My Weird Theory About The Men On Game of Thrones (Spoilers)

Today, I’d like to take a break from our regularly scheduled program to talk about a wildly inappropriate TV show.

(Because 8 PM is when the kids go to bed and all the zombies come out.)

Woo hoo, the kids are asleep!

See, one of my blogging buddies writes great posts about Game of Thrones at I Can’t Possibly be Wrong All the Time,

He analyzes the show in such great detail, in fact, that I often walk away realizing I didn’t pay nearly enough attention when I was watching it (though in all fairness, Patrick did read the books too).

And he’s inspired me to not only watch the show again, but to share the bizarre insight I had while seeing it a second time:

Male characters in GoT get a lot nicer after having something chopped off. 

Weird, right?

I’m not judging here, just reporting what I’m seeing.

Because it’s happened several times…

Jaime Lannister

I half-expect the Dread Pirate Roberts to come out swinging…

Jaime Lannister started out such a despicable character that he initially made me give up watching the show.

I already wasn’t thrilled with the kidsicle opener and then the pilot episode… the PILOT… closes with Jamie tossing a child out of a tower because he’d seen Jaime knowing his sister. In the biblical sense.

So, he casually tosses a little kid out a tower window while making an offhand joke about it.

And I was just DONE after seeing that nonsense. It took me several months and many glowing reviews from people whose opinions I trust to come back to the show…

When I did, Jaime was busy paying off assassins to kill that kid he crippled in his sickbed and then framing his own brother for the murder (which, luckily, doesn’t work out).

Jaime keeps up this douchey behavior for some time: trying to kill Ned Stark in an ambush, brutally murdering a squire who worshipped him just to create a diversion, and harassing Lady Brienne like any cocky, rich jock in an 80’s flick would…

Until he gets his hand chopped off.

Sure, he’d been hinting at human decency right before that (by talking his captors out of violating Lady Brienne), but it was only after the hand-chopping incident that Jaime truly emerges as one of the “good” guys of GoT’s extremely morally-relative world.

Then, Jaime risks his own life by jumping into a bear pit to help Brienne. He helps the brother he previously tried to frame for murder escape from prison after being unjustly accused. He tries to talk his sister into retiring someplace nice instead of continuing her mass murder spree. All of which is truly noble by, you know… Lannister standards.

Theon Greyjoy

This punk here

I’d almost forgotten what an incredible jerk Theon used to be.

I mean, he actually starts the show of in full sociopath mode by jumping at the chance to slaughter puppies (the dire wolves who eventually became the Stark’s pets). He ironically makes fun of Jon for being a bastard and generally spends his time being a violent, arrogant, pervert.

Theon grew up with the Starks, who are essentially his immediate family. But while Robb Stark (to whom Theon pledged his loyalty) is busy waging his military campaign, Theon takes advantage of the opportunity to betray them. He takes over their house and starts executing anyone who disagrees with him, including loyal servants whom he’s known since childhood.

This includes his adoptive brothers, who are kids. When he’s unable to find them (because they escape while he’s… distracted), he murders two innocent farm boys in their stead and adorns Winterfell with their burned corpses, just to make a point.

Pretty horrible person, right? Well, he then gets captured by Ramsey Bolten and Ramsey is enough of a monster to actually make us start feeling sorry for Theon because Ramsey redefines all our goalposts for crapiness.

That’s when Theon gets… well, we all know what he gets chopped off.

But it apparently did him some good, because it’s only after his time with Ramsey that Theon is ever motivated beyond his own immediate self-interest: he risks himself to help Sansa escape (after finally showing some empathy for his adoptive family), he supports his sister Yara’s bid for leadership of the Ironborn instead of pushing his own (more traditional) claim, and lets himself get beaten to a pulp while rallying the Ironborn to help him rescue his sister.

(Sure, there was that whole unfortunate incident where Theon jumps off the ship instead of rescuing Yara from Euron himself, but being Ramsey Bolton’s prisoner is bound to cause a little PTSD. It’s still an improvement over murdering innocent farm boys.)


Not your typical hero, but…

Varys was an especially interesting character to watch for a second time because at first, it was impossible to guess his moral alignment.

Like his counterpart Littlefinger, Varys has to carefully navigate GoT’s treacherous world to keep on breathing. He must, like Littlefinger, show skillful diplomacy while working behind the scenes… effectively playing different sides against each other. So, you never knew whether Varys’ brilliant manipulations were ultimately self-serving or not.

But eventually, we figure out that Varys is a good guy. There was evidence for this fact all along, which became more obvious when watching the show the second time around. Though he can’t openly fight the Lannisters, for example, you can see him subtly disapprove whenever Joffrey cruelly harasses someone (like Sansa or Tyrion).

Though he won’t pointlessly sacrifice himself for a lost cause (by helping Ned Stark escape), he will risk himself for a good one (by helping Tyrion escape). Unlike many of the Starks, he has a good sense of when keeping his mouth shut will allow him to fight another day… a long game that ultimately makes him a much more effective player.

When challenged by Daenerys, we get a better sense of Varys’ inner moral code. He describes his loyalty for the common people against brutal despots. He also won’t harm the innocent (revealed when he says he would never hurt children, since they are “blameless”), which puts him squarely on the good team according to murky GoT metrics.

And how did he come by this altruistic perspective? From being castrated by a sorcerer after growing up a slave… again, another relatively-good male character who’s had an important body part hacked off.

Sir Davos Seaworthy

Nicest OG on the show

Sir Davos is undoubtedly one of the kindest characters, which is rare within the older set because you have to be pretty Machiavellian to survive long in Westeros.

More humble than most of the players who have drastically risen in rank, Davos still speaks plainly, yet convincingly… moving the Iron Bank or Daenerys or Stannis even after his more aristocratic counterparts could not.

Sir Davos puts himself at great risk to do what is right: standing up to the Red Woman, questioning Stannis the “king,” helping Gendry escape… Davos was sent away before Shireen was horrifically killed because, well, Stannis and Melisandre knew he wouldn’t put up with it.

And, again… Sir Davos had been mutilated. Stannis had cut four fingertips off Davos’ right hand as punishment for his smuggling past. Because Davos was a criminal before getting his fingers chopped off.

Definitely a pattern, right?

I’m not sure of its significance, except maybe GoT characters start identifying more with the underdog after getting mutilated in some way, or maybe it just keeps their hubris in check.

And I can’t think of any female characters who were mutilated to make comparisons.

Any thoughts?




17 thoughts on “My Weird Theory About The Men On Game of Thrones (Spoilers)”

  1. First off, thank you for the shout-out to my blog! I’m very touched by your kind words.

    This is also a fun observational blog, working on the virtues of amputees in Game of Thrones. The fact that you ended the post by praising my main man Ser Davos filled me with joy.

    If you want more examples from the show, I think Grey Worm the Unsullied is a very sympathetic and decent character, and we know about the Unsullied’s situation.

    There are certainly other examples of virtuous people who have suffered the loss of a body part (some of this is book stuff, some of it is on the show) – Lord Beric Dondarrion (on the show) and his missing eye, Qhorin Halfhand and his riven hand (on the show but we don’t see his hand), and fan favorite book only character, the one-armed blacksmith Donal Noye, whose story is handled by Tyrion at the Wall, and Grenn under the tunnels facing a giant. But I appreciate your theme of people more or less turning over a new leaf after trauma.

    It’s always fun to read your Game of Thrones thoughts!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Of course! You write *amazing* GoT posts—sometimes dizzying in their complexity. I figured if anyone would remember other maimed characters, it would be you…

      And I’m going to have to look up the ones you mentioned, lol. Except for Grey Worm, of course. I thought about adding him, but I wasn’t sure how to tackle the Unsullied rebels in my argument (there sure is a lot of gelding going on in GoT). Was Grey Worm the one who had his nipple cut off in the demonstration?

      I don’t think he was, but it would be convenient for my analysis. Grey Worm is definitely one of the good guys too. I wonder why he falls in love whereas Varys has no interest.

      Can you think of any women in the series who were maimed? I couldn’t. Many are beat up, violated or killed… but no amputations, as far as I can remember.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was trying to think of maimed women as well, and coming up short. At least on the show.

        In the books, there’s a character who suffers some horrible wounds, significant ones, but she is not in the show.

        I agree that I don’t think Grey Worm was the one in the nipple cutting demo by Kraznys, we’ve seen Grey Worm shirtless a few times.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for linking your friends blog, Erin. I’m totally going to follow him.

    And yeah, now that you mention it, there does seem to be a pattern. I guess losing parts of yourself is humbling?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sure! His GoT posts are great. He really digs down into all of the symbolism and makes connections I’d never have thought of.

      Humbling is the best I can come up with too. I considered adding Tyrion, who lost “height” at birth, because he’s one of the good guys too, IMHO. But then the argument gets pretty abstract.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah, good point! It’s not exactly cutting something off, but it is a type of maiming.

          But then, we’d have to add the Hound to the mix (with his much bigger scar). I do think the Hound is essentially a good guy too… especially in comparison to his brother.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ohhhh yeah that’s right about the hound. Yes his character has evolved I think. And also that’d probably open it up to others I can’t even think of at the moment.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. I can’t help but like him (doesn’t hurt that he’s funny), despite the bad stuff. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to be a bad guy, just believes he has to… it’ll be interesting to see where his character ends up.


              1. Yeah I do too. I like when stories aren’t straight good or bad guys. GOT has tons characters that are a bit of both. And his story and character development seems like a natural progression and too reaching.

                Liked by 1 person

  3. Good points! Also funny. I think with Jaime Brienne also was a considerable help to but the hand is certainly important. I know he was her prisoner but why she did not strangle him or whack him for being a prat. The thing with Theon is vile. I think that certainly did not need to happened for him to change.


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