Game of Thrones is a pretty geeky show, so you’ll find plenty of geeky charts and infographics all over the internet, showing everything from size comparisons in Westeros to how each book chapter corresponds to each episode in the adaptation. They are nothing new. And yet, there is a new chart detailing the screen time of the top 100 characters of the show that caught our attention, as it puts certain trends into perspective and corroborates what the cast have said about their increased workload.
An Indian fan of the show by the name of Shivaraj, using data collected by an IMDB user, created this wonderfully dynamic chart, which not only tells us about the characters with more screen time overall, but how this breaks up by season and family as well.
Following the revelation that seasons seven and eight would have fewer episodes, there was a general feeling of disillusionment in the community, along with a very specific complaint that we would get less time with our favorite characters. However, this chart corroborates what many starring cast members claimed in the months before the season aired: with so many characters —main, secondary and tertiary— culled from the story in the last few seasons, season seven could focus on the main players.
Jon and Daenerys were the obvious winners from this plot-tightening massacre. The Dragon Queen almost doubled her screen time compared to the previous year, while the King in the North leaped 18 minutes, despite having three fewer episodes available. Only Ned, who was essentially the protagonist in the first season, surpasses season seven’s Jon, though he’s almost rivalled by season two’s Tyrion. Incidentally, this last season was also the one in which Jon finally passed Tyrion in terms of overall screen time.
But the hot new incestuous Thrones couple aren’t the only ones who came on top. Judging by screen time alone, the last few seasons have had seven main characters: Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, Sansa, Jaime, Arya, and Cersei. Of these, only Sansa appeared less in season seven, but only by a single minute (and season six was an exception for Sansa anyway, as in every other season she’s had less screen time than in season seven.)
Just like the books, since Ned’s death the focus slowly started to diverge from the main characters, from the main Houses in the story: Stark, Lannister and Targaryen, and to a lesser extent Baratheon, Greyjoy and Tyrell (the Martells are not represented in the chart, as only Oberyn and Ellaria make the top 100 cut.) This trend of crowding out the main players culminated in season three, the only year in which all these six Houses combined amassed fewer minutes on-screen than the rest of the characters. The world had expanded. But, as the third act approached, it was time for it to contract again, and so the trend reversed; by season seven, the balance is closer to season one levels. The Starks haven’t had this much representation since Winterfell burnt down, and the Targaryens not since even further back, when Dany gave birth to the dragons.
All of this is to make the point that season eight having only six episodes doesn’t mean we will see less of our favorite characters, if season seven is anything to go by. Game of Thrones is increasingly re-focusing on the characters with which the story once came into being, and that’s who we will mostly see — in fact, probably more than ever before.