Game of Thrones is an ensemble show without a clear lead or protagonist, which was apparently an ambiguity that Macalester College mathematicians wanted to take out of the... equation. According to Entertainment Weekly, a couple of mathematicians have determined the most important Game of Thrones character using straight up arithmetic. Specifically, professor Andrew J. Beveridge and undergraduate Jie Shan performed a network science analysis on Game of Thrones for a research paper entitled Network of Thrones. Factors that came into consideration were the amount and importance of other characters each character interacted with and how frequently the interactions occurred.
The character who ended up winning the most important character title? Tyrion Lannister. “Acting as the Hand of the King, Tyrion is thrust into the center of the political machinations of the capitol city,” the paper read. “Our analysis suggests that he is the true protagonist of the book.” Jon Snow and Sansa Stark were apparently also in the running. While you might be surprised that likely protagonist candidates like Jon Snow and Daenerys didn't earn the title, it makes sense if you consider that both characters spend a lot of their time physically isolated from the other main characters at the Wall or in the desert, respectively. It should also be noted that the analysis was of the book A Storm of Swords, not of the series in general or the TV show.
That said — and all due respect to Tyrion — if we're judging by the amount of characters one character has interacted with, I think these characters definitely shouldn't be forgotten.
The Tyrell matriarch seems to know everyone and everything about Westeros and its feuding families; while not an obvious protagonist, she has a lot of influence and many connections.
While not always a 100 percent likable character, Cersei certainly seems to be involved with a lot of the nasty business at King's Landing.
Arya might be away from the glamour and court intrigue, but she's perhaps travelled and met more people than any of the other major characters on the show.
Sandor Clegane, better known as the Hound, has undergone one of the biggest emotional journeys of the series, even if he isn't always at the center of all the action.
It makes a lot of sense why Sansa was in the running for the most important character; she's interacted with many of the show's most important characters, and she's slowly built up more agency as the show has progressed.
Like Cersei and Olenna, Littlefinger is another one of those characters who always seems to be involved with central plots and schemes — even if he's not the easiest to root for.
While it's very impressive that these mathematicians were able to pinpoint the most important character, I wonder if Game of Thrones even has a protagonist. Remember, the first season, we would have thought it was Ned Stark — and look at what happened to him.
Image: HBO, Giphy (6)