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Ned Stark may have been one of the most pivotal characters in the entire series. The War of Five Kings that lasts throughout Seasons 2 and 3 is pretty much the result of his investigation and eventual execution by Joffrey Baratheon.
An honorable and very likable character, his death still haunts viewers that never saw it coming. Yet, when one watches the first season for a second viewing, knowing the story, and hence paying more attention to the little details one would have missed the first time, one realizes that while Ned Stark was honorable and a great warrior, he was a fool when it came to politics.
His demise almost becomes predictable once these are taken into perspective… And it’s even more saddening because of how likable and honorable he truly was.