Why do people care about vows and promises in Game of Thrones so much, but seem so superficially carefree about murder and killing? Is there a religion or philosophy from the books that I am missing? I understand all the characters were made sociopaths for dramatic effect, but sociopaths don't care about promises either.

For example Jon Snow killed people who violated the Night Watchmen's oath, and wildlings too. The lord of the Twins killed Rob Stark for violating his promise to marry his daughter. Jaime Lannister pledges loyalty to his king, but attempts to kill kids.

  • 3
    Several states in America both enforce contracts, and have the death penalty. Welcome to the world! It sucks. Apr 3, 2016 at 14:06
  • Because in Westros life is cheap, but honor is everything,(even if much ignored if the circumstances require). Unless you have no honor or do not value it. In that case life is even cheaper!
    – Ihor Sypko
    Apr 26, 2016 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


Game of Thrones is set in a world of pseudo-medieval feudal states and the behaviour of the characters is based on a morality similar to that of the real European medieval period. In that era concepts of honour and loyalty, family ties and keeping ones word/oath/promise were taken much more seriously than they are today. These concepts were closely tied to to a person's social standing and so for example breaking a promise could seriously lower your social standing, and bring shame on your family.

Regarding the amount of killing, there are certainly some characters in GOT who would qualify as sociopaths today, but these are also characters living in a world with different morality standards from our own where death from disease, injury etc. is far more common and life is generally "cheaper". Killing in self defence, or defence of one's honour or family, or for more abstract concepts like "glory" or "duty" is also far more accepted. These social and moral traits are accentuated at the top level of society, which is the focus of much of GOT, where the risks and rewards and competitiveness are all that much higher.

So the characters for the most part are just behaving in line with the fictional society they are a part of, which itself is loosely based on the social and moral standards of medieval Europe.

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