There is no denying that in Season 1, the world of A Game of Thrones is ruthless in its dark splendor. You win, or you die – yet in the meantime, if you make a few choice remarks, you get major banter points. Let’s admit it: no matter how many morally questionable characters populate George R. R. Martin’s fantasy world, they all sure know how to turn a phrase. I know that I for one have experienced embarrassing moments of reckless abandon where I’ve found myself positively cackling with delight at Tyrion’s latest sarcastic comment, or snorting at Robert’s crass, offhand remarks. Not only do these moments add humor to a script otherwise heavy with serious themes, but they bring an extra dimension of realism to the characters – after all, when winter is coming, you’ve got to have your wits and your tongue sharp.
5 – Renly: Such a shame, Littlefinger! Would’ve been so nice for you to have a
Littlefinger: And tell me Lord Renly – when will you be having your friend?
4 – Littlefinger: Tell me, does someone somewhere keep your balls in a little box?
Varys: You know, I have no idea where they are, and we had been so close.
Love him or hate him, Petyr Baelish sure is a master of wit. Although self-serving and slippery as fish, there is something about his opportunism, which is still amusing, suave and stylish. His comebacks reflect just that – his humor is always provocative, and always at someone’s expense. Having all the dirt on everyone means he can sharpen his words until every joke is a double-edged sword, innocently amusing to anyone who doesn’t know the context, but downright threatening when he means it to be. I for one think this sharp wit particularly shines in scenes where he’s evenly matched. For instance, the scenes in Season 1 where he and Varys exchange subtle insults cloaked in casual conversation are an absolute guilty pleasure – both too experienced to rise to each other’s provocations, the careful comebacks drip with playful danger.
3 – Jaime: Tell me you’re not thinking of taking the Black?
Tyrion: And go celibate? The whores would go begging from Dorne to Casterly
Rock! No, I just want to stand on top of the wall and piss off the edge of the
2 – Shagga: How would you like to die Tyrion son of Tywin?
Tyrion: In my own bed, at the age of 80, with a bellyful of wine and a girl’s
mouth around my c**k?
As Tyrion says, a mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone… and there’s hardly a moment where he doesn’t give that sharp wit of his plenty of practice. Tyrion’s sense of humor is decidedly sarcastic, and he grasps the ironies of a situation immediately to make use of them. A lot of the time, Tyrion may be providing a bit of comic relief to cut otherwise tense dialogues, but within his jibes often hide truths that everyone is thinking but not saying. His humor is also distinctive for being completely irreverent. There’s nothing – be it the Wall, the Night’s Watch, the royal family or the Seven – which cannot be poked fun at. In fact, this disregard of authority is part of what makes him so endearing and his humor a perfect mix of honest and rebellious.
1 – Ned: Leave the jousting to the younger men.
Robert: Why, because I’m king? Piss on that, I want to hit somebody!
Oh, Robert. Sure, he has his faults, but you can’t help feel a little sorry for him and his rough-and-ready ways, especially when surrounded by scheming and infinitely more underhanded advisors and lords. Hardly as witty as Tyrion or as slick as Littlefinger, Robert a man of few words, all of which are loud and lusty, and you can’t help but like him for not taking himself too seriously. Who knows, what with the tricks, trials and tribulations which the (very few) moral characters end up having to face in the world of Game of Thrones, perhaps our beer-bellied Baratheon has the right end of the stick: drink, and make merry. Either way, amongst the cunning humor and sharp jibes, Robert’s frank and funny comebacks definitely add flavor to many episodes. Here’s hoping Season 2 will maintain and build upon the smart and enjoyable humor hidden within our favorite epic fantasy show!
And here are some honorable mentions:
Renly: Winter may be coming but I’m afraid the same cannot be said for my
Tyrion: Though I would treasure your friendship, I’m mainly interested in your
facility with murder.
Tyrion: We have our differences, Jamie and I. He’s braver… I’m better looking…
Robert: Yes, yes, enough of the bloody pomp, have at it!
Tyrion: … and here we have Bronn, son of…?
Bronn: You wouldn’t know him.
What about you? What are some of your favorite witty, sarcastic or funny quotes? Leave a comment below with your own choices!
Sarah is a final-year English Literature student from the UK, a freelance artist and graphic designer, and an overall escapist bookworm whose latest obsession is A Game of Thrones. Follow her on Twitter @sarahjilani!