Euron Greyjoy made a kraken-sized splash across the world of Game of Thrones fans when he swaggered into the show in Season 7. Previously, he appeared in Season 6 too — but his revamped Season 7 wardrobe practically made him a whole new character. It quickly rendered him the subject of jokes across the show’s wide fan base. And yet, as Season 7 has progressed, it’s become clear that Euron Greyjoy’s only narrative purpose is only to wear those low-cut leathers.
Sure, he’s a real threat. In Season 7’s “Stormborn” he brutally took out two Sand Snakes and handed the rest of their family over to Cersei for her special brand of revenge. He evil laughed like a pro, captured Yara Greyjoy for nefarious purposes, made lots of comments about sex, and showed nearly as much bloodlust as past foes like Joffrey and Ramsay Bolton. Euron’s impending union with Cersei (after the war) also threatens the status quo of her twincest with Jaime.
And yes, if you’re a Game of Thrones book reader, Euron is a much bigger character on the page. Book Euron clearly has a larger role to play than his attire. But the show has scaled him back in order to give him a clearer purpose: providing fodder for internet jokes.
Sand Snake incident aside, the true villains of Season 7 have still been Cersei Lannister on the human side and the Night King and his Army of the Dead on the supernatural side — as they were before Euron re-appeared in the story with his dramatic makeover.
Narratively in Season 7, Euron has not been a big enough player to truly be the season’s “big bad.” He hasn’t impacted the majority of main characters in any way. Jon Snow hasn’t had to spare him any thought; Arya, Sansa, and Bran Stark haven’t even heard about him (well, presumably Bran has with his Three-eyed Raven powers). Even the Hound and Tormund haven’t had to consider him at all.
Theoretically, Cersei could have outsourced his biggest actions — taking out the Sand Snakes and removing Yara Greyjoy — to someone else. Jaime isn’t known for his prowess on the sea, but he could have engineered a plan to ambush them on land.
If you removed Euron from the story in Season 7, the season would hardly be different, save for the lack of a man who looks like your older sister’s ex boyfriend circa 1981. Euron’s look drew so much chatter both because it’s preposterously modern and it’s incredulous that he’d stop in his sea voyage to draw on some Guyliner and buy himself a new coat.
But there’s also nothing wrong with that. The proof is in the pudding, Euron is only around for the memes and style. In its advanced age as it nears its end, Game of Thrones is showing that it knows what’s truly important.
The Game of Thrones Season 7 finale airs Sunday, August 27 on HBO.