Game of Thrones spoiler ahead!

Why do the Dothraki look calm in the ship?

In the final episode The Winds of Winter (S06E10), a short moment struck me, when we briefly see the Dothraki working in a ship. Here is the scene.

They look cool, working on their stuff like if they are used to it:

Dothraki on a ship

I would expect them to be hiding in the downstairs, or throwing their puke up all over like they did before, sailing to Astapor...

That scene doesn't feature in the books, where they are supposed to be more scared of sea water than death but I don't remember if this fear is mentioned in the show.

  • 4
    And they are actually doing the job of sailors.....In books they were retching their guts out and were all depressed and stuff
    – Aegon
    Jan 11, 2017 at 9:24
  • 1
    they dont want to "loose face" in front of the Mother!! They are fierce warriors, not lamb men :-P
    – Cherubel
    Jan 11, 2017 at 9:24
  • 3
    @Aegon They were retching their guts out and all depressed and stuff in the equivalent scene in the TV show back in Season 3 to that scene in the books. We don't have an equivalent scene to this one in the books yet. Jan 11, 2017 at 10:31
  • 2
    @BoBTFish really is it a spoiler? Really? Are all questions going to end up as 'Why did people do thing?' because of these ridiculous objections? Possibly. It is fairly important that people can see we are talking about dothraki...
    – Gusdor
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:23
  • 2
    @Gusdor, we need to set strong rules about this, even on meta it seems that no decision had been taken.
    – Bebs V
    Jan 11, 2017 at 13:24

3 Answers 3


This isn't the only confusing thing about this scene - people also get confused about Varys suddenly turning up at the end. Half the answer to this I think is the same as to that - a heck of a lot of time has passed between this scene and the battle at Mereen (it'd be nice if they had communicated this more clearly than just having some sails in the fleet which, if you look closely, have Dornish and Tyrell sigils on them... but anyway...).

Enough time passed to:

  • Repaint the sails of a whole fleet, and communicate with Varys somehow to agree a meeting spot for the three fleets (which would also be enough time to train the Dothraki in basic sailing skills, and become more familiar with these big wooden horses)
  • Sail half way around the world and join up with the Dornish and Tyrell fleets (this would involve much more time at sea than Qarth to Astapor, so they'd all be much more experienced at this point than in any of the scenes from that journey)

There's also a big difference between being the first of your people to ever do something, and the second. As Dany put it last time, when they were retching their guts out and were all depressed and stuff:

Don't mock them. They're the first Dothraki to ever be on a ship, and they followed me across the poisoned water. If they follow me, others will too, with a true khalasar

Last time, they were genuinely terrified, travelling over the notorious poisonous waters in a strange, rickety wooden horse, doing something completely alien to their people. This time, those survivors from the Khal Drogo days have been there, done that, and can set an example for the others.

Dothraki follow strength above all else

It also helps that this time, they're part of a strong khalasar going to war, as opposed to last time, when they were aimless survivors: feeling down before they even got on the ship. As Jorah said in the same scene:

You'll have a true khalasar when you've proved yourself strong, and not before

And this time, they are a true khalasar with a leader who proved herself strong, riding to war like thousands of Dothraki have done proudly for centuries before them. They may be doing it in an unusual way, with wooden horses instead of horsemeat ones, but this new way is tried and tested now. By the time this scene happens, they've had plenty of time at sea to get used to it and (figuratively and literally) learn the ropes.

It'd be strange if this time, they weren't posing, acting tough, trying to out-sailor each other, competing to be the best wooden-horse rider in the army, mocking the weak who still struggle.

But yeah, it'd have helped if they'd made the massive time jump before this scene more apparent...

  • 3
    Indeed, we would have needed a montage to see their progress over time.
    – Bebs V
    Jan 11, 2017 at 11:34
  • 20
    Haha, that'd be great. I'm imagining a big burly dothraki who doesn't want to get on the ship, gets all the knots wrong, throws up over the side, punches the mast in frustration. Then he manages to tie a knot right, but the ship lurches, looks like he's going to be sick, Dany's old bloodrider Kovarro comes over with a bucket, but he holds his hand up like "Bro, I got this", stands up straight, pulls a rope, the sail unfurls perfectly, they high-five, the power-ballad soundtrack has a massive key change. Then he's in the crow's nest and spots a Tyrell sail against the sunset and punches the air Jan 11, 2017 at 11:45
  • 1
    I'm okay with that because it takes a crapload of time to assemble an army to load onto an armada for a trip across the sea to conquer a massive kingdom, possibly never to return. Plus to implement transition to how things will be run in Mereen. I'd have more of a problem if there WASN'T a huge time jump. Jan 11, 2017 at 17:32
  • 1
    I've heard the argument before that the "massive time jump" required wasn't made apparent and I've found that criticism puzzling — the scene unfolded slowly, and made it clear that this was a massive fleet composed of at least three armies which would have needed to be assembled and brought together. The scene itself makes it logically apparent that quite some time has passed.
    – ghoppe
    Jan 11, 2017 at 19:26
  • Perhaps they could have added added a time card like in Spongebob: youtube.com/watch?v=MgxK5vm6lvk
    – BrianH
    Jan 11, 2017 at 21:09

They were scared of the sea water but they would have travelled if their khal had ordered them.

“I will take my khalasar west to where the world ends, and ride the wooden horses across the black salt water as no khal has done before. I will kill the men in the iron suits and tear down their stone houses.”

A Game of Thrones, Daenerys

We also know that Dothraki men are proud and dont show their fear easily.

“On the day the three ships had lifted anchor at Quarth, you would have thought they were sailing to hell instead of Pentos. Her brave young bloodriders had stared off at the dwindling coastline with huge white eyes, each of the three determined to show no fear before the other two.”

A Storm of Swords, Daenerys

Again from the same chapter, we get to know that Dothraki panicked when the ship was stuck in a storm.

“When a sudden squall had enveloped them six days into the voyage, she heard them through the hatches; the horses kicking and screaming, the riders praying in thin quavery voices each time Balerion heaved or swayed.”

A Storm of Swords, Daenerys

We don't know how many days Dothraki men have spent on the ship. They might have been trained for few days to help around in the ship.

So putting everything together:

Dani ordered them to travel in the ships (wooden horse) and they have been trained a bit to help around in the ship.

They might not have come across turbulent sea and are successfully hiding their fear of poisoned water (salt walter)

  • I don't see a books tag in the question so I don't think it is proper to draw evidence from the books here. Can you find relevant quotes from Show perspective?
    – Aegon
    Jan 11, 2017 at 10:34
  • Reckon they wouldn't be much different however
    – Aegon
    Jan 11, 2017 at 10:35
  • 1
    @Aegon, sure I was expecting show's perspective. But now, I'm not sure if D&D themselves know the answer...
    – Bebs V
    Jan 11, 2017 at 10:44
  • 2
    @Bebs Sure they do. Here it is ;)
    – Aegon
    Jan 11, 2017 at 10:46
  • 1
    Nah, more like this
    – Möoz
    Jan 12, 2017 at 20:43

We're now approaching the realms of the series leaving the book narrative. This goes hand in hand with smaller inaccuracies like Dothraki not spewing their guts out on a ship to a giant standing around rather useless in a battle because if he actually had a shield and/or a weapon the battle of the bastards wouldn't be an interesting thing to watch because he would just wreak havoc upon the Bolton soldiers.

As sad as it is, this is just an example of a growing lack of details. Don't get me wrong, GoT is still one of the best series ever made but things like that bother many fans not to mention other things like that noone ever uses shields properly, while in reality people would rather throw away their swords than their shields, especially against enemy archers (which is by the way something nearly all medieval-themed movies have in common).

  • Not sure that really answers the question.... The OP is looking from the show's perspective how can it make sense..
    – Patrice
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:02
  • 1
    @Patrice It doesn't make sense, is the point.
    – Theoriok
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:47
  • @Patrice Theoriok summed it up pretty well. It just doesn't make sense. Not everything you see in a TV show (or in a book) as detailed as it might be has to make sense. Authors and producers are just humans and humans make mistakes. Another example is the White Walkers being naked at the beginning of the TV show though in the books they wear camouflaging armor in the prologue. The Dothraki not being sea sick is just a small error (or saves money on purpose :D ).
    – Broco
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:55
  • @broco 100% with you there. However, this STILL doesn't answer the question. it truly feels more like a rant on the differences between tv show and book, and an broader complaint about shields in medieval fantasy....
    – Patrice
    Jan 11, 2017 at 14:58
  • @Patrice I'm sorry that it comes across that way but it wasn't meant as a rant, just as a general statement. It's pretty common for movie- and TV-show-adaptations to cut short on some details just for simple reasons like cost and time. Also sometimes it's just an error. Keep in mind how much time GRRM took to write the books and compare that to the time the team of the show has. Deciding what details to leave out, how to visualise certain things, create the sets, costumes in a matter of a few months. It's just an insane amount of work to be done. Also we had a "Dothraki vomiting" scene before.
    – Broco
    Jan 11, 2017 at 15:11

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