With Sunday night’s airing of the series finale, HBO’s Game of Thrones will officially come to an end. I have grown to become a “GOT” fan. I wasn’t initially, but a friend’s insistence that I “get on board” and start watching the show led to my present state of fandom.
I didn’t get the hype at first. Is it about kings and queens? Dragons? Dwarfs? Zombies? Does it take place in the past or the future? Is it drama? Romance? Action-adventure? Science fiction?
I eventually came to understand that part of the show’s appeal is that it is sort of all of those things. Like many of history’s epic television shows, Game of Thrones breaks the mold and transcends genre limitations.
Last summer, I finally caved to the pressure and watched season one, episode one—which quickly turned into a Game of Thrones marathon. Over the next several days, I binge watched every episode of the first seven seasons, only to be left hanging, anxiously awaiting the arrival of this spring’s eighth and final season.
I spend most of the time pondering the art of being a good teammate. With the final GOT episode looming, however, I’ve had an intermingling of thoughts taking place in my head. I’ve found myself wondering: Who is the best Game of Thrones teammate?
The show is entertaining and has lots of examples of great leadership. But what about flat out good teammate-ness? Who is the best “good teammate” on the show? After much consideration, I’ve narrowed my choices down to five possibilities, and I’m not prepared, nor capable, of taking it any further than that. I’ll leave it up to you to make the final determination.
(*If you’re not a Game of Thrones fan, keep reading. You don’t have to know the characters to appreciate their qualities. Even if you’ve never seen a single episode, you’ll value the good teammate lesson that follows.)
Description from the official GOT website: Ned’s bastard son. He joins the Night’s Watch, following in the footsteps of his Uncle Benjen.
Qualifying characteristics: Jon is a man of action. When he comes across a problem, he confronts it. Even though he demonstrates strong leadership qualities, he never seeks individual glory. Jon is courageous and routinely stands up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. He chooses to do what is right and not necessarily what is popular.
Possible disqualifying characteristics: Sometimes Jon fails to recognize an issue’s complexities. He oversimplifies problems and acts when he should show restraint. His lack of patience can put his team in vulnerable situations.
Brienne of Tarth
Description from the official GOT website: Brienne is a highborn lady who would rather be a knight. As Catelyn Stark’s envoy, she is tasked with escorting Jaime Lannister back to King’s Landing.
Qualifying characteristics: Brienne is fiercely loyal. She takes her commitment to serve seriously. Her motives are always pure, and she is trustworthy beyond measure.
Possible disqualifying characteristics: Brienne has a chip on her shoulder about being a female “knight.” She’s often distracted by what others think of her instead of being totally comfortable in her own skin. Her uneasiness is understandable, but her insecurities cause her to be a loner and not engage with other team members.
Description from the official GOT website: Called “The Imp,” because of his small stature, he is the youngest son of Tywin Lannister, the richest lord in the Seven Kingdoms, and younger brother to Queen Cersei and Ser Jaime Lannister. What he lacks in height, he makes up in wit.
Qualifying characteristics: His team matters to him. He genuinely cares about the citizens of Westeros and those he serves. He’s invested in their well-being. In a realm filled with combat, Tyrion’s size restricts his ability to contribute on the battlefield. But he is an example of someone who embraces his role on the team and finds a way to alternatively use his gift—his intellect—to contribute to his team’s success.
Possible disqualifying characteristics: Tyrion tends to overindulge in personal pleasures. He frequents brothels and drinks to excess. His character has improved over the course of the series but allowing overindulgences to be a detriment to the team is always cause for concern.
Description from the official GOT website: Quiet and unassuming, Podrick is Tyrion’s squire.
Qualifying characteristics: He’s a good listener and a loyal, supportive companion. He doesn’t seek attention, nor does he require being in the spotlight. Podrick is “coachable” and eager to learn from those who are more knowledgeable than he is.
Possible disqualifying characteristics: His quiet nature often precludes him from being more assertive. Sometimes he “goes with the flow” when that isn’t the best direction for his team.
Description from the official GOT website: An overweight and timid, Night’s Watch recruit who is forced to join after being disinherited by his family. He falls under Jon Snow’s protection and becomes his best friend.
Qualifying characteristics: He is faithful and cares deeply for those in need. He demonstrates high levels of empathy, which compel him to take risks and break unjust rules in the service of his team.
Possible disqualifying characteristics: He has been known to cower in the face of danger. He’s timid and generally avoids confrontation. (But then again, he did kill a White Walker!)
Do any of those descriptions sound like you? Do they remind you of someone on your team? How about the possible disqualifying characteristics? We all have shortcomings when it comes to being a good teammate. Some of us are naturally inclined to certain characteristics more so than others.
The ideal teammate would have Jon Snow’s courage to take action, Breinne of Tarth’s loyalty, Tyrion Lannister’s willingness to invest in his role, Podrick Payne’s humility and coachability, and Samwell Tarley’s empathy.
We shouldn’t be content to only be good at what comes naturally to us. We should strive to be great at every aspect of being a good teammate. Whether it’s the Game of Thrones or the game of life, good teammates are committed to overcoming their flaws and building upon their natural abilities.
As always…Good teammates care. Good teammates share. Good teammates listen. Go be a good teammate.