HBO’s Game of Thrones: Ever Wonder Who The Main Character Is? These Mathematicians Did, And They May Have Figured It Out

A Tangled Web

Let’s face it; Game of Thrones is not by any means a simple show to follow. In addition to hundreds of minor characters, the HBO show based on the Song of Ice And Fire book series also has several major people who could be heroes but have a little bit of villain in them as well. So, who is/are the main character/characters of Thrones? If you’ve been dying to know the answer, you’re in luck; there are two people who want to know, too.

Two More Characters…Sort Of

Meet Andrew J. Beveridge, associate professor of mathematics at Macalester College; and Jie Shan, an undergraduate there. QZ got the details on the graph these two ambitious adventurers made, in which they drew a link between every character who appears within 15 words of another in book 3, A Storm of Swords.

“The resulting network structure (above) broke the characters into extremely accurate communities that show the geographical, familial, and even adversarial ties between them. Ranked first in every measure, save for one, was the same character: Tyrion.”

And The Title Of Most Important Character Goes To…

Yes, that’s right. The most hated character in his family is also one of the most important in Thrones, according to Beveridge and Shan’s work. Tyrion may not get along well with his sister Cersei or his father Tywin, but the graph accounts for both friendly and not-so-friendly relations, so both relationships still matter to Tyrion’s importance score. This is also surprising when one considers that relatively few chapters are told from the viewpoint of members of House Lannister. We do know that Cersei is almost always thinking about Tyrion, though, so that adds to his central role as well, even though the two are anything but close.

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A Study of Thrones

Other likely top picks for Thrones’ most important character would include Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, and of course, Jon Snow. Dany’s ancestor Aegon I is also mentioned a good deal in the TV version of Game ofThrones, though the study was based from the books, so that may have played a factor as well. In addition to being one of the most watched (and pirated) shows on TV, HBO’s Game of Thrones is also one of the most analyzed, with scores of fan theories floating around for Season 6.

Network Of Thrones

So, how did Beveridge and Shan accomplish this sorcery? Movieweb found an excerpt from the duo’s research paper, which states that they used Network Science to connect each Thrones character to another. This new field of science involves seeing how people are connected to one another in a semi-Facebookesque way. The researchers mentioned that their other top picks for central characters were Sansa and Jon Snow, but Tyrion’s position as Hand of The King puts him in the middle of everyone’s scheming. Their full five-page paper, entitled Network Of Thrones, is available for download from the scholarly article source for $16.

All Of The Magic, None Of The Bloodshed

Okay, so the science behind selecting a main protagonist for Thrones is no dragon-summoning, Beric Dondarrion-reanimating type of deal, but it’s still cool to think about (and you don’t have to pay with someone’s life first). It’s also interesting that the researchers were able to apply social-network type methods of connection to a world set way, way, before anything even close to Facebook ever existed. Let us know what you think of the scientists’ findings. Would you change or add anything? Who would you pick for the most important character and why?

[Photo by Eric Jamison/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images]

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