With its first season, House of the Dragon demonstrated its ability to overcome many of the plot limitations of its predecessor, Game of Thrones. Among other things, it has largely avoided Thrones’ tendency to rely on plot armor — “plot armor” is when a character avoids injury or death not because it makes sense but only because the plot requires it — to get its characters out of particularly dangerous situations.
To be fair, some of Thrones’ limitations stemmed from the original novels by George R. R. Martin. At other times, however, it became clear that the writers simply had no idea how to rescue their characters and so came to rely on the far more questionable methods associated with plot armor.
Arya And The Waif
There’s no question Arya was a fan favorite of Game of Thrones. From the first episode to the last, she showed that she was one of those who could forge her own destiny, regardless of the chaos enveloping so much of the Seven Kingdoms.
However, this also necessitated some moments when she appeared to have plot armor. Most notably, she somehow managed to defeat the Waif, despite the fact that, at least insofar as what had been shown on-screen, she had yet to become the type of duelist who could succeed in such an effort. While gratifying to the smug Waif finally defeated, it is not the series’ best moment of writing.
Jon Snow And His Resurrection
Jon Snow had one of the saddest deaths on Game of Thrones. When he was betrayed and stabbed by his fellow members of the Night’s Watch, it was a cruel spectacle, especially given how much viewers had come to be invested in his life and his adventures.
While his resurrection at the hands of Melisandre was foreshadowed, this doesn’t change the fact that it is still plot armor. The series, like Martin, knew that he had a much more important role to play in the events that would shape the later seasons and so they had to find a way to make sure that he would make it.
The Hound’s Survival After His Duel With Brienne
With his crusty cynicism, the Hound became one of the best side characters in Game of Thrones. His journey through the Seven Kingdoms was especially notable, and their unusual friendship had moments when it was genuinely touching.
Even so, his survival of his duel with Brienne still ranks as one of the most egregious moments in which plot armor saved a character who was seemingly fated for death. In this case, it was because the showrunners knew that viewers wanted to see the long-awaited duel between Sandor and Gregor, which meant that he had to somehow managed to emerge from this alive.
Daenerys When Rhaegal Is Shot Down
There are many reasons that the eighth season of Game of Thrones is regarded as one of its worst. Among other things, it was very sloppy in its execution of its central plot, and it was far too reliant on plot armor.
To take just one notable example, Daenerys manages to survive on Drogon even though Rhaegal, the dragon flying right next to her, is shot down by Euron and his crossbow. If, in fact, Euron was so intent on destroying the Targaryen queen, it does strain credulity why he wouldn’t seize this opportunity. But given that Daenerys is needed for future events in the series, she had to survive.
Tyrion Being Saved By Pod
Though Tyrion might have been one of the smartest characters on Game of Thrones, there were some moments when he betrayed a lack of good judgment. Going into battle was a notable example of this, and it is very fortunate that he just happens to be saved by Pod.
As stirring as this might be, it still has to be seen as a moment in which Tyrion’s plot armor saves him. After all, for all of his wits and wiliness, the fact remains that Tyrion is not a particularly effective warrior, and so it makes sense that the story would want to save him, by whatever means necessary.
Jaime When He Almost Gets Roasted By Drogon
Jaime Lannister is, whatever his flaws as a person, one of the most formidable warriors in the Seven Kingdoms and a notable member of the Kingsguard. This may help to explain why he decides to charge Daenerys on Drogon, even though he has to know that doing so will almost certainly result in his death.
It’s fortunate that it does not, because he will go on to have a key role in the future events of the season. By all rights, however, Jaime should certainly have perished, especially considering the fact that Drogon was a weapon of such power that no one could have stood against him.
Bran Surviving Beyond The Wall
For most of the run of Game of Thrones, Bran’s storyline seemed tangential, comprised mostly of his wandering north of the Wall. Somehow, despite his significant limitations, he managed to survive, mostly because a number of people just happened to come along at all of the right moments, whether that was Sam or Coldhands.
This was, of course, very satisfying to watch, because it slowly became clear that Bran had a very great destiny ahead of him. At the same time, it has to be said that so many of these last-minute rescues started to feel far more contrived than organic to the plot as such.
Jon Surviving The Battle Of The Bastards
The Battle of the Bastards is one of the most exciting episodes of Game of Thrones. What’s more, it is also emotionally satisfying, as it sees Jon finally come face-to-face with the nefarious and truly reprehensible Ramsay Snow. And, of course, there is the climax in which the Knights of the Vale arrive to save Jon and his beleaguered forces.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the most egregious examples of plot armor in Game of Thrones. By all of the usual rules of plot–to say nothing of the series itself–he should have been undone and killed. By this point, however, certain characters such as Jon had already become virtually safe because of plot armor.
So Many People Surviving The Battle Of Winterfell
The Battle of Winterfell is another notable battle in Game of Thrones. In some ways, it is the most important one, as without it the world of the living would have been conquered by the Night King and his undead legions.
While several notable characters, including Ser Jorah and Theon Greyjoy, perish, the vast majority of the protagonists manage to emerge relatively unscathed. This is, of course, emotionally rewarding for the audience but, given how willing the show has been to dispense with even beloved characters, it nevertheless stands out as a glaring instance of plot armor.
Daenerys’ Conquest of Vaes Dothrak
There’s no question that Daenerys ultimately becomes one of the most powerful characters on Game of Thrones. Even so, there are a number of moments where her powers seem to exceed even what one would expect of a character who can tame and ride dragons.
To take just one example, her ability to conquer all of Vaes Dothrak, the most sacred space for the Dothraki is one of those moments where it’s clear the plot needs to get her out of there and so it rushes the moment. Though Daenerys could certainly have survived fire, it’s unlikely that a group of khals, the most fearsome fighters in Essos, would be so easily overcome.
NEXT: 10 Best Nicknames That Defined A Character In Game Of Thrones