It is morbid to talk about death on somebody’s birthday, but Sean Bean is an actor who is more famous for dying onscreen than he is for acting. Of course, he is an incredible performer with a subtlety that would make many green with envy. But so many of his characters in movies and TV shows have died that he has become a butt of jokes online. Viewers are surprised whenever he survives a show or a movie, which is rare enough. It is not just deaths, it is the variety of ways in which Bean has died. He has been beheaded, shot, driven off a cliff by a herd of cattle (yes!), impaled by arrows … and the list goes on.
But both the two most famous and talked about deaths of Sean Bane have come in the fantasy genre: In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Game of Thrones. Here I will analyse these two characters and their deaths.
Boromir: Boromir is a fascinating character. He is complex. He would not have looked out of place in the world of Game of Thrones. In the HBO show, he would be one of the good guys – or at least less bad. In the Lord of the Rings, Boromir is introduced as the commander of Gondor’s army. He is the son of the steward of Gondor. These stewards have ruled the country in all but name since the kings had been exiled generations ago. Boromir is brave, strong and noble. But he is also too full of himself and jealous of Aragorn, since the latter is destined to be the king and supplant his family. So while Boromir is a seasoned warrior and has steadfastly defended his country against the forces of Mordor, he is not quite your knight in shining armour.
Boromir is part of the Fellowship of the Ring and wants to possess the One Ring from the beginning. His motive may be good enough (he wants to use the Ring against the enemy), but his avarice gets the better of him and he tries to snatch the ring from Frodo Baggins. But he soon redeems himself and dies fighting against a horde of Orcs single-handedly while trying to save the hobbits, Merry and Pippin. This is a heroic death to a person less-than-heroic. Among Sean Bean’s many annihilations, this is by far the best one – if a death can be called good, that is.
Eddard Stark: Called lovingly as Ned, Eddard Stark is the lord of the House of Stark, one of the most ancient noble families in Westeros. He is the polar opposite of Boromir. While the Gondorian is okay to use any method possible to win the war, Ned plays strictly by rules. He is also kind to those beneath him. He treats his wife honourably, he loves his children, and he is also a great warrior.
He is also a bit of a fool.
Ned will not be able to see cunning if she materialised right in front of him. He is a good man, and he applies his standards to others. Due to his rigid honour, he cannot comprehend that people can be truly, truly evil – with no conscience at all. In the brutal world of Westeros. Oh, the shock.
When he comes to know of Cersei Lannister’s biggest secret, he tells her in an upfront manner that he knows since it is an honourable thing to do. He cannot comprehend that somebody can be as ruthless and cruel as the Lannisters. He believes that if he informs Cersei that he would tell her husband Robert about her incestuous relationship with her brother, Cersei would flee with her children and would be safe. Like a good boy. That she would do the right thing to tell Robert and he will not be able to kill Cersei in vengeance. Instead, Cersei pulls off a coup. Ned is dishonourably beheaded, and this incident kicks off a chain of events that lead to the near-destruction of his entire house. So much about honour.
If Boromir’s death was a glorious end of a brave but corruptible man, Ned Stark’s death is of an unworthy end of a man with an immutable code of honour.