Fans of Game of Thrones know that its creator, George R. R. Martin, is a real stickler when it comes to detail. Every character and every inch of the Seven Kingdoms, seems to have been plotted and planned, and nothing has been left to chance. Still, in its adaptation on HBO, there have been a few moments that have made fans pause. Sometimes timelines don’t quite add up, characters make questionable choices, or it seems like the rules that govern Westeros and all its inhabitants have somehow changed.
If you don’t think too hard, it’s easy to watch GoT and get swept up in its magical story and gorgeous fantasy world. But when you really start to break down some of the stories, it does get a little bit wonky. Here are 10 things about Game of Thrones that simply don’t make sense.
1. Arya surviving her stab wounds
Most of the characters that are still alive in Game of Thrones have survived some pretty brutal attacks. They’ve been raped, beaten, burned, and shot with arrows, but lived to fight another day.
In Arya Stark’s case, though, her ability to survive a brutal stabbing in the Season 6 episode “The Broken Man” was a bit too implausible. The Waif seriously went to town on her abdomen with that knife. And given the amount of blood Arya lost, where she was stabbed, and how sickly she looked afterwards, fans were sure she was a goner. She recovered quite nicely, though, which is pretty confusing when you consider the fact that her brother, Robb, was also stabbed and died almost immediately.
Some fans theorized that Arya hallucinated the whole ordeal, or that the Waif’s savage stabs somehow managed to miss every major organ and artery. But neither argument holds much water, and most have since chalked the occurrence up as a low point in the Game of Thrones writers room.
2. Why Cersei was able to take the Iron Throne
After six seasons, fans of Game of Thrones know that the path to the Iron Throne is treacherous, given how many families feel they can lay claim to it. In fact, the question of who is the rightful heir is a bit murky, and has been complicated by infidelity, incest, and a whole lot of bloodshed over the past six seasons.
Still, Cersei’s immediate coronation following the death of her son, Tommen, was confusing to say the least, because there are — by the laws of the Seven Kingdoms — several other people who could claim it as well.
The line of succession has been debated endlessly by Game of Thrones fans. And while there’s no consensus around whether Gendry, Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Jaime Lannister, or even Brienne of Tarth should be sitting in Cersei’s place, it is clear that she had no rightful claim through succession.
Some believe the line of succession shouldn’t matter at all, since Robert Baratheon overthrew the Targaryens in the first place. In that case, Cersei — or anyone else in the Seven Kingdoms, for that matter — could claim it as their own. Still, given her strict adherence to the ancient customs when her children were king, you’d think she’d have a little more respect for them now.
3. Why the Dothraki are helping Daenerys
It’s taken quite a long time for Daenerys Targaryen to gather an army willing to help her fight for the Iron Throne. But in the final moments of Game of Thrones Season 6, we saw her rally her troops and set sail for Westeros. In some ways, it was a triumphant moment — after all, we may finally get to see her in action. But when you really think about it, it’s kind-of confusing.
There’s no question as to why her advisors, the Greyjoys and the Unsullied would follow her into battle. But after Khal Drogo died in Season 1, the Dothraki owed no allegiance to Dany. Yes, she gave that really stirring speech while riding a dragon, which was admittedly very cool. But she didn’t offer them any real incentive to join her army. In other words, it’s hard to say exactly why the Dothraki are willing to cross the sea they fear so much and risk their lives for the Mother of Dragons.
4. Why Melisandre only used her smoke baby trick once
In Season 3, Stannis Baratheon bedded Melisandre in a fit of passion. Shortly thereafter, she went to a cave and birthed a terrifying smoke baby, which promptly killed Stannis’ brother, Renly. It was actually a pretty cool way to get rid of his rival, all things considered. And it revealed a fascinating and frightening type of magic to Game of Thrones fans that offered up endless possibilities for more covert assassinations. Except, they never happened.
Granted, it’s probably not easy to carry an evil shadow baby to term. Still, given Stannis’ unquenchable desire to usurp Joffrey Lannister and claim the Iron Throne, you’d think he would have thought to utilize this very specific power at least a few more times.
5. How the Night’s Watch ranger survived the White Walker attack
Game of Thrones drew fans in right away, thanks to its gripping opening sequence. It followed three Night’s Watch rangers as they went beyond the wall and were ambushed by the eerie White Walkers. Only one, Gared, managed to escape the encounter, but he was caught and brought to Ned Stark to be punished. Because he’d left his post, Ned had to put him to death. And we never got to find out how, or why, he’d managed to escape when his fellow rangers perished.
Six years later, it’s still difficult to come up with a logical explanation for why the White Walkers would have let Gared go. He was hardly a battle-ready soldier — in fact, he seemed almost frozen with fear in their presence. And the White Walkers aren’t exactly known for their mercy. So, while the scene between Gared and the Starks made for a nice narrative bookend, it really doesn’t add up when it comes to what we’ve learned about how things work beyond the wall.
6. Khal Drogo’s magical melting powers
Without a doubt, one of the most disturbing (and awesome) moments in Game of Thrones‘ first season involved the vile and malevolent Viserys Targaryen and the crown he’d always wanted. Of course, it was in the form of a pot of boiling gold, which promptly melted his skin and killed him — but hey, he asked for it.
Khal Drogo’s murder of his beloved wife’s brother was stunning in its brutality. It was also, by most accounts, physically impossible for him to pull off in the amount of time he had. According to Wikipedia, gold can’t melt until it’s reached approximately 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The pot that Drogo used to boil the medallions was over a pretty standard cooking flame, and fans noted that it likely wouldn’t have been able to get that hot by the time he’d carried it over to Viserys. So, while Dany’s other brother’s death remains one of the most memorable in GoT history, it’s also the least plausible.
7. When Tywin didn’t figure out Arya’s real identity
The Lannisters didn’t get where they are in Westeros — that is, deep within the upper echelons of power — by being stupid. In fact, for the most part, Tywin and his children are among the smartest and most strategic characters in the entire Game of Thrones universe. That’s why it seemed so completely ridiculous that the Lannister patriarch didn’t seem to have any clue that his new cupbearer was the child of Ned Stark.
In Season 2, Arya disguised herself as a boy and set out to avenge her father’s death. She wound up in Harrenhal, serving Tywin and trying to glean any information she could from the papers he left scattered on his table. He paid enough attention to her to realize she could read, and even engaged her in a conversation about her father. Yet, he somehow didn’t seem suspicious of the fact that a servant, so low-born, would be quite as sharp — or interested in him.
Some fans have argued that Tywin would have had no reason to suspect that Arya Stark was even a threat to him or his family. But everything we know about the Lannisters tells us that they have a keen instinct for when they’re being manipulated, and in this moment, Tywin’s inexplicably failed him.
8. Tyrion letting Littlefinger off the hook
Petyr Baelish — aka Littlefinger — has double-crossed virtually every character on Game of Thrones at this point. And thus far, he hasn’t really had to pay the price for his deceitful ways. In some cases, that makes sense from a narrative standpoint, because the characters he’s manipulated are either dead, or haven’t figured out what he’s done to them yet. But when it comes to Tyrion Lannister, it’s a little hard to believe he wouldn’t have sought some sort of revenge for the damage Baelish did to him.
Back in Season 1, Littlefinger managed to convince Catelyn Stark that Tyrion had arranged to have her son, Bran, killed. This led to Tyrion being held and put to trial in the Eyrie, which nearly led to Tyrion’s death. We know that the imp isn’t above murder when it comes to getting revenge, but even if he wasn’t willing to have Baelish killed, it’s legitimately perplexing that he hasn’t yet sought some form of payment.
9. Melisandre’s true form
In the sixth season of Game of Thrones, Melisandre revealed her true form when she removed her necklace. She’s old — like, really old. And while this moment was eye-opening for fans, it was also pretty confusing. That’s because it wasn’t the first time we’d seen the Red Priestess without her signature choker. In Season 4, she bathed without it, and still looked as young and beautiful as ever.
There are a few somewhat reasonable explanations for this discrepancy. Maybe it’s not just the necklace that contains the glamour, or maybe she has other ways of masking her real appearance. Or, maybe the series’ creators hadn’t worked out the bit about the necklace when they shot the Season 4 scene, and it was a bit of a goof on their part.
No matter the reason, the inconsistency between the two moments did add an unexpected twist to a story that was already pretty twisty to begin with.
10. How quickly everyone is able to travel around the Seven Kingdoms
At the beginning of every Game of Thrones episode, the camera sweeps over a map of Westeros. And we’re reminded how vast George R. R. Martin’s world is. That’s part of the reason why it seems very confusing when characters are able to travel in almost no time at all.
We saw it happen with the Sand Snakes, who managed to both watch Trystane Martell’s boat depart for King’s Landing and be on the ship just moments later. In the Season 6 finale, Varys was in Dorne in one scene, and just a few scenes later, was standing right behind Dany on her ship.
Game of Thrones may be a fantasy story, but that doesn’t mean it can just randomly allow its characters to teleport with no explanation.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox
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