As you know or may not depending on how crappy a kid you are, Father’s Day is this Sunday and I thought it best to do a tribute to some of the best and worst Dads in Westeros. If there is a show that can truly show the spectrum of what it is to be a good father, I think Game of Thrones gives us plenty of examples. I will say that although not a father yet I look forward to the day when I can let my kids watch the show and read the books A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s difficult to gauge what age is appropriate with the adult content of the series but I think if you’re kids are mature enough and they’ve probably seen worse anyway without the intelligent storytelling but that’s a post for another day. Let’s get to the paternal pageantry!
It’s obvious that the beginning of Game of Thrones sets up Ned Stark to be one of the few good characters through and through. Most of Ned’s storyline is consumed with him balancing his devotion to his family and his honor. His whole journey begins when his own father figure Lord Jon Arryn mysteriously dies as the Hand of the King and his childhood friend turned Usurper, King Robert, travels to Winterfell to ask him to take his place. Ned, dutiful as ever, obliges and has to leave his home, wife and sons but takes his daughterss to court so we’re able to get a better glimpse of Ned’s parenting skills or lack thereof throughout the season. Ned may be naive about a lot of things, I mean a lot of things, but no one can question his love for his children. I mean the dude even let his “bastard” Jon Snow live with his family at Winterfell. He also lets all his kids, after some hesitation, have their very own Direwolf puppies! My dad would never let me keep a wolf puppy. Starks are sooo cool.
Ned makes mistake after mistake once in court but his biggest mistake as a father was even bringing Sansa and Arya to court with him but that was tradition. Ned is forced to “put down” Sansa’s Direwolf Lady because of those damn Lannisters but at least he gets her a doll to make up for it. The doll makes an interesting cameo in the second season. Ned also gets his more feisty tom-boyish daughter Arya “dancing lessons” aka sword fighting lessons from the First-Sword of Braavos Syrio Forel. Major cool points for Dad in doing this as it basically sets up our little wolf for being a cat chasing, needle poking badass that everyone loves.
SPOILER ALERT: Ned ultimately starts putting his nose into other people’s incest and gets his head chopped off ,but not before he is convinced to make a false confession and take the Black for his daughters’ sake. Even in his last moments Ned is full of courage and integrity as he signals to Yoren, who himself becomes a surrogate father figure for Arya, to protect his youngest girl by getting her out of King’s Landing. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Sansa, but hey his head was about to be lopped off. I think it would have been cool to see Ned at the Wall buddying up with Jon in the cold–finally getting to talk about his mother! Seeing Ned back with his brother Benjen would also probably be the best thing ever–bros for life. I think I could have watched a spinoff just based on the Wall if Ned was Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Ugh but the worst son ever Joffrey just ruined all my hopes and dreams!
Father’s day gift idea: Valyrian Steel Necktie. If Ned had the same strong metal of the sword that cut off his head around his neck he’d probably had a fighting chance to stay alive. I know if I lived in Westeros I wouldn’t leave home without one.
I never had much love for Robert in the books as he comes across as a womanizing drunk and is equally so in the TV series but he’s played with such gusto and personality in the first season by Mark Addy that I find myself really missing him as the show moves forward. King Robert doesn’t get the honor points that Ned had but he does get some cool points just for being King of the Seven Kingdoms. His kids want for nothing but most of their care-taking is a result of their incestuous mother Cersei. Robert is pretty oblivious as a King as well as a father expressing his motives rather explicitly throughout the series as only wanting to eat, screw and drink to an early grave. And that’s exactly what happened with the help of an ambitious Lannister squire and his scheming cousin-lover (Cersei–it was Cersei who had him killed).
It’s hard not to fall in love with the jolly hedonist Robert. He’s fun and he likes to have a good time. We’ve all had that uncle at the Christmas party that drinks a little too much spiced egg-nog and we all laugh at for passing out on the stairs. Robert wasn’t the true biological father of the sinister Joffrey but he was responsible for raising him and his negligence probably factors in to a lot more of the boy’s psyche than we realize. Robert did make one wise decision before dying by putting Ned in charge as Protector of the Realm and charging him with raising Joffrey right although it’s pretty clear he’s a lost cause especially with his mother letting him do whatever he wants. Robert never troubled himself with the politics of the kingdom or concerned himself with playing catch or tea parties with his children–he was a warrior who had no battles to fight later in life.
Father’s Day gift idea: An intervention. If Robert went to an AA meeting once in a while then a lot of his problems would be solved. I know there are at least 12 Steps somewhere in the Red Keep. I know quite a few Westerosi who could benefit from getting with the program.
Tywin shares more fatherly traits with Ned than Robert if you can believe it. I actually think Tywin is probably more devoted to his family’s namesake more so than Ned because in the end his legacy is more important to him than honor. Tywin tells his son Jaimie this in the first season supporting his actions later in the series when his son is captured. Although Tywin doesn’t often express his love for his children, most notably Tyrion, as most of his harshness seems to be a direct result of losing his wife Joanna in Tyrion’s childbirth. Tywin also has a distaste of Tyrion’s relationship with prostitutes stemming from a story of when Tyrion married one and in disgust Tywin has Tyrion watch as a garrison of guards rape her. Later Tywin puts Tyrion in charge of cleaning all the drains in Casterly Rock. Thanks dad!
Thankfully we get a better glimpse of Tywin when he arrives at Harrenhal in the second season to contemplate battle strategies and histories with his cupbearer unbeknownst to him Arya Stark. I felt his scenes with Arya were some of the strongest character dynamics of the show and really played up the idea that Arya could really do with a stern but playful mentor and Tywin enjoyed a smart and brash young girl, to a point at least. The best thing Tywin could do as a father happened at the end of the second season when he rode in on his white horse and saves the day. Yay! Cersei doesn’t kill herself! No, but I’m seriously glad Tommen didn’t drink that Nightshade. Prince Tommen Forever! It was Tywin that saved the kingdom right? Tyrion didn’t have anything to do with it? What else are father’s for than to steal all the credit for saving a city.
Father’s Day gift idea: Carving knives. We saw in the first season how good Tywin is butchering up a stag so what better way to say thanks for saving King’s Landing and Happy Father’s Day then with a set of Gold inlaid carving knives with crimson hilts? Give him this gift and you’ll be able to use their infamous catch phrase “A Lannister always pays his debts” and sneer like a villain.
I think the Late Lord Frey deserves a mention in singling out father’s within the Game of Thrones universe. We get to meet the 90-year-old ruler of the Twins when Catelyn must make a proposition of marrying off one of Lord Frey’s daughters and sons to the Starks in a deal to get permission to cross a bridge (I hope it’s a beautiful bridge). Walder is the Octo-mom of Westeros times 10. When we see him he’s on his eighth wife, who he brags her honey is all is (puke), and is reported to have over 100 descendants with 22 trueborn sons and 7 trueborn daughters and an innumerable amount of bustards and unreported offspring. This dude has never heard of Moon-Tea. It’s actually kind of ingenious having so many heirs to ensure the family lineage but I’m thinking Father’s Day is a huge deal at House Frey. The man probably gets more presents than the King on his Nameday.
Father’s Day gift idea: Viagra. I had to go there. It seems the Lord of the Crossing has no trouble reproducing in his old age but really how long is that going to last. I have a feeling that some blood magic is going on if you know what I mean but it wouldn’t hurt to have some kind of herbal stimulant by the bedside in case of performance anxiety or in his case overuse.
If you’re on a budget and can’t afford a visit to the apothecary you could go for the cheapest and most thoughtful gift of naming your children after him. Walder JR for the boys and Walda for the girls. I’m sure having upteenth Walder’s won’t get confusing at family reunions at all. Big Walder is the younger brother right?
What are some gifts you would give to your favorite or least favorite fathers in the show?