“I am the blood of the dragon. I must be strong. I must have fire in my eyes when I face them, not tears.”—Daenerys Targaryen in George R.R. Martin’s A Storm of Swords.
Daenerys Targaryen is one of the most intriguing and beloved characters in Game of Thrones—or, SPOILER ALERT, at least she was until the final handful of episodes of the TV series (it remains to be seen how they will differ from the final books). When we first meet her she is being emotionally and physically abused by her brother Viserys.
Daenerys is then quickly married off to the apparent barbarian Khal Drogo. She goes on to gracefully navigate her role in the Dothraki, become the Mother of Dragons, and play the game tirelessly in order to form a fierce army, gather a cadre of trusted (and not-so-trusted) advisors, help to defeat the Night Walkers, and overtake all of the Seven Kingdoms.
Here are 42 facts about Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons (that’s a mouthful).
Daenerys was born in the ancient seat of Dragonstone amidst a vast and powerful storm. The storm destroyed all the ships in her family’s fleet and terrorized those people who survived. This why she occasionally refers to herself as Daenerys Stormborn.
2. An Orphan
Her claim to the Iron Throne comes through her father, the “Mad King” Aerys II Targaryen. Targaryen ascended to the throne but was overthrown in a coup led by Robert Baratheon before Daenerys was born. Her mother Rhaella was both the sister and wife of the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen. She then fled to Dragonstone with her son, Viserys, after the death of her eldest, Rhaegar. The queen died giving birth to Daenerys.
3. I Am the God of Hellfire!
As the Mad King Aerys II Targaryen descended further into madness, he began to become obsessed with fire, specifically “wildfire,” a napalm-like substance, for its similarities to dragon flames. Aerys would execute people by burning them alive, to the point where he became sexually aroused by the sight of men burning.
If you think we’re joking, Aerys raped his wife, Rhaella (supposedly conceiving Daenerys Targaryen) during Robert’s Rebellion after he’d burned a member of his council alive.
4. Famous Last Words
Speaking of Aerys’ fire obsession, his final words of “Burn them all!” were meant as an order to his advisors to set off barrels of wildfire which he’d ordered placed all around King’s Landing. When the forces of Tywin Lannister took control of King’s Landing and started looting, Aerys prepared to destroy the city and everyone in it in a blaze of fire.
Jaime Lannister, who had urged the king to surrender, took matters in his own hands and murdered the pyromancer and Aerys before the orders could be carried out.
5. Child Prodigy
Although she has a long list of accomplishments to her name, Daenerys is very young. In the books, she is only 13 years old when she is first sold to Khal Drogo. In the television series, she is aged up slightly, to 15 years old.
6. Not the First of Her Name
Though she frequently refers to herself as the “First of her Name,” she actually isn’t. The first of her name, Princess Daenerys Targaryen, was the daughter of King Aegon IV and his wife (and sister) Naerys. The Lannisters aren’t the only freaky folk in the Seven Kingdoms!
7. Guest of Honor
Author George R.R Martin actually showed up to Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding in the show—but only in the original pilot, where key characters such as Catelyn Stark were played by different actresses.
In the books, Daenerys’s faithful servant Missandei is only 10. Granted, she’s a pretty self-possessed 10-year-old, but she’s 10 nonetheless.
9. Not the Last, Either
Throughout the series and through much of the books, Daenerys believes herself to be the last of the line, as her brother told her that they were the only members of their family to survive Robert’s Rebellion. But she has another relative: Jon Snow, who was believed to be the bastard son of Ned Stark, but is, in fact, the son of Lyanna Stark (Ned’s sister) and Rhaegar Targaryen (Daenerys’ older brother).
Shortly after the Daenerys and Drogo wedding was filmed, a storm hit the filming location and carried most of the props off to sea. Maybe we can say it foreshadowed the Dothraki crossing the sea?
11. Family Ties
Daenerys may have another living nephew. In the books, Griff, or Young Griff, claims he is Aegon Targaryen, the son of Daenerys’ brother Rhaegar. The Mountain allegedly bashed baby Aegon’s head against a wall during Robert’s Rebellion—but perhaps not? However, Griff is never mentioned in the TV series.
Daenerys takes the title Khaleesi when she is forced to marry Khal Drogo. Among the Dothraki, a khalasar is a troupe of warriors, lead by a Khal. The wife of a Khal is given the title of Khaleesi.
13. Speaking in Tongues
Numerous languages are spoken in the Seven Kingdoms, and Daenerys speaks several. She can communicate in Common Tongue, Dothraki, High Valyrian, Low Valyrian, and Ghiscari (largely a language spoken by slaves—apropos for the Breaker of Chains).
14. Things Are Heating Up
Daenerys boasts an unusual tolerance for heat. She prefers her baths scalding hot, and she emerged unscathed when she burned down a hut full of Dothraki leaders. Interestingly, George R.R. Martin insists that while Daenerys may have a high tolerance for fire, she is not entirely immune to it.
15. Mother of Dragons
Although Daenerys doesn’t give birth to dragons in the traditional sense, she did bring them back into the world after they were thought to be extinct. Daenerys walked through Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre with three dragon eggs and emerged unscathed with living infant dragons on her shoulder.
16. Half Dragon
When Khal Drogo was gravely injured, Daenerys forced the witch Mirri Maz Duur to use blood magic to save his life. However, there was a price for this magic: to save Drogo’s life, someone else would have to die. That someone proved to be Drogo and Daenerys’ unborn child Rhaego. In the Game of Thrones book, her servants describe the stillborn child as having scales, a tail, and the look of a monster—much like a dragon.
17. Family Matters
After this incident, Daenerys didn’t believe that she could have more children. The witch Mirri Maz Duur claimed Daenerys would only bear a living child “when the sun rises in the west and sets in the east,” and “when the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves.”
18. Breaker of Chains
Daenerys boasts an astounding number of titles to her name, including the “Breaker of Chains.” She earned this moniker when she liberated Slaver’s Bay and freed the slaves in the cities of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen. For the record, her full title currently is, “Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regnant of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.”
19. Breaker of Hearts
Daenerys has taken many lovers and had even more admirers in her journey towards the Iron Throne, including Drogo, Jorah, Dario, and Jon Snow. As Daenerys says, each of these men “all try to outdo each other…to do the stupidest, bravest thing” in order to impress her. One could argue that Jon Snow’s final moments with Daenerys fit into that mold.
20. Playing Favourites
Daenerys only ever rides her largest dragon, Drogon. She appears to have less control over her other two dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, and they occasionally snap at her. For now, Drogon seems to be her favorite child.
21. The Bald Truth
In the novels, Daenerys loses all her hair when she walks into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre. She slowly regrows her silver hair over the course of the books. The TV series, either for ease or aesthetics, kept her trademark long, white hair throughout filming.
22. Illyrio Mopatis
You may not remember Illyrio Mopatis by name, but without him, the Game of Thrones story line wouldn’t be the same. He is a Merchant Prince who cuts a lot of business deals—including the arranged marriage behind Khal Drogo and Daenerys. If it wasn’t for Illyrio’s ruthless deals, Daenerys wouldn’t be a Khaleesi.
The scene where Dany is reunited with Drogo in a dream-like sequence at the House of the Undying was different and much more extensive in the book. Dany’s original vision included potential spoilers for future plot points, such as the Red Wedding, so showrunners were likely more hesitant to use it. Instead, they gave fans a moment of Drogo and Dany reunited, along with their baby.
24. The Eye of the Beholder
In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, the members of House Targaryen are known for their striking purple eyes. In the TV series, in another divergence from the novels, Daenerys has startling blue eyes.
The Mother of Dragons named her three dragons after the most important men in her life. Her largest and perhaps wildest dragon, Drogon, is named after her husband, Khal Drogo. Viserion, a creamy white dragon, is named after her brother Viserys. Her green dragon, Rhaegal, is named after Daenerys’ brother Rhaegar.
26. Ties that Bind
When Daenerys takes Jon Snow into her bed, she unknowingly sleeps with her own nephew. However, this is not out of line with Targaryen family policy: Daenerys’ own father and mother were brother and sister, and Targaryen royals were expected to marry among themselves to preserve the purity of the bloodline.
27. Khal Drogo Is A Gentleman
Game of Thrones is notorious for its wild, raw, and even cruel sex scenes. Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Jason Momoa as her arranged husband, Khal Drogo, share a few of these notable trysts. Clarke has told interviewers that even if the scenes were quite scary her co-star helped her feel at ease. Momoa, on the other hand, revealed that he frequently apologized to Clarke after filming.
28. It Runs in the Family
Daenerys’ father was known as the “Mad King,” and, according to Jaime Lannister, he was so full of bloodlust and paranoia that he intended to kill everyone at King’s Landing so that no one could overthrow him. Her brother Viserys also grew increasingly violent and unhinged before his untimely death at the hands of the Dothraki.
29. Twice Married
In the books, Daenerys marries Hizdahr zo Loraq, while in the show they’re only briefly engaged before his death.
30. Heart of a Horse
When Daenerys was pregnant with Khal Drogo’s child, she was forced to eat the raw heart of a horse. If she finished it, according to the Priestess of the Dothraki, it would be a sign that her child would be strong; she ate the entire heart.
31. Rebel Rebel
When Daenerys married Khal Drogo she agreed to abide by the laws of the Dothraki. Dothraki law states that, after a Khal’s death, the khaleesi must go to the city to live in seclusion as a dosh khaleen with the other widows of Khals. Daenerys refused and formed her own khalasar instead.
During a recent interview, Emilia Clarke (who plays Daenerys Targaryen) invited a crew into her trailer, which had a roof covered with Khal Drogo’s star symbol. This led to speculation that Drogo might return in the eighth season, either as some sort of flashback, or possibly his character might pull a Jon Snow and come back from the dead. Sadly for Drogo-heads, this never came to be.
33. Double Agent
Fans of Game of Thrones will remember how dramatic it was when Daenerys learned about Ser Jorah Mormont’s betrayal of her in the early seasons. However, it wasn’t done quite the same way in the books. Selmy, AKA Arstan Whitebeard, is outed by Ser Jorah, whereupon he immediately takes revenge by snitching on Ser Jorah in return.
This is done during the siege of Yunkai, so an enraged Daenerys decides to send them both into the fortress through the plumbing, hoping they will both die in the sewers.
34. Kneel Before Your Queen
Upon the completion of the siege of Yunkai, Daenerys receives the victorious Selmy and Ser Jorah, and offers them forgiveness if they apologize hard enough. While Selmy is quick to comply, Ser Jorah refuses to apologize for his past actions, as he’s convinced that all he’d done since then more than balanced the scales.
This leads to Daenerys banishing Ser Jorah.
35. Just a Test
You might be wondering why Selmy hid his identity from Daenerys in the first place. It’s revealed by Selmy himself that he is fully aware of the potential madness that Targaryens can suffer from, and he wanted to make sure that Daenerys wasn’t mad like her father had been. But he may have had even further reasons to hide his true identity.
According to Selmy, he also didn’t want the Lannisters to discover he was helping Daenerys.
36. Fire and Blood
Many fans love the strong-willed and powerful Mother of Dragons, but a darker, more violent side has led George R. R. Martin to hint that she may not actually be a true hero in A Song of Ice and Fire. In fact, she has a lot in common with the Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. Dany has shown a capacity to be violent and merciless, especially to those who oppose or defy her.
Examples of this include burning the witch named Durr, who had killed Drogo and Dany’s unborn son; crucifying 163 Great masters of Mereen; scorching the khals, who had abused her in Vaes Dothrak; and even threatening to incinerate members of her own council. In the first 7 seasons of the show, this led fans to believe that if Dany too-closely abides by the creed of “fire and blood,” her character could take a villainous turn.
37. Fire Power
Prior to the Battle of Winterfell, it was estimated that Daenerys commanded 200,000 men, 500 ships and—after the Night King took Viserion—two full-grown dragons. Her loyal army consists not only of freed slaves, turncoats, barbarians, and exiles, but also the fierce Dothraki and the elite warrior-eunuchs known as The Unsullied. By contrast, Cersei and the Lannisters command a paltry 30,00 men.
38. Good Story
Game of Thrones actors have shared many funny behind-the-scenes stories from the sets. One favorite is a story Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) told on Jimmy Kimmel: During the scene where she had to eat a horse’s heart she was completely covered in sticky fake blood. At one point Emilia disappeared from the set and no one could find her. Apparently, this was because of the sticky blood, which temporarily glued her to a toilet.
39. The Omens Prove True
Of course, in the disastrous final episodes of Game of Thrones, those who suspected that Daenerys would take a dark turn were proven to be correct. Isolated from her formerly trustworthy advisors and grieving the losses of Rhaegal, Ser Jorah, and Missandei, Dany ignores the bells of surrender and goes scorched earth—literally—on King’s Landing.
Her newfound, vengeful and absolutist approach to power causes those closest to her, primarily Tyrion and Jon Snow, to realize that perhaps they have made the wrong choice in supporting her. Jon tries to convince her that they should admit that the siege upon the people of King’s Landing was a mistake, and that she should rule mercifully. When she objects, he embraces her before stabbing her in the chest.
40. Fiery Vengeance
After Drogon realized that Daenerys was dead, it looked like he might take fiery vengeance on Jon Snow for his transgression. But, in a move that surprised many fans—and Jon himself—Drogon instead burned the Iron Throne until it was just a pile of scrap metal. There’s been a lot of speculation why Drogon made this choice.
While many speculated that it’s because the dragon recognized that Jon is a true Targaryen, which could even possibly mean he might also be somewhat fireproof, one theory is that he recognized that it was Dany’s desire for the throne that killed her. And so, he melted the symbol of power that had driven her to madness and a vengeful massacre.
41. Laid to Rest
After burning the Iron Throne, Drogon takes Daenerys’ body and flies off to an undisclosed location, leading many to wonder where exactly they went, and what happened to her? Well, a few scenes later, it’s mentioned that Drogon was seen flying east. This would likely mean that he was returning to his birthplace, where Khal Drogo died.
Many will recall that Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion were all born from Drogo’s funeral pyre. It seems like a likely thing for a heartbroken dragon to do, but only Bran the Broken/the Three-Eyed Raven will ever know for sure.
42. Tell Me Something Good
In the aftermath of the GoT series finale, legions of fans have reacted strongly to the final moments of the show, and so have many cast members. Recently, Emilia Clarke revealed her thoughts on Daenerys’ fate. Clarke said she would’ve loved for Dany to have more scenes with Missandei and Cersei. And as for that last scene with Jon Snow? Despite the events that preceded it, she hoped that fans could see the naivete and innocence in her eyes as she enjoyed her final embrace with the man she loved.