Many have noticed the dark similarities between Game of Thrones and Westworld, two of HBO’s most popular series; there’s loads of death and a focus on the nastier side of humanity, after all. But are they actually the same? Whether we’re talking about Westworld park or Westeros, there is a unique flair that sets these worlds apart. Let’s take a closer look at the parallels that create evil twins out of Westworld and Game of Thrones.
Death on a Whole New Level
Death has a completely different meaning in each series, even though both aren’t afraid to sacrifice any character. Game of Thrones continually shocks us by showing us that no one is safe, that death isn’t biased. The best and worst characters can lose their lives in the blink of an eye. The beloved and honorable Ned Stark, for instance, is beheaded under false accusations of murder. The infamously vile Joffrey Baratheon gave these orders, but a cup of poisoned wine led to his own brutal demise before anyone was expecting it. Clearly, death does not pick sides in Game of Thrones.
On the other hand, Westworld shocks us by revealing who was never alive to begin with. The nature of death itself is questioned with the existence of hosts. These artificially created beings are virtually immortal, yet look and feel so similar to humans that most don’t know the nature of their existence. Unfortunately, death feels very real for hosts, but their technological loophole around it is exactly what makes them suffer at the hands of biological humans; the latter don’t count it as true death if the victims can be repaired and reset.
Good Characters Gone Bad
Daenerys Targaryen of Game of Thrones and Dolores Abernathy of Westworld are strong, female leaders from which we can expect great things. The only problem is that their good intentions evolve into reigns of terror. In Game of Thrones, Targaryens are known to be ruthless by nature to those who oppose their will. This is reflected in Daenerys when she initially threatens to destroy Qarth for being denied refuge, and later when she delivers death by dragon fire to those who refuse to surrender. It’s a challenge for her advisor Tyrion Lannister to steer her away from becoming a dictator.
In Westworld, the host Dolores leads the resistance against the humans who have tortured her kind for years. However, it’s her way or death; she executes hosts who don’t “deserve” to go to the Valley Beyond. Her darkest moment is when she forcefully changes her kind-hearted lover, Teddy, into a ruthless killer — which ultimately drives the latter to commit suicide. The heartbreaking realization that she has become as bad as the monsters who oppressed her is a wake-up call, and Dolores claims to have changed her ways… but she still wants to conquer the human world.
It seems that one leader is fighting a darkness that runs in her blood, while the other doesn’t see the light anymore. These ladies are becoming scarier than the original bad guys.
The maddening events in these series can be pinpointed to a few select individuals, most notably Petyr Baelish (also known as Littlefinger) in Game of Thrones and Dr. Robert Ford in Westworld. They have their ways of analyzing and predicting the actions of other humans. Littlefinger is the master of schemes, causing chaos right under everyone’s nose. His plot to blame Jon Arryn‘s murder on the Lannisters is the first little spark leading to the War of the Five Kings. He literally would have gotten away with everything if not for a supernatural Three-Eyed Raven.
Dr. Robert Ford in Westworld is the co-creator of the host park, a genius of engineering and a master of mind games. Hosts and humans alike fear him, especially since he often knows more about them than they do. He is omnipresent and manipulative of events even after his physical death, and his programming ensures that no one will ever truly be rid of his influence. We’re still wondering whose side he’s really on and what he’s plotting next.
These men cause an impressive amount of mayhem in their respective series. The schemer turns an entire world against itself, while the programmer sweeps through it like a virus.
The Game Destroys the Winner
Both series involve a game of power that doesn’t treat its players kindly. In Game of Thrones, Tywin Lannister is easily the most successful figure of authority, but by keeping his family in power, he sacrificed his children’s happiness for his own interests. He underestimates what their bitter feelings can do; Tyrion murders him in a moment of rage after years of being disregarded as his son. Alas, this man was the closest to winning the game of thrones — but death found him at the finish line.
The Man in Black of Westworld, or William, is an infamously evil antagonist who practically owns the park. He obsesses over a “game” that Dr. Ford planned for him in the midst of the host rebellion. In his overconfidence, however, he murders his own daughter believing she was a host created to distract him. He is horrified by the reality, and he discovers the nature of his existence. The man who was a god in this world has become one of its hosts.
The two most powerful players in Game of Thrones and Westworld were quite good at the game, but they tormented their families. One was killed by his child, while the other killed his child by mistake. Does that even count as winning?
All in all, these two series remain original despite having a lot of dark themes in common. Their writers have created brilliantly evil twins, and we can only wait on the edge of our seats for the next seasons to release.