“Game of Thrones” is coming to an end. As the series has progressed, fan-favorite Daenerys Targaryen has developed a reputation among fans as the “Mad Queen” and a terrorist. She’s becoming more and more hated because of her entitlement, her tendencies to lose her temper and resort to violence and the fact that she’s escaped death too many times. They say she’s no more deserving to be queen than Cersei is. While I think a Mad Queen arc for Dany is certainly interesting, I don’t see her as villainous or as deranged. For the purpose of this article I will be referring to TV Daenerys. Warning: This article contains spoilers from the entire show, including season seven.
For some reason, other fans aren’t willing to excuse the same things for Daenerys that they would for other characters. For example, Jon is praised for charging an enemy army, but Dany is criticized for it. Arya can kill a whole family in revenge for the murder of her family, cut off people’s faces and be seen as a “bad ass,” but if Dany is being attacked and sets a slave owner on fire, then she’s cruel.
Realistically, Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen would make a great leader, even in the real world. What makes a great leader? The general consensus is that a good leader must have clarity, decisiveness, courage, passion and humility. In my opinion, a good leader must also have experience, wisdom and good intentions.
Clarity means the person must have a clear vision of what he or she wants to accomplish and the world they want to create. Daenerys has always known what she has wanted: a world without slavery where people aren’t treated cruelly because of their class or gender. She has worked toward this vision by giving more power and freedom to those who follow her and by abolishing slavery in Slavers’ Bay itself. The fact that she freed millions of slaves should be enough for fans to admit she’s a good leader, but, unfortunately, it’s not.
Decisiveness means that the person must be consistent in their decisions and firm once the decision has been made. Daenerys has had to make many decisions that were difficult for her. She executed a man she felt close to because he broke a law and she would have executed anyone else for the same thing. She locked up her dragons — creatures she views as her literal children — because she knew they were a danger to her people while they were young and untrained. In episode five of the most recent season, she promised the men she captured that they could bend the knee to her and help her create a better world, or they would die as men willing to serve a queen who killed hundreds of innocent people because she disliked her daughter-in-law. (Cersei. Cersei did that.) Randyll and Dickon Tarly refused to kneel to her and Dany, staying true to her word, carried out her decision to execute them despite having conflicting emotions. It is true that Dany has made bad decisions, but so did John F. Kennedy and he’s still a favorite president among many citizens.
It’s always been known that good leaders are brave. They must be in order to make important decisions and fight for their rule. Daenerys is undoubtedly brave. She walked into fire not knowing if she’d survive. She stood up for herself and other women when men were trying to hurt them, and she went into battle many times, knowing she could be killed, but saying to herself, “What kind of a queen am I if I’m not willing to risk my life to fight them?” This line was overlooked by many “Dany haters” because she was angry at Tyrion when she said it.
Daenerys Targaryen is nothing if not passionate. Her passion has gained her millions of followers, three dragons and the “smartest” man in Westeros as her hand (her main adviser, the person in charge when she’s not there). She lived the majority of her life as a commoner, running from place to place trying to survive countless assassins. She was sold as a slave wife and raped in season one; betrayed, degraded and deceived in season two; mocked by the leaders of other countries in season three; almost assassinated in season five (for freeing slaves); whipped, sold and nearly raped again in season six; and suffered many losses, including that of her dragon Viserion in the most recent season. These examples of humility have made her compassionate to people who have suffered and intolerant of people who are selfish and wish to profit from their citizens’ misery.
Daenerys Targaryen is a leader, as demonstrated by her many, many titles. She was first Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, and as such she made the mistreatment of women illegal among the Dothraki people. She led a great army to take over several cities before settling down for a few years as the Queen of Mereen. She left Mereen in the hands of ambassador-like leaders, and then went to go conquer Westeros. She stayed there, knowing that she had to gain experience and fix the conquered city before leaving it unchecked.
She is also wise, taking advice from many other people. On her small council in Mereen she had generals, former slaves and former lords, giving her insight into to what the people needed. She made decisions she wasn’t entirely comfortable with, such as being engaged to a previous lord and opening the fighting pits in Mereen, because it was part of the culture and it was what her people wanted. She also studied Westeros her entire life, knowing she couldn’t be the rightful queen of a country she didn’t know. She is even willing to put off her conquest of Westeros to fight the Night King and help Jon Snow save the country from endless winter.
Finally, Dany has always had good intentions, as stated earlier when speaking of her clarity. She wants to make the world better than she found it. In her mind, slavery, sexism and classism all need to go, which alone makes her intentions better than that of our nation’s current leader.
It’s become a trend in entertainment for leaders to be chosen, even if they don’t want to lead, like Jon Snow. But the fact that Daenerys wants to be queen isn’t enough to make her a bad leader. Her temper isn’t enough to make her a bad leader either, especially when she listens to her council. It truly baffles me that fans of the show hate Dany, even knowing everything she’s been through. She didn’t earn all of her titles, or her army or her allies by sitting around and being entitled, unlike some fans apparently believe. She truly earned them by learning and fighting for them. If she were real, I would want her to rule the United States, dragons and all.