As Thrones opens, the Iron Throne is occupied by King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy); once a great warrior, the kindly but formidable king has grown fat and drunk, relying on his close friends like Ned Stark in moments of weakness and strife. Specifically, Robert reaches out to Ned after his previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, is apparently murdered, and asks Ned to come to King’s Landing in his stead. (Things don’t end particularly well for Ned either.) Before things go downhill for poor noble Ned, Robert comes to see him at Winterfell, and the two head down to the crypts to visit the statue of Lyanna Stark, Robert’s lost love, and chat about how they can work together to improve the realm.
For his part, Robert is concerned with their legacies, and he tells Ned that since he has a son and Ned has a daughter, they can join their houses and create a seriously impressive dynasty within Westeros. Years later, Robert’s prediction actually comes to pass, but definitely not in the way he meant: on the eve of the Battle of Winterfell, Robert’s last remaining bastard, Gendry (Joe Dempsie) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) take advantage of the calm before the carnage, joining the Baratheon and Stark houses in a way Robert absolutely never anticipated.