The Anatomy of a Game of Thrones Fan

Pop Culture

The Anatomy of a Game of Thrones Fan

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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till humming the thumping opening theme of his favourite show, which has been stuck in his head for five years now, a young man of 24 wakes up and starts his laptop. The browser tabs full of Game of Thrones forums and subreddits that he was browsing only last night (if you count 5 am as night) are open. He’s done it enough to know that in the age of the internet, you don’t stumble upon spoilers, spoilers stumble upon you. So he sticks to the threads tagged with “No Spoilers”. He stares at his incomplete reply on one of the forums he had been browsing before sleep finally caught up with him. “Arya Stark is actually a Targaryen.” He’s only one of the many obsessive Game of Thrones fans creeping out of their proverbial hibernation across the world as we speak. Think of the internet as Westeros, and these aficionados as the White Walkers.

As the seventh season of the world’s most popular show went on air this morning, the otherwise non-nerdy people across the world turn into geeks, navigating its labyrinth of fan theories and speculation. But the most obsessive fan stands out for the sheer gravity of his conviction toward the world of Game of Thrones. He knows more about the Red Keep than Maester Pycelle, can recite the Night’s Watch oath from memory, and can tell you what to feed a growing dragon. All of his waking hours are spent deeply thinking about the increasingly ominous fates of various characters, often costing him his sanity, or, in extreme cases, his job. He regularly picks fights with his colleagues/classmates about the most seemingly mundane details of the show (though he would prefer Trial By Combat), and it won’t be until the last episode of the season that he actually realises the error of his ways, only to fall back into the same loop next year. He’s like Batman, in the way that he’s awake every night and doesn’t have much of a life to speak of, but unlike Batman, he’s neither the hero we need nor deserve.

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It’s only because of the efforts of him and his brethren that we have a bunch of Game of Thrones content to consume beyond the measly one hour of the show that we are officially offered every week (if you can call ripping it off torrent websites “official”). But just like Jon Snow, he knows nothing. He fails to see how his obsession is ruining the show that he claims to love so much. Because of the army of its ever-speculative fans on the internet, we live in a world where none of the plot twists are a surprise anymore. Everything that can happen currently exists in some dingy corner of some website, often brought right to the forefront and into our faces by these otherwise well-meaning scholars of modern entertainment.

Given the sheer number of people now hooked on the show and involved in the exercise of deducing the plot, it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out exactly what’s going to happen

The proof can be seen in the last season, where all of the biggest reveals had already been speculated on well before they happened. Cersei burning the shit off everyone in Great Sept of Baelor? Yup, someone had already seen that coming. Jon Snow being Lyanna and Rhaegar’s son? That one is as old as the show itself, and even though the makers did their best to package it as a surprise, pretty much all of us knew it was going to be revealed sooner or later. Jon Snow getting resurrected following his rather shocking death in the previous season? That one was as much of a foregone conclusion as Hrithik Roshan playing the lead in his papa’s film, though I’d still have liked it better if I hadn’t read about it well before it actually happened. Gone are the days of the genuine heartbreak of Ned Stark’s beheading or the visceral shock of the Red Wedding. Now, the viewers can predict the plot twists of the show with the same confidence as its makers.

Their watch, however, doesn’t end with the last episode of the season. The obsessive Game of Thrones fan takes on a whole different persona in the months between the seasons, transforming into a clue-hungry beast that won’t stop at anything to get the tiniest of hints about what’s coming next. While the makers were trying to create suspense around the return of Jon Snow, actor Kit Harrington was under more scrutiny than America’s Most Wanted. From his location to his haircut, anything he did was construed as possible proof of Jon Snow’s imminent resurrection. Already, fans are hard at work trying to decipher what the recently released one-word names and two-sentence descriptions of the first three episodes of the upcoming season might mean.

Game of Thrones

As the seventh season of the world’s most popular show went on air this morning, the otherwise non-nerdy people across the world turn into geeks, navigating its labyrinth of fan theories and speculation.

Daniel Zuchnik / Getty Images

Many people might be familiar with the Infinite Monkey Theorem, which postulates that a monkey randomly hitting keys on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually write the complete works of Shakespeare. In our media-obsessed generation, you can replace the monkeys with GoT fans and Shakespeare with the A Song of Ice and Fire book series. Given the sheer number of people now hooked on the show and involved in the exercise of deducing the plot, it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out exactly what’s going to happen, making us question whether we should even be online when the internet is dark and full of spoilers.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’d do well to do away with the obsessive fan. He is, after all, what makes Game of Thrones the phenomenon that it is, providing us with an almost endless supply of show-related content in the dark months between the seasons, and helping us not lose touch with the horrendously tragic world we’ve come to love so much. He’s the one who’ll make sure that the show doesn’t die with its final episode (which is now closer than ever), hopefully making sure that we’ll always have something new to consume and talk about in the years to come.

Game of Thrones

Because of the army of its ever-speculative fans on the internet, we live in a world where none of the plot twists are a surprise anymore.

Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

It would be helpful, however, if he were a bit less obsessed about it, toning things down to the level where surprises are actually surprises, and maybe chilling out a bit on what’s going to happen next. Though obsessive fans can be a good thing, and are a community that creators can count on to gauge the success of their creations, things have progressed beyond a healthy obsession at this point.

Maybe it is time the GoT superfan stops trying to predict what comes next now that winter is here. Or I’m afraid he’ll end up killing the show he – and all of the rest of us – loves so much.

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