Warning: this article contains spoilers for all previous seasons of Game of Thrones.
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In the finale of the sixth season of Game of Thrones, the doors to the Great Hall open with an echoing creek. In walks Cersei, towed by armor-clad guards. With her short hair and armored dress, she stands in stark contrast with the Cersei we were introduced to in the first season.
She take her place in front of the Iron Throne.
Qybrun holds the crown in his head. His face is grim as he proclaims, “I now proclaim Cersei, of the House Lannister, first of her name, Queen of the Andals of the First Men, protector of the Seven Kingdoms.”
Cersei and Jaime share a pained look. They know what the cost has been for Cersei to end up on the Iron Throne.
She has risen from her defeated position in the previous season to gain a new level of power. She has orchestrated the deaths of the people who sought to bring her down: Margaery, Olenna, and the High Sparrow.
But all of her children are dead. Her victory has come at an irreversible price.
The sixth season of Game of Thrones tied together a lot of loose ends. In classic Game of Thrones style, there were some major character deaths—in quick succession.
Game of Thrones has a reputation for killing off its audience’s favorite characters. It’s become a running joke and a warning that fans give to new viewers: don’t get too attached to any character, because they’ll probably get axed. Or poisoned. Or stabbed. Or pushed into an abyss. You get the idea.
Seasons will typically wrap up with at least one major death (or massacre) in either the finale or one of the later episodes–y’know, just to leave viewers feeling good.
The point is, there is a lot of murdering and double-crossing in Game of Thrones, and it’s generally in a character’s grab for power. Betrayals between allies are a regular day occurrence in Westeros.
We decided to take a closer look at these acts of betrayal. We wanted to see: who double-crosses who? Which characters gain the most from their acts of treachery? Who rises in power and who falls? What were the relationships between the betrayers and the betrayed? What were their motives? Was it for power, love, revenge, money?
To create our Game of Thrones infographic, we combed through the last six seasons of the show to chart the acts of betrayal and the resulting shifts in power for each character involved. We recorded 77 different acts of betrayal–every betrayal in the show, to our knowledge.
We define betrayal as an act of going against one’s word, or an act of breaking the trust of a family member or ally. We then recorded the acts and categorized them by perpetrator (the one who committed the act of betrayal) and victim (the one who was betrayed), the relationship between both characters, and the motive behind the betrayal.
You can view the full spreadsheet of our findings here.
I want to make it clear that we are looking strictly at the TV show. Any differences between the books and the show are not accounted for–we’re just looking at the events as they have unfolded in the show.
Game of Thrones infographic: the web of betrayals
I’m going to put forward a notion: power favors the treacherous.
At least, that’s what Game of Thrones seems to suggest. The characters in Game of Thrones who have emerged by the most powerful by the end of the fifth season are, by and large, the most treacherous.
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A cursory glance at the numbers shows that the first season had the highest number of betrayals between characters. Characters were busy in season one. They got the ball rolling for the fallout that would unravel in the next four seasons.
You’ll remember, for example, the betrayal that started it all: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish agrees to be Ned Stark’s ally and help him reveal the Lannister’s attempted murder of Bran Stark. But he quickly turns and betrays Ned, aiding the City Watch in taking down Ned’s men. Things really went well for Ned after that.
We examined every act of betrayal in the last six seasons (again, to our knowledge–there was a lot to keep track of) to see who betrayed who and what the outcomes of their betrayals were. What we found was that in the Game of Thrones, to deceive is, usually, to come out on top. The characters who by the end of the sixth season have the most power have also committed the most acts of betrayal. Most of their victims are dead and their houses decimated.
Even though a significant number of characters have committed acts of betrayal, the majority of characters are still more likely to be betrayed. The only exceptions are Petyr Baelish, Ellaria Sand and Ramsay Bolton.
Who betrayed who and why?
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
This seems to be the case in Game of Thrones, where the majority of betrayers were allies (52%) and family members (30%) of the betrayed.
But why? What motives drive them to turn on their own people? The majority of characters who betray their allies do it to gain power, followed by revenge. Of the characters who betray their own family members, their primary motives are equally out of love for another character and out of a desire for power.
If you want a prime example, just look at the mess that is the Lannister family. They deserve their own reality TV show. Cersei Lannister cheats on her husband with her own brother, Jaime Lannister. Cersei asks Jaime to kill their other brother, Tyrion Lannister. Jaime goes against Cersei’s wishes and frees Tyrion when he’s imprisoned. Tyrion murders his father, Tywin Lannister, on the freaking toilet (truly, a game of thrones).
Needless to say, dinner with the Lannisters is tense.
The infographic below shows the relationship between the betrayer and the betrayed, and their reason for treachery.
Who knows how many betrayals we can expect to get in the seventh season of Game of Thrones? I know I’ll be watching with a bowl of popcorn and a box of tissues beside me.
How to make your own mind map
We had a blast geeking out and creating this Game of Thrones mind map infographic. So we wanted to give you a chance to make a mind map of your own!
Mind maps allow you to flesh out ideas visually. They’re great for drawing connections between things that are not always obvious (like someone plotting behind your back…).
For most day-to-day purposes like brainstorming sessions, event planning, or presentation preparation, your mind maps doesn’t have to get as complicated as Game of Thrones.
Here is a simplified mind map template you can use:
1. Use shapes to break information into hierarchical categories
Mind maps typically use a radial structure, meaning information branches outwards from one (or several) central topic into subtopics.
In the mind map we created for our Game of Thrones infographic, we organized characters by who they betrayed and also by the number of betrayals they’ve been involved in. Each character is represented by a circle and their betrayals are drawn using arrows.
The characters with bigger circles have been involved in more betrayals and the character with smaller circles have been involved in less betrayals.
The connecting arrows with thicker lines represent that the betrayals had a higher impact on the plot, while the dashed lines represent that a betrayal was implied.
In the template we created for you, the central topic is in the biggest circle, while the subtopics are in smaller circles.
Generally, when creating an information hierarchy, it’s best to use:
- Big circles for the central topic.
- Medium circles for the subtopics.
- And smaller circles for supporting ideas.
2. Use icons, numbers and colors to make information memorable
If you’re creating a mind map with a bunch of subtopics, it can be easy to lose track of each one.
In our Game of Thrones infographic, we color-coded each character so that it was easier to distinguish which betrayals were linked to them.
We used a similar approach in the mind map template we created for you:
- We numbered each subtopic to indicate which step in the design process it is.
- Each subtopic also has its own color.
- And an icon to make the topics more memorable.
3. Use simple, easy to read fonts
Mind maps are meant to make information easier to understand, not more complicated. That’s why they should be kept nice and organized.
This is a time to avoid gaudy decorative fonts (we’re looking at you, Comic Sans). Opt for simple, easy to read fonts instead.
In the mind map template, we used Roboto for the central topic title, Roboto Condensed for the subtopic titles, and Open Sans for the supporting ideas.
As a rule of thumb, use no more than three different fonts in one mind map.
Now you have the tools to create your own awesome mind map. Get started here.
Want to learn more about creating infographics? Read out in-depth guide:
Credits: Infographics designed by Joanna Lu and Steve Shearer. Data collected and analyzed with the help of Eugene Woo and Joanna Lu.
Infographic updated June 28, 2017 to include events from Game of Thrones season six.