Note: this article contains spoilers for the April 13th episode of Game of Thones.
Ding dong, the king is finally dead. After three seasons of being one of the most loathed characters in television history, Game of Thrones’s vicious and sadistic teenage king, Joffrey Baratheon, is deceased. He was poisoned mere hours after taking his wedding vows at his own lavish wedding reception. Fans of the novels that the show is based on know the identity of the culprit, but the viewers of the television show cannot be sure who the murderer is. Game of Thrones is taking a sharp turn from a fantasy story into a whodunit – and everyone is a suspect. The problem with a heinous human being such as Joffrey is that anyone could have a reason for wanting to kill him. Joffrey has abused and tortured those around him with a sociopathic glee, making him on the most reviled men in all of Westeros. Who was at the wedding and who could have played a part in his demise? A rundown of some of the potential suspects and their possible motivations follows:
Tyrion Lannister, Joffrey’s uncle, has been accused of the murder by his sister, Joffrey’s mother Cersei. Tyrion certainly has plenty of reason to hate Joffrey, who has gone out of his way to mock and humiliate Tyrion at every opportunity, mocking him for being a little person. At Tyrion’s wedding, Joffrey made a specific point of mocking his uncle’s height. Moments before his death, Joffrey commissioned a group of little people to perform like clowns, reenacting the demise of several beloved characters with Glee. A damning piece of evidence is that Tyrion handed Joffrey the goblet with the poisoned wine. Tyrion, however, is a smart man – why would he be so brazen as to hand the king poison in front of hundreds of witnesses? Additionally, while hating Joffrey is understandable, what purpose does it really serve Tyrion to kill Joffrey at this moment? Unless, perhaps, Joffrey’s final mocking – pouring wine on Tyrion and forcing him to be his cup-bearer – was one push too far.
Sansa Stark, Joffrey’s sister-in-law and Tyrion’s reluctant wife, hates Joffrey maybe more than anyone. Originally set to marry him, Sansa dreamed of a fairy-tale wedding to a sweet prince and of becoming queen. She was in for a very rude awakening; Joffrey was not the prince she’d hoped for, instead a cruel monster. She watched in horror as Joffrey had her father executed, then held her, essentially, as a prisoner, humiliating and torturing her when he pleased. Under Joffrey’s rule her mother and brother were also both slaughtered at the Red Wedding, and as far as she knows the entire rest of her family has all perished. Stripped of everything she loved, maybe Sansa couldn’t take it any longer and decided to end it – though this would not be the most in character action for Sansa to take. She’s managed to survive in King’s Landing by lying low and keeping her head down… would she really do something so brazen as to murder the king?
Oberyn Martell, the Prince of Dorne, arrived in town for Joffrey’s wedding and made his intentions clear from the start. He believes that his sister Elia was raped and murdered at the order of Tywin Lannister, the patriarch of the Lannister family and Joffrey’s grandfather. Upon arriving, he made his intentions clear to Tyrion, telling him that the Lannisters are not the only ones who pay their debts. If Oberyn has a score to settle with Tywin, perhaps he chose to take it out on his grandson.
The show is called Game of Thrones for a reason, and once again the iron throne is up for grabs. Like Cersei said in the first season, “when you play the game of thrones you win or you die”. Sitting on the throne will mark a person as not long for the world. A lesson, Joffrey learned the painful way.
Opinion by Alex Warheit