The Five Stages of Grief When Your Favorite Character Dies on ‘Game of Thrones’

Just as a general heads-up, there will probably be some spoilers in this post. Sorry about it.

So, how’s everybody doing today? You okay? Were you able to sleep last night? For those who may be new, something pretty huge and devastating happened on Game of Thrones last night.  We won’t give away the details for the sake of those who need a catch-up, but let’s just say it involved the words “Red” and “Wedding.” (And when “The Rains of Castamere” play, you know it’s never a good sign.) Your Facebook news feed was probably crowded with people making hysterical all-caps statements about these events, which include the death of three characters, two of them major. It’s a stark reminder (ba-dum-tish) that in George R.R. Martin’s twisted, depraved and thoroughly addictive fantasy world, anyone can die, including the people you thought would perhaps be the heroes of the story you were rooting for.

Ned Stark becomes the first focal character of the series and he’s dead before the first season ends. Renly Baratheon makes a grab for the Iron Throne and generally earns our favor, and then he gets offed by Melisandre’s demon spawn. Basically, the warnings are true: “When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die.”

Still, the death of a character of which you have grown fond in the A Song of Ice and Fire universe can be a total bummer, and for some harder-core fans, truly devastating. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide on the stages of grief that occur when your favorite character on Game of Thrones dies. Because your favorite character on Game of Thrones will die.

Stage 1: Denial. Initially, you are in shock. You express this in all-caps Facebook statuses and frantic tweets. You might weep a little. That’s normal. You may retreat to your own little online world, reblogging gifsets of your favorite characters in waking life, or writing alternate-universe fan fiction in which they are still very much alive.

Stage 2: Anger. Curse at your television. Curse HBO. Curse George R.R. Martin. Say a pox upon House Frey and House Bolton, even though they’re not real. Write mouth-foamy letters to George R.R. Martin asking why, why would he do this to fans and why, why does he have to be just so terrible? Claim he’s just another medieval smut peddler and torture-porn merchant trying to up the body count for gratuitous reasons.

Stage 3: Bargaining. No, really. You’ll seriously start paying for HBO Go if your favorite characters stop getting killed off.

Stage 4: Depression. Watch old episodes and reminisce about happier times. Maybe some YouTube montages set to Enya or whatever it is people do. It’s okay to cry a little bit. This stage probably shouldn’t last too long, as although it is a very, very good television show, it is still a television show nonetheless, and TV kills off beloved characters all the time. Going outside may help speed up this stage too. It’s okay. There are no White Walkers there.  

Stage 5: Acceptance. Realize that at this point in the series, you’re too far-gone to leave, even if your favorite character has just been brutally pulverized by members of a rival house. It’s better to just accept this semi-regular emotional hostage crisis now then to be unprepared and left blubbering every time this happens. If it makes you feel any better, take comfort in the knowledge that George R.R. Martin also kills off characters that everyone hates, and that, if the faith to the books continues, (spoiler) Joffrey will be gone soon enough. 

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