In one of the most controversial episodes to date of the fantasy drama Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen showed Westeros exactly what sort of ruler she would be sitting on the Iron Throne. In a shocking maneuver that stunned viewers of the hit HBO series, she ignored the bells of surrender and swept across King’s Landing incinerating buildings, soldiers, women, and children. Viewers felt the sudden ferocity and callousness Dany exhibited was given little context.
Dany’s decision seemed arbitrary, as it came from writers forced to formulate the motivations of characters based on books the author hasn’t finished yet. But how much of it was created on the spot, and how much of Dany’s descent into madness had actually been telegraphed from the start of the series? Now that Season 8 is coming to a close (with one episode remaining until a nearly decade long series reaches its end), we explore ten possible signs that Daenerys was always going to be the ultimate evil.
10 SHE ALREADY SCORCHED SOLDIERS ON A DRAGON
The apple doesn’t fall far from the weirwood tree with Daenerys and her father. Like Aerys II Targaryen, who had a penchant for burning his enemies alive, Dany too possesses an affinity for killing her enemies by utilizing her dragon’s fire.
Dany rode Drogon to burn thousands of Lannister soldiers that stood against her in Season 7, and burned the remaining few dozen soldiers who refused to surrender (including Sam’s father and brother). Ironically, it was resisting doing this very act again that prevented her from leveling King’s Landing just to kill the Lannisters and take the Iron Throne. Apparently, resistance was futile, as we saw in Episode 5 of Season 8.
9 SHE DOESN'T SHOW MERCY TO THOSE THAT SURRENDER
In Game of Thrones, one of the most crucial things a monarch can do is have amicable relations with their lord and barons. If they’re happy, the Westerosi that reside on their lands are happy. Monarchs need powerful families like the Lannisters and the Starks to aid them whenever the need arises.
Dany took a dim view of House Tarly when it defied her and refused to bend the knee. She killed Randyll and Dickon, Samwell Tarly’s father and brother, without a second thought, mimicking the way that Aerys Targaryen killed Brandon and Richard Stark, also a father and son. Coincidence? We think not.
8 SHE'S NEVER WANTED PEACE
Dany has been excellent at liberation, but she’s never been that great at handling the peace that follows. During the transition in Essos between the nobility owning slaves and them gaining their freedom by rebelling, Dany crucified the slave masters and traders and tortured them in the most barbaric way possible.
Tyrion essentially allowed her to burn his brother Jaime’s forces when they attempted to stop Dany’s march on King’s Landing, if only to appease her desire to burn all of King’s Landing. The only reason she refrained from decimating the Red Keep is because she didn’t want the people thinking she was the same ruler as her father.
7 THE HAND OF THE QUEEN
Though Dany has become increasingly mistrustful of Tyrion over the last two seasons (due to his poor impulse control and strategic slip-ups), she nevertheless selected him as her Hand. Though he wasn’t gifted with tactical knowledge, he was knowledgeable about human behavior.
This is an interesting parallel to the Hand of Aerys Targaryen, who just happened to be Tyrion’s father, Tywin Lannister. And though they began as friends, Tywin would eventually betray Aery’s trust as Tyrion betrayed Dany’s in Season 8.
6 SHE HAS NO QUALMS ABOUT INCEST
It’s been postulated in the books that one of the reasons that the members of House Targaryen were driven mad was because of their incestuous ways. Aerys Targaryen was married to Rhaella, who was actually his sister. The Targaryens believed in keeping their bloodline pure, which they believed was only possible by not marrying outside of it. They believed that to marry into another House was to pollute the Targaryen line.
This was why the identity of the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Aegon Targaryen (Jon Snow) had to be concealed to protect him. When Jon Snow learns of his birthright and tells Dany, she sees no reason why her technically being his aunt should interfere with their romance.
5 VARYS'S HUNCH
Armed with the information that Jon Snow is actually not the bastard son of Ned Stark but the last male heir of House Targaryen, Varys, advisor to the Queen, felt himself in a conundrum in Season 8. He felt Dany was showing signs of becoming like her father Aerys (whose first thought was to burn his enemies alive), and therefore had to find a way to spread Jon’s secret.
Varys was the one who fed Aerys the names of traitors so that he could burn them alive with dragons, and Varys felt the guilt of that act for a long time. Though he survived the Mad King, he couldn’t survive the Mad Queen, who had him executed for treason for plotting against her.
4 BURN THEM ALL
When Aerys Targaryen felt that he was in danger of losing the Iron Throne, he had his pyromancers place wildfire underneath King’s Landing, from the poorest areas right up to the Red Keep. When Robert Baratheon’s forces approached, he would detonate the entire city, including himself.
If Aerys couldn’t have the throne, no-one could. He was even heard muttering, “Burn them all” to himself over and over again when Jaime Lannister plunged a knife into his back. While it was dishonorable for a member of the Kingsguard to betray their king like that, Jaime did it for the sake of the people in King’s Landing, who would have perished in the wildfire too.
3 SHE'S APATHETIC TO KILLING
At this point in the series, Dany has become a stone-faced killer, able to look her enemies dead in the eye and mutter, “Dracarys,” watching them turn to ash before her. She’s murdered the slave masters of Essos and Meereen, torched Lannisters on the battlefield, and murdered her own advisor for treason.
It all began when she seemed completely unphased when Khal Drogo had her brother violently killed. It was as though a facet of her, the Mad Queen part, was suddenly awakened. Aerys had no qualms about killing either, and gave such orders repeatedly from his seat upon the Iron Throne.
2 MOTHER OF DRAGONS
Dragons were no longer thriving in Westeros by the time that Aerys Targaryen took the Iron Throne after his father’s passing. However, just because they didn’t still exist, didn’t mean he wasn’t enthralled by them. It was his desire to become reborn as a dragon, believing it the House Targaryen path to immortality.
While Dany didn’t literally become a dragon, she was figuratively transformed into the “Mother of Dragons” after entering Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and emerging unscathed with three newly born dragons. In a way, she fulfilled her father’s wildest fantasies and lived up to the Targaryen name, which had long been associated with the winged beasts.
1 SHE WON'T LISTEN TO REASON
One of the most salient points about Dany’s personality is that she needs to always be right. In the beginning of the series, when she was young and impressionable, she looked to figures like Jorah, Varys, Tyrion, and even her husband, Khal Drogo, for guidance and knowledge.
However, since she has become the Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, and a half dozen other titles, she is less inclined to allow her authority to be questioned. Even when Tyrion tried to mention her temper, she threatened his life. Aerys did the same to Jaime when he tried to tell him that his life was in danger.