Romeo and Juliet. Hazel and Augustus. There’s nothing quite as beautifully tragic as star-crossed lovers. As readers and film/TV watchers, we find that there’s something achingly satisfying about two individuals whose love can never result in a happily ever after. It intensifies the importance of the moment and the fleeting love between the pair.
Literature contains an immeasurable number of examples of star-crossed lovers. Romeo and Juliet fall madly in love but are from families who loathe one another. Duels amongst the families ensue, and the lovers die in a double suicide resulting from a catastrophic misunderstanding. Hazel and Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars meet at a cancer support meeting – can this modern epic teenage love end in anything BUT heartbreak?
Whether Shakespearian or modern, star-crossed lovers permeate stories in every generation. Our beloved Game of Thrones also offers some tragically perfect examples of star-crossed lovers.
1. The top of this list is, of course, Jon Snow and Ygritte (you know nothin’ Jon Snow!). This pair of battle-hardened Northerners captured our hearts when they melted each other’s – which was pretty hard to do since it’s real cold in the North and because both Jon and Ygritte are tough warriors. This unlikely duo was forced to face off in the battle between the Night’s Watch vs. the wildlings where this sweeping romance met its untimely end.
2. As icky as we find their matchup, Jaime and Cersei are on this list as well. Two attractive people engaging in a secretive and heart-pounding affair? Check. Brother and sister? Check. Yep, this blonde, incestuous couple is constantly being torn apart from one another and ultimately knows they probably can’t end up together (although their sordid little trysts seem to continue…)
3. Across the pond in Essos, Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen have fallen in love following a rough period of transition from strangers to spouses. However, as in all cases of star-crossed lovers, the luck of love runs out. Khal Drogo is wounded in a duel, and his resulting chest wound festers. In a desperate move to save her husband, Khaleesi convinces a maegi woman from the conquered village to perform blood magic on Drogo to save his life. Unfortunately, said maegi performs a spell to put him in a comatose state as revenge for ravaging her village. Khaleesi ends up smothering her husband herself to end his suffering. Too bad there was no Yelp for black-magic practitioners in Essos, huh? #nostars
4. Another beautiful Stark pairing unfortunately makes this list as well: dashing Robb Stark and his lovely wife, Talisa. The two fall for one another whilst surveying the damage of a battlefield in the Stark vs. Lannister war. However, there’s one small troubling detail: Robb is betrothed to a member of the House Frey and is not free to follow his heart. To the premature delight of GoT viewers, the two marry (against much advice not to). When the charming couple tells Lord Frey of their illegal union, a tragic fate befalls them…
5. Renly Baratheon (Robert’s younger brother) and Ser Loras Tyrell also fall victim to the star-crossed lovers theme. Renly is royal by birth and unsuccessfully lays claim to the Iron Throne. He and Tyrell engage in a secret love affair. Because the ‘Faith of the Seven’ gods consider homosexuality a sin, Renly and Tyrell carry on in private. However, to due familial duty, both men must marry to ensure a future family line and to improve their political stations, which ultimately brings Renly to his untimely, firelady baby end.
Man oh man, does anyone get to be in love and keep it in Westeros? As much as we’d love just one teensy weensy happily-ever-after love story, we’d never believe it. George R. R. Martin has reminded us time and time again that life is brutal and unfair (Red Wedding, anyone?), and we’d never forgive him for delivering anything less.