Last night on the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, the allied forces of Jon Snow’s Northmen and Daenerys Targaryen’s Unsullied and Dothraki forces sacked Kings Landing and brought the end of Queen Cersei Lannister’s rule. But what does this latest episode mean for parents who named their daughter after Daenerys? Should they feel any guilt?
Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 5, “The Bells.”
In the midst of the battle, the bells of Kings Landing rang out, signaling the surrender of the capital of Westeros. Instead of drawing her forces back or spare mercy to the innocent citizens of King’s Landing, Daenerys completed her “mad queen” arc and decided to burn the city and its tens of thousands of residents to a crisp. Heroes like Jon Snow looked on in horror and defended themselves as their own armies raped and killed innocent citizens as Daenerys obliterated the infrastructure of the city and burned down the Red Keep.
This merciless and straight-up evil turn for Daenerys has been hinted at for some time, and regardless of how the majority of viewers feel about it, people who named their kid after Daenerys might be hit the hardest. According to most estimates, there are about 3,000 American kids named after Game of Thrones characters, since the show debuted in 2011. According to the Social Security Administration, there were eight babies named “Daenerys” born in 2018 and 560 named Khaleesi, which is the Dothraki word for “Queen.”
Unfortunately, for those kids who are named now, after a character who has committed war crimes and slaughtered innocents, their name has become more of a cautionary tale than something to be proud of, which is likely hardly what their parents had in mind when they looked down at their newborns and gave them the name of a fictional would-be queen who had, for all intents and purposes up to this point, been the good-guy foil to the big bad Cersei. Although that’s not how that turned out, and because Dany went crazy, there’s could lesson to be learned here for pop culture enthusiasts and expecting parents alike: wait until the curtain closes on a TV show that focuses on the moral ambiguity of what it takes to seize power, and then name your children.
Then again, if your child is named “Khaleesi,” technically that just means “Queen” and there’s nothing wrong with being a person named “Queen.” Further, Dany still has one episode to become likable again. There’s also the very real possibility that hardcore Game of Thrones fans will pretend like this final season of the show never happened anyway.
Of course, for the nearly 2,545 Arya’s in the world, it seems like her arc will more or less stay on the good side of history, but for the Ellaria’s (she murdered Myrcella Lannister through poison) the Khal’s (he more or less raped his wife on their honeymoon) and the Theon’s (he murdered two innocent children and passed them off as the bodies of Bran and Rickon Stark when he took Winterfell in the early seasons) it might be easier to choose a name that’s less, you know, loaded with murder.
In fairness, this kind of thing isn’t really limited to Game of Thrones parents not having enough foresight about choosing a morally dubious name derived from a fantasy character famous for mass murder. In 2015, the name “Anakin” entered the top 1,000 American baby names, and everyone knows where that moniker came from: It’s Darth Vader’s name in Star Wars before he became Darth Vader! Weirder still, there’s never been any confusion about Anakin being the name of a dude who killed countless people in cold blood. Since 1983, we’ve to know Darth Vader was really named Anakin and since 2005, we’ve witnessed him killing children. And yet, there were still enough people in 2015 who named their child “Anakin,” that the name became, briefly, hot. (Parents may want to consider throwing these wild impulses toward a middle name instead.)
Relative to this, naming your kid Daenerys seems positively heroic, or at the very least, carries with it plausible deniability, depending on the age of the child.
Worst case? The kid can just go by Kal or Dany.