Valar Morghulis. All men must die, but if they didn’t die on screen on this week’s Game Of Thrones series finale, we can assume that they’ll go on to live long, happy, prosperous lives—until the next time a restless lord decides to start some shit, at least. We don’t even know the “new prince of Dorne’s” name; he could be a total pugilistic prick for all we know. Anyway, for the series finale of a show that made its name on violent, unexpected character deaths, “The Iron Throne” was remarkably light on mortality. As we mourn (or exhale a sigh of relief at) the end of Game Of Thrones itself, here’s your guide to the recently deceased.
Who died? Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains, Forcer of Pop-Culture Writers to Memorize Eccentric Spellings, and Mother of Dragons.
A major character in the show since its inception, Daenerys was the daughter of “Mad King” Aerys II Targaryen, who was deposed in Robert’s Rebellion, and his sister/wife Rhaella. She was indeed born during a thunderstorm, and after the death of her brother Viserys, was thought to be the sole rightful heir to the Seven Kingdoms. Even after this was proven untrue, she clung to her claim to the Iron Throne until the very end. Daenerys’ journey to the Red Keep—and ultimately, her demise—began when she was married off to Dothraki leader Khal Drogo in the first season of the show. After Drogo was paralyzed in a riding accident, Daenerys smothered her “moon and stars” with a pillow as an act of mercy. She then took leadership of Drogo’s khalasar in a fiery ritual where she walked into Drogo’s blazing funeral pyre and emerged not only unhurt, but with three baby dragons at her side.
Daenerys’ dragons made her an unstoppable military force throughout the series, as she sacked the cities of Astapor, Yunkai, and Meereen, gaining another army—the Unsullied, led by Grey Worm—and freeing thousands of slaves in those cities as she did so. That gave Daenerys a real savior complex, and she thought of herself as a liberator even after arriving in Westeros, where, after a brief detour assisting Jon Snow in defeating the army of the dead, she took what can only be described as a heel turn. This was solidified in the series’ penultimate episode, “The Bells,” where she burned the city of King’s Landing to the ground with her last remaining dragon, Drogon, killing thousands of innocent people with no remorse whatsoever.
The fact that emotional instability, and even sadism, run in the Targaryen family has never been a secret, and longtime viewers may remember when exiled knight Barristan Selmy told Daenerys the truth about her father’s cruel reign back in season five. That being said, season eight’s general pacing issues made Daenerys’ turn less of a complex, tragic descent into fatalistic intergenerational madness, and more of a shrugging “I dunno, she’s just crazy?” kind of thing.
How did they die? Run through the torso with a sword in the throne room of the Red Keep by her nephew/lover Jon Snow, who was finally convinced to put his duty to Westeros above his love for his queen by Tyrion Lannister in a moving jailhouse speech. Drogon then flew off gently clutching her dead body in one big, scary claw, off to deposit her remains somewhere unknown—perhaps in her ancestral homeland of Valyria.
How shocking was it? Not very. It was actually kind of anticlimactic, given that her death has been a foregone conclusion ever since she got all distant and detached in episode four of this season.
What does it mean for the show? Show’s over, man. Nothing more to see here.