If Joffery hadn’t cut off Ned Stark’s shaggy head… if Lady Stark hadn’t snatched up Tyrion and inadvertently started a war with the Lannisters… if Ned had sent his daughters away from King’s Landing while he had his many, many chances… if Robert Baratheon’s great love hadn’t been killed before the series even began.
Those are just some of the many, many fateful (and fatal) choices made in the first season of Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin’s brainchild has a wonderful habit of subverting traditional fantasy tropes, and chief among the casualties has been the idea of destiny. You look at a series like The Wheel of Time or The Sword of Truth and it’s got prophecy written all over it. Everything is preordained and we basically know where we’re going, even if we don’t quite know how we’re going to get there.
Game of Thrones, at least the TV version, turns all of that inside out. Take the Targaryn saga. The “Stallion who will Mount the World” saga came to an abrupt end before Rhaego was even born. The Doth’Raki invasion of Westeros that the show absolutely looked like it was leading up to went down in flames. And it was all because of Daenerys’ one lousy choice. If she hadn’t chosen to save the woman who later killed her son and husband (basically), and allow that woman to work magic on them both, it’s probable that story arc would still be going strong. Not in this series. As with so many lines, all that potential goes away because of one bad decision. Sure, it was a Right Thing to Do, but the unintended consequences of things in this show are just amazing.