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4 Reasons Why We Need to Stop Being So Hard on Theon Greyjoy

Theon Greyjoy has done some horrible things to be sure, but here are 4 reasons why he deserves a bit of a break.

By Maggie StancuPublished 6 years ago 6 min read
'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]

If we know anything about HBO's Game of Thrones, it's that no character on this show is perfect. Everyone has their flaws, and as soon as we think we have an idea about who the good guys and bad guys are, something happens to completely turn the tables. However, one character that the fans collectively have a love/hate, (or at the very least a pity/hate) relationship with is Theon Greyjoy.

The first few seasons we mainly felt hatred, while the next few we mainly felt pity. Now, after a season of peace, the popular opinion seems to be complete hatred of Balon Greyjoy's last living son. Is it really deserved? Theon has done some horrible things to be sure, but he's also suffered tortures that are unimaginable to most. I'm not saying you have to love him, but he definitely deserves a bit of a break.

4. He was torn between two families at 8 years old.

Many people forget that Theon was never really given a childhood. When he was young his father was in open rebellion against King Robert, and when he was 8 years old he watched as his father lost that rebellion — a rebellion that killed his brothers, making him the last surviving son of Balon Greyjoy. This is scarring enough, but it isn't the end to Theon's tormented past. After the final battle, Theon is taken from his home as hostage/ward of House Stark. Not just taken, but given away by his own father. This may have been necessary to ensure peace, but that would have been impossible for a child to understand. To Theon, it would've felt as if his father were throwing him away. So, he ended up in Winterfell, an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people.

The Starks treated Theon much better than most Houses treat their wards. However, as much as Ned tried, Theon would never truly belong because he was never a Stark. Does that justify his betrayal against Robb in the War of the Five Kings? Of course not, but many people hold that against him as if it were a cold, calculated move. In truth, it was nothing more than a boy desperately trying to achieve his father's approval. It wasn't right, but given the situation it's understandable. Theon had to choose between Robb, who felt like his family, and his actual family, whom he never got a chance to know. It was an impossible decision, one that Theon wrestled with greatly. If you remember, he had a letter written to Robb warning him of his father's refusal to join their cause. It wasn't an easy choice to burn that letter and become a true Iron Islander, and as we soon discovered, it wasn't the right choice either — but it was understandable.

3. Justice never found Theon, but Ramsay did.

'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]

Theon is far from perfect, and in Season 2 he made some unforgivable decisions. Killing Ser Rodrick along with murdering and burning two innocent boys are sins that cannot and should not be defended. They were wrong, and he deserved to face justice. We thought we may get our wish when we met Ramsay Bolton. If only we had known we were meeting the next Joffrey.

Ramsay did some unspeakable things to Theon, and the fact of the matter is the only person who deserved that kind of torture was Ramsay himself. Theon paid for his crimes a hundred times over thanks to Ramsay. Why? Because Theon Greyjoy died in that torture chamber. He became Reek. Terrified of his own shadow, terrified that Ramsay might be lurking, he was not pretending. #TheonGreyjoy was dead, and Reek would do anything to avoid further torture. Can we blame him? That level of pure cruelty would break even the strongest person. As maddening as it was, it was more pitiful than anything else. Theon deserved to pay for his crimes, but he didn't deserve Ramsay. No one did.

2. He is one of the reasons Sansa Stark is still alive.

To say that Theon had a debt to settle with the Starks is putting it lightly. After all, his decision to betray Robb is one of the many that led to the King in the North's demise. Furthermore, when Sansa returned to Winterfell, Theon was given the opportunity he had been looking for: a chance to repent for his sins. However, we saw how deeply Ramsay had changed him. Theon, or Reek, literally could not do anything against Ramsay and actually believed he was helping Sansa by keeping her there. That changed when Myranda shared her torture plans.

Theon abandoned everything on those battlements. He killed Myranda and helped Sansa escape the castle, knowing full well of Ramsay's reach and what would happen to him if he were caught. For once, he didn't care. He was willing to sacrifice his life if it would save Sansa. It almost came to that, and would have if not for Brienne. Without Theon's help, Sansa never would've escaped the castle. There's a good chance the Boltons would still hold Winterfell, Jon would have never become King in the North, and Bran and Arya never would've returned to their home. Who knows? Jon may have never met Daenerys, and they wouldn't be one step closer to defeating the Walkers once and for all. Theon's action and bravery may have helped to save the Seven Kingdoms. At the very least, he helped to bring House Stark back together.

1. Theon suffers from major PTSD.

In the beginning of this season, things were looking up for the Greyjoys. That changed when Euron attacked Yara and her fleet. There was a moment in particular that sent fans into a frenzy. Euron manages to capture Yara and Theon watches as he holds a knife to her throat, threatening him to come and take his sister back. He looks into his sister's eyes, but after seeing the carnage around him, he drops his weapon and flings himself into the ocean. He survives the battle, but must live with the guilt of leaving his sister in his deranged Uncle's hands.

'Game of Thrones' [Credit: HBO]

Fans were in an uproar. How could he leave Yara like that? However, what people are forgetting is Theon's extreme PTSD. Alfie Allen gives a heartbreaking performance in the now infamous scene. His hands shake, his lips tremble, and he begins to twitch — all movements that were all too common when he went by the name Reek. Seeing all the bloodshed caused by a man who is just as cruel (though perhaps a little less sadistic) as Ramsay brought him back to his time of imprisonment; the time when he was tortured to the brink of insanity and when he watched others undergo the same horrors. We did not witness cowardice in that moment; we watched someone fight their way through physical and mental trauma.

Theon isn't perfect, but who on #GameOfThrones is? Almost every character on the show has made at least one less-than-noble decision in their life, and many have done so without a care in the world. Theon may have made some grave mistakes, but he regrets them. He feels shame, and he has more than paid for his sins. People often forget just how tormented he is, and how much Ramsay changed him. He may not be called Reek anymore, but some scars will never fade, and they aren't all physical. Theon is not as bad as people make him out to be, and it's time we start easing up on him a bit. After all, if even Jon can abstain from killing him, we surely can give him a bit of break.


About the Creator

Maggie Stancu

(she/they/he) writer of sad, spooky, and supernatural things.

Twitter: maggiestancu

Instagram: maggiestancu

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