It is difficult to pinpoint a central character in George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones,” where characters are only developed into a protagonist so they can be killed off in an extremely brutal manner when the readers least suspect it.
The HBO adaptation of the iconic fantasy series follows the same path, executing fan-favorite characters at most unfortunate of times in most unexpected settings (read: The Red Wedding). While some of these sudden deaths are actually enjoyable (Joffrey!), certain casualties make the audience question the point of the entire story — especially that one character who might or might not have met his end at the end of season 5.
Therefore, in order to determine who is worthy to win the game of thrones and rule the Seven Kingdoms, a team of mathematicians took it upon themselves to study the influence and relationships of each remaining character and find out the one true hero of them all.
Macalester College associate professor of mathematics Andrew J. Beveridge and undergrad student Jie Shan approached the problem at hand with a scientific mind and published eye-opening research, aptly titled “Network of Thrones,” in Math Horizons.
The duo applied the network science, a branch of applied graph theory, to map out character clout and used a plethora of disciplines — including economics, sociology and computer science — to examine how information flows from one individual to another in the series.
“This is a fanciful application of network science,” Beveridge told Quartz. “But it’s the kind of accessible application that shows what mathematics is all about, which is finding and explaining patterns.”
The results are certainly interesting.
Apparently, Tyrion Lannister is the true protagonist of the “Game of Thrones.” Apart from the fact that he gets most POV chapters in the series, his connections to characters spans both sides of the narrow sea. While in the books, the youngest Lannister has yet to meet Daenerys Targaryen, in the TV series, both of their characters have become well-acquainted. Also, his earlier encounter with Ned Stark’s bastard Jon Snow and his marriage to Sansa Stark has made him possibly the only character to have such an effect on the storyline.
Interestingly, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark are the second and third most important character in the series, according to the research, while Arya Stark lags behind her siblings. The Mother of Dragons couldn’t manage to compete with her predecessors mainly because she’s living in isolation, away from the drama of Westeros.
“Daenerys really represents the future — you can see what’s about to happen based on the people she’s linked with,” Beveridge added.
“Game of Thrones” is set to return on April 24.