Study analyzing every death on ‘Game of Thrones’ reveals keys to staying alive

SYDNEY — Staying alive on the HBO hit fantasy series Game of Thrones is a tall task for even its most prominent characters, as viewers have come to learn, but a new study may have figured out what it takes to stick around for more than just a season or two.

[Warning: If you’re just getting into the show, there are spoilers below!]

Researchers from Macquarie University in Australia analyzed the deaths of all key Game of Thrones characters across seven seasons of the show. They also looked at personal traits, such as gender, social status, allegiance, religion, and type of occupation. They found that characters were more likely to survive if they were women, and if they switched allegiances. The risk of death was also more likely for “lowborn” characters (not a Lord or Lady, such as Bronn) than “highborn” characters (such as Cersei Lannister).

One prime example is Tyrion Lannister, a male, yet highborn character who switches his allegiance from House Lannister (and murdering his father Tywin) to join Daenerys of house Targaryen.

“The risk of death is high among characters in Game of Thrones. By the end of the seventh season, more than half of the characters had died — 186 out of the 330 characters we included in this study — with violent deaths being the most common by far,” says corresponding author and injury epidemiologist at the Australian Institute of Health Innovation Dr. Reidar Lystad in a statement.

The vast majority of the character deaths in the show were violent, coming as no surprise to viewers, with 13 decapitations. Only two characters died from natural causes in seven seasons: Old Nan and Maester Aemon. Deaths were most often the result of an assault (63.0 percent), warfare (24.4 percent), and legal executions (5.4 percent). Eighty percent of feathers also took place in Westeros.

Lystad and his team wanted to try and predict who would sit on the Iron Throne in Game Of Thrones’ upcoming final season.

“While these findings may not be surprising for regular viewers, we have identified several factors that may be associated with better or worse survival, which may help us to speculate about who will prevail in the final season,” he said.

As for other statistics pulled from their findings, the authors determined the probability of dying within an hour of appearing on an episode was around 14 percent. The survival time for characters ranged from 11 seconds to 57 hours and 15 minutes, with the median survival time about 28 hours and 48 minutes.

The researchers used information from the Internet Movie Database and the Game of Thrones Wiki.

The study was published December 10, 2018 in the journal Injury Epidemiology.