The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are two of the most popular shows on television right now. What that says about our society at the moment, we don’t know, but we do know that these shows are actually much more similar that one would think at first glance.
Game of Thrones is a show based on a series of long ass books. It’s on HBO and, like most HBO shows, there is a ton of nudity and violence. The premise of the show is that a bunch of characters battle for the Iron Throne all while winter is coming. Oh, it’s also set in a mythical world with dragons. The Walking Dead, on the other hand, is a show based on a ton of graphic novels of the same name. It's on AMC, where they don’t do too much nudity but make up for it in sheer gore factor. It’s about a group of characters trying to stay alive during the zombie apocalypse in a world very similar to ours, minus the zombies and all.
Obviously, there are differences in these shows but oddly, these two shows have so many similarities at their core. The fact that they are both wildly popular makes sense because their similarities are camouflaged by the obvious differences (zombie survival vs Iron Throne drama). These differences are enough to distinguish the shows from each other, even if they are basically the same show in many other ways.
Below are 20 ways The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are mostly the same. Hey, maybe we've all been freaking out about two shows that are unbelievably similar all along.
16 Father Beheaded In Front Of His Daughters
These two scenes are almost the same exact thing. Two young daughters watch in sheer terror as their father, a wise and kind man, is beheaded by an asshole – Joffrey (Game of Thrones) and The Governor (The Walking Dead).
In Game of Thrones, Ned Stark kneels in front of Joffrey, who is the worst of the worst. After confessing to treason for the promise of being spared and sent to The Night's Watch, Joffrey sentences Ned to death anyways – like I said, the worst of the worst. Ned’s beheaded right there in front of Sansa and Arya. We are later shown just his head, as Joffrey taunts Sansa because he was one sick, sick individual.
In The Walking Dead, Hershel is beheaded by The Governor through a long a painful process. It takes The Governor several hacks to finally decapitate Hershel. Both Beth and Maggie watch and have pretty much the same reaction as Sansa, which is the reaction anyone would have if their father was being beheaded in front of them.
Like Ned, we later see just Hershel’s head, but his is zombified. Michonne then puts her sword through Hershel’s zombie head.
15 Sansa Stark = The Greene Daughters
Sticking to the Greene and Stark family similarities, the Greene daughters have a few things in common with Sansa Stark, other than the whole both watching their dads be beheaded thing.
Beth Greene is very much like Sansa Stark the early years, y’know before she was feeding Ramsay to his own dogs. Beth and Sansa were both naïve, gentle, sweet and selfish. When we first meet them, they are not necessarily built to survive the world in which they live. Both characters were put through and arc of "break the cutie," where a series of trials breaks down a gentle character so they can grow into a harder, stronger and more independent character. Of course, this is where Beth’s arc ended, as she grew into a resourceful survivor but was then shot at the hospital. Sansa, on the other hand, is still alive, though for how long remains to be seen.
Maggie is most similar to the Sansa Stark we last saw in season six of Game of Thrones. Both characters lost their parents and siblings, though Sansa does have a few siblings left. They have faced loss and tragedy only to come out on the other side even stronger. While Maggie was never really a pushover like Sansa once was, Maggie continues to grow into the leader she is meant to be, having most recently negotiated at The Hilltop. Sansa, likewise, has leadership qualities of her own, even if she is playing second fiddle to her bro/cousin at the moment.
14 The Badass Chick With A Sword
Both Michonne and Brienne of Tarth are goals for women worldwide. Everyone should aspire to their confidence and strength. They are both badass women who are able to take just about anyone down with their beloved swords.
Of course, there are differences in how this strength is perceived. In Game of Thrones, dainty femininity is still a thing. Sansa and Margaery are considered what a woman should be like. Little birds. Brienne is seen as less desirable for her strength and build. Michonne, on the other hand, isn’t perceived that way. If anything, she’s even more desirable for her ability to defend herself. I mean, she's hooking up with hottie Rick Grimes, after all. In fact, Beth, who mirrored the type of femininity seen as desirable on Game of Thrones, even told Daryl that the fact that she’s not like Michonne is a shortcoming.
Beth, all of us not being Michonne is a shortcoming. We all just do the best we can to be more like Wonder Woman Michonne.
13 White Walkers And Zombies
I mean, this is the most obvious similarity, right? Yes, we know that the White Walkers aren’t really zombies. Calm down, Game of Thrones extremists. The White Walkers are, however, pretty damn close to zombies. While zombies look more like they are decomposing corpses who are hungry for human flesh, the White Walkers look like snowmen versions of zombies. Both creatures are feared by humans, who are usually murdered if they come into close contact.
There are, of course, the differences. For example, a simple shot to the head will take out a zombie. White Walkers must be killed via Valyrian steel or dragonglass, two materials that aren't really in abundance on Game of Thrones. In The Walking Dead, we don’t know what started the zombie virus but in Game of Thrones, we were given an origin story for the existence of White Walkers.
Socially, White Walkers and zombies are different too. White Walkers also seem to follow their leader, The Night King, while zombies are just a free for all, wandering and eating whatever the hell they can.
12 The One-Handed Characters
Ah, the one-handed characters. In Game of Thrones, Jaime loses his hand while being held prisoner with Brienne. He returns to King’s Landing, where they give him a metal hand, which is actually pretty friggin’ cool. I mean, if you can’t have a hand, have a fake metal hand. Being that he was the best swordsman in the kingdoms, losing his right hand was a big let down, though he does make it work, using his metal hand as a defense when needed.
In The Walking Dead, Merle cuts off his own hand after being left handcuffed to a pipe on a roof. This happens in season one and we don’t meet him again until season three, when we find that he’s replaced his missing hand with a knife, which certainly comes in handy living in a zombie world. It’s a built-in weapon.
TWD comics draw an even closer comparison to GoT, as it is Rick who has his right hand sliced off by The Governor. Much like how Jaime is skilled with a sword, Rick is a skilled shooter and the loss of his right hand definitely handicaps him in the comics.
15. The Gore Factor
Like we said earlier, The Walking Dead doesn’t do much nudity but they certainly make up for it with how gory the show is. It truly may be the single most gory television show ever. That gore obviously comes from the fact that it is a show about zombies, but it also comes from the people on the show. Lori’s C-section scene was truly gross. Also, we’ve yet to see Negan’s beat down in season seven but, uh, we’re betting that will be one of the goriest TWD scenes ever.
Game of Thrones is also gory as hell and it is often due to the deranged characters on the show. I mean, remember when The Mountain literally crushed Oberyn Martell’s skull with his bare hands? Yep, we’ll just end it there.
14. The Smart Wimp
The smart, wimpy character is a bit of a stock character, but it should be noted that both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead use this stock character.
In The Walking Dead, he comes in the form of Eugene, who lied to Abraham, the most intimidating red head that ever lived, in order to live. He told Abraham that he was a scientist who needed to get to Washington DC so he could cure the zombie disease. Abraham, you may have muscles but you certainly are gullible. Props to Eugene, though, for tricking someone into defending him for quite some time. Throughout the series, Eugene has been scared of basically everything until his arc in season six, during which he mans up and even tries to sacrifice himself for the group.
Samwell Tarly is very similar to Eugene. He’s smart as hell but also scared as hell. He came to The Wall not even really knowing how to hold a sword. Jon Snow takes him under his wing, teaching him but also defending him in the way Abraham had Eugene. Sam also grows in same way Eugene did. Sam even took down a White Walker, which is pretty impressive, especially for him.
11 The Walls
When you have someone to keep out, what do you do? Built a wall!
In Game of Thrones, the wall is a zillion stories tall and was built with the help of magic and giants. It is to keep the White Walkers out of Westeros, though something tells us they will probably be getting through sometime soonish. The Walking Dead walls are a little more real life because it's a world without magic and giants, but their purpose is the same – to keep something (zombies) out. At the prison, there were several fences which all served the purpose of keeping zombies out, but we saw how that ended. In Alexandria, there is a fairly sturdy wall, which serves the same purpose.
10 The Wolves
Okay, so the wolves in The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are very different but hey, there are still totally “wolves” in both shows.
In Game of Thrones, the direwolf appears on the sigil of House Stark. In season one, the Starks find a family of baby direwolves that they adopt – one wolf for each child. The wolves mirrored their owners in odd ways. Sansa’s wolf was named Lady, a symbol of her lady-like nature. Robb’s wolf marched with him in battle and was a great warrior, just like Robb. Jon’s wolf is named Ghost and, err, Jon is kind of a ghost with the whole being dead for a little bit thing. Of the wolves, only Arya’s and Jon’s are still alive.
In The Walking Dead, the wolves aren’t a good thing like they are in GoT. They are a nomadic group of survivors who seem to disagree with people living in a sheltered environment. Introduced in season five, they have Ws branded into their foreheads. More recently, we saw them breach the walls of Alexandria and murder a ton of people before Morgan busted out his stick and was like, “Go away, I have a stick.” The wolves listened and scattered.
11. Is He Dead?
Ah, the "is he dead" cliffhanger. Game of Thrones employed this trick in the season five finale and The Walking Dead did the same in season six. Both shows employed this trickery in 2015, which was a rough year for fans, waiting around to see if their favorite characters were, in fact, dead.
Spoiler alert: They're both alive.
In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow was executed by the Night’s Watch, with Olly (screw that kid) delivering the final blow. Jon Snow laid there, bleeding out on the snow. When season six began, he was for real dead, laying naked on a table. Melisandre chanted some shit and brought him back from the dead, but for two episodes he was really, really dead.
In The Walking Dead there’s no magic so they couldn’t go the whole resurrection route. Instead, they showed Nicholas shooting himself and he and Glenn falling off a dumpster. After that there was a shot of zombies eating guts then a shot of Glenn’s screaming face. This left fans wondering if Glenn was dead, as it seemed like an oddly insignificant death for just a major character I mean, technically, Glenn has been around since the pilot, along with both Rick and Morgan. He's one of the OGs. When the story came back to the fate of Glenn, it turned out that the zombies were eating Nicholas, who was on top of Glenn, saving him. Glenn then hid under the dumpster until the coast was clear.
So, in both shows, they totally faked us out. Not cool, HBO and AMC. Not cool at all.
Both Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead are pretty depressing in their nihilistic message. Both shows definitely embrace the idea that life is meaningless in one way or another.
In The Walking Dead, there is rarely talk of religion. Sure, there’s a priest character but he’s usually used to highlight the lack of faith in others. When Father Gabriel sees the dead bodies of all the Terminus members in his church, he remarks that it is a church. Maggie then tells him that it’s just four walls and a roof. Even little baby boy Carl tells Carol that it’s dumb to believe in heaven. He says that to Carol after her daughter just friggin' died!
I mean, really, if anyone on TWD truly believed in a beyond, you’d think they would have offed themselves a while ago to be partying it up in heaven as opposed to trying to living among zombies. They continue living because that is all there is to them.
Game of Thrones explores nihilism in quieter ways but perhaps their biggest statement about life and afterlife was when Jon Snow was brought back from the dead. Melisandre, a devout believer, asks what he saw and Jon Snow tells her nothing. There is nothing after death. Great. Very comforting, Game of Thrones.
8 Crazy Kids
Both shows have some crazy ass kids. Being that these are worlds with escalated stakes, it is only natural that some kids would be a little… off. In Game of Thrones, there was obviously Joffrey, who was a little psychopath. He was a tyrant and he hadn’t even made it through puberty yet. Also, even if we all love her, we have to admit that Arya is a bit of a crazy kid. I mean, she started training to be an assassin when she was, like, 13 years old.
In The Walking Dead, Lizzie was the deranged little girl who thought zombies were playing with her. She was literally playing "tag" with a zombie in one episode. Despite Carol’s lessons, she fed zombies and even killed her little sister without hurting her brain so she’d come back as a zombie. Lizzie, of course, got put down by Carol because Carol ain’t ever going to let someone with that mentality stick around. In Alexandria, Jessie’s two sons were a little batshit too. Her oldest son was all about killing the Grimes family after Rick shot his father. The youngest son was too afraid of “the monsters” to even be alive. I mean, he had an ant colony in his bedroom. The kid was mental.
7 All The Dead Parents
When the stakes are up, the heads will roll. Both shows are all about the whole dead parent thing.
In Game of Thrones, the remaining Stark children have lost both their mother and their father. The older Lannister children lost their father, at Tyrion’s own hand. The Lannister/Baratheon children had lost their father, before they all died themselves. Daenerys lost her parents and both her siblings. If you have a relative, the chances of them dying are pretty high. This is due to the high stakes of playing for the Iron Throne. Like Cersie said, you win or you die.
In The Walking Dead, the stakes are high but for a different reason… zombies. People are dropping like flies because zombies are, well, hungry. Admittedly though, many of the parental deaths are linked to other things. Maggie lost her father at the hand of The Governor. She also lost her sister at the hand of Officer Dawn Lerner. Carl lost his mother when she gave birth to Judith. Noah traveled to find his family, only to find they were all dead. Daryl had to put down Merle after he turned into a zombie. Also, be still my heart for Daryl Dixon tears.
Basically, these shows are all about family death.
6 Death During Childbirth
With the whole primitive medical care in both shows, moms are constantly dying during childbirth. This is a huge thing in Game of Thrones, where Jon, Daenerys and Tyrion all lost their mothers during their own birth. Without C-sections or any modern technology, childbirth was a dice role. Somehow Catelyn birthed five children and was totally cool. Lyanna Stark, on the other hand, gave birth to only Jon Snow and died.
While only one mother died giving birth in The Walking Dead, she’s also the only person to have given birth in the show: Lori Grimes. In one of the goriest, grittiest scenes, Maggie performs a C-section on Lori and Carl shoots his own dying mother before she can turn into a zombie. With Maggie now preggo, we’ll have to wait to see if it’ll be two for two with the women dying in childbirth.
5 All The Reunions
These shows are also all about reunions. Game of Thrones is set in a medieval time while The Walking Dead is set in a post-apocalyptic world, but what both have in common is no cell phones. They can’t text, call or email each other. When they get separated, it is for real separation.
In Game of Thrones, the Starks have been separated since season one. We finally saw Sansa and Jon Snow reunite in a tear-jerking scene in season six. Also, Jaime seems to always be going on missions for Cersei only to reunite with her afterwards - sometimes missing a hand, but whatevs.
In The Walking Dead, Glenn and Maggie get separated, like, every other season. That doesn’t make their reunions any less emotional, though. Who doesn’t worship Glenn and Maggie? There was the very touching post-Terminus reunions of Daryl/Carol and Rick/Judith. The Dixon brothers were also reunited after two seasons apart.
These heartfelt reunions are not what we normally experience in real life because iPhones, but it is cool to watch everyone get really emotional on these shows.
4 Bastard Kids
Bastard kids are everywhere in Game of Thrones. Jon Snow is a main character, who was thought to be Ned Stark’s bastard son, but in season six we learned that he’s actually Rhaegar Targaryen's bastard son. All of the "Baratheon" children were actually illegitimate children from Cersei and Jaime’s relationship. Oh, and Robert Baratheon fathered about 200 bastard children. He was spreading that seed far and wide. His only living son is Gendry, who has been rowing a damn boat for three seasons.
On the The Walking Dead front, there is a wildcard. When Lori became pregnant with baby Judith she admitted to both Rick and Shane that she didn’t know whose kid it was. Sure, Judith could be Rick’s kid but she could also be Shane’s bastard daughter. Since there’s no one doing fraternal testing in TWD (there are more important things to worry about, to be honest), we’ll probably never know. The show has remained tight-lipped, with Maggie even mentioning that Judith looks a lot like Lori… looks like Lori, not Shane or Rick. Hm…
4. Doomed Love Stories
Neither Game of Thrones nor The Walking Dead are shows necessarily about romance. If you want that, pop in the 100th season of Grey’s Anatomy. Despite not focusing on love and relationships, these two shows can still be tragically romantic. With Game of Thrones having an epic battle every season and The Walking Dead having zombies munching on people for breakfast, lunch and dinner, many of our favorite characters find love only to lose it in awful ways.
In Game of Thrones, Catelyn had to deal with the death of Ned after Joffrey had him beheaded. Jon Snow held Ygritte as she died in his arms after Olly (again, screw that kid) shot her with an arrow. Robb died shortly after watching Talisa, his pregnant wife, be stabbed in the stomach until she died. Daenerys lost both her unborn baby and Drogo. Basically, falling in love means assured heartache in Game of Thrones.
Likewise for The Walking Dead. Mostly though, it’s Rick getting his heart broken. After his wife died from an emergency C-section, Rick went batshit crazy for a while due to his sorrow. The guy was hearing voices and seeing hallucinations. Then, Rick had a spark with Jessie, only to watch her get eaten alive by zombies as he hacked off her hand in the process. We fear for you, Michonne. Also, Bob died, leaving Sasha heartbroken. Tyreese was really into Karen, until she caught the virus and Carol decided to kill her. Glenn and Maggie have been sitting pretty for a while but we’re predicting that come the season seven premiere, this will be yet another romantic couple to be broken up due to death.
In both GoT and TWD though, losing a love tends to helps shape the surviving character into a leader - Jon, Daenerys, Rick.
3 Source Material
This is rather obvious but it bears pointing out, both popular shows on based on some lengthy source material. Game of Thrones is based on the series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. Each book is about 7,000 pages long and fans have been waiting about a decade for the 6th book to be complete. At this point, the television series is actually further along than the books.
The Walking Dead is based on graphic novels (aka comic books) by the same name. 159 issues have be released so far but Robert Kirkman, the creator, has said he has story plans for all the way up to issue 200. Luckily for fans, the show is only using material from about issue 100 as of right now so Kirkman will likely be able to keep up and never allow the show to be further along than the material on which it is based.
2 The Rough Medical Care
This, again, comes with the territory of medieval and post-apocalyptic worlds. There is some rough medical care in both of these shows. Like, so rough you might not even want to really live anymore. In The Walking Dead, we often see limbs being cut off because of zombie bites. This isn’t done with anesthetic but rather, it’s hacked away while the person can totally feel what is going on. Even those with medical training, Hershel and Denise, were performing very rough medical procedures due to their lack of supplies and machines. Hershel literally took a bullet from Carl’s chest while Carl was awake.
Game of Thrones exists in an odd world because while it is very primitive, it is also magical. Melisandre brought back Jon Snow from the dead with magic. Maester Qyburn brought back The Mountain but through some weird, weird science. While there are odd medical advances, the medicine is still very basic. Let us not forget when Talisa had to amputate a limb on Robb Stark’s battlefield. That was gnarly.
1 The Bad Guys Are Mostly White Men
We’re just pointing this out for fun, but what’s with all the white dude villains? In Game of Thrones, white men rule almost everything due to status quo. Here’s a list of white guy baddies: Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, Walder Frey, Roose Bolton, Ramsay Bolton, Euron Greyjoy. One of the only real villains in Game of Thrones who isn’t a white dude is Cersei Lannister, but she often remarks that she should have been born a man, aware that men are allowed power while women are relegated to bearing children and wearing dresses. Over in Essos, there is a little more variety but generally, if he’s a baddie, he’s a white dude.
In The Walking Dead, we’ve seen two major villains: The Governor and Negan. We are at the very, very, very beginning of Negan’s storyline, as he’s still alive in the comics but you can most likely be assured that the Negan storyline will take place over the course of several seasons. Likewise, The Governor was around for two seasons. Both of these character are white men who actually share other weird similarities. For example, they lost the important women in their life. Upon that loss, they spiraled into a dictator-like leadership all while being unable to let go of their loved ones by either naming a barbed wire bat after them (Negan’s Lucille) or keeping their zombified daughter as a pet (The Governor).
On TWD's white, male villains, what’s even more interesting is that The Governor is Hispanic in the comics, but they changed him to a white dude for television.
Sure, The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones may not be the exact same show, but you have to admit, there are a ton of similarities. There probably won’t be any dragons in The Walking Dead or barbed wire bat wielding villains in Game of Thrones, but the new seasons will likely bring on even more similarities between the two shows, as they continue to explore many of the same thematic issues - survival, loss, community, power and family.