‘Game of Thrones’ Death Rate Is Historically Realistic, Statistics Say
Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9 Jon snow
Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO    

Game of Thrones

‘Game of Thrones’ Death Rate Is Historically Realistic, Statistics Say


Game of Thrones is one of the most violent shows on TV, and each season claims the lives of hundreds of characters, both major and minor.

But here’s the thing: A researcher in Norway has figured out the death rate on Game of Thrones is realistic, statistically-speaking.

27-year-old Céline Cunen, a Ph.D. student in mathematics at University of Oslo, was not always a Thrones fan. In fact, she was turned off by the popularity of the show and the George R. R. Martin books on which it’s based.

It was only after she realized the parallels between Game of Thrones and the real-life Middle Ages that she became interested in the HBO hit.

“The family name Lannister is inspired by the name Lancaster, Stark is inspired by York. These names belonged to families that were fighting over the throne in England during the middle age,” she tells Universitas.

“George R. R. Martin has obviously used real historic events as inspirational sources, like The Hundred Years’ War and The War of the Roses. I think these elements are important, and I believe George R. R. Martin added them to please [history] nerds.”

Her idea to do a statistical analysis on Thrones came when she saw a blog post comparing the show’s death rate to that in present-day Afghanistan — but she also saw that study’s mistakes.

“I felt that the bloggers research contained some mistakes, since it focused on the general death rate in Afghanistan,” she says. “This comparison does not have a good statistical foundation because the characters in GoT are not randomly selected.”

Game of Thrones Season 6, Episode 9 Daario
Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO    

So in her spare time, Céline analyzed the War of the Roses — combing through a total of 1,200 articles and using a statistical program to capture birth and data — and found a similar death rate to that of Game of Thrones, particularly in the upper ranks.

“During The War of the Roses noble families were drastically reduced, as seen in GoT, where characters are either killed off the show or lose their powerful position in society.”

She does imagine the datasets will diverge now that Daenerys has her dragons as weapons — and bear in mind, her data set only covers the first five seasons of the show.

“The dragons are potential weapons of mass destruction and something similar of that magnitude did not exist in the Middle Ages,” she says, laughing.

Game of Thrones, Daenerys and Drogon in the Pits on Game of Thrones Season 5, Episode 9
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And even after all of this scrutiny, Céline is still reluctant to fangirl over the show.

“No, I’m not a huge fan,” she says. “However, out of all the series [airing] now, GoT is definitely the one I enjoy the most.”