Presidents as Game of Thrones characters

If Every U.S. President Were a Game of Thrones Character

June 15, 2014 / by , / 91 Comments

Nothing goes together quite like politics and Game of Thrones. And it’s not like we had anything better to do than to figure out what Game of Thrones character every U.S. President most resembles. Here’s our fairly fitting, occasionally forced comparison between important figures from disparate but equally immoral realms.

House Targaryen & Company           House Stark & Company            House Lannister & Company

House Baratheon & Company                House Tyrell & Company

Night’s Watch & Wildlings                  Miscellanous

House Targaryen & Company

Abraham Lincoln as Daenerys Targaryen
Abraham “Stormborn” Lincoln had a humble upbringing in a log cabin in Kentucky, much like Daenerys’ humble upbringing in random towns throughout Essos. But later in their lives, they also took similar courses; marrying a terrifying person (Khal Drogo/Mary Todd Lincoln) and securing power over a rival (Viserys Targaryen/Stephen Douglas). As politicians, they both freed slaves and showed immense pragmatism, if also ruthlessness, when dealing with rebels and traitors.

Franklin D. Roosevelt as Khal Drogo
Surprisingly, this is not an attempt to subtly make fun of FDR’s polio. Looking beyond their varied levels of physical prowess, there are some valid comparisons between these two. Khal Drogo was frightened about leading his troops across the Narrow Sea, just like FDR was initially a huge pussy about sending American troops across the Atlantic Ocean. They were both headstrong and well-respected leaders, right up until their respective deaths at seminal moments in their societies. Most importantly, they both married power-hungry women who feasted upon animal hearts.

Andrew Johnson as Jorah Mormont
Despite clearly following the lead of their superiors, there are times when their loyalty is called into question. Moreover, both of these guys became unpopular with important politicians because of their views and actions regarding the institution of slavery.

Richard Nixon as Aerys Targaryen, “The Mad King”
Any person in a position of power such as President of the U.S./Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms clearly desires a certain level of power, but some men take that too far. Nixon and The Mad King share an excessive love of power — a love so excessive that it got them forcibly removed from their office. To take this one step farther, we can draw a comparison between Wildfire and Agent Orange, and imagine Richard Nixon gruffly shouting “Burn them! Burn them all!” when asked about his opinions on how to deal with Viet Cong in Cambodia and Laos.

Ronald Reagan as Viserys Targaryen
These two leaders claim to have — and maybe, at some point did have — legitimacy as leaders. But their extreme actions have chipped away at the reputations they maintain with their enemies, and even their friends. Much of this derives from an obsession with a high-budget military investment and a stirring disregard for long-term consequences.

“I would let the whole tribe fuck you, all 40,000 [Dothraki men/Nicaraguan right-wing militants] and their horses, if that’s what it took [to get my army/to build a comically science-fictional space missile defense system].” — [Viserys Targaryen/Ronald Reagan], to [Daenerys Targaryen/the American economy].

John Adams as Aemon Targaryen
Both John Adams and Aemon Targaryen were lifelong servants of their respective realms, but were never celebrated as much as some of their counterparts who were actually sort of douchebags. Additionally, the young men who later represented their family names (John Quincy Adams, Rhaegar Targaryen, Viserys Targaryen) were notable fuck-ups. Both led principled, honest lives as best they could — Adams never owned a slave and vehemently opposed the peculiar institution, while Aemon attempts to maintain order within the Night’s Watch.

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House Stark & Company

Jimmy Carter as Ned Stark
In a narrative defined by unscrupulousness and a hunger for power, it’s always refreshing to see a hero who plays the political game with honesty and integrity. But realistically, honesty and integrity translate to utter failure in politics. In this way, Ned Stark’s disheartening execution is akin to Jimmy Carter’s palpable shortcomings as president, making executioner Ilyn Payne symbolize some combination of oil shortages, hostage crises, and the rise of the neocon movement. On the bright side, at least Ned’s bones were returned to his family, and Jimmy Carter won a Nobel Peace Prize, giving the heroes their true reward: hollow, meaningless recognition of good intentions.

Bill Clinton as Robb Stark
Loved by all. Feared by many. Two charming, effective leaders who manage to unite their people in an attempt to bring prosperity and pride to their homeland. And yet, all of it is tainted by one little extra-marital affair. In later years, the women around them would go on to draw from (and, in some situations, even surpass) their legacies.

Calvin Coolidge as Jon Snow
Jon Snow keeps to himself, mostly. I mean, there was that one time he bumped uglies with a wildling in a cave jacuzzi, but for the most part, he’s a quiet dude. Kind of like “Silent” Cal. See what I did there? God, the 20s were so fucking boring.

Barack Obama as Bran Stark
All things considered, Bran Stark is a living, breathing predator drone. He can remotely take over the mind of humans and animals and use them to attack his enemies. Obama desires similar powers, and — much like Bran — has hardly even tried to hide these powers from those around him. Alright, now someone congratulate me on declining the ever-so-tempting choice of comparing Bran to FDR.

George W. Bush as Hodor

Presidents as Game of Thrones characters

Franklin Pierce as Catelyn Stark
For starters, Pierce and Cat Stark are both “Northerners” in only a loose sense. Cat Stark is only a northerner by marriage, and Franklin Pierce was a “doughface,” or a northerner with southern sympathies. But Franklin Pierce also had a lot of his children die in their youth, which seems like something that would resonate with Catelyn. Franklin Pierce also looks a bit like a woman, and so does Cat Stark, because she is a woman.

John Tyler as Arya Stark
Both of these figures are best known for revenge. John Tyler’s vengeance over The Alamo was validated when he annexed Texas, and Arya Stark’s vengeance for the unfair death of her family and friends begins to get validated when she kills Poliver. That’s all we’ve got on this one. Oh oh oh, another thing is they’re both just FULL of sass towards the authority figures in their life. Yeah.

Grover Cleveland as Sansa Stark
Grover Cleveland is remembered as the only president to serve non-consecutive terms. Sansa Stark is remembered as the only character in Game of Thrones to have non-consecutive engagements to Lannisters. Sansa hates everyone in King’s Landing, Grover Cleveland hated everyone from China. It’ll do.

Martin Van Buren as Rodrik Cassel
I’ll just leave this here.

Martin Van Buren Rodrik Cassel

John Quincy Adams as Theon Greyjoy
Throughout the first few episodes of Season 2, Theon is frequently asked by his father, Balon, if he gets what he wants by paying the “iron price” or the “gold price.” Considering that John Quincy Adams’ four-year stint as president occurred only through what historians remember as “The Corrupt Bargain of 1824,” it appears that he, like Theon, has become accustomed to paying the gold price. Sorry about your dong, JQA.

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House Lannister & Company

George Washington as Tywin Lannister
These two have so much experience in war and politics that they are essentially infallible, but when you really take a closer look, is their credibility warranted? From what we’ve seen in the TV series thus far, Tywin Lannister Of Late has a pretty unimpressive (read: winless) battle record, and George Washington’s battle record is also pretty grim, bearing a resemblance to the win record of a random selection of about 25 Cubs games between 1908 and present day. Yet, these guys still serve as the absolute compass of their people, especially considering that they turned their respective families into prominent names. There’s also a level of deference to these two individuals that might get old for some–I mean, does everything have to be named after Washington? How can a man really shit gold? Come on.

John F. Kennedy as Jaime Lannister
Both of these guys suck at first. Kennedy has Bay of Pigs, Jaime pushes a kid out the window, and neither of them seem to have any redeeming qualities besides a transparent charm. But they slowly win you over. Jaime starts acting like a stand-up guy who actually looks after his friends and not just his family, while Kennedy defuses a missile crisis that almost resulted in a nuclear holocaust. Some confusing sexual incidents still leave us wondering about their overall morality, but we can confirm that they are both complex men capable of some pretty good deeds. And we’re gonna go ahead and ignore rape allegations in both cases because that’s like, totally up to interpretation, man. P.S. Think about how Kennedy would say “Kingslayer.” It’s pretty funny.

James Madison as Tyrion Lannister
Like James Madison, Tyrion is a preposterously short but prodigiously intelligent man. Both of them were unusually successful in their positions of power, but had their accomplishments overlooked because of a siege on the capitol while they held office. The jury’s still out on whether James Madison was as partial to whores as Tyrion though. Fun fact, James Madison had the same awkward, swinging-gait that Tyrion so prominently displays when he saunters about King’s Landing.

Thomas Jefferson as Cersei Lannister
These were both people that maintained reputations as powerful influencers, but more importantly, these were both people who regularly boinked a person society told them they shouldn’t be boinking, resulting in numerous illegitimate children. They both used sexual prowess to curry political favor, we’re pretty sure. And both presided over significant political changes within their respective realms according to themselves–Jefferson dubbed his presidency the “Revolution of 1800” and, well, Cersei just thinks she’s the shit even though no one else agrees.

Theodore Roosevelt as The Hound
These two guys are straight fucking badasses who don’t give a shit about what anyone thinks of them. They’re the last people on the planet you’d want to be facing in combat, but the first people on the planet you’d want to get hammered with. Except that they’re fairly liberal with their use of big fucking weapons once they’re drunk. As a side note, they both have a thing about chickens. Don’t ask.

Lyndon B. Johnson as Bronn
Are these two capable leaders and fighters? Oh, hell yes. Are they well-liked? Absolutely not, because they behave with a brashness that distances them from anyone else in power. Bronn is perfectly content to spend his time drinking with whores. LBJ once whipped his dick out at a press conference. But still, they are the most exciting ones to follow, just because they don’t play by the rules.

Benjamin Harrison as Lancel Lannister
Here we have two guys who are, and always will be, more famous because of who their grandfather is than what they achieved. I bet Benjamin Harrison was way less of a pussy, though. I mean look at that beard.

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House Baratheon & Company

Andrew Jackson as Joffrey Baratheon
First, since we’re all thinking it: Andrew Jackson was born in the 18th-century American frontier. Chances that he was a bastard? I’d say medium to high. And yes, I also acknowledge that Joffrey is the pussiest little bastard imaginable, and that Andrew Jackson had testes that hung well below his patellae, but look past that: Andrew Jackson supported slavery, expanded executive powers, violently dicked over already-ravaged peoples, and quashed rebellions. That’s pretty Joffreyesque, is it not? If you’re not convinced, consult your history books about that time Jackson received a crossbow for his birthday.

Ulysses S. Grant as Robert Baratheon
Let’s see. Two ferocious soldiers who were in command of entire armies on the winning side of a war, who then became fat alcoholics with a long list of corruption charges in office? Yeah, I think we can make this comparison work.

James Garfield as Renly Baratheon
First of all, both these people can barely pass as being skilled soldiers; Renly never fought a war in his life, and Garfield spent most of the Civil War as a chief of staff for William Rosecrans. Additionally, neither of them really had claim to the throne; Renly was second in line, and Garfield wasn’t even a senator or governor; he was a Congressman when he got elected. They both managed to gain some political influence regardless, thanks to their personality and charm. But then they got assassinated by a civil worker/smoky demonic bloodspawn, respectively.

Harry Truman as Stannis Baratheon
To begin with, both Truman and Stannis are really just de facto leaders. Nobody elected Harry Truman when he first became president, and nobody ever really wanted Stannis to be king besides Stannis himself and a few of his cronies. But they both make history by exploring new, dangerous technologies to win wars, if we’re willing to compare the Lord of Light to an atomic bomb for a second here. Truman also seems like the kind of guy to cut off his best friend and savior’s fingers for committing a crime that saved his ass. Just an observation.

Herbert Hoover as Melisandre, The Red Woman
Am I comparing Quakers to those who follow the Lord of Light and blood sacrifices? Yeah, sure, maybe a little bit. But in addition, Hoover did to America what Melisandre did to Stannis: he promised great things, and then did terrible things. But who’s to say whether precipitating the Great Depression is the equivalent of using voodoo to murder every king in the realm and create substantial chaos? US. THEY’RE THE SAME.

Gerald Ford as Ser Davos Seaworth
These poor schmucks. They inherit the worst of situations and do their best to turn the tide of public opinion, whether by putting Watergate firmly in the past or begging pirates and Mycroft Holmes to back a failing bid for kingship. At the end of the day, they’re fairly forgettable for no other reason than the people on either side of them are batshit insane.

Millard Fillmore as Gendry
If Lannisters and Starks are the equivalents of Democrats and Republicans (or vice versa), aren’t Whigs the equivalent of Baratheon bastards? We’d say so. In that case, it makes sense that the last of the Whigs would be the last of the Baratheon bastards. I mean, that one baby was technically the last Whig, but that’s like saying Millard Jr. was the last true Whig because daddy Fillmore dressed him up and had him do little Whig speeches for his stuffed animals. Right?

William McKinley as Salladhor Saan
William McKinley’s strong emphasis on the implementation of the gold standard could only be matched by Salladhor, Ser Davos’ pirate friend who helped them attack Blackwater Bay. After the love for gold, though, this comparison runs a little dry. I doubt that even a younger William McKinley would have wanted to “fuck the queen” as much as Salladhor wanted to rail Cersei into a vegetative state.

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Night’s Watch & Wildlings

Chester Arthur as Osha
When we first meet Osha, we distrust her, because she’s trying to kill Bran, but she soon becomes one of the coolest characters in the show. Chester Arthur, according to Wikipedia, was distrusted and disliked coming into office, but eventually gained some popularity. It’s the best we can do for this one, okay? But really, both characters experience a signfiicant transition from being suspicious and hated to overwhelmingly trusted and likable.

William Howard Taft as Samwell Tarly
Fat guys! What else matters?

Rutherford B. Hayes as Tormund Giantsbane

Rutherford B. Hayes Tormund Giantsbane

Zachary Taylor as Lord Commander Mormont
While not being the most central characters in the larger narratives surrounding their environment, both of these men are quite likable, decent guys with admirable military records. But, sadly, they both meet early deaths and are eventually replaced by much more interesting characters.

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Miscellaneous

George H.W. Bush as Varys the Spider
Both these individuals are spymasters, Bush Senior hailing from the CIA and Varys being the Master of Whispers — basically the closest you can get to being called the head of a spy service for a regime that seemingly has no executive influence outside of the military. Both are sexless–or, at least, we’ll tell ourselves that so as to avoid any mental images of H-Dubs taking Barbara Bush’s nasties by (Desert) Storm.

James K. Polk as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish
These two men made names for themselves as aggressive schemers. Polk used his political skills of manipulation to tremendously expand American territory, often doing so in bad faith. Littlefinger constantly schemes to heighten his own political standing, also often doing so in bad faith. Polk had a creepy mullet, Littlefinger has a creepy mustache. This all checks out.

Warren G. Harding as Grand Maester Pycelle
“Return to Normalcy” etc. etc.

Dwight D. Eisenhower as Barristan Selmy
DDE and Ser Barristan both have incredible combat reputations; they fight vigorously, lead bravely, and serve loyally. But eventually they get disenfranchised with the system — corruption, military-industrial complex, you know the deal. Both are pretty even-headed guys who pretty much nobody hates. And, way after they’ve left their posts and moved on to new projects (golfing everyday, or advising Mothers of Dragons), the folks they’ve left behind will rally around their old image.

William Henry Harrison as Prince Oberyn
Every great group of people needs one of those guys that gets killed off shortly after being introduced, even though he seems super strong and likable. Sometimes it’s pneumonia, sometimes it’s your head being pumpkin-smashed by an 8-foot tall giant. With Prince Oberyn, it actually could have been either. Old Tippecanoe, on the other hand, likely died from pneumonia, although there are a few isolated scholars who believe it was the head-crush thing.

James Monroe as Jon Arryn
These are both nice guys. Yeah, we like them, and everybody remembers them fondly. But were they actually great leaders, or were they just remembered fondly because times were good while they were in power? If Westeros had an “Era of Good Feelings” (which it probably didn’t, because people are always getting raped and killed, but I guess an era with one drunken idiot king is better than one with 5 or more kings all dying and wasting precious resources on war), it would definitely have been in the time during which Jon Arryn was the Hand of the King.

Woodrow Wilson as Illyrio Mopatis
Illyrio Mopatis, if you don’t remember, is featured early in the series, as the man in Pentos who looks after Daenerys and Viserys and arranges Daenerys’ marriage to Drogo. Like Wilson, Illyrio is just a diplomat who wants to ensure a bright future for the world, which is why he eventually betrays them. Like Wilson, he’s pretty ineffectual toward the end of his life. And both Wilson and Patis are seemingly more influential abroad and in foreign affairs than at home.

James Buchanan as Loras Tyrell
James Buchanan is remembered primarily for being the only bachelor president in American history, sooooo…yeah. Our work here’s done.

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