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In the latest episode (S08E04) of Game of Thrones

the second of her three dragons is killed by a ground to air missile.

This isn't the first time this type of attack has been used.

In fact the Lannisters' have used the same weapon before to injure her dragon while she was riding it. Also the Night King has used spears several times to first kill one dragon and then attack the other two.

Why is Dany so clueless when it comes to these attacks? Surely given the history of them being used against her and her dragons she would show a bit of caution when approaching areas likely to be defended against her. But instead she flies in relatively low and bunched up, making her an easy target.

It's as if she has put no thought at all in to air to ground combat tactics or how to protect her dragons from these weapons.

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    as a side note, she didn't protect herself too during battles – Kepotx May 7 at 8:21
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    Because sloppy writing. They need to give Cersei some sort of edge over Dragons to keep things exciting and they think this is the way to do it even if it makes Daenerys look bad. – Aegon May 7 at 8:21
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    “approaching areas likely to be defended against her” — Dragonstone doesn't really count, although a bit of advance scouting wouldn't have gone amiss. – Paul D. Waite May 7 at 9:47
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    sloppy writing, or, the CGI budget has been used up in episodes 1-3 (making it so dark in episode 3 took up most of that). So we lose another dragon and we also lose Ghost (no more CGI wolf). – Richard C May 7 at 9:56
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    FWIW I don't think we have any reason to assume Dany is good at military strategy. She's proven time and time again, repeatedly, throughout 7 and a half seasons, that she's terrible at it. This is just more of the same, if you ask me. – Apologize and reinstate Monica May 7 at 15:17
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Because each time she wasn't expecting it. In each instance she wasn't prepared for it because she either didn't know it was a threat or didn't know the threat was there.

Drogon

This is the first time she has come into contact with the scorpions so it is obvious she wouldn't have been expecting them. And then she gets all angry about it so charges at it in a straight line like Rickon... you'd have thought Jon would have warned her...

Viserion

Whilst she knows the scorpions are a danger how was she to know that the Night King was a world class javelin thrower? And once she does know he is, she dodges them quite well, both in that initial battle and in "The Long Night".

Rhaegal

Whilst this one is 100% poor writing the in universe explanation is apparently that she had "forgotten" about the Iron Fleet according to the Inside the Episode.

enter image description here

This of course makes zero sense since they mention the Iron Fleet at the war council before setting off but there you go.

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    That ambush by the Iron fleet was just so out of there... don't they have scouts around their fleet as they move? Seriously? I understand the presence of giant scorpions on the Iron fleet being unexpected, especially improved ones, but not realizing there's a whole fleet out there until it's in range, with no fog or anything for cover... that is sloppy writing :( – Matthieu M. May 7 at 9:40
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    @MatthieuM. Exactly, everyone involved should have been able to see them and Dany at the minimum should easily have seen them. Then the rate at which Dany's fleet is destroyed makes zero sense for how slow those things take to reload. And no one reacted to try and save a ship? You having a laugh? Then only like 100 survive of the thousand or so? How? And I'll end the rant there before I get carried away... – TheLethalCarrot May 7 at 9:47
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    Also she is up in the air, how couldn't she see them its a clear day – Richard C May 7 at 9:57
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    Whilst I like ranting about the poor writing this season can we keep it out of this answer? You're welcome to rant in The Quill and Tankard the official GoT chatroom. – TheLethalCarrot May 7 at 10:02
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    @krb I did get the impression they were supposed to be out of view behind a rock outcrop, but that then begs the question of how they were able to see her. And indeed shoot through said outcrop. – Mohirl May 7 at 15:24
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In addition to TheLethalCarrot's answer, I would like to add that Rhaegal was very badly wounded and might have been unable to fly at high altitudes.

When the Dragons took off from Winterfell, it seemed that Rhaegal was struggling to fly. Dany might be flying the dragons low because Rhaegal was not in a condition to fly higher.

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    Whilst a nice point they seem to be flying higher than they did from when they flew too Westeros from Essos. Also they would be coming in to land on Dragonstone at this point so would be getting lower. – TheLethalCarrot May 7 at 9:36
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    I think the physics of firing heavy bolts that far and that high from relatively small launchers mounted on ships is somewhat dubious anyway. With the technology available I don't think it would be possible. – user May 7 at 9:57
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    The physics are also dubious for fire breathing dragons, ice zombies, hyper-sonic messenger ravens, melting steel and casting it into a new shape, melting and forging obsidian, and a lot of other things that are shown in this show. While annoying, dubious physics don't always harm the story. – krb May 7 at 15:54
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    @krb Except dragons and magic are fantasy and shooting projectiles from a ship is heavily based in reality. It's harder to excuse that kind of stuff. ASoIaF isn't existing in some alternative universe with it's own physics rules. – Brad May 7 at 17:05
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    If you want to ponder physics, how come the boats now are 3x faster than they were when Caitlin was trying to get to kings landing from winterfell? – djsmiley2k - CoW May 7 at 18:04
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Dany's dragon was killed by lazy writing, not negligence.

It's why the first three arrows were bullseyes, and the next volley -- against a dragon that was closer and coming straight at them -- missed horribly.

It's also why she didn't follow up with a devastating counter attack. Her dragon is faster and more maneuverable than the ships, and those ballistae take time to reload. She could have easily flanked their line of fire and sunk most of the fleet.

But the writers wanted her clash with Cersei to be interesting.

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    Whilst mainly true this a) only answers one part of the question and b) just saying lazy writing isn’t a great answer and frowned upon around the site. – TheLethalCarrot May 7 at 21:07
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    @TheLethalCarrot In this case, the lazy writing was so egregious, that I'd say this is the most correct answer. Perhaps it could use some parts about the painful details about how the other parts of the question are also answered by lazy writing. Dany didn't see the fleet because of lazy writing, the fleet was trying that ambush because of lazy writing, etc. – Dronz May 8 at 5:39
  • More accurate to say that it was killed by plot – Zac Faragher May 8 at 7:31
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    Good point about the dragon vs. ships. Given the position of the bolt throwers and the speed at which they can turn, it seems like it would be easy for her to go around behind them and attack from a position that they couldn't fire at her from. – user May 8 at 8:07
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    @user - I was yelling just that at the screen whilst watching this bit. "Fly round behind them you dozy bint !!" Infuriating. – Tetsujin May 8 at 12:35

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