Jorah and Daenerys have the best love story on Game of Thrones


Iain Glen, Emilia Clarke.

photo: Nick Wall/courtesy of HBO

The genuine relationship between Jorah and Daenerys is unparalleled in the brutal world of Game of Thrones.

In a series with an astronomically high death count and an allergy to happy endings, it’s kind of a shock to realize that one of the very first relationships established on Game of Thrones is still going strong. From day one, the magnetic bond between Jorah (Iain Glenn) and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) has been central to the story. Throughout seven seasons of dragons, Dothraki, hostile takeovers, and  greyscale, they both still remain standing. Not only that, but they also share a truly heartfelt connection.

So that obviously means that horrific tragedy is about to befall these two, right?

Recently, Julie Linzer and I chatted about the undeniable strength of Jorah and Daenerys’ relationship throughout the years and gauged the odds on what’s coming next in their story. And, no matter which way you slice it, there will be no happily ever after for these two.

Erin: First, let’s address the elephant in the room. To some, Jorah has a creepy uncle vibe about him. Ok. I get it. The age difference between Jorah and Daenerys is vast, and any thoughts of sexual love are pretty gross. So I want to be clear here. When I’m talking about love between these two, I’m not talking about sexual love. I’m talking about pure, unadulterated connection to another human being. And to me, Jorah and Daenerys have that in spades.

At the very beginning, Jorah was Daenerys’ sherpa through the rough and tumble world of the Dothraki. Sure, he was initially there as a spy, but he didn’t have to extend all sorts of kindnesses to her. Jorah clearly cared for Daenerys, and she clearly trusted him. Even in the beginning, there was something there that added up to so much more than any of the other relationships on Game of Thrones. Through their journeys, a relationship bloomed that is unparalleled elsewhere on the series. From the start, Jorah believed in Daenerys with the fire of a thousand dragons. And their partnership throughout seasons 1 – 4 gave the Khaleesi the support she needed to become who she is today.

Julie: There’s a line in an earlier season when Dany first finds out about Jorah’s betrayal. She’s angry, which is perfectly reasonable. I believe it’s when she first banishes him but she also acknowledges that he did what he did because he just wanted to go home. And that shared experience bonds them. What’s fascinating is that Dany becomes home for Jorah. In every sense of the term. And I feel like that really resonates with where we are in the series. Dany is home but she keeps mentioning how Dragonstone doesn’t feel like it. Which begs the question where or who is home for Dany?

Iain Glen.

photo: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO

Erin: I legit just teared up a little bit. They are totally and completely home for one another. That’s why Jorah only has one place he’s looking to go after being cured of greyscale: back to Daenerys Stormborn. (Even though obviously we’d love to see him hang with his badass niece, Lyanna Mormont of Bear Island… but that’s a whole other story.) He’s got a one track mind, but that’s only because his entire identity hinges on supporting a woman he wholeheartedly believes in. And, in return, Daenerys trusts in Jorah’s council more than anyone else because she knows his intentions are completely pure. With ever-shifting allegiances and betrayals galore, who else among our GoT crew can say that?

Jorah and Daenerys have built this strange and textured relationship together, but their unique bond isn’t something we’ve seen in action for some time on the series. When Jorah’s around, Daenerys tends to do a lot of winning. When he’s not, things don’t always go well. For example, when she childishly exiled Jorah in Season 4, the people of Mereen turned on her faster than someone cutting in line on Black Friday. Then, when he finally returned, Jorah saved Dany from a would-be assassin in the fighting pits, and she finally took flight on Drogon. Coincidence? I think not. Finally, Jorah was instrumental in helping Dany execute her incendiary plan at Vaes Dothrak last season, but then he had to GTFO…. because grayscale. In his absence, the Queen of Dragons promptly lost all of her Westerosi allies. Now that he’s cured and he’s on the way back to his Khaleesi, will we find out that their bond is the key to her success?

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Julie: I’m sentimental af for GoT relationships. Which, in answer to your mostly rhetorical question about the completely pure intentions, I’d have to agree that Jaime/Brienne exemplified that in spades when she tried to return Oathkeeper last season after completely her mission and Jaime said “It’s yours–it’ll always be yours” and he meant his heart [*Insert all the crying emojis*]. And also Arya/Gendry. But I think that all of these relationships have a lot in common in the organic way they came about. Jaime and Brienne see honor in each other where no one else does. Arya and Gendry saw each other as family (getting choked up!). And I already mentioned what Jorah and Dany found in each other.

But none of these relationships are like Dany and Jorah because they do have the potential be more intimate in nature. Brienne believes in love and is looking for the honorable knight the songs sing about. And Arya and Gendry still have some growing up to do as long as the latter returns from his hiatus at sea.

I completely agree though, that every time Dany has banished Jorah it’s truly been to her detriment. But there’s so many potential ways getting to her now could go horribly wrong. I mean I’m all about reunions so that’s not what I want but these things are rarely easy. And what happens if he does get there successfully? Jon is there. And while I don’t see any potential for any kind of romance there between the two, Jon does carry Longclaw – Jorah’s father’s sword. There’s bound to be some animosity.

Erin: Hmm interesting point about Longclaw, but I don’t think that Jorah will feel any animosity about Jon Snow carrying Longclaw. If anything, he’ll probably feel connected to him in a weird way. Jorah knows he disgraced himself and his family by selling slaves – even if they were poachers on his land – and that he abdicated any right he had to Mormont heirlooms. Honestly, I feel like if anyone is going to be worthy enough for Daenerys in Jorah’s eyes, it would probably be the man that his honorable father hand picked to be his successor as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Come to think of it, Jeor’s memory is all up in this season with Tyrion remembering the scroll he received from the Wall in Season 2, and Sam saving Jorah’s life because of his ties to Jeor. It’s kind of interesting because while all these other characters are asking forgiveness for their father’s sins, Jorah is sort of riding high on the accomplishments of his own.

Helen Sloan – HBO. Acquired via HBO PR.

But to Daenerys, Jorah is just Jorah. She never had the pleasure of meeting Jeor (or even Lyanna, but we all know that pairing HAS to happen eventually, amiright?) so she formed a relationship with Jorah organically, without any sort of family information hanging over the exchange. And Jorah always judged Daenerys on her own merits, rarely – if ever – bringing up her bonkers father or cruel brothers like so many others have. They are a strong and united pair because they see each other for who they are, not their family names. And that’s a rare thing in the world of the show.

For example, Jaime and Brienne have always been straightforward and (relatively) honest with one another, but neither one is fully devoted to the other due to family ties. Jaime still has Cersei, and Brienne has her honor and pledge to House Stark. Those aren’t exactly pure intentions. As for Arya and Gendry… we’ll see. I’m still holding out hope for that sweet, ripped blacksmith to return from sea, but until he does I’m crowning Jorah and Daenerys as having the best love story in the Seven Kingdoms. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end in horrific tragedy like every single other love story. But this is Game of Thrones, so it probably will…

Julie: Rhaegar wasn’t cruel… oh oh wait you mean Viserys. Actually, it’s interesting that I confused the two brothers. Probably because I’ve been thinking about Rhaegar a lot. The love you speak of between Dany and Jorah sounds like the love story that brought Jon into this world. Rhaegar started a war to protect Lyanna Stark. And “The Queen’s Justice” (S7E3) did a lot to subtly draw some comparisons between Jon and his actual father. The most notable was Jon saying he hates doing what he’s good at. Rhaegar was the same. And I do wonder if we’ll get to see some of that love story curtesy of Bran because like you mentioned the season has focused heavily on the forgiveness of fathers. This is however where I I do think Jorah’s belief in Dany is to its own detriment. I don’t think – like many of her adoring fans – Jorah sees that kind of person Dany truly is. The Jon/Dany meeting was evidence of that. And while I believe his return would soften her some. I don’t think she has room in her heart for love anymore. And Jorah’s love goggles will protect him from any of that. Iain Glen even said that he doesn’t see her as a villain because Jorah would never see her that way.

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But I digress. We share almost none of the same ships so it makes it rather shocking that I agree. I think that Dany and Jorah’s love story is one of the few more genuine facets of Dany (see I can say nice things about her sometimes!). And I think very nearly turning Jorah to stone solidified his position as Dany’s rock more than ever. They make each other better in the best kind of way. I’m not nearly as worried about him making it home (I mean come on he just survived Grayscale) as I am about what happens after. What if we misjudged Jorah’s intentions and he does expect something more? As one of the few currently canon bonds wouldn’t it almost be better if it ended in tragedy at this point than any other way?

Erin: Jorah will almost certainly always hunger for something more than just a spiritual and emotional connection with Daenerys, but I think he knows he’ll never get that slice of the Khaleesi pie. Yeah, that’s sad, but he’s chosen that path for himself. Too bad When Harry Met Sally isn’t a thing in the Seven Kingdoms, because then Jorah would know that (straight) men and women can never be just friends. Not sure I believe that, but it’s certainly true here. But issue here is that Daenerys and Jorah aren’t just friends. They’re connected in a bond deeper than any friendship. It’s a relationship that’s intent on building something bigger. And while Jorah won’t ever get the physical connection he so desires, he just can’t quit Daenerys, and I don’t think she can quit him either.

As for Rhaegar, on the show we’ve heard a lot of conflicting information. Sure, the theories state that he was a sweet and loving dude, but the status quo in Westeros is that his kidnap and rape of Lyanna Stark was the event that kicked off this whole mess to begin with. That whole thing sounds pretty cruel to me, and very few characters on the show can prove that Rhaegar wasn’t a terrible human. But it’s all very complicated with the frequently insane Targaryen bloodline.

That said, I think I might be sporting the same brand of Daenerys Love Goggles™® that Jorah has on because I don’t see her turning into an evil Targ at any point in the near future. However, if she ends up being the true version of Azor Ahai, Jorah might just be the beloved sacrifice needed to create a new Lightbringer. And wouldn’t that be a just and heartbreaking ending to this particular love story?

Julie: LOL! I resent When Harry Met Sally for instilling that as the social norm because I completely disagree. Platonic relationships do exist between men and women. But I understand what you mean about it. Jorah and Dany have always been more than just friends. It sort of comes full circle in that regards to what you addressed earlier about their age difference. Their relationship was always about something bigger and they are exceptionally loyal to each other in the context of that relationship. I imagine had Olenna told Dany not to listen to Jorah instead of Tyrion she would have strongly disagreed because of their shared history.

Rhaegar’s kindness isn’t a theory. There’s plenty of evidence to prove that he was more of an arty boy than a bro. The status quo about what happened to Lyanna was Robert’s own PR against the Targaryens and his justification for starting a war since the guy felt he had his own claim to Ned’s sister. And I think the intent of Jon showing similarities that might otherwise be associated with Ned to Rhaegar is very intentional.

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The thing is that Dany isn’t turning evil. She’s already there. And I believe that’s why so many were surprised at how terribly the Jon/Dany meeting `went in the first place. Dany has a very one-tract mind and it won’t serve her as things continue to fall apart. Melisandre’s exact words were that she believes that Dany has a role to play. And I think there’s plenty of reason to believe that Azor Ahai and the Prince who Was Promised are not necessarily the same person. But the similarities that Dany and Jon share in that regard is what already makes them candidates. They have already lost loves through sacrifices. Dany in particular lost Drogo but gained her dragons for his sacrifice. Plus, there’s a strong possibility that there is already a Lightbringer out there.

But I mostly I don’t think Jorah is selfless enough to accept being a sacrifice. He wants to see his Queen on the Throne. And if his MO is get some action with his Khaleesi then he has even less of a reason to die on the off chance it brings about her reign. Maybe this means their love story isn’t the greatest after all? Or perhaps it is the greatest because it’s destined to remain complicated despite its transcendence.

‘Game of Thrones’ airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.