At this point, Game of Thrones (or A Song of Ice and Fire to you book readers - though I’ll use GoT to refer to both) is a bonafide phenomenon. The books have sold millions of copies (published at a nigh-glacial pace, but I digress), the HBO original series is one of the highest-rated shows on TV, and parents are starting to name their kids Khaleesi. Yes, seriously. The franchise is also a quip factory, with dozens of iconic lines.
With all of that in mind, I’ve compiled a large list of over 100 GoT quotes for you to chew on. Some of these are from the books, some are from the show, and some are from both, but all are pretty awesome. Please feel free to substitute my commentary with your own.
And oh yeah...SPOILER ALERT!!!
"When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground." ~Cersei Lannister
It's kind of a grim sentiment, but it's certainly true in Westeros. In the real world, let's read it as a reminder that some goals require one to go all out, and that the richest prizes often come with a risk of failure.
"There is only one god, and his name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: ‘Not today.’" ~Syrio Forel
You can’t always win, but you can always fight. And what better battle to fight than a battle for one’s life?
"I’m not questioning your honor, Lord Janos. I’m denying its existence." ~Tyrion Lannister
Tyrion has a knack for saying what many of us can’t (but wish we could). Some people are largely without honor, and sometimes they need to be told exactly that.
"Anyone can be killed." ~Arya Stark
Getting away from the topic of death (a hard thing to do when talking GoT), we can replace "be killed" with "fall" to create a sentiment more applicable to the real world. No matter how great things are, or how invincible we feel, we’re all capable of being laid low by one circumstance or another. Living with that knowledge can make it easier to weather those moments when they come.
"There’s a beast in every man, and it stirs when you put a sword in his hand." ~Jorah Mormont
We really, REALLY love power. A weapon is power, and it is a power that can corrupt if unchecked by logic.
"He would see this country burn if he could be King of the Ashes." ~Lord Varys
The desire to win is a powerful motivator. Some people, however, are prepared to win no matter what the cost, and with no consideration of the havoc that they wreak in the process.
"And any man who must say ‘I am the king’ is no true king at all." ~Tywin Lannister
The true "top dogs" in life don't feel the need to prove it. Rather, they live their lives as if their dominance is a matter of fact. Conversely, those who need to bleat about their position may just be covering for their inadequacy.
"Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder. Many who try to climb it fail, and never get to try again — the fall breaks them. And some are given a chance to climb, but they refuse. They cling to the realm, or the gods, or love ... illusions. Only the ladder is real, the climb is all there is." ~Petyr Baelish
Or, put another way: THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! Seriously, though, there’s something to be said for momentum. Keep moving toward your goals. If you fall, pick yourself back up and get back to it.
"Nothing isn't better or worse than anything. Nothing is just nothing." ~Arya Stark
NOTE: Arya’s outlook is pretty bleak, which is understandable. That said, she isn’t wrong. Nothingness has no definite value. If it did, it wouldn’t be nothingness!
"A ruler who kills those devoted to her is not a ruler who inspires devotion." ~Tyrion Lannister
Is it better to be loved, or to be feared? I can’t really answer that, but I do know that the most effective leaders find a way to be both (as needed).
"The world is overflowing with horrible things, but they’re all a tray of cakes next to death." ~Olenna Tyrell
If you’re feeling down, or triggered, or offended, or behind the proverbial eight ball, take solace in this: you’re still alive. And if you’re alive, you have the chance (however slim it may seem) to change your situation.
"A lion doesn’t concern himself with the opinions of a sheep." ~Tywin Lannister
The concept that Tywin is getting at here is one that appears throughout our history: might makes right. If the "sheep" decide to join together, though, the pendulum of power can swing very quickly.
"You love your children. It’s your one redeeming quality. That, and your cheekbones." ~Tyrion Lannister
TV Tyrion and book Tyrion share a hatred of Cersei. Still, due to his core of integrity, Tyrion can’t help but give credit where credit is due.
"This is not the day I die." ~Oberyn Martell
Going along with Syrio’s quote further up, Oberyn recognizes the power of human will. Granted, it didn’t work out terribly well for him (or Syrio, come to that), but the fact remains that if you can stand, you can fight.
"The next time you raise a hand to me will be the last time you have hands." ~Daenerys Targaryen
There’s only one real meaning to this quote: don’t threaten the mother of dragons. It is a phenomenally bad idea.
"Explain to me why it is more noble to kill ten thousand men in battle than a dozen at dinner." ~Tywin Lannister
Death is death, and murder is murder. Tywin’s argument is that there isn’t a fundamental difference; people are dying either way. The concept of "nobility" merely helps the killers better cope with their actions.
"We don't get to choose whom we love." ~Jaime Lannister
*sigh* Yeah, pretty much. Though, y’know, you may want to avoid courting a blood relative. Just a suggestion.
"People work together when it suits them. They’re loyal when it suits them. They love each other when it suits them, and they kill each other when it suits them." ~Orell
Humans are subject to many urges, some potentially harmful. One of those urges concerns opportunism, meaning that some people will forsake integrity in favor of gain. Don’t be one of those people!
"Death is so final. Yet life is full of possibilities." ~Tyrion Lannister
Yep, that’s as true a statement as you’re likely to find (at least in this article). Our lives are finite, but they’re generally long. The best way to stave off fear of death is to get out there and live.
"It doesn't matter what we want. Once we get it, then we want something else." ~Petyr Baelish
This is sadly true, particularly in a capitalistic society. That said, the "something else" doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary in nature. If you earn a degree, for example, you may want to parlay it into a solid career. Err on the side of personal improvement, rather than the side of calloused opportunism, and you should be set.
"That’s what I do. I drink and I know things." ~Tyrion Lannister
He does and he does! Not much left to say, but pass me some wine.
"Tears aren’t a woman’s only weapon. The best one is between your legs." ~Cersei Lannister
If you need an explanation for this one, then you are not from this planet. This has been true from the beginning of time, and I have a feeling that it will continue to be true…forever.
"Angry snakes lash out; makes chopping off their heads a lot easier." ~Daenerys Targaryen
If you’re angry, justified or no, there are many reasons why blindly lashing out is a losing proposition. In my experience, it’s much more beneficial to take a breath, clear one’s head, and approach a resolution from a foundation of logic.
"It’s not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy." ~Tyrion Lannister
One has to wonder what Tyrion’s liver looks like. I’m thinking it might be an actual sponge. But he’s telling the truth. Being drunk all the time and actually functioning as a human being? Super duper hard.
"I don't believe in saviors- I believe men of talent have a part to play in the wars to come." ~Lord Varys
Waiting on a savior in everyday life is an inefficient tactic, and occasionally a losing one. Drive and determination, rather, present a higher likelihood of reaching your goals (which hopefully have little to do with actual warfare).
"Everything's better with some wine in the belly." ~Tyrion Lannister
I cannot disagree with this statement, though most men would probably replace "wine" with "beer."
"Woman? Is that meant to insult me? I would return the slap, if I took you for a man." ~Daenerys Targaryen
There isn’t a moral here to speak of, just a heaping helping of shade thrown by mama Khaleesi. And, frankly, that’s good enough for me.
"The singers make much of kings who die valiantly in battle, but your life is worth more than a song." ~Catelyn Stark
Getting into the history books is great, but that accomplishment is much sweeter when you’re alive to enjoy it. Plus, if one weighs the options, a life lived offers way more opportunities for greatness than a life snuffed out before its time (however "nobly").
"Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you." ~Tyrion Lannister
Though the quote refers to physical maladies, or social stigmas, the sentiment is more broadly applicable. Whoever you are, and whatever you do (within reason), own who and what you are. When you do, it is much harder to be shamed for it.
"Power resides where men believe it resides. No more and no less." ~Lord Varys
The pursuit of power is at the heart of the human condition, and power is the catalyst at the heart of most key points in our history. It is important to realize, however, that power is fueled by belief, and that the powerful would be nothing without us.
"There’s no shame in fear, my father told me, what matters is how we face it." ~Jon Snow
This one is pretty self-explanatory. We all experience fear, and we're all capable of rising above it or being paralyzed by it. The choice is ours.
"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." ~Ned Stark
No man/woman is an island, and not every problem can be solved alone. When the going gets tough, and things look bleakest, the support of your "pack" can help you to weather any storm.
"There are no men like me. There's only me." ~Jaime Lannister
This quote could certainly be seen as cocky, but it also delivers a strong lesson: we're all different. We all have a capacity for greatness, and there are nigh-infinite paths toward that greatness.
"Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died." ~Jorah Mormont
Being noble is great, and having principles is even better. Sometimes, though, the victory goes to one who has no sense of either.
"By what right does the wolf judge the lion?" ~Jaime Lannister
Sure, Jaime has done his fair share of dirt. But Ned wasn’t the most innocent man in the world. Or at least that’s what we were supposed to think, until the scene in the tower, when we learn Jon Snow’s true origin. Clearly nobody should be throwing stones when they live in glass houses.
"You know nothing, Jon Snow." ~Ygritte
Mainly including this so I don't provoke the ire of the Internet, but it happens to present a good concept. We all like to think of ourselves as masters of our own lives, but it doesn't hurt to realize that we don't know everything.
"First lesson: stick them with the pointy end." ~Jon Snow
If you want to blame someone for Arya's body count to this point, blame Jon. Without this advice, maybe Arya would have just hit people with sticks instead of becoming a pint-sized assassin.
"Oak and iron guard me well, or else I'm dead and doomed to hell." ~Ser Duncan the Tall
This is here because it rhymes, features a little-known GoT character, and stands as a pretty logical prayer to utter when heading into battle.
"There is a tool for every task, and a task for every tool." ~Tywin Lannister
Very little in life is fundamentally useless, including talent. Find your niche, explore it, and excel in it. Some endeavors may require a bit more work than others, so shape yourself into the perfect tool for the task, so to speak.
"We're children. We're supposed to be childish." ~Myrcella Baratheon
Kids grow up pretty quickly these days. Heck, they always have, regardless of era. No need to hurry them along (unless they're, like, 37 and still drinking straight from the milk carton).
"There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man." ~Lord Varys
In a world of temptations, exploitation, and occasional depravity, it takes strength to maintain one's integrity and sense of fair play. One who cannot be corrupted is one who cannot be controlled.
"Laws are a tedious business and counting coppers is worse." ~Robert Baratheon
Filed to: necessary drudgery. Unless you're one of those people who loves balancing accounts, in which case you have my blessing.
"Whatever you do, make certain your hands are clean." ~Petyr Baelish
I've been advised by two separate attorneys (and one guy in a nice suit) not to advocate fraud, so we'll just move on.
"Valor is a poor substitute for numbers." ~Doran Martell
Even the bravest of warriors (usually of the keyboard variety nowadays) need to pick their battles. You can't win them all, particularly if it isn't going to be a fair fight.
"The people are hungry for more than just food. They crave distractions. And if we don't provide them, they'll create their own. And their distractions are likely to end with us being torn to pieces." ~Olenna Tyrell
We sure do love our bread and circuses, and many of us live our lives in nigh-perpetual states of distraction. Case in point: you’re probably reading this on a smart phone. Distraction is a constant pursuit, but imagine what we could accomplish if we more consistently engaged with reality!
"Do you have any notion what happens when a city is sacked, Sansa? No, you wouldn’t, would you? All you know of life you learned from singers, and there is such a dearth of good sacking songs." ~Cersei Lannister
Conflict is rarely smooth, and the stories thereafter often neglect the ugly details. In this instance, Cersei is telling Sansa to forget fantasy and embrace reality, as said reality will arrive sooner rather than later.
"There are no true knights, no more than there are gods. If you can't protect yourself, die and get out of the way of those who can. Sharp steel and strong arms rule this world, don't ever believe any different." ~Sandor Clegane
The quest for justice is a noble and occasionally fruitful one. During the times when the concept of justice seems impossible to realize, personal resilience serves as a potent offense/defense.
"Why is it always the innocents who suffer most, when you high lords play your game of thrones?" ~Lord Varys
The game of thrones is a bloody one, and the pieces are controlled from afar, by powerful people who have placed themselves above the fray. That detachment, combined with ruthlessness, rarely results in a great outcome for the general population.
"You tell him this, m'lord. You tell him he's bound on marching the wrong way. It's north he should be taking his swords. North, not south. You hear me?" ~Osha
I don't expect many (or any) of you to be marching into battle any time soon, so I'll just say this: sometimes the battle we're determined to fight isn't the battle that we should fight. Sometimes the bigger concern is located "down the road" a bit.
"Winter is Coming." ~House Stark
Yes, it is. Seriously. It's October.
"My mind is my weapon. My brother has his sword, King Robert has his warhammer, and I have my mind... and a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge." ~Tyrion Lannister
The brain, much like a muscle, can atrophy if not properly and frequently exercised. So, if you're a fan of the HBO show, give the books a shot!
"What is dead may never die." ~Drowned Men
But rises again, harder and stronger. I guess that’s easy to say when you are part of a religion that practices drowning fellow followers…and then reviving them. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’d prefer to not take my chances with the Drowned Gods, thank you very much.
"Men live their lives trapped in an eternal present, between the mists of memory and the sea of shadow that is all we know of the days to come." ~George R.R. Martin
Well, I don’t know about "trapped," but we’re certainly resigned to a perpetual present. Memories fade, and the end game is generally unknown in a spiritual sense, but the active present is a constant throughout life. If we’re living for the moment philosophically, we may as well live for the moment literally.
"Some battles are won with swords and spears, others with quills and ravens." ~Tywin Lannister
There's more than one way to come out on top, and sometimes the swipe of a pen can best a thousand armies.
"The more people you love, the weaker you are." ~Cersei Lannister
If you love someone, then it’s easy for your enemies to use that person to manipulate you. When you don’t love someone, and that person is taken as a hostage or threats are made on that person’s life, you feel no need to break down and do things you’d rather not do…because you really don’t care if that person lives or dies. I suppose there is an advantage to being heartless.
"You cannot eat love, nor buy a horse with it, nor warm your halls on a cold night." ~Tywin Lannister
Ideals and fancies will keep you moving, but they won't necessarily keep you living. Temper your dreams with recognition of life's realities, and fit them into the daily grind of survival any way you can.
"Words are wind." ~Tyrion Lannister
Well-intended words can be taken badly, and horrible words can hurt. What truly matters, however, are the deeds attached to those words. As such, it can be beneficial to ignore the bleatings of idiots, and it is absolutely essential to back your words up with the appropriate actions.
"Kill the boy, Jon Snow. Winter is almost upon us. Kill the boy and let the man be born." ~Maester Aemon
At some random, indeterminate point, we all need to "grow up." When that time comes, face it with conviction and pride, and comfort yourself with the knowledge that personal evolution is rarely a bad thing.
"No man is free. Only children and fools think elsewise." ~Tywin Lannister
"Freedom" is a relative thing. We all enjoy at least a measure of freedom, if only in our heads. That said, most of us serve various masters, and we're all on the same trajectory in the end. Knowing one's limitations can be intimidating, but it can also be comforting.
"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one." ~Jojen Reed
NOTE: Don't ever, EVER, let anyone tell you that a literature degree is a "waste of time." Reading teaches you to read not only texts, but also people, situations, and entire institutions. Those who read are generally able to understand the world around them to a greater extent, and those who read about different sides to a given topic are better able to speak to that topic.
"King Jaehaerys once told me that madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin. Every time a new Targaryen is born, he said, the gods toss the coin in the air, and the world holds its breath to see how it will land." ~Ser Barristan Selmy
What else is there to say? Targaryens be crazy! For our purposes, though, let's just say that madness can lead to greatness and vice versa. One needs to strike a balance between the two to avoid being consumed by either.
"It all goes back and back, to our mothers and fathers and theirs before them. We are puppets dancing on the strings of those who came before us, and one day our own children will take up our strings and dance in our steads." ~Tyrion Lannister
It can be damned hard to escape one's heritage, with all the secondhand perspectives, biases, and hatreds that it can instill. Though it is hard, it is not impossible. Above all else, be you.
"Joffrey, when your enemies defy you, you must serve them steel and fire. When they go to their knees, however, you must help them back to their feet. Elsewise no man will ever bend the knee to you." ~Tywin Lannister
Know when to be stern and know when to relent. Some people need a bit of assistance to reach their full potential, and investing a little effort into helping them to their feet can pay dividends in time.
"In the game of thrones, even the humblest pieces can have wills of their own. Sometimes they refuse to make the moves you've planned for them." ~Petyr Baelish
Plans are all well and good, but life has a way of throwing metaphorical "monkey wrenches" into even the best-laid plans. Free will is the ultimate wild card, and thus it is impossible to predict what people will ultimately do.
"The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword." ~Ned Stark
It’s easy to sentence a man to death when your hands don’t have to get bloody. But when you have to be the one to swing the sword, you will (hopefully) think longer and harder about who really deserves life or death. I will always remember this as one of the first life lessons taught on Game of Thrones.
"When a dog goes bad, the fault lies with his master." ~Kevan Lannister
When it comes to parenthood, you get what you put in. Though free will is a variable, you can't go wrong with teaching your children how to be decent people. This can also apply to employer/employee relationships. And, of course, dogs! Cats, on the other hand...I don’t think their masters stand a chance...
"Fear cuts deeper than swords." ~Arya Stark
A sword can kill you once. Fear can paralyze you, hinder your understanding, stymie your dreams, and turn you into a dead (wo)man walking.
"Always keep your foes confused. If they are never certain who you are or what you want, they cannot know what you are like to do next." ~Petyr Baelish
Play your cards close to your vest, listen before speaking, and gather your resources all the while. When the time comes to act, you'll be in a better position to see your plans through.
"War makes monsters of us all." ~Thoros of Myr
Ain't that the truth? Not too much left to say.
"Laughter is poison to fear." ~Catelyn Stark
Fear paralyzes, while laughter liberates. Even in times of severe stress, having a good belly laugh can clear your head and help you navigate through any storms on the horizon.
"The more you give a king, the more he wants." ~Jon Snow
Part of the human condition (as a whole - I’m sure you’re cool) is a relentless need for more. More toys, more money, more attention, etc. Add power to the equation, and you suddenly have a human with the ability to feed that need more or less unchecked.
"All rulers are either butchers or meat." ~Daario Naharis
It was very cute of Dani to want to be a completely nonviolent queen. But this is the game of thrones. Kill or be killed. If you don’t show them who’s boss, you’re likely to end up being snuffed out.
"A ruler who hides behind paid executioners soon forgets what death is." ~Ned Stark
Let’s take this grim statement and apply it to the 9-to-5 world: if you’re a manager, be the sort of manager who knows how to change the toner cartridge in the copier, not the one who thinks that changing the toner cartridge is beneath them.
"Old stories are like old friends, she used to say. You have to visit them from time to time." ~Bran Stark
Old stories exist for a reason, namely that they’re powerful and/or entertaining enough to resonate beyond their period of origin. Revisit them, pass them on, and keep the storytelling tradition alive. Some of the best life lessons you’ll ever learn come from stories that are ten times older than you.
"The greatest fools are ofttimes more clever than the men who laugh at them." ~Tywin Lannister
It’s easy to laugh, to mock, to deride. It takes a lot more insight to reliably make someone laugh, as one must play to an audience’s desires, fears, and/or insecurities.
"Everyone wants something, Alayne. And when you know what a man wants you know who he is, and how to move him." ~Petyr Baelish
Desire is a powerful thing, and many people will pursue that which they desire with reckless abandon. As Lord Baelish knows, desire is a powerful motivator. Just, y’know, don’t take it to GoT-level extremes.
"One voice may speak you false, but in many there is always truth to be found." ~Daenerys Targaryen
If one person criticizes you, it could be seen as unfair. If many people are voicing the same criticism, though, then there may be something to it.
"History is a wheel, for the nature of man is fundamentally unchanging." ~Rodrik the Reader
This is largely true, IMO, though not to a fatalistic degree. While we tend to be short-sighted, as well as relentlessly opportunistic, we also have a demonstrated capacity for greatness. Thus, the "wheel" of history can and does change shape, albeit in subtle ways.
"Shame. Shame. Shame." ~Septa Unella
Who can forget the walk of atonement? Even if you weren’t completely naked and covered in poop, having to walk through a city with someone following behind you ringing a bell and repeating, "Shame," would still be a traumatizing experience. Cersei really needs therapy, but I suppose wine and murder will have to do for now…
"We all need to be mocked from time to time, Lord Mormont, lest we start to take ourselves too seriously." ~Tyrion Lannister
Life is a bit of a farce, when you think about it. We're born, we toil, and we eventually die, with no guarantee as to an ultimate point or purpose for it all. Faced with that reality, it helps to realize (and luxuriate in) our own insignificance from time to time. OR, to put it glibly, take a pie to the face every now and then. Yes, literally.
"Knowledge is a weapon, Jon. Arm yourself well before you ride forth to battle." ~Maester Aemon
Bottomline, if you know what you’re talking about, or understand the full breadth of a problem, you’re in a better position to speak to and/or solve that problem. Ignorance helps no one, while knowledge can benefit all.
"Every man should lose a battle in his youth, so he does not lose a war when he is old." ~Victarion Greyjoy
Simply put, screwing things up builds character. When we err, we ideally learn how to avoid such errors in the future.
"You could make a poultice out of mud to cool a fever. You could plant seeds in mud and grow a crop to feed your children. Mud would nourish you, where fire would only consume you, but fools and children and young girls would choose fire every time." ~George R.R. Martin
Danger is fundamentally attractive, be it in the form of social taboos, risks, or whim-driven action. But, y’know...it’s still danger. Stability may seem more mundane, but it is far more conducive to a long and happy life.
"All men must die, but we are not men." ~Daenerys Targaryen
She and her right-hand lady are safe. And her pets are dragons. Obviously, that means they’re exempt from this whole "dying" notion. Okay, that’s if you interpret her literally. But we all know that Dani is not just your average chick. This sassy firestarter does seem to be pretty immortal. Now that I think about it, there are tons of super powerful women on this show. As the great philosopher Beyonce so eloquently put it, “Who run the world? Girls!”
"He was always clever, even as a boy, but it is one thing to be clever and another to be wise." ~Catelyn Stark
To paraphrase an old proverb: "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is knowing not to use it in a fruit salad."
"So many vows...they make you swear and swear. Defend the king. Obey the king. Keep his secrets. Do his bidding. Your life for his. But obey your father. Love your sister. Protect the innocent. Defend the weak. Respect the gods. Obey the laws. It's too much. No matter what you do, you’re forsaking one vow or the other." ~Jaime Lannister
Life is full of contradictions. The best we can do is get through it while harming as few people as possible, and being the best people that we can be.
"Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you." ~Tyrion Lannister
If you’re a fan of rap (and perhaps even if you’re not), then you know that Eminem has rapped about almost anything and everything that has happened in his life…good or bad. That’s one of the reasons why competing rappers find it so difficult to diss him: he has already used all of their potential material to diss himself! Once you have recognized all that you are, whether you like it or not, then nobody will be able to take advantage of your weaknesses.
"All men are fools, if truth be told, but the ones in motley are more amusing than the ones with crowns." ~Olenna Tyrell
At least the fool in motley knows that he’s a fool. Sometimes, the biggest fools are the ones who ought to command the most respect. Oooh, don’t get me started...
"In the world as I have seen it, no man grows rich by kindness." ~Jorah Mormont
We’re a capitalist society, for better or worse (I leave that determination to you). While it isn’t impossible to grow rich without exploitation, it is demonstrably harder than amassing riches unchecked by sentimentality.
"You should have learned by now, none of us get the things we want." ~Cersei Lannister
This isn’t an entirely true statement, but it touches on an important idea: an ideal is nice, but the reality sometimes falls short. And it bears mentioning that Cersei’s misfortunes come as a direct result of her actions, which tend to range from uncouth to reprehensible. There’s something to be said for karma.
"Men of honor will do things for their children that they would never consider doing for themselves." ~Petyr Baelish
Any parent knows that opinions on parenting mean absolutely nothing until you’re in the reality of being a parent. While it’s great to say "My child will adhere to a strict, healthy diet," an afternoon of screaming may have you sprinting toward your nearest McDonald's in pursuit of chicken nuggets.
"Tyrion says that people often claim to hunger for truth, but seldom like the taste when it’s served up." ~Jaime Lannister
We tend to prefer truths we can handle to truths that we find inconvenient. If you’re looking for the truth, be ready to square with it, regardless of how distressing or surprising it may be.
"All men must die, Jon Snow. But first we’ll live." ~Ygritte
This sentiment crops up in GoT quite regularly. It’s a bit of a recurring theme. Still, though, it serves as great reinforcement of the idea that our memory is defined by the lives we’ve lead.
"A fair bargain leaves both sides unhappy, I’ve heard it said." ~Jon Snow
Eh, this is a great saying, but I’m not totally convinced. I’ve found that the people who would be unhappy with a fair deal are the sorts of people you don’t want to be dealing with in the first place.
"The gods are seldom good, Jon Snow." ~Tormund Giantsbane
Without going whole hog into metaphysics, the very nature of gods is that they operate on a different level than humans. Theoretically, "good" and "evil" have little use to a god, as they’re human constructs (as well as coping mechanisms, but I digress). Tormund is reminding Jon that, for good or ill, the gods will do as they wish.
"Power resides where men believe it resides. It’s a trick, a shadow on the wall. And a very small man can cast a very large shadow." ~Lord Varys
Of course, Tyrion is a small man. But it’s in physical size only. Mentally, he’s easily one of the biggest men in the game. Although he has never been directly in a position of extreme power, like a king or a queen, he has always had a way of influencing the right people at the right times.
"A good act does not wash out the bad, nor a bad act the good. Each should have its own reward." ~Stannis Baratheon
The keystone of integrity is accountability. Someone who owns their successes as well as their failures is someone who can be relied upon, and that’s as good as gold in many situations.
"Small men curse what they cannot understand." ~Melisandre
This statement, right here, lies at the heart of all of our mistakes as a species. Understanding is a part of life, while fear/unjustified suspicion is a slow but steady march toward stagnation.
"I swear to you, I was never so alive as when I was winning this throne, or so dead as now that I've won it." ~Robert Baratheon
There’s a certain rush that comes from succeeding at a monumentally difficult task. For some, the completion of said task leaves a cavity, a pit in which purpose and urgency once resided. For these people, the best bet is to find a new challenge. I’d suggest, say, a fitness regimen, though. Don’t go trying to conquer kingdoms. Too much work, too little reward.
"Unbowed. Unbent. Unbroken." ~House Martell
The Martells are nothing if not proud. Still, certain members of the family (I’m looking at you, Oberyn) might have wanted to bend ever so slightly, as it is abundantly clear that Martells CAN be broken.
"Hear Me Roar!" ~House Lannister
Interesting words from a house known for being masters of the long game. There isn’t much roaring in the Lannister house; loud proclamations are no substitute for superb execution of strategy, a fact that most of the Lannisters know well.
"There is no cure for being a cunt." ~Bronn
Well…uh…you get it. I’m sure you know people who are jerks for no reason. (If you don’t, then that person just might be you!) And there’s nothing you can do or say to change that. We’ve certainly got our fair share of schmucks on Game of Thrones!
"Family, Duty, Honor." ~House Tully
While these sentiments seem to be detrimental in Westeros, they’re worth internalizing in the real world. Despite what George R.R. Martin tells you, these three words do not always lead to ruin. Rather, they can lead to profound fulfillment and contentedness.
"The world is one great web, and a man dare not touch a single strand lest all the others tremble." ~Illyrio Mopatis
Actions have consequences, and what seems like an innocuous act at the time can affect repercussions for years, if not generations, to come.
"A Lannister always pays his debts." ~House Lannister
And how! Just ask the Starks, what few remain.
"The night is dark, and full of terrors." ~Melisandre
The night most certainly CAN be full of terrors, but those terrors can be overcome. Unless they’re secret invisible demon babies. We’re not quite sure how to overcome those…
"Valar morghulis." ~ Braavosi Greeting
Yes, all men must die. I think that Mr. Martin has made that abundantly clear across five books and six seasons of television.
"Valar dohaeris." ~ Braavosi Greeting
All of us must serve, in one form or another. How (and whom) we choose to serve determines how tolerable that servitude is.
"The most insidious thing about bondage was how easy it was to grow accustomed to it." ~Tyrion Lannister
Have you ever been "stuck in a rut?" If so, then you know how difficult it can be to get out of one. There’s a certain comfort in the consistency of a rut. Make no mistake, though: living in a rut is little more than self-imposed bondage. We can’t change everything around us, but we can find happiness in the aspects of life that we CAN change.
"How much can a crown be worth, when a crow can dine upon a king?" ~Jaime Lannister
From the richest king to the lowliest beggar, we are all marching along the same general trajectory. Sometimes it pays to realize that our trophies, toys, and riches will not prevent us from reaching our predetermined end. Such things make great life enhancers, but are not substitutes for a full life itself.
"On the gallows tree, all men are brothers." ~Brienne of Tarth
Along the lines of the quote above, nobility has little meaning in death. While that may seem like a bleak sentiment, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Acceptance of that fact can lead to a greater value of one’s own life, with all of its treasures and tribulations.
In the beginning of the series, this was almost comical. But George R. R. Martin had to go and change it up on us. Now we’ll forever have to fight back the urge to weep whenever we hear someone say, "Hold the door!" *sniffle*
"If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention." ~Ramsay Bolton
It seems like George R. R. Martin was speaking to us through this villain. This one line could probably apply to every episode of every season of Game of Thrones. Don’t get attached to any characters because, chances are, he or she is going to die.
There are many, many, MANY more cool GoT lines to be found, throughout the books and the HBO series. If you haven’t read the books, give them a shot! If you’ve read the books, but haven’t seen the show, try that out! If you’ve read and/or seen neither...how did you get here?