For the longest time, if there were one character it was impossible to imagine Game of Thrones killing off, it was Tyrion Lannister. It’s not that he’s especially strong — his whole point is that he isn’t — or even that he’s especially cunning — which he very much is — but he’s just always been far too fun.cool* to ever get rid of.
But with the show headed toward its final season and Tyrion taking some serious losses of late as he tried to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, all bets are officially off for the show’s most popular character. Will, at long last, Tyrion die?
It turns out that question is nearly impossible to answer, even when enlisting the help of a 50-person hive-mind.
Inverse partnered with Unanimous A.I. to pose that question and others to a swarm of Game of Thrones fans. This use of so-called swarm intelligence has produced some scarily accurate results in the past, so let’s take a quick look at how it works. As you can see in the animation below, each participant controlled a little golden magnet and used it to drag the puck toward the answer they thought was the most likely outcome. Also, the closer a user puts the magnet to the puck, the greater the pulling force. This is where our swarm of users began to form a hive-mind. As the user sees the puck move toward an outcome, it triggers a psychological response. The user starts to readjust their decision-making, building toward a consensus.
To read more about how Unanimous A.I. uses “swarm intelligence” to reach scarily accurate predictions, check out our previous article on how Unanimous A.I. uses “swarm intelligence” to make predictions. Let’s see a swarm in action on another Game of Thrones question.
That wasn’t too difficult, right? There was some small initial wavering between a confident and less confident “yes,” but that’s about it. In short order, the swarm made up its collective mind and reached a verdict. That’s about an average response time for the swarm. Now, let’s look at the Tyrion question.
Look at how uncertain the swarm is! We have never seen the hive-mind struggle that hard to reach a decision, and neither had the team at Unanimous A.I., who confirmed this was an unusually agonizing choice. Some of the chat logs from the swarm participants gives some insight into where their head was at with this question. Opinions varied wildly.
Tyrion’s a perfect tragic hero. One of the best characters, so of course he’ll die. Dany’s too much of a mary sue to.
It just makes sense that this selfish character would end in an act of self-sacrifice.
Tyrion’s too wily; he’ll survive
“So, there you kind of have it in a nutshell, perhaps,” Unanimous A.I.’s Chris Hornbostel tells Inverse in an email. “Tyrion’s certainly a favorite character, but it does make sense that this show — which has no problem with killing off characters we love — would end by killing off Tyrion at some point too. But then you come around to the other point: he’s too wily. He’s survived so much, right?”
More than any other character, Tyrion feels like he could go either way. So much of his character is tied up in surviving against all the odds, so is his fitting end one where he finally meets a situation he can’t escape, perhaps even a fate that he accepts as a meaningful death, or should he be one of the very few who escapes this brutal world as intact as he could realistically hope to be?
But as Hornbostel points out, this may have been a decision the swarm made with its heart, not its head.
“There’s just wishing and hoping involved,” he says. “No one wants to see Tyrion killed off… but when you face that question, it’s hard to not see it as a possibility.”