There's a reason that Game of Thrones is the most illegally downloaded TV show: it's really, really good. The characters are wildly complex (Two words: Jaime Lannister), the plot twists are consistent nail-biters (THE RED WEDDING?!), and people are always getting naked (Jon Snow is a babe). As if those facets of George R.R. Martin's adapted-for-HBO drama aren't enough of an impetus for you to be hooked, consider the life lessons to be taken away from the bloodshed, nudity, and moral ambiguity. Or, better, let's do that together. Here are five things Game of Thrones has taught us about real life.
1. Everyone dies.
Something is rotten in the state of Westeros... and it's the smell of dead bodies. Between beheadings, sword fights, and full-fledged battles, people are constantly getting slaughtered in Game of Thrones. The show kills off characters we love episode after episode, callously ripping our hearts out and stepping on them in the process. They rarely take the lives of characters we don't like (not to name names, but JOFFREY), leaving us emotionally wounded and, yet, bizarrely wanting MORE bloodshed. Game of Thrones reminds us that you'll die regardless of how loyal or kind you are because, hey, THAT'S LIFE.
2. Great things come in small packages.
Arya Stark and Tyrion Lannister are prime examples of what it means to be more than what meets the eye. They may be small in stature, but both characters have proved to be far more cunning than their larger friends, family, and foes. Aside from their height deficit, we've come to know them as incredibly loving characters who will fight ardently for what they want and believe in. They exemplify the idea of a 3D character, and we feel as if we know them or could be friends with them.
3. The past will always come back to haunt you.
We all know what it feels like to have something you did come back and bite you in the ass. The Westerosi are no exception. There are a lot of examples of this in Game of Thrones but for the sake of brevity, we'll focus on the Ironborn Theon Greyjoy. After being essentially raised as one of the Starks of Winterfell, Theon grows up to be a seemingly respectable and accepted member of the family. Unfortunately, all that affection is thrown to the wind when Theon goes batshit insane and kills the Stark's beloved servant, Ser Rodrik. A lot of other things happen, but when Theon finds himself stuck in a torture chamber from hell, it's not that surprising. The boy bit the hand that fed him and, while that may have been a mistake at the time, there's no going back. He, and anyone else in the fantasy or real world who makes mistakes or rash decisions, has to live and die with the consequences.
4. Weddings are REALLY dramatic.
If you've ever planned, worked at, or even gone to a wedding, you know the tedium involved in the "happiest day of their lives." There's ALWAYS tears, laughter, music, a ton of people (some you know, some you don't), and BOOZE. In the penultimate episode of Season 3, "The Rains of Castamere," the infamous wedding to end all weddings happens. All of the aforementioned components are present as well as an unexpected one: rampant death. While this is a level of drama not usually seen at weddings, it is a sort of hyperbolic reminder that even when you think a wedding is disastrous, it could always be worse.
5. Family is not everything.
I could have ended this list with something cheesy and corny like "real love is worth fighting for," but I figured I'd throw a splash of controversy into the mix and talk about the loyalty, or disloyalty, of family. In Game of Thrones, the Lannisters stand by one another for no other reason than that they have the same last name. Of course, there are the incestuous twins Jaime and Cersei who stick together (pun intended) for other reasons, but take a look at their father, Tywin Lannister; he only begrudgingly looks out for Tyrion because he's a Lannister. The man cannot stand his "dwarf" son who "killed" his mother during childbirth. Also, and I can't believe it's taken me so long to get to her, but let's not forget Daenerys Targaryen. Her relationship with Viserys, her brother, was as dysfunctional as could be. He openly admitted he would watch her be raped by thousands if it meant that he would take the Iron Throne. The point is, that phrase "blood is thicker than water" is antiquated and has been antiquated long before it was even uttered. While you may be genetically bound to your family, it doesn't mean you need to stick by them if they are toxic, poor influences, or just plain evil. You can create your own family, like Dany did with Khal Drogo. Nothing limits your potential like a lack of support, and if you're not getting it from your family, make like a Stormborn and search elsewhere. It could lead to great things.
BONUS: 6. Winter is coming.
I had to add this because, eventually, the Starks are always right.