Game of Thrones is gripping viewers with the idea that there may not be a single good guy left in play. The 2016 presidential race has latched onto a similar kind of "dreadtainment," minus the dragons (so far!), as exemplified by the fascinatingly sorry lineup of power-seekers hoping to seize the Republican nomination. As the spectacle continues tonight in the form of another televised debate, we've drilled the comparison down even further by determining each GOP candidate's GOT equivalent.
While the term "rightful heir" is a nonstarter in both democracy and feudal monarchies riddled with incest and bastard offspring, one can’t help but admire the weary, less-exuberant brother looking to earnestly repair the name his fun-loving brother trashed. Much like Stannis, Jeb Bush never seems certain of his next move. There’s a "now or never" quality to his persistence that leads us to believe that a few miscalculations might find him exhausted and browbeaten, telling an implacable Hillary to "do [her] duty" as he exposes his neck.
Marco Rubio is Oberyn Martell
Both hail from a disappointing land located as far south as south goes -- Florida and Dorne, respectively -- and both exude a certain swagger that sets them apart from the grey sheep that surround them. They are young and vibrant, perform well with crowds, and look to bring change to a system that’s been screwing their people for a while. With this also comes a high risk of flaming out too quickly, as we learned when Oberyn’s skull gave in like a fistful of squeezed grapes. We don’t expect Rubio to suffer the same fate.
Ted Cruz is Mace Tyrell
Contrary to all jolly appearances, Mace Tyrell is one of the most powerful political figures in Westeros. With the Lannisters running on fumes, he is currently head of the richest household, Master of Coin (a sort of king-banker), father of the queen, and under the reluctant protection of one of the most cunning minds around -- his mother, Olenna Tyrell. He's also a plum little man, eager to make proclamations and reeking of servitude for whoever will keep him at "the cool table." You can similarly imagine Ted Cruz cracking jokes about Canada in the senate cafeteria, aiming for self-deprecating and maybe coming off a little weird. Much like Tyrell palling around with the Lannisters, Cruz openly identifies with the Tea Party movement and has been endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus. Extremist reactionaries openly use him as a megaphone for legitimacy, and the candidate seems grateful for the opportunity each time. Yes, Ted Cruz is our unquestionable quill-fetcher.
Donald Trump is Daenerys Targaryen
It would be easy -- and at this point, pleasant -- to dismiss Donald Trump’s political capital. But he can't be underestimated. He is the Grand Old Party's unquestionable Khaleesi. Though it's hard to imagine either figure taking the throne once it’s all said and done, the online discussion and magazine covers already belong to them. The parallel goes beyond the level of manual effort put into their hair to their respective inner core of megalomania. Like Daenerys, Trump fell upward, turning a small fortune into a billion-dollar industry through a mixture of luck, name recognition, and narrative convenience. Both are entitled, politically untrained bordering on ruthlessly incompetent, and believe themselves to have the support of a nebulous "common people." (Donald Trump is also the presidential candidate most likely to refer to the American public as "the common people.")
Considering Trump claims that his second-favorite book (after the Bible, of course) is the one he commissioned to be ghostwritten under his name, there is no doubt that in an ideal world, the non-Republican would have a bare-midriffed former slave girl introduce him by his full name and accomplishments to everyone that stepped into his office. Not to mention that Trump is the most likely candidate to wait, stranded on top of a mountain, after flying his chopper away from a senate brawl.
Fiorina and Arryn are both women of prominence in fields dominated by men. (Granted one is a fictional fantasy field, but y’know.) They’re also conflicting and unpredictable figures whose words have extreme sociopolitical consequences. Let’s not forget that it was Lysa’s lie to her sister Catelyn about her husband, Jon Arryn, dying from poison that arguably started this entire “game of thrones.” This is a woman who inadvertently trolled all of Westeros into war because of that sweet, sweet Littlefinger touch. Fiorina is known for her own twists of truth. Misinformation concerning organizations like Planned Parenthood and blurring that wide line between “fetal tissue for research purposes” and “selling baby parts” came under fire from fact-checkers, and could have effects that we are sure she herself never intended. Words have consequences.
Ben Carson is Qyburn
We trust their medical prowess, but we also believe both men would break the laws of nature and man for political advancement. Qyburn has sidled into Cersei’s favor, and we can imagine Ben Carson grudgingly accepting Trump’s fist as they announce themselves running partners.
Chris Christie is Roose Bolton
Before he and his bastard son started squatting the north, Roose Bolton served under the late Rob Stark. We’re not saying that inviting Roose to your wedding will end in the dramatically coordinated slaughter of most of your friends and family, but his thinly veiled rage issues don’t reassure us one bit. This murky, aggressive personality brings us to Chris Christie, the man who approved bottlenecking a bridge in order to piss off the people who wronged him. Forget the fact that his resting face looks like a real-estate mogul with his eyes on the local rec center. Imagine an angry President Christie. If he pulled a Roose while in the most powerful position of American government, who knows what would happen.
Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, and get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.
Ben Philippe is a writer and comedian that splits his time between NYC and Montreal. He previously wrote for Gawker, Vox, and The AV Club. Six different personality quizzes say he's a Littlefinger.