stannis. The two brothers are night and day to each other. Renly is a young, charismatic, good-looking guy who seems to be well-liked by everyone and despite being second in line for the throne after Robert dies, is easily able to round up an army because of his skills in diplomacy and his loving relationship with Loras (who says Renly would make a great king), but is flashy and can be frivolous. In contrast, Stannis is an older, harsher, dutiful, dour man with the rightful claim to the throne and is martially skilled, but struggles to rally an army because of his hard, rigid personality (Loras says he has the personality of a lobster), and has a few close friends.
    • To Littlefinger. Both are ostentatious Non-Action Guy politicians who excel at Snark-to-Snark Combat, but Renly grew up as a privileged high lord as the king's brother and as the liege lord of the Stormlands, while Littlefinger only rose from a very minor noble by being a ruthless Self-Made Man. People are drawn to Renly's charm and Nice to the Waiter qualities which sharply contrast Littlefinger's reputation for The Sociopath and Bad Boss traits. Renly loathes the Lannisters, seeks to oust them and tries to protect Ned from falling into their clutches, while Littlefinger supports them and hands Ned over to them. Littlefinger is an Unlucky Childhood Friend infatuated with Catelyn while Renly's love for Loras is reciprocated.
    • To Robb Stark in Season 2. Both men share certain traits in common (e.g. they are young, sensible, nice guys who aspire to be The Good King) but they are polar opposites in other respects. Where Robb is Modest Royalty warrior who excels on the battlefield, Renly is an ostentatious courtier whose strength is his political acumen. This is most clear when Renly marries precisely the right woman for an alliance whereas Robb throws away an alliance to marry his lover.
    • To Joffrey Baratheon in Season 2. Their style of ruling is directly contrasted when both are introduced into Season 2 presiding over a tournament. Joffrey is pleased when his non-knight Kingsguard, Sandor Clegane, kills a fellow competitor whereas Renly's tourney features no death (nor would he enjoy watching someone die — in fact he would be horrified). While Joff nearly kills a drunk knight just for the fun of it, Renly's tourney culminates in the elevation of a female non-knight to his Kingsguard. Renly is also courteous to his wife Margaery and Catelyn's embassy whereas Joffrey is verbally abusive to his fiancée Sansa and his new councilor Tyrion. Renly even comes to Catelyn's defense when Loras and Brienne are rude to her.
    • To Margaery. Both believe that Machiavelli Was Wrong is the best approach to ruling and mirror each other in their personas as The Good King and The High Queen and their A Father to His Men and Friend to All Children behaviour, which earns them a 100% Adoration Rating. Their charm, wit, and ostentatious fashion-sense also makes them both well-suited for the Decadent Court. They are also unperturbed by each other's homosexuality and lack of virginity respectively and share a deep love for Loras Tyrell (in different ways, of course). However, Renly is a Black Sheep who receives no emotional support from his family while Margaery is her grandmother's favourite and part of a loving family.
  • Tywin Lannister:
    • To Eddard Stark. Both are stoic, dour patriarchs of powerful families who serve and die as Hands of the King in the capital. While they're polar opposites in how they treat their subjects (Ned pays heed to their problems while Tywin only spares them if they're useful and their families (putting individual family members above the family name and vice versa), and also about how they rule (Tywin is a ruthless schemer keeping his family in power at any cost, while Ned is a scrupulous statesman working to stabilise the realm), the outcome is one and the same - they never quite prepared their successors to rule as capably as they did and after their deaths their respective houses fall in disarray.
    • To Tyrion. Both are intelligent and cunning strategists in both war and intrigue who serve very competently as Hand to a mentally-unstable king. They also both have no problem hiring prostitutes, but where Tyrion is open about it, Tywin keeps it a very strict secret. Tyrion simply has far more morals and less interest in preserving the family name.
    • Tywin Lannister to Robb Stark. Tywin is a proud, aged grand strategist, though nothing is said of his tactical abilities with decades of experience in war and administration, who treats everyone (including his family) like chess pieces and acts like arrogant royalty. Robb is a young, Modest Royalty tactician, though less is known of his strategy with little experience, who treats everyone (including his family and men) with honor, love, and respect.
    • To Roose Bolton. Both are stoic, Magnificent Bastard characters with posh accents as well as deconstructions of the Evil Overlord trope. While Tywin is all about sending a message to people who cross him, Roose is all about trying to keep his own sadistic impulses in check. They also have sociopathic descendants, a son and grandson respectively who practice Stupid Evil. Tywin is able to keep his sadistic grandson Joffrey in check during his kingship and has Joffrey cowering in fear throughout, while Roose is not so successful at controlling Ramsay and is ultimately murdered as a result.
  • Sandor Clegane:
    • To Brienne of Tarth. Both are non-knight Lightning Bruisers who come to serve on the traditionally knights-only Kingsguard. However, Brienne seeks to uphold the lofty notion of chivalry and aspires to be respected as a knight despite being denied knighthood because of her gender whereas Sandor is a Blood Knight who disdains knightly chivalry as an absurd construct and actively refuses knighthood. Brienne also remains Undyingly Loyal to her king even after his death while Sandor deserts his king during the Battle of Blackwater, and Brienne is motivated to uphold her vow to protect the Stark girls whereas Sandor is motivated to keep Arya close initially so that he can sell her for money, at least until he starts developing genuine protectivness for Arya. This becomes very evident during their confrontation and duel at the end of Season 4.
    • To Bronn. Bronn is an Affably Evil sellsword who hides his brutal instincts behind jokes and smiles. Sandor cannot hide that he is a brutal Blood Knight and hates that knights and sellswords like Bronn can pretend to be what they're not.
    • To Tyrion. While drastically different physically, The Hound and The Imp have a lot in common. They both start out on the Lannister side (both as Token Good Teammate) and desert King's Landing after being mistreated. They are both judged and bullied for their disfigurement, and use their exaggerated personas as a defense mechanism (never forget who you are). Most tellingly, they both have an older sibling who is/was abusive (Gregor to Sandor, Cersei to Tyrion), even as children.
  • Margaery Tyrell:
    • To Cersei Lannister. Margaery carefully projects an image of The High Queen to earn the adoration of the smallfolk while Cersei doesn't give a damn about them and, not surprisingly, the feeling is mutual. Margaery is comfortable with her femininity and doesn't see it as a hindrance in her pursuit of power. Cersei resents her gender because she believes it gives her an unfair disadvantage and envies the power that men wield. Margaery has Joffrey wrapped around her finger, whereas Cersei completely loses control of her son after he becomes king.
    • To Sansa Stark. Both girls entered into betrothals to Joffrey Baratheon. The younger and more naive Sansa threw herself into the relationship, believing it would be a storybook love affair only to discover that Joffrey was a cruel psychopath. In contrast, the older, more cynical Margaery proceeds cautiously and pragmatically, scoping out her future husband to consider the best way to appeal to him, and carefully learns how to manipulate him instead of becoming his victim.
  • Loras Tyrell:
    • To Jaime Lannister. Handsome, overconfident, and highly-skilled knights who have a queen for a sister, become Lord Commander of a Kingsguard, and conceal a socially unacceptable romance with royalty. However, Loras is a Knight in Shining Armor widely admired by the smallfolk while Jaime is a Blood Knight reviled as The Oathbreaker. Loras and Margaery make a Brother–Sister Team whereas Jaime and Cersei engage in Brother–Sister Incest (though it's implied Margaery wouldn't mind experimenting for Renly's benefit). Loras is recognized as a savior for breaking Stannis' siege of King's Landing while Jaime is despised for betraying his king to save the city from the Mad King's wildfire. As of Season 4, Loras is considered a young rising star whereas Jaime is considered an over-the-hill, damaged cripple.
    • To Brienne of Tarth. Both are Knights In Shining Armor introduced winning a tourney with the aid of Combat Pragmatism. They are both heirs to their Houses but love Renly enough to dedicate their lives to serving as his Kingsguard and become vengeful Knights In Sour Armor after his death. Loras' Pretty Boy appearance and ostentatious wardrobe also mirrors Brienne's in-universe Lady Looks Like a Dude looks and utilitarian attire, but Loras' prowess is generally respected by everyone despite his Muscles Are Meaningless appearance and he receives very little direct abuse for his homosexuality whereas Brienne's prowess generally goes unrecognized despite her size and she endures lots of abuse for her masculinity. Ironically, Loras becomes an increasingly powerless pawn after Season 2 while Brienne becomes essentially a Knight Errant who can lend her sword to any cause she deems worthy.
    • To Sansa Stark. An aspiring Knight In Shining Armour and Princess Classic with romantic ideals of living Happily Ever After with their Prince Charming, both learn the hard way that life isn't a fairy tale when their dreams turn into nightmares. By Season 3, they are both reduced to miserable political pawns and end up betrothed to someone they don't want to marry but maintain something of a Stepford Smiler persona. The major distinction is that Loras still has the support of his powerful family, which Sansa, as a prisoner, completely lacks. Then in later seasons, their roles are reversed: Loras is taken prisoner by the Sparrow and Sansa is somewhat liberated, at least from King's Landing. Then again when Sansa wound up with the Boltons and Loras is to devote himself to the Sparrow's faith, sparing himself, as Cersei is to undergo trial. Then reversed yet again when Sansa reunites with her brother Jon and takes Winterfell and they beat the Boltons while Loras and his sister along with the Sparrow are killed by Cersei.
  • Melisandre:
    • To Davos Seaworth. Both are extremely loyal to Stannis and want him to become king, Melisandre out of religious fanaticism and Davos out of mundane gratitude. As his advisors they frequently play Good Angel, Bad Angel and even dress the part with Melisandre in red and Davos in grey. Melisandre is a sorceress who believes there is only good and evil while Davos is a ordinary man who sees in shades of grey.
    • To Thoros of Myr. Both are foreign priests of the Lord of Light, but Thoros was never very devout whereas Melisandre is dedicated to her faith. Both can perform magic, but Melisandre mostly uses hers to bring death while Thoros uses his to restore life. Both claim to be serving the greater good in the name of the king by preventing an apocalypse or protecting the smallfolk, but are not averse to sacrificing a few innocents along the way.
  • Olenna Tyrell:
    • To Tywin Lannister. Both hold the opposite gender in some disregard, with Olenna dismissing her son as an oaf and her grandson as only good at knocking men off horses and Tywin dismissing his daughter as not being as smart as she thinks she is. They also ride roughshod over their children, saying things like "Not now, Mace, Lord Tywin and I are speaking," and "You're my daughter; you will do as I command," and focus their attentions on their grandchildren, with Olenna taking a great interest in making Margaery a queen and Tywin discussing kingship with his grandsons. Both arrange political marriages between their dynasties without consulting the parties involved and resort to violating sacred hospitality at a wedding for the good of their family and are perfectly willing to let others take the fall, whether they be co-conspirators or innocent bystanders.
    • To Walder Frey. Both are the Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior! leader of a Social Climber House who place a pedigree on reputation while simultaneously denigrating their own progeny. They even share some Dirty Old Senior attitudes and violate sacred hospitality to betray and murder an "allied" king at a wedding to advance their family's interests, but Olenna does all these things with a grandmotherly smile while Walder does so with a contemptuous sneer.
  • Grand Maester Pycelle:
    • To Varys and Littlefinger. All three characters lie and scheme to survive in their positions in the Decadent Court, putting on false personas to deflect suspicion, but while Varys and Littlefinger have higher ambitions, Pycelle in content to fly under the radar and live out his life in the comfort afforded by his office.
    • To Qyburn. Both are healers trained as maesters who serve the Iron Throne, take their orders from Cersei, and are known for inappropriate behaviour. However, Pycelle is far less ambitious than Qyburn, making him both less dedicated to his craft and more ethical by comparison since he is not a Mad Scientist who plays with syringes.
    • To Maester Aemon. Where Pycelle is corrupt, depraved, and despised by his masters, Aemon is thoroughly dedicated to his vows, offers genuine advice, and is beloved and respected by the people he serves.
  • Ramsay Snow
    • To Joffrey. Both are equally sadistic and cruel Bastard Bastards whose favourite past time is the Cold-Blooded Torture of others. However, where Joffrey is a Dirty Coward Orcus on His Throne and a weakling who prefers to make others do the dirty work for him, Ramsay isn't afraid to get his own hands dirty, shows impressive combat skills and is far more intimidating in general; where Joffrey believes he is legitimate and entitled to power because he is the son of the last king and is publicly seen as a trueborn Baratheon son — despite suspicions to the contrary (though this means he has at least some token conception of being a great king, so some actions will hurt his public image — admittedly few), Ramsay's bastard background drives him to achieve and he openly revels in the fact that he's a sadistic butcher and that his claim to "power" is purely based on his brutality, not laws or inheritance; and where Joffrey is a Stupid Evil Smug Snake, Ramsay at least shows a talent for short-term schemes (his siege of Winterfell and his torturous games wherein he knows exactly how to push a person's buttons, not just to torment them, but to break them), if not for long-term plots. (Roose has criticised him for routinely torturing to death enemies who surrendered in good faith for promise of safe passage, purely for his own amusement, with no thought to the repercussions). Joffrey also pays some token lip-service to the dignity of his office from time to time (usually not, but one can make an appeal to his arrogance that if something would make him look bad, he might listen). However, Ramsay turns out to be just as much of a coward as Joffrey as seen in 'Battle of the Bastards' and both die Undignified Deaths.
    • To Jon Snow. Both are highborn bastard sons of powerful northern lords who share the surname Snow, the last name given to illegitimate children with noble blood in the North. However, Jon was raised in a loving household and loved by his father, uncle and siblings: his father Ned loves Jon and raises him as one of his sons alongside his trueborn children, telling him that he might not have the Stark name but that he's every bit a member of the family. Meanwhile, Ramsay is treated poorly by his father, who regards him with contempt, with Roose bluntly informing Ramsay that he's just a Snow, not a Bolton and frequently calls him a bastard. Jon loves his father and siblings, while Ramsay killed his father, father’s wife, and half-brother to become the only heir. Jon is honorable, heroic, compassionate and strives to do the right thing while Ramsay is pretty much the direct opposite of that, as even George R.R. Martin pointed out in the Season 4 featurette on "Bastards of Westeros". While Ned never legitimized Jon, Roose did so for Ramsay... but only after Ramsay helped him win the North and Roose lost his trueborn son, leaving him with only Ramsay.
    • To Tyrion Lannister. Both are the sons of cold and scheming lords who, even if they relegate important tasks to them (Tyrion is made acting Hand, Ramsay acting lord of the Dreadfort), don't hold them in high regard. Tyrion is trueborn but "all dwarves are bastards in their fathers' eyes", Ramsay openly resents being a bastard. Both of them want to earn their fathers' approval and inheritance but Tyrion gets disinherited while Ramsay gets legitimised. Both get married to Sansa to gain control over the North, but whereas Tyrion protected and became friends with her, Ramsay raped and terrorised her. Both men also had relationships with lowborn women who were jealous of Sansa. Both also ended up murdering their fathers.
  • Oberyn Martell:
    • To Tyrion Lannister. Both are highly-intelligent and profligate second sons with a wide reputation for wit and depravity who are unable to marry their lovers. However, where Tyrion is despised by his father, sister, and most of society in general, and is forced into a political marriage against his will, Oberyn is accepted by his family, loved by the people of Dorne, and enjoys an open relationship with his lifelong paramour, Ellaria Sand, with whom he has several children.
    • To Loras Tyrell. Both are formidable, non-heterosexual warriors who dress more flamboyantly than the norm and maintain a romance with someone they can never marry. They also share a deep love for their older sister who married into royalty and despise the Lannisters for the death of a loved one but are nevertheless allied to them through political marriage. However, Oberyn is more passionate and is quite open about his sexuality and Tranquil Fury whereas Loras is restrained and decorous which creates a lot of Suppressed Rage.
    • To Ned Stark. Strong warriors and family men from a culturally and climatically isolated region who disapprove of mainstream Westeros, especially the Lannisters, who come to King's Landing to investigate the death of a loved one and accept an invitation to serve on the king's small council.
    • Oberyn later gets his own Foil in the form of Euron Greyjoy. Both are very charming, affable, arrogant swaggering warriors with fearsome reputations, a sharp wit and a love for battle. But Euron is a completely unstable psychopath in contrast to Oberyn's sensible and honorable behavior.
  • Eddard Stark to Tyrion Lannister. As Hand of the King in Season 1, Ned suffers the consequences of Honor Before Reason and a refusal to compromise. His successor Tyrion is not corrupt by any means, but does accept the demands of Realpolitik far better and is able to curtail the excesses of his king and the machinations of Cersei better than Ned, as Varys noted. Nevertheless, while Tyrion does manage to get better results, he's not able to escape his reputation and his father's shadow, though he does survive a little while before he eventually ends up imprisoned and facing banishment to the Night's Watch to escape execution, as a scapegoat much like Ned.
  • Varys and Littlefinger. Both are self-made Chessmasters from humble foreign beginnings with a Dark and Troubled Past who have worked their way up to the small council without the support of a faction, and they're both expert manipulators who can be very charming when required. The key contrast is that Varys claims to fight for stability and The Needs of the Many whereas Littlefinger strives to create utter chaos to further his personal quest for power. An additional contrast is Littlefinger's occupation as a perverse provider of sex while Varys is an asexual eunuch.
  • Theon Greyjoy to Jon Snow. As an illegitimate son and a hostage respectively, both experience varying degrees of feeling like an outsider, both suffer from "Well Done, Son!" Guy and are Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life. However, where Jon is of Stark blood, loved by his family with whom he is close, and raised with his family by his father Ned Stark, Theon is of Greyjoy blood, sent away by his father Baelon Greyjoy at age 10, and is raised by the Stark family for most of his life. Jon earns his own honour and looks to fulfill his aspirations by joining the Night's Watch while Theon betrays his adopted family in an effort to win the approval of blood relatives who distrust and mistreat him (albeit, his sister Yara loves him). Jon’s father, Ned Stark, actually loves and protects Jon whereas Theon’s father, Baelon Greyjoy, doesn't really seem to have much, if any, affection for Theon.
  • Stannis to Tyrion. Both are the outcast, maligned, and underestimated second son whose elder brother left them Overshadowed by Awesome and face interference and betrayal by an ambitious Too Clever by Half sibling who refuses to acknowledge their rights, accomplishments, and sacrifices.
  • Lancel Lannister to Loras Tyrell. They're both Pretty Boy knights who once squired for a Baratheon and are in an illicit relationship with a monarch, but whereas Loras is the emotionally dominant partner to Renly Baratheon, Lancel is almost a total doormat in his dalliance with Cersei Lannister. When it comes to battle, Loras co-leads the glorious winning charge to honor his lover's memory while Lancel is last seen having his grievous wound punched by his lover for suggesting escorting Joffrey back to the battle. Ironically, both Lancel and Loras die at the same time in the same event orchestrated by none other than Cersei Lannister. Where Renly would never harm a hair on Loras's head and Loras stays loyal to Renly even after Renly's death, Cersei abuses Lancel and afterward, he ends up turning against her, testifying against Cersei with Sparrow's cult, and Cersei not only has Lancel, Loras, and Margaery killed in an explosion in the sept, but she ensures Lancel suffers by having him stabbed repeatedly prior to death.
  • Roose Bolton to Eddard Stark. Both are northern lords with illegitimate sons, but have very different personalities. Ned is an honorable, honest, kind, and content man whereas Roose is treacherous, deceitful, cruel, opportunistic, dishonorable and hypocritical. Roose tells his illegitimate son Ramsay, "My banners, not yours. You're not a Bolton, you're a Snow," whereas Ned tells his illegitimate son Jon, "You are a Stark. You might not have my name, but you have my blood." Ned loves Jon as one of his sons, acknowledges him, and raises him alongside his true born siblings whereas Roose treats Ramsay poorly and only acknowledges Ramsay when he has no other choice. Ironically, in the end, Roose legitimizes his bastard son, gives him the family name and makes him his heir, something Ned never did. However, according to George R. R. Martin, Roose only did this because he had no other choice and states: "Ramsay gets nothing from Roose."
  • Lady Lyanna Mormont to Joffrey and Tommen Baratheon and Robin Arryn. All are child rulers in the positions of power. Lyanna is a wise, fearless, and judicious ruler, whereas neither Baratheon brother or Robin Arryn are half the leader she is — despite being the youngest of the four examples. Tommen and Robin have access to far more soldiers, hold more power, but both are weak-willed puppets lacking any form of autonomy or guts. Lyanna is a girl with very few men, but determined, wise beyond her years, clearly in charge, and tough as nails. Where Joffrey is vain, Lyanna despises flattery. Where Joffrey hides at the sight of danger, Lyanna rides to meet her foes eye-to-eye. Where Joffrey makes petty threats, Lyanna fulfills her promises. Where Joffrey is cruel and feared, Lyanna is responsible, thoughtful, and respected.
  • Joffrey and Tommen, possibly the most different set of siblings in the series. Joffrey is cruel, vindictive, petty, idiotic, and treats his mother poorly. Tommen doesn't fare much better at ruling and is less proactive than Joffrey, but he is a kind, good-natured person, a Mama's Boy, and is an Actual Pacifist. While Joffrey is incredibly impulsive in his cruelty, Tommen meanwhile allows his kindness to make himself a doormat. Joffrey, while betrothed to Sansa, tells Tyrion, "Let them have [Sansa]," during a riot in King's Landing while Tommen, when his wife Margaery is killed, commits suicide out of grief for her. In "The Gift", Tommen shouts "I am the king!" and entertains the idea of slaughtering the Faith Militant, resembling Joffrey. However Tommen is motivated by love, and recognises the impossibility of such a maneuveur, showing emotion and intelligence that Joffrey never did. Also when Joffrey called himself the king, it was to justify that he can do whatever he wants, Tommen calls himself the king because his loved ones are being tortured and humiliated by his own subjects. When Cersei tried to control Joffrey, he made it clear that he wasn't above having his own mother beheaded if she doesn't respect him as King and know her place, terrifying Cersei to leave him alone. When Tommen stands up to Cersei to defend being with Margaery, she just smiles and runs a guilt trip on him that works, which shows Tommen didn't have the will to assert himself, a crucial personality trait for a strong King.
  • Bran and Tommen, who are both sons of a Mama Bear and far more gentle then their aggressive older brothers. However, Bran is determined, brave, proactive and has magic powers while Tommen can't be described as any of those. Also, Bran survives a fall from a tower. Tommen doesn't.
  • Sansa Stark:
    • To Ros. Both are redhaired Northern girls who are eager to leave for King's Landing, believing it will accompany an increase in status (Sansa wishing to be a Princess Classic, Ros a High-Class Call Girl). Both go through a process of Be Careful What You Wish For and Break the Cutie, and become targets of Joffrey's sadism. Both also fall under the tutelage of Littlefinger. The difference is their different social status: Ros is a common prostitute, whereas Sansa is a highborn lady. Littlefinger, in particular, views Sansa as the reincarnation of Catelyn Tully, the woman too highborn for him to ever be with, and so he remains fixated on her and eventually helps her escape Joffrey's cruelty. Ros, conversely, he views as completely disposable and when she fails him he thinks nothing of selling her to Joffrey to be brutally murdered.
    • To Arya Stark, her younger sister. In the novels, George R. R. Martin designed Sansa to be Arya's foil. This is present in the adaptation as well. They are both Stark daughters of Winterfell but Sansa is a Princess Classic who loves traditional feminine arts while Arya is a Rebellious Princess who wants to fight and ride with the boys. Their parents Ned and Catelyn have high hopes for Sansa and expect her to excel at court, while they worry about Arya's behavior and prospects at court due to her tomboy nature. However, Sansa is initially a Horrible Judge of Character at court, who starts out believing Joffrey and Cersei are kindly nobles until they arrest her father and Joffrey has him executed, is manipulated by them, and used as her pawn and prisoner until she is smuggled out of King's Landing in Season 4. Meanwhile, Arya is savvy enough to quickly recognize Joffrey and Cersei are horrific people, escapes the Lannister guards after Ned's arrest, and is smuggled out of King's Landing at the end of Season 1. They both spend a great deal of time with Sandor "The Hound" Clegane who takes them both captive at one time or another and ends up displaying his softer side with them. Their Character Development arcs involve very different versions of Break the Cutie. Sansa spends the War of the Five Kings in the royal court, is used as a pawn for her name, observes how to manipulate and play the game, becomes ensnared in the politics of King's Landing, is dependent on her wits to survive and sees firsthand the ruthlessness and backstabbing of a Decadent Court. Arya experiences the war disguised as a commoner, suffers with the smallfolk, hones her physical skills and falls under the view and guidance of characters of varying moral fibre. Arya slowly becomes a methodical Child Soldier who falls in with an amoral killing cult that believes in death for everyone while Sansa has become Number Two to Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish, using her father's honorable reputation to defend a murderer from facing the consequences of his actions and becoming a willing accomplice. In both cases, the sisters are forced to discard their whole identities in order to survive.
  • Ned Stark to Stannis Baratheon. Like Stannis, Ned chooses family over fealty to his king. Stannis followed his brother Robert into rebellion while Ned lied to his future king Robert to protect his nephew and honor his sister Lyanna's Dying Wish.
  • Davos Seaworth:
    • To Ned Stark, as the handpicked advisor to a Baratheon king who serves as his Only Friend and as the only man that would tell their king the truth. Both are very honorable people and family men who were content with their station in life before being raised to being a king's Number Two. Unfortunately, said kings do not listen to their Closer to Earth counsel and end up dying as a result. Of course, whereas Ned is a high lord, Davos is a common man elevated to knighthood.
    • To Littlefinger. Both men came from almost nothing to having a great deal of power and influence, but are still mocked for their initial statuses. While Littlefinger is disloyal and is resentful of the mockery, betraying even those who gave him power in order to gain more, Davos takes it in stride and rewards the man who gave him his power with Undying Loyalty.
    • To Jaime Lannister. Despite coming from totally different backgrounds — a crabber's son and the scion of the richest family in Westeros respectively — both council a king who burned his subjects, both have maimed hands, both are Guile Heroes, both are disrespected by many but have people who respect them and are aware of their true nature. A major difference between the two is that one had to kill his king to save the realm, and the other tried to save the realm by following his king's stubborn descent into madness.
    • To Bronn, as lowborn, street smart, snarky, Honest Advisors to the Unfavorite second son of a great house. While Bronn is valued most for his fighting skill and has an It's All About Me attitude outside of his professionalism, Davos's strength lie in his political and people skills while being one of the most self sacrificing characters in the series.
    • To Tormund Giantsbane, as second-in-command to a vanquished leader. Despite Stannis having executed Mance Rayder, the two strike up a friendship while fighting for House Stark.
  • Brienne of Tarth to Tyrion Lannister. Brienne is big, Tyrion is small, and they are both outcasts because of their physiques. They both are given mocking nicknames because of it and both cannot fulfill their respective expected gender roles in society: a dainty lady and a dashing knight. Tyrion has his brains to make up for it, Brienne has her brawn — and their brilliance goes unacknowledged by almost everyone. They are both considered somewhat embarrassing offspring by their fathers, but Brienne's was loving or open-minded enough to help her become a competent fighter, while Tywin did nothing to nurture Tyrion's talents. They don't get to interact, but they both fill the role of Jaime's Morality Pet, and Podrick served as a squire to both of them.
  • House Stark represents the best qualities of the North: honor, cooperation, loyalty and humility. House Bolton represents the absolute worst: cold, unfeeling, savagery, cruelty, and betrayal.
  • Jaime Lannister:
    • To Ned Stark and later, to Brienne of Tarth. His code of flexible morality contrasts their strict adherence to their own code of honor.
    • To Theon Greyjoy. The insults and disrespect Jaime gets when returning to his family are very similar to what Theon experienced when returning to Pyke.
    • To Sandor Clegane. Both tend to mock the laws of gods and men and have bad reputations. They have cruel older siblings — Jaime's slightly older twin, Cersei, and Sandor's older brother Gregor. They are very skilled swordsmen and while they claim to not care about others, both risk their lives for a female companion.
    • To Tyrion Lannister. Jaime has everything Tyrion lacks — Jaime is a dashing duelist, adored by the smallfolk and by his family, and is even treated with some consideration by their father Tywin. Meanwhile, Tyrion is regarded as an outsider for being a dwarf and treated horribly by their father and sister. Jaime could commit all kinds of follies and still be the golden son but Tywin despises Tyrion for things Tyrion is completely blameless for: Maternal Death? Blame the Child! and being born a dwarf. The twist is that while Tyrion craves what Jaime has, Tyrion and Jaime are among the few in their family with a mutually genuine, loving relationship as brothers. Come Season 7 and this becomes even more evident. Both men are in service to queens in opposite sides of the war and they genuinely believe they are going to make the world a better place once their victory is complete. They also manage to massively disappoint their queens due to fatal mistakes they make, such as Tyrion's plans leading to The Alliance that Daenerys forms in Season 6 quickly crumbling and Jaime's defeat in Blackwater Rush and as a result both Daenerys and Cersei disregard their advice to take matters into their own hands.
  • Kevan Lannister:
    • To Ned Stark. The younger sibling of a family who ends up in a position of power after the death of a brother. Like Ned Stark, he's also a highly honorable and uncompromising man of justice who ends up as a loyal, if reluctant, Hand to a buffoon King.
    • Also to Renly Baratheon. Both of them are competent politicians in their own right. But while Renly is confident on his potential as a king to a fault by openly berating his older brother Stannis in public, Kevan knows his place as the younger brother of a leader and devotedly serves as his subordinate.
  • Robert Baratheon and Jon Snow are two men who find themselves in positions of power they do not want. Both are great warriors but where Robert thought being king meant, "[he] could do whatever [he] wanted," and enjoys violence, Jon does not enjoy violence, never wanted the position as king, and only accepted it to help save humanity from the encroaching Zombie Apocalypse. Both end up alienating factions in their tenures for very different reasons: Robert pursues whoring, drinking, and running up debt while letting others make his decisions for him where Jon's leadership decisions are largely influenced by his Honor Before Reason trait, making many of his decisions in the favor of the moral good over convention. Robert is boisterous and often chooses fun over responsibility while Jon is somber and is worried about saving humanity from the dead, trying everything he can to do so. Robert is betrayed and murdered by his wife, who despises him for his disinterest in her and his love for another woman while Jon is betrayed and murdered in a mutiny for trying to save the wildling people (but is brought Back from the Dead).
  • Orson Lannister to his cousin Tyrion, as they are both Lannisters with disabilities. But while Tyrion is an extremely intelligent dwarf who dislikes killing, Orson was mindless and lived only for senseless violence to beetles.
  • Bronn is the most obvious one to Jorah Mormont. Jorah was a nobleman, the son of a well-known figure (in this case, the former Lord of Bear Island and Lord Commander of the Night's Watch), heir of a fief, and a knight who was disgraced and lost his fortune and titles and became a mercenary. Bronn was a mercenary, whose father was a commoner that, in Bronn's own words, 'you wouldn't know', that earned royal favor and became a knight, and then (at least at one point) earned a de facto Lordship by marrying into nobility. Jorah eventually decided to fight on Daenerys's behalf out of love as the knight to her lady but was banished for his earlier betrayal and essentially replaced his in function by the mercenary captain, Daario. Bronn and Tyrion's relationship, though almost friendly, was always based on money, which the Lannisters (first Tyrion, then Cersei) have quite a bit of, so when Bronn abandoned Tyrion for a better (and more survivable) offer, Tyrion understood, and the parting was more cordial. Eventually, he was replaced as Tyrion's prime companion by... Jorah.
  • Gregor Clegane to Meryn Trant. Like Meryn, Gregor is brutal and sadistic as well as preferring to target those who can't or won't fight back in any way. Both are assigned to the missions with too much squick for the Lannister soldiers that actually have standards, but whilst Meryn is Joffrey's Pet Rat who's on a defensive bodyguard duty, Gregor Clegane is Lord Tywin's mad dog on an offensive role. Also, unlike Trant, he has the size, strength and badass warrior's instincts to back up his sadistic brutality and make him able to compete with opponents in the same league as the likes of The Hound, Jaime, or Ser Barristan in his prime. It's telling that Jaimes tells Tyrion that Cersei names him as champion and not Ser Meryn. Being severely wounded makes Meryn want to cry Tears of Fear when in pain, whilst in Gregor's case it makes him all the more eager to kill his opponent. Both are also disliked by The Hound for their brutality towards women and mocked by Jaime for their stupidity.
  • Varys to Melisandre, who he dislikes out of prejudice for magic. Both of them were born poor and slaves and are foreigners to Westeros, but circumstances led Melisandre to turn to magic and prophecy for help and support while Varys ended up hating magic to become a formidable Knowledge Broker. Both of them believe in serving the greater good and will do what it takes for the sake of their ideologies and as Dany reminds Varys, they are both Former Regime Personnel paying court to her.
  • Stannis Baratheon:
    • Lets see. In the shadow of a more charismatic brother who is heir to the family castle. Ridiculously dutiful, stubborn and dedicated to justice. Breaks his vows with a redheaded woman, constantly dresses in black and doesn't really seem to care if the people he surrounds himself with are noble-born or not as long as they are useful. Nope, doesn't sound the least bit familiar.
    • To Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Littlefinger is another Heel–Face Revolving Door who eskews conventional morality and is widely despised for it, but who believes that his own life philosophy will ultimately be vindicated. However, while Littlefinger's odiousness comes from his complete contempt for morals and principles and his determination to get ahead through any means available - as well as from the fact that while he's very successful at sowing chaos, he's ultimately nowhere near as good at capitalising on it as he thinks he is - Stannis' comes from his rigid, unforgiving commitment to his notion of justice and his misguided belief that he's a prophesised hero. They both die ignobly in a season finale, and in both cases their downfall is caused by their Zero Per Cent Approval Rating finally catching up to them.
  • Shireen Baratheon:
    • To Joffrey, in a way. Literally Joffrey's only positive trait is that he is physically attractive (which fools Sansa into thinking he's her Prince Charming), but otherwise he is a megalomaniacal sociopath, yet also dumb as a brick, unskilled at anything from combat to rulership. In contrast to her alleged cousin, greyscale has marred half of Shireen's face so she isn't attractive, but she is very well-read (specifically on books about history and governance), kind, and very intelligent. Joffrey also gets away with a lot of the stuff he does simply because he is a boy in the male-dominated society of Westeros (i.e. casually remarking to Sansa, in public at the feast for her wedding to Tyrion, that he might want to rape her first while the Kingsguard hold her down), but Shireen is a girl.
    • To Tommen as well. Both are good-natured children with a great political relevance and a strong attachment to their parent of opposite gender. Tommen is gullible and weak-willed, and his relationship with Cersei progressively becomes more dysfunctional, mainly due to Cersei's lies. Shireen is savvy and resolute (she snarks back at Melisandre, disobeys her father to see Davos and so on) and her relationship with Stannis becomes more affectionate since he starts spending more time with her and comes clear about the fact that he loves her.
  • Gendry is a subtle one to Jon Snow: Heroic Bastard? Check. Close brotherly relationship with Arya? Check. Clueless about their Secret Legacy? Check. Last of their kind? Definitely check (in Jon's case, it's the male kind). As we find out in the Season 6 finale, Jon Snow is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen — meaning that Gendry is in fact Jon's third cousin (Robert's grandmother was a Targaryen). Bonus for Robert and Rhaegar being archenemies and yet fathering two boys that foil each other.
  • Selwyn Tarth to Ned Stark and Tywin Lannister. All three have very similar daughters: strong-willed, physically and mentally capable, completely unwilling to be married off like so many other highborn girls, and are very vocal about it. Unlike both of them, however, Selwyn acquiesced to his daughter's wishes, because he wanted her to be happy more than he wanted political advantage.
  • Lyanna Mormont to both Stark sisters, being a warlike adolescent girl in charge of a Northern house. She is what Arya wanted to be back in Season 1 before she embarked on a different path to being a badass. At the same time, while she's in a similar position to Sansa, she is her opposite in temperament.
  • Sansa is one to Cersei: They’re both renowned beauties from old, respected noble families. Their father served as hand to a king. They both fantasise about marrying a handsome prince, becoming queen and living happily ever after in their youth, only to become greatly disillusioned with that dream. Both are married off by others for political purposes. However, the same situations and opportunities are handled quite differently in each case.
    • Cersei sees her own sex as a weakness and resents and belittles women who use their femininity to gain power (Margery) or usurp feminine ideals and still succeed (Brienne). Sansa however respects and values those same women and gains them as allies and confidants.
    • Cersei spends most of her time surrounded by her family but her relationship with them is poor and superficial. She pays lip service in support of them in public but fights with them in private and none of them trust her. Her relationships with her brothers deteriorate over time and they disown her while she orders them both killed. Sansa is separated from her family early on, and while often at odds with her siblings, clearly loves and is loyal to them, and the ties hold even when she’s in opposition with them (real or forced).
    • Sansa acknowledges her mistakes and tries to learn from them and others. Cersei blames others for her own failings.
    • Both are engaged to decent but unwanted fiancés (Tyrion, Loras) at the same time. Sansa develops a respectful friendship and alliance with Tyrion but Cersei schemes against and eventually kills Loras and his family.
    • They both marry abusive husbands and later kill them with the help of a male relative. Cersei manipulates Lancel into assisting the flawed but not wholly evil Robert into a drunken accident, effectively hiding from the act with subterfuge. Sansa escapes to the Watch, openly declares war against the sociopathic Ramsey alongside Jon and it is by her hand that Ramsey meets his final fate.
    • They each have a stalker with a crush ally that they are dependent on. Cersei alienates most of her allies forcing her to increasingly rely on Euron, to the point that she seduces him to keep him on her side. Euron’s desire to best her brother Jaime (and his insistence in duelling him) indirectly leads to Cersei’s own death. Sansa builds her power base and influence among the lords of the North and the Vale, allowing her to escape Littlefinger’s claws and turn his schemes against him. She and her siblings directly execute him for his part in their family’s deaths.
    • Cersei is a poor ruler who hates her subjects and is hated in return. Sansa proves to be skilled at governing, cares about the people of the North and earns their love and respect in return. Cersei takes the throne through force and violence and makes an enemy of almost everyone. Sansa becomes queen by peacefully ceding the North from the other kingdoms, with the will of her subjects and on neutral terms at worst from the other kingdoms.


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