Wheel of Timing Analysis: an S1 Breakdown

Or how screentime and speaking time were split between the 55 named characters of the first season of the Wheel of Time.


This article contains spoilers for the first season of the Wheel of Time TV Show.


The Randland map overlapped with vertical lines of 0 and 1. On the left, the "Data? WoT Data?" logo, a wheel with the slogan on its borders. On the right, the title, Wheel of Timing Analysis".

A few months ago, I shared an article about the gender balance of the first season of The Wheel of Time on Amazon Prime, where I showed there was not a clear imbalance between men and women regarding screentime, speaking time, or death count. I intended to write a follow-up analysis giving more timing details for all those 55 named characters, but, you know. Life can sometimes be busy.


But that moment has finally arrived! Here are too many charts that I will try to give some context and explanations for.


Disclaimers:

  • I will be looking at two types of screentime-related numbers. The Total Screentime includes whenever a character is present in a scene (whether physically or through voiceover), no matter its state of consciousness (so conscious, asleep, unconscious, or even dead). Meanwhile, the In-Scene Screentime corresponds to whenever a character is physically present in a scene and conscious. For most characters, those two numbers are very close. Moiraine is the biggest exception since she has spent such a long time being unconscious.

  • I will also be looking at two types of speaking time-related numbers. The Speaking Time is, well, the time when characters are speaking. Probably the most frustrating time to take among them all: do you count the silence between two sentences of a single character? How do you handle the accumulation of seconds of imprecisions over the length of a discussion? As a result, I also decided to include the number of words spoken per character (the Word Count metric).

  • Over those four numbers, the Word Count is the most reliable but is still not free of simple mistakes like misattributing a sentence to a character who did not pronounce it. The Speaking Time is the less reliable, but the multiple checks I’ve done during and after its computation should at least make the comparison of Speaking Time between characters reasonable. In terms of reliability, Total and In-Scene Screentime should be somewhere between Word Count and Speaking Time.


After removing the recaps, title sequences, and ending credits, the first season of The Wheel of Time ran for about 7h13m13s or an average of 54m09s per episode. We encountered 55 named characters, which shared 23h06m40s of total screentime, 22h05m54s of in-scene screentime, 2h35m21s of speaking time, and 26 073 words.


Total Screentime Distribution, per Character. Moiraine: 12.4%, Rand: 11.7%, Egwene: 10.2%, Lan: 8.8%, Perrin: 8.4%, Nynaeve: 7.6%, Mat: 6.7%, Liandrin: 2.5%, Siuan: 2.2%, Alanna: 2.2%, Loial: 2.1%, Stepin: 1.9%, Logain: 1.7%, Maigan: 1.3%, Dana: 1.2%

With 2h52m29s of total screentime (12.4% of the S1 total screentime), Moiraine came up first, closely followed by Rand with 2h41m39s (11.7%). The rest of our main cast followed, with Egwene (2h21m23s, 10.2%), Lan (2h01m57s, 8.8%), Perrin (1h55m50s, 8.4%), Nynaeve (1h45m25s, 7.6%) and Mat (1h32m40s, 6.7%).


Total Screentime, per Character. Order: Moiraine, Rand, Egwene, Lan, Perrin, Nynaeve, Mat, Liandrin, Siuan, Alanna, Loial, Stepin, Logain, Maigan, Dana, Leane, Tam, Kerene, Thom, Ihvon, Maksim, Valda, Amalisa, Ila, Aram, etc.

There was a significant drop between the last person of our main cast, Mat, and the first of our secondary characters, Liandrin, who had 35m03s of total screentime (2.5% of the S1 total screentime). Meanwhile, Basel Gill was the named character with the lowest total screentime, with about 15s only.


“In-Scene” Screentime Distribution, per Character. Rand: 12.0%, Moiraine: 11.7%, Egwene: 10.2%, Lan: 9.2%, Perrin: 8.4%, Nynaeve: 7.8%, Mat: 6.9%, Liandrin: 2.5%, Siuan: 2.3%, Alanna: 2.3%, Loial: 2.1%, Logain: 1.8%, Stepin: 1.7%, Maigan: 1.4%, Leane: 1.2%

A few things change when considering only the in-scene screentime.


First and foremost, Moiraine now falls behind Rand, as she spent 17m13s either on voiceover, asleep, unconscious (13m13s!), or dead in Rand’s dream. This represents about 10% of her total screentime, so let’s wish her a very stab-free season 2.


“In-Scene” Screentime, per Character. Order: Rand, Moiraine, Egwene, Lan, Perrin, Nynaeve, Mat, Liandrin, Siuan, Alanna, Loial, Logain, Stepin, Maigan, Leane, Dana, Thom, Ihvon, Maksim, Valda, Tam, Ila, Amalisa, Aram, Marin Al’Vere, Kerene, etc.

Most of the main cast also loses a few minutes, although not as much as Moiraine. Several secondary characters also lose a few spots once removing their unconscious or dead time. This is the case for Stepin, Dana, Tam al’Thor, Lady Amalisa, Kerene Nagashi, Uno Nomesta, Lord Yakota, Laila Dearn, and all the members of the Grinwell family.


Speaking Time Distribution, per Character. Moiraine: 17.9%, Rand: 9.7%, Egwene: 6.4%, Nynaeve: 6.2%, Mat: 6.2%, Lan: 5.5%, Siuan: 4.2%, Perrin: 3.7%, Liandrin: 3.5%, Thom: 3.4%, Dana: 3.0%, Loial: 2.7%, Stepin: 2.7%, Valda: 2.5%, The Dark One: 1.9%, Ila: 1.9%

The speaking time is overwhelmingly dominated by Moiraine, who spoke for about 27m48s, 17.9% of the total speaking time for the first season. Well behind can be found Rand, with 15m07s and 9.7% of the total speaking time, followed further down by Egwene (10m and 6.4%). Most of the main cast then comes closely: Nynaeve with 9m39s and 6.2%, Mat with 9m35s and 6.2%, and Lan with 8m30s and 5.5%. Perrin trails further behind, with 5m47s and 3.7%.


Speaking Time, per Character. Order: Moiraine, Rand, Egwene, Nynaeve, Mat, Lan, Siuan, Perrin, Liandrin, Thom, Dana, Loial, Stepin, Valda, The Dark One, Ila, Dana, Alanna, Agelmar, Aram, Amalisa, Logain, Min, etc.

The drop from the main cast to our secondary characters, that we observed for the screentime charts, is no longer present when looking at speaking time. In fact, one of our secondary characters, Siuan Sanche, even got more speaking time than Perrin, with 6m33s and 4.2% of the total speaking time in this season.


Word Count Distribution, per Character. Moiraine: 19.0%, Rand: 10.0%, Egwene: 6.2%, Nynaeve: 6.2%, Mat: 6.0%, Lan: 5.6%, Siuan: 3.8%, Perrin: 3.7%, Liandrin: 3.5%, Dana: 3.5%, Thom: 2.9%, Stepin: 2.6%, Loial: 2.4%, Valda: 2.3%, Ila: 1.8%, The Dark One: 1.7%

There are not a lot of changes when looking at the word count. That’s on purpose, as I used this number a few times to detect big discrepancies in my speaking time computations. Overall, an increase in percentage from the speaking time distribution to the word count distribution may reflect either an underestimation of the speaking time or a character that tends to speak faster than other characters. Similarly, a decrease in percentage would reflect either an overestimation of speaking time or a slower speech pace.



For example, the Wheel of Time characters said on average around 2.80 words per second of speech in the first season of the show. But not every character follows the same speech pace. Siuan Sanche, when she talks as the Amyrlin Seat, tends to have a slower speech pace, putting her at 2.55 words per second. Thom Merrilin spent several long seconds singing in Ep3, putting him at 2.19 words per second in Ep3 and 2.38 words per second for the full season. Both Logain and Loial spoke a bit more slowly than other characters, with averages of 2.41 words per second for Logain and 2.49 words per second for Loial. Meanwhile, Dana had a lot to say in a short time, speaking about 3.22 words per second.


Again, I have to reiterate: the complexity of computing speaking time makes those numbers not super reliable compared to a word count. As I’m writing this article, I am looking back at Moiraine Damodred and her 2.98 words per second on average, now wondering whether I have undercounted her speaking time in some places. I refuse to investigate more, as I have already spent way too many hours on my speaking time spreadsheet, but this is a disclaimer that I feel obligated to give.


Percentage of Speaking Time over In-Scene Screentime. Order: Latra Posae Decume, Thom, The Dark One, Min, Padan Fain, Agelmar, Dana, Valda, Lews Therin Telamon, Helga Grinwell, Ila, Siuan, Bornhald, Natti Cauthon, Aram, Berden Sanche, Mrs. Grinwell, Stepin, Amalisa, Moiraine, Mr. Grinwell, Liandrin, Kerene, Loial, Basel Gill, Zahir, Master Hightower, Yakota, Tam al'Thor, Mat, Rand, Nynaeve, Logain, Alanna, Egwene, Lan, Maigan, Marin Al'Vere, King of Ghaeldan, Perrin, Uno, Daise Congar, Laila, Bran al'Vere, Eldrin Cauthon, Maksim, Raen, Bode Cauthon, Leane, Ihvon, Danya, Tigraine Mantear, Abell Cauthon, Grinwell Son, Tom Thane

After digging into speaking time and screentime, I got curious about how the two were connected. The chart above represents how much of a character in-scene screentime was used as a speaking time. For example, 4 of our 55 named characters never spoke, so that percentage is 0 for them. Meanwhile, Latra Posae Decume spoke for 44.2% of her 2m of screentime, as she was only present for her dialog with Lews Therin Telamon.


However, this chart is a bit too loaded in terms of characters to give us relevant information. In particular, characters with little to no speaking time are spread along the whole x-axis, making it harder to pay attention to more significant characters. As a result, the next graph filters out characters with less than a minute of speaking time.


Percentage of Speaking Time over In-Scene Screentime, for Characters with more than 1m of Speaking Time. Order: Thom, The Dark One, Min, Padan Fain, Agelmar, Dana, Valda, Ila, Siuan, Aram, Stepin, Amalisa, Moiraine, Liandrin, Kerene, Loial, Tam al'Thor, Mat, Rand, Nynaeve, Logain, Alanna, Egwene, Lan, Maigan, Perrin.

Our main cast now appears toward the second half of the x-axis. While Moiraine spoke for 17.9% of her in-scene screentime, her warder Lan and the five potential Dragon Reborn all spoke from around 5% to 10% of their screentime. Perrin was the quieter of all, only speaking for 5m47, which makes 5.2% of his 1h51m09s of in-scene screentime. Lan and Egwene followed closely, speaking respectively for 7% and 7.4% of their total screentime. Next was Nynaeve with 9.3%, Rand with 9.5%, then Mat with 10.5%. These are all relatively small numbers compared to other characters, but it sounds consistent with the main protagonist role: we follow those characters through what happens to them, and most of the exposition is done to them, not through them. Moiraine, with her higher percentage, is still among the main protagonists, but she is also more of a mentor who explains how the world works to our other characters and the viewers.


This chart also highlights some interesting trends for our secondary characters. Among the highest percentages, we can find our main antagonists of the season: The Dark One, Padan Fain, Dana, and Eamon Valda. Most of them went on speeches detailing their motivations or their goals, which is a classic for villains but also a great tool to give some depth to the conflicts our heroes have to deal with. Meanwhile, Thom Merrilin and Min Farshaw were allies of our protagonists with short screentime but high impact. On the other side of the x-axis, Logain Ablar, Alanna Mosvani, and Maigan were characters with significant time in the background.


We can also take a look at our main cast screentime in more detail.


Main Cast Screentime. In-Scene screentime numbers: Rand - 2:38:40 ; Moiraine - 2:35:16 ; Egwene - 2:15:26 ; Lan - 2:01:31 ; Perrin - 1:51:09 ; Nynaeve - 1:43:47 ; Mat - 1:30:57

Some of the differences in screentime between main characters can be explained by looking at their breakdown per episode.


Total Screentime for Main Cast, per episode.

There are a few things to note from this chart:

  • Nynaeve’s lower screentime is obviously explained by her absence at the end of Ep1 and in Ep2. While her screentime was pretty decent in the following episodes, it was hard for her to catch up on the 25+ minutes of (mostly group) screentime others got in Ep2.

  • Before being written out at the end of Ep6, Mat had very decent screentime. In a world without Covid and with the original Ep7/Ep8 scripts, Mat probably would have gotten similar screentime to Lan or Perrin (if not higher). Alas, it is what it is. Barney, I hope you’re doing good, and I will miss your Mat!

  • Rand had the top total screentime up to Ep5. It’s only during the very gay Ep6 that Moiraine got to take the lead.


We can look at a similar in-scene screentime chart:


"In-Scene" Screentime for Main Cast, per episode

Here, Moiraine lost quite a bit of time in Ep2 and Ep3 due to her being unconscious. She still took the lead in Ep6, but Rand managed to catch up with her with Ep8.


We can also do a similar breakdown per episode for the speaking time and the word count:


Main Cast Speaking Time, per Episode

Some random observations for both charts, which are quite similar:

  • Moiraine was quick to take the lead in terms of speaking time and word count. This allowed her to pass out for all of Ep3 without anyone getting close to her. Her top speaking episode was Ep2, in which she spoke 1 242 words in 7m26s: between the Manetheren speech, some One Power 101 lesson, and dealing with Whitecloaks or that Taren Ferry man, she had a lot to say. Ep6 wasn’t far behind, with 1 136 words and 6m05s.

  • Had Mat Cauthon not disappeared at the end of Ep6, he probably would have reached the 3rd place in speaking time or word count for this first season. In fact, he was the most talkative of the Two Rivers folks up to Ep5: Rand only caught up on him in the next episode.

  • Perrin was really quiet. He talked a little bit during each episode, but never really got a bigger talkative episode as all the other main characters had. It fits his character, but gosh it must be tricky to write a character that is so quiet in a TV show.


Main Cast Word Count, per Episode

And that’s about it! Most of the numbers used today can be found in my Screentime and Speaking Time spreadsheets. If you enjoyed those graphs and want to get more nerdy data like that, feel free to check out some of the other articles I’ve written on the Great Blight. On top of the gender balance article that I mentioned earlier, I have detailed screentime breakdowns for most of our main cast like Moiraine, Rand, Lan, or Perrin. One day, I’ll share the breakdown for the remaining ones, one day…




Camille, also known as RationalNerd on Twitter, is a regular contributor to thegreatblight.com. Every few weeks, their “Data? WoT Data?” column sheds some light on various numbers of the Wheel.

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