Game of Thrones: Who is the real villain?

Alarien

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I found the show underwhelming and, at times, infuriating in the first season, so I stopped watching it. I could start a whole thread on why, so I'll spare you.

As a huge fan of the books, there is no over-arching villain, as has been said. To be one, you'd have to be a tangible threat at all times in the story, and the Lannisters are not that. In fact, several of the Lannisters are completely redeemable if not all around "good" guys. Tyrion, obviously, but also Jaime and Kevan. As far as Westerosi history is concerned, the Lannisters didn't develop a lot of reputation beyond being "really rich" (which, frankly, several other families are as well, most notably the Tyrells), until Tywin Lannister.

Even Tywin wasn't really a "bad guy." In the context of his world, the only really bad traits he exhibited were his negative treatment of Tyrion (despite recognizing Tyrion's mental superiority to his siblings) and his need to try to install Cersei or Jaime into positions to control the Iron Throne. In fact, his quote:

"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. And any man who must say ?I am the king? is no true king at all. Aerys never understood that, but you will. When I?ve won your war for you, we will restore the king?s peace and the king?s justice."

is incredibly both strategically intelligent and enlightened at the same time. Frankly, if it weren't for his fairly awful heirs, Tywin would have been one of the best leaders that Westeros could have put on the Iron Throne, really matched only by an older and more experienced Daenarys. Rhaegar would have been a good ruler, but probably not a great one. I have doubts as to his ability to deal with intrigue appropriately.

So, in the end, the only real villain we have is the somewhat intangible threat of the Others, who have made a few moves here and there, but have yet to become a really palpable problem.
 

BloatedGuppy

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Alarien said:
I found the show underwhelming and, at times, infuriating in the first season, so I stopped watching it. I could start a whole thread on why, so I'll spare you.

As a huge fan of the books, there is no over-arching villain, as has been said. To be one, you'd have to be a tangible threat at all times in the story, and the Lannisters are not that. In fact, several of the Lannisters are completely redeemable if not all around "good" guys. Tyrion, obviously, but also Jaime and Kevan. As far as Westerosi history is concerned, the Lannisters didn't develop a lot of reputation beyond being "really rich" (which, frankly, several other families are as well, most notably the Tyrells), until Tywin Lannister.

Even Tywin wasn't really a "bad guy." In the context of his world, the only thing that only really bad traits he exhibited were his negative treatment of Tyrion (despite recognizing Tyrion's mental superiority to his siblings) and his need to try to install Cersei or Jaime into positions to control the Iron Throne. In fact, his quote:

"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. And any man who must say ?I am the king? is no true king at all. Aerys never understood that, but you will. When I?ve won your war for you, we will restore the king?s peace and the king?s justice."

is incredibly both strategically intelligent and enlightened at the same time. Frankly, if it weren't for his fairly awful heirs, Tywin would have been one of the best leaders that Westeros could have put on the Iron Throne, really matched only by an older and more experienced Daenarys. Rhaegar would have been a good ruler, but probably not a great one. I have doubts as to his ability to deal with intrigue appropriately.

So, in the end, the only real villain we have is the somewhat intangible threat of the Others, who have made a few moves here and there, but have yet to become a really palpable problem.
As a huge Tywin fan...

http://meereeneseblot.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/paying-his-debts-part-i-tyrion-in-kings-landing/

You might want to skip to the end of that VERY long entry, to part V, or "The truth about Tywin". It's a pretty concise analysis I find hard to disagree with.

And I disagree about Dany. Dany is more Aegon than Rhaegar. She's fire and blood. Like Robert, she'd made a good conqueror, and a terrible ruler.
 

TaboriHK

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The Starks are the villians of the series. With the exception of Ned and Arya, all of them act to destabilize the realm with their selfishness. Robb is by far the worst, especially when he meets his wife. Everything about their decisions work fine in a perfect fantasy world, which is not what they inhabit. How many people die as a direct result of the Stark family?
 

BloatedGuppy

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TaboriHK said:
The Starks are the villians of the series. With the exception of Ned and Arya, all of them act to destabilize the realm with their selfishness. Robb is by far the worst, especially when he meets his wife. Everything about their decisions work fine in a perfect fantasy world, which is not what they inhabit. How many people die as a direct result of the Stark family?
I'm aware you are being facetious, but Robb's motivations for marrying Talissa/Jeyne were very different in-book than on-screen. Blame the idiots at HBO for that particular swap.
 

Stryc9

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If you go by the books I don't think there is one true villain, for the most part all of the characters are fairly neutral and are just following their own motivations for power.

I think the show is trying to set Melisandre up to be some sort of evil witch that is totally up to no good and is manipulating Stannis to get what she wants which is control of Westeros for her own ends.
 

Eamar

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Stryc9 said:
I think the show is trying to set Melisandre up to be some sort of evil witch that is totally up to no good and is manipulating Stannis to get what she wants which is control of Westeros for her own ends.
You didn't get that impression from the books? That's more or less what I assumed from the get-go, though I'm aware this sort of thing can vary depending on where you stand regarding Stannis (I'm not a fan).
 

Exterminas

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Eamar said:
Stryc9 said:
I think the show is trying to set Melisandre up to be some sort of evil witch that is totally up to no good and is manipulating Stannis to get what she wants which is control of Westeros for her own ends.
You didn't get that impression from the books? That's more or less what I assumed from the get-go, though I'm aware this sort of thing can vary depending on where you stand regarding Stannis (I'm not a fan).
Funny. In the books I got the expression that Melisandre genuinely believes that she is saving the world by enforcing the prophecy on Stannis.

There is even one view-point chapter about her (In the last book, I believe), that earned her a lot of sympathy points for me.

Sure, she is manipulative and has her own agenda, but in Westeros that is like a driver's license.
 

Alarien

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BloatedGuppy said:
As a huge Tywin fan...

http://meereeneseblot.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/paying-his-debts-part-i-tyrion-in-kings-landing/

You might want to skip to the end of that VERY long entry, to part V, or "The truth about Tywin". It's a pretty concise analysis I find hard to disagree with.

And I disagree about Dany. Dany is more Aegon than Rhaegar. She's fire and blood. Like Robert, she'd made a good conqueror, and a terrible ruler.
As I said, I think you have to put Tywin in context. Our context is not his context in a land like Westeros. I try to see it from the perspective of a ruler in the Seven Kingdoms and, while he's certainly not without fault or guilt, he's also not a complete monster. He just happens to be practical, which appears to be a fairly rare trait in Westeros.

On Dany, please note that I did say "an older and more experienced" Dany. I realize that younger Dany (through book 5) is a fairly terrible ruler. I think she has the capacity to be a very good ruler, in time. Her experiences ruling in Meereen will go a long way towards shaping her as both strong and rationale.
 

Zac Jovanovic

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BloatedGuppy said:
I'm aware you are being facetious, but Robb's motivations for marrying Talissa/Jeyne were very different in-book than on-screen. Blame the idiots at HBO for that particular swap.
I think the whole wife situation was much better handled in the show:(
 

Kathinka

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in that world, pretty much everyone is a self serving dick. even the guys that would mostly pass for protagonists, the starks, can be read as completely out-of-touch douche nozzles. a reoccurring theme of the book and partially of the show too is that the common people don't care the slightest of who's in charge of the realm or their particular fief.
 

Alarien

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Eamar said:
Stryc9 said:
I think the show is trying to set Melisandre up to be some sort of evil witch that is totally up to no good and is manipulating Stannis to get what she wants which is control of Westeros for her own ends.
You didn't get that impression from the books? That's more or less what I assumed from the get-go, though I'm aware this sort of thing can vary depending on where you stand regarding Stannis (I'm not a fan).
Read A Dance with Dragons. There is, finally, a Melisandre chapter, and I think it may actually adjust your perspective of her a bit. I am not sure how she is going to eventually play out, but I made the same assumptions as you both.

I sorta figured that Rh'llor (or whatever) was actually a two faced god. The Lord of Light and "The Other" rolled up into one, with Thoros being the sort of "good side" priest (light) and Melisandre representing shadow (hence, the shadow assassin "babies"). However, the fifth book has made me rethink that quite a bit. I now think Melisandre really doesn't have any particularly selfish motivation and is actually being led along by her visions. She's just sorta going where they lead, but her actual interpretation of them is actually fairly off-base (hence the ambiguity or evil impression of a lot of her acts).
 

BloatedGuppy

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Alarien said:
As I said, I think you have to put Tywin in context. Our context is not his context in a land like Westeros. I try to see it from the perspective of a ruler in the Seven Kingdoms and, while he's certainly not without fault or guilt, he's also not a complete monster. He just happens to be practical, which appears to be a fairly rare trait in Westeros.

On Dany, please note that I did say "an older and more experienced" Dany. I realize that younger Dany (through book 5) is a fairly terrible ruler. I think she has the capacity to be a very good ruler, in time. Her experiences ruling in Meereen will go a long way towards shaping her as both strong and rationale.
I agree, I just think even in context Tywin the man and Tywin the legend are two very different people. I don't think he's quite as pragmatic as his...uh...how to put it...PR would make him appear. He appears to be a pretty passionate guy under the surface, driven by impulse and avarice.

And I know you said an older Dany. I think an older Dany will be a more self-assured, more focused Dany, which means a more bloodthirsty and aggressive Dany. I think the Dany that is drawn to Drogo and Daario, to revenge and her "birthright", is the "real" Dany.

Zac Jovanovic said:
I think the whole wife situation was much better handled in the show:(
You mean putting a show created character with 21st century values and behaviors into the highly stratified medieval society Martin had created? She's a random nurse on a battlefield and she's sassing Lords she's just met. What if that was Roose Bolton? Or Tywin Lannister? How does Talissa's "speak your mind" attitude and 21st century "strike out to do the job you want" ethos reflect on Cersei's bitterness and rage over being stuck in the role society demands of her? Or Sansa's helplessness? Or Brienne's abnormality and the scorn and censure she faces for it? Talissa is very evidently airlifted in from an entirely different fiction. She's atonal and jarring.

To say nothing of the fact that "I married her for looooooove" is a stupid, short-sighted and selfish decision on the part of Show Robb, whereas Book Robb was following the rigid code of honor he was raised with. Which is where the whole "Robb Stark is his father's son" angle comes in.

Of the show's many missteps in deviating from the books I can't think of many more painful than Talissa. Even her grotesque disemboweling at the Red Wedding wouldn't have been necessary for shock value/pathos if they hadn't written 9/10ths of the Northern Lords out of the show. We would've been watching a multitude of characters we'd grown to know and care about cut down in the midst of all their power, instead of just Robb/Catelyn and Sassypants.
 

Eamar

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Exterminas said:
Eamar said:
Stryc9 said:
I think the show is trying to set Melisandre up to be some sort of evil witch that is totally up to no good and is manipulating Stannis to get what she wants which is control of Westeros for her own ends.
You didn't get that impression from the books? That's more or less what I assumed from the get-go, though I'm aware this sort of thing can vary depending on where you stand regarding Stannis (I'm not a fan).
Funny. In the books I got the expression that Melisandre genuinely believes that she is saving the world by enforcing the prophecy on Stannis.

There is even one view-point chapter about her (In the last book, I believe), that earned her a lot of sympathy points for me.

Sure, she is manipulative and has her own agenda, but in Westeros that is like a driver's license.
See, I don't think the genuine belief and the the nefarious lust for power parts are mutually exclusive. I don't doubt for a moment that she's a dangerous zealot who truly believes in her religion, but I also think she's (as you say) manipulative and, above all, power-hungry.

Her POV chapter was interesting, but she still makes my skin crawl.
 

Eamar

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Alarien said:
Eamar said:
Stryc9 said:
I think the show is trying to set Melisandre up to be some sort of evil witch that is totally up to no good and is manipulating Stannis to get what she wants which is control of Westeros for her own ends.
You didn't get that impression from the books? That's more or less what I assumed from the get-go, though I'm aware this sort of thing can vary depending on where you stand regarding Stannis (I'm not a fan).
Read A Dance with Dragons. There is, finally, a Melisandre chapter, and I think it may actually adjust your perspective of her a bit. I am not sure how she is going to eventually play out, but I made the same assumptions as you both.
I have and it didn't really. That's the beauty of these books though - we all read the same things but come to very different conclusions.
 

TheRookie8

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You can call a villain anyone who willingly commits a foul act despite knowing full well that they are breaching a universally acceptable ethical and humane rule. So...Ramsay Bolton torturing people for his own pleasure? Villain. Slaughtering groups of people for personal gain? Villains. Manipulating a person who into a situation that will get them killed? Villain. Random acts of violence for the sake of violence? Villain. Any lack of personal remorse is a tell-tale sign of a true villain.

Now, for those morally-grey people who do bad things but for good reasons (Jamie, Varys, Ned, Robert, Red Viper...etc.), they are considered half-villains or anti-heroes. They commit foul deeds, but for a higher purpose...such as murdering a tyrant while other would let him continue slaughtering/burning people...or killing a monster of a man because he raped and murdered your family...or usurping your throne because you've uncovered a conspiracy...or you've fallen in love with someone but are promised to marry another...or assassinating a person simply because they might come and kill people with an army...they are questionable acts, but the people are never completely in it for themselves. And sometimes, these people might seek redemption or self-improvement when they realize they've deviated from a perceived righteous path...such as Jaime Lannister or Sandor Clegane (coincidentally two of my favorite characters).

And finally, you have supernatural threats. These are the monsters and gods which kill people simply because it's what they demand happen. They operate on a separate set of rules/principles, and when they kill people or arrange them to be killed, it's for reasons beyond our own set of ethics or understanding. Because of this, the Red God or The Others are not villains, but primary threats which will kill heroes, anti-heroes, and villains alike if they feel like it.
 

Mastemat

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There is one True Villain of this franchise...

And that's Stupid.

And Cersei Lannister is the biggest supplier of this world's stupid...
"Um.... Milady Queen Regent.... There's rumor about a Targaryen heir with these baby dragons and-"
"hahaha you stupid fool, all the dragons are dead!"

Really... not even gonna... really, Cersei?
I'mma need you to lay off the booze... cause your hitting the stupid juice pretty hard.
 

Alarien

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BloatedGuppy said:
I agree, I just think even in context Tywin the man and Tywin the legend are two very different people. I don't think he's quite as pragmatic as his...uh...how to put it...PR would make him appear. He appears to be a pretty passionate guy under the surface, driven by impulse and avarice.

And I know you said an older Dany. I think an older Dany will be a more self-assured, more focused Dany, which means a more bloodthirsty and aggressive Dany. I think the Dany that is drawn to Drogo and Daario, to revenge and her "birthright", is the "real" Dany.
That's an interesting take on Dany, and I certainly can't refute it. We'll have to see how it plays out, especially in light of some of the more interesting revelations in book V and how if effects her "birthright." Seems there a few "birthrights" that are going to have to be addressed... without going into actual spoilers (or potential spoilers for some very obvious issues that the GoT community hasn't picked up on that the ASoIAF community probably has).

I would agree on Tywin's impulse, yes. Not so sure on avarice in the literal sense of money. Seems more of a means to the impulse. Certainly important, but I don't think a driving factor.
 

Eamar

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Mastemat said:
There is one True Villain of this franchise...

And that's Stupid.

And Cersei Lannister is the biggest supplier of this world's stupid...
"Um.... Milady Queen Regent.... There's rumor about a Targaryen heir with these baby dragons and-"
"hahaha you stupid fool, all the dragons are dead!"

Really... not even gonna... really, Cersei?
I'mma need you to lay off the booze... cause your hitting the stupid juice pretty hard.
While I agree that Cersei makes some monumentally stupid decisions, I don't think the dragons thing is the best example. Remember, the only reason we know it's not some outlandish, impossible rumour is because we've "seen" the dragons through Daenerys's chapters. The birth of the dragons is supposed to be an unbelievable miracle, after all.
 

Alarien

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Mastemat said:
There is one True Villain of this franchise...

And that's Stupid.

And Cersei Lannister is the biggest supplier of this world's stupid...
"Um.... Milady Queen Regent.... There's rumor about a Targaryen heir with these baby dragons and-"
"hahaha you stupid fool, all the dragons are dead!"

Really... not even gonna... really, Cersei?
I'mma need you to lay off the booze... cause your hitting the stupid juice pretty hard.
Sorry that I keep posting, but that really cracked me up.

So true. Even in the books.

Cersei Lannister is a blithering, drooling moron. I think it's one of the reasons she's so irredeemable and so hated. She's just dumb as a [email protected]*@ing post.

That also gets back to why I really didn't like the show. Still can't get over that one scene in season one where she and Robert "reminisce" over their good moments. Cersei Lannister had no "good moments" with Robert. These two full-on hated each other, for quite a few reasons. Trying to make her more "relate-able" goes against the very spirit of how her character is meant to be portrayed. She, Joffrey, and Ramsay are probably the three least relate-able characters in the entire series.