The one with the beard? Dead. The lady with the fancy title? Dead. Your favourite character? Dead, dead, double dead. Game of Thrones is ruthless in the way with which it dispenses with characters, both onscreen and on the page. But, as the fantasy series' creator George R. R. Martin explains in a Galaxy’s Edge Magazine interview, it's never gratuitous, however bloody the demise may be.
“A writer, even a fantasy writer, has an obligation to tell the truth and the truth is, as we say in Game of Thrones, all men must die,” the author told Galaxy’s Edge Magazine. “Particularly if you’re writing about war, which is certainly a central subject in Game of Thrones.”
“We’ve all read this story a million times when a bunch of heroes set out on an adventure and it’s the hero and his best friend and his girlfriend and they go through amazing hair-raising adventures and none of them die," he continued.
"The only ones who die are extras. It doesn’t happen that way. They go into battle and their best friend dies or they get horribly wounded. They lose their leg or death comes at them unexpectedly [...] Once you’ve accepted that you have to include death then you should be honest about death and indicate it can strike down anybody at any time. You don’t get to live forever just because you are a cute kid or the hero’s best friend or the hero. Sometimes the hero dies, at least in my books."
And certainly, the blood continues to be spilt in the latest season of Game of Thrones, with season six seeing a significant character being 'offed in pretty much every episode so far. Interestingly, the show hasn't lost its bloodlust despite now outpacing the source material – the next entry in the book series that covers the contents of season six was due for release back in January, but as of May 2016 Martin admitted The Winds of Winter still wasn't ready.
But working to Martin's guidelines, the show runners can't be blamed for deaths that were already predetermined by the author. And in fact, Martin doesn't even blame himself for writing them!
“I love all my characters so it’s always hard to kill them but I know it has to be done. I tend to think I don’t kill them. The other characters kill ‘em. I shift off all blame from myself.” [Galaxy’s Edge Magazine via Independent]
Image Credit: Adrian Long / Flickr