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I spent my life in foreign lands. So many men have tried to kill me, I don't remember all their names. I have been sold like a broodmare. I've been chained and betrayed, raped and defiled. Do you know what kept me standing through all those years in exile? Faith. Not in any gods. Not in myths and legends. In myself. In Daenerys Targaryen. The world hadn't seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born. The Dothraki hadn't crossed the sea. Any sea. They did for me. I was born to rule the Seven Kingdoms, and I will.
~ Daenerys Targaryen
I’m the blood of the dragon.
~ Daenerys Targaryen’s most famous line.
My reign has just begun.
~ Daenerys Targaryen during the Second Siege of Meereen.

Daenerys Targaryen is one of the main characters of the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and the HBO adaptation Game of Thrones. Initially one of the main protagonists, years of trauma, loss, fear, and jealousy caused her to descend into madness and vengeance, tragically becoming the TV show's final antagonist.

She was portrayed by Emilia Clarke in her first villainous role.


Daenerys is one of the last remaining Targaryens. She is the only daughter of King Aerys II Targaryen, commonly known as the Mad King, and Queen Rhaella Targaryen. She is the younger sister of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Viserys Targaryen. Born during Robert's rebellion, she was smuggled across the Narrow sea along with her brother. She was later set to marry Khal Drogo whom she fell in love with, later.

In Season 7, King in the North Jon Snow gives up his crown to Daenerys in the belief she'll make a good queen for the North and Westeros when she vows to help him defeat the Night King, who is threatening to wipe out humanity. After fighting against the Night King, the White Walkers, and their undead Wights, Daenerys sets off to topple Cersei Lannister from the Iron Throne. Having already lost one of her dragons, Viserion, Daenerys proceeds to lose her close friends and advisors Jorah, and Missandei, in addition to another one of her dragons, Rhaegal, in quick succession. She loses Jorah in the battle against the White Walkers, Euron Greyjoy shoots down Rhaegal, and Missandei is brutally executed by Cersei Lannister, grieving Daenerys.

Having fallen in love with Jon Snow in Season 7 and developing a romantic relationship, Season 8 finds Jon and Daenerys discovering he is the son of Daenerys's late older brother Rhaegar Targaryen with Lyanna Stark, making Jon the heir to the Iron Throne and Daenerys's nephew. Though Jon doesn't want the crown and swears Daenerys will always be his queen, Daenerys grows increasingly concerned people will press his claim to her lifelong aspiration for the Iron Throne. Jon tells Daenerys that he must tell his family about his true identity but Daenerys pleads for Jon never to tell them about his identity for fear Jon's sister Sansa Stark will press his claim against Daenerys's and take "what is [hers]". However, Jon believes that his sisters won't betray him and that they can all live together while Daenerys is adamant the only way for that to happen is if Jon keeps his identity secret from everyone, including his family.

Daenerys's fears are proven right when, despite Jon swearing Sansa to secrecy, Sansa tells Daenerys's Hand Tyrion Lannister who tells Daenerys's advisor Varys. Varys, fearing for Daenerys's worsening state of mind, begins plotting against Daenerys to replace her. Meanwhile, the man she loves, Jon, still loves her but is unable to return Daenerys's romantic affections upon finding out the truth of their familial relationship. Daenerys grows more alone, isolated, and desolate, and discovers that Varys betrayed her. All of these factors lead to a decline in Daenerys's mental state where she becomes more unstable and more willing to take "what is [hers]" with "fire and blood", despite Tyrion's counsel to prevent as much bloodshed from civilians as possible. In the Battle of Kings Landing, after the city surrenders, Daenerys snaps, succumbs to the infamous "Targaryen madness" of her ancestors, and atop her dragon Drogon, sets fire to the whole of King's Landing, committing a massacre of tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the process.

On the ground, Jon and Tyrion are horrified by the slaughter. They find Daenerys's forces led by Grey Worm, as well as the Northern forces, participating in the massacre of civilian men, women, and children. In a speech following the devastation of King's Landing, Daenerys reveals her plans to continue fighting to "liberate" people throughout Westeros in this manner of fire, blood, and massacre. Daenerys accuses her Lord Hand Tyrion of treason for freeing his brother Jaime to get Jaime and his sister Cersei out of the city. Disgusted over her behavior, Tyrion finally resigns as Hand of the Queen, throwing the symbol of his office down the steps of the Red Keep. Tyrion is taken prisoner by the Unsullied.

Tyrion discusses Daenerys with Jon Snow while imprisoned. Both Tyrion and Jon love Daenerys in their separate ways, but are devastated by her unnecessary massacre of King's Landing. Tyrion urges Jon, who struggles with the prospect of betraying the woman he loves, to recognize Daenerys will keep on her path of destruction to reach her goals. Tyrion reminds Jon that he has spent the series defending Westeros and protecting people, that he must do the same now that Daenerys is the biggest threat to the people and assassinate her to save countless lives.

Jon initially finds he cannot commit to this task. Jon goes to see Daenerys in the ruins of the Great Hall in hopes he can convince her off this path. Daenerys is pleased to finally have reached her lifelong goal and dream of the Iron Throne. Jon confronts Daenerys about the civilian casualties of King's Landing as a result of her massacre but Daenerys defends it was necessary. Jon pleads with Daenerys to forgive the people of King's Landing and make them see they are mistaken about her, that she isn't a tyrant, but Daenerys justifies her actions as being required to build a new world, asserting her knowledge of what's right and what's good. Daenerys earnestly urges Jon that they can rebuild the world together this way.

Despite his efforts, Jon realizes that Daenerys intends to continue with her actions. They share one last kiss before an anguished Jon fatally stabs Daenerys to save Westeros (he stabs her in the heart, the same way as he was killed in the Night's Watch), Daenerys being too stunned to say anything as she falls. Jon catches her and holds Daenerys in his arms as she dies, weeping over her body. Drogon then arrives and finds his mother dead, nudging her to wake up. Jon stands up to face Drogon, ready to face death by his flames for killing Daenerys. Instead, Drogon directs his flames to the Iron Throne and destroys the object of his mother's obsession that cost his mother her sanity and her life, finally "breaking the wheel" that have plagued the Westerosi for over 300 years. Drogon then gathered up Daenerys's mortal remains and flied off towards parts unknown as a grieved Jon watched. According to Samwell Tarly, Drogon was later seen flying past Volantis, possibly taking Daenerys body to her ancestral home of Old Valyria or even farther east. Bran Stark volunteered to search for Drogon. What happens to Daenerys and Drogon remains a mystery.

With Daenerys dead, the line of the Dragonkings was broken and the "Targaryen madness" had been stopped once and for all by the last known Targaryen; Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen. Officially, House Targaryen is now legally extinct. The bloodline survives in Jon, but the vast majority of Westerosi remain unaware of his true bloodline as a Targaryen. Jon was exiled to the Night's Watch for killing Daenerys. Assuming he does not father any children and no other Targaryens are found, the line will finally die out when Jon passes away. However, the bloodline of House Targaryen may also still exist in other various houses; such as House Baratheon, House Velaryon and House Martell.



  • Game of Thrones fans named Daenerys the "Mad Queen" after that she burned King's Landing with her dragon. In a way, these actions fulfilled her father's last order before his death years before to "burn them all!".
  • The actions of Daenerys in The Bells episode received notable backlash against the writers from both fans and critics alike. This is similar to the backlash received for Stannis Baratheon's actions near the end of Season 5.
    • It is implied that Daenerys's feelings of abandonment, despair, combined with the grief and loss she experienced since arriving in Westeros, ultimately lead to Daenerys's fall from grace in which her sanity breaks. However, since many other characters in the series experienced significant grief and loss as well but did not turn dark as a result (and Daenerys herself had already experienced significant loss and very dire situations before this point but did not lose her sanity), many fans feel that her character had not been developed to the massive turn that happened in the final 2 episodes of Season 8, even if her fall had been foreshadowed throughout the series.
    • During The Bells, her decision to burn everything, including the common folk, also contradicts all her previous efforts throughout the series to save and free the innocents with no good justification or development.
    • Another factor used to explain her downfall is the Targaryen Madness, due to the extensive inbreeding of the house. The madness has surfaced at different speeds, on different Targaryens, so it's plausible that the difficult circumstances she was experiencing in Westeros triggered her madness, while others who had also suffered, managed to keep their sanity. Although this may be a possible explanation, many fans view it negatively because it reduces her character to her lineage, turning her into a tragic hero destined to become a villain despite her previous choices and her effort to be a fair and good ruler, making all her previous struggle and development pointless.
  • Actress Emilia Clarke states in an interview that she was so shocked about her character abrupt turn that after reading the script she walked out her house aimless for five hours and called her mother for advice. [1]
  • Despite surviving as one of the protagonists of the series, Daenerys later become an antagonist for the rest of the series in the final season.
    • In addition, she is also the final character to die in the Game of Thrones TV series and the only named character to die in the final episode, The Iron Throne.

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