It’s always nice when someone bites the dust on Game of Thrones who actually deserves it. The ground of Westeros has been covered with far too much noble Stark and Martell blood at this point, so you have to appreciate when the fates throw us a bone and show us a real jerk taking a knife to the gut. Season 6, Episode 2 not only gave us the death of infamous torturer and utter piece sh-t Roose Bolton, but the memory of his death will be overshadowed by the rebirth of Jon Snow. Roose is not only gone, but we get the sense that he will soon be forgotten thanks to the family he thought he could destroy.
Though Roose hasn’t been center stage for long, he has been like a evil Forrest Gump in Westeros: whenever awful things went down, you could find him at the edge of the frame grinning like a douchebag. In Season 2, he recommended the execution of Barristan Selmy (who got got by some Sons of he Harpy in Mereen) and advocated for the slaughter of Lannister prisoners. He plunged the dagger into Robb as a major architect of the Red Wedding in Season 3. He ordered Theon Greyjoy taken prisoner, which led to his less than successful rebranding as Reek. In Season 4, he called for the heads of the remaining Stark children (though he failed). Season 5 saw him connect Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton for a matrimony punctuated by sexual assault. Then his troops dismantled the Baratheon Army, proving that Stannis and Melisandre aren’t much for war or prophecies. He put together the kind of resume that will make him a first ballot Game of Thrones Evil-Guy-Who-We-Hate-But-Sometimes-Forget-His-Name Hall of Fame along with Walder Frey and Meryn Trant.
Roose’s problem, like so many vile men that end up bleeding out on castle floors making more housework for the servants, is that while he was certainly ruthless, he wasn’t ruthless enough. He held a kind of strange moral code for a man who was willing to flay prisoners and gut his superior officers at weddings. He constantly berated his newly legitimized bastard Ramsay for being too sadistic and placing his sociopathy before his pursuit of the throne. Like a nagging father on report card day, with every battle, sacking, and kidnapping Ramsay carried out, Roose was there to ask the hyper-violent equivalent of “so what’s this B+ in gym about?”
Roose loved to tell Ramsay that his dog feeding, raping ways will come back to bite him in the butt, but Ramsay could rightly say
Though we can criticize Roose for being ruthless, the one compassionate thing that guy ever did came back to haunt him in the form of a fatal sucker stabbing. Despite Roose’s misgivings, he went ahead and legitimized Ramsay, whose resentment of his bastard status made Jon Snow look downright chill about the whole illegitimacy thing. Roose being Roose, every good deed has a dastardly lining, and the Lord of House Bolton made sure to threaten to return him to bastard status at the drop of a hat. In a house where people resolve their disputes with daggers, Roose should have seen Ramsay’s dagger coming a raven’s route away.
Roose’s legacy will clearly live on. We can expect Ramsay’s sadistic habits to continue to impede his strategy and the warnings of his father to haunt him again and again. Ramsay’s future looks like a mirror image of Robb Stark, but instead of being undone by naive goodness, his ruthless evil will lead to his downfall. To this point, House Bolton has gotten by because they’ve stayed under the radar in the Stark-Lannister battle royale. Let’s just say that if Vegas was taking odds on the Bolton’s chances in the Game of Thrones, you could safely bet your 401K against Ramsay and his flaying men.
Roose Bolton was a terrible man. In Westeros, there is no shortage of terrible men. Ultimately, lacking the charm of a Lannister or the utter depravity of his son, Roose Bolton wasn’t even that good at being terrible. Good riddance.
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