Jon Snow without a helmet

Game of Thrones: “Ahead” of most fantasies

Game of Thrones is one of those TV shows that grips much of the world and creates so much discussion. People spoiling the show to others, people being confused when hearing about the show. So much conversation. One of my favourite conversation topics about Game of Thrones stopped many years ago when it was clearly accepted that this is certainly a high fantasy story.

If you, my singular reader, haven’t seen the show, or only saw the first few episodes, you may have wondered how it might be a fantasy show. It’s pretty clear from the outset. No, I’m not referring to the vicious ice zombies, the dragons or a world that has a huge ice wall. What truly shows the story’s fantasy setting is the use, or lack thereof, of helmets. None of the primary and secondary characters wear helmets! At least when it would be smart to do so.

Jon Snow in battle with no helmet
Jon’s no helmet look. Wouldn’t a helmet be useful in the midst of a battle?

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think that putting a helmet on Ser Jaime’s head for an extended period of time is a crime against beauty and goodness. But there’s something in our world that suggests the value of keeping one’s head helmeted: realism.

Ser_Jaime with no helmet
Ser Jaime needs no helmet. Westeros needs Ser Jaime with no helmet.

The show goes out of its way to show the gritty realism of feuding noble houses and the carnage of war but insists on leaving the heads of its heads of state bare. In the second season episode “Blackwater” I resigned myself to a show that’s more fantastical than The Hobbit or The Dark Crystal. In the episode, would be king Stannis Baratheon leads his army in a siege against King’s Landing. King’s Landing is a city with many defensive walls and plenty of rocks to throw from said walls. Our real-world understanding would tell us that a rock’s force meeting a soldier’s head would be, at best, fatal but Stannis does not wear a helmet.

Stannis Baratheon needs no helmet.
Stannis sees storming a walled city without a helmet as an obvious non-issue.

People around Stannis wear helmets. In fact, they have rocks meet them head on resulting in most certain death.

Why doesn’t Stannis wear a helmet while laying siege to a walled city? Because this is a fantasy world inhabited by super skulled humanoid creatures who have names and roles to play.

Scared soldier who has helmet but will not survive
Poor fellow. His helmet [SPOILER!] does not save him. If only he were named.

What about pretty boy Prince Oberyn? Well, he proves that as these super skulled creatures age, their skulls weaken and they can easily be crushed.

But Prince Inigo Montoya didn’t look old, how is that aging? Again, fantasy. Game of Thrones is very much fantasy, you can tell the age of these super skulled humanoids by the amount of utility they have to the world’s plot. Pure fantasy.

What about The Mountain?

Mountains aren’t peop- OH! Right, well, let’s consider what aging is. It’s essentially the degradation of life towards an end commonly known as death. The Mountain was mostly dead, which is why they tried to revive him instead of searching his pockets for spare change. Is Game of Thrones just an R-rated tax return-filled retelling of The Princess Bride? I digress, so Mr. Mountain being mostly dead must mean he’s aged a fair bit and it behooves his employer to give him a helmet so helmet-y that it covers most of his head and face.

This, my dear reader, is quite the fantasy. Sure, zombie ice dragons and teleportation existing before the combustion engine are very fantastical but a world in which only people of power and significance have near indefatigable skulls seems almost too fantastical for me.

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