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"You are my queen. Now and always."
Jon Snow just before killing Daenerys Targaryen[src]

The assassination of Daenerys Targaryen is a pivotal and closing event of Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros. Following Daenerys Targaryen's destruction of a surrendered King's Landing, in which hundreds of thousands of innocents were slaughtered, Jon Snow reluctantly kills his lover, aunt, and queen, Daenerys, to prevent more massacres and destruction in Daenerys's quest to 'liberate' the world.[1]

Afterward, the Iron Throne is destroyed by Daenerys's dragon, Drogon. Jon is arrested and imprisoned. A council convenes to decide his fate alongside the fate of Tyrion Lannister. They reach a compromise to exile Jon back to the Night's Watch.

History

Background

Robert's Rebellion against King Aerys II Targaryen ended with Lord Tywin Lannister leading the Sack of King's Landing, during which the Mad King, Aerys's nickname after succumbing to the historical Targaryen madness, attempted to hatch the wildfire plot to burn down the city and its inhabitants using wildfire, but the plot was foiled and stopped by Ser Jaime Lannister. The Mad King's last children, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, went into exile while Robert Baratheon ascended the Iron Throne. Robert's death seventeen years later spun the Seven Kingdoms into civil war in the form of the War of the Five Kings, during which Daenerys built up her base of power after Viserys's death to take the Iron Throne. At the end of the civil war, Cersei Lannister seized the throne, but Daenerys had begun sailing to Westeros alongside her advisers Tyrion Lannister and Varys, her Unsullied and Dothraki armies, and her Westerosi allies.[2]

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Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow meet.

Daenerys Targaryen's war for Westeros had begun, but Daenerys meets Jon Snow, the new King in the North, who asks for her aid in the Great War against the White Walkers. When Daenerys sees the threat for herself, she agrees to put her campaign for the Iron Throne on hold and help Jon defeat the Night King, upon which Jon gives up his crown and pledges allegiance to her as his queen.[3] Daenerys and Jon had fallen in love during their negotiations, unaware that Jon was, in fact, Aegon Targaryen, the son of Daenerys's eldest brother Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, both of whom died near the end of Robert's Rebellion. Cersei had agreed to send the Lannister armies up north to fight alongside the Targaryen, Stark, and Arryn forces against the army of the dead but instead held back her forces and restrengthened her position.[4] However, the living ultimately prevailed at the Battle of Winterfell, where Arya Stark destroyed the Night King.[5]

Daenerys, Tyrion, Varys, and the Unsullied sailed back to Dragonstone while Jon marched south on the Kingsroad with the Dothraki and the remaining Northern and Vale armies, but during Daenerys's voyage, she was ambushed by Euron Greyjoy and the Iron Fleet, who took out her dragon Rhaegal and captured Daenerys's friend Missandei, who was also the lover of Grey Worm, the chosen commander of the Unsullied. Cersei had Missandei beheaded in front of Daenerys and her advisers during a parley, leaving Daenerys to walk away angrily.[6]

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Daenerys stands over a ruined King's Landing.

Varys began suspecting that Daenerys was succumbing to the Targaryen madness and, after learning of Jon's parentage, plotted to have him crowned, but Daenerys learned of this plot through Tyrion and had him burnt alive for treason. Tyrion urged Daenerys not to attack King's Landing and kill thousands of innocents, and Daenerys agreed after Tyrion told her that the ringing of the city's bells would indicate a surrender. However, at the Battle of King's Landing, Daenerys pressed her attack even after the Lannister soldiers surrendered and rang the bells. King's Landing was left in ruins from the dragonfire of Drogon and the wildfire caches placed beneath the city by Daenerys's father, which were kept there by Cersei, and in the crossfire, thousands of smallfolk and surrendered soldiers died. Jon attempted to hold his forces back, ordering them not to sack the city, but failed and watched on in horror as the Stark and Arryn forces sacked the city alongside the Unsullied and Dothraki. Cersei, Jaime, and Euron all died as well, and Daenerys took control over the ruined city.[7]

Jon, Ser Davos Seaworth, and Tyrion walked through the city in the aftermath, stunned and dismayed by the amount of destruction and death caused by their well-intentioned queen. Jon and Tyrion stand on the top of the steps behind Daenerys as she delivers a speech to the remaining Dothraki and Unsullied, declaring the sack of King's Landing a success and calling them all 'liberators', "You tore down their stone houses, you gave me the Seven Kingdoms." She proclaims her intention to conquer the world and put an end to the rule of all tyrants, breaking the wheel for good. Before them all, Tyrion disgustedly confronts Daenerys for slaughtering an entire city and tosses his Hand pin down the steps to the Red Keep, whereupon he is arrested by Daenerys for freeing his brother and committing treason as Jon looks on, troubled.

Jon visits Tyrion, who warns Jon about what Daenerys has become. As Jon struggles with this, Tyrion reasons, "I know you love her. I love her too, but not as successfully as you. But I believed in her with all my heart. Love is more powerful than reason." Jon reflects, "Love is the death of duty." Tyrion tells Jon that he is the shield that guards the realms of men, who tries to protect people, "Who is the greatest threat to the people now?" Tyrion acknowledges he is asking Jon to do a terrible thing, "But it is also the right thing." Due to his love for Daenerys, Jon doesn't think he can do it. Tyrion reminds Jon that his his sisters will never kneel for Daenerys.[1]

The assassination

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Daenerys is stabbed by Jon.

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Jon Snow holds the body of Daenerys Targaryen.

In the ruins of the throne room, Daenerys Targaryen approaches the Iron Throne, reaching out to touch it when she is found by Jon Snow, who confronts her over burning down King's Landing, killing thousands of men, women, and children, and executing surrendered Lannister prisoners. Daenerys defends that these actions were necessary and Cersei mistakenly thought mercy was her weakness. Jon pleads with Daenerys to forgive Tyrion and all of the people of King's Landing, to make them see they are mistaken about her. Daenerys defends her actions and explains she can't hide behind small mercies, "The world we need won't be built by men loyal to the world we have." Jon says they need a world of mercy but Daenerys believes her actions are the way they build a good world. Distressed, Jon asks Daenerys how she knows it's good and questions, "What about everybody else? All the people who think they know what's good?" Daenerys simply responds, "They don't get to choose." Daenerys and Jon embrace, and Daenerys asks Jon to be by her side as they build this better world. As the two kiss, a greatly anguished Jon tells Daenerys that she will be his queen forever before he stabs her in her heart with his dagger, catching her as she falls.

Jon holds Daenerys in his arms as she dies, weeping. While he cradles her body, Drogon, the last dragon, flies into the throne room. As Drogon approaches, Jon lays Daenerys's body on the ground. Drogon nudges Daenerys's body and when she does not wake, he faces Jon. As Jon prepares to face death via Drogon's flames, Drogon roars in anger and grief and unleashes his fire across the throne room, melting the Iron Throne. He does not kill Jon, instead picks up Daenerys's corpse and flies away, leaving a grieved Jon behind.[1]

Aftermath

Jon Snow is taken prisoner by Grey Worm and the Unsullied for killing Queen Daenerys. Some time later, Tyrion Lannister is brought before a gathering of the great Westerosi lords and ladies in the Dragonpit by Grey Worm to decide his and Jon's fate. Among the nobles are Sansa Stark, Bran Stark, Arya Stark, Davos Seaworth, Brienne of Tarth, Yara GreyjoyGendry Baratheon, Robin Arryn, Yohn Royce, Edmure Tully, Samwell Tarly, and the unnamed Martell. Daenerys's loyalists, including Yara and Grey Worm, want Jon executed for killing Daenerys, while Sansa and Arya threaten if Jon is harmed, the Northern army will destroy them in retaliation. Tyrion proposes that they leave it for the king or queen to decide their fates, and suggests that the gathered leaders choose the next king or queen. On Tyrion's prompting, Bran is chosen as king, and Tyrion declares that from now on, the king will be chosen by a gathering of the lords and ladies instead of inheriting the crown, which, in some ways, "breaks the wheel" that Daenerys intended - that of hereditary rule. The new King Bran names Tyrion his Hand of the King and agrees to allow the North to be independent under his sister Sansa, reorganizing the Seven Kingdoms into the Six Kingdoms.

Later, Tyrion informs Jon that he'll be sent to the Night's Watch, satisfying Grey Worm and the Unsullied, who leave Westeros for the Isle of Naath. Jon bleakly wonders if he did the right thing, that it doesn't feel right. Tyrion says to ask him again in ten years. They bid each other farewell for now.

As Jon leaves King's Landing for the Night's Watch, he says his good-byes to Sansa, Arya, and Bran. They exchange emotional embraces. Jon turns to Bran and kneels, "Your Grace, I'm sorry I wasn't there where you needed me." Bran responds, "You were there exactly where you needed to be."

Tyrion reforms the small council as Hand of the King with Lord Bronn as Master of Coin, Lord Davos Seaworth as Master of Ships, Samwell Tarly as Grand Maester, and Ser Brienne of Tarth as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. King Bran attends the meeting. The lords report that there has been no sign of Drogon since flying east, so Bran, as the Three-Eyed Raven, proposes to look for him before he is escorted out of the room by Ser Podrick Payne of the Kingsguard.

Jon rides north of the Wall with the remaining Free Folk and his direwolf Ghost. Arya sets sail for what is west of Westeros, and Sansa is crowned the Queen in the North.[1]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, an equivalent event has not occurred. The TV show has surpassed the timeline of the books, two of which are yet to be published, so it is unclear if such an event will occur.

Trivia

  • The death of Daenerys had previously been foreshadowed in Valar Morghulis, in which she experienced a vision in Qarth of the throne room surrounded by snow and ruins she would eventually cause, followed by a reunion with her deceased husband and son in the 'afterlife'.

References

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