If you’re on the Game of Thrones bandwagon, you’re not alone. Thousands have found interest in this action-packed medieval drama and for good reason. Not only has George R.R. Martin created an incredible fantasy world, but despite that, he’s created something we can all relate to.
Sure, you might not be able to withstand fire or come back to life, but the lives that these characters live are far more relatable than you’d think for a Fantasy series. Between all the bloodshed, brothels, and brooding, Martin hides some pretty effing great life-lessons we can all learn from.
The next time you turn on Game of Thrones for some leisurely guilty-pleasure streaming, remember that you’re actually learning quite a bit about how to successfully maneuver through life. These are a few things we’ve learned so far throughout the series, and there’ll only be more to come.
*warning* some spoilers from seasons 1-6 may lie ahead
1. Don’t Sleep with Your Brother
Okay, so you may have already known this one in literal terms. However, what can really be learned from this is why you shouldn’t sleep with the wrong person. In Game of Thrones, Cersei Lannister sleeps with her handsome brother and they end up with a few kids together. While that may not seem that bad (at least not compared to all the other stuff going down on the show), karma hits them pretty hard and, well, their world gets rocked in a bad way.
2. Blood Doesn’t Necessarily Define Family
Yes, your biological siblings and parents are your family by blood but that’s not the only defining factor. You can make your own family. Think about the close friendships you’ve built over the years. Those people aren’t just some “friends” anymore, are they? Eventually, they become like family. Jon Snow knows this firsthand. And although his blood relatives will always be his family, he’s found his own brothers within the Night’s Watch. It’s a nice reminder that sometimes, you can choose who your family is.
3. “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”
Boy, did Martin hit the nail on the head with this one. As you grow up, it’s easier to brush off help and try to do everything yourself. Establishing your independence becomes really important to you. Nobody wants to seem incapable of handling their own sh*t. What Martin gets at with this quote in his first book is that it’s okay to need help. In fact, when times get tough, having help is the only way you can get through it.
4. F*** Tradition
Tradition is there for a reason. It shows you the way things should be and helps you uphold certain standards. However, sometimes it’s necessary to screw tradition and forge your own path, just like Daenerys Stormborn does in her journey to become Queen. Per tradition in the Game of Thrones universe, Kings rule and marry a woman who then becomes Queen. Well, Daenerys is saying to hell with tradition and she’s going to be a sole ruler of the seven realms. And you know what? Everyone would be better off for it. It just goes to show that the traditional way isn’t always the right way.
5. Muscle Doesn’t Always Determine Strength
Some people would argue that Martin has a certain hatred for poor Sansa Stark. From the very beginning of the series, she’s put through hell. She’s forced to watch her father die (spoiler!), she’s betrothed to a hateful little devil, has to marry the Imp, has to marry a sick-minded torturous dick-head, all before she’s even a fully grown woman.
Sansa is probably the strongest person in the entire Game of Thrones franchise and she’s a petite girl on the brink of womanhood. It just goes to prove that your strength doesn’t always come from the muscles on your body. Sometimes your strength isn’t visible at all… but it’s there.
6. Breaking Important Promises have Consequences
Let’s be real, we all feel for Robb Stark falling in love and breaking his promise to wed Walder Frey’s daughter. While the old, creepy man acted like he didn’t care, that broken promise cost Robb (and many others) something very, very valuable.
It’s important to remember that yes, some promises can be broken but other times, you can’t undo the after effects of the more important broken promises. *Sobs*
7. Focusing Too Much on the Big Picture Can be Just as Bad
Spoiler alert! You love Jon Snow. We all do. That being said, he hasn’t always made the best decisions and we have his excessive foresight to blame for that. Sure, he wants to make sure everyone has an equal chance of surviving the winter with the white walkers out there, but what he didn’t think about was how his brothers in the Night’s Watch would feel about this actions.
Planning ahead can be a great thing but if you skip over all of the stuff in between, you could make decisions with dire consequences. It’s okay to plan ahead, so long as you consider everything in the middle.
8. Staying True to Yourself is More Important than Giving in to Your Desires
For the bulk of Arya Stark’s journey in the Game of Thrones franchise, she’s in Braavos training to be “no one” in order to serve the Many-Faced Gods. Essentially, her trainer tells her she must forget herself and her entire life in order to do that, something she does willingly so she can successfully kill her enemies.
Even after extensive training, Arya just couldn’t quit being who she was. She flipped a middle finger to the Many-Faced Gods and returned to being her true self. It just goes to show that you have to remain true to who you are because it’s more important than giving in to your desires.
9. Don’t Get Cocky
Everyone should just know this point in life already but there are way too many people out there still walking around with their heads in the air, acting like they walk on water. As we learn from Oberyn, the heir of Dorne who volunteered to fight for Tyrion Lannister’s freedom, you can’t get too cocky. If you do, a Mountain might just use that opportunity to squeeze your head in until it pops. AKA, you’ll end up worse off than you could be if you remain humble and just finish the job.
10. Don’t Have Shame in Who You are
You know how wild and free the Dothraki people are. They fight and eat and have sex in front of anyone and everyone. Their culture doesn’t have shame in their ways. Although certain things should remain private, it’s a great lesson for you to be proud of who you truly are. Embrace the way you were born and have confidence in it.
11. Stand Up for What You Believe in
We’re back with the one and only Arya Stark with this life-lesson. Although Arya was only nine years old in the books when she went in front of the King, Queen, and Prince Joffrey himself and called him a liar, she had more guts than most of us do now.
12. Don’t Conform to Society if it’s Not Who You Are
This might just be the most important lesson any of us can learn in life. Martin highlighted Arya Stark as being completely the opposite of all Lord’s young daughters. Where they normally loved dresses, Arya loved swords. Where “normal” girls liked tea parties, Arya liked riding horses and being out in nature. She even told her father, “I don’t want to be a lady.”
What we can all learn from this young girl is that you shouldn’t conform just because it’s what everyone else is doing. If you have your own passions and interests, embrace them. Who knows? It might even save your life someday.
13. Sometimes Doing the Right Thing Doesn’t Always Work Out
You can be the best person out there and always do the right thing and you can still end up with the short end of the stick. Take Eddard Stark, for example. Although he doesn’t last very long in the Game of Thrones franchise, his part is crucial.
He accepts the King’s offer of becoming the King’s Hand and travels to King’s Landing to do King Robert’s bidding. While he’s there, he learns some messed up stuff that’s basically hella illegal. In his efforts to bring that news to the King and even the entire realm, he loses his head. Literally. He did the right thing. He followed all the rules and yet, he ended up with his frickin’ head on a frickin’ spike. Poor Ned.
14. Don’t Ignore Someone Who Has More Experience than You
Admit it. You tend to think you know everything every once in a while and ignore those who might know a little more. We all do this. However, it can be really bad for us if we do. Jon Snow decides to take matters into his own hands for the Battle of the Bastards and doesn’t even ask Sansa — who had been living with Ramsay Bolton (the other Bastard) and learning his ways.
Ultimately, if Sansa hadn’t taken matters into her own hands, Jon Snow would have lost that battle and they’d all be screwed. Just remember this the next time someone who has more experience and knowledge than you wants to weigh in. Ask for their help. You’ll be better off for it.
15. Respect Others Even if You Don’t Understand them
When Daenerys marries a Dothraki Khal and gets pregnant with his child, sh*t goes down. Her brother Viserys is obviously unhappy with the entire arrangement because now Daenerys is Khaleesi, and she has the power to command him.
After Viserys gets hella pissed about not having his army, he makes horrible threats that the Dothraki people take very, very seriously. But because Viserys doesn’t understand their ways, he doesn’t respect them. And when you don’t respect the ways of a Dothraki, you might just end up dead. So let that be a life lesson to you all not to disrespect others just because you don’t understand their ways yourself.
16. Don’t Climb Any Castle Walls
Now, I know Bran Stark didn’t necessarily mean to barge in on Cersei and her brother getting busy, but he did. And when you learn something that could put the entire future of a kingdom in jeopardy, you might just end up almost dead.
AKA, don’t go snooping in other people’s business because you might not always like what you find out. Mind your own and life will be easier — and better.
17. Fall in Love, But Don’t Forget to Live Your Life
It’s perfectly fine if you fall in love. In fact, fall in love as many times as you want! One thing you have to remember, however, is to maintain your own life. Stay on top of your duties. As we learn when Jon Snow falls in love with the wilding Ygritte, bad stuff happens when you neglect your life and duties due to romance. Falling in love wasn’t the mistake, but forgetting his own beliefs and duties is what got them both in a lot of trouble.
18. Don’t Let a Tragedy Keep You From Living Your Life
After Bran (accidentally) sticks his nose where it doesn’t belong, he ends up severely injured. His mother, of course, was worried sick. However, she ended up neglecting her entire life because her son was in a coma. That meant Robb, at 14 (in the books), had to take over and run Winterfell while she was sobbing at Bran’s bedside.
Of course, it’s okay to feel grief and to be in pain after a tragedy, but you can’t let that it stop you from living your life. Catelyn forgot everything, even her youngest son. And because she wasn’t taking care of things, it went completely unnoticed that the person who tried to murder her son was hiding out in the stables. Both she and Bran almost died because of her mental absence.
19. Don’t Trust Blindly
There’s one character in Game of Thrones who is particularly shady and that would be Littlefinger, AKA, Lord Petyr Baelish. Throughout the entire series, we never know what he’s truly up to and basically, he never keeps his word. He cares about himself and only himself.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of people like him out there. You really need to keep an eye out for those people. Make sure you’re only trusting those who have earned it or proved themselves to you to be worth it. Otherwise, you could end up getting hurt…or worse.
20. Don’t be a Bad Person Because Life Comes Full Circle
We all make choices in our lives. Most of the time, those choices are good and we end up with decent lives. However, for those who make bad decisions, their lives end up a little less-than-joyous. Let’s take Cersei Lannister, for example.
There’s no denying she’s one of the most evil, cunning people in the entire Game of Thrones series and she gets her way…for a while. But everything she’s done has come back to bite her right in the ass. She’s lost her children, her father, and now her brother is even plotting to take the Iron Throne right from under her. You could say Karma’s a bitch. We all know it is.