If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones, you’re likely a fan of Daenerys Targaryen, or rather I’ll use her full name just for fun: Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, First of her name, Queen of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First men, Protector of the Realm, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Unburnt, Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Queen of Mereen.
Whoa, that’s a mouthful, right? Well, both book-readers and show-watchers alike have gotten to see Daenerys (I’ll skip the rest of the name this time) evolve into a well-developed, powerful character. However, the character on the show and the character in the books do have some major differences. To the credit of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who are the HBO showrunners, they have adapted to the source material to the screen in a way that is very faithful to the book series. Of course, A Song of Fire and Ice, the George R.R. Martin series on which the show is based, is a sprawling fantasy tale. There are so many characters, so many plots, and so many backstories. Hell, some of the backstories go back literally thousands of years. Because of this, certain things obviously had to be changed. There were storytelling changes, because the show can’t go on for 45 seasons, though some of us would like that. There were also technical changes as well since the show does have a budget to stick to, albeit a pretty large budget.
Adapting the material into the HBO show has resulted in changes to the beloved character Daenerys Targaryen. There are quite a few physical changes, like her hair, her eye color, and her age. There are also some changes that were made in her relations with other characters. And, the biggest change of all… Well, let’s just say that you need to read #13, and then you’ll wish you never read #13.
Below are 15 mega differences between the show Daenerys Targaryen and the book Daenerys Targaryen that every real fans needs to know.
15. Let’s Talk About Her Hair
On the show, Daenerys Targaryen has long, beautiful, blonde/silver hair. It’s one of the reasons why her character is so beautiful. Well, that and the fact that Emilia Clarke is playing her. In the books, however, Dany doesn’t have such long, beautiful hair because it all burned off. That’s right, ol’ Dany is a baldie at one point in the books.
In the season one finale, Dany’s in a huge fire, hatching her dragon eggs. When she steps out, she has soot on her body but her hair is somehow unharmed. In the books, however, all her hair burns off at this point in the story, leaving her to grow it back through the course of the books, y’know kind of like what Cersei’s doing right now with her hair. The directors may have chosen to forgo a bald and short-haired Dany for technical reasons, but since the Clarke already has to wear a wig, making her a shorter wig doesn’t seem like it would be a problem, right? They may have chosen to keep Emilia Clarke in the long wig because she looks hotter and could attract more viewers. Whatever the reason, Daenerys wasn’t bald at any point on the show, though she very much as on the show.
14. The Purple Eyes
Another physical change is that the show version of Daenerys Targaryen isn’t rocking those famous Targaryen purple eyes. In the books, all Targaryens are known for their purple eyes, and Daenerys is said to have beautiful violet eyes. Obviously, no actual human has purple eyes, so Emilia Clarke would have had to wear purple contact lenses while filming all her scenes. And, at first, she did. Yep, they originally tried to stay true to the book and show Dany with purple eyes. Unfortunately, the creators of the show felt that the contact lenses would affect the Clarke’s ability to work, because so much emotion is conveyed through the eyes and the contact lenses shielded that. The creators then decided to drop the purple eyes. While this may not seem like a big deal, some super fans of the book were disappointed not to see the Targaryen trait on the screen.
13. She Sh*t Herself (No, Really)
HERE WE GO. This is a change that, once you know, you can never unknow.
Remember that insane scene in which the Son of the Harpy attack in the fighting pits. Then, Drogon comes through to save the day and Dany flies off with him. It was a scene that inspired so many memes about ditching your friends at a bar. Anyway, the scene played out pretty much how it happened in the books, except for one gross detail. In the books, when Dany lands, she sh*ts herself. Like, she really, really sh*ts herself. Here’s the excerpt from the book, if you really need to read it:
“Sunset found her squatting in the grass, groaning. Every stool was looser than the one before, and smelt fouler. By the time the moon came up, she was sh*tting brown water. The more she drank, the more she shat, but the more she shat, the thirstier she grew.”
12. All The Racial Politics
This isn’t an only-Daenerys thing, but it does deeply effect her being a Targaryen so it’s worth mentioning. Admittedly, we see a little bit of the prejudices, different religions and different heritages in the show, but it’s so much deeper in the books.
In the books, it’s more clear that the Starks and the Wildlings both descend from the First Men, one of whom we saw in the flash back origin story of the Night King. For this reason, there is a theory that a Stark may very well be the Night King. By the way, with GRRM’s sick and twisted style of storytelling, that’s probably 100% how it will turn out.
Most of the other houses originate from the Andals, though there is much intermarriage at this point. The Andals had invaded Westeros thousands of years before and prevailed as the dominant race. So, at this point, many of the physical features and customs of society are Andal. There is much underlying strife between the Andals and the First Men, as they still seem, even thousands of years later, to have not found a way to assimilate with one another.
The Targeryens are neither from the First Men nor the Andals, but they are rather Valyrian. They come from an area called the Valyrian Freehold, where the Valyrians were the dominate civilization on that continent. Then, “The Doom” (whatever the hell that is) ruined the area, which resulted in the Targaryens being the only remaining family from that area. Displaced, the Targaryens then took over Westeros and ruled for about 300 years.
So, while there are issues between the current families, there are also issues because of the racial issues that have been bubbling for thousands of years. Unfortunately, we don’t get much of this one the show. But, it is interesting that the show may be coming to Cersei-Dany-Jon Snow showdown, which would then be an Andal-First Men-Valyrian showdown. FULL CIRCLE, GUYS!
11. Dorne And The Targaryens
Getting back to present day, we should talk about Dorne and the Targaryens. First of all, you’ve probably heard book-readers cry about how badly the show portrayed the Dorne storyline. I mean, it was basically a buddy comedy between Jaime Lannister and Bronn, so they did have reason to cry. In the books, however, Dorne is much more of a low-key player in the game.
First, it seems Dorne plans to name Myrcella the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, pitting her against Tommen and bringing down the Lannister/Baratheon dynasty. Then, it’s actually revealed that Doran Martell has been working to get the Targaryens back on the throne all along, like ever since the Elia Martell was raped and murdered by the Mountain. Doran Martell planned to marry his middle child, Quentyn, to Daenerys. See? They’re totally game players in the books! Instead, the show went in a completely different direction. We saw Myrcella get poisoned and a female takeover of Dorne. It was chaos, and quite different from the books.
Those in Dorne had been, all along, working to restore the Targaryen family to the throne, which is actually important, as this means that Dany does have an ally in Westeros. Of course, Dorne seems to now be an ally of Dany, but it played out much differently.
10. Her Age
We can all probably be happy about this one. In the first book, Daenerys is 13-years-old… 13!!! So, that would have been awkward, especially for all the men who are really, really into Daenerys. Many of the other characters were also made older as well. In the books, Robb and Jon Snow are only 14, Sansa 11, and Arya 9. Most character were made to be somewhere between 2 to 5 years older in age.
The show probably did this for several reasons. First of all, showing a 13-year-old Dany boning down with Khal Drogo probably would have turned many potential viewers off the show. Secondly, it made casting easier. Not to offend kid actors, but you don’t generally know how they will turn out. The older an actor is, the better sense of their talent and work ethic you can get.
Of course, in the books, the youthfulness and innocence of the young characters add a certain sense of shock and horror to the events that unfold, but, in the end, making them older was probably best for the show.
9. THAT Khal Drogo Scene
Since we touched on this in the last item, it’s probably time to point out the major change here. On the show, it seems pretty clear that Khal Drogo rapes Daenerys, which is a rocky start to their marriage. Daenerys eventually takes control of her sexuality and learns to please him in a way with which she feels comfortable. Then, Dany and Drogo grow closer and actually evolve into a strong married couple. In the books, however, the much younger Daenerys was not raped. Instead, she is a skilled seductress who pleasures Khal Drogo, which is… Well, let’s just say that a 13-year-old Daenerys being the sex goddess of all sex goddesses is not completely believable, and perhaps the rape scene is more realistic.
The change they made here added layers to Daenerys as well as character development. Though, they have been criticized for the way they’ve changed plots to have all the major female characters raped. Cersei and Sansa, both of whom were raped on the show, were not raped in the books.
8. Her Relationship With Irri
Before I get into this one, I’ll just say that guys are going to LOVE it.
I’ll start by reminding everyone who Irri was. Irri was the Dothraki woman who became Daenerys’ handmaid and helped Dany learn the Dothraki language and customs. Irri is not only helpful, but she basically worshiped Dany. Like, she thought Dany was Beyonce. (By the way, Dany pretty much is the Beyonce of Game of Thrones, right?) But, in Qarth, Irri was strangled to death by Doreah and that’s the end of her story. In the books, there is a lot more Irri. Here’s an excerpt from the book that will give you a better idea:
“Once, so tormented she could not sleep, Dany slid a hand down between her legs and gasped when she felt how wet she was… She found one sweet spot and lingered there, touching herself lightly, timidly at first and then faster. Still, the relief she wanted seemed to recede before her, until her dragons stirred, and one screamed out across the cabin, and Irri woke and saw what she was doing.”
What happened when Irri woke? Well:
“Her other hand drifted down across the soft curve of belly, through the mound of fine silvery-gold hair, and went to work between Dany’s thighs. It was no more than a few moments until her legs twisted and her breasts heaved and her whole body shuddered. She screamed then. Or perhaps that was Drogon.”
There’s a lot of weirdness in there. Like, why is Drogon screaming when Dany orgasms? Are they somehow telepathically connected? Did her dragon just have an orgasm too? It’s a lot to unload, and that’s not even beginning with the lesbian part of it. Yes, Dany and Irri has themselves a little lesbian scene. It’s actually surprising that this was left out of the show. I mean, isn’t Game of Thrones KNOWN for the sex scenes?
7. Her Relationship With Doreah
Doreah was Dany’s handmaid, who’s probably the one that got the most screen time, as she took a steamy bath with Viserys Targaryen and, quite literally, taught Dany how to have sex. You guys all remember the latter scene, right? It was steamy. For as hot as she was though, Doreah was quite a baddie. In Qarth, Doreah betrayed Dany, strangled Irri and stole the dragons. GIRL, you don’t cross the Mother of Dragons. And so, Dany locks Doreah, along with Xaro, in an empty vault to die. In the books, though, Doreah doesn’t go the way of being a baddie. Instead, she dies of a disease while they are in the red waste. Yeah, that’s it.
6. Her Immunity To Fire
People were SO MAD about this change. Like, the Internet was not having it at all.
In both the books and the show, we see Daenerys withstand fire when the dragon eggs are hatched. Though, I’ve already pointed out that the major difference in this scene is that Dany’s hair doesn’t burn off on the show, but did burn off in the books. Other than that, this plays out pretty much the same. The huge question following this moment, in both the books and the show, is whether Dany is actually fireproof. GRRM explained, “Targaryens are not immune to fire. The birth of Dany’s dragons was unique, magical, wondrous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But, her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold.”
Got it, GRRM. Makes total sense. But, then the show was like, Nahhhhh. In season six, we see Daenerys burn all the of Dothraki leaders to death. It was a hot scene, and, yes, literally and metaphorically. She walks out of the building, untouched. Yes, the show seems to think Dany is immune to fire. This made fans of the book furious because GRRM straight up said she’s not immune to fire.
5. The House Of The Undying
As mentioned earlier, in the show Doreah betrays Dany and steals her dragons, which is the biggest no-no there is. In the books, however, this betrayal never happens and no one steals her dragons. So, this changes much of what happened in Qarth.
In the show, Dany’s dragons are stolen, which forces her to go into the House of the Undying to retrieve them. This results in that kind of adorable, but also bad ass scene in which her teeny, tiny dragons spit fire and burn that skeleton looking dude alive. In the books, however, this plot is very different. Dany enters the house on her own accord. The Undying Ones then show her visions of the past and the future, but they turn on Dany and attempt to take her life. It’s at this point that Drogon kills the Undying Ones and saves Dany. In this case, the end result is the same overall, but how the show and the books get there is very different. Perhaps they changed this in the show to highlight when lengths Dany would go to for her dragons…?
4. The House Of The Undying, Part 2
This is actually MAJOR, and they cut this from the show. The show-watchers are, like, totally out of the loop. So, we all know Dany goes into the House of the Undying, but what happens in the show differs very much between show and books. In the show, Dany just saw a vision of Khal Drogo and their child, and that was pretty much it. So, what are the show-watchers missing out on?
In the books, Dany has several visions of the past and future that fans think may predict events yet to come. She has a vision of a gruesome dinner scene, at which mangled corpses are dinning. This is thought to have foreshadowed the Red Wedding. She sees a vision in which Rhaegar Targaryen called his son, Aegon, the prince that was promised, also stating that his song is of “fire and ice.” This likely foreshadows the parentage of Jon Snow, who is of fire (Targaryen) and ice (Stark).
In the most packed vision, Dany is told that the dragon has three heads, which has lead fans to predict the three heads will be Dany, Jon Snow, and Tyrion Lannister. The vision goes on to tell Dany that there are three fires she must light, one for life, one for death and one to love; three mounts she must ride, one to bed, one to dread, and one to love; and three treason she will know, one for blood, one for gold, and one for love. This is a prophecy that there are SO MANY theories about, with many fans of the books interpreting the three fires, mounts, and treason in different ways. But, show-watchers don’t know about any of this! Insanity!
3. The Other Targaryen
Daenerys is important because, she believes, she is the last living Targaryen. Everyone knows this is untrue now, as Jon Snow is clearly the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. However, the book actually has another Targaryen: Young Griff.
Young Griff is supposedly Aegon Targaryen, the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia Martell. It’s widely believed that Aegon was killed by the Mountain, before he raped and murdered Elia. It’s been claimed that Varys swapped baby Aegon with a peasant baby. And so, the Mountain killed the peasant baby and Varys helped the real Aegon escape, with Aegon now in hiding as Young Griff. It’s Young Griff that Dorne has been working, for 20 years, to put back on the Iron Throne.
The show has simply not included this major plot that could mean Dany has a nephew and Jon a half-brother. So, what gives? The exclusion of this seemingly important plot likely means that it won’t play into the end game. Perhaps, Young Griff is not really Aegon at all. Still, possibly having another surviving member of her family is a pretty big deal for Dany and a major difference in the two stories.
2. No Strong Belwas Or Poison
The show has chosen not to include Strong Belwas or the poisoned locusts plot, and this has deeply sadden some booker-readers, mostly because Strong Belwas is awesome.
Strong Belwas (pictured above) is huge fighter, who is covered in scars. He is covered in these scars because he apparently lets victims stab him once before killing them. I KNOW, RIGHT? Why this character isn’t on the show is beyond me. He’s so good.
So, Belwas ends up eating a shit ton of honeyed locusts that were poisoned and likely intended for Dany. Belwas falls ill but, because of his size, he survives the poison. This, however, becomes a big mystery as to who was really behind the poison and for whom the poison was really intended.
1. All Her Shortcomings As A Leader
Everyone loves themselves some Daenerys Targaryen, and I totally understand why. Not only is she hot, but she has dragons, and is nude a lot, and makes strong speeches. It’s hard not to love her when she’s demanding that she will take what’s hers with fire and blood. That’s a YAS QUEEN moment if there ever was one. But, her leadership skills are a bit weak. We’ve gotten to see Dany’s shortcomings as a leader to some degree on the show, through her inability to properly communicate with those in Qarth and her refusal to adapt to Meereen culture. She lacks the cunning political mind of others, like Cersei Lannister or even Sansa Stark at this point. I mean, it’s pretty clear that Dany has gotten to where she is now because of her dragons, right?
The book has time to go more in depth about Dany’s failure to train her dragons, her freeing slave cities then leaving them unattended, and her marriage proposals. In the books, Dany comes off as even more incapable and unprepared to rule the Seven Kingdoms. We can’t blame the show for failing to include all of Dany’s shortcomings as a leader, since it can’t show every single scene in the books. But, since Dany seems like a solid contender for the Iron Throne, it’s worth noting that she’s far from a perfect leader, and that’s the case even more so in the books.
HBO’s Game of Thrones season seven premiere on July 16th. Winter is almost here, guys!