Based on the fantasy novel series by George R.R. Martin, HBO’s Game of Thrones is a television series that embodies everything that is loved in a period drama mixed with mythical aspects that makes it truly shine among all other shows. Period dramas can be a little restrictive in their audience, since not everyone finds them appealing onscreen. While the series has a medieval style in regard to the dialect and environment, the fantasy aspects put a spin on it that help to include a larger demographic of viewers.
Many shows choose to have a futuristic take on their storyline, but not all plots have to include machine guns and modern technologies of war. The sword fights and battle scenes in Game of Thrones can stand up to any explosion-filled film on screen, and only help to further the intrigue of the show.
Yet it’s the fantasy aspects that make it truly unique. Just as Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings saga (and the attendant Peter Jackson movies) had a monumental fan base, Game of Thrones has broken records with the millions of viewers it continues to bring in with each new season. While other shows tend to dwindle in their story-line as the series progresses, Game of Thrones seems to delve deeper into the world that George R.R. Martin created in A Song of Ice and Fire.
Season 6 has revealed even more insight into all of the diverse characters in the series, and has opened the door to what audiences have been waiting for all of these years. While the first season introduced the characters at a young age, they have since grown and with it so has the story. Check out our list for the 15 fantasy aspects of Game of Thrones, and see why it is one of the most beloved series on television.
15. Back Through Time
When Bran Stark first went on the journey to find the Three-Eyed Raven, fans didn’t realize there was an actual character behind this mythical creature. Max von Sydow is the actor that plays the Three-Eyed Raven in Season 6, but he is also known by other names. He was actually a sorcerer that lived over a hundred years ago by the name of Brynden Rivers, and helped Bran cultivate his powers. Going back through time to see glimpses of crucial aspects of the story-line, fans got to see Eddard Stark again (even if it was a younger character played by a different actor).
Yet, audiences have to wonder if this ability is more than just offering a glimpse of the past, since it seemed that Eddard actually heard Bran when he called out to him during one of their time traveling adventures. This could be quite interesting in future seasons, since it would open up a whole new aspect of the show if they could turn back the hands of time and undo some of the most shocking events of the series.
The warging ability isn’t contained to one lineage, and the series shows a number of different individuals that are wargs. The book series actually makes it seem like it’s an ability that is a trait characteristic for the Starks, but the HBO series limits it to only Bran and a handful of wildlings. Wargs have the ability to enter the minds of animals, leaving their own bodies as a shell while they encompass the strength and abilities of the animals they inhabit. There are a number of complications that come with wargs. Although the animal may be eating, it is not giving sustenance to the warg’s original body. Also, individuals must be careful not to spend too much time in the body of an animal because they run the danger of no longer remembering their true self. Bran is a bit different in his warging ability because he can take on the mind of a human being, which he has done on numerous occasions with Hodor.
13. The Wall
George R.R. Martin is said to have been inspired by Hadrian’s Wall and the Great Wall of China when he came up with The Wall for the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Hadrian’s Wall was built as a defensive measure by the Roman Empire, but only stood 15 feet tall. This is a far cry from the 700 foot ice wall that stretches 300 miles in the Game of Thrones series. Yet, this is more than just an innovative way to build a wall in cold temperatures. Wired tried to get down to the science of whether or not this could be achieved in actuality, and interviewed Mary Albert, an engineer at Dartmouth College for the Ice Drilling Program Office. She stated, “Even at very cold temperatures, large ice masses deform under their own weight. And over long time scales, ice flows, so it would not hold its original shape for thousands of years.”
Since Game of Thrones is largely a period piece, there aren’t any of the modern technologies available for communication. Ravens have the job of sending messages, and are similar to passenger pigeons. Yet, from the way ravens are killed off on the show, the characters should worry if the ravens will eventually become extinct just as the passenger pigeons. Over a century ago, the last of the passenger pigeons, Martha, died at the Cincinnati Zoo and the species officially became extinct.
While passenger pigeons became extinct due to over hunting, ravens aren’t killed in Game of Thrones for food. Catelyn Stark ordered all the ravens killed outside of The Twins when negotiating with House Frey, and Theon Greyjoy killed all the ravens when he took over Winterfell. Yet, it’s not just their ability to carry messages that add a fantasy aspect to the show. The Three-Eyed Raven is a huge aspect to the story-line of the show, and helps give Bran insight into the past, present, and future.
11. Targaryen Immune To Fire
Each noble house in the series of Game of Thrones contain their own unique characteristics, but not all of them can boast the most stellar abilities. While House Tyrell is known for their matriarchal society, that isn’t as impressive as the Stark’s ability to warg. Yet, it’s the Targaryens that have the best ability of all, having the Blood of the Dragon. There is a bit of a discrepancy with whether or not all of those in the Targaryen lineage are immune to fire, since Viserys was killed with molten gold. Daenerys proclaimed, “He was no dragon. Fire cannot kill the dragon.” Audiences wonder whether or not Daenerys would have been able to withstand an injury like that, since it’s not technically fire. However, she has demonstrated her immunity to fire on more than one occasion throughout the series. From burning in the pyre to standing in front of her fire-breathing dragons, she definitely has the Blood of the Dragon.
It’s common for fantasy dramas to include mythical diseases, but they usually come in the form of some sort of zombie. Greyscale is a disease that has similarities to real diseases from centuries ago. Both Typhoid and Polio created mental and physical symptoms, but nothing like Game of Thrones’ Greyscale. Common in cold and damp climates, children are most usually afflicted with Greyscale but it can also be transmitted through touch. The skin begins to die and crack to create a stone-like touch, hence the name “Stone Men.”
It is very rare for those exhibiting signs of Greyscale to be cured of the disease, and even those that have been able to stop the spread of the disease become pariahs or are even euthanized. The late stages of Greyscale involve a form of madness that completely consumes the individual, which is when they are considered Stone Men. The ruins of Chroyane are filled with Stone Men, and those traveling around the Sorrows and the Bridge of Dream will inevitably come into contact with the disease.
9. Lord Of Light Brought Back From Death
Once audiences were introduced to the concept of the Lord of Light, they became fascinated by those that could wield its power. While the staring into the fire may or may not depict the future, it’s the ability to bring the dead back to life that really impresses fans. Beric Dondarrion was resurrected a number of times, with the most recent being after he was defeated by The Hound. While that was done right after he passed, the resurrection of Jon Snow was the true shocker of the series.
After being stabbed numerous times and left bleeding out in the snow, it didn’t seem like there was anything that could be done to bring him back to life. While Dondarrion’s resurrection was almost instant and filled with a hurried fury, Jon Snow lay dead on a slab for the longest time before Davos Seaworth even came up with the bright idea to ask The Red Woman for help. Yet, it worked all the same, and made fans wonder if the Lord of Light might be on the Stark’s side after all.
8. Red Priestess
When the Red Woman was first introduced on Game of Thrones, fans didn’t know what to make of her. It was hard to say if she really could wield the power of the Lord of Light, or if she was just a witch trying to gain the favor of Stannis. Yet she truly gained respect from fans when she started exhibiting all of her abilities on the series. From birthing a black- smoke son to seeing visions in the fire, it was made clear that she was far more than just a beautiful woman in red. The Season 6 premiere showed just how powerful she was, when she removed her red ruby necklace to reveal her true self. Impossibly old, the necklace created the illusion of youth and beauty even though she was actually centuries old. Showrunners had already said Melisandre was “several centuries old,” and the actor who played Maester Cressen spoke out in 2013 saying she was “400 years old.”
7. Faceless Man
When Arya Stark was first introduced to Jaqen H’ghar, fans knew that she would be on a totally different path than her sister, Sansa. Learning the ways of the Many Faced God, she traveled to the House of Black and White and was on her way to being a Faceless Man. Yet, there is something more to this achievement than just ripping off the skin of dead corpses and wearing them around. Anyone that has seen Texas Chainsaw Massacre knows that wearing someone else’s skin doesn’t exactly result in a seamless application. Yet, when they wear a face in Game of Thrones, it’s more than just a little bit convincing. It is definitely more than just sleight of hand that lets the characters interchange faces on the show, and it’s a great fantasy aspect that brings the series to a different level. The fact that the ability to change your face is actually something that can be taught is perhaps the best part of the Faceless Men.
Direwolves first made an appearance in Game of Thrones at the very beginning of Season 1, and gave some insight into the changes that were to come later in the series. Although a direwolf is on House Stark’s sigil, it came as a huge shock when the Starks found a litter of direwolves south of the Wall. It foreshadowed the fact that the Starks’ words were true, “Winter IS coming,” and along with it, the Direwolves and White Walkers.
It isn’t a new concept for fantasy dramas to involve the presence of wolves, but the Direwolves are unique in their extra large size and intelligence. Their look is much more mythical than other wolves depicted onscreen, since True Blood used real wolves that seemed small and the Twilight saga used computer generated wolves that looked almost cartoon-like. These wolves became characters themselves, with each wolf exhibiting different personality traits. Taking on many of the same features as their Stark handlers, when a Direwolf is killed, it’s just as bad as when they kill a Stark.
Unlike the other mythical creatures in Game of Thrones, like the White Walkers, giants are known by those north of the Wall in a common way. While people from the Seven Kingdoms scoff at the thought of a giant, the wildlings find it odd for someone not to be aware of their existence. When Ygritte vouched for Jon Snow in the wildling camp, she was surprised when he hadn’t ever seen a giant before. There have been three separate giants featured in the series, but it might be tricky to tell them apart. While you may not have been rooting for Mag the Mighty when he was trying to help the wildlings take down The Night’s Watch or Dongo during the Battle of Castle Black, giants were redeemed during the Second Battle of Winterfell. Wun Wun stood alongside Jon Snow on more than one occasion, and he was unexpectedly a true friend.
4. The Children Of The Forest
While the White Walkers were introduced to audiences from the very first episode of the series, the Children of the Forest were a bit more elusive to the storyline. It almost seemed as though they were completely killed off centuries ago, so their appearance was a game changer to the plot. Season 6 of Game of Thrones gave much more insight into their existence, and even divulged the fact that they were the ones to create the Wights in the first place. Unlike Tyrion Lannister who is a dwarf, the Children of the Forest aren’t just merely short. They are a non-human race that have mythical abilities, including an ultra long lifespan. During flashbacks of the first Wight created, Bran saw that the one who created it was actually the same one helping him against them. Since it had been centuries since the White Walkers roamed the world, it stands to question whether or not The Children of the Forest are immortal.
3. White Walkers
It can be a little tricky to understand what an actual White Walker is in Game of Thrones, since the characters don’t ever really delineate the differences between Wights and White Walkers. White Walkers are the creatures that were created by the Children of the Forest to help them battle mankind, but they quickly became their enemies as well. Dragonglass is how they were made, and it’s only that or Valyrian steel that can destroy them. They are not just the mindless army of the dead, but highly intelligent with the ability to command the Wights. It seems that they have their own special abilities, since they are the ones that created the Wights. With the ability to ride horses, resurrect the dead on command, and transform a newborn baby with just a single touch, White Walkers are a definite force to be reckoned with and are an integral part of the war to come in Game of Thrones.
Wights are pretty similar to other undead characters, since they don’t seem to have the ability to talk or think beyond the urge to kill. However, there are some unique characteristics that make them standout from all the other zombies on TV and film. While zombies are often bloody and decomposing before your eyes, Wights appear pretty much the same as when they were killed. They don’t have the rotting corpse smell and seem almost frozen, without the same type of blood that typically oozes out of zombies when they’re stabbed or injured. Left on their own, they don’t seem to have much intelligence to them, but they are able to follow commands by the White Walkers. Acting as their troops, the Wights are the army of undead that act as soldiers for the force. After being touched by the White Walkers, they come back after death as Wights and only fire will stop them.
Unlike the Stark’s wolves that are known to be north of The Wall, dragons were long since thought of as extinct. So, when Daenerys was gifted the three dragon eggs by Illyrio, it was thought of as a decorative piece rather than something that could actually hatch. Not only was she able to bring the dragons into the world, but they are thriving and have become much more than just the small bird-like creatures they were once they first hatched. Always considered highly intelligent, they are able to understand the Valyrian language spoken by Daenerys and can even take commands. They are much more animalistic than the other cartoon-like dragons from films that show them talking, and it’s interesting to hear stories about dragons from long ago. Joffrey Baratheon offered an interesting tidbit saying, “Rhaenyra Targaryen was murdered by her brother, or rather, his dragon. It ate her while her son watched.” Oftentimes in the series, it’s easy to see that the dragons don’t always do as they are commanded.