This Is Proof That The Hairstyles On Game Of Thrones Have Serious Meaning

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Each episode of Game of Thrones sets HBO back approximately $10 million, so you better believe that the hit show’s visuals are everything. The costumes spare no detail, the scenery is breathtaking, hell, even the dragons look real — there’s not a single shot that isn’t presented in meticulous detail. And if there was something strangely amiss? Well, we probably wouldn’t even notice anyway. We’re too busy zeroing in on Daenerys’s braids and Cersei's surprisingly masterful ability to style her new pixie.
With a series as convoluted and rich with plot as Game of Thrones, it might seem trivial to say that you can match the major points of each character’s storyline to what’s going on with their hair. But given the major transformations that have taken place for the main players over the past seven seasons so far, you’d be surprised by how much of those twists and turns are reflected in their appearances alone.
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Ahead, see how your favorite (and least favorite) characters have changed their hairstyles — and how, exactly, Sansa’s braids tell you everything you could ever need to know about her alliances... for better or for worse.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Daenerys Targaryen

When we first meet Daenerys at the beginning of the series, she’s living in exile in the Free Cities with her extremely creepy brother, far removed from Westeros and the seat of power the formerly ruling royal House Targaryen once enjoyed. Once she takes up with Khal Drogo of the Dothraki and starts to embrace her role as Khaleesi, she’s fully committed to messy hair and an overall dusty aesthetic.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
As Daenerys grows more confident in her quest to seize control of Westeros and make House Targaryen great again, her look evolves to better embody the queen she intends on becoming. Step one: The Mother of Dragons trades in her unkempt strands for the most elaborate braids in the game.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
In Season 7, Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons — and her braids — mean business. Her hair is sleek, polished, and decidedly regal, but only time will tell whether she’ll be capping it off with a crown perched atop the Iron Throne.
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By the end of the season, Daenerys has completely shed her soft, fairy-princess waves and airy gowns for a more imposing, even warrior-like appearance — complete with a tight, waist-length braid that echoes the symbolic sectioned ponytail of her late husband, Khal Drogo.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Jon Snow

The doe-eyed “bastard son” of Ned Stark (who turns out to be only one of those things) starts the series with a baby face and tousled curls perpetually covered in snowflakes, like the quiet, broody lead guitarist in a boy band from Siberia.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
As the seasons pass, and winter grows nearer, Jon becomes angstier and his curls start to look a little more brittle. A byproduct of the dry air and frigid temperatures up north, perhaps? But if Season 4 Jon thought he’d seen some shit, just you wait…
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Season 6 begins with Jon Snow coming back from the dead, and it seems his patience for wearing his hair down died with him. The no-bullshit manbun has been his go-to ever since.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Cersei Lannister

From the daughter of the richest man in the Seven Kingdoms to Queen to Queen Regent and then back to Queen all over again, the glamorous, well-kept Cersei is high-maintenance in every way. Her lush blond waves and elegant twists are her crowning glory.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Until she’s accused of sexual deviance and has her head shaved by religious zealots before she’s forced to parade nude through the crowded streets of King’s Landing, that is.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The traumatic experience leaves Cersei not humbled, but mad with fury and a thirst for revenge. With her husband and all of her children dead, she’s the only one left in line for the throne. She accepts it, gladly — and there she sits, with the grown-out pixie making her look more imposing than ever before.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Arya Stark

From mischievous scamp to hardened assassin, Arya’s journey hasn’t allowed her much room for a makeover. (To be fair, it’s probably pretty difficult to book an appointment at the hair salon when your name is No One.)
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The youngest remaining Stark’s most dramatic transformation happens after she first flees King’s Landing, when she has her hair chopped to make her look more like a boy so that she can pose as a new recruit for the Night’s Watch. It works, for a while.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
By the time she’s making her way back to Winterfell, Arya’s longer hair has started to look a lot like it did during happier times. During a chance reunion, her old friend Hot Pie tells her he can’t believe he ever thought she was a boy.
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Unfortunately, those happier times are long gone, and Arya finds herself with complicated new obstacles to deal with at Winterfell — namely, her sister. But her shoulder-length hair, pulled back away from her face on top, but left loose at the bottom, recalls another member of the Stark family entirely… one that was executed in King’s Landing for threatening to reveal the truth about the Baratheon children’s parentage.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Margaery Tyrell

The lovely, calculating Queen Margaery — “as beautiful as she is clever,” or so they said — was never seen with a hair out of place, even as she approached her third (and ultimately most ill-fated) wedding.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Dungeon life is not kind to Margaery’s perfectly curled tendrils, which don’t stand a chance for grooming after she’s been imprisoned by the High Sparrow for defending her brother Loras, a punishment so draconian that not even her husband, the King of the Seven Kingdoms, is able to free her.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Samwell Tarly

Sweet, loyal Sam may not have been a key player in the first several seasons of the show, but the former steward of the Night’s Watch has come a long way from the days when he needed Jon to defend him when the other recruits called him Lady Piggy.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Nothing says “new man” like a fresh haircut, which is exactly what Sam gets after he arrives in Oldtown with Gilly to begin his training at the Citadel. On the other hand, nothing says “dead man” like getting a little too up close and personal with a terminal case of greyscale
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Sansa Stark

Of all the characters in Game of Thrones, Sansa’s hair has proven to be the most telling of them all. When we first meet the naive Lady of Winterfell, her hair is simple and youthful — but things change fast.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
After her father is decapitated at the hands of her betrothed, King Joffrey, Sansa is forced to remain in King’s Landing as Cersei’s captive. The Queen Regent is one sick lady, but it’s not long before Sansa starts to mimic her the woman who’s imprisoned her in subtle ways — particularly by wearing her hair in a similar fashion.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Sansa geared up to head west with Littlefinger (though the travel plans were unbeknownst to her at the time) by dyeing her red hair nearly black and picking up the alias of Alayne.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Once prissy and petulant as a young noblewoman, Sansa has toughened up big time. (You would too, if Ramsay Bolton happened to you.) She’s stronger, braver, and more determined than ever before, but we have reason to worry about what the future holds while she’s in command of Winterfell. With her hair worn long and pulled back, Sansa looks — and sounds — a bit too much like the reigning Queen for comfort. “I learned a lot from her,” Sansa tells Jon coldly when he comments on the similarities. That can't be good.
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edited by Amanda Madden; photographed by Amelia Alpaugh; photographed by Jack Pearce and Kenny Wu.
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