Sword fighting, political intrigue, sex, violence, and dragons—what could be better? HBO’s sword swinging epic Game of Thrones is back for a fourth season starting Sunday April 6th. To celebrate, we’re taking a look at some of the life lessons we’ve learned over the past three seasons. Show-runners David Benioff and Dan Weiss (and author George RR Martin) have created a complicated world, a bevy of entertaining characters, and some of the most shocking storytelling on television, but what lessons have stuck with us? Let’s take a look at the top twenty-five. (Warning: Spoilers Ahead)
1. Winter is Coming: If you’ve watched the show at all you’ll recognize these words. Every family in the fictional world of Westeros has a motto but none are quite as ominous as the words of House Stark. They not only refer to a literal winter that can cover the land for years (like what this year’s winter feels like) but also a figurative reminder that the good days end and one must be ready for what’s coming next. It’s a warning to be prepared…kind of like the Boy Scouts but more depressing.
2. The Only Time a Man Can Be Brave is When He’s Afraid: Young Bran Stark questions the nature of bravery and fear and gets a pretty unforgettable answer. Later is the series self proclaimed coward, Sam Tarly faces off with a White Walker (think ice zombie.) Sounds pretty brave to me.
3. Do Your Own Dirty Work: Or to put it more eloquently, “The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” A great line from Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean.)
4. Never Forget Who You Are: Whether you’re a cripple, a bastard, or a broken thing, you can use it to your advantage. Own your differences and they can’t be used against you.
Or as Gilly sees it…
6.Women Are Badass: Whether fighting for her king, her god, or herself, the girls of Game of Thrones can kick some ass on and off the battlefield. From the sword-wielding skill of Brienne, to the subtle manipulations or the Tyrell women these ladies hold their own, with or without dragons.
7. “No one can survive in this world without help”: Sometimes this help is from dragons; most of the time it’s good friends.
8. Self Confidence is a Powerful Thing: Daenerys Targaryen goes from being sold into marriage by her insane brother to commanding an army led by dragons. Kind of makes me want to turn my life around.
9. “Any man who must say, I am the king, is no true king”: We all know that one overly entitled person…
10. Watching an Asshole Getting Slapped Never Gets Old: [Link]
11. Sometimes winning isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be: Robert Baratheon took the iron throne by force to rid Westeros of the Mad King. He ended up hating the job, and a lot of people ended up hating him.
12. Valar Morghulis: This High Valyrian phrase means “All Men Must Die.” The expected response is Valar dohaeris (all men must serve). Game of Thrones-contemplating the meaning of life between brothel scenes.
13. Religion is complicated:
14. Going back on your word can have dire consequences: Robb Stark did and look how well that turned out.
15. You’re secretly disappointed you didn’t film your friends’ reaction to the Red Wedding:
16. Know your enemy:
If we do it your way kingslayer, you’d win. We’re not doing it your way.
17. Some people just aren’t trustworthy: Go with your gut. If there’s a guy a little too interested in your wife, running a brothel, and flat out telling you not to trust him, you probably shouldn’t include him in your plans to overthrow the monarchy.
18. There are two sides to every story: One man’s usurper is another man’s hero. George RR Martin’s books use character POVs (Points of View) to establish every angle of the story and the television show has done a good job replicating that tactic. People you thought were evil in season one might not seem so bad when you understand the reasons behind their actions. There is no black and white in Game of Thrones, or in real life.
19. Money can get you out of a lot of jams…
20. but it doesn’t solve all of your problems:
21. Even people who seem insignificant can have a big impact: Characters who have very few lines in the beginning become major players at the end. Throwaway mentions in the books could hold the key to understanding everything. Pay attention to the little things.
22. “Everything’s better with some wine in the belly:”
23. Love can make you do crazy things:
24. A lot can be said with a single word:
25. Life isn’t fair: Like good ole Ned Stark, sometimes life just doesn’t go your way.
Tune in Sunday nights to see what lessons we learn this year, and follow my ranting and ravings on Twitter!