Ros' death not only satisfied King Joffrey Baratheon's twisted desires but also helped Petyr "Littlefinger" Balish strike a blow to his enemies — but the main reason it's remembered is that few deaths are as brutal as when Joffrey killed Ros. Joffrey emerged as a villain during season 1 of the HBO series, but the lingering influence of his parents suppressed his bullying. Joffrey's antics foreshadowed the threat he would become. Following Robert Baratheon's death, Joffrey's rise to power emboldened him, and during subsequent seasons, his cruelty went unchecked. Joffrey's focus became lashing out at the oppressed and undeserving, with Ros's death one of the best-remembered from this period of the show.
While King Joffrey story is echoed through Rhaenyra Targaryen's illegitimate children in , no one in the prequel — not even Matt Smith's Daemon — has exhibited the level of cruelty that Joffrey showed in Ros' execution. Out of the Targaryens in recent Westerosi history, only King Aerys II - also known as the Mad King - can hold a candle to Joffrey Baratheon's bloodlust. This thirst for cruel violence didn't develop overnight, and there are actually many factors that contributed to . Here's why King Joffrey killed Ros in from his motivations to why the brutality of Ros' death still resonates with audiences years later.
Joffrey killed Ros for the pure pleasure of it, making this death particularly disturbing, even in a series with so many disturbing deaths. He did not particularly hate Ros - they had very little personal connection, nor did he see killing her as a benefit to his overall political goals, but rather he did it to satisfy his own sadistic desires. Littlefinger hints that Joffrey approached him as the brothel owner in hopes that he would allow him to live out his fantasy of killing someone and Ros just happened to be the unlucky victim that Littlefinger willingly handed over.
Despite his boasting and acting otherwise, Joffrey was not a leader who was cut out for battle as he ran to hide during the and cowers from any real confrontation. However, he still had a lust for blood and wanted to see what it was like to kill someone himself, rather than simply ordering someone else to do it. But the only way his cowardice would allow him to do this is to shoot a poor woman with a crossbow as she was tied up defenseless.
Joffrey killed Ros in season 3, but it wasn't a moment of sudden insanity — it was a crime
After Tyrion saved Sansa Stark from a very public display of abuse orchestrated by his nephew, he and Bronn decided that puberty could be the driving force behind Joffrey's behavior. Tyrion arranged a belated birthday gift for the new king — a night with Ros and another whore from Littlefinger's brothel. The only pleasure Joffrey derived was ordering Ros to beat her companion and make sure Tyrion saw the result. This was Joffrey's retaliation for his uncle coming to Sansa's defense and chastising him in front of the court. Little did Tyrion know that he would be indirectly responsible for an even worse display of cruelty — Ros'
In season 3, it became clear Joffrey was a sadist. His sexual desires were satisfied by inflicting pain, and he was using the Ros arc to fulfill this proclivity, which is what differentiates Joffrey from . It's unclear if Joffrey was aroused enough to engage in any actual sex or if he prioritized violence over any intimate gratification. When burgeoning Westerosi Queen-in-waiting Margaery Tyrell showed an interest in Joffrey's crossbow and questioned if he'd like to see her kill something with it, he admitted he would.
However, it wasn't Margaery that Joffrey found alluring, but the possibility that she could understand his deviant cruelty. The weapon had become an extension of Joffrey himself at the start of season 3. Joffrey was at his most dangerous when he felt emasculated, and since he possessed no physical strength or prowess, he had to rely on the submissiveness of his victims. In the final moments of season 3's "The Climb," Ros' lifeless body hangs from a bed pierced by several arrows. It could be considered the result of Joffrey climaxing after all those months of merely torturing Ros.
The answer to why Joffrey killed Ros includes his penchant for misogyny. Even Cersei Lannister, one of the series' strongest female characters, found herself at the receiving end of Joffrey's cruelty. She endured it not only because he was the king, but she actually blamed herself for his brutality. She confided in Tyrion that Joffrey's behavior could be a punishment for her relationship with her brother Jaime. On , after all, incestuous relations went hand in hand with madness. Whatever the reason(s) for Joffrey turning out to be a bad seed, the Ros
Varys enlisted Ros to assist him in executing his plan to help the Tyrells consolidate power, promising her a partnership and protection in exchange for spying on Littlefinger. Naturally, Varys' actions conflicted with Littlefinger's agenda to use Sansa for his gain and a bid for . Realizing Ros had betrayed him, Littlefinger handed her over to Joffrey, who wanted to try
In one fell swoop, Littlefinger disposed of an enemy and gained favor with Joffrey, who knew nothing of the politics of the situation. The series even foreshadowed Ros' grim fate during season 2. Ros' failure to perform her duties led to a conversation with Littlefinger about a previous girl who disappointed him. It transpired that he had sold her to a man who appeared to share Joffrey's predilection for torturing helpless women.
Outside perhaps Ramsay Bolton or the Mad King himself, Joffrey Baratheon was the worst — and Jack Gleeson played the character so well that he got death threats in real life. Since his stint on , Jack Gleeson quit acting for about 6 years, only to return to the stage for and the TV show . He had many reasons behind taking a brief hiatus from his career, and the threats he received for playing Joffrey Baratheon were probably a catalyst for his break.
Actions like Ros' execution and his constant abuse of Sansa Stark were played out so well that the actor bore the brunt of these grievous overreactions for years. The role was hard on Gleeson, and his performance as Joffrey ended up overshadowing his work in theater and in other projects. Inspired by history's real evil kings, Joffrey Baratheon is one of the most hateable
The way Joffrey killed Ros in is forever burned into the audience's brains as one of the series' most viscerally cruel scenes, but it also contributed towards the improvements in how studios handle actors' mental health when filming sexual content, especially scenes depicting sexual violence. Esme Bianco, who played Ros in
“I think its very important for them to have somebody who’s looking out specifically for the actors and their safety and their dignity and their sense of comfort with what they’re doing and sometimes it’s hard, like the directors have so much to think about on the day of the shoot, you need somebody who’s specifically looking out for that.”
Though HBO only hired intimacy coordinators in the wake of the #MeToo movement — five years after Ros' onscreen death — this bodes well for , which are bound to feature more intimate scenes. Indeed, these scenes can be just as traumatic for the actors involved as they are for those watching, so the surge in intimacy coordinators who can prevent this trauma is definitely a silver lining.