That feeling of shock after a beloved character dies on your fave TV show: We imagine it’s similar to the pain and betrayal Jon Snow felt as he was stabbed to death by his own men at the end of season five.
Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin is no stranger to pulling out the rug from under his readers with main characters’ untimely deaths (spoilers ahead). Ned Stark was just the beginning. Robb? Catelyn? Hodor?! (We repeat: HODOR?!) And while this show’s given us whiplash from the unexpected twists and turns, Martin does have an explanation for why he’s OK with killing off all of our fave characters.
In an interview with PBS, Martin revealed that he loved reading Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien as a kid, and that the death of one of Tolkien’s major characters had a profound effect on him as a child, and eventually, as an author.
“Gandalf dies!” Martin said. “I can’t explain the impact that had on me at 13,” referencing the wizard’s death in The Fellowship of the Ring (although he does come back as Gandalf the White, which feels super familiar…Jon Snow’s reawakening in GoT, anybody?).
“The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is 1,000 times greater,” Martin explained. “Because now, anybody could die. Of course, it’s had a profound effect on my own willingness to kill characters at the drop of a hat.”
So we can blame LoTR for “All Men Must Die”? Sheesh, thanks a lot, Gandalf.