For Millennials. By Millennials.

Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?

Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?

We examine the visuals, characters, storytelling, world-building, and iconic moments of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings closely.

Ever since Game of Thrones burst into popularity, it has been compared with Lord of the Rings. The two fictional universes have a lot of similarities between them. Even the writers have two Rs in their name. However, in order to determine which one truly stands out, we need to dive deeper and examine their visuals, characters, script, world-building and iconic moments such as battles and endings. Remember that we are just comparing the video content here, not the books.

Visuals: Lord of the Rings takes the cake

Visuals could include both the actual locations as well as CGI. In that department, Lord of the Rings fares better. However, that is probably so because Game of Thrones had budget restrictions which the latter did not face. Movies do not face much of an issue when it comes to the CGI budget. That is because they make far more on the box office than TV shows can with subscriptions. That is why all the places in Middle Earth, including Mordor, Minas Tirith, Rivendell, the Shire, and Gondor looked so breathtakingly beautiful. Game of Thrones had some incredible visuals too. However, the lack of budget for over 80 hours of screentime did not help at all, especially with dragons, dire wolves and the wall.

game of thrones lord of the rings 2 Game of Thrones Lord of the Rings
The Gates of Argonath in Lord of the Rings
Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?
The Titan of Braavos in Game of Thrones

World-Building: A tough call

World-building is an essential part of any fantasy fiction movie or show. However, it is a very tough competition between Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. Game of Thrones has a much more diverse world, with many more kingdoms and two separate continents. Much of the map, like the Land of Always Winter in Westeros is uncharted. Essos is, in fact, bigger than Westeros and much of the world remains undiscovered. George RR Martin even made a separate book called ‘The World of Ice and Fire’ to explain that world to readers.

Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?
A map of the known world in Game of Thrones

Meanwhile, Middle Earth from Lord of the Rings has an intimate feel to it. It has a massive map with many diverse groups and species, but the languages make it much more real. JRR Tolkien literally created the entire Elvish language and its dialects by himself. It was made easier by the fact that he was a linguist, but to put that much effort into your world deserves appreciation. Therefore, it would be fair to say that both these worlds are complex and realistic in their own way.

Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?
A map of Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings

Storytelling: Game of Thrones is more realistic

As we all know, Game of Thrones is always regarded as a very realistic fantasy show. No character is ever safe from death. In fact, George even remarked that Tolkien’s biggest mistake in Lord of the Rings was that Gandalf didn’t stay dead. Game of Thornes’s storytelling is quite true to life, with complex characters with incredibly morally grey areas. This is the trend seen in movies as well as tv shows of modern times. However, as soon as George left the production team, it all unfolded quite poorly. The storytelling was nowhere near as good in the final few seasons as it was from season 1 to 5.

Game of Thrones Lord of the Rings

This, however, doesn’t mean that the Lord of the Rings had a boring or outdated method of storytelling. Tolkien fought in the Great War (WWI) and wanted to use his writing skills for a more feel-good story. It was a major inspiration for Lord of the Rings. However, the moral messages from his story and the beauty of the plot are just majestic. The dialogues and the plot are so captivating that it leaves the viewers awestruck. Therefore, it is safe to say that both shows have a unique way of storytelling.

Characters: Realistic vs Traditional

Just like storytelling, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings differ in the nature of their characters too. Game of Thrones characters and families, such as Starks and Lannister’s are modeled after real-life families from the War of the Roses in British history. Characters like Tywin, Jamie, Cersei, Daenerys, Lord Varys, Littlefinger, and many others are morally grey by design. Their lust for the Iron Throne and power was quite realistic. Moreover, their arcs are complicated, based on the very complicated lives that they have lived.

Game of Thrones Lord of the Rings

Meanwhile, Lord of the Rings has very traditional characters. They revolve around traditional concepts of good and evil, such as Sauron, Saruman, Gandalf, Frodo, Samwise, and the other hobbits. That is not to say that every character was either pure evil or good. Elves had done some questionable acts in their past. Similarly, humans were morally corruptible. The arcs were grand and received perfect closure by the end of the series. That wasn’t the case with Game of Thrones though, sadly.

Iconic moments: Battles and ending were better in Lord of the Rings

When it comes to the battle sequences, Lord of the Rings has a significant edge over Game of Thrones. A lot of it has to do with CGI budgeting, but despite that, the shots from battle sequences in Lord of the Rings are far more iconic and majestic. That is not to say that Game of Thrones had boring battle sequences. They were marvelous but couldn’t be as memorable as that of Lord of the Rings. Their cinematography and CGI really took the cake here.

Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?
Aragon facing the full might of Mordor

However, the ending of the two sagas is where the difference can be spotted like night and day. Game of Thrones failed on multiple fronts, such as incomplete character arcs, a weird plot end, and inconsistencies. Whereas Lord of the Rings had one of the most iconic endings to any fantasy fiction movie. All the characters had resolved their conflicts admirably and arrived at their logical conclusion. This is where Lord of the Rings stands alone.

Game of Thrones vs Lord of the Rings. Which is better?
Drogon and Daenerys about to attack the Lannister forces.

Our verdict

Giving a verdict on two of the most iconic fantasy fiction in pop culture is a damning task. However, when considering all the factor, we can say that Lord of the Rings just edges ahead of Game of Thrones. This might be very upsetting to hear for fans of Game of Thrones. However, the reason for the former to be ahead is that Lord of the Rings is just a complete package from start to end. Every aspect of its world was well explained, and each character had a meaningful and satisfying arc. Some of the dialogues of the movie resonate among the people to this day. Had Game of thrones not had such a controversial ending, then this would have been a completely different conversation. However, as things stand, Lord of the Rings takes the cake. We’ll also have more content to compare since a TV show is being adapted from Lord of the Rings books!

One comment

  1. In my opinion, I would not compare Lord of the Rings with Game of Thrones. For the simple fact that One is formatted for theaters and the other for tv.

    However, what I have noticed is that Game of Thrones has not only been compared with other tv shows, no matter the genre, but epic movies as well.

    What that says to me is that Game of Thrones is so good that even Movie Heads have taken notice. Don’t believe me? Look at Marvel Endgame. You ever wonder why the Heads at Disney decided to open Marvel Endgame on the weekend where The Long Night episode was airing? We are talking about the most anticipated movie, Endgame, in the world going up against the most anticipated battle, The Long Night episode, tv episode.

    Have you been watching the youtube reactions from people watching the Long Night episode?

    I think you are a die-hard Lord of the Rings fan and cannot be objective on this topic. Again, I say you should not try to compare LOTR to GOT.

    Let me try to put things in perspective for you. Lord of the Rings does not have the same effect on the world that Game of Thrones does. Don’t believe me?

    Did you know that there have been actual College Courses on Game of Thrones?

    Did you know that Actual World Leaders and Military strategists/generals don’t just watch Game of Thrones, they STUDY IT to see how it can be applied to what they are doing.

    Did you know that HBO’s competitive companies(Netflix, Showtime, AMC, NBC, HULU, etc.) employees would actually be at the water coolers discussing last night’s episode of Game of Thrones with the same energy that they would use when doing whatever work assignment they were tasked with?

    Why do you think that Jeff Bezos(founder of Amazon) made the famous announcement to his employees that they need to come up with the next Game of Thrones. He probably got tired of walking into his office with employees having all sorts of Game of Thrones paraphenalia plastered all over their cubicle spaces. And the conversations on GOT all day must have been bothering him as well. Maybe that’s what drove him to acquire the rights to the Lord of the Rings so that he can make a tv/streaming series that could try to rival Game of Thrones. Who knows?

    I really don’t believe in my core that Lord of the Rings has the same effect on people like Game of Thrones does.

    Also, you mentioned that Game of Thrones was at it’s best from season 1 to season 5 when George RR Martin was on board. Well, if that is the case, can you please explain to me how is it that Season 6, Season 7 and Season 8 walked off with the Best Drama Series Emmy award?

    Explain to me why many people arguably agrees that Battle of the Bastards is the greatest battle ever on tv or movie. Oh. And as a reminder, Battle of the Bastards is in season 6.

    Explain to me why season 8(final season) was nominated with 32 emmys, the most in emmy history?

    Explain to me why season 8(final season) walked off with 12 emmy wins, tying there record in 2015 and 2016, the most for a single season in emmy history?

    Did you know that during the 8 seasons of Game of Thrones that, at a minimum, HBO “Profited” over $3 Billion. Not Generated. Profited. And HBO is still profiting off of Game of Thrones as I am writing this comment.

    I believe that your comparison is flawed and does not contain the relevant information that is needed to have a more objective conversation.

    Don’t get me wrong. I love the Lord of The Rings. I was never a fantasy guy until I saw the Lord of the Rings trilogy. When the trilogy ended, I never thought I would see anything that could match this, let alone surpass it.

    When I first saw the posters for Game of Thrones in the spring of 2011 with Boramir’s face, I was like “Oh here is a tv show that will try to copy Lord of the Rings and probably fail.” Mind you, I did not start watching Game of Thrones until the middle of Season 3. That was because I was watching the final seasons of Spartacus which had my full attention.

    However, when Spartacus ended I focused all of my attention on Game of Thrones and had no idea what I was walking into. This was the season of the Red Wedding. I started watching the episode when Jaimie got his hand cut off and I was like, “What??” I kept watching for the next 3 or 4 episodes and I was wondering who is this guy Ned Stark everybody keeps talking about. But, let me tell you, after 3 or 4 episodes in I was rooting for the Starks and had no idea what happened in season 1 or season 2. But, when the Red Wedding happened I was so angry and upset that I wanted to write to HBO and tell them that I was going to drop my subscription. However, Cooler heads prevailed.

    I could not believe a network would allow for that tragedy to happen to a family like that. Catelyn Stark’s plead to let Robb Stark go, “Please…… Pleeeeeeeease!” That was so powerful. Even to this day it still strikes a chord in me when I see that episode.

    After season 3, I went and read all 5 books twice!!. Even after reading the books and watching season 4 and 5 , Benioff & Weiss still had a way of surprising you with a lot of things you were waiting to see happen.

    Anyway, the point I am trying to make is that the Lord of The Rings did not make me want to read the books or any other of Tolkiens books. Lord of The Rings is in it’s own place in Fantasy. It is the fantasy in which all fantasy stories pull from. No question about that. Game of Thrones is just different. This is why you cannot compare the two. And, I don’t believe you should.

    Lord of the Rings is truly closer to fantasy. Game of Thrones is more realistic, as you said earlier. This is why this is a show that is being studied from world leaders and military minds and Academia.

    Besides, there were just more characters for you to feel for than Lord of the Rings, even if some of them were secondary and third characters like Oberyn Martell.

    This is just my opinion. What are your thoughts?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *