Ned Stark is the prototypical protagonist. He’s a handsome hero who, it just so happens, is one of the first characters we meet in George R.R. Martin’s debut novel in the Song of Ice and Fire series, Game of Thrones. In any other book, or on any other show, Ned would still be roaming around Westeros, doing the Honorable Thing. But this isn’t any other book/show, it’s Game of Thrones, and that virtuous do-gooder died nine episodes into season one.
So, if Ned’s not the main character, who is?
Andrew J. Beveridge, an associate professor of mathematics at Macalester College, and undergraduate Jie Shan set out to solve that exact question using a complex mathematical formula that involved keeping track of every character interaction in the third (and best) book, A Storm of Swords. “Whenever two characters appeared within 15 words of one another,” according to Quartz, “a link was added between them. The links are weighted based on how often the two characters appeared in close proximity.”
Ranked first in every measure, save for one, was the same character: Tyrion, the sharp-witted, marginalized member of powerful house Lannister. In spite of his small size, Tyrion is mathematically the most important character in Game of Thrones.
Tyrion’s followed by Jon Snow and Sansa Stark — somewhat surprisingly, Daenerys ranks fairly low, until you consider that she’s geographically stranded from other important characters. But, Beveridge teases, “Daenerys really represents the future — you can see what’s about to happen based on the people she’s linked with.” If you were a betting man/woman, I’d wager on Tyrion/Daenerys 2020. A very small man can cast a very large shadow.
For a lot more Thrones-related math, head here.