Which Game of Thrones Character Had the Worst Ecological Footprint?
SPOILERS AHEAD: Please note that this article and many of the links therein contain spoilers for the season finale (and all seasons) of “Game of Thrones.” Read ahead at your own peril.
Whether you loved the finale of “Game of Thrones” or thought it really, truly, royally, epically, and absurdly sucked, you were probably left with some questions: That long winter we’d been promised, is it still coming? Was Azor Ahai just, like, a difficult-to-pronounce red herring? For that matter, were all the prophecies red herrings? And most importantly, the question we’re all left debating: which of our beloved “Game of Thrones” characters had the worst ecological footprint?
Some of us have long suspected that the threat of the White Walkers and the Night King represented the threat of climate change. Think about it: a kingdom (or seven) ruled by abnormally long seasons, including one looming season that threatens humanity’s ability to survive, and a massive existential threat that most are ignoring in favor of the very human squabbles for the throne...sound familiar?
But while climate change, or the long winter, can’t be attributed to the actions of one individual alone, some offenders are far worse than others—both in real life and in Westeros—and we’ve set out to definitely rank them. These super scientific, and completely arbitrary, rankings are based purely on usage of resources in the “Game of Thrones” world and not personal feelings (so even if you felt like, for instance, that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss wasted the entire last season and undercut the most important moments of the previous seasons, we’re not taking that into account). So, without further ado, here’s four of the most wasteful “Game of Thrones” characters (and one surprise contender for most resourceful).
He might not have been long for Westeros (or HBO) but Robert Baratheon laid some serious waste to Westeros’ natural resources during his tenure as King of the Seven Kingdoms. We can’t discount the wine drinking: King Robert was known for his love of imported Dornish wine and his excessive feasting (we’re not even going to try and calculate that food waste). Then there’s the tourneys of which he was so fond, which led to the bankruptcy of the Seven Kingdoms. And let’s not forget the children (16, by some accounts) which is undoubtedly contributing to the overpopulation of Westeros and an excessive consumption of resources.
When Robert was killed by a boar during one of his favorite pastimes—hunting—it feels a little like nature was striking back.
First, a little backstory: Before his introduction in the book “A Clash of Kings” (and in season three of the TV show) Qyburn was stripped of his maester title for trying to understand the intricacies of the human body by opening them up...while they were still living. That sounds pretty wasteful (and horrifying) to us.
Torture aside, Qyburn also was the mastermind behind the massive dragon-murdering crossbows, or the Scorpion (also known historically as a ballista). For Qyburn to have made multiple Scorpions, he would’ve needed a lot of wood and iron—not to mention the horse- and manpower (and extra fuel it would’ve taken to load Scorpions on to a boat to murder Rhaegal (RIP buddy) at the Battle of Dragonstone. Which brings us to....
Euron Greyjoy (/all of the Iron Islands)
Euron Greyjoy, wearer of guyliner, is kind of the fall guy here standing in for all of the Iron Islands since he was probably the most heinous abuser of natural resources to come from an aptly-named kingdom known for their iron smelting, a massive polluter of air and the environment.
Not content to simply murder a dragon, Greyjoy also spent time as a pirate, which might’ve been good for finances, but was undoubtedly bad for resources. Greyjoy, self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands, commanded the Iron Fleet, conducted the Raid on Lannisport, and burned the entire Lannister fleet. Totally wasteful.
So, listen. It’s hard to want to shift any more blame to Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, the Khaleesi, the Stormborn, our Moon and Stars, after a final season that has some calling foul on her character arc.
But it’s hard to deny that part of what made her so spectacular were her three dragons. Her three massive dragons, which some expert zoologists have claimed were likely to eat only meat—and that their appetites would increase as they flew long distances. (Not to mention the gas emissions of the dragons, the soil compaction, or the increased chance of destructive wildfire from one whispered Dracarys.) All in all? Those dragons might make Dany the worst climate change offender in the kingdom.
And one unexpected recycling hero: The Night King
You can be blue and still be green. The Night King was the Big Bad for most of the run of “Game of Thrones” but there’s a case to be made here that the Night King was the ultimate fan of recycling. Consider: his army of White Walkers and wights, are made from reanimated corpses, indicating that the Night King is a kind of ‘when you’re handed corpses, make a full army out of them’ sort of reclaimer. And the Night King and the Army of the Dead thrive on ice, a direct rebuke to global warming. (OK that one may be stretching it.)
Ultimately, the Night King’s wants were a bit opaque but one thread was always clear: he and his armies were on the move. And if you didn’t pay attention to them, they were going to destroy you. It was the ultimate climate change message.
Remember: in the game of green, you recycle...or you die.