Iron Facts About Theon Greyjoy, Traitor To The North

Christine Tran

It’s not easy being Theon Greyjoy. Born to the Iron Islands but raised by Starks, Theon is one of the most put-upon players in the game of thrones. He survived untold torment and was a prisoner of war since he was a child, but Theon also did some truly unforgivable things (has anyone seen the miller’s children lately?). Don’t die far from the sea, and read these 44 iron facts about Theon Greyjoy.

1. No One Likes a Fourth Wheel

Theon Greyjoy wasn’t born to rule anything. He was the youngest child of Balon Greyjoy, Lord of the Iron Isles. Both of his older brothers, Rodrik and Maron, were killed in the first Greyjoy Rebellion. As his father’s sole surviving son, the 10-year-old Theon suddenly became heir apparent to Pyke.

2. Mother, Where Art Thou?

His mother, Alannys Harlaw, never recovered from the loss of her two oldest sons, nor from surrendering Theon to the Starks. She has lost most of her mental facilities, often forgets Rodrik and Maron are dead, and refers to Theon as her baby. Nonetheless, Theon refuses to visit her after he leaves Winterfell.

3. Old Enough to Move out

Among the Starks, Theon occupies a grey area between foster-son and hostage. After the Greyjoy Rebellion against the crown was crushed, it was agreed that Theon, aged 10, would be raised as a ward/hostage of Lord Ned Stark to ensure the Greyjoys’ obedience. In total, he lived at Winterfell for nine years.

4. BFF: Best Father Forever

Theon was raised and educated alongside the Stark children, but he has never felt truly like “one of them.” While Ned Stark often tried to be like a second father to Theon, a truly close bond between the two never formed due to the social background: Theon was there to ensure Balon Greyjoy’s obedience to the crown, so that made things awkward.

5. Some Ships Will Never Set Sail

Theon once figured Ned Stark would marry him to his daughter, Sansa Stark. After capturing the Northern capital, Theon imagines he could have “tightened his grip on Winterfell by marrying” one of Ned’s daughters, particularly Sansa, whom he recalls as “a pretty little thing too, and by now likely even ripe for bedding.” There’s always fanfic, Theon.

6. Hungry Like a Squid

Theon’s namesake is Theon Stark, an ancient King in the North. This older Theon went by “The Hungry Wolf,” and his reign saw the North in a non-stop ravenous state of war. Furthermore, this Theon was just phyiscally skinny.

7. He’ll Make You See Gods

Theon Greyjoy lost his virginity in the godswood of Winterfell. Can’t think of a more impressive audience.

8. Home Away From Home

Theon’s childhood was rough any way you cut it. His father, Balon Greyjoy, was always a harsh and distant dad; Theon’s older brothers, Rodrick and Maron, would also beat him. Although Theon had a lifelong struggle to assimilate to Northern culture and Stark family life, he still remembered Winterfell with more warmth than his early years at Pyke.

9. Not a Great First Impression

Theon is described as lean, dark, handsome, and vain. In their very first scene together, Theon, alongside the Stark sons, witnesses the execution of an AWOL Night’s Watch ranger. After Ned severs the man’s head, Theon smirks and kicks it.

10. Doing Business With Friends

Always a woman of foresight, Catelyn Stark didn’t think it was a good idea to send Theon to the Iron Islands on behalf of the North. His job was to convince his notoriously surly father Balon to ally with the North against the Lannisters. Robb tragically ignored his mother and gave Theon the job, sealing a lot of fates.

11. Make a Wish Upon a Star

In the wake of the War of the Five Kings, a red comet pierces the sky over Westeros. Theon takes it as a good omen about his mission to recruit the Iron Isles for Robb Stark’s cause.

12. First of His Name

Theon is not the first “Reek,” nor even the second. The name was first given to Ramsay Snow’s late manservant: an equally sadistic man named (probably) Heke who stank insufferably badly. This older Reek was killed during one of their exploits, after which Ramsay briefly takes on his identity and ingratiates himself next to Theon as the latter holds Winterfell.

13. Three Reeks, You’re out

Therefore, as Theon is forced to take on the persona of “Reek” after his own torment, he becomes technically the third person to hold that name.

14. A Bow Without an Arrow

Theon is a gifted archer. In the books, it’s all the more poignantly tragic when he can no longer hold a bow as “Reek.” Ramsay took a few of his fingers.

15. Mystery Is Only Skin-Deep

Theon is physically absent for the entire of the series’ third and fourth books, A Storm of Swords and A Feast for Crows. It is said that Ramsay is flaying him alive. At one point, a piece of Theon’s skin is gifted to Robb Stark.

16. Your Outfit Is Too Hot

Theon made a fashion faux pas upon reuniting with his father, Balon Greyjoy. After years away from home, Theon made the mistake of wearing a fine necklace, which he didn’t pay the “iron price” for. That is to say, he acquired the accessory without killing someone for it like a true Ironborn. That is a cultural no-no in the Iron Islands; only women wear things they buy. Balon accordingly burns Theon’s necklace in the fire.

17. My Sister, My Ship

Theon classily names his longship the Sea Bitch in honor of his sister, Asha. This was an earnest compliment, kind of: Asha was still disguising herself as a common woman, and Theon named the ship as a flirty gesture.

18. Squid Meet Stag

In a preview chapter for The Winds of Winter, Theon is captured by Stannis Baratheon. The king from the Stormlands debates whether to execute Theon for his role in the “murders” of Bran and Rickon Stark.

19. Really? Him?

Following the Red Wedding, more northerners start to be found suspiciously dead around Bolton-occupied Winterfell. Theon is a natural suspect, but Roose Bolton brushes off the accusations, since Theon is way too weak to do anything.

20. All It Takes Is Heart

In A Dance with Dragons, Bran Stark appears in the face of the heart tree at Winterfell, causing Theon’s sense of self to be temporarily restored. Theon can hear his own real name—not Reek—whispered from the trees.

21. Happily Never After

To put it bluntly, Theon was a nightmare boyfriend to a tavern wench named Kyra. A resident of the winter town outside of Winterfell, Kyra is moved into the palace as Theon’s official mistress upon his taking the castle from the Starks. However, as Theon becomes increasingly paranoid and unstable about his hold on the castle, he likewise becomes physically and sexually abusive toward Kyra.

22. It’s a Doggone Life for Us

Despite Theon’s abuse, his mistress Kyra helped him to temporarily escape Ramsay before the worst of his torment. Stealing the keys from the castle, she lets Theon free. The pair manage to flee for an hour—a head start that Ramsay deliberately gave them before sending his dogs to eat Kyra alive. Ramsay then names a puppy from his next litter “Kyra.”

From then on, Theon is emotionally triggered by the idea of escape, Kyra, and keys.

23. Get a Load of This Mast

Before the castration, Theon’s “member” was the stuff of bedroom legends. In fact, among certain Westerosi circles, it is “known” that Theon was quite impressive below the belt.

24. Nobody Likes You When You’re 23

Compared to other characters in the show, Theon was not aged too significantly up from his book counterpart. In the HBO series, Theon is around 23 years old. When the books begin, he is 19.

25. The Mountain That Swims

Well before he attacks Winterfell, Theon is behind the Ironborn’s violent pillages and kidnapping in the North. His terror tactics are compared to that of the Mountain, Gregor Clegane. Not a good comparison—in some circles, anyway.

26. Fantasy Is Inspired By Something

Theon’s penchant for factional flip-flopping bears resemblance to the life of a real-world figure in the Wars of the Roses, George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence. Not unlike Theon, George spent most of the war fighting for one side (the Starks/House of York) before setting his ambitions on another (the Grejoys/House of Lancaster).

27. The Punishment Matches the Crime

Furthermore, George Plantagenet was rumored to have been drowned in a vat of wine under treason charges—a fate that parallels Theon’s creative torment under Ramsay Snow.

28. Snow vs. Squid

Theon is not fond of Jon Snow. He thinks the younger Stark bastard is jealous of Theon’s “high birth and Robb’s regard for him.”

29. Bros With a History

Theon’s Ironborn background is an obstacle in new friendships. Theon became fast buds with the young heir to Seagard, Patrek Mallister. The boys found much in common: babes, beer, and birds. Unfortunately, Patrek’s father cut off the bromance by reminding Patrek that “Seagard had been built to defend the coast against reavers from the Iron Island, the Greyjoys of Pyke chief among them.”

30. Uncle Four Lips

Theon has many uncles, but his favorite is not really an “uncle.” Dagmer Cleftjaw—named so because an axe hit him in the face as a child, splitting his lips in four—had a Greyjoy ancestor generations back. He also gave little Theon his early training in arms. After Theon’s return from Winterfell years later, he is still fond of “Uncle” Dagmer and makes him one of his raiders.

31. With Those Terms, Who Could Say No?

That the North and Iron Islands should ally was Theon’s original idea. In exchange for bringing the Ironborn against the Lannisters for King Robb, Theon would only expect the humble gift of Casterly Rock for himself.

32. Dad Wrote off His Losses

No one said Balon Grejoy was Dad of the Year. When Theon returns to the Iron Islands, a large number of warships already line the docks. This level of planning hints at a grim suggestion: Balon already planned to invade the rest of Westeros well before Theon’s arrival, thereby guaranteeing his son’s execution by the Starks in retaliation.

33. Daddy’s Little Girl

It’s an open secret that Theon’s sister Asha was raised as their father’s heir. The younger brother is humiliated and enraged to see Asha taking the honored place at the high table next to their father.

34. What’s a Murder Between Bros, Bro?

How’s this for awkward? Theon became war bros with the son of the man who murdered his brother Rodrick. It was Lord Jason Mallister of Seagard who landed the killing blow against Rodrick during the Greyjoy Rebellion. Fortunately, Theon tells Patrek Mallister that he bears no hard feelings against him or the family for the death of Rodrick, a chronic alcoholic who physically abused Theon.

35. Liar, Your Days Are Numbered

All that Theon remembers about his second-oldest brother, Maron Greyjoy, is his penchant for “cruel japes and compulsive lies.”

36. Three’s Not a Crowd, It’s a Horror Show

In A Dance with Dragons, Theon is tasked with “preparing” Ramsay Snow’s bride for him. This is not Sansa Stark, like in the show, but rather Sansa’s friend Jeyne Poole, who is forcibly disguised as Arya Stark. Due to adaptation changes, Theon’s on-show relationship to Jeyne is given to Sansa. It’s inferred he’s forced to participate in Jeyne’s abuse on some level, too.

37. I Don’t Like This Game

Children-at-risk are a theme in Theon’s chapters. In A Clash of Kings, he threatens to kill Rodrik Cassel’s young daughter, Beth, if he attempts to siege Winterfell.

38. Bottom of the Snow Pile

It wasn’t just the Stark family who made Theon feel alienated. According to his narration, even “the lowliest kitchen scullion knew he was hostage to his father’s good behavior and treated him accordingly.” In Theon’s memory, even bastard Jon Snow was given precedence over him.

39. This Uber Ride Sucks

In A Dance with Dragons, Theon overcomes his trauma long enough to rescue Jeyne Poole (Sansa in the show) and smuggle her to the safety of Stannis’s camp. Theon tells her she must continue being “Arya” to keep her social protection, but at least he manages to keep her secure, for now.

40. My Kingdom for a Horse

Theon’s favorite warhorse is a black stallion named Smiler. Sadly, Smiler is set on fire during Ramsay’s takeover of Winterfell, and this is the last sight that Theon sees before he is knocked unconscious.

41. Looking Worse for the Wear

While Theon’s torment is less explicitly portrayed in the books, the results are arguably much more severe. Under Ramsay, Theon loses a few fingers and toes, causing him to walk with a hobble. He was aged to look about 40 years older, and his hair has turned white.

42. Remember the Member?

Theon’s castration by Ramsay Snow is explicitly displayed in the TV series Game of Thrones…but the fate of the body part is an open question in the books. George R. R. Martin often never explicitly spells out the exact torments visited upon “Reek.” Which really almost makes it worse.

43. You Know Nothing, Theon Greyjoy

Alfie Allen originally auditioned to play Jon Snow, not Theon Greyjoy. Of course, the part went to Kit Harington, but could you imagine?

44. Never Visit Your Exes

Theon once had an affair with the miller’s wife of Acorn Water…also known as the mother of those boys he killed and burned to pass as Bran and Rickon Stark’s bodies. She herself is murdered in the cover-up. This leads to a popular but grim fan theory: Theon unknowingly killed his own sons to tighten his grasp on Winterfell.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23

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