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Sand Snakes

The eight bastard daughters of Oberyn, four (five?) of them mothered by Ellaria.

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    In General 
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the case of Obara, she possesses no beauty or elegance in the books while her TV counterpart is good-looking, thanks to Keisha Castle-Hughes. It takes the make-up department to roughen her features to give her that boyish look.
  • Adaptational Dumbasses: In the books, the Sand Snakes are cunning and aware of politics though they are still stubborn and hotheaded. They also made their own revenge plans which they offered to their uncle Doran: Obara wants to burn Oldtown as a start for war despite that it has nothing to do Oberyn's death, Nym suggested to have several members of House Lannister (including Tommen) assassinated, and Tyene wants to lure the Lannisters into Dorne, where the Dornish fight best, by crowning Myrcella as Queen. In the show, they are portrayed as Ellaria's Dumb Muscle and all of their dialogue consists of killing people and teasing. This is probably a side effect of their inverted Age Lift where they acted like teenagers in the show instead of mature young adults in the books.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Sand Snakes certainly did not kill their own family members in the books; Obara in fact was furious when she heard rumors Cersei was planning to kill Trystane, while in the show she kills him herself.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: In the show they constantly bicker with each other, which is not the case in the books.
  • Adapted Out: There are eight of them in both the book and show, but only three of them have appeared in the show, the other five being The Ghost.
  • Age Lift: In the books the three eldest Sand Snakes are in their early-to-late twenties. On the show, they are in their late teens to mid-twenties.
  • Asshole Victim: After all their subterfuge and kinslaying, Obara and Nymeria are killed by Euron (who for added irony, a kinslayer himself just like them) with their own weapons. Tyene is poisoned by Cersei with the same poison that killed Myrcella and left to die with Ellaria being Forced to Watch.
  • Bastard Bastard: Much like Ellaria, they don't really do much to disprove the negative views Westeros has of illegitimate children. As of Season 6, they've killed the legitimate heirs of their household to seize power for themselves.
  • Cain and Abel: They murder their cousin Trystane and effectively turn themselves into kinslayers, which is considered one of the worst crimes possible in Westeros.
  • Composite Character: Take on the role of Gerold Dayne aka Darkstar as the conspirators keen on murdering Myrcella to provoke a war.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Nymeria and Obara's teamwork does keep Euron on guard and even knock him down a few times but he is simply too strong for them and he ends up killing them with their own weapon.
  • Crippling Overspecialisation: The Sand Snakes are trained and equipped for small-scale engagements, where their agility and teamwork allows them to isolate and defeat their opponents. Obara and Nymeria fight Euron Greyjoy in a boarding action, a scenario they are unprepared for and Euron excels in. Euron kills them both in brutal fashion.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Gender inverted. Obara, Nymeria and Tyene are the evil daughters of their good-hearted father, Oberyn, and want to go to war with the Lannisters to avenge him. Though their methods of "avenging him" consist primarily of Insane Troll Logic and are surely against anything their father would've actually wanted.
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • The main three sisters can be considered as such to Arya, another Action Girl who seeks revenge against the Lannisters for the death of her father. However, the Sand Snakes are basically Arya gone completely wrong. In their blind obsession with revenge, they are willing to cross any moral boundaries from trying to kill an innocent girl who has nothing to do with their revenge quest to kinslaying. Arya, in contrast, learnt the hard way from the Faceless Men not to kill indiscriminately. And in Season 7 when she murders the Freys en masse, Arya still holds off from killing the women who had nothing to do with the Red Wedding.
    • To their father Oberyn himself. Like him, they are Martells by blood who want revenge against the Lannisters. Obara and Tyene even possess their father's set of skills: Obara wields a spear like Oberyn's as her main weapon, Tyene uses poisons. The biggest difference is that Oberyn would never "hurt little girls" — ie. innocents who had nothing to do with the injustice his family had suffered.
  • Faux Action Girl: What they ultimately amount to. Their combat abilities really are more of an Informed Ability. They struggle against a crippled Jaime and fleeing Bronn and then two of them get killed by Euron.
  • The Ghost: Oberyn is mentioned to have eight bastard daughters, four of them mothered by Ellaria. Only three of them are shown on screen though. The others are very likely too young to play a role in Ellaria's plans. With their mother and their older sisters gone, it's uncertain on what would happen to the younger ones.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Their desire for revenge has made them no better than the Lannisters. And considering how much Oberyn loved his family, he would be horrified to see his daughters kill their own uncle and cousin, no matter the reason, if he was alive.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: All three of them end up getting killed by their own weapons.
  • Hotblooded: The three older sisters are very feisty when it comes to fighting and very hot-tempered as well as seen with Tyene who gets pissed when Bronn called her a little girl.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: There's actually eight of them, from up to five different mothers. The younger ones haven't shown up yet (they don't really in the books either).
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Sand" is the Dornish surname given to bastards, and "Snakes" is because they are the daughters of Oberyn Martell, "The Red Viper". In "Oathbreaker", Jaime knew how serious they are when he heard that they and Ellaria overthrew House Martell and he even called them "Snake women".
  • Politically-Active Princess: Though they are illegitimate, Obara, Tyene, and Nymeria are a prince's daughters who take active roles in Dornish politics. But Ellaria is the one in charge of the diplomacy considering that Lady Olenna berated them.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: When they are plotting to kill other people or picking up fights, the three are seen playing children's games, petulantly slapping each other when they lose or arguing like little girls.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Though we never see much of how the sisters bond together outside of fighting and killing or if their father was playing Parental Favoritism, they donít seemed to get along very well particularly for Nym who berates Tyene that sheís better than her causing Tyene to slap her and calls Obara a greedy bitch for getting dibs on killing their cousin. In "Stormborn", Tyene threatened to kill her own two sisters for mocking her for saying "Mama"; however when Nym saw Euron killing Obara, she angrily lashes at him before he strangled her with her own whip.
  • Smug Snake: Pun notwithstanding, they confidently believe that just one of them could take on The Mountain, arguing that their father only lost because he got careless (which was true). Two of them did not last long against Euron Greyjoy, who while dangerous is nowhere near as strong or deadly as Gregor Clegane, especially an undead one.
  • The Sociopath: All of them fit the trope along with Ellaria. They have no knack for long-term planning and prefer short-term satisfaction, they care about no one but themselves and each other, have no shame or guilt about their crimes or behavior, lie to and manipulate others, and carelessly murder their own family members.
  • Unexpected Successor: With the deaths of Doran and Trystane, the Sand Snakes are the only surviving Martells by blood. Since Dorne is lenient with bastards, they, particularly in the case of Obara who is the oldest among Oberyn's daughters, are the heads of House Martell. But Ellaria Sand is the one who is in charge and deals with the diplomacy despite not being a Martell by blood or by marriage and only holds as Oberynís paramour. With their older Sand Snakes dead and Ellaria imprisoned for the rest of her life, it's unknown whether the younger ones would take up the seat or let the other Dornish houses take over. In Season 8, there's a new Prince of Dorne though it's unknown if he's related to the Martells.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While it is confirmed that Oberyn has eight bastard daughters, the five younger ones are only mentioned in passing and never appeared in the show. As of Season 7, their fate is uncertain after their three older sisters are killed and their mother is imprisoned - but given how utterly broken Ellaria is at the impending death of her surviving child and how satisfied Cersei gloats over the outcome, the show basically behaves as if they didn't exist in the first place. In addition, Season 8 mentions the new Prince of Dorne, despite the fact that Dornish law would have either Sarella or Elia inherit the title. From the books... 
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: The TV show flip flops between how many Sand Snakes are Ellaria's daughters, four or five. They state quite clearly that there are eight Sand Snakes, as in the books (and the youngest are children not in the story). The TV show changed Tyene to be Ellaria's daughter, sort of merging her role with book-Elia Sand (though Elia is stated to exist by name in the TV canon). Presumably that would increase the number to "five" daughters of Elaria...but then Doran clearly states in dialogue that she is "mother to four of my nieces" - which may have been the writers just plain forgetting that they changed Tyene to be Ellaria's daughter. Major fansites have simply given up on getting an exact number.

    Obara Sand 

Obara Sand
"I am Obara Sand. Daughter of Oberyn Martell. I fight for Dorne."

Played By: Keisha Castle-Hughes

Oberyn's eldest bastard daughter. Her mother was a Dornish peasant girl.

  • Adaptation Distillation: Her background is changed from the books, where her mother was an Oldtown prostitute; in the TV show, she's the daughter of a Dornish peasant girl who caught Oberyn's eye.
  • As You Know: She gives an Info Dump of her backstory... to her half-sisters who already know it.
  • Asshole Victim: Obara's death by Euron may have been brutal but it was extremely deserved. She was happy to help murder an innocent little girl and then also murdered her own cousin, who was also innocent and good. No one is going to miss her.
  • Blade on a Stick: Her weapon. When Oberyn visited her for the first time and told that he's her father, he let her choose between him and her mother by pointing to her choices: a spear or the mother. She chose the spear.
  • Blood from the Mouth: After Euron stabs her twice.
  • Boisterous Weakling: She fronts as brave and deadly, such as shouting her name loudly and taunting Trystane that he made a wise choice not choosing to fight her, but she can't back it up and has trouble with a crippled Jaime. Euron butchers her effortlessly.
  • Cain and Abel: She's the Sand Snake who murders their cousin Trystane, making her a much-despised kinslayer, one of the worst sins in the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Catchphrase: "I am Obara Sand".
  • Dead Guy on Display: Euron nails her corpse with the pieces of her broken spear to the prow of Yara's flagship. He also hoists her dead body aloft for all to see after killing her, while howling in triumph.
  • Death by Adaptation: Obara in the books is still alive as she is last seen accompanying Areo Hotah and Ser Balon Swann to subjugate Ser Gerold "Darkstar" Dayne.
  • Decomposite Character: In the books, she has more than one weapon — spear, shield, and whip. The whip-specialization was given to her half-sister Nymeria.
  • Faux Action Girl: She finally fights in "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken." The random mook Jaime fought in "Sons of the Harpy" came closer to winning. When she fights Euron, he effortlessly kills her. Her only victory was stabbing her cousin in the back after promising she wouldn't do it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Euron fatally impales her on her own spear.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: How Euron kills her.
  • In the Back: She spears Trystane Martell, her own cousin, through the nose.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Obara is named after Oberyn. She dresses like him, fights like him, likes to declare who she is like him.
  • Malicious Misnaming: On the receiving end of this from Olenna, who mockingly calls her "Barbero" before angrily telling Obara to shut up and not presume to speak to the Queen of Thorns like they're equals.
    Olenna: [disdainful] What is your name again? Barbero?
    Obara: [curtly] Obara.
    Olenna: [sneers] Obara, you look like an angry little boy. Don't presume to tell me what I need!
  • Missing Mom: Inverted. She left her mother to go to court with her father.
  • Perpetual Frowner: That is her default facial expression on the photo.
  • Underestimating Badassery: She is completely oblivious of Euron Greyjoy's fighting skills and ends up being killed by him in a rather one-sided battle.
  • Villainous Valour: There's no nice way to put it, Obara is an asshole and a terrible person. That said she is brave and will head straight into battle and when Euron wrestles her spear away from her, she doesn't retreat and instead tries to take him on unarmed, even when he goes in for the killing blow she doesn't beg.
  • Waif-Fu: She has none of her book counterpart's threatening and athletic physique, yet she can throw her spear like a Maasai warrior. Somewhat subverted since she is shown to be much less impressive in close combat.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: She dresses like a man, usually in clothing it would be easy to fight in, but most people in Dorne don't have a problem with that aspect of her personality. Her downtime outfit is similar to her fatherís. True to that, Olenna Tyrell called her "an angry little boy" in "The Winds of Winter."
  • Wrecked Weapon: Euron disarms her, snaps her spear in half, then impales her with the broken pieces.

    Nymeria Sand 

Nymeria Sand

Played By: Jessica Henwick

Nym: "You're coming with me!"
Myrcella: "I don't want to!"
Nym: "I was not asking, Princess!"

Oberyn's second oldest bastard daughter. Her mother was a noblewoman from Essos.

  • Asshole Victim: Strangled with her own whip by Euron Greyjoy. A bad way to go, but Nymeria herself is no innocent. She helped murder an innocent little girl and would have been happy to murder her own cousin.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sure, a whip looks cool to fight with, but turns out ineffective in an actual battle against raiders. As such, she relies on sub-weapons like small knives to fight appropriately and Euron ends up using her own whip to choke the life out of her.
  • Composite Character: In the books, it was Obara who was skilled at using a whip (along with a spear and a shield), while Nym preferred using a pair of knives; in the series, her talent with a whip is given to Nymeria, whose knife-wielding skills were in turn given to Tyene (see below).
  • Cute and Psycho: She's outwardly calm and elegant but she gets upset at Obara for stealing her kill, Trystane.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Her corpse is left hanging from Yara's ship by Euron and his sailors.
  • Death by Adaptation: Nymeria in the books is still alive as she is last seen heading to King's Landing where she would fill in her late father's position in the Small Council.
  • Demoted to Extra: There's nothing much about her in all of her appearance other than using a whip and knife as a weapon and her ancestry being from Yi Ti. In the books, she has a very distinct background as she hails from Old Volantis, hides knives in her person, enjoys sleeping with other women and is very cunning which is one of Doran's reasons of choosing her to represent the Dornish seat in the Small Council.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Euron strangles her to death with her own whip.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: After Dorne's national hero Queen Nymeria.
  • One-Steve Limit: One of few aversions in this show (compared to the books) — she shares a name with Arya's direwolf Nymeria, and both were named for the legendary warrior queen Nymeria. Arya admired the queen for being a Lady of War and thus aptly named her direwolf; Oberyn and Ellaria named their daughter for a famous ancestor (and the name might not be uncommon in Dorne for the same reason). This overlap is alleviated since Nymeria the woman is called "Nym", and she and the direwolf don't appear in the same episodes note .
  • Race Lift: Her mother is a Volantene noble in the books; judging by her general features, the Nym Sand of the show appears to have some ancestry from Yi Ti, the setting's Fantasy Counterpart Culture to China.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Tries to be this with Olenna to smooth over the tension between Obara and the Queen of Thorns. As with her sister, Olenna is having none of it.
    Nymeria: Forgive my sister. What she lacks in diplomacy, she makes-
    Olenna Tyrell: Do shut up, dear!
  • Underestimating Badassery: Much like her older sister Obara, she doesn't stand a chance against Euron Greyjoy. She also expresses a desire to fight Gregor Clegane, who between being more than twice her size and a near invincible undead monstrosity, would likely snap the stupid girl like a twig.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: She is the least developed Sand Snake who had very few lines in Season 5. Unlike Obara and Tyene, the viewers never know much about how Oberyn met her mother or how she came to Dorne.
  • Weapon Specialization: Her mother trained her to be deadly with a whip and while she doesn't directly fight opponents so much as she works in tandem with her sisters: she immobilizes an opponent's limb by wrapping her bullwhip around it from a distance, tripping them up to make an opening for the other sisters to attack. note 

    Tyene Sand 

Tyene Sand

Played By: Rosabell Laurenti Sellers

"I am with you, always."

Oberyn and Ellaria's bastard daughter.

  • Action Girl: She does kill a bunch of Euron's raiders before being overrun despite being the youngest of the three sisters and only armed with a dagger.
  • Adaptational Skimpiness: Tyene's shtick in the books was looking so chaste and innocent that people underestimated her. On the show she wears revealing outfits and flashes Bronn.
  • Adaptational Badass: Tyene wields two daggers in the show; in the books she has no apparent fighting ability, though she is confirmed to be a Master Poisoner with a great knowledge of the subject. The TV series put a twist on this to make her more active: she's still a Master Poisoner, but she wields daggers coated in poison, instead of just surreptitiously slipping people poison unawares. This is played out when she lands a hit on Bronn, who only survives because Tyene gives him the antidote after a brief bit of toying with him. When Yara's fleet is attacked by Euron, Tyene tallies up the most kills out of all the Sand Snakes and is the last to be taken down, while Obara and Nymeria are killed by Euron, Obara failing to get a single kill in the battle.
  • Adaptational Dye-Job: In the books Tyene is blonde, blue-eyed, and fair skinned.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Tyene Sand in the books was the result of Oberyn's tryst with a septa, not the oldest daughter of Ellaria. TV-Tyene is basically a combination of two of Oberyn's daughters from the books: Tyene and Elia Sand. Tyene is a master-poisoner, while Elia is the youngest of the non-child Sand Snakes and is trying to prove herself to the older ones. That is, in the fourth novel, only the eldest four of the Sand Snakes are old enough to go off and have adventures, the other four are children who stay home with Ellaria. Elia is the eldest of the younger four. By the beginning of the sixth novel, Elia has become just old enough to start accompanying her cousin Arianne Martell, and is impetuous. "Elia Sand" actually has been mentioned by name in the TV series, though it seems improbable that she will ever actually appear due to time constraints, so they basically combined together book-Tyene with book-Elia.
    • Her skill with knives belongs to Nymeria Sand in the books, but Nymeria was given Obara's talent with the whip and her knife-wielding was instead transferred to Tyene in adaptation. Nevertheless Laurenti has stated Tyene tends to coat her daggers in poison.
    • Her scene with Bronn in "The Gift" showed off her psycho, manipulative side, brought her closer to her book counterpart.
  • Adaptational Dumbass: While she has more skill in combat than her book counterpart, she lacks her subtle and manipulative nature.
  • Berserk Button: She is not pleased when Bronn snarks that she "fights pretty good for a little girl". It takes at least two Dornish guardsmen to stop her from starting the fight again right then and there.
  • Book Ends: Her first and last word on the show is Mama. The first time said in greeting to her Mother, the second time said to her Mother in despair when she realises she's been poisoned with the Long Farewell.
  • Carrying the Antidote: Which she refuses to give to Bronn until he says she's the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. Judging from Obara and Nym's reactions, it's far from the first time.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: As said above, she's an Asshole Victim for sure, but her death is no less horrifying. Fatally poisoned, she spends the last hours/days/weeks of her life chained to a wall, slowly rotting away, all just out of reach of her mother's arms.
  • Cute and Psycho: Adorable and very arguably the most terrifying member of the Sand Snakes.
  • Death by Adaptation: Tyene in the books is still alive as she is last seen heading to King's Landing to spy on the Faith Militant.
  • Dual Wielding: Her twin knives.
  • Even Bad Girls Love Their Mamas: Tyene's a warmongering kinslayer and attempted child killer, but she still loves her mother Ellaria. During the attack on Yara's fleet, Tyene spends the battle defending her mother in the cabins.
  • Faux Affably Evil: While her sisters are rough, straight-up badasses, Tyene is a friendly, charming face hiding the cunning borderline psychopath she was in the books. Bronn nearly falls victim to this facade.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Despite the fact she and Ellaria were taken alive by Euron when Daenerys and her allies meet Cersei face-to-face, they never question her about their fate.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Tyene is a master of poison. Cersei kills her with one.
  • Karmic Death: The expert on killing by poison is killed by poison herself.
  • Killed Offscreen: Cersei poisons her with the same venom that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella. The viewer doesn't see it taking effect though, but she is as good as dead.
  • Mama's Girl: Obara and Nymeria taunt her about it, mocking her for bringing Ellaria up all the time. Cersei also uses it to taunt Ellaria when she has them at her mercy, insinuating that Tyene is her favourite child by Oberyn.
  • Master Poisoner: Like her father, her weapons are coated with poison.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tyene wears the least covering outfit of the three Sand Snakes shown so far. She also gets a topless scene in "The Gift".
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Bronn calls her a "little girl" and she was an angry Tyke Bomb but it turns out she coats her knives with slow-acting deadly poisons. Like father like daughter.
  • Oh, Crap!: When Cersei kisses her, she immediately recognises the taste of The Long Farewell on her lips, and manages to get out a panicked "mama" before being gagged again. She's also quite clearly terrified when Cersei casts a predatory eye over her and starts making comments on her "perfect Dornish beauty".
  • Psychotic Smirk: Tyene wears a bright smile all through toying with Bronn, quite reminiscent of the mad grin Oberyn once gave two Lannister soldiers.
  • The Quiet One: Doesn't speak a single line in Season 6, and is pointedly told to shut up the one time she does try to speak. Generally seen as an informal apology from the producers for giving her the infamous "bad pussy" line in the Season 5 finale.
    Olenna Tyrell: [addressing Tyene] Anything from you?! [Tyene opens her mouth to speak] No? Good! Let the grown women speak!
  • Race Lift: Tyene from the books is one of only two Sand Snakes (alongside her half-sister Sarella, who has the features of her Summer Islander mother), who don't have the classical "salty" Dornishman features inherited from her father, besides her eyes (which all his children have inherited); she is golden-haired, and her mother is from a different region of Westeros — implicitly the Reach From the Books... . In the TV series, she's Ellaria's eldest daughter with Oberyn — so they didn't cast a blonde like book-Tyene, but they didn't cast someone quite as olive-skinned as Oberyn and Ellaria (Dorne is racially very mixed though, so maybe she just looks a bit like a grandparent).
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the books, Tyene's mother is stated to be an unnamed Septa. Here she's Ellaria's eldest child.
  • The Tease: A dangerous version. Tyene gets Bronn's heart rate up, simultaneously quickening her poison, with the sight of her bare chest. That being said, she made it pretty clear that if Bronn comes back to Dorne or she meets him again she'd be more than happy to seal the deal with him. Or she was just lying again, given that she had also arranged to murder his employer's daughter.
  • Teens Are Short: She's a full foot shorter than either of her parents.
  • You Are Already Dead: Cersei kisses Tyene with lipstick lined with the same poison Ellaria had used to kill Myrcella. Tyene's death is assured in a matter of hours, possibly days.

    Elia Sand 

Elia Sand

One of Oberyn's eight bastard daughters, her mother is Ellaria. She is first mentioned in "First of His Name".

  • Ambiguous Situation: Elia was named as such partly because in the books, she was the first daughter of Oberyn born after her aunt's death. If she is younger than Tyene (and Sarella), then that likely puts her in her mid-teens with her older full sister(s) being younger than 20 as of Season 5. Elia was killed about 20 years before then, so part of the symbolism would be lost if her namesake isn't the first Sand Snake born after her death (though this would put her age close to the 14 she was in Books 4 and 5, subverting the dreaded Age Lift).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Oberyn was writing her a poem when Cersei came to speak to him; this prompted him to mention the exact number of his bastard daughters, and Elia's sisters (Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene) are to make appearances in Season 5.
  • Dead Guy Junior: She was specifically named for her late aunt, Oberyn's much-beloved older sister Elia. On the flipside, Oberyn has admitted that this fact reminds him of his sister whenever he looks at young Elia, making it difficult for him to look at her and give her as much attention as he does his other daughters.
  • The Ghost: She's in Dorne during Season 4 and has not been seen in the show (though her older sisters do appear, at least).