You can officially blame Gandalf for the deaths of your favorite Game of Thrones characters

As any fan of Game of Thrones knows, no one in the series is safe. Season after season, the show has killed off pretty much everyone, from characters we loved to characters we loved to hate. And it turns out that we have another fantasy series to blame for Game of Thrones‘ many deaths. Author George R. R. Martin, who wrote the books that inspired the HBO series, recently said that Gandalf’s death in The Lord of the Rings inspired him to kill everybody off.

During an August 10th interview on PBS’s The Great American ReadMartin discussed the great influence that J.R.R. Tolkien’s tale of hobbits and elves had on his A Song of Ice and Fire book series. He talked about how he admired the intricate histories of The Lord of the Rings, as well as the characters’ very real internal struggles. But Martin acknowledged the moment that changed his perspective as a writer: the death of Gandalf the Grey.

"And then, Gandalf dies!" the author exclaimed. "I can't explain the impact that had on me at 13. You can't kill Gandalf!"

To everyone who watched Ned Stark’s beheading in Season 1 of Game of Thrones, Martin’s shock probably feels familiar. The author went on to explain how this moment brought about the merciless attitude toward character deaths he has today.

"The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is a thousand times greater," Martin continued. "Because now, anybody could die! Of course, it's had a profound affect on my own willingness to kill characters at the drop of a hat."

That’s an understatement.

Even though we now know where Martin’s ruthlessness comes from, we’re still not sure we’ll be able to forgive him for murdering so many of our favorites. (Hodor, anyone?) We guess it’s true what they say: all men must die.

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