Jon Snow vs Daenerys Targaryen: What Makes True Leadership

Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow in Game of Thrones

Beyond A Song of Ice and Fire’s constant string of squabbles over claiming the Iron Throne looms the climatic storyline within the heart of the series, being echoed numerously through marketing and advertising of both the novel series and the TV adaptation, Game of Thrones. It is, of course, the fact that winter is coming, and with it, the return of the Long Night which will entail the Night King leading an army of Others to conquer Westeros. To defend Westeros, it has been prophesized that a legendary champion of R’hllor, known as Azor Ahai, will stand against the Others during the Long Night. Hardcore fans of the novel series know there are two frontrunners for who could be Azor Ahai when the Long Night comes to Westeros, being Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow. This article is not about who is more likely to become Azor Ahai come again, but who in fact possesses the most important quality that any prophesized champion would need to defend the living against the dead, true leadership.

Azor Ahai or not, there is an important question that needs to be answered regarding the coming of the Long Night, who throughout the course of the series has proven themself worthy to lead those who would stand against their enemies. Both Daenerys and Jon has suffered through significant adversities during their adventures, but have some adversities been more insufferable than others? Both Daenerys and Jon have amassed a following of loyal stalwarts, but has one earned the respect of their followers rather than simply received it? There is also no doubt that both candidates have had their fair share of conflict and battle, but there may be a case that one of them fought on the front lines and spilled blood among their fellows, while the other arguably has not. Taking all of this into account, whether it be for control of the Iron Throne and rule over Westeros, or to champion the army of the living against the Night King’s army of Others, Jon Snow has shown that he has the better qualities of true leadership than Daenerys Targaryen.

The Differences Between Their Adversities

Daenerys Targaryen in Season 1 of Game of Thrones

There is no doubt about whether or not Daenerys has suffered through ordeals since she was of an early age. Her parents were murdered during Robert’s Rebellion, and she was raised in exile across the Narrow Sea, never living in the same place for long enough to call any place a true home. During the events of A Game of Thrones, Daenerys ends up in a marriage with the powerful Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo, in an exchange to promise her brother Viserys an army to reclaim the Iron Throne, subsequently attaining a position of high power through effectively no effort of her own. Despite this, she suffers constant pain, both physically from her long horseback rides with the khalasar and her ‘intimate’ nights with her husband Khal Drogo, and emotionally being somewhat isolated, from Drogo and the rest of the khalasar because of the language barrier. She is also tormented by her deranged brother Viserys, but effectively deals with this issue by asserting the authority of her position through ordering him to leave her alone, and ultimately orchestrates his death by allowing Khal Drogo and his bloodriders to kills him with molten gold in Vaes Dothrak.

However, Khal Drogo’s untimely death leads to Daenerys leading a fractured and unsustainable khalasar. During the events of A Clash of Kings, she struggles to find a means of building and transporting her proposed army across to Westeros, and suffers through numerous plots by the Pureborn of Qarth to steal her dragons. When all seems lost towards the end of the book, and Daenerys has no way to get out of Qarth, while also being under attack from a manticore, Daenerys does not save herself. She is saved by two strangers sent by her old guardian, Magister Illyrio, who also happen to have ships to deliver her from Qarth. During the events of A Storm of Swords, Daenerys receives advice from her advisor Jorah Mormont to travel to Astapor instead of Pentos, to purchase an army of Unsullied for herself. It turns out that the reason for Jorah’s loyalty to Daenerys can be derived from the fact that he loves her because of her beauty. Daenerys arrives in Astapor and effectively sacks the city to claim the Unsullied, but does not face the army herself, and instead deceives the Good Masters and relies on her dragons to liberate the city and free the slaves.

Jon Snow in Game of Thrones

Daenerys has suffered through ordeals on her way to becoming who she is today, but a large part of that is arguably due to the efforts of her followers, rather than purely her own effort. In stark contrast, Jon Snow has had to transform himself into a leader to survive the ordeals he has faced. Jon Snow had a reasonably more pleasant earlier life than Daenerys, being raised among his half-sibling Starks at Winterfell, with the exception of his social-status as a bastard. This infamous title would haunt Jon throughout the rest of the series, being denied any title or lands that would be inherited by his half-siblings, and receiving universal ridicule from everyone around him. This includes not being welcome to dine at Robert Baratheon’s feast with his half-siblings in A Game of Thrones. This attitude towards him continued when he became a brother of the Night’s Watch, as the other recruits initially despised Jon when he first arrived at the Wall. His abuse at Castle Black includes continuous obloquy from senior members of the Night’s Watch, including Ser Alliser Thorne and Janos Slynt.

Jon Snow’s problems with the Night’s Watch transcend from social acceptance to moral ambiguity as he is ordered by Qhorin Halfhand to join the Wildlings through Jon having to fell the Halfhand himself. The bearings on his true allegiance are spun drastically out of control after he is collected by Mance Rayder into the fold of the Wildlings, due to falling in love with Ygritte, causing him to question whether or not he would really be better off with the Wildlings. Jon eventually suffers suffer psychological and emotional heartbreak, after escaping Styr’s vanguard raiders to end up fighting them and witnessing the death of Ygritte, showing his affection among the Night’s Watch, who infamously have vows of chastity. Upon returning to the wall, he is immediately captured by his senior brothers of the Night’s Watch, and is only spared from swinging due to his newfound popularity at the Wall. Even after Jon and the Night’s Watch are saved by Stannis Baratheon from Mance’s army, his men harass him while he is sheltering them at Castle Black. Jon also diminishes any hope of a prolonged alliance with Stannis by declining his offer to make Jon Lord of Winterfell, instead claiming the title of the 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon’s reign as Lord Commander does not meet a fortunate ending either after Jon decides to take the controversial moral position of seeking an alliance between the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings. He also controversially decides to ultimately abandon his post to lead an attack against Ramsay Bolton, which results in Jon being stabbed to death by his own brothers of the Night’s Watch. Overall, it can be argued that Daenerys’s struggles with attaining wealth and warriors for her conquest of the Seven Kingdoms pales in comparison to the woes that Jon Snow has to deal with during his lifetime.

Earning Respect Rather than Receiving It

Daenerys Targaryen atop of Drogon

It can be argued that the Daenerys has been remarkably fortunate in the formation of her army beyond the Narrow Sea, to the point where sometimes she doesn’t even have to try at all. A substantial amount of Daenerys’ success in her adventures could arguably be attributed purely to her Targaryen lineage. The only reason she and her brother were sheltered by Illyrio initially was to eventually reclaim the Seven Kingdoms under the Targaryen banner. She initially receives the stone dragon eggs that would ultimately become her most powerful asserts simply as wedding gifts due to her Targaryen heritage. Her marriage to Khal Drogo, effectively cementing her a fruitful position in charge of a large khalasar, was to secure an army for her brother’s conquest of the Seven Kingdoms. It could be argued that through no effort of her own she assumed command of a particularly large, yet fractured, khalasar following the death of both her brother Viserys and her husband Khal Drogo. Later on in the series, she eventually receives the service of Arstan Whitebeard who is revealed to be the legendary Ser Barristan Selmy who she had never met before, and simply pledged his allegiance to her, because she is a Targaryen. There appear to be many instances where Daenerys’ namesake allows her to bypass earning the respect of colleagues and simply receives it.

Another critical part of Daenerys’ large following is her command of her three dragons, hatched from the stone eggs she received at her wedding with Khal Drogo. After the hatching of the eggs, there have been no instances where Daenerys has had to train the dragons to do her bidding, and they have simply obeyed her commands and fulfilled her wishes. The dragon’s loyalty to Daenerys could be arguably attributed to the fact that Daenerys did feed the dragons when they were young and nurtured their adolescence. However this would hardly be a solid argument once the dragons were large enough to not only fly, but to kill animals to sustain themselves. Throughout the course of the books, the dragons simply seem to obey the commands of Daenerys, with the exception of Drogon in some cases, when he decides to act a little more independently and aggressively. Even after Daenerys orders her three dragons imprisoned in the pit under her Great Pyramid, Drogon returns to Daenerys after having escaped his capture, and flies her to safety from the Fighting Pits, seemingly forgiving Daenerys’ decision to imprison him. It seems that Daenerys simply receives the respect and loyalty of her dragons, which appears to be completely exclusive to herself, which is arguably only because of her bloodline.

Jon Snow among his brothers of the Night’s Watch

On the other side of the world, Jon Snow has time and time again had to prove himself either simply loyal or as a leader to many different factions that he has come across. From the very beginning of arriving at Castle Black, Jon had to put aside his differences with his antagonizing fellow recruits of the Night’s Watch, and earns their respect by helping them how to fight in the yard. Despite his fighting prowess and Stark bloodline, Jon is further humbled by his appointment to the stewards following being sworn in the Night’s Watch. In his role as steward, Jon earns his Lord Commander’s respect by defending him against the undead members of the Night’s Watch retrieved from beyond the Wall, and is granted the Valryian sword of Longclaw for his valiance. Jon also goes to great lengths to earn the respect of the Wildlings, first forcing himself to kill Qhorin Halfhand, a trusted brother of the Night’s Watch, as well as living among them, facing the ridicule of being a deserter of the Night’s Watch, the Wilding’s greatest enemies beyond the Others.

Despite Jon’s apparent defection to the Wildlings, Jon again goes above and beyond to earn the respect of the Night’s Watch, defending the Wall from both Styr’s raiding part and Mance Rayder’s massive Wildling horde. Following the aftermath, Jon further merits the Night’s Watch’s trust by ultimately refusing Stannis’ offer at being legitimized and becoming Lord of Winterfell, something Jon admits he has always wanted since he grew up with Robb and the rest of the Starks. A controversial decision made in light of defending the living against the dead, leads to Jon Snow offering Tormund Giantsbane and the rest of the defeated Wildlings refuge in The Gift, displeasing the senior members of the Night’s Watch to earn the respect of the Wildlings. It can be argued that Jon Snow’s controverisal decisions and life-threatening situations on behalf of the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings shows that he has ultimately earned the respect of his peers, unlike Daenerys who has arguably simply received it.

Actually Fighting for their Followers

Daenerys Targaryen in Meereen

The ironic truth of all of Daenerys’ accomplishments across the Narrow Sea, involving the defeat of several mercenary factions and the freeing of many slaves, is that Daenerys herself did not fight a single person. She has not participated in any of the major conflicts that her armies have been involved with, and on some occasions did not even oversee the battle on top of one of her dragons. Daenerys did not ultimately face her brother even after an entire childhood of torment, but instead simply egged on Khal Drogo to do the dirtywork himself. Daenerys does not fight alongside her husband against Khal Ogo’s khalasar at the Lharareen town. Daenerys is unable to defeat Pyat Pree in the House of the Undying, and instead requires the help of Drogon to escape the clutches of the Pureborn of Qarth. There are several instances where Daenerys’ followers arguably fight her own battles for her. As discussed earlier, Daenerys was not even present during the battle for Yunkai, instead choosing to discuss her brother Rhaegar with Arstan Whitebeard, while her followers died for her. In the siege of Meereen, Daenerys does not answer Oznak zo Pahl’s challenge to face him, but instead leaves the fight to Belwas. Daenerys once again does not participate in a major battle, instead allowing several of her key followers including Belwas, Jorah and Barristan to enter the city through the sewers before taking it, and even exiles Jorah after he has helped taken the city, despite knowing of his treachery before Meereen was beleaguered.

While Daenerys has enjoyed a great view of all her major conflicts from a safe distance, Jon Snow has put his body on the line time and time again in defence of his values and fellows. Jon did not hesitate to defend the Lord Commander against the undead members of the Night’s Watch, despite having no idea that the only weaknesses to such enemies are dragonglass, which he did not possess, and fire. Jon took a remarkably active role in Jeor Mormont’s ranging beyond the wall despite being a steward, eventually taking part in one of Qhorin Halfhands scouting parties, and battling a Wildling scouting party. The skeleton crew left defending Castle Black was saved by Jon’s valiant efforts against Styr’s raiding party, and Jon spared no expense defending the Wall with his few brothers of the Night’s Watch against the massive Wildling army under the command of Mance Raider. There have been numerous occasions where Jon Snow has been in the thick of battle with various factions, putting his life on the line in company of the brother’s of the Night’s Watch or the Wildlings and has clashed swords with a great deal of enemies, include the undead Others.

Jon Snow with Tormund Giantsbane

The looming counter-argument in this case, is that Daenerys does not know how to fight, and that Jon Snow has been trained in battle since he was a young child. To this, it can be said that just because you know how to fight, doesn’t make it any less risk to engage in battle. There have been instances of characters who have little to no battle prowess where they have been brave enough to clash swords, including Samwell Tarly, Jon’s brother of the Night’s Watch, who participated in the battle against Mance Rayder’s Wildling army, and has even fought against a White Walker with Gilly. The fact that Daenerys is a woman is no excuse not to fight for one’s or other’s lives, the clear example in this case being Ygritte, who has been fighting with the Wildlings against the Night’s Watch and the Others all her life. Even if you try to argue that Jon Snow was born to fight in battle, whereas Daenerys is not built in that way, there can be no mistaking that no one is made to fight the armies of the undead, which Jon Snow has done countless times.

Overall, there are many clear arguments of true leadership by Jon Snow. Jon Snow has arguably suffered through harsher social adversities, which have been prolonged throughout his life, than Daenerys. In many instances, Daenerys simply welcomes the support and allegiance of her followers, whereas Jon Snow has had to draw blood on both friends and enemies alike to earn the respect of his fellows. Finally, when it comes to putting their body on the line to fight with their allies on the front lines, it is clear that Jon Snow is the one to do this. Therefore, it is clear that Jon Snow has shown the better qualities of true leadership that Daenerys Targaryen.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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  1. Genkaus

    Jeez – talk about biased. Its stuff like this that convinces me of the prevalence of misogyny in shaping the views of the fandom. Not only does the author have a very narrow and restrictive view of what “true” leadership is, they blatantly ignore and/or misrepresent facts in making their case.

    What’s most egregious is how Dany is consistently dismissed where Jon is celebrated in a blatant display of double standard. For example, Dany is dismissed for getting any respect based on her Targaryen name while the author conveniently ignores how much being Ned Stark’s bastard benefited Jon – it got him the position as Mormont’s Steward, it got him face-time with Mance and it played a role in his election as the Lord Commander. Similarly, Dany’s achievements are dismissed as those of her followers, while she gets no credit for planning and delegating the whole thing. But where Jon is concerned, its conveniently forgotten how Samwell Tarly single-handedly manipulated events to get him elected as Lord Commander while Jon did absolutely nothing at all.

    And to top it all off, apparently, according to the author, you cannot be a “true” leader unless you actually fight and risk your life. And they’re not talking about fighting metaphorically – apparently they require you to fight literally by putting your life on the line. That’s so unabashedly male-centric that its practically medieval. It basically makes physical prowess a necessary element of leadership.

    And then there are the blatant misrepresentations of facts – like Dany orchestrating Viserys’ death or the implication of her inheriting a khalasar from Drogo or Jon Jon having to face constant abuse at Castle Black or Jon receiving universal ridicule. When someone has to rely on misstating facts to make their case, you know that they are biased.

    Given that its clearly talking about the books and not the show, there is actually a decent case to be made as to why Jon is, on the whole, a better leader than Dany. But this lop-sided puff piece is not it.

  2. Interesting that Jon really does have the Targayren name (we assume), despite being raised to understand otherwise.

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if Danny actually didn’t have the name and turned out to be a Blackfyre or something else?

    That way the characters would contrast each other perfectly!

  3. Eusebio

    Their stories have been parallels, not word by word, but thematically they are.

    They are very alienated from the politics of Westeros (the Wall and Essos) they have a deep connection with a foreign culture (wildings – dothraki), they rise to power and choose duty over desire, they struggle ruling, etc etc.

    This is the story of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, make no mistake.

    • Frances

      They are just opposites. Ultimately Martins goal, I think, is to show that both sides of this are neither evil, nor good, but human. As it is in most war. Stories are usually told from one side or the other, so there is a winner and a loser in the end. He is trying to subvert that simplistic, and typically incorrect, narrative.

  4. I think they’re both deeply flawed and deeply idealistic leaders who both have the potential to be truly great with just a little more maturity.

    Jon is a much more thoughtful leader, and Dany is a bit more proactive and charismatic, but they each share a certain nobility of spirit and forward-thinking vision that makes them both excellent counterparts and excellent foils.

    • Julissa

      What do you mean by “forward thinking?” Progressive? I guess Dany feels that slavery is wrong, but that’s not saying much.

      If you mean that she plans ahead like Jon, i’d like to know what you’re basing that off. IMO, she’s mainly acted impulsively or angrily in many (and sometimes crucial) decisions, and then uses her “dragons blood” as an excuse for being hotheaded

      • I think that actually is saying quite a bit. I’m not denying that Dany is impulsive or that she lets emotions drive many of her decisions, but I think it’s overly simplifying to ascribe a strictly negative interpretation of her on that basis. I would say that she’s progressive because she not only strikes a critical blow against slavery, but takes steps to end it as a practice, and even when she steps back from that stance a bit, it’s in the interest of forming a peace through compromise (whether such a peace is noble or worthwhile being a whole other question). In addition, her early distaste for Dothraki conduct during war and general inclination towards sexual equity may not necessarily be enough to credit her as an accomplished progressive, per se, but I think they are definite indications that she inclines towards that sort of ideology, and in fairness we must also remember that she is very YOUNG and so we can’t always necessarily expect her to have a fully developed or thoroughly nuanced view of the social issues she deals with. As for ascribing the same ideological trait to Jon, I would cite his overtures towards the Free Folk in his attempt to bring them into the fold in the inevitable fight against the Others, but that probably goes without saying.

  5. Jon keeps to the old ways and has a leadership style like Ned. This is automatically a bonus for leading northerners. Say what you want about Ned’s dumb moves in the capital, but you can’t deny that he had the loyalty of most of his bannermen. Jon was hated by a fairly high ranking officer and yet he still got elected Lord Commander.

    In all honesty, Dany acts like an idiot in most cases and is being followed based on the fact that she has dragons, a famous name, and she’s hot. For example, she humiliated and crucified some of the ruling class, but left the rest alive. Walking a middle ground is just plain stupid. You either show mercy by giving them a blanket pardon, or you exterminate/exile them all so you don’t have the Sons of the Harpy causing problems. Instead she tortured some of their family members and made the rest worship her as Queen. Not the most brilliant strategy.

    • Linkous

      I don’t think it’s quite fair to say she’s only followed because she’s hot and has dragons- a good portion of her people follow her and love her because she freed them from slavery.

      That was a smart move both because it got her a mass of followers and a faithful army , and because it showed some general empathy and human decency. You’re right though in that she fucked up once she got to MEreen and tried to stay to compromising. She should’ve redistributed money to the previous slaves at the least and took away the power from the ruling class of Mereen if she didn’t just straight up exile them (the smartest choice). Her problem was she wanted to be loved by everyone.

      Which was the opposite of Jon, who didn’t care if anyone loved him once elected. Which like, I got his thought process, about making hard choices, but he really should’ve looked at Ned and the loyalty that Starks inspired and realised that being liked by the people you have charge over is still important too. Ned’s leadership style also included having meals with his subjects and making sure he understood what they were thinking and that they respected and understood him as well. Jon alienated the people who elected him and kept them far when they would’ve protected him, and brushed off people like Bowen MArsh, and it got himself stabbed.

  6. Chelsea

    Jon is a bad leader. He doesn’t take action soon enough or plan thoroughly, he lets his emotion and self doubt cloud his thinking. His convinctions aren’t so strong that people naturally follow him, rather he has to beg and prove that he is a worthy leader.

    Literally the only thing he has going for him is that fact of his lineage and the great minds of his followers, the major issue you take with Dany in this article.

  7. They are yin and yang; similar in origin, growing into command. Dany as an ultimate villain is entirely within the sort of deconstruction GRRM favors.

    George wants to defy the idea of the dark lord and evil minions, and a very, very effective way to do so would be to follow a character for an entire series thinking them to be one of the good guys, only to ultimately turn out to be the great scourge as seen by the people.

    George has already done this in previous POVs, where our POV character is directly opposed to another POV. A purposeful move by GRRM to make one consider that protagonist and antagonist are nothing more than which side of the road you’re watching from.

    We follow Davos as he fights on the Blackwater, and we fear and worry about his fate, and hope for his victory. And a chapter later, we follow Tyrion as he defends the city, and we fear and worry about his fate and hope for his victory. Martin purposefully wrote us the contradiction of perspective following both sides in a single battle with characters we like.

    In this case, as well, it’s part of Tyrion’s slide to villainy, as it were. By the end of Dance, he’s kinda completely awful. We’ve followed and sympathized long enough to convince ourselves of his being really an alright guy, but likely nobody that meets him thinks him anything less than an absolute cunt, and none of his actual actions have been much beyond that since he first returned to King’s Landing.

    Tyrion now makes his way for Daenerys, and hers is the same arc. By the time she and Tyrion [presumably] return to Westeros, we’ll be still asking ourselves if really they’re in the right. Many I think still could take it for granted, just by virtue of it being their POV that we read. But I think the point ultimately will be to question “When did our heroes become the villains? Clearly this ultimate end is not right, but how did it get here?”

    Following both the hero and villain from the beginning is a major logical step for Martin’s goals in this deconstructionist series. We know that dark lords and great battles to determine the future of mankind are hokey to him. I think even the battle for night and the others won’t ultimately be the climactic clash – it’s going to be a red herring. We think all along that we build toward the Battle for the Light, but the others are just a rising tide while two animals wrestle in the tide pool. The real ultimate conflict will be Jon and Dany.

    • This was such a good read, thanks for putting time and effort.

  8. I kind of like the idea of Dany being the real “antagonist” in ASOIAF it would be a cool twist.

    • I believe 100% she is. She believes she deserves Westeros, and has been mistreated her whole life. She is antagonist stew.

  9. Interesting read. I think probably the most significant parallel between the characters is that they both started their campaigns/situations with – literally – nothing. Both have built loyal followings, liberated people and shaken down evil. Biggest difference is that Dany was born with her title, and – from her perspective – is entitled to it; Jon had to earn his leadership/royalty in a way that was truly unprecedented.

    Another parallel is how they have courageously faced down hordes of enemies solo…Jon @ BotB, Dany inside the temple at Dosh Khaleen…and have emerged victorious with a mythos and a loyal following.

    • Both have their closest friend leave for a while, Sam for jon and Jorah for Dany.

  10. It makes me mad on how poorly they handled Jon and Dany a romance. They should be able to understand each other more than anyone else cause of shared trauma, aka the one big trope used in romances.

    Instead it was “bend the knee” and “lol, no”. The show really skips out on not having the characters tell their experiences to one another and seeing the reactions others have.

    • True. But remember, Daenerys mission isn’t to make friends, it’s to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. She probably sees Jon as an obstacle at first, another upstart king intent on making it difficult for her to achieve her goal. I would actually find it unrealistic if they became friends immediately after meeting each other.


      Those 3 extra episodes would have helped season 7 so much.

    • Ma Trahan

      I’m still not a fan of their romance story arc because, well, it’s gross being they are aunt and nephew. Yeah yeah I know Targaryens married brother and sister(which was still gross) but Jon wasn’t raised as a Targaryen; I would think he’d find incest marriages like that gross just like any other Northmen

      • Eddard Stark’s father and mother were cousins. There was once a Sansa Stark in the past who married her uncle to secure his throne in Winterfell. And the Northeners didn’t even bat an eye. You were saying?

  11. Teresit

    Thank you for sharing. Maybe there is something to ice and fire being more intertwined than we’ve witnessed so far.

  12. I love it that daenarys has so many names, and Jon is just… Jon.

  13. I know Danny’s whole family died but this was when she couldn’t understand, as she was a baby. Besides the brother she feared being cooked by molten gold in front of her face, he husband being killed, and he family tragedy before her time, she has had the smoothest sailing rise to power of the series in my opinion. The dragons brought her attention, wealth, and fame.

    Jon on the other hand is the underdog type. He forces himself to take no part in seeing his entire family fall apart/killed while he freezes on the Wall. What is harder? Not knowing your family and being an orphan or watching your sister be taken, abused, married off to your enemy. Arya is missing presumed dead by Jon. He knows Robb (his bff his whole life), dad, stepmom, two younger brothers (until he finds out they aren’t dead) are gone for good.

    I might be biased but I think Danny has had the easier path. She is a good leader but was given it by amazing luck. Jon had the advantage of being a high nobleman’s bastard but still… he has the rougher path in my opinion and should be considered the better leader. Danny has advisers, an army, role models, success! Jon has a dying brotherhood of poachers, rapists, and broken men to try and keep the North from falling apart from the wildlings and the supernatural Others!

    I think I need Dragon Lady to not have everything fall into place for her for me to consider them equals. Yes, she has dragons eating kids, a militarily useless mouths to feed, the intrigue and politics of ruling slave cities, and the ambition to win the Iron Throne.

    But she needs a RUDER awakening to get over for me to call her the better leader. Anyone can rule when its “easy” ruling when its hard is what makes a good king/queen. (Not saying her path is easy, though. Just smoother)

    • It’s amazing how badly she screws things up with all the advisors she has. Jon on the other hand gets crap advice for the most part but still plays it off like he’s taking the advice to heart and giving it consideration.

      I’d say her path was easy at parts and difficult in others, but the problem is she acts like an idiot in the difficult parts. But i definitely agree that her path was smoother. Everything was handed to her, while Jon earned his position.

      • Jon didn’t “earn” his position. He was trained from birth in fighting (and likely other things like history and strategy which the Stark children were taught). Tyrion straight up calls it out. His status as a bastard (while sometimes making his life harder) gets him noticed by Jeor and an interview with Mance. It is also his bastard status and Sam that get him elected as Lord Commander (I’m told even more clearly shown in the book). He is saved from being destroyed by wildlings and Boltons in separate wars by forces outside his control. He is RESURRECTED for goodness sake.

        Not saying that he didn’t work hard with what he had, but to say he entirely earned it while Daenerys didn’t is wrong. Plus look at other characters such as Davos who started with even less, without even knowing how to read or fight.

  14. Jon Snow The King in the North The White Wolf Former 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch The Bastard of Winterfell Saviour of Wildlings Forger of Alliances The Lord’s Chosen The Prince who was promised

    I could go on.

    • Knower of nothing

    • Yeah he is just practical and want’s to get down to business and knows that titles don’t really mean anything, being a “bastard” and all.

      Really shows the disparity between them, even though there really isn’t. Dany believes she is entitled while Jon believes he doesn’t deserve it. They are coming at their leadershiop from totally different angles. One feels entitled while the other one feels awkward. However, both are fairly humble when it comes to them “being in charge.”

  15. Beautifully articulated article.

    Thank you for taking the time to piece all of this together!

  16. Ice and Fire. They’re both going to destroy each other.

    • OHHHHH, I like it a lot. Please that would make me very happy. Ice and Fire against each other.

  17. Juliette

    Jon and Dany struggle, and they struggle similarly. They are very much alike.

  18. Daenerys is fire, but Jon is Fire and Ice!

    • They are both ice and fire. Jon inherits fire from Rhaegar and ice from Lyanna, although he has primarily displayed icy imagery from his “father” Ned Stark. Daenerys inherits her fire from her Targaryen blood, obviously, but one thing nobody talks about is that she is 50% Blackwood. Her parents were brother and sister, their parents were brother and sister, their parents were Aegon the Unlikely and Betha Blackwood. So just like Bloodraven she has icy greenseer ancestry pushing through.

      One constant theme in a Song of Ice and Fire that GRRM is constantly pushing is that people exist in shades of gray and that nobody is the villain of their own story. So Melisandre’s rather simple belief that fire/day = good and ice/night = bad is probably not correct. They’re probably both good and bad.

  19. Yessenia

    Both were fostered pretty much since birth until the start of the show because their parents died in Roberts Rebellion.

  20. Lombardo

    In this universe, the terrible things are inevitably asked of a ruler. Whether they do those terrible things gleefully or with deep struggle is the real question.

  21. Such a good article, thanks for putting time and effort.

  22. I believe that Jon was the ultimate leader for reasons of compassion, understanding, and the general respect he already had due to his association with Ned. The Seven Kingdoms already judged Jon’s leadership because of the overall respect Ned already had and the general hatred towards Cersi, and the people already had some idea of the person that could be a better replace. Danny was the unknown. The people had many reservations due to her fathers wild background and the fact that she had created the same weapon that gave her dad that background. However, the constant pattern of misogyny does run throughout the discussion of better leadership as a woman taking control is still viewed as violent and unnecessary compared to if Jon did the same.

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