“Death is certain, the time is not”: mortality and survival in Game of Thrones

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Background: Game of Thrones is a popular television series known for its violent and graphic portrayal of the deaths of its characters. This study aimed to examine the mortality and survival of important characters in Game of Thrones. Methods: Important characters appearing in Seasons 1 to 7 of Game of Thrones were included, and data on sociodemographic factors, time to death, and circumstances of death were recorded. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis with Cox proportional hazard regression modelling were used to quantify survival times and probabilities and to identify independent predictors of mortality, respectively. Results: Of the 330 characters that were included, 186 (56.4%) had died by the end of the study period. All but 2 deaths were due to injury, burns, or poisoning, with the majority being caused by assault (63.0%) or operations of war (24.4%). The survival time ranged from 11 s to 57 h and 15 min, with the median survival time estimated to be 28 h and 48 min. The probability of surviving at least 1 h in the show was 0.86 (95% CI 0.82 to 0.89). The analyses revealed worse survival for characters who were male (P < 0.001), lowborn (P < 0.001), had not switched allegiance during the show (P < 0.001), and who featured more prominently in the show (P < 0.001). After adjusting for other factors, whether or not a character had switched allegiance during the show and how prominently a character featured in the show were revealed to be independent predictors of death. Conclusions: The mortality risk is high among characters in Game of Thrones. The probability of dying within the first hour after first appearing on screen was about 14%. By the end of the seventh season, more than half of the important characters had died, with violent deaths being the most common by far. The probability of survival was worse for characters who were male or lowborn, who had not switched allegiance during the show, and who featured more prominently. There is great potential for preventing violent deaths in the world of Game of Thrones.




Lystad, R. P., & Brown, B. T. (2018). “Death is certain, the time is not”: mortality and survival in Game of Thrones. Injury Epidemiology, 5(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40621-018-0174-7

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