What Exactly Is Greyscale On Game Of Thrones?

Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
The Game Of Thrones season 7 premiere, "Dragonstone," left fans with a lot more questions than answers. Why did Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) get so little screen time? Is Jon Snow actually the worst? And, seriously, what in the Seven Hells is greyscale, and why is Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) basically a poorly moving rock now?
The last time we saw Daeny's BFF in season 6 episode "The Door," Jorah had just told his Tagaryen queen about his illness. She took the news as well as a queen who doesn't want her city to die of a highly contagious plague could take it, demanding her longtime friend go find a cure. Since then, Jorah's medical status has been a mystery.
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Now, we know the Westeros native is worse for wear in his home country's Citadel, and his arm has essentially turned to stone. To understand what's going on with Jorah on Game Of Thrones, we gathered every single thing you need to know about greyscale, from what the symptoms are to the leading theories on how to cure it.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Where Does Greyscale Come From?

Greyscale can be seen on Game Of Thrones as early as season 3 with the introduction of Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram), the young daughter of would-be king Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), who was afflicted with the disease before she was murdered in season 5 (episode 9, should you ever want to relive the horror). However, greyscale doesn’t become a major force in the series until season 5, when Jorah Mormont comes down with the affliction and we get more details on Shireen’s history. That explains why the featurette Greyscale and The Stone Men is included in the season 5 Blu-Ray set.

The video explains greyscale is also called "Prince Garin’s Curse" because an ancient Essosi prince named Garin supposedly summoned the disease from the gods as revenge. It’s believed the Valyrians trapped Garin in a cage and forced him to watch as his city (and its people) were immolated by fire. Qyburn (Anton Lesser) explains in voiceover the Price Garin myth is probably simple fiction, and greyscale more than likely originated long before the Valyrians. Instead, the disease probably hails from a remote region in Essos. Greyscale was only able to spread throughout the world once the dragon-riding Valyrians connected the continent by roads and their magical creatures.
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What Does Greyscale Do To The Body?

As we see with Jorah in season 5 episode "Kill The Boy," greyscale, which is highly contagious, begins as a rash in the area where one is touched by someone already afflicted by the disease. The Greyscale video confirms the affected skin "stiffens, calcifies, and cracks," turning the eponymous gray and eventually overtaking any infected limbs. Although people with greyscale feel no pain, as the illness dulls sensation, it eventually goes below the skin to corrupt the organs as well. Once greyscale reaches the brain, patients turn "mad," finishing their transformation into a Stone Man.

The people who attack Jorah and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in "Kill The Boy" are Stone Men. In season 5’s "The House Of White And Black," Gilly (Hannah Murray) reveals two of her sisters caught Greyscale and became Stone (Wo)men. When the girls first came down with greyscale, Gilly's evil father Craster (Robert Pugh) forced his daughters to live outside in huts to protect the rest of his family from the illness. When the women fully succumbed to the disease, turning into "animals," Craster dragged them out into the woods by a rope. It's intimated he murdered them to put them out of their misery.

The late Shireen, who caught greyscale as a baby through an infected doll she held to her face, solely had the remnants of the rash on the left side of her face. Unlike most people who get greyscale, the princess was cured.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
How Do You Cure Greyscale?

It’s impossible to know how exactly Shireen was cured, as Stannis confirms in season 5’s "Sons Of The Harpy" he brought in every maester, apothecary, and healer in Westeros to cure his daughter. Someone in that very large group managed to stop the illness in its tracks, saving Shirren and leaving only the scarring on the princess's face as proof she ever had greyscale.

Most aren’t as lucky as a royal like Shireen, who, at the time of her birth, was the niece of King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy). Others with the disease attempt to cut off the affected area in hopes of ending greyscale’s progression throughout their body. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work, and people can find themselves down one foot with the other slowly turning gray, the Greyscale video explains.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Are There Any Other Cures For Greyscale?

In season 7 premiere “Dragonstone,” Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) is shown to be reading an ancient book about dragonglass, or, “obsidian,” which can kill White Walkers. The book reveals some believe dragonglass can also cure greyscale if an afflicted individual ingests some, Reddit user @Beastmodekait first noticed through a screengrab of the episode. Shireen just so happened to be treated for her case of greyscale on Dragonstone, which houses a humongous “mountain” of dragonglass.

Coincidence, we think not.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Where Do You Find Most People With Greyscale?

Societies throughout the world exile people with greyscale to Old Valyria to live out their days as Stone Men, similar to the way real-life leprosy colonies were created. Old Valyria suffered “The Doom” millennia ago, which completely decimated the once-great Essosi civilization into a pile of shattered rubble and smoking water.

When Jorah is attacked by Stone Men in season 5, the assault goes down amid the ruins of Old Valyria. The Stone Men are the only ones who dare to inhabit the cursed city, living out the end of their days there until greyscale finally kills them. Sadly, it may take years for the greyscale to turn fatal, making the afflicted more and more mad over time.
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Photo: Courtesy of HBO.
Why Did Jorah Head To The Citadel Then?

Jorah is ordered by Queen Daenerys to find a way to heal himself. That means retiring to a life of madness on an Old Valyrian bridge would go directly against a royal mandate from a dragon queen.

Going to the Citadel in Westeros is the far better choice, as the city is essentially the leader in the entire Game Of Thrones world in both medicine and history. If anything could save Jorah, he would find it at the headquarters of the maesters. Sadly, from the short glimpse we get of his arm in “Dragonstone,” it’s clear Jorah’s greyscale has progressed to turning his arm fully stone-like.

Samwell had better start working on that edible dragonglass cure ASAP.
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