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Unintentionally Unsympathetic / Game of Thrones

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  • The sex scene between Jaime and Cersei in "Breaker of Chains". According to the director, it's Jaime who's been abused in this relationship, and audience sympathies should be with him. However, because the scene appears to be a rape in the eyes of many viewers (Cersei repeatedly begs Jaime to stop, right up to the time the camera cuts away), Cersei becomes unintentionally sympathetic as a rape victim, and Jaime unintentionally unsympathetic as a rapist.
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  • Renly Baratheon's Adaptational Heroism was also intended to make him the "right man" in his contest against Stannis but the story still has Renly asserting to be King by force of arms rather than Popularity Power, and likewise leaves unaddressed Robb Stark's defense of the Succession Crisis as well as the consequences of his actions. Renly and Loras' dismissal of Stannis for his "personality of a lobster" and his churlish attacks on Stannis' character during the parley, especially as Stannis showed himself willing to negotiate very reasonable terms with Renly, makes him even more unsympathetic especially in light of the 2016 Elections where such personal Ad Hominem insults and attacks are no longer considered funny and cool. Also there's the fact that despite the criticism Stannis gets for killing Renly, Renly makes it clear he intends to kill Stannis, meaning that rather than a villainous murder, his death can seem like a vain traitor being killed in self-defence.
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  • Olly is taken in by the Night's Watch after his entire family/village is wiped out by vengeful wildlings. He's a young boy, scared, helpless, and weak. Killing Ygritte was something that most people found upsetting, but not wholly unreasonable—she helped kill his family, after all. However, the second he drove his knife into Jon Snow—one of the series' most beloved and iconic characters—it became nigh impossible to feel sympathy for him. No one shed a tear at his death. The writers may have meant for Olly to be a Woobie with sympathetic reasons, but the fact that he has so little screentime and does nothing of value instead turned him into a rather useless hero killer.
  • Rhaegar Targaryen after the revelation that he loved and married Lyanna (making Jon the rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms), which was apparently intended as heartwarming. While not being a rapist is always a good thing, his treatment of Elia Martell (annulling their marriage, which would degrade and humiliate her if she lived long enough to learn about it) and their two children (making their status dubious at best and illegitimate at worst, since it was an annulment not divorce) was really appalling, especially considering that they soon died specifically for being his family. In the light of those events, you can now really pity Oberyn and almost pity Ellaria and the Sand Snakes.
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  • Lyanna Stark. Her romance with Rhaegar is meant to be true love, but with how Elia is brushed aside, this can paint Lyanna as a homewrecker and further shows them both as incredibly irresponsible for insulting both House Baratheon and House Martell simultaneously by breaking off their engagements/marriages to people from those Houses and setting off a civil war. This is all the more perplexing since her nephew Robb's impromptu marriage to Talisa is treated as a political blunder that was Robb's undoing. Combining this with Rhaegar's own unsympathetic attitude, it makes Robert's Rebellion look like the direct result of two stupid young people eloping without bothering to mention this (rather important) fact before it's too late. Or even after it's too late, for that matter.
  • Talisa's backstory. Talisa grew up in a wealthy, slave-owning Volantene family but when a slave saves her brother's life she realizes slavery is wrong and vows to never again live in a place that allowed slavery and to not waste her life dancing with nobles. So she becomes a nurse and goes to Westeros. We are clearly supposed to be moved by Talisa's selfless act. However, moving to Westeros was an empty gesture. In Volantis, Talisa could have used her wealth and status to help slaves and fight for their rights. Ironically, by dancing with nobles, something that Talisa clearly looks down on, she could've done more good than she ever did in Westeros (part of a recurring theme of the show runners looking down on pursuits viewed as "feminine"; see also, Arya saying "most girls are stupid" and Brienne insulting Podrick by saying he "whines like a woman", when in the books both characters would have liked to also indulge in feminine skills if they were any good at them). Not to mention, she snottily upbraids Robb for daring to start a war that causes people to suffer, ignoring the fact that, um, Joffrey kicked off the civil war by beheading his father under false charges, holds his sisters hostage, had all Robert's bastards (sans Gendry) murdered and has been wreaking far more havoc than Robb. She doesn't seem to have any suggestions for Robb or acknowledges what kind of evil Robb is trying to fight against, she just bitches and snarks at him that a wounded soldier was "unlucky [you] were there."
  • Daenerys Targaryen in Season 7. Despite her having suffered a great deal, she can come across this way to some in her demands that Jon bend the knee if she is to help him save his people and battle the army of the undead, unwilling to help the North until Jon pledges allegiance to her (prior to seeing the army of the dead for herself in 7x06).
  • Season 8 saw fan opinion actually turning against Tyrion, particularly in "The Bells", where he sells out Varys to Daenerys, knowing full well that Daenerys will have Varys executed. The event was meant to show Tyrion's loyalty to Daenerys and his belief she would be a just ruler. However, not only did fans consider it highly out of character for Tyrion to betray a close friend like that, but some felt as if it was an example of Tyrion losing his cunning and perceptive traits made him so popular in earlier seasons.
  • Grey Worm has caught flak in Season 8 since despite being a professional soldier, he massacres surrendering Lannister soldiers without a second thought and lets his Unsullied and Dothraki troops rampage through King's Landing and slaughter civilians. While the audience is supposed to sympathize with him since he's reeling from the death of Missandei, his response to it feels overly excessive.
  • For a lot of viewers, Cersei in Season 8's "The Bells". Her death scene is portrayed as an Alas, Poor Villain moment as Daenerys continues the attack even after Cersei surrenders and she's trapped in the collapsing Red Keep, sobbing that she doesn't want to die and wants her unborn child to live. However, considering what an utterly horrible person Cersei has been up to this point and that she only surrendered purely to save herself when she realized she couldn't win (as opposed to preventing her people from dying), it's hard to feel too bad for her. Not to mention the attack is partly her fault; she stubbornly refused to consider that she was outmatched and in the previous episode had Missandei killed purely out of spite, knowing it would enrage Daenerys. Most viewers' attitude towards her demise was less "poor Cersei" and more "ding dong, the witch is dead".
  • Jaime's actions at the end of "The Last of the Starks" and in "The Bells" are apparently intended to paint him as a Tragic Hero, but actually left a lot of viewers either dismayed, frustrated or both for the wrong reasons. He goes to King's Landing to save Cersei even though he knows she's an irredeemably dreadful person who tried to kill him and his little brother and didn't even care all that much about their last child killing himself because he "betrayed" her; in the process, he pulls a Redemption Rejection and breaks Brienne's heart (after sleeping with her). He also claims not to care about anyone else, not helping any of the innocent civilians escape the carnage but going to a lot of effort to save Cersei, ultimately getting himself killed in the process (Cersei also dies, so it was all pointless anyway).
  • Some viewers feel Sansa in Season 8 can come off as this because she dislikes Daenerys on sight, despite knowing very little about her personally and Dany at least attempting to find common ground with her. While it's understandable Sansa would be wary of her (and she does turn out to be right to distrust her in the end) Dany hasn't done anything as far as Sansa knows to suggest she's a terrible ruler and is there to help defend humanity (and Sansa's home) in the fight against the dead, demonstrating she is willing to protect the kingdom she is now queen to while putting her goal to take the Iron Throne on hold. Thus, it unintentionally comes off less as Sansa being savvy and more petty. Not to mention that Sansa talks trash about Dany while she's in the crypts with the women and children, while Dany herself is physically out there fighting on the front lines. Dave Hill’s comments that Sansa’s dislike of Dany stems from jealousy and viewing her as a rival don’t help. Later, Sansa breaks Jon's trust by telling Tyrion about his real parentage with the intention of undermining Dany, even though she swore she'd keep it secret and Jon made it clear he doesn't want to be king. This ends up playing a large role in kicking off Dany's Sanity Slippage, leading to disastrous consequences in the following episode, and Sansa's actions could have seriously endangered Jon.
  • Taking into account his character arc in its entirety, Varys can come off this way. He insists that everything he does is for the good of the realm, but his actual track record in this regard can come off as sketchy. He did little to undermine the Mad King during Robert's Rebellion despite not approving of his actions. Although he himself admits that Robert was only a better ruler by virtue of the fact he just didn't care about ruling, rather than use his skills and resources to stabilize the realm under Robert, he plots with Illyrio to put Viserys on the throne, even though — as Daenerys points out — he must've known that Viserys would be a horrible choice. Had Varys supported Viserys because he didn't know what Viserys was like, then he failed to do his research properly. Upon learning Jon has a better claim to the throne than Dany, he immediately starts to throw his support behind him instead, despite knowing little about him and Jon having no interest in ruling. Varys states one of the reasons Jon would be a good choice as king is because he doesn't want to rule but just a season ago, one of his main criticisms against Robert was that he was uninterested in ruling. Varys also seems to think Dany is crazy because she's feeling vengeful and isolated after losing many of her friends and supporters. Rather than help her, he plots to oust and replace her, contributing to her descent into madness, as his actions all but confirm her worst fears that she's completely alone and unable to trust anyone. As a result, Varys's actions come off as hypocritical to some and contributing toward his own demise.From the books 
  • Jon in the first half of "The Iron Throne" slips into this for some viewers when he tries to find reasons for Daenerys's actions in "The Bells", even though there's not much, if any, justification for it beyond "she's fricking crazy". It's understandable Jon really doesn't want to kill somebody he loves and he's struggling with this, but it seems odd that Tyrion must underline to Jon that Dany's grief is not a good reason for killing thousands of civilians for no reason, she's lost it, she will continue to kill innocents and so she needs to be stopped pronto.
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