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In Game of Thrones S08E01, Cersei was so disappointed for not getting elephants and it's being part of so many memes and jokes now.

But why do elephants matter? Her competition/rivalry is with Daenerys/Starks etc. And they have dragons. So what purpose would elephants fulfill? What is the significance of this obsession?

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    @Aegon please do not answer in comments, write an answer that can be up/downvoted and accepted. Check How to Answer – Luciano Apr 18 at 12:12
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It seems they were a kind of Easter-Egg.

In the novels, we received a long narrative about the elephants of The Golden Company, which was left out of the show.

In George R. R. Martin’s fifth GOT novel, A Dance With Dragons, we learn of The Golden Company through a rather long-winded side story that has thankfully been cut from the HBO show lest it get even more complicated. Someone in the writer’s room clearly wasn’t happy with this decision, and so decided to throw in an elephant-sized easter egg for viewers who have also read the series so far.


Cersei’s need for elephants in the Game Of Thrones premiere comes directly from the books - Metro UK

So, it seems like this is a special Easter-Egg for those who have read the series.

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    I sooo wanted Aegon VI to come charging out on an Elephant. Surprise fellow-Valyrians! – Aegon Apr 17 at 14:01
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    I'd assumed that they mentioned elephants at the end of Season 7 because the producers wanted to pressure HBO into providing enough budget for real elephants. "We need elephants, the fans expect it!". Cersei is expressing their disappointment. – user56reinstatemonica8 Apr 17 at 21:49
  • @Aegon you mean Jon Snow? One of the most obnoxious retcons of the entire series. – kuhl Apr 18 at 18:00
  • @kuhl Nah, The books fAegon – Aegon Apr 19 at 4:04
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    There's like 20 Aegons, plenty of room for more. – zibadawa timmy Apr 19 at 21:47
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Elephants are always a funny kind of weapon

Having a big weapon on your side is a terrible advantage. Elephants are a good historical example: while they don't deal a lot of damage per se, they are terrible for enemy morale. You can only have a few, and each of them won't deal a lot of damage. But if you are on the other side, that's another topic.

Gosh, an elephant charging me! Ok, so if we all keep the formation, the elephant will crush on our spear formation. Sure, there will be casualties, but we will win. The only thing we had to do is keep our formation. Hey, what is Joe doing? he can't escape the battle, can he? Whatever, he was a coward. We can keep formation without him. But, wait, Jack is also fleeing! He was the best of us. If even he thinks we are lost... But we need to keep the formation! Oh, no, some others are also running. The formation just broke up, the odds are very bad for me. Yep, better run for my life.

Even if the elephant wouldn't do that much damage, it crushes the enemy formation, and you can now deal much more damage.

Why on earth wouldn't you want such a weapon?

Sure, the enemy also have a huge weapon, but that won't ensure that the foot soldiers will keep the formation.

And it's because she doesn't have dragons that she wants a similar, smaller armed animal that can afraid the enemy.

So that we don't expect elephants

Golden company is well-known for their elephants. Harry Strickland is proud of them, and as it's the final season, we expect massive battles. This scene is also a way for showrunners to tell the spectators to don't expect any elephant. Sorry, all CGI budget was burned on dragons.

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    The won't deal a lot of damage part depends on the strategy and the elephants, the Oliphaunts in Lord of the rings did a lot of damage. – Gustavo Gabriel Apr 17 at 13:50
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    The oliphaunts were three times the height of elephants & carried huge "battle scythes" like living combined-harvesters, because their outsized tusks could sweep the ground. – disassociated Apr 17 at 15:08
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    Elephants were very easy to defeat because they have a strong self-preservation instinct; give elephants a way to escape the battle (by, say, causing your formation to have large, safe gaps) and they take it. Until the Romans figured that out, though, elephants were extremely difficult to deal with. – Michael W. Apr 17 at 15:24
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    @Tetsujin The LOTR Oliphaunts weren't elephants; they were Ultralisks! – Mason Wheeler Apr 17 at 15:49
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    Paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, flaming pigs beat elephants. – Jeff Lambert Apr 17 at 17:29
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Cyvasse

G.R.R Martin is a massive chess fan, even working as a chess event organiser. As a result, there are clear chess influences in A Song of Ice and Fire, the main one being Cyvasse. It is suspected by many book readers that the outcomes of "on page" games, particularly those played by Tyrion, are of a prophetic nature. Two of the most notable pieces are Dragons and Elephants. Clearly, there is a potential for symbolism here with Targaryens (Dragons) and The Golden Company (Elephants).

Cyvasse isn't shown in the Game of Thrones world, so no in-show cyvasse prophecies will be fulfilled. However, the story is based on the books so there is a very, very small chance that book readers could extrapolate on some of these prophecies on shoe horn them into the books. The one that springs to mind is the Golden Company's missing Elephants.

Essentially, this would boil down to an Easter Egg for book readers but with a little more significance than, for example, Arya's Rat Cook pie.

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I don't think it was an easter-egg or a joke.

Cersei demanded Elephants from Euron Greyjoy, because she wanted to give him an impossible task. She would win either way, if Euron delivered or not.

Euron Greyjoy is obviously obsessed with fame, power and, for some weird reason, also with impregnating Cersei. Knowing that, Cersei is full-on using his blind quest for power in her advantage to get as much military reinforcement as possible.

I bet even an office sitter like Cersei knows that transporting elephants with ships is a pretty heavy task. But since she is not to keen on giving Euron the feeling, he did everything she ever wanted, she demanded elephants anway. Best case: "Yay, elephants for my army." Worst case: "Oh you did not fulfill my request.. guess you don't get to sit by my side then. I'll take the rest of your army anyway, btw."

This does not fully explain why Cersei let Euron sleep with her in the end, anyway. But I think she had a change of heart (figuratively, she obviously does not have a heart) when Euron returned with his army, because she knew she was already pregnant and could probably use him some more.

(Does it show how little I think of Cersei?)

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    "and, for some weird reason, also with impregnating Cersei" If he impregnates her he pretty much puts himself by her side as king and gets ultimate power, doesn't really seem weird to me. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 18 at 9:14
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    "This does not fully explain why Cersei let Euron sleep with her in the end" My reading of it was that she could see Euron was frustrated and getting ready to give up on her. He controls the majority of her army through actually bringing the Golden Company to her and controls pretty much all her Navy. It was a strategic move to keep him on her side. – TheLethalCarrot Apr 18 at 9:15
  • My remark about impregnating Cersei was rather about how I cannot imagine who would want to do that, like, as a human being. I'd imagined it went more alike to a praying mantis. – Ian Apr 18 at 11:25
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    "(figuratively, she obviously literally does not have a heart)" - fixed that for you. – ANeves Apr 18 at 14:13
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    I think initially Cersei may have been suffering from loneliness. Everyone in her family has either died or left her at that point, and her only remaining company consists of sycophants like Qyburn and automatons like the Mountain. Later, Euron expresses his intent to father a child, and I think Cersei starts to see practical reasons for the relationship. She's bearing a child who has no obvious father, and revealing the true father would put her in poor public standing. She sees Euron as a useful fool who can be used to legitimize Jaime's child. – 16807 Apr 19 at 16:45
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The scene you're talking about showed Cersei get visibly upset at the fact the Golden Company was only 20,000 strong. Her mention of elephants was more like "did you at least bring tanks to the war?" Since it's only mentioned once, and the captain quickly lets her know they don't have them, then these would seem more of something said out of spite than a real concern.

  • FYI - When she's talking to Euron, after, she mentions, again, how much she wanted those elephants, but, yeah, the 20K was probably a bit of a downer. – PoloHoleSet Apr 18 at 18:32

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