5 Ways 'Westworld' Season 1 Mirrors 'Game of Thrones'

A closer look at the intersection of Ned Stark and Robert Ford, among other characters across the two HBO shows.
Courtesy of HBO

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for HBO's Westworld and Game of Thrones.]

Over the course of its first season, Westworld revealed itself as a complicated and original series, while still boasting familiar shades of other shows.

There's Lost, with the shared Bad Robot DNA and the elaborate character-centric mysteries. There's Person of Interest, yet another Bad Robot show, a machine-minded drama from the mind of Jonathan Nolan, one of the co-creators responsible for Westworld. There's Battlestar Galactica, with the shared focus on mechanical entities searching for sovereignty and the way history repeats itself. (The decades-spanning "loops" of Westworld, especially the ones surrounding Evan Rachel Wood's Dolores, are effectively the new "all of this has happened before, all of this will happen again.") Really, the list goes on.

For another example of a show with structural similarities to Westworld, look no further than HBO's other massive genre-bending franchise: Game of Thrones. Beyond the two shows both airing on HBO and sharing some common proper nouns (here's looking at you, "Westerosworld"), the first season of Thrones actually features some compelling mirrors with the first year of Westworld. For instance …

1. A History of Violence

Both shows feature vast, imaginative worlds with equally vast histories. In the case of Game of Thrones, fans had to push through several episodes (and even seasons in some cases) before learning certain character names, let alone the intricate historical rivalries between each house. Likewise, Westworld tells its tale across a great period of time spanning a little more than three decades, with brutally violent moments in the past resonating in the present. House Targaryen's fall before the events of Game of Thrones and Arnold's (Jeffrey Wright) death before the Westworld park's official opening both serve as shots fired long ago, the bullets only reaching their final destination all these years later.

2. The Rise of the Khaleesi

Emilia Clarke's transformation from frightened fugitive to cunning conqueror is one of the single most sublime components of the Game of Thrones viewing experience, especially as it unveiled across the show's first season. ("Fire cannot kill a dragon" is one of the Mother of Dragons' most underrated lines.) For its part, Westworld offered up two similar stories that fit comfortably within the Targaryen mold: Dolores (Evan Rachel Wood) and Maeve (Thandie Newton), both of whom rose from subjugation to make their own fully conscious choices. Like Daenerys, Maeve was reborn following a great fire. And just as Dany ended season one with powerful dragons at her disposal, Dolores emerged from her own awakening by opening fire on her human oppressors, signaling the start of a revolution.

3. The Fall of the Hero

The first seasons of Thrones and Westworld alike boast prominent roles for heroic men with strong moral compasses, only to crumble under the weight of their own good deeds. In the case of Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) on Thrones, the Lord of Winterfell's bitter beheading comes after he's stubbornly followed his sense of nobility to an early grave. In the case of William (Jimmi Simpson), the mild-mannered Westworld skeptic eventually takes a hard left turn toward violence after losing the love of his life, Dolores. While William still has his head, his transformation into the Man in Black (Ed Harris) is nonetheless a death of sorts, killing the guise of nobility in favor of a darker sense of purpose.

4. The Death of the Star

Before and during its first season, Game of Thrones put Sean Bean front and center in its promotional campaign, cleverly concealing the big twist that book readers already saw coming: Ned Stark's death. The season one beheading was so traumatic that Thrones fans have rightfully feared for every beloved character's head ever since. Those anxieties translated over to Westworld, too, with all eyes on Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford. Surely an Oscar-winning legend such as Hopkins wouldn't sign on for more than one season of Westworld, right? Whether or not he appears in the future, Hopkins absolutely followed the Bean protocol of standing in the spotlight all through the first season of the riveting new HBO series, only to exit in a stunning display of violence.

5. The Forks in the Road

Eddard Stark's execution was only as shocking as it was necessary. His death catalyzes everything else in the story of Thrones, fueling his children's various and disparate experiences, including Jon Snow (Kit Harington) defending the Wall and Arya (Maisie Williams) becoming an expert assassin. Westworld concluded its first season on a similar note, using the death of a major player to effectively kickstart all other stories. With Hopkins and Ford removed from the equation, the stage is set for the surviving characters to seize and shape their own destinies. Just as Game of Thrones kicked an already intense series into overdrive by killing its big-name star at the climax of the first season, so too has Ford's death at the end of Westworld season one paved the way for this puzzling and violent narrative to become even more explosive and character-driven as the show barrels forward.

Watch the video below for our Westworld season two predictions:

Watch the video below for our Game of Thrones season seven predictions:

Check out our full Westworld and Game of Thrones coverage for news, interviews and more.

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