Game of Thrones Philosophy Breakdown: S8E3 “The Long Night” – War, Past Mistakes, and Noble Deaths

*SPOILER ALERT FOR GAME OF THRONES, OBVIOUSLY. Don’t listen to this if you haven’t watched the show!*

Do our past mistakes work out for the best? What is the right way to die? And how can reading too many /r/gameofthrones Reddit threads make you less virtuous?

This last week brought an epic episode of Game of Thrones that resolved some of the show’s most dire conflicts. But even in the dark press of battle, we found moments where philosophy shone through:

  • Nobility in death – I draw on my recent readings from Seneca to talk about the Stoic way of death – and other ideas about dying well.
  • The past and present – In this episode, Bran makes the interesting comment to Theon that “everything you did brought you where you are now.” We explore how present actions change our perception of the past – and how redemption plays out in the arcs of other characters like Beric.
  • War – We end the show with reflection on the tragedy of death in war, as shown so horribly by this episode.

I also pause for a bit of self-reflection: reading too many fan conversations online has made me not properly appreciative of this amazing show. Whatever happens in the last three episodes, I’m going to try to enjoy the amazing acting, production, and storytelling work.

This week Ryan and I asked each other about what it means to die well. Want to share your thoughts for a chance to have them read on next week’s episode? Tweet with #GameOfThronesPhilosophy or join in the Reddit conversation. We’ll be back next week with thoughts on episode 4 as the show draws to an end.


Ready to dig in? Download the new episode from iTunes or your favorite podcast app. 

You can also listen to this episode (and others!) in the in-browser player below. Want to chime in with your thoughts? Comment on this blog! I’m sure we haven’t said anything controversial AT ALL.

NSFW WARNING: These episodes contain language and themes not appropriate for children and probably not safe for work or your grandmother. In no circumstance should these be heard by the delicate ears of Prince Tommen.

DISCLAIMERS: Despite all evidence to the contrary in this show, I am not a professional philosopher, doctor, climatologist, maester, brother of the Night’s Watch, or financial advisor.

James Walpole

James Walpole is a writer, startup marketer, and perpetual apprentice. You're reading his blog right now, and he really appreciates it. Don't let it go to his head, though.

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