With seven seasons and five books under its belt, Game of Thrones is a series that is jam-packed with information, with some that is far more important than others. With House words and Westeros history being explained at breakneck pace and new info heading your way from all angles, it’s almost impossible to keep up with all of the facts. Because of this, the facts you know and have gotten used to by now may not even be right.
Rest assured, with a series as compact as Game of Thrones, it’s understandable that you may have picked up a few misconceptions along your second or third binge. The show is misleading and often contradictory to the books, and George R. R. Martin may occasionally be at fault for not making his intent clear enough. Either way, you’re bound to have misremembered a motto or bunched up two separate groups into a single collective.
Yet, we know it’s embarrassing to have the well-known “facts” about your favourite show proven wrong, which is why we want to address these misconceptions directly– so you can tell all of your friends that they’re wrong instead.
So buckle your saddle, because here are the 15 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About Game Of Thrones.
15. Targaryens Aren’t Immune To Fire
Daenerys Targaryen may be “The Unburnt,” but that title is a little misleading, since it doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. Though perhaps “The Unburnt, But That Only Applies To One Specific Situation” doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as easily.
George R. R. Martin has gone on record to state that the Targaryen’s aren’t actually fireproof: “She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold.”
That’s not to say that Daenerys is immune to fire– her survival during the birth of her dragons was a miracle that could not be repeated, not an inherent immunity. Of course, the show may have changed Daenerys’ characterisation slightly by ignoring Martin and setting her on fire again in season 6’s episode 4.
It’s a common misconception, and an understandable one at that. There has to be some resistance to heat going on with Daenerys, and not just because she’s the mother of dragons. She’s able to bear scorching baths in the first episode of Game of Thrones-– just not fires on a day-to-day basis.
14. White Walkers Are Not The Same As Wights
While all book readers are acutely aware, most people who only watch the show are under the impression that the army of the dead marching to the wall is a White Walker-only affair. That’s simply not true: there’s a distinction in the army between the blue-eyed ice monsters on horseback and the swarm of skeletal figures. The former are White Walkers, and the latter are Wights.
The White Walkers, led by head honcho The Night King, control the Wights, reanimating the dead and setting them loose on Westeros.
Of course, it doesn’t help that their names sound so similar, nor does the show’s insistence on referring to them as a collective army of the dead, which is an entire new problem in itself– unlike the Wights, the White Walkers are very much alive.
13. Westeros Is Larger Than Everyone Thinks
Due to the narrative time jumps that the show uses liberally, as well as the fact that the map of Westeros is literally an inverted United Kingdom, you may be forgiven for believing that the continent of Westeros is the size of a small country. The Lannisters were able to travel from King’s Landing to Winterfell in the opening episode of Game Of Thrones, so how big can it really be?
In fact, Westeros is more comparable in size to South America— and, for the record, it took the Lannisters a good three months of travelling in the first episode. From the Wall to the coast of Dorne, Westeros stretches roughly 3000 miles north to south, and a hefty 900 miles east to west.
George R. R. Martin himself has admitted that he underestimated the size of the continent. He’s notoriously loose with his sense of scale, writing the Wall as 700 feet tall before later admitting during a shoot of the show: “Oh, I may have made the Wall too big.”
12. Characters Don’t Die Merely For Shock Value
Game of Thrones has become notorious for its unexpected deaths. Ned Stark’s death was shocking, the Red Wedding was shocking, Oberyn Martell’s death was shocking– the list goes on. It’s a trait that has defined Game of Thrones, making for tense and uncomfortable viewing with the knowledge that no one is truly safe.
Yet these deaths aren’t merely to entertain, instead they each serve a purpose in the series. George R. R. Martin may garner a reputation for an abundance of shocking deaths, but when a character is offed, it is intended to advance the plot. Surprising its audience effectively is simply an added benefit.
Ned getting the axe may have been totally unexpected, considering that the series depicted him as its main protagonist, but it was the catalyst for the “War of the Five Kings.” The Red Wedding set up the Starks’ revenge plot, and Oberyn’s death did likewise with the Martells and Sand Snakes.
11. House Lannister’s Words Aren’t ‘A Lannister Always Pays His Debts’
When taking into consideration the many houses in Game of Thrones, it’s understandable that some of their mottos may have slipped from our memory. We all know the words of House Stark– “Winter is Coming.” It’s practically on every piece of marketing for the series. The Targaryen motto is also quite memorable– “Fire and Blood”– and everyone knows the Lannister motto.
Well, everyone thinks they know it, at least. Even though this lesson is taught to us directly in season 1 when Arya learns of each house in Westeros, most people are under the impression that “A Lannister Always Pays His Debts” must be the motto of season 1’s antagonists.
They’re half-right: it’s a well known saying associated with the Lannisters, and Cersei, Tyrion, and Jaime have uttered it in the show several times, but the actual words of House Lannister is the much more underwhelming– “Hear Me Roar!”
It’s cheesy, and more akin to a sport team’s slogan, which may be why people choose the former motto as the house’s words. At leasts it’s a little more suitable, considering House Lannister’s sigil is a lion.
10. Characters Aren’t Moving Too Quickly
While Westeros may be huge, characters are able to make their way across the continent in episodes, or even scenes. Between season 7 episode 2 and season 7 episode 3, for example, Jon Snow and Davos makes their way from Winterfell to Dragonstone, Euron travels from King’s Landing to Casterly Rock, and Jaime moves from King’s Landing to Highgarden.
What most fans don’t seem to realise is that this lightspeed travel isn’t that at all– it is simply jumps in time that the show doesn’t feel the need to point out. The fact that other journeys, such as Tyrion and Jorah’s venture from Volantis to Meereen in season 5 take up several episodes does add to the confusion.
Yet, with season 7 picking up the pace as it reaches the final stretch, time jumps are bound to occur at a more frequent rate- – getting straight to the action, at the expense of fans who have misjudged complaints about the unrealistic ease characters have getting from point A of Westeros to point B on the other side of the map.
9. Not That Many Main Characters Actually Die
Fans don’t just have to contend with shocking deaths, but also the shocking deaths of some of their favourite characters. “Main character” Eddard Stark was offed in season 1, as were various Starks in season 3’s Red Wedding.
Stannis fell victim to Brienne in season 5, and… that’s it? Most fans mistake “favourite” characters with “main’” characters, giving the impression that Game of Thrones is thirsty for the blood of its biggest names.
In fact, out of all of George R. R. Martin’s many, many PoV characters in the book series, only five have died, and only three have stayed dead. The show’s main five– Cersei, Jaime, Daenerys, Jon Snow, and Tyrion– have all been around since season 1 and have all had a big presence from the start.
8. Before King Robert, The Targaryens Didn’t Actually Conquer All Seven Kingdoms
George R. R. Martin’s ability to world build is astounding, and in creating Game of Thrones, he has established with immense detail both the present and the past of its universe. While the show has depicted the present, it has also made clear that Westeros was under the rule of the Targaryens for much of its history.
After Aegon Targaryen’s conquest, the continent came under control of the draconic house, residing on the Iron Throne for almost 300 years. During that period, all of Westeros belonged to House Targaryen.
Well, not exactly… while Aegon Targaryen managed to conquer the bulk of Westeros, the Kingdom of Dorne held strong. A battle ensued, blandly named The First Dornish War, but the Dornish forces managed to survive. The Targaryens’ dynasty on the Iron Throne ended without ever having claimed Dorne.
7. The Kingsguard And The Gold Cloaks Are Not The Same
Show-only viewers can be forgiven for thinking that the personal bodyguards belonging to King’s Landing’s monarch are nicknamed the “Gold Cloaks.” It makes sense– the name crops up when Bronn and Tyrion are discussing the ongoings of King’s Landing in season 2, and the bodyguards’ armor is an undeniable shade of gold.
Fans also know them by their official title, the Kingsguard. What they don’t know, however, is that the Kingsguard are entirely different to the Gold Cloaks.
Their distinction is only mentioned in passing, and with so many King’s Landing politics to attempt to understand, it’s easy to see where the confusion stems from. While it’s true that the Kingsguard are the monarch’s personal bodyguards, the Gold Cloaks are actually a thousands-strong group of men serving as the City Watch of King’s Landing. Their “Gold Cloaks” tag is due to, well, the gold cloaks they wear.
So why not have the Kingsguard wear a different color of armor to prevent confusion? Well, the showrunners initially tried white, before realising that it didn’t look very good on camera. They’re described as wearing gold armor over a white cloak in the books, so the show went with that instead.
6. Westeros Has More Than Seven Regions
Despite the “Seven Kingdoms” name, the realm ruled by whoever controls the Iron Throne is actually comprised of nine regions. This is an easy one to get wrong, since, well, the title given to the realm is a little misleading. The Seven Kingdoms actually refers to the state of the land when Aegon Targaryen conquered Westeros.
At that time, the land was separated into seven different, independent realms which Aegon sought to unite. In that unification, the realm of the Seven Kingdoms arose, containing nine distinct regions.
The seven kingdoms that existed before Aegon the Conqueror landed in Westeros were the North, the Mountain and Vale, the Isles and Rivers, the Rock, the Reach, the Stormlands, and Dorne.
Now, the realm of the Seven Kingdoms is composed of the Reach, the North, the Iron Islands, the Riverlands, the Vale, the Westerlands, the Crownlands, the Stormlands, and Dorne, a familiar but undeniably altered separation of the realm. Seven Kingdoms, nine regions– it makes perfect sense.
5. The Night’s Watch’s Rules Aren’t As Strict As You Think
When arriving at Castle Black to join the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow is almost immediately bombarded with a torrent of rules and oaths that he must adhere to or risk great punishment. We saw what fate lies in store for Night’s Watch members that don’t rigidly follow the rules when Janos Slynt lost his head (both literally and figuratively) by attempting to defy the orders of Jon.
Yet, it would seem that vows are meant to be broken. Celibacy is made to be a major issue, and an inflexible rule that should not be ignored under any circumstance. What most fans don’t realise, however, is that it doesn’t actually pose a problem whatsoever.
While their oath suggests that relationships and the benefits of being in one are forbidden, the men get around this by interpreting “I will take no wife” as “I will take no wife, but having sex with a stranger is totally okay.”
Thus, it’s noted, in both the books and the show, that the brothers of the Night’s Watch are often seen sneaking into the brothel of Mole’s Town, the nearest village to Castle Black. Lord Commander Jeor Mormont is aware– he just doesn’t care.
4. The Sword ‘Dawn’ Isn’t Made Of Valyrian Steel
Dawn is the ancestral sword of House Dayne, and its wielder is given the title “Sword of the Morning.” The last man to wield the sword was Ser Arthur Dayne, seen in action in season 6’s episode 3 as he fended off Ned Stark and several soldiers before being stabbed in the back by Howland Reed.
Ser Arthur Dayne was a legendary knight who was renowned as one of the greatest swordsmen who ever lived. Surely a knight of his ability would wield a sword forged from Valyrian steel, a steel with the greatest properties for swordfighting? Well, no, not exactly.
Dawn may be as sharp as Valyrian steel, which led to many book readers believing that it’s just that, but the sword was actually forged from the metal of a fallen star, which may just be a cryptic way of saying “meteorite.”
3. The Land Beyond The Wall Isn’t All Snow
In the show, anywhere north of the Wall is depicted as being eternally covered in a white blanket of snow, as if the Wall is the divide between winter and summer. This is a common misconception that the show has helped to fuel rather than dispel.
That’s not to say that it doesn’t snow beyond the Wall, but rather, that there’s more greenery than you’d expect. In fact, the area beyond the Wall furthest South is likened to the forests of Canada, lush with vegetation, fauna, and yes, the occasional sprinkling of snow.
There are only two areas beyond the Wall that are perpetually snow-bound: The Land Of Always Winter (clue’s in the name), which is the area beyond the Wall furthest north, and the Frostfangs, an inhospitable mountain range.
2. The Greyjoys Do Actually Sow
House Greyjoy doesn’t have the greatest reputation among the rest of Westeros’ citizens. It’s a House that is notorious for raiding neighbouring towns and plundering their food and resources. They are known as men who solely rely on thievery and piracy, propagated by their House words: “We Do Not Sow.”
The motto is designed as a way to make clear their rebellious and defiant nature, but it is also a blatant lie that many fans choose to take as gospel. Of course they farm– they control a region of the Seven Kingdoms and have enough land, despite large parts of it being infertile, in order to grow food. It would be terribly inefficient not to.
Their motto in itself is also a misconception. Many people are under the impression that their words are “What Is Dead May Never Die.” While that is a popular saying among the Ironborn, their actual motto is much less awesome.
1. Renly Isn’t A Good Guy
Renly Baratheon, in both the books and the show, has proven to be a fan favourite. His exit early in season 2 came as a major surprise and temporarily framed his older brother Stannis as the bad guy.
It’s important to note that Stannis is Renly’s older brother. When Robert Baratheon died– and since the Lannister children were illegitimate due to being born of incest— the right to the Iron Throne should be passed to the eldest brother. In this case, it would be Stannis.
However, a ton of fans mistakenly believed that Renly had every right to the throne, simply because he was a more likeable person. By choosing to fight against his brother rather than team up with him, Stannis was without the resources and men necessary to win the Battle of the Blackwater and rightfully claim the Iron Throne.
Instead, Renly doomed the Starks to more suffering, the Lannisters to more gloating, and the Baratheons to having their timeline diminished. He may have had charisma, but what Renly did was incredibly selfish.
Are there any other misconceptions of Game of Thrones that fans always get wrong? Let us know in the comments!
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