Ah, dysfunctional families. You could look at lots of TV shows and see a wide variety of dysfunctional families (in fact, sitcoms pretty much rely on the fact that all families have their humorous issues). However, no show has more dysfunctional families in one place than HBOs Game of Thrones. In fact, I’m pretty sure that being a normal and loving family is actually a crime punishable by death in Westeros and Essos. So without further ado, let’s have a look at some of the offenders – and as I’m aware that I’ll get lynched if I mention anything past the third season by people who haven’t read the books, I’ll only be looking at things that what we have seen in the first three seasons of Game of Thrones so far. Don’t worry though, there are still many fine examples of bad parenting, sibling rivalry and family dysfunction at its best.
Warning: This article may make you realise that no matter how much your family can annoy you at times, they really aren’t that bad.
Who Is The Most Dysfunctional Family In Game Of Thrones?
Now, this is one of the least dysfunctional families in the show and even they have their issues. Ned and Catelyn Stark are only married because Ned’s brother went and got himself killed before he could marry Cat. This didn’t stop them having a loving relationship and having five kids together. However, there is also a bastard thrown into the mix (or ‘The bastard John Snow’ if you want to refer to him as pretty much everyone else seems to on the show) whom Ned brought back from the war… and unsurprisingly, Cat isn’t too happy about or fond off. Ned ultimately dies because he is a good man (which in Westeros is pretty much the equivalent of putting a target on your back) and starts a war that sees his eldest son, Robb, forced to lead an army (which doesn’t end well for the young lad). Sansa left at the mercy of that little toerag Joffrey. Arya forced to fend for herself as she tries to return to Winterfell. And Bran (who was left paralysed because he saw a little too much family love displayed between Jaime and Cersei Lannistar) and Rickon forced to leave their home after it is burned to the ground. Not the best parenting there Ned, maybe you should have just played the Game of Thrones and let the whole murder, incest and treason slide.
Downsides of being a Stark:
- Never knowing where anyone in your family is
- Being branded a traitor because your dad tried to do the right thing.
- The Stark name doesn’t come with the best life expectancy
- The possibility that you will be a Skinchanger and be able to communicate with animals/ Direwolves (which is cool but people frown upon)
Score: 2.5 out of 5 on the Family Dysfunction scale.
The Stark’s strong family bond pretty much evens out the dysfunction of the House.
In the olden days, being born into House Targaryen would have been like winning the lottery. Why? Because these guys had dragons. However, being born as a Targaryen isn’t quite so prestigious nowadays thanks to the fact that, as your father was a clinically insane king, you will have either been killed outright when the king was usurped or find yourself constantly hunted down and unable to return to your homeland. The latter is the fate of the last two Targaryen children, Daenerys (Dany) and Viserys. To make things even more horrible for Dany, Viserys is willing to sell her off as a slave wife to the Dothraki horse-lord, Khal Drogo in return for an army to reclaim his rightful kingdom. This doesn’t quite go exactly to plan as Dany and Drogo actually start to fall in love (the best laid plans eh?) and Viserys is killed for being a whiny brat (there may have been more to it than that but he really was a whiny brat). Unfortunately, Dany’s homelife is soon upset again when Drogo is injured in battle and her attempts to save him cost her both his life and the life of her unborn child. Thankfully her maternal instincts don’t go to waste and she finds herself the adopted mother to three dragons.
Downsides to being a Targaryen
- Being exiled from your home for something you had no control over
- Being under the constant threat of death because of your family name
- Being traded like a piece of meat
- The very real possibility that ‘insanity’ may be hereditary
Score: 3 out of 5 on the Family Dysfunction scale.
Dany is the last Targaryen and seems sane enough (though she is very treacherous) but the madness and cold hearted nature of the family leave them with a score of three.
Oh, boys will be boys. The Baratheon household includes the brothers Robert, a King who enjoys living like a Frat boy more than dealing with boring problems such as you know, running a kingdom. Stannis, the grumpy and (Fire) God fearing older brother. And Renly, the looker, though many a fair maiden is in for some disappointment as Renly only has eyes for the handsome Sir Loris, the Knight of Flowers. Now, these three seem to get on like most siblings, by mocking each other quite a bit and secretly thinking they’re better than the others. However, when Robert is murdered by his darling wife, it isn’t long before this sibling rivalry heats up and sees Renly and Stannis at each other’s throats as they both decide they should be the next King. Well, it could be worse, at least one of them doesn’t send an unholy abomination to kill the other… oh wait.
Downsides to being a Baratheon:
- Constantly feeling like your undeserving siblings have it better than you
- A high possibility somebody close to you will murder you
- Having brothers who will fight over your things before your body is even cold
- If you were born in Kings Landing during the last 20 years, there is a high chance that you might be one of Robert’s many, many bastards… and are likely to be killed horribly.
Score: 3.5 out of 5 on the Family Dysfunction scale.
The Baratheon brothers excel at taking sibling rivalry to new and murderous levels.