Jaime and Cersei
Perhaps the show’s most shocking coupling is between Queen Cersei Lannister and her twin brother, Jaime, a member of the Kingsguard sworn to protect her husband, King Robert. Viewers found out about the incestuous pair when intrepid climber Bran Stark spied them through a window at the end of the pilot — the same window that Jaime then proceeded to throw Bran out of, crippling him for life. More twisted still, all three of Cersei’s children are her brother’s, which might explain why Joffrey, their oldest, is basically the worst person ever. Gross as it is, the Lannisters’ relationship is, in a way, the ultimate expression of sibling-y love: Jaime’s admitted he’s never slept with anyone but Cersei, and Cersei basically killed her husband and started a war to protect her brother and their children.
Robb and Talisa
In the books, Robb’s marriage is anything but romantic: the King in the North storms a castle, gets injured, sleeps with the daughter of a minor lord who nurses him back to health, and feels obligated to marry her — all of which we find out secondhand. On Game of Thrones, however, Robb gets a full-blown courtship with beautiful foreign noblewoman Talisa, who works as a medic for wounded warriors on both sides of the battles Robb fights in his quest to avenge his father’s death and achieve independence for the North. As many critics have pointed out, it’s pretty much the only pure-intentioned romance we see on the show, and it concludes with a war-room hookup followed by a gorgeous shotgun wedding in the forest. It may not make Robb’s mother happy, but we’ll take it.
Tyrion and Shae
For the most part, Tyrion just can’t catch a break: his family hates him, he’s stuck with governing a divided, indebted kingdom, and the public won’t give him any credit. Which is why it’s nice to see things going his way in the romance department. Shae may be a prostitute Tyrion met on the battlefield, but she’s proven she’s as sharp and determined as he is, acting as a sounding board for his political machinations and even helping out Sansa when she’s hired as the captive Stark’s chambermaid. Their relationship isn’t perfect — she’s constantly in danger of being found out by Cersei, and it’s hard to gauge her intentions considering her boyfriend foots her bills — but they’ve certainly got chemistry. And as BuzzFeed points out, anyone who doesn’t think Peter Dinklage is hot is just objectively wrong.
Renly and Loras
What the books (really, really, really) heavily implied, the show made explicit: even though Renly Baratheon, Robert and Stannis’s charismatic younger brother, marries Margaery Tyrell to secure an alliance with her super-wealthy family, it’s her older brother Loras he’s really got eyes for. A classic pretty boy, Loras is known as “The Knight of Flowers” for both his family’s crest and his flamboyant armor, making him a good match for the arrogant, charming Renly, a guy with so much self-confidence he decided to gun for the Iron Throne despite admitting that he has absolutely zero claim to it. Like most true romances, though, this one ends badly: Renly is murdered by a terrifying shadow baby, and Loras gets dragged into an alliance with the Lannisters, along with Margaery and the rest of his family.
Stannis and Melisandre
Speaking of terrifying shadow babies, it’s safe to say that’s probably not what Stannis Baratheon had in mind when Melisandre, the scary-intense priestess of the Lord of Light, promised him a son. Still, that was enough to convince Stannis, a guy who’s otherwise so constrained by duty that he cut his right-hand man’s fingers off for smuggling, to cheat on his wife; in one of the more twisted sex scenes and heavy-handed metaphors of Season 2, Stannis and Melisandre do the deed on a giant model of Westeros after plotting how to defeat Renly. They may not be anyone’s favorite power couple — Stannis is about as charismatic as a pile of dirt — but they’re certainly a force to be reckoned with, despite Stannis’s embarrassing military defeat at the Battle of the Blackwater.
Jon and Ygritte
Okay, they haven’t technically sealed the deal yet, but they might as well have. Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie have excellent chemistry, and the fiercely independent wildling redhead is the perfect counterpoint to Ned Stark’s perpetually moody, duty-bound bastard son — she even has a catchphrase to remind him how much of a square he is (“You know nothing, Jon Snow”). Ygritte’s aggressive flirting when she was still Jon’s captive made for some of the best comic relief of Season 2, and now that the shoe’s on the other foot and Jon is set to join the wildlings as a double agent, the whole celibacy part of the Night’s Watch vow is conveniently out of the picture. Fingers crossed for some heat to make its way into the ice-cold North come Season 3.
In preparation for the return of one of our favorite shows, we’ve declared it Game of Thrones week at Flavorwire. Click here to follow our coverage.