A Family Affair: Incest in HBO’s Game of Thrones

By Lauren Grace on Jan 17, 2012 to Game of Thrones


Game-of-thrones-sex-incestLauren is back with another great Game of Thrones post!  This time she tries to tackle the thorny issue of icenst in HBO’s fantasy drama.  Give it a read and leave her a comment below with your own feelings on the matter.

Incest has been a popular plot point in many HBO shows as of late. It plays a decided role in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire novels and in the HBO adaption. While this no doubt raised some eyebrows, this show was able to break this taboo fairly easily. How was it that Martin and the directors were able to introduce such a despised topic on television with little to no back lash? Perhaps it was how it was introduced to the audience.

In the first episode, it’s not said that Viserys Targaryen has an incestuous relationship with his younger sister, Daeneyrs, but some kind of inappropriate behavior is implied. The way that he sizes up his sister’s naked body in the first episode seems to hint towards there being some kind of interaction that isn’t quite ‘brotherly.’ Dany’s stoic response to his actions also seems to speak to prior abuse of some kind.

This exchange between the Targaryen exiles introduces the possibility of incest, but in no way confirms it. It serves to introduce Dany as a sympathetic character, one that is no stranger to being used. It also seems to be a device to turn the audience against Viserys, who abuses his little sister both physically and mentally. Looking back, this scene with Viserys and Daeneyrs strikes me as an attempt to acquaint the audience with the idea of incest, as if to test the waters before diving right into it…
game-of-thrones-incest-sex-scene-downloadDiving right into it, the audience is then introduced to the Lannisters. These buxom blondes are known for their money and their looks, but a lesser known fact in Westeros: twins, Jaime and Cersei are lovers. Now, you would think this would come as a shock that the audience would be appalled, but they’re not. Maybe it’s because we find out this little tid-bit just moments before Jaime pushes 10 year old Bran Stark out a window for witnessing their incest.

The audience doesn’t have time to let the realization of Jaime and Cersei banging settle in before one of the child protagonists is unceremoniously tossed from a tower, presumably to his death. So, maybe the attempted murder of a child eclipses the act of incest. Or possibly, now that they see the true depravity of the Lannister twins, nothing really can shock them. Jaime and Cersei are just terrible people so what else would you expect from terrible people, but terrible things?

Were you shocked by the incest in the first season of A Game of Thrones? Do you think Game of Thrones season 2 will be as… sexy?  Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts with us!

  • Eleonora Iafano

    To me, nothing is more abhorrent then incest (well, rape, animal abuse & molestation are disgusting and wrong on every level possible, too). The fact that GRRM has it included it in his ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ series is to ignite outrage, disgust and violence. He certainly hits the nail on the head because fans have expressed disgust over it. The twins act of incest also provokes acts of violence – poor Bran being shoved out the window and later on, Ed confronts Cersei and we all know where that leads to. I cringe at those scenes and just look away. No matter what the topic, ASoIaF affects the audience, one way or another!

    • I’d rank incest well under other crimes just because it doesn’t hurt anyone else. BUT that being said I think it’s against human nature to want to have sex with your sister. But people are often and easily sexually confused by their environment so I don’t doubt that this happens in the real world (animals or otherwise).

      There are a lot of sexual tendencies that I don’t understand (wanting to rape someone, wanting to have sex with children, wanting to have sex with animals etc…) Just add incest to this list for me. It exists and I don’t mind that Martin writes about it. Particularly in a book that shadows a time when it was WAY more common (among royalty).

      Disturbing? Yes. Banned from public discourse? No.

      • Taryn Nation

        Shouldn’t be band but I hope people still raise their Children not to sleep with their siblings. Ill never forgot #coulterbidwell and #corrinebidwell incest relationship. They did terrible things to others and I in order to keep their nasty secret and because of their on going sexual sibling relationship they are people not to be trusted around kids. If #coulterbidwell could sleep with his little sister who could put it pass him if he tried to rape a little girl or his own daughter???? And #corrinebidwell must be unstable to get pleasure in having her brother Fuck her and desire her so whose to say children are safe around someone with an unstable mentality and also abuses the drug cocane.

    • Dani

      It’s no more abhorrent than homosexuality. If you don’t agree then you’re a hypocrite.

      • Eleonora Iafano

        I don’t want to start a war on this thread. I am an individual who thinks all people should have equal rights. Incest, however is wrong on so many levels – physically, emotionally, socially and psychologically. I will respectfully state my opinion, as you are free to do. I just want to respect all people, not only on this thread, but all over the world, in general. :)

      • ghanderman

        incest is abhorrent because 1.) evolutionarily speaking, it’s a dead end. evolution favors genetic difference in procreation, not sameness because genetic variation is the key to adaptivity. incest is an evolutionarily maladaptive behavior and violates basic genetic principles of procreative viability. homosexuality on the other hand is not maladaptive because it does not produce genetic offspring, but homosexual individuals still have the capacity to exchange DNA with opposite sex partners with whom they do not share a direct genetic relation. as such it is a purely psycho-social bond that is created between two same-sex individuals that does not run the risk of producing unviable species mutations as does sibling or parent-child incest. 2.) with parent-child incest same argument as #1, but in addition the psychological and emotional damage created is profound and it is highly doubtful that by any interpretation this type of relationship could be called healthy or consensual. 3.) sibling incest carries the same potential for destruction as parent/child incest depending on the age difference and power differential. in the case of the lannister twins, it’s abhorrent for fundamental evolutionary reasons and quite frankly i cannot help but have a disgust response to it. which is normal and present in the vast majority of the human species as a regulatory function of evolutionary differentiation. that being said, it seems to me that their hypothetical relationship is premised on their shared belief that they are exempt from the usual rules precisely because they are twins. to them its normal. their belief that it is normal is no way indicative of an actual natural and universal human norm (meaning it is still a highly deviant behavior even if they manage to function within it).

      • Taryn Nation

        Wow your stupid or possibly involved in incest. Gross. How disgusting. Never will it be accepted or should be. just like rape. Knowing your sleeping with a sibling means your by far mentally unstable. I met two incest siblings and they will do anything to keep their secret. They are also fucked up in a lot of ways and need to never be around children. Incest is a true form of rape.

  • shawn49

    It’s a good thing they didn’t leave it out its a hudge part of the plot and as far as the targaryans its a family tradition and he probably would have married her if he didn’t sell her. This might be fiction but these things were common in the past.

  • Chits_P

    Incest has been dealt in literature already, depicting it in movies & TV shows is no big deal. Why are people bringing focus on the incest part? The show is awesome, incest is a part of the narration. Its an historical show during that time incest was prevalent.

    So its not that a big deal!

    • Beacuse of all the incetous peopl in the media eye. Like the jardashians or angela jolie. America is comparing it to gays but it no waynis it simulare. Being ok with brothers and sister is the sane as fathers with daughters. It is a big fucking deal. Just like only 15-21 are aloud to be models which send the message that its ok to have sexual feeling about 15 years olds when out of their age group. The media is everywher there for effects how we think feel and act. I know of two incetious people and they lie and cheat and beacuse of their relationship they are easily becoming selfish evil peopl. Justblike those who beat animals they are the same. Incest is a evil act

  • Anonymous

    People get upset about incest because it runs counter to human evolution. Read up on the Westermark effect. This isn’t homosexuality: left to their own devices, humans don’t indulge in relations with those they grew up with. Heck, left to their own devices, MAMMALS rarely indulge in incest. Homosexuality is much more common in nature.

    The reason incest happens is one of two possibilities:

    1. The two are long-lost relatives and did not know one another between 0-7 years of age.

    2. Psychological abuse.

    It’s just wrong. Flat out.

    • Lauren Grace

      Well, in the Lannister’s case we can rule out possibility #1 because we know that Cersei and Jaime have known each other for their whole lives.

      So, if it must be the second possibility, which twin is responsible for the psychological abuse that caused their incestuous relationship?

      • A Song of Ice and Fire is a DIFFERENT UNIVERSE than ours… in fact it’s much more based on medieval Europe where incest actually took place in royal parties.

        So in that context it isn’t as horrifying to me. If it were a show based in modern times like Seinfeld or Grey’s Anatomy where two of the cast members were engaging in incest it might be a little iffy.

      • Anonymous

        Since this is a work of fiction it could be NEITHER twin, it depends on what George RR Martin says. It’s a world that’s clearly not Earth: he could simply say there is no westermark effect on Westeros.

        But at a guess? Probably Jamie to begin with, but they’re probably abusing each other mutually by the time they’re adults.

    • None

      You are WAY wrong. Incest is incredibly common in nature, especially among primates. In fact primates usually engage in incest as a form of sexual education, this is also common among many human cultures. Left to their own devices animals almost always engage in incest. This is well known and accepted among academics.

      Also, the Westermark effect is not a proven theory, there is no consensus on this. The reason incest happens is simple: Sex is fun, it’s a way to socialize and bond especially among primates. Just look at Bonobos.

      • MODERATED:
        I disagree incest is not that common compared to other things in nature. It is mother nature one law that she will not forgive or allow that is why there is inbreds amoung all species who do this. Anyone involved in this is wrong. Incest just means your raper and unmoral human.

        • Jason

          Why is it that people who think they have the moral high ground in situations like this can’t write or spell? It can’t be coincidence.

          • Taryn Nation

            It’s not about about spelling idiot. We express our right opinions because we are right and we express it with passion typing fast and posting before checking to see if the spell checker or microphon we are speaking into phrased or misspelled the sentences incorrectly. Lol sleeping with sibling men’s you far far less educated you disgrace and human who is beneath me. Go talk to #coulterBidwell and #corrinebidwell #corrinewilliams #T.s.Growltiger the incest brother and sister. She’s a coke head because she hates herself for whoring herself to her brother. And he’s a sex addicted whose became a federal agent so he can get away with fucking his sister. Incest brings out the worst. No religion needed to say it’s wrong. Nature has its rules and very few. Incest is always punishable and will always be, as well as look down on. It’s a true form of rape, hate, and is one of the most disturbing traits to posses. You are automatically less than human and deserve to be treated as a disease if your willing involved in incest. I’m sorry that a family member raped you. That is the only reason why you or anyone says incest is ok because they are guilty of it or having incest feelings. Your never going to be accepted or respected because you don’t deserve it. Gross, gross, gross, your a diease. Please die your exsitance is a worthless disgrace and your the same as ones who skin animals alive or have sex with Children.

  • I think people are just upset because they weren’t expecting it.. maybe in season two they’ll not only expect it but anticipate a sex scene or two!

  • RainbowGuard

    I don’t really get why anyone would be upset about incest, how is it a big deal? Hell, in Sweden you can even marry your half-sister or -brother, yet its people are well adjusted and some of the happiest in the world.

    • Lauren Grace

      I find it hard to correlate the happiness of Sweden’s people with their ability to marry their half-siblings.

      • RainbowGuard

        I didn’t say it’s the reason for their happiness.

        What I said was that with this kind of legislation in place they still have a fully functional society of people who are among the most happiest in the world so clearly it didn’t hurt them.

        • Swede

          just have to say that Swedes do not run around and get married with our brothers and sisters, it is VERY rare and require a special permit.

    • MODERATED:
      Ew, yuck. Karma will come.

      • Jason

        No, it won’t. And if karma was coming in general, don’t you think it might stop in Syria or the Bible Belt first?

        • Taryn Nation

          You are not educated and very um disturbed. You must have been raped. You need help. I think you can find the help you need on the internet. Good luck to you and please don’t make inbred babies.










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