Warning: This article contains spoilers about Season 7 of Game of Thrones.
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen have reached that awkward phase in their twenties when older people gently ask whether they’re planning on starting a family anytime soon. If Jon and Daenerys were like me, they’d shake their head rapidly and manipulate the conversation toward the direction of, say, Game of Thrones. But since Daenerys has aspirations of being a queen, she can't swat away questions of succession as easily as I can.
The possibility of a Jon and Daenerys offspring has never been more immediate than now, after the long-awaited, almost cathartic Targaryen hookup on last night’s episode.
Before launching into the implications of a Targaryen baby for Westeros and the future of the throne, let's get one question out of the way: Is it even possible for Daenerys to have children? According to the mother of dragons, the answer is no. Dany’s doubts stem back to Season 1 and the disastrous events that occurred after her husband, Khal Drogo, received a fatal wound.
Desperate to save his life, Daenerys brashly enlisted the help of a Lhazereen godswife, Mirri Maz Duur, despite the Khal’s warnings that she could not be trusted. Operating under the principle that a life could be exchanged for another life, Mirri Maz Duur used bloodmagic to cause Daenerys' baby, Rhaego, to be born stillborn. Mirri Maz Duur kept her word, though. Drogo was successfully brought back to life — but in a vegetative state.
It was when an enraged, confused Daenerys asked when she’d get Drogo back to normal that Mirri Maz Duur delivers her fateful prophecy.
“When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before,” Mirr Maz Duur says, or more accurately, hisses.
Daenerys interprets the witch's words to mean she’ll never bear children again. How can mountains blow in the winds like leaves, and seas go dry? So far, Daenerys has had no reason to doubt this reading of the prophecy. Despite having a lot of unprotected sex with Daario Neharis, Daenerys hasn’t gotten pregnant. Turns out witches’ curses are the cheapest and most effective form of birth control — no insurance necessary.
Plus, Daenerys hasn't been all too concerned with human children since her dragons were hatched. She considers Drogon, Rhaegal, and Visierion to be her children, and the Mother of Dragons takes her commitment to her reptilian babies seriously.
In Season 2, when Jorah tries to convince Daenerys to leave her dragons in the House of the Undying, Daenerys adamantly refuses. “They are my children. They are the only children I’ve ever had,” she says.
Later, when Daenerys goes to the House of the Undying to rescue her dragons, she's subjected to a series of significant visions. In one vision, she reunites with Drogo and her son. Eventually, though, the sound of a crying dragon pulls Daenerys away from this scene of warm domestic bliss. The scene perfectly symbolizes how Daenerys prioritizes her ambitions over her romances – or her dragons over her Drogo.
Unfortunately for Daenerys, dragons can’t inherit the throne. All they can do is roar, blow fire, and fail to impress Cersei Lannister. Recognizing that Daenerys' childlessness poses a difficult structural problem for her dynasty, Tyrion Lannister gently raised the question of Daenerys getting some human heirs earlier this season.
“How do we ensure your vision endures? After you break the wheel, how do we make sure it stays broken?” Tyrion asks. Tyrion even suggests options for choosing a successor that have nothing to do with childbirth, mentioning the Night’s Watch method, and the Iron Islands.’
Daenerys, Queen to Be, bristles at the thought of her death, and potential successors. “We will discuss my succession after I wear the crown,” she says, coldly.
Unlike Dany, Jon Snow has no aspirations for the Iron Throne. Likely, the thought of children hadn't even occurred to him until Jorah Mormont brought it up during their trek north. When Jon tried to return Jorah’s family greatsword, Jorah told him to keep it for himself, and for his kids to come.
For the first time in his life, fathering children is a possibility for Jon. While living in Winterfell, Jon abstained from sex for fear of bringing another bastard in the world. Then, when Jon became Brother in the Night’s Watch, he took a vow of chastity and effectively ruled out having a family.
Now, Jon’s free to have kids, and has struck up a budding relationship with a beautiful, ambitious queen-to-be. Even if this queen-to-be has told him that kids are off the table for her, Jon isn't convinced.
Now that Jon and Dany have officially gotten together, it's possible that Daenerys could bear a child — but only with Jon Snow. When Daenerys visits the House of the Undying in the original novels, she sees a blue rose growing in an ice wall. Blue roses are significant in Jon Snow's life story: his father Rhaegar Targaryen gave his mother Lyanna Stark blue roses when they first met, and Lyanna dies clutching blue roses. The blue rose indicates Jon will be a part of Daenerys' life.
But having child would make their respective situations much more complicated.
Perhaps if Daenerys had known that Jon Snow was Rhaegar Targaryen’s son, and thus the rightful heir to the throne, she would’ve hesitated before consummating their relationship. That's because her baby with Jon Snow would be second in line to the Iron Throne, after Jon. If she has that child, then Daenerys would automatically be third in line.
If Jon Snow knew his true parentage, he'd approach having a baby with Daenerys with his own set of concerns. Growing up, Jon was afflicted with the social stigma of being a bastard, and consigned to the cold fringes of Winterfell's society. Even if they wed, Jon and Daenerys’ child will be a product of incest, which brings with it a stigma far greater than the common curse of bastardy. Think back to how desperately Cersei fought to keep the parentage of her children with Jaime a secret — measures which including pushing Bran Stark from a tower.
If Jon and Daenerys do end up having a child, we doubt they, like Peeta and Katniss of The Hunger Games, will be able to leave their war-torn days behind them and live in pastoral domestic bliss.
In the world of Game of Thrones, children are murdered without hesitation. Think of Robert Baratheon's murdered bastards, Rhaegar Targaryen's two children with Elia Martell, and Myrcella Baratheon on the boat to King's Landing. Just as Cersei's child with Jaime will be brought into a precarious position, we fear for the plight that Daenerys and Jon's child will inevitably face as the first Targaryen born in decades. Still, a Jon/Dany baby might just fulfill a whole different prophecy. He, not his parents, could be the Prince that was Promised.
Read These Stories Next: