In many ways, Ned Stark was a perfect indication of what the series was. It was a franchise that would take your expectations and kind of turn them on their head. The characters you love at the start — the honorable ones — wouldn’t last very long in this Game of Thrones, and would quickly be dispatched, as this world has very little space for honor. Seemingly taking on the role as the lead, actor Sean Bean was more than up for the task of falling on that sword for the sake of the story.
Of course, while the novels had been around for nearly two decades leading into the series’ start, there were few enough people who had read them that his eventual death at the end of Season 1 was still a shock. But even now, several years after his beheading in the show, Ned Stark is someone who resonates with audiences. So why is that? Bean recently sat down with EW, and here’s what he had to say:
“He’s very honorable, he’s very honest, he’s a man of integrity, and he does the dirty work, as he does at the beginning when he chops off the guy’s head. But he’s a man who’s very fair-minded, and he’ll stick to his principles through thick and thin, regardless of who he’s up against. With him going to King’s Landing and getting involved with such backstabbers, it’s something he wasn’t used to, and certainly not at that level. I think it was quite tragic to see him chipped away by these people until he was really struggling, and he was in very deep. Throughout, he maintained his honor and his integrity, and I think that’s something viewers really took to their hearts. He’s one of the very few good men. He was the first good man in Game of Thrones, and he stayed that way to the bitter end. His sons and daughters have taken those values for themselves, and it’s a much richer show because of that — because of him.”
It certainly says a lot that this one good man was the first one to go, doesn’t it? Personally, though, just as an aside, I was happy to see him go in the book. As honorable as the dude was, he was somber as all hell, and whenever I saw a chapter with his name at the heading, I would roll my eyes a bit, knowing that he’d find a way to throw a wet blanket over the happiest of situations. In my eyes, the more interesting characters survived, and that certainly makes for better drama, now doesn’t it?
What did you think of Ned Stark’s death? Tell us your own stories in the comments!
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