‘Game of Thrones’: Fans outraged by brutal Sansa Stark scene

May 18, 2015 | 11:23 a.m.
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Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark and Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark and Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Charlotte Hope, left, as Myranda and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Alfie Allen, left, as Theon Greyjoy and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Iwan Rheon, left, as Ramsay Bolton and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Charlotte Hope, left, as Myranda and Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

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Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark and Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

This post contains “Game of Thrones” spoilers.

Poor Sansa Stark can’t catch a break. And fans are taking to social media to express their outrage following the latest atrocity inflicted on Sansa in last night’s episode of “Game of Thrones.”

Sansa, portrayed by 19-year-old Sophie Turner, has survived horror after horror in the hit HBO fantasy series. From losing her direwolf Lady, to witnessing the beheading of her father Ned Stark, to suffering the brutality and humiliation inflicted by Joffrey Lannister, to being attacked by a riotous mob, Sansa’s lot only seems to worsen over time.

And after fearing sexual assault by Joffrey, by the Hound, by the mob, by Tyrion and potentially even by Littlefinger, Sansa is raped on her wedding night by her new husband, the psychotic Ramsay Bolton, as a tearful Theon Greyjoy, a.k.a. Reek, is made to watch.

Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark and Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark and Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy in “Game of Thrones.” (Helen Sloan / HBO)

In George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series, on which the show is based, it is another young woman Ramsay weds and assaults, in a scene even more graphic and twisted.

But fans found the scene in the show — which frequently uses sex to illustrate power dynamics — particularly troublesome considering Sansa’s series-long journey from naive child to savvy survivor; after being victimized at the hands of those who murdered her family, Sansa has emerged from hiding this season as a woman ready to reclaim control of her story. Equally troubling is the fact that the scene focused primarily on Theon, leading viewers to wonder if the show’s writers planned Sansa’s rape for the benefit of Theon’s character arc.

Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark in "Game of Thrones." (Helen Sloan / HBO)

Sophie Turner, left, as Sansa Stark in “Game of Thrones.” (Helen Sloan / HBO)

In fact, producer Bryan Cogman, who also wrote the episode, told Entertainment Weekly that the scene marks “an important turning point” for Sansa’s relationship with Theon. “She’s seen Theon and hated him and thinks he killed her brothers and betrayed them but she’s very conflicted by what she’s seeing there,” he said.

He also argued that Sansa’s circumstances are the result of her agency.

“This isn’t a timid little girl walking into a wedding night with Joffrey,” Cogman said. “This is a hardened woman making a choice and she sees this as the way to get back her homeland.”

As for Martin, who has received “a flood of emails” about the episode, the author took to his blog to iterate that the characters are fictional, and that differences between the show and the books are inevitable and will only increase.

“There have been differences between the novels and the television show since the first episode of season one. And for just as long, I have been talking about the butterfly effect. Small changes lead to larger changes lead to huge changes,” Martin wrote. “And yes, more and more, they differ. Two roads diverging in the dark of the woods, I suppose… but all of us are still intending that at the end we will arrive at the same place.”

This is hardly the first time “Thrones” has stirred up controversy with its depictions of rape; last April, a sex scene between Cersei and Jaime Lannister was interpreted by many viewers as nonconsensual. And in the following episode, mutineers from the Night’s Watch raped the women living in Craster’s Keep, north of the Wall.

Here’s a sampling of fan reaction to last night’s Sansa scene:

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark | @LATHeroComplex

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George R.R. Martin weighs in on ‘Game of Thrones’ rape controversy


53 Responses to ‘Game of Thrones’: Fans outraged by brutal Sansa Stark scene

  1. designerdij says:

    I'm glad at least YOU are calling it rape. Too many are arguing it wasn't rape. They're calling it "forcibly consummated." This was 100% RAPE! And did nothing for Sansa. It was completely to help Theon's character arc. What a bunch of crap.

    • fred says:

      It wasn't rape because there wasn't one word or even body language to the effect of stop. Indeed, she agreed to consummating her marriage and was undressing.

    • cognitivedissonance says:

      Did you complain so loudly when Theon was raped by Ramsay's prostitutes? Or when Gendry was raped by Melisandre? How about when Tommen was subjected to statutory rape by Margaery (hmm I wonder…what is the age of consent for kings in Westeros?)

    • fntm says:

      You say tomaughto, I say tomato. It changes nothing. Get over your over-indulgent political symantics.

  2. Spolier says:

    Thanks for the Spoiler!

  3. Salwar says:

    This show is just another way to show men overpowering women–weak or strong–in "entertainment approved" rapes. Rape should never be part of a story, but if the male writers must wave their penises around and insist, the victims should be allowed justice and revenge. I am tired of rapertainment and I loathe this brutal show.

    • Emery says:

      If you don't like it, don't watch it. This series is FICTION. It is not real. Westeros is a brutal world, man up. If you haven't noticed, the real world is no better, the only thing we're missing is bloody dragons and stone men. We are just a replica of Game of Thrones. If you've got a problem, take it up with the writers, better yet, George Martin himself, since he's the authour. Although, I wouldn't advise that for he probably wouldn't care. And yes, no he did not write this in the books, but what's the big deal? It's just two actors/actresses acting out what it says on a buggering piece of paper. Get over it.

      • karadin says:

        Yes the show is fiction, but they engage us in the world with the characters for the purpose of caring about them, if we didn't care, the show would have been cancelled a few episodes in, that said, the writers have always doged and got around their misogynistic writing by saying 'this happened in the books' though they give everyone a lesser, more crass, more sensational and sexist reading, but guess what, Sansa's rape doesn't happen in the books, there isn't a reason for it, other than lazy and sloppy writing, and going to shock value over artistic value AND as viewers, we have every right to complain about it, no need to knee jerk leap to a defense of the indefensible.

      • Guest.G says:

        I think that you're missing the fact that the shows writers are also writers.. they aren't here to give a verbatim television representation of the books. I understand where you're coming from, but based off what we've seen from Ramsey, it makes sense that the sadistic bastard would go about his wedding night in this exact way. Furthermore, the show is not glorifying rape in any instance. We're MEANT to feel the horror, the indignation, everything that you & I are feeling. I honestly think that rape within the show is a great thing – it allows us to look at rape, to really see a person as a person and then see that person get assaulted in that way, and then see the truth about rape. It allows us to feel the rage that we don't feel with the same intensity when a news bulletin about a rape, or what have you, flashes across the news channels.

        Imo, the only indefensible thing would be if the shows writers said that it was 'not rape;' that's where I would probably lose it myself.

        Anyway, the show doesn't end here! I cannot wait for the day that Sansa gets every bit of justice that she deserves.

      • Johnny Arson says:

        Sansa (by name) doesn't get raped in the books, but Jeyne Poole does. Seeing as Jeyne isn't in the show and was merged with Sansa, I'd argue that it's still backed up by the text.

    • Johnny Arson says:

      >Rape should never be part of a story

      What a bunch of naive bollocks. Why not, exactly? Because it offends people? Rape happens in real life and ignoring it in fiction does no justice to its reality whatsoever.

  4. leo says:

    I hate when a story doesn't unfold the way I prefer.-Tolstoy

  5. Guest says:

    Good move! You have piqued the viewers interest! That's stirring it up! Kudos!

  6. guest says:

    Who expected Ramsay to be a tender loving husband on his wedding night?

  7. JumboTron says:

    Even if we accept this as part of the new plot. They could have handled this with more discretion.
    There were many different points they could have cut the scene.

    But, if to the writers, the Theon reaction is crucial, once it was clear what was happening, they could cut or overdub the audio so Sansa's screams are not heard but we still get the Theon reaction.

    Ultimately it was an unnecessary, ill-advised, and poorly executed scene that didn't reveal to the audience the disregard for women in this fantasy setting, but rather the writers' insistence on including rape scenes on each and every season in order to be 'edgy'.

    • karadin says:

      they didn't need to give Sansa this storyline, or at least the rape part of it, doubtless Sansa will find people around to help her, not to mention the plans for Stannis and Littlefinger for the North, the largest problem here is that Sansa's trauma was to break Theon of his brainwashing (didn't need the rape to do it) so then Sansa's rape isn't about her character development at all, what little agency she was gaining was completely lost, that's what everyone is really upset about – and the VERY IDEA that Sansa went 'willingly; to her rape as a way of gaining control of her situation is ABSURD, if anything, holding out on the wedding would give her leverage, (See Queen Elizabeth) Sansa could have used Ramsay's desire to do her will. Anyone who thinks that raping a character (male or female) makes the story interesting has to get their head checked.

  8. DBob says:

    Martin is obviously a pig. Look at him. Buggery, Incest, Mutilation. The world will be better as soon as he dies. So why do i read the books… you couldn't get me to read one of his porn novels at gunpoint. I watch a pre-recorded show from the new King of Sleeze HBO. I watch the wall story lines, Tyrrion and a little of Dynarerus [sp] when she's not too boring or having bad story lines written as punishment for Emelia putting her boobs away. Everything else gets fast-forwarded. Anyone actually watching the 'Martinesque' story lines really needs to get some help to find out why they hate women so much.

    • Emery says:

      Thank you very much, I am a feminist and there is nothing wrong with this show in the pretense of "hating women." It's a tv show, it is FICTION, or haven't you not noticed the dragons? This scene was written by the producers of GoT, not in the books. Also, I'll have you know, I've read the books and it's not "porn." If you want porn, pick up a copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Never wish death upon anyone, that is completely wrong, and you're the one who needs help if you say that. Do your research before you go to comment.
      Also, Tyrion* Daenerys* The Wall* Emilia*

      • karadin says:

        yes, this is a show, yes this is fiction, yes it is a fantasy world, but the writers on the show have added rape and misogyny that the author never put in his books, we are allowed to say that their interpretation of the material is sorely lacking. People watch shows, people take cues from fiction, so if we keep going backward in our portrayal of women, how are real women supposed to move forward? What if this were a cop show with the same problems? A show set during wartime? I grew up with shows like Cagney and Lacey, Police Woman, hell, even the Bionic Woman and Wonder Woman, both fantasy shows, had more empowerment and interest and excitement than shows in 2015, nice to see in my lifetime, entertainment, fiction, fantasy go so woefully backward.

      • Sammy says:

        I see your point, however I think that what you're missing is that this show doesn't glorify the characters that exemplify misogyny, and rape women. In fact, they are depicted as monsters and not something to live up to (unlike some shows, Mad Men for example). The only character on this show that isn't a monster and yet has raped is Jaime Lannister, so I don't know where I stand on his character and that scene tbh. But yeah, other than that – the fact that the majority of audience members, male & female, are enraged is a good thing. It shows that the acts of misogyny in the fictional show are not something that is accepted or internalised by the audience; and since this is about misogyny, specifically the MALE audience.

    • Jug says:

      Go back to watching sesame street.

    • Dave says:

      That scene and others were not in his book idiot. Try reading alitle before you make a stupid commet.

  9. Daws says:

    It is tiring seeing Sansa get abused for four and a half seasons. I mean…if this is the event that turns things around, whatever. Hearing that this scene didn't occur in the books is even more puzzling…why did they feel it was necessary? We already know Sansa has been through Hell and that Ramsay is vile. That scene just felt unnecessary :/

    • Johnny Arson says:

      This scene DID happen in the books, it just happened to a character (Jeyne Poole) who isn't in the show and had her character merged with Sansa. I expect most of the people who run around spouting that nonsense know this full well and are being dishonest to further their censorship agenda.

      • wsgirl7 says:

        Thank you! So tired of people spouting out when they haven’t read the book. They get offended over this?? They haven’t seen nothing yet.

      • Brittany says:

        I think the whole point is that while this scene DID occur in the books, it happened to another character. It was no less brutal in the story plot line, but an entirely different dynamic comes into play when you think of the direction of the show and how the writers completely altered Sansa's storyline – for the worst – for further entertainment.

  10. Gary says:

    I'm so over this show

  11. Marie Yuen says:

    I don't watch the show. Reading the synopses is enough to keep me informed of the storylines as well as to keep those sounds and images from invading my mind, my psyche (and my dreams). So to read about this latest plot twist is not only disturbing but disappointing. Wondering if this might be the moment that officially jumps the shark.

  12. Marie Yuen says:

    I don't watch the show. Reading the synopses is enough to keep me informed of the storylines as well as to keep those sounds and images from invading my mind

  13. Jeff says:

    It was a disturbing rape scene. However, Sansa actually got off lighter than Jeyne Poole did in the books, where Theon is actually forced to participate in the consummation. The rape is also less shocking to me than Dany-Drogo and Jamie-Cersei, as neither was rape in the books, but the show changed both scenes to rape.

    Also, compared to what happened to Theon (castrated, raped, tortured for months), Robb and Talisa Stark, Ned Stark, the two farm boys burned alive by Theon, Oberyn Martell, Mance Rayder, and those burned alive by Melisandre, I think Sunday night was far from the most traumatic moment on the show.

    • karadin says:

      The scene is most disturbing, not at the level of 'which character gets it worse' but that the whole run of Game of Thrones in terms of Sansa has been rapebaiting, her value is placed on her virginity and the danger placed to it. Joffery, Sandor, Tyrion, Littlefinger, etc, ad nausem. The problem is the writers set it out that rape was Sansa's choice, and that she's agreeing to it because a) she doesn't really know how bad Ramsay is – which makes her stupid or b) she can only be controlling through her vagina and access to it. She's supposed to have learned cunning, and learned to act, and drawing Ramsay out longer – enough for her to gain allies, would have been more interesting. But no, being left high and dry by Littlefinger was not Sansa's choice, the writers didn't give her any and have no idea what real consent is about.

      • Different Jeff says:

        Yes, but I think that the writers actually already set up allies for Sansa. They came to her before the wedding, remember? Hopefully they are utilized within the show, and soon. Sansa deserves justice! But truly, the odds that this scene were going to happen are entirely in tune with the character of Ramsey. There was no way Littlefinger was going to make it back in time.

  14. ozyalvarado says:

    Sorry, but the scene makes sense to me. What got Ramsay set to rape her is her virginity. Her "purity" throughout her whole ordeal didn't make sense to him. Sansa has finally hit rock bottom after this rape. And I'm not sure if it is rape exactly. She didn't say no. Please don't get upset! Cersei did say no to Jamie. Sansa did not say no, but started taking off her clothes knowing Theon was forced to stay. I'm just saying this event on the show does bring Sansa to her last place – rock bottom. She can only rise to the top now.

  15. Ayanna Costa says:

    This was necessary to have Theon witness so he could get his wits back. He has been on cruise control but seeing Sansa in the start and in this unfortunate situation will spark something in him. Sansa has been victimized since the start but she will stand as a victor not a victim. Watch.

    • karadin says:

      You missed the point people are upset about, why is Sansa made to suffer simply to engage Theon? That makes her suffering not about her, but to motivate his character. This is a trope we call 'fridging' except instead of being dead, (and stuffed into a refrigerator to motive the hero/boyfriend to get the bad guy) Sansa gets raped, violently. Since this didn't happen in the books, and since the writers here see everything through lenses of shock value tropes, it's a problem.

  16. Andara says:

    Well thanks writers, I've read all the books as has my husband but we've put off watching the show as we wanted to watch it all together/buy it and host viewing parties with a bunch of other 'readers-only' like us. Now deciding, f**k this, who needs a bunch of misogynistic (sorry guys, this IS twisted and your rewriting is poorly motivated and ever-more-clearly based on titillation) jerks poorly redoing storylines whose primary approach seems to be anti-female empowerment. Or – O i see, if ONE woman is a strong character that's fine, but we can't have too much power distributed among the women…GRRM I am disappointed, whatever crazy artistic integrity was in the books is gone.

  17. guest says:

    I'm sure the creator GM really agrees with you ( Actually, he doesn't . George Martin chose the writers-showrunners…who chose the writing staff. everyone knows what they're doing and George is on board with them. By the way…this is a brutal place and time in another world which has nothing to do with your personal politics.

  18. Don C says:

    I am sorry, but this is not rape, in the context of the story. It is certainly abuse, but misogyny is par for the course in this world, and if you do not know that going in, you are an idiot. Marital rape does not exist in this timeline, or did you fools think it did? As was pointed out in other articles, there have been much worse done to other women, without the outrage, or do you think that what happened to Ros was no big deal?

    It is a story, people….

  19. Traci says:

    If you are horrified by what you saw perhaps you could make a real difference and donate to groups that help real life rape victims like RAINN.

  20. 4549news says:

    Sorry but I am not so sympathetic with Sansa's plight. In comparison, how has she suffered any more than Arya or her brothers? Protected by the Hound and Littlefinger she has had shelter and regular meals. Even Tyrion, who was forced to marry her, left her virginity intact. What is unforgiveable is that due to her self-centered delusions, she set in motion the disaster that took her father's life. Had Ned Stark been able to remove his daughters from Kings Landing, he would not have gone meekly to his death. Sansa divulged Ned's plans to Cersei and as a result the whole household was slaughtered. All but Sansa who is left to prattle, "My father and brothers are traitors." Only Arya is left to seek revenge and she would not have submitted like her cowardly sister who always put self interest first.

  21. Reader says:

    Somehow it is already becoming boring that the story line of Sansa is cycling all around again and again – she has a chance to escape, she refuses, she gets married, and again all the same – how many times more? It was predictable from the very moment when it was announced that she is going to get marry. Everyone knew it will not lead anywhere but to this rape scene.
    Could she stab Ramzy with some hidden knife? – yes, that would be a surprise.
    Could she ask for help and escape the last minute before the wedding – oh yes, that would be a surprise too.
    But getting married and raped – it is so Sansa'ish – nothing new, nothing unexpected. They could perfectly cut this out from the movie, because it is boring and not interesting, like "who cares, it's just Sansa getting herself in trouble again".

    • Virginia Gaines says:

      "Somehow it is already becoming boring" … In my opinion that could apply to Season 5 in general. Someone remarked to me that a screenwriter they met had said all series begin to fall apart after the third season. I was/am a big fan of The Hound and also was very caught up in the story lines of Seasons 1-4. But without those story lines and without The Hound and some other outstanding characters like Mance Rayder, and without Bran and Hodor and—well, I could go on, but you get my drift! I keep wondering, "What the hell are we doing in Dorn??"

  22. paulina says:

    What a bunch of crap! Yeah I hated the Jeyne Pool-Sansa merging, but once it was done did anyone think that Ramsay would consummate the marriage in a loving respectful way? And what's all this shit about since Sansa has become a powerful character she can't get raped? So in real life it's only the weak women who get raped? Sansa made a powerful choice by marrying Ramsay in order to avenge get family, and that powerful choice isn't annulled by the fact the psycho raped her. Now she has even more reasons to get her revenge, by playing the -yeah, brutal- game of thrones. I think the scene was as brutal and heartbreaking as any rape scene should be, it should outrage us, but the assumption that amazing, strong, brave characters (be them female or male) can't be victimis of outrageous actions is just false and frankly offensive to people in real life who have gotten through such things and are still (and even more so) worthy of respect and admiration.

    • Stacy says:

      I’ve read the books and love them and yes I was super mad when they changed Sansa’s story line same with brienne’s. I read (don’t know how reliable the source is) that the scene that happens at the end of the book with brienne and pod will never happen in the series. The character that shows up will never return. So it makes sense they had to create a new story line for them and if for some reason Sansa becomes part of that story line in the future books it would make perfect sense that they had to also create a new story line for her and why not replace her here in winterfell as the fake arya. I actually thought it was a good chose to substitute her into the place of jeyne Poole given what happens later and the torment felt by reek in this situation in the book. I think his torment was increased having the character raped be Sansa instead of the other character.

  23. cindy says:

    I agree with paulina's sentiments the most…

  24. Reader says:

    Idk what the fuss is, IT IS NOT RAPE when they are married and consenting adults. While ugly and vile it may be, Sansa does not outwardly object. It seems out of character for her from the books, but none of this would happen in the books.

  25. fntm says:

    Holy Crappoly, Dude. Get a life!

  26. Lisa Stewart says:


    This. One billion times. This.

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