The dragons of Game of Thrones are a nearly unstoppable force, but there are ways to defend against them.
In Game of Thrones, whoever commands the power of dragons has a clear and overwhelming advantage over their adversaries. A creature that can fly high above the battlefield with the power to burn down an entire city is truly a force to be reckoned with.
Having one all but guarantees victory in almost any conflict, and Daenerys Targaryen had three.
Dragons are the closest thing to an air force the fantasy world has ever known. Given how the Game of Thrones showrunners are now working on a new Star Wars movie, we see the jump from fantasy creatures to spacecraft as a relatively short one.
In honor of the series finale, we’re offering advice on how to defend against dragons like Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion. Spoiler warning, we will be discussing Game of Thrones episodes, including the final ones.
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A Dance of Dragons
When the first episode of Game of Thrones aired, dragons had been extinct from the known world for well over a century, so we can forgive its characters for not being adequately prepared for them.
For many, hearing tales about dragons must have been like learning about dinosaurs in our world. The difference is that dragons lived alongside people and they were used in wars. Therefore, there are detailed records written about them, stored away in places like The Citadel.
Those looking to take the Iron Throne or defend their power from Daenerys should have taken the time to familiarize themselves with draconic history. After all, we’re talking about proven weapons of mass destruction.
While official lore offers little in the way of information about dragons, there are a number of major events that led to their extinction. The first was the Doom of Valyria, which some believe was due to a volcano.
The cataclysm destroyed the Valyrian Freehold, which spanned much of Essos, taking much of its knowledge, technology, and all the dragons there with it. The remaining dragons lived in Westeros, where they later fought against each other in a Targaryen civil war called The Dance of the Dragons.
This conflict killed almost all the dragons from the region. As for the remaining ones, it’s hinted that Aegon III wasn’t a big fan of dragons and had the maesters shackle and poison them, causing them to grow smaller and smaller until they died out.
There are a few takeaways from this information.
The most important being that, apart from a natural disaster, the best weapons to use against dragons are other dragons, like using fighter jets to intercept enemy planes. Of course, seeing as how Targaryens are the only ones that can command these powerful creatures, defenders would need to settle for the next best thing: eliminate them when they’re vulnerable.
Get Them While They’re Young
There were a small handful of assassination attempts on Daenerys, including one disguised as a wine merchant and a warlock posing as a little girl, but these attempts were surprising low given the number of enemies she had. There was likely a hefty bounty on her head, but few seemed motivated to collect on it, while others either quickly fell to the queen’s charms or her dragon fire.
Alarms should have been raised across the world once word got out that a Targaryen had three baby dragons. Even if it was just a rumor, it was one that the rulers couldn’t afford to be true. There should have been a concerted effort among the ruling class to eliminate the Mother of Dragons and her children, but they ended up individually plotting for themselves and ultimately failed.
Too many wanted to control the dragons instead of killing them. Had they been a little less power-hungry, they would have marched a battalion of soldiers out to track down and destroy them all while they were still babies.
The dragons were still vulnerable in Season 5, when they went through their rebellious teenage phase. The Sons of the Harpy were able to wound Drogon with hand-thrown spears at the fighting pit. Had they planned their ambush better, leveraging the higher ground of the arena for a ranged assault, then they would have stood a better chance.
Those on the ground should have spread out so that they couldn’t be torched in groups. At the very least, agents could have been sent to offer poisoned meat to the dragons that were imprisoned.
The Scorpion and Other Weapons
A giant army and great wealth (which often go hand-in-hand) help tremendously in a battle, but ground soldiers and high walls have little chance against flying, fire breathing dragons. A fully-grown dragon with near-impenetrable scales is almost impossible to defeat, which is a presumption that many on the show make.
However, the Night King kills Viserion with a single magical ice spear, scoring himself a zombie ice dragon in the process. This turned out to be exactly what he needed to blast his way past the Wall that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the northern region. Why he didn’t immediately deploy these weapons during “The Long Night” while attacking Winterfell is anyone’s guess.
He had a clear opportunity when Drogon ineffectively blasted him with fire, but missed a clear close-range shot. With better aim and the element of surprise, he could have added two more dragons to his army. Surprise is the key factor when dealing with Daenerys and her children.
Rhaegal was unexpectedly shot down by a Scorpion — an artillery weapon that looks like a giant mounted crossbow. This was probably something Daenerys should have prepared for, given that a smaller prototype wounded Drogon at the Battle of the Goldroad in the episode, “The Spoils of War.”
To be fair, she was still fresh from defeating the Night King, so non-magical dragon-killing weapons may have been far from her mind. Scorpions proved to be extremely effective for protecting both ground and naval forces the way today’s anti-aircraft weapons do.
However, Cersei’s forces grew too confident with the weapons and didn’t deploy them properly when they no longer had the element of surprise. For instance, half of them were installed on ships, which were tightly grouped together. Not only did this make them easy targets for dragon fire, it assumed that the attack would only come by sea when a dragon could approach from any direction, including right over the Red Keep.
Cersei’s Hand Qyburn should have built some mobile scorpions, similar to the one at Goldroad. There should have also been some hidden ones to provide backup, with instructions to shoot the dragon in the back after it passed over.
Lastly, archers standing in high towers should have been told to aim for Daenerys herself, since she never seems to wear armor while riding atop her dragon. The loss of his mother may have caused Drogon to go on a grief-stricken rampage, but that wouldn’t have been too different from how things turned out anyway. Any remaining scorpions could take advantage of the situation by finishing off the dragon. The Queen and her dragon’s death would have devastated morale among the Unsullied, Dothraki, and Northern armies.
Dragons were the key to almost all of Daenerys’ victories. Without them, it’s unlikely she would have risen to power as quickly as she did. That should have been enough to make them targets for anyone looking to secure or maintain power. But there wouldn’t have been much of a show without them.
Daenerys would have remained in exile and probably killed. Jon Snow would have perished alongside everyone who followed him up north to get proof that White Walkers exist. The Night King would have found some other way to get past the Wall, leading to the utter destruction of everyone living in Westeros. In any case, Cersei's reign as queen wouldn’t have lasted for very long.
So, it’s a good thing that no one figured out how to kill dragons until it was too late. Hopefully, Drogon can find peace, wherever he is.