As you might've guessed, this post has plenty of spoilers for the latest season of Game of Thrones.
Stop reading now if you haven't seen the last few episodes of the series!
We know that everything comes to a clean ending in Westeros after watching the Game of Thrones season 8 (opens in new tab) finale, but that shouldn't be the case according to one Thrones fan and environmental health expert. The attack and the fallout afterwards should have completely wiped the population of King's Landing out.
Redditor GallifreyanHusky, who says they have a background in occupational and environmental safety and health, broke down their reasoning for the death count in a thread (opens in new tab) on the Game of Thrones subreddit. They say that the initial attack, including Drogon, the Dothraki, Unsullied, and Northmen, should've taken around 200,000 lives while the fallout from the asbestos and silica could possibly take out the remaining population of the city.
GallifreyanHusky used statistics from the fire bombing of Dresden, which they say is somewhat similar to the attack on King's Landing, to calculate the loss of life from the initial attack. The real killer was in the fallout, though.
"Everyone who was at King’s Landing will in inadvertently die due to inhaling asbestos and crystalline silica which causes lung disease or cancer from Daenerys reducing the city to ash and dust," they wrote. "That’s right, 85% of the main characters in the show will die a horrible death."
King's Landing, like other cities built in the timeframe Game of Thrones is based on, should be completely made of stone. Stone contains elements like asbestos and silica that cause terminal illnesses like cancer and heart failure when inhaled. Both would have been released en masse after Daenerys burned a portion of the city down, impacting the majority of the population.
"Imagine the entire surviving populace in King’s Landing, plus Cersei and Danaerys’ armies, and our beloved characters, inhaling immense amounts of asbestos and silica at a level so high that it is certainly guaranteed they will develop health problems over the course of several years," GallifreyanHusky said. "800,000 of them in total will perish. Some will die fast, others will have a long drawn out death as their lungs slowly either fill with blood or shrink which causes them to asphyxiate and die."
George R.R. Martin himself has compared dragons to nuclear weapons. "Dragons are the nuclear deterrent," he said in a 2011 interview with Vulture. (opens in new tab) "And only Dany has them, which in some ways makes her the most powerful person in the world."
The post is partially a joke, since we don't really know what material King's Landing was built with. Different types of mystical building materials appear all over the world of A Song of Ice and Fire and that could mean asbestos was never released into the air. It's still fun to apply real world logic to our favorite shows, though.
Looking to dig into fan theories that explore the world of A Song of Ice and Fire? Check out some of the craziest Game of Thrones theories (opens in new tab) and a theory that explains why Bran became king (opens in new tab).