'Game of Thrones': Ten Legendary Love Stories

11:00 AM 2/12/2016

by Josh Wigler

From Red Wedding royalty, to warriors on The Wall.

Game of Thrones 9 - H 2015
Courtesy of HBO

There's not a lot of room for romance on Game of Thrones, and when it exists, it often comes at a horrible cost. But even if most of the show's love affairs end in bloodshed, they come packed with passion and loads of lore, fueled by longing for the past and fueling vengeance in the future. 

With few exceptions, the following love stories were all doomed from the start — but their heat resulted in sonnets of long ago, and legends in the making.

  • Robb Stark and Talisa Stark

    In Westeros, those who act with their hearts before their heads are often punished for their crimes of passion. Never was this more apparent than the case of the King in the North, who fell in love with a field medic from Volantis on the battlefield. Their marriage was the end of House Stark as we know it, thanks to Robb breaking his promise to marry wicked Walder Frey's daughter. As a result, House Frey sealed an alliance with the Lannisters and Boltons using Robb and Talisa's blood during the nightmare known as the Red Wedding.

  • Jon Snow and Ygritte

    Given their loyalties to opposite sides of The Wall, Jon and Ygritte were doomed from the start, but their desire for one another was pure all the way through the kissed-by-fire wildling's death. Their love scenes, ranging from the depths of a cave to the highest point of Westeros, stand out as some of the most romantic moments in all of Thrones, even if there was never a true happy ending in sight.

  • Daenerys Tagaryen and Khal Drogo

    Their marriage began under unenviable circumstances, if not dull ones. But in time, Dany and Drogo became a power couple, with the last living child of Aerys Targaryen embracing her role as Khaleesi and eventually using it as a springboard toward greater power. Through all her later season triumphs, however, she and viewers alike still lament the loss of her Sun and Stars.

  • Melisandre and Stannis Baratheon

    Perhaps it wasn't true love, but true lust existed between the middle Baratheon brother and the Red Priestess of Asshai. The self-declared rightful King of Westeros committed fratricide and blood magic rituals at the behest of his lover and closest advisor, even impregnating her with a murderous shadow monster at one point. He even killed his own daughter based on Melisandre's false prophecies. Their passion was as hot as the fires that burned Shireen — and ultimately, it was a passion that claimed Stannis' life.

  • Jaime and Cersei Lannister

    "The things I do for love." Out of context, Jaime's most memorable quote reads like the end of a poem. In actuality, it's what he says right before he cripples a young child for the crime of witnessing Jaime and Cersei's incest. Even if it's not a recommended path toward romance, there's no denying the power of the passion between the Lannister twins, which has propelled both characters to unspeakable acts throughout their time on Thrones.

  • Tyrion Lannister and Shae

    What they have in gold, the Lannisters often lack in luck in love. Even Tyrion, one of very few members of his family to have both a level head and a kind heart, struggled to find intimacy outside of hiring prostitutes — including the woman he thought was the love of his life, Shae. Their relationship raged on for seasons, before coming to a raging halt in season four thanks to one too many betrayals. Tyrion subsequently killed his former flame, and he has been wrecked by the guilt of his awful actions ever since.

  • Littlefinger and the Tullys

    Concluding the theme of romance gone bad, look no further than Petyr Baelish. Every rung on his chaotic ladder owes thanks to his obsession with Catelyn Tully, and his subsequent disdain for the Starks. He even manipulated and killed Catelyn's sister Lysa as part of his pursuit of power, and later projected his love for the late Lady Stark onto her daughter Sansa. "I have only loved woman," he said right before killing Lysa Arryn — and since that woman is also dead, there's no telling what kind of stone-hearted anarchy might ensue next.

  • Missandei and Grey Worm

    While it's rare, there are some examples of love working out in the world of Game of Thrones. Look no further than two of Daenerys Targaryen's most trusted confidants in Meereen: Grey Worm, commander of the Unsullied army, and Missandei, Dany's loyal advisor. Their relationship works in spite of the fact that Grey Worm was castrated as a youth in order to become a more effective war machine. Will their relationship last forever? Few things do on Thrones, but for now, they're alive, as is their love.

  • Samwell Tarly and Gilly

    Jon and Ygritte might be the Westeros Side Story of Game of Thrones, but that doesn't mean love can't exist across both sides of The Wall. Look no further than Sam and Gilly, who have survived White Walkers and wildling raids with their love well intact. They were last seen heading far, far away from the North, with a baby in tow, leagues away from the ice zombie conflict. Perhaps happy endings are possible in the Seven Kingdoms — through six seasons of the show, anyway.

  • Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen

    Although they are not flesh-and-blood characters on the show (at least not yet), these two representatives of ice and fire are among the most important players in all of Thrones. Decades before the series begins, Prince Rhaegar abducted Lyanna and started a war that ended both of their lives, as well as the reign of House Targaryen. But what if he didn't abduct her? That's the theory so many fans have latched onto, and if it's accurate, it holds extraordinary importance for the future of the show, and one character in particular. Let's just say that "R+L=J" might be the most romantic equation this side of "You + Me = Us," and leave it there for now.