Game of Thrones’s disregard for people of color is truly upsetting


While Game of Thrones has claimed that they’ve tried to create a diverse cast, people of color on the show have disappointing story arcs.

While we can praise Game of Thrones for being a lot of things, positively representing diversity isn’t one of them.

There are very few fleshed out characters of color and even fewer in positions of power. While this is a devastating fact in and of itself, the real disappointment comes with the arc of the actual minorities that are featured on the show, which are very few.

Not only do most people of color on the show not have any agency, but they are also as disposable as last night’s cold pizza. As someone who has read A Song of Ice and Fire, I know that the differences between the novels and the TV series lie in the purpose of telling a story where all-white spaces like Westeros exist. After all, George R.R Martin took from history to write his series, and with that, he meant to make a point about our immoral past.

The First Men and the Andals pushed out the Children of the Forest from Westeros the same way that the European conquerors took over the lands of the indigenous. Daenerys freeing slaves was another depiction of a white savior come to help those that couldn’t do so on their own. And the Dothraki that have been long criticized as “savages” by all of the leading white lords? They’re nothing compared to some of the ghastly acts white men of Westeros have committed, lords and all.

All of this was to say that our history is trash and Martin made sure that these actions were not without consequences. Unfortunately, that’s not the way life works, but the people benefiting off the backs of the minorities in the novels experience grave repercussions.

But unlike the novels, Game of Thrones has had to settle for a few minorities within their scripted narrative. It is understandable that a show has limitations, but given that the story is fictional, there is always room for improvement (such as a black ruling family in Westeros, perhaps). Casting director Nina Gold argued in an interview that they were trying to stay true to the novels in which Westeros is supposed to be modeled after Great Britain. But even if we were to accept that the series intended to stick to the text, the way that the characters of color are disposed of in the series still suggests that they are unimportant.

For example, though Missandei of Naath is extremely intelligent and crafty (she’s fluent in multiple languages, having even corrected Dany a few times), she has no real agency. She went from being a slave to cruel masters to being an indentured servant to a white woman who is madly obsessed with becoming a ruler to a land she does not know. The same can be said of Grey Worm who was a slave forced to fight in an army and is now a free man that is still forced to fight in an army for someone else’s cause. And in the end, Missandei died without ever experiencing true freedom, owning any land, collecting money, or gaining a position of power.

And to be fair, Game of Thrones has had a few important people of color early in the series. There was Prince Doran Martell, Oberyn Martell, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, and Khal Drogo. And do you know what they all have in common? They all died before the midseason mark on Game of Thrones. As for the Dothraki, they left their home to go fight Daenerys’ war, one that arguably doesn’t help them and their home much — which is why they never cared to fight for Westeros in the past.

Now that we’ve reached the final episodes, it seems that only Grey Worm is left. And after Missandei’s death, he will likely die as well.

Is it that only the white characters are capable of ruling or worthy of surviving? While I’m sure it’s not the message intended by Game of Thrones, the season ending with no people of color on board says a lot.

Here’s hoping that the spin-offs consider this when devising a fantasy world that should be diverse by default.

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Watch the final episodes of Game of Thrones on Sundays at 9 P.M. ET on HBO