Stephen Colbert gives Obama a scolding for his Game of Thrones failure

Colbert

Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show on CBS, had a few choice words for President Barack Obama after the U.S. president admitted this week he has difficulty remembering Game of Thrones character names.

Colbert sounded off in his usual comedic fashion in his opening monologue about the president’s failure to properly prioritize Westerosi troubles.

Check it out:


62 responses

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    1. I thought the same thing. Real GOT fans can remember… AND pronounce Tyrion (TEER-RE-ON). Kudos to your attempt to seem human Mr. President!!!

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    2. Colbert as Gandalf reading the Game of Thrones novel is one of my favorite media photos. I always enjoy his silly perspective.

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    3. Obviously Obama is a lot busier than most people, but this should serve as a reminder to fans of just how little the average viewer remembers about these sorts of details. Names (particularly make-believe names) simply do not stick to faces.

      Upshot? If it is important here and now, then it has to be shown here and now: never, ever depend on naming something to inform the viewers what the thing is.

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    4. Wimsey,

      So, you begin by saying Obama is, in essence, not an average viewer, then go on to make an assertion about the average viewer using Obama as an example? L.O.L.

      Oh, and that clip was awesome! Thanks!

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    5. Colbert reminds me of that selfindulgent armsdealer of Iron Man II.. The entire pose with one hand in the side, the too obvious reading of the auto-que.. I mean we are all aware that he probably didn’t even write this bit himself? What a snob..

      Lets rip the president a new one for not paying close attention. He may have other priorities in his life.. like being the POTUS…

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    6. Nymeria Warrior Queen,

      He is not far from the average viewer: this show’s biggest demographic is professional men and women in their late 30’s / early 40’s. Now, the Pres. gets a bit more on his plate than the rest of us: but the show’s core audience represents busy, intellectually engaged who have far too much going on in their lives to remember details from much of anything. (People like this succeed by rapidly relearning details when/if they become relevant agin.) Now, most of them probably remembering Tyrion’s name – they are not quite that busy! – but do not count on them remembering the names of incidental characters, places, or details from 2-3 seasons ago. We have to review what we did ourselves 2-3 years ago: we certainly are not going to remember what a TV show was doing beyond the generalities!

      So, yes, he is busier than most of us: but he’s also very representative of the audience.

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    7. Ser Oromis Locke,

      Yes, it’s unlikely that he wrote that joke by himself, people like Colbert have staff for that, but the man is a fantasy nerd, so I can absolutly belief that he knows his way around the world of GoT.

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    8. I’m shocked that WOTW has presented this and the one about Obama yesterday as newsworthy enough for this site.
      I saw these same bits of info written up in click bait articles on Yahoo news.
      Not a political statement, but Obama is not a regular watcher. He messes up the most well known names and only quotes what is the “it” thing in pop culture. Presidents nowadays have to so they are relevant in the younger crowds eyes. And he has staff guiding him in what to say because he has better things to do.

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    9. Judibatt,

      And still no mention of Emilia’s interview where she is talking about HBO and Jon

      I guess if it was Sophie turner or Natalie former than it would have made an article

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    10. Judibatt: Not a political statement, but Obama is not a regular watcher. He messes up the most well known names and only quotes what is the “it” thing in pop culture.

      The fact that Obama or anyone messes up the names does not mean that he (or she) is not a regular watcher. What it means is that they are not thinking about the show when they are not watching it.

      There is a great series called “Honest Trailers on YouTube. Here is what they have for Game of Thrones. They make fun of this at the very end: there are 10 characters who’s names you know, and then lots and lots of others.

      (Their trailers for Star Wars is awesome, too.)

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    11. Ser Oromis Locke,

      Settle down, it’s comedy. Obama knew it was coming, it’s not really “ripping” on him… it’s a joke!
      And of course Colbert has a writing staff, it would be impossible not to. Do you think Letterman wrote all his own bits?

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    12. The one that always drives me nuts is when people call Daenerys, “Khaleesi”.

      IT’S A TITLE, DAMMIT, NOT HER NAME!

      sigh

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    13. Al Swearengen,

      Probably: there is a contingent of Tolkien fans that hates Thrones because “Good” and “Evil” are so poorly defined in the tales, but Colbert does not seem to be one of those.

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    14. Ser Oromis Locke,

      You clearly missed the joke here. Colbert is pointing out, in his semi-serious tone, the irony of a guy with a strange name not being astute enough to remember other unusual names as well as being a politician while watching a fantasy where politics are everything. You’d think that someone as prolific as the president of the USA would be a bit more eloquent regarding his answers about, supposedly, his favorite show, than to call Tyrion “that dwarf guy”. Not to mention how Peter Dinklage has openly said that he does not appreciate the terms and labels people his size are attributed, and I’m pretty sure dwarf is one of those. I’m not an Obama fan nor hater, and who has more going on than him, but remembering only Jon Snow’s name because it’s simple, kind of implies the level of into-it-ness that Obama watches the show with.

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    15. Darjan: I’m not an Obama fan nor hater, and who has more going on than him, but remembering only Jon Snow’s name because it’s simple, kind of implies the level of into-it-ness that Obama watches the show with.

      Still, I would bet that Obama could do a better job of stating what the stories are than could many of the fans who can recite the names of quaternary characters in the series! (Minds like his excel at getting the general point without tripping up over the details: and that is a key to “big picture” success, be it in law, science, scholarship or anything else like that.)

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    16. Wimsey: Obama could do a better job

      Oh…if House of Cards or The Good Wife or Mr. Robot had won best drama at the Emmys, the article in GQ would have stated that Obama is a fan of those shows, and would give contextually relevant but vague anecdotes indicating he knows something about those shows as well. Bandwagon politics…link yourself to the “winning” show.

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    17. Lamprey Pie: Where does this demographic info come from about the main viewership?

      HBO. That stated, it’s what they were reporting 2 or 3 years ago: as the viewership has increased since then, the demographics might have shifted. Still, as HBO is kind of expensive, and as HBO subscribers are much more apt to be financially well-off, well-educated types, there is almost a necessary bias towards drawing from that demographic: after all, that’s the most common demographic of HBO subscribers!

      And, yes, that excludes a lot of people who pirate the show: as is commonly reported, it’s probably the most pirated show out there. However, the people who actually drive the show’s financial success are the ones who are slightly-less-busy-Obamas of the world. (Thrones is hugely popular in Academia, for example, alhough there are not enough of us to have much of an impact on ratings or HBO demographics!)

      Hodors Bastard: Oh…if House of Cards or The Good Wife or Mr. Robot had won best drama at the Emmys, the article in GQ would have stated that Obama is a fan of those shows,

      House of Cards actually gets a lot of disses from US politicians. I think it stems from the fact that they see just how unrealistic it is: I almost always feel the same whenever I see TV or film try to portray science. (It is almost like they are trying to be wrong!) I seem to recall reading similar criticisms from UK lawmakers regarding the BBC series on which HoC is based. (That was 20 or so years ago, I think.)

      I could see Thrones being much more popular with politicians because it is very political without badly butchering any particular political machinery. After all, it’s made up, so the issues are “real” and how people go about solving the issues is not “unreal.” But they’ve been saying that Obama likes Thrones for a few years, and it’s supposedly one of the most popular shows for DC politicians. (As I live in the DC area, this is considered “local news” here!)

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    18. Ah! To have had LOTR as a never ending series…What a treat that would have been…Although I simply adore the PJ movies and have no quibble with them it would have been tremendous to have the story laid out as well and as magnificent as GOT has been

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    19. Alex G,

      It could have been a three season TV series, but I don’t think that it could have lasted much longer than that. And although there were Tolkien fans upset that Scouring was completely cut, I don’t think that it would have worked in a TV series, either. We saw that on Babylon 5: once the big Shadows vs. Vorlons vs. Everybody Else Ragnarok was over, the series just sort of tailed off for 18 months.

      (This will be true for Thrones: after the resolution of the Walkers vs. R’hllor vs. all takers, too. The show can do a couple of episodes wrap-up, but that will be about it.)

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    20. I can see every republican adding “Failed to bring peace to the 7 kingdoms of Westeros” to their list of Barack Obama’s failings as president. I hope Donald Trump mentions it in a press release.

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    21. It’s funny, this describes a lot of friends I know who watch GOT. I always get excited when I think “Great a new fan who says they’re obsessed like me!” And then I talk to them and they have such a cursory memory of what happened and what they liked, and I just realized that all the nuances we look for and think are important are really missed over by a LOT of people.

      For example, Ramsay mentioned Jon to Sansa was a HUGE HUGE moment for a lot of us. For a lot of viewers, I really don’t think it was – I don’t think they’re thinking “Sansa is going to find Jon and rally the North.”

      I have a friend who I KNOW watches every episode but would randomly confuse Tywin and Tyrion or Missandei and Melisandre and would be like “that red witch chick.” And he really enjoys the show!

      So like it or not, that’s the level that D&D have to play to, when we think they’re oversimplying stories or bringing too many threads together or giving one character someone else’s storyline. Can you imagine someone like my friend – who really watches the show live every week it airs – understanding the Jeyne Poole is fake Arya and Sansa toils in the Vale storyline?

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    22. Alex G,
      I have to agree, I too wish that we had more works by JRR Tolkien ( not Christopher). There are the Lost Tales, & History books on Middle earth. Along with the very difficult read of Silmarillion along with other books on Middle Earth written by Christopher Tolkien. I do with that JRR was able to expand his story beyond the 4th age.

      The World Of Ice and Fire I call GRRM’s Gilmarillion. However, this book is so much easier & quicker read.

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    23. Nadia: I just realized that all the nuances we look for and think are important are really missed over by a LOT of people.

      To bang on another of my tired old drums, this is a very common difference between the fans and the fans. We saw this with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, too, and I have read that this is true for Mockingbird, Twilight and practically every other franchise with both books and shows/films.

      The reason why I keep bringing up Harry Potter is because shared one huge trait with Thrones: there were over-arching mysteries and storylines where people were actively wondering about “big” questions (“What is Harry’s Scar?” “Who is Jon’s Mother?” “What is Snape up to?” “What is LIttlefinger up to?” “What does the Prophecy mean? “What does the Prophecy Mean?”) We do not know the answers yet for SoI&F. However, for HP, it turned out that the answers lay in general things that the average reader noticed, not the subtle details over which fans obsessed. I remember chuckling when contrasting a poll at Amazon about what would happen in Harry Potter with one at one of the big Harry Potter sites (Leaky Cauldron, I think). The Amazon poll had the basics: Snape, the scar, the prophecy. The Leaky Cauldron had questions that would make most people go: “who/what the eff is that even asking?” But for the basic questions, the Amazon readers did better than the hardcore fans: they figured out Snape, the scar, etc.

      This left a lot of hardcore Harry Potter fans very upset. And we know that Spring is going to leave a lot of hardcore SoI&F fans upset because the hardcore fans have many conflicting ideas about what is going to happen. But I think that the general viewer/reader will be fine with it if GRRM fires the well-hung guns and does not have too many minor details become important.

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    24. Roxie: I do with that JRR was able to expand his story beyond the 4th age.

      Tolkien tried to write something set a century or two after Rings, but he abandoned it pretty quickly: he realized that it was just a “thriller.”

      Moreover, what Tolkien really was interested in doing was World Building. And in a lot of ways, Lord of the Rings ended the world he built.

      What might have been cool is if Tolkien had written more novels set in the first and second ages. Instead, we basically got left with short stories: the Silm. really is an anthology of short stories with faux historical tidbits linking them.

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    25. Wimsey:
      Alex G,

      It could have been a three season TV series, but I don’t think that it could have lasted much longer than that.And although there were Tolkien fans upset that Scouring was completely cut, I don’t think that it would have worked in a TV series, either.We saw that on Babylon 5: once the big Shadows vs. Vorlons vs. Everybody Else Ragnarok was over, the series just sort of tailed off for 18 months.

      The Scouring of the shire wasn’t actually cut out. It was shown in Gladriel’s ( I can’t spell these names, I guess too that I am a not an actual fan, lol), but it was shown in Gladrie’s basin scene with Frodo. It was shown as a vision. Not to mention that it would have made NO SENSE to show it. The Story was about THE RING. Once it was destroyed the it was over.

      A lot of Tolkien fans got on my last nerve, we can have everything in the books make it to the screen. I swear if I saw Tom Bombadil in that 1st movie I would have been DONE. But anywhoooooooo. Love the Books Love the Movies.

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    26. This was fantastic. How cool is it to see Colbert name dropping the Mormonts of Bear Island? And yes, President Obama walked right into this one…..

      To all the people bringing nothing but negativity to what is just harmless comedy- go outside! Look around. The world is bright and full of laughter!

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    27. Roxie: A lot of Tolkien fans got on my last nerve, we can have everything in the books make it to the screen.

      I think that the fringe-element of Tolkien fans cemented the view that if book fans hate a movie, then it might be really good. At the same time, the Harry Potter fans cemented the idea that if book fans love a film, then it probably sucks!

      (Interestingly, this has gotten almost zero attention for Game of Thrones; it could be that the “fanboys vs. the world” argument is considered uninteresting 15 years later.)

      And you are right: Scouring would have made no sense. It did almost set up a trap for some Tolkien fans: there were some who tried to insist that “everybody I know” could tell that there was “something missing” at the end. And then the onslaught of general comments about how the movie had a gazillion endings and how every time the audience thought that the film was done, another short segment started overwhelmed them! (Someone compared it to church: stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, sit….)

      Ultimately, I think that it comes down to this. There is a general audience for good stories. There is a niche market for world-building. Good fantasy fulfills both. However, the adaptations will always focus on the stories rather than the world-building.

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    28. Big deal. I have to constantly remind the old man who is who name wise; he gets the story line and all. It happens when you reach a certain age a bit outside that coveted demographic.

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    29. Blanche Holstein,

      This is exactly what I do with my father!

      He knows the storylines/plots,…etc. But characters name he simply can’t remenber.
      He knows who they are, but can’t name them.

      This is why I wath the EPs 2 times .. Once with my friends (Damn youngsters who can’t afford HBO!) and then the next day with my father.

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    30. Sou,

      Exactly its her title, i’m confident that most people know that this is not her name, but they prefer to call her this for various reasons.

      For one, they call her ”Khaleesi” in the show, especially Jorah, a lot more then they call her Daenarys.

      Don’t see why people are bothered here.

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    31. Mihnea,

      Hahahah, a fine plan! We’re just happy to be upright enjoying our favorite show on the big screen tv while indulging in adult beverages. Life is good when GOT is in season! 😀

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    32. Blanche Holstein,

      Ah yes, I agree.
      When GOT starts about 6 friends come over to watch it with me.(not that they like me, but I’m the only one who has HBO).

      Haven’t watched a GOT episode alone since S2! It annoys me a bit…but they do bring drinks and snacks so that helps 🙂 .
      This does anger the wife a bit tough…..

      With my father its more of a tradition, we started doing this years ago with Spartacus, he was a fan of the old movie, so I told him off the show. He liked it and from then we watched quite a lot of shows/movies togheter.
      GOT; Star Wars, he even liked the prequels…; Shawshank Redemption…etc.

      We have LOTR next on our list, just need to find the time for it..

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    33. Mihnea: He knows the storylines/plots,…etc. But characters name he simply can’t remenber.
      He knows who they are, but can’t name them.

      I know that I am like that for a lot of shows I watch. I could name only 2 or 3 of the characters on House of Cards: but I watch it every year. Ditto that for Orange is the New Black. I have time to watch the shows, but I do not have time to study them. However, I know the characters behind the faces, and I usually retain the names for a few scenes if they come up in conversations in that show, so it works.

      This is relevant to criticisms that some fans have had of the show. “Why wasn’t Tysha mentioned?!?!” Well, Tysha was never on the show: and if people have problems putting names to faces for secondary characters, they certainly are not going to put names to discussions from prior seasons. “LF should have said ‘Cat’.” But he is referring to Lysa’s sister and Sansa’s mother. Personally, I think it would have worked best if LF had been addressing Sansa and said “your mother”: almost everyone would put Michele Farley’s face on “Sansa’s mother.” However, most people would put Fairley’s face onto “Your Sister.” Far fewer would attach “Cat” to that face a year later.

      And that’s why we have the old adage, “Show, don’t tell”, when it comes to cinematic story telling!

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    34. Blanche Holstein:
      Big deal. I have to constantly remind the old man who is who name wise; he gets the story line and all. It happens when you reach a certain age a bit outside that coveted demographic.

      You watch Game of Thrones with admiral Adama!?! Please, get me an autograph, mighty please! Also, if it’s OK with you, ask him to make a unicorn origami just for me!

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    35. Ser Oromis Locke,

      You must not watch Colbert much; its obvious to any fan of his that his tongue was firmly placed in his cheek….

      Ahhh sarchasm – the gulf between a sarcastic comment and the person who doesn’t get it….

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    36. Mihnea,

      That is cool you spend the time with family, connecting, even over something as trivial as a TV show. I also do a watch with friends (in the live room of a recording studio, with a projector and huge monitors for an almost theater experience! /endbrag), but then I also watch with moms sometime during the week.

      If I may add to the discussion of “character name recollection”- got moms into the show a couple seasons back, and last year she slayed all five books in a month! She still can’t remember anybody’s names.

      The same goes for many casual fans- I find when discussing anything in the story slightly resembling nuance, with a casual fan, I often have to describe the characters visually or situationally for them to “keep up”. I can’t expect them to recall names, but almost everyone remembers, for instance- “ya know that guy that went all Inigo Montoya on the huge dude?” (thats when I do the eye gouge motion for extra thrill factor). Oh yeah! Then I can remind them that his sister was married to the dragon prince who “kidnapped” Ned’s sister, leading to Robert’s Rebellion, and so on and so forth…..

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    37. Sister Kisser:

      If I may add to the discussion of “character name recollection”- got moms into the show a couple seasons back, and last year she slayed all five books in a month!She still can’t remember anybody’s names.

      This is a great point.

      We like to pretend that only show-watchers have problems with names, remenbering minor plot points/characters.
      When in truth even the huge majority of book-readers are just like that.
      It’s us here, who are the hardcore fans and over-think and analyze plots/stories.

      We here are a minority even among book-readers. Theres nothing bad in that, but it’s good to remenber it from time too time.

      I think Wimsey’s HP argument works for GOT too. It’s a great example how a story/plot can be over-thinked.

      Also agree with the last point. Thats how my friends disscuss the show. It’s always ”the cool dude with the spear”, ”cool faceless assassin”, ”the one that had a baby monster”,…etc.
      And they have some really crazy theories but sadly I couldn’t really enter the disscussion because I knew when they where wrong. But now, that we are mostly off-book, I intend too go full ”tinfoil hat” with them

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    38. Mihnea: When in truth even the huge majority of book-readers are just like that.

      That is one of the reasons why I gave up on the Robert Jordan series. Every book would just start cold: and X would start speaking without Jordan providing us with any idea who X was. Because it was a year or two between books, and because I was doing lots of other things (like, say, getting tenure) that made re-reading the entire series impractical, I simply hit a point where I got a few chapters into one of the books and had zero idea who anyone was or what was happening.

      (It is strange to think that 15 years ago, it was a genuine debate as to whether the Wheel of Time or Song of Ice and Fire series was the better one; now that seems like debating whether a mouse is as big as an elephant!)

      I recently came to appreciate just how good Rowling was at avoiding that. My son is at the age where he’s started to appreciate Harry Potter. While listening to the Prisoner of Azkaban audiobook, I realized how Rowling re-introduced every character in every book. You got a brief description of their basic personality, their looks: just enough to jog your memory and make you remember who they were.

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    39. Some on this site take for granted that everyone who watches this show is as interested in it at all times as you are. I know someone for example where if I were to say Daenerys they’d have no idea who I was talking about. They know her as “Khaleesi”. There are many I know who I still have to remind what certain character’s names are or what their back story is. And last time I checked they’re not as busy as I don’t know…say…the President of the United States.

      Just because he doesn’t remember some names doesn’t mean he isn’t a fan or pretending to be because it’s the “it” thing to do.

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    40. dave: Just because he doesn’t remember some names doesn’t mean he isn’t a fan or pretending to be because it’s the “it” thing to do.

      heh, again, this is something that fans of all of the big franchises often do not get. Either they are convinced that most people are as obsessed with the franchise as he/she is, or (and this one is truly rich) they feel that people who are not obsessed with the franchise should not read/watch the books/films/shows. (And trying to tell Tolkien fans or Harry Potter fans that there are not enough fans of that nature to support film franchises is hopeless: after all, for every non-fan that bought a ticket, they count 2+ fans that refused to see the films because they were not “faithful” to the books.)

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    41. Roxie,

      I was never into Fantasy…the only fantasy that I ever loved was Disney…Being from Colombia,SA,I had never heard of LOTR until Harry Potter came out as a book and I decided to read it to see what my daughter was reading since she was only 7 at the time…We went to see the Sorcerer ´s Stone and found the LOTR trailer fantastic…When I saw for the first time Fellowship, I felt like I was back at eight years old in Xmas morning!! This beautiful,amazing,out of this world,world opened out for me and I was hooked and ran to buy the books…They were out of print at the time and I bought the expensive Alan Lee illustrated edition and never looked back!! GOT,in its unique way,has revived almost the same feelings that I got when discovering LOTR 🙂

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    42. Bravo Colbert.

      As to the comments… I think its hilarious when people think viewers are “dumb” for not knowing the names. Think for two seconds about anything you watch OTHER than GoT. You know, all of those shows that you watch, love, and follow, but don’t go online and obsess about. Do you remember everyone’s name? NO YOU DON’T.

      In my case, this is true even for shows that I have loved, like Deadwood for example. I’ve rewatched it twice and I don’t currently remember anyone’s name offhand except “Swengin” and Trixie. And they aren’t even my favorite characters.

      The only way you’re going to know all the characters names for a show is if you go online and write/read about it. Because that’s when you are made to be specific about what you’re talking about. When you’re having conversations in speaking form it’s easy to go back and forth just saying “the fat guy at the wall”. Or “the wolf girl” or whatever. Things that would get you ostracized by fans with sticks up their butt online are just part of normal conversation in the place called “the real world”.

      If you obsess about every TV show for hours online after you watch… please, just don’t talk. You aren’t normal – best to keep your superiority to yourself.

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    43. None of my friends remember the character names either…when I talk to them I have to refer to them as “the fat king”, “the one who got his head chopped off in the first season”, “the chick wih the dragons” ” the one that cut a horse in half” or lately “the one that crushed the spanish guy head”…or Jon Snow

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