Game of Thrones and the Hollywood Atheist Conspiracy

For those who aren't theAvod viewers, the "Hollywood Atheist Conspiracy" is a blanket term I use to describe the frequent habit of entertainment industry types to massively underepresent the religiosity and superstitiousness of real people when creating characters for their products. This leads to the odd sight of horror movies in which the majority of characters don't believe in ghosts, except for a lone kook. This compares rather starkly to real demographic surveys, which suggests that a belief in ghosts is a commonplace opinion, with the skeptics being a small minority.

This tendency shows itself in other ways as well. Prominent atheist characters, sparseness of any religious characters unless the plot requires them, and a general lack of consideration to issues of belief and superstition. It even leads filmmakers and producers to shoehorn atheist messages into places where they have no logical or sensible reason for being. Which brings me, naturally to Game of Thrones.

When adapting the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' to television, the producers made all manner of changes for a wide array of reasons. Combining and omitting characters to simplify the casting process, excising and moving scenes to simplify filming schedules, or making plot and motivation adjustments to make characters more likeable and relationships less confusing. They also made a relatively minor change for a strange and interesting reason - to further their Hollywood Atheist agenda.

For context, here's a brief list of some of the fantasical things that occur in the world of Game of Thrones, which is, to reiterate, a fantasy show.




Mindjackers (who can possess animals or people by putting in white contacts)

Immortal Forest Elves

Face-Changing Ninjas



Fireproof Dragon-People

Wights (people who vampires kill, but don't turn into vampries)

Trees that exist in a permanent temporal now, which are all connected to one another psychically, allowing anyone mindlinking with one to observe anything that happened around one of those trees at any point in history


70-Story Ice Walls

Frankenstein-Style Reanimated Corpses

Lazarus-Style Resurrected Men

Terrifying Shadow-Monsters

A Magic Power that Makes People Poison-Proof

That's quite a list, no? Well, since this a world of fantasy where anything can happen! Anything, that is, except for an afterlife.

In a season three conversation between Red Priestess Melisandre and Lazarus-Style reanimated man Beric Dondarrion, she asks him about his experiences beyond death - as someone who's been resurrected a half-dozen times, he'd be in a position to know. His response? There's absolutely nothing beyond death.

It's important to note that this is a wholly original scene, between two characters who never meet in the novels. Normally when these new scenes are crafted they serve a clear purpose - offering key plot information, giving additional shading and motivation to characters who aren't as well-explored in the books, shoveling on the nudity that was essential in convincing HBO to pick up the show and getting an audience to start watching it.

This scene accomplishes none of those things. Beric isn't given any extra depth because his death-to-life cycle isn't interrupted with trips to meet a fire God, and Melisandre's relation to her faith isn't affected in the slightest. Why should she question it? She controls fire, is immune to poison and cold, sees the future, gives birth to horrible shadow-monsters, can cast spells to disguise appearances - the Lord of Light has been good to her.

So why does this extra line exist? The only logical reason is a need for the producers to fit their atheist propaganda somewhere within the most magic-intensive show on television. The strange part is that there were already plenty of opportunities for this kind of messaging in other episodes. The most common faith in Westeros is a belief in 'The 'Seven', the idea that the divine is split into seven complimentary aspects. The novels use 'The Seven' as a platform to explore faith and power and problems with organized religion. There are plenty of people who feel strongly about their religion, and plenty who doubt the power/existence of the seven. R'Llhor, on the other hand, is a very literal presence in the lives of the characters, through the powers he bestows upon his faithful. Also, a prophecy concerning the second coming of his chosen warrior is a major turning point of a decent amount of the novels' plot.

How did the producers deal with this? Simple - they leave discussion of the Seven almost entirely out of the story, transforming the show's Westeros into a de facto secular state, and while they can't remove the actual magic powers that Melisandre possesses without essentially cutting her out of the show and completely changing the storyline, they're obviously so desperate to find some way to take a shot at religion that they add an aspect to her faith solely so that they can pull it away immediately afterwards.

That's the key element here - in the books, the possible afterlife of R'hllor's follows is completely unexplored. We see powers, and we see faith, but what comes next isn't specifically addressed. The producers of Game of Thrones were so fixated on their atheistic message that they felt the need to concoct an extra parallel between the followers of the Red God and Christianity - R'Llhor is even referred to as 'the one true god' in the scene - solely so that they can attack the idea of a Christian version of an afterlife.

It would take a longer, and more researched article to get into the producer's reasons for allowing the Hollywood Atheist Conspiracy to influence their development of the show - for now, I find it interesting enough just to examine the choices they made, and the implied reasoning behind them.