Game of Thrones Under Fire for Lack of Diversity After Killing Off Missandei
Fans are furious that Missandei, who was originally a slave, died in chains
On Sunday night’s episode of Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) suffered two crushing blows in her quest for the Iron Throne. First, her dragon Rhaegal was shot out of the sky by Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) and his fleet as Daenerys and her forces returned to Dragonstone. In the aftermath, Missandei of Naath (Nathalie Emmanuel) was abducted by Euron — and in the episode’s final minutes, she was decapitated on Cersei Lannister’s (Lena Headey) orders.
On Twitter, fans were heartbroken over Missandei’s death as one of the HBO show’s few black characters — and the only black woman to have a major arc. Check out some tweets below.
Others pointed to the fact that Missandei, who was originally a slave, died in chains.
Plus, with Missandei’s death, all romantic hopes for her future in Naath with Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) are shot.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly before her final scene was shot, Emmanuel, 30, said she thought her character’s death scene was “fantastic.”
“I’ve said in so many interviews that I don’t mind if I die, I’m just happy to be here and be a part of the show,” she said. “But I just wanted it to be really cool and a moment that people remember and I feel like they really give me that moment and I’m excited to shoot it.”
“It’s going to be really emotional and she’s so brave in it and shows her strength and fearlessness even though she doesn’t wield a sword,” she continued. “She believes in her queen and believes in her cause. I’m so happy that she has that kind of exit.”
Still, Emmanuel admitted she would have loved to see Missandei fight.
“I think that’s just me projecting onto her that I want to see her being a bada— with a sword or bow and arrow,” she said. “I feel like a bow and arrow would be her thing as it’s super specific and requires a lot of skill. I guess I was relieved to not be doing 11 weeks of night shoots, but there’s a part of me that’s a little sad Missandei didn’t throw down in the battle.”
Casting director Nina Gold addressed criticism over a lack of diversity — most actors of color played slaves called the Unsullied — in a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair.
“Even though these are fantasy worlds, there are tribes, families, and dynasties. Once you’ve put one mark on the canvas for the Targaryens or the Starks, you really owe it to the, oh I can’t think of the word, but the authenticity of trying to make them a family somehow. In the books, the Targaryens are these white, white people with silver hair and violet eyes. The Starks are kind of rough, like Northern English people. The Lannisters are golden, aren’t they? We really believed we were doing it like the books, basically,” she said. “I guess I don’t know what to really say about it, because it’s not like there’s no diversity in the casting in Game of Thrones. We’ve turned Grey Worm and Missandei into really deep characters.”
And it’s worth noting that HBO’s upcoming GoT prequel series boasts a diverse cast so far.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays (9 p.m. ET) on HBO.