Three Reasons Why Game of Thrones is Overrated

Game of Thrones is Overrated

Game of Thrones is Overrated

Everyone’s jumped on the Game of Thrones bandwagon these days. It’s a geek’s dream come true because we finally have a serious attempt at transforming a well known fantasy series into a watchable TV show. Most shows end up doing a horrible job like the terrible “Legend of the Seeker” based on the Sword of Truth books. This is a trend. TV shows usually end up mauling the source material. So when geeks see a classy production closely following the Song of Ice and Fire book series, they go overboard praising it. And they’re right to do so. HBO makes awesome shows and it’s clear they’ve done Game of Thrones with a lot of love and respect for the source material.

Unfortunately none of that can make up for the shortcomings of the series itself. Warning: I’m not shy of giving away lots of spoilers, so read this at your own risk and peril. So here’s why the entire story line of Game of Thrones (Song of Ice and Fire) sucks hard.

Good Guys ALWAYS Lose

I keep hearing how this series is a “breath of fresh air” where Martin isn’t afraid to kill off his main characters and that in “real life”, the good guys don’t always win etc etc. This is true. In real life, the bad guys win some and the good guys win some. Except that in Martin’s world, the good guys never win. Character after character bites the dust without gaining a victory. Ned, Robb, Catelyn, Bran…they all get shitty deals. All of them without exception betrayed. Even our darling Arya gets royally screwed.

And the baddies? While some shit happens to them, they’re essentially self goals. Joffrey gets his comeuppance not at the hands of any hero, but from within his own side. Cersei self destructs. Tywin gets it in the gut from his own son. In other words, revenge is tragically missing from the entire Game of Thrones series. All the good guys (and wolves too!) die horrible and humiliating deaths and the bad guys essentially slip down some stairs and break their neck. Like I said in “real life”, both goodies and baddies will have victories. But Martin is just a sadist.

I get the feeling that whenever Martin feels like his plot is losing its way or is in danger of being resolved, he just sits down and thinks “Hmm..this can’t happen. Let’s kill someone!” In other words, he uses the death of his characters as a substitute for plot development and for sheer shock value hoping that others will laud him for being “gritty” and “real”.

No New Engaging Characters

I wouldn’t mind Martin polishing off his characters if he comes up with new ones at the same rate with which they exit the stage. But he doesn’t. Instead, he gives us lame creatures like Davos who no one really cares for. And then he kills him too! So who the hell is left? Brienne?

So while the initial books were riveting for the sole reason that tragedy and betrayal abound, Martin pays the price for his carelessness by not having a plot to carry the story forward. No wonder he took five years to come out with “Dance with Dragons” and openly admitted that he was working on other stuff in the meantime. He didn’t know what to do with the story! He’d killed off or crippled every single person of interest to us on Westeros so what more was left?

Moral of the story: Don’t be so casual with your main characters. We were emotionally invested in them and you chose a single big payoff by disposing of them at the cost of future story lines. Congratulations. You now have colorless remains. I haven’t even bothered to pick up Dance with Dragons because I saw nothing in the previous book to interest me further. My wife started reading it, and gave up halfway. Too boring. Did anyone expect differently? When your main characters are missing it’s like trying to squeeze water out of a rock.

It’s not Real Fantasy

At the most, we can say that the series has a passing acquaintance with magic elements. A couple of dragon scenes and veiled references to “walkers” do not a fantasy make. I initially picked this up because I was told it was one of the best fantasy writings ever. The truth however is that it’s basically fictional history. The fantasy elements are kept down to a minimum or are even non existent. I felt pretty cheated.

So much potential. All wasted by lazy storytelling. The solution to the current hysteria is to have more good fantasy novels converted into TV series with the same attention to detail and production quality that HBO is showing the with Song of Ice and Fire series. Only then will we get a sense of perspective and finally stop mooning over Game of Thrones simply because it’s all we have to look forward to at the moment.

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  1. stevewhocaresnot says:

    Omg why are you people going so crazy over a show hat is so bang average its annoying as hell.
    Lots of talking that has led nowhere half the team, none of the characters have a decent arc,
    alot episodes there is no cliff hanger to make you want to watch another.
    it seems that everyone is in a different part of this dull world and will never meet.
    my girlfriend is hooked and I keep fslling asleep cos upto now season 3 episode 7 its been mostly different people riding different places, a fair bit of sex when the plot grinds to a halt.
    the dwarf is the only one worth watching and he is starting to bore me.
    Charles dance looks decidedly over qualified for the gig.
    and dont tell me the little stark girl will grow up to avenge her father?!
    You can see it coming from a mile off and yet it will take them 7 seasons to get there!
    Great shows kill off great characters without fear and this show doesnt.yaaaawn!!


    • In reply to stevewhocaresnot

      I think people just mostly love the idea of it. There aren’t any good fantasy shows for TV. Game of Thrones is really the first mainstream attempt to do so. I watched a little and couldn’t be bothered to watch more than a few episodes. Gore and sex don’t make a series good. The dialogue is laughable at times (I mean, were they really dropping f-bombs during medieval times/middle age?). There are far too many characters shown onscreen that no one is invested in and most are one-dimensional. I feel like most people would rather focus on the compelling character the show does have.

      There is also seemingly no real plot. Perhaps that is the point, to just show people interacting. I do not know, but I won’t keep watching to find out. I’ll just stick with rewatching the Lord of the Rings. I understand the appeal of Game of Thrones and appreciate what it has done to advance the fantasy genre. The acting has been rightly praised and the production value has high quality. But I just don’t personally enjoy watching it.


      • Mathias Baudtler says:

        In reply to Kel

        I’d just like to point out, whilst I totally agree that Game of Thrones is overrated bullshit –

        That yes. They did say “Fuck” a lot in the middle ages.. A LOT, actually.
        It’s even in old books. :) It’s an old word. We’ve used it for hundreds and hundreds of years.
        What else were they supposed to say when cursing? They spoke english, after all.

        But yea. No plot, and the constant killing of characters makes it boring – You just sort of go “Oh come on.. Not this bullshit again.”
        Martin has nothing new to add. He’s a one trick pony. The first time someone important died, Ned Stark played by Sean Bean, everyone went off in a rampage – So new! So exciting! Never seen before! (Let’s just add that Sean Bean dies in at least 75% of all his roles) – But that’s all Martin can do. He kills his characters. Good job, you fat old fuck.


    • In reply to stevewhocaresnot

      I also find it overrated. It’s not bad, but it’s not one of the greatest shows of all time. Not even close. It’s basically a soap opera, just a fantasy soap opera.


  2. Old article, but couldn’t agree more.

    In real life, things go both ways. In ASoIaF, Martin is almost sadistically committed to not allowing the ‘good guys’ a single meaningful victory, ever.

    The closest thing to a heroic character still going in the series is Daenerys, and it takes only a brief look at various fansites and forums to see that a lot of people hate Daenerys as much as any of the more clearly villainous characters. Here’s a girl with a sense of entitlement as big as her brother’s ever was, claiming the Iron Throne is hers ‘by birthright,’ illustrating with that very claim that she knows absolutely nothing about the kingdom she claims is hers. On a personal level she’s the only real Mary Sue in the series, and yet she makes one incredibly stupid decision after another that never really come back to bite her in the same way stupid decisions haunt (and kill) more more realistic and likable characters.

    Honestly, I intend to finish reading the series (and watching the show), but I sort of gave up on getting any decent ending out of it as it becoming clear that Dany sweeping over the seven kingdoms with her dragons was the only payoff we can expect – the entitled brat gets her kingdom, everyone else gets screwed.

    When the magical fairy princess who was one of the few poorly-written characters from the beginning (there are a lot now, since the better characters have been killed off and their replacements are stilted) is clearly going to get better treatment from the author than scores of characters we actually invested in, what point is there, really? Martin is often cited as dark, gritty, ‘real’ – and yet in the end it seems to be headed toward becoming one of the more egregious examples of ‘boy’s (girl’s, in this case) own adventure’ fantasy.


  3. It would have been much better if they would have created a sequel based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings instead of this crap. That book was made with a passion that has lasted for decades. These books are just made to be put on screen and monetized. That is why they use this dirty technique, making you love or hate characters, then killing them so you can watch the next episode, waiting for the good ones to succeed and the bad ones to pay for their actions. And they keep doing this until, like you said, all is left is a dry stone. No story, no followable characters, nothing. People think there’s something behind all the chaos and the empty, broken into thousand pieces story, something that will astonish everybody when presented. But there isn’t. They will play this until everybody gets the trick and leaves it for something better.


  4. CharlieAR says:

    Here is a little test to try out. Listen to GoT, but don’t watch it. Sit in the other room from the TV or something. If you are not already in tune with the series, it’s rather poor in the dialogue department. You wouldn’t have much of a clue as to what’s going on. It also seems simplistic or crude by turns.
    It can’t seem to go an episode without someone screaming in agony. Who, I have no idea because the dialogue is a vacuum.

    Way back in time there was a Sci-Fi series called Babylon 5. It had a slew of different races of people with different belief systems and rules of conduct. It also had some interaction via dialogue to carry it along and dozens of characters to follow.

    For now I have enjoyed “Justified” and could not wait the week in between episodes. The writing was excellent and the exchanges eloquent considering more than half the characters are low life criminal white trash. Breaking Bad was one I avoided for a year or two because the trailers made me think it glorifies drug dealers but once I took a chance on it I was hooked. So off the wall and yet sinister, plus the characters developed over time. I get none of that from GoT. It’s like medieval rough porn, if that’s your thing.


  5. It’s remarkable how infrequent the articles or opinions are, that I’m able to find, which stipulate that GoT’s problems are rooted in the source material. Most blame the TV show for deviating from the plot of the books, but few recognize that the books are nothing to boast about.

    GoT, as a story, doesn’t really measure up on any level. All the great works of literature contain at least one of the following.
    1) breaking new ground in their genre.
    2) offering some meaningful insight or allegory into the human condition.
    3) providing a plot so original and engaging as to last (basically) for ever.

    GoT falls completely flat on all three counts. 1 and 2 I think are totally self evident and require no additional exposition. 3 is obviously entirely subjective, but I’m hard pressed to even imagine what an argument would sound like for GoT’s originality, and as to “engagement” I think Tyrion spoke for all of us towards the end of season 4 when he called “Martin” a mentally defective adolescent that just wanted to sit around and smash beetles all day – clearly we’re all mesmerized, but the ability to mesmerize is not the same as the ability to create lasting and meaningful fiction. Everyone finds train wrecks and plane crashes mesmerizing too – that’s doesn’t impart onto them any larger meaning or relevance.

    I don’t want to bash on it too badly… as soda-pop entertainment goes, it’s really quite enjoyable. I just find it very annoying when people describe it as being something more than that. GoT is to TV what the Monkeys were to music. Mildly titilating claptrap.


  6. Not just the threes reasons. I will just give one key reason.
    The key one is: for no acceptable reason. Yes the good guys got shit and the bad guys thrived, which is sometimes normal in real life. But that is not the exactly the point. The point is all of these happened for no convincing reasons. Bran Stark was pushed off the tower b/c he saw what he supposed not to see. Ned Stark was executed b/c he was the major threaten to the thrown of Jeffery, correct? However, there is no logic at all. Bran Stark was the son of a powerful lord (when the accident was happening) and the murder was the son of an another powerful lord, right? Didn’t they have a moment hesitate or think about it, that the simple action may cause major war?– a threaten, a bribe, anything should be more logic than just pushing him off the tower. Was the Laniesters so strong enough already that they are not afraid of anything? Same for the Ned Stark’s execution– if one of the major lord of the seven kingdoms was executed so simply, with no apparent arguments from the other parts of the country, how was the kingdom united in the past? And if this is truly happening, shouldn’t be the Laniesters made deal with all the other lords first, so as to trade for their agreement?

    All the powers seemed so imbalanced and most of the characters were just like surrounded by psychos and killed for no reason but just for a psychiatic attack. That is the reason that the audience feels unacceptable— not for what is happening, but just simply for they are never convinced.


    • In reply to GG

      About your first argument, the one with the fall of Bran:
      First of all, he was a child. Obviously, if a child falls from a tower so tall, he will probably die. That was the thing that made Jaime do it. You have quite a strong argument, but you’re missing something. PERSPECTIVE. If you analyse the whole context, Jaime pushing Bran was the right thing to do, from Jaime’s prospect. Imagine you are Jaime Lannister, the son of Tywin Lannister, the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms, right? And you regularly have sex with your own sister, that’s also the queen of the Seven Kingdoms. If anyone finds out about your incestuous relationship with her, you and her are going to get executed and your heads are going to rot in a spike. Would bribing Bran work? Probably not. Why? Because children tell everything to their mother. Would threatening work? Probably. But he could not know it for sure. He could not know that in the moment Bran climbs down the tower, he won’t go to Catelyn and tell her everything. Because children are untrustworthy. So the best alternative is pushing him off the tower, sentencing him to death, so he could never say anything about you and your sister. It was particularly important to him, because he would do anything to protect Cersei.

      About your second thought, about Ned Stark’s execution:
      You are absolutely right. There was absolutely no reason to kill him. And that’s the idea. PERSPECTIVE. Do you remember who ordered that Ned will be killed? Joffrey, the world’s biggest spoiled brat. Cersei and Sansa begged him to stop, because they thought rationally. But Joffrey is just a psycho. And he was the KING. he could’ve done everything he wanted. And because he was a spoiled brat, he executed Ned. From his perspective, it was absolutely O.K. That happens when a stupid person gets to be King.

      So that is what you and most of the people down the comment section forget about: PERSPECTIVE. Try to imagine yourself being those characters, with the same past as them. Jaime was always getting what he wanted because his dad was rich, and Joffrey was a psycho. Imagine you were them. And then try to say the same thing again.


  7. tribalgem says:

    Hi there – just wondering if you have every read Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series – if you haven’t I really recommend it to you – I think you would enjoy its complexity, intricacy, etc. Now that series would make an incredible HBO production…… Really like your blog – spent quite a bit of time reading all kinds of it – keep it up – awesome….. Cheers to you and yours.


  8. Maybe you should have read “Dances With Dragons,” then you would know what you were writing about. Bran is not dead, nor is Davos. In fact, Davos has been tasked with finding Bran and Rikon. DWD is actually (in my opinion) the best of the series. I won’t spoil it, but two major characters make very big appearances.

    I can’t opine on the show, because i refuse to watch it. I like the vision of the world he created that comes to mind when i read the novels.


  9. “Revenge is tragically missing from Game of Thrones”

    Alright then. Are you purposely excluding the fact that Tyrion killed his father? Well you seem to have mentioned it, but it appears you have forgotten that him killing his father WAS revenge. His father had been a dick to him his whole life; making him watch his live be banged by guards, insulting and saying he is an insult to House Lannister. Tyrion, out of everyone in Westeros (save House Reyne, but they are extinct. I agree with you, though, that it is getting a bit boring. Martin should bring back a Reyne and a Blackfyre) has the biggest right to kill Tywin.

    Lady Stomeheart? She slaughters Freys such as Perwyn. And it is revenge for the Red Wedding. Now you’ll probably say that “she isn’t in the show” and I’ll remind you that the things bad in the show, where they are good in the books, isn’t Martin’s fault, but D&D’s. Anyways. Lady Stoneheart and some Red Wedding characters are returning.

    The good guys don’t always win? I really do not think that Ned Stark is a good guy. You’ve seen the way he talks to Jaime Lannister. Ned’s also a dick. Someone who constantly reminds me of parts of my life where I screwed up aren’t really good guys. Catelyn was a bitch who cared too much for her children. You know how much of a bitch she was to Jon. Robb was really ‘green’. He should’ve turned back after winning numerous battles, and listened to his bannermen and mother, but no. He married out of love, and got himself and his wolf killed. Jon, should he come back, will win. Daenerys might be losing now, but a good book is where the good guys suffer just before they win. The good guys never win? If the good guys won in the middle of the series, why bother finishing it? You mention: “oh people say it’s realistic, where the good guys lose,” let me tell you that Game of Thrones is so similar to real history. How many good people have won in Medieval England? You think good kings, lords and knights won in medieval times? Of course they do. Robb won numerous battles. Jon became the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Daenerys got an army, and defeated three Ghiscari cities. The good guys will win. It’s just some other good people had to die and lose along the way, that’s all.

    No new and engaging characters? I thought people like Daario Naaharis were engaging, but anyways, you seem to have forgotten Orberyn Martell. He was knew. Randall Tarly and Euron Greyjoy will be appearing in the next season (not sure about the latter) and there have been interesting willing so, such as the Thenns and the King of Bones (?).

    Not real fantasy??? With epics such as the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia, we sometimes forget real fantasy. No elves, and orcs and centaurs and talking goats. Castles, kings and queens and dragons, that’s what fantasy is. The problem here isn’t that A Song of Ice and Fire isn’t a beautifully constructed fantasy world. The problem is everyone’s interpretation of a fantasy world.


  10. The trouble with people arguing about how it’s gritty, just like real history, how there’s jerks who come out on top in real life…is that this is a story.

    A good story has protagonists the reader cares about. If you don’t have likable characters, you don’t have a story because there’s no reason for me to care about the challenges they face. So when people say there’s no one good in GoT, they’ve simply told me they’ve read a rather uninteresting story.
    I’d get more satisfaction from the story of real life where I’m the protagonist.

    I usally have a 100 page rule trying a new book. That should be enough for an author to have a decent hook, introduce the main characters, and begin to set up a conflict.
    I made it to about page 70 in GoT. By page 20 all the first characters I’ve been introduced to are already dead. There’s no hook. By page 50 I’ve been introduced to at least a half dozen rulers, their nobles, families, and retainers located on 2 different continents. There’s no protagonists. I have no reason to care about any of these rich sociopaths and their problems.
    I was already told at the beginning that the ice zombies are the real problem. So the book is even confused about the conflict, one thing even little kids get right when telling a story.
    And now the series has stretched across 5 huge tomes with no end in sight? Oh right, it’s an “epic.”


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