What single alternative decision, by any character, would do the most to change the events of ASOIAF for the happier? Realistic possibilities only please. My suggestion: Ned refuses Robert and doesn't become Hand of the King. Likely results: - Sooner or later, Lannisters kill off Robert. - Stannis rebels, as canon. - Big variable: does Renly still announce himself as a pretender? His claim, if I remember correctly, was not substantially based on Joffrey's illegitimacy but rather his own popularity. So it seems likely he would. - Stannis and Renly events happen largely as canon: Stannis assassinates Renly, Tywin (likely now the Hand) arranges a marriage to bring the Tyrells on board. The North and the Eyrie stay out of it. Or maybe Ned even backs the Lannisters, not being aware of Joffrey's illegitimacy. He would think Joffrey was the rightful heir. - Stannis is quickly crushed. - Peace under Lannister domination. - The Others invade and the Starks are in the North with the full strength of the north to assist the Night's Watch. Maybe this is enough to win, maybe not. Either way it's better odds than canon.