GOT Anniversary: Looking Back at a TV Show that Formed Compelling Characters and Gave us Heroes in Unlikely Characters

Game of Thrones, unarguably the most popular HBO TV series ever, which premiered on April 17, 2011, announced a month-long celebration in commemoration of the show’s 10th anniversary. The event is titled ‘The Iron Anniversary’ and it includes cast interviews and clips with access to behind-the-scenes documentaries. Game of Thrones was a massive show during its time. It brought a memorable theme song and came with fire and ice, and ended up as  HBO’s most watched show. But do we really care about the 10th anniversary of Game of Thrones after that disappointing ending? Do not get me wrong, the show gave viewers everything– great visuals, memorable battles, a lot of interesting characters, and unresolved mysteries. Fans of the show can never forget the faceless Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) who put an end to the night king, Cersei’s (Lena Headey) outstanding performance and the mother of dragons, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), among others. The show posed a lot of unanswered questions till its final episode, “The Iron Throne”– from questions concerning Bran’s abilities to the reason why the night king refused to kill Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) when he had the chance to do so and the enigma behind Daenerys’ rage at the final battle of the season finale. 

Official anniversary banner. Via HBO.

To mark the last day of the anniversary month, I would be taking a closer look into the cause of Daenerys Targaryen’s rampage during the battle at King’s Landing (has she always been ‘mad’) and Jaime Lannister, the kingslayer, who changed from being an antagonist to a hero (from my perspective). Both characters transformed into what viewers least expected —the benevolent Daenerys and her horrific turn into the scorcher of cities and Jaime’s  change from being a loathed character to one viewers can sympathize with.

Is the Iron Throne Cursed Or Are the Targaryens Really Mad? 

“I am Daenerys Stormborn of the blood of old Valyria, and I will take what is mine with fire and blood. I will take it” 

Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones
Image via HBO

Daenerys Targaryen started as an ordinary woman, merely an object to her brother, Viserys Targaryan (Harry Lloyd). He  made it clear that he would use her by any means necessary to get the Iron Throne, even if it requires a thousand men to rape her. She became one of the most powerful women in the hardest way possible. Daenerys’ desire to go back home and claim the Iron Throne with three dragons at her disposal was a journey all GOT fans looked forward to. The mother of dragons was one of the few good characters in the show– she freed slaves and punished their masters, her pious way made her trustworthy and deserving of the Iron Throne. Daenerys deemed herself a beacon of hope, someone who will bring peace to the whole of Westeros.

Daenerys’ abrupt change from hero to villain is a basis for saying “power corrupts people”. However, one can’t overlook the assumption that the Targaryen blood is tainted. Some people believe something snapped in Daenerys after she witnessed the death of almost everyone she holds dear, although people who wish to remember Daenerys as a kindhearted and heroic figure consoled themselves with her previous good deeds. No one can outrun fate, talk more of someone with a trait inherent in her lineage. The Targaryen family had a history of madness and just like an emblem that is passed from one generation to another, the Targaryens bloodline is laced with the ‘mad gene’. 

The End of the Mad Queen’s Reign
Image via HBO

At one point, one might think the Iron throne is cursed, because everyone that ascended the throne throughout the show were either mad like the Targaryens, vicious like Joffrey Lannister (Jack Gleeson) or awful like Cersei. The conspiracy behind the Iron Throne led to the death of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), and the drive for Daenerys to claim her birthright resulted in her not so happy ending. Just like her father, Aerys Targaryen (David Rintoul), the infamous mad king who threatened to burn down his kingdom and turn everything in his path to ruins, Daenerys had always shown her bloodthirsty nature which viewers overlooked because of how she had initially portrayed herself as a messiah. 

The fight for the Iron Throne didn’t turn her from being the symbol of hope to the queen of ashes. She always had it in her; a tyrannical proneness and a buried rage because no matter how benevolent she tried to be, she could never reject her bloodline. Daenerys’ rage which resulted in the death of many innocent civilians was without reason or a reason hinged on the fact that she had lost a lot to the people of King’s Landing, is inexplicable. Joffrey was crazy and Cersei was what one would call the devil’s incarnate, but none of these cold-blooded characters ever killed innocent civilians. Looking closely at Daenerys journey to King’s Landing, one could  see that she’s just as merciless and was bound to be the ‘mad queen’ even though she wanted to do things differently from her father. This series of events reminds me of R.L. Stine’s trilogy (The Betrayal, The Secret and The Burning) which tells the story of the Fier family who tried to avert the effects of a curse even to the extent of changing their family name, forgetting that a family is more than just the name it bears.  

The Infamous Kingslayer, Jaime Lannister, is just as noble as any Character in Game of Thrones

Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones
Image via HBO

Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)  had one of the best character development in Game of Thrones. A man torn between family loyalty and doing the right thing. He never really made most of his choices himself; he was devoted to his sister/lover; kind to Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), his brother; and loyal to his father, Tywin (Charles Dance). He fit perfectly into the ‘is he good or evil’ category. Here are a few reasons why Jaime Lannister was also a man of honour despite his rocky start:

  • He turned his back on Cersei to fight for the North

Jaime Lannister incestic relationship with his sister was the source of almost all his bad deeds in the show. His obsession with his sister almost destroyed him but he was able to get back on his feet and make good decisions for himself. Viewers should remember  Jaime’s will to fight against the White Walkers in the North despite Cersei’s threat, which shows he wasn’t the selfish man he used to be. He gathered that to sit out the war is to expose the South to danger, since the winning side  in the North gains the advantage to  march to the South and everything had to be done to prevent  the White Walkers.

  • Jaime’s will to carry the Kingslayer tag even though he is a true hero of Westeros

Jaime was only a traitor to the mad king but secretly a hero of Westeros. His fearless act saved Westeros from the mad king’s fury and he never disclosed this act to anyone except Brienne of Tarth even though people might have praised him for it.

  • His desire to help in Brienne’s quest to save the Stark girls

Jaime  put himself in danger to save Brienne and help her in fulfilling her promise to the  late Catelyn Stark.

As the story came to a close in its eighth season, The Kingslayer spent so much time trying to redeem himself, following his dark past in the earlier seasons. He might not be the perfect depiction of a true hero or person, but whether we like it or not, he was a man of honor. One of the show’s ace in the deck and greatest accomplishment is the character of Jaime Lannister— making viewers show compassion for the Kingslayer.

Jaime Lannister was one of the most complicated characters in Game of Thrones, from an incestuous relationship with his sister to pushing young Bran Stark off a rooftop. Moreover, his contribution to a series of villainy events in the show deterred him from conforming to expectations set by those around him, especially his sister/lover. He learned the hard way and underwent a transition as he struggled to reclaim his honour.  

Throughout the series, Daenerys was  one of the most cherished characters. As the last living Tragaryen, her quest to take over Westeros and claim her birthright on the Iron Throne is an adventure  many viewers looked forward to and hoped that she accomplished while desperately rooting for her. However, her bloodline failed her or maybe the show did, due to the way the final season was rushed. But whatever the case may be, from  my perspective, she was always a ‘mad queen’. 

These two characters started on different paths but Daenerys will always be remembered for the carnage she unleashed while Jamie will be regarded as the man who turned his back on his blood to do the right thing, a war hero. Two polar  opposites, one who gained the love of the people but lost it and one who started on a rocky path but came out victorious. I guess Game of Thrones proved to us that some monsters can be redeemed while the weight of power can turn others into an unexpected monster. 

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