Similarities and Parallels Between Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen
Throughout the books and the show, these two characters have had parallel stories that cannot be overlooked.
Jon and Daenerys, the now two main characters of Game of Thrones, have finally met in the seventh season of the show. While many people have called it “fan service,” there have been many clues from the start which have hinted their encounter and romance. In this article, I will explain only their most relevant parallels, because there is an insane amount of them!
First, let’s talk about their birth and childhood. They are both orphans whose parents have died during Robert's Rebellion. Their mothers died in childbirth, and their fathers died before they were born. As soon as they were born, they were smuggled away to be protected: Dany to Essos, and Jon to Winterfell. In these places, they lived as outcasts: Dany was in exile and Jon was allegedly a bastard. They both had a family member who abused them as they grew up (Viserys and Catelyn) and they both grew up in the shadow of their brother. Viserys said he was the “one true king” of Westeros, and Robb was the heir to the North.
Both Jon and Dany started off as secondary characters, and over time they have become the two main ones. Once the story sets off in the first book, AGame of Thrones, both their plots start with a feast that changes the course of their lives: Dany’s wedding feast where her life with the Dothraki starts, and the feast at Winterfell where Jon decides to join the Night’s Watch. These two feasts happen at the same time in the book. Additionally, they both have a connection to magical animals, which are the sigils of their houses (dragons and direwolves), and they “bring” them back to life in the first book, as they had been thought to be extinct.
One of the clearest parallels is their new life in cultures completely different from the ones they're used to. Dany lived with the Dothraki, who are considered the “savages of Essos,” and Jon with the Wildlings, who are considered the “savages of Westeros.” Fast forward, they both ended up leading these groups. Even though they were forced to join them, over time they ended up respecting them and even becoming one of them. Additionally, they both fell in love with someone from those cultures. These had been forced relationships at the start, but both Jon and Dany ended up genuinely falling in love with Ygritte and Drogo. Side note: yes, Ygritte and Jon’s relationship was forced in the books, although in the show, fortunately, they made it more consensual. Ygritte had told Mance that she and Jon slept together to convince him that Jon was a true Wildling and not an impostor, so Jon was forced to do it to convince him so. In the end, both Drogo and Ygritte died in the arms of Dany and Jon, and they both blamed themselves for their deaths for a long time.
Their similarities are evident in almost everything that happens to them. While Jon was mentored by Jeor Mormont, Dany was mentored by his son, Jorah. Ned Stark saved (or tried to save) both of their lives: he promised Lyanna to raise Jon as his son, and when Robert Baratheon wanted to send an assassin to kill Dany, Ned tried to do everything he could to stop him. He even quit his job of Hand of the King for this reason. Also, both Jon and Dany rose to power at a very young age. Dany became Queen of Meereen at fifteen and Jon became Lord Commander at sixteen. Both events happened at the end of the third book.
They both have strived to help the less privileged, so their main alliance had always been with the people. Dany freed the slaves in Slaver’s Bay and Jon saved the Wildlings by letting them pass through the Wall. These acts gained them some enemies, as Dany had been poisoned by, apparently, the Wise Masters of and Jon was killed by his brothers of the Night’s Watch for considering his help to the Wildlings a “treason." Both events happened at the end of the fifth book.
In addition, they both had to make sacrifices and chose duty over love or their own aspirations. Jon had to leave Ygritte and the Wildlings to remain in the Night’s Watch. He also decided to stay at the Watch instead of supporting Robb and fighting for him. He also denied Stannis' proposal to be legitimized as a Stark. Dany has sacrificed Westeros many times over freeing the slaves at Essos, even after being offered the ships and money she needed to leave. She had explicitly said so in the third book:
“Enough,” Dany slapped the table. “No one will be left to die. You are all my people.” Her dreams of home and love had blinded her. “I will not abandon Meereen to the fate of Astapor. It grieves me to say so, but Westeros must wait.”
A crucial parallel for their actual relationship is that neither felt like they had a home, and they long for one throughout the books. Dany and Viserys lived in the streets of Essos, knocking on doors until someone decided they could get something out of giving shelter to the two Targaryens, but put them back in the streets when they saw no further use to accommodating them. Dany recurrently thinks about a house in Braavos, where she had been happy when she was little and was “all she wanted back.” When it comes to Jon, Winterfell did not really feel like home. He always felt like he did not belong or that he was not welcomed there. As he thought in the third book: “He had never truly been a Stark, only Lord Eddard’s motherless bastard, with no more place at Winterfell than Theon Greyjoy.”
Additionally, both think they cannot have children. Dany believes she is barren, as Mirri Maaz Duur told her so in the first book, and Jon does not want to father a bastard and give a child the same harsh life he had to live, and, of course, because of his vows of the Night’s Watch, which did not allow him to father any children (and which are not relevant anymore!).
Some more cool parallels that Martin places in the books are the following:
This is a thought Dany had when she slept with Daario in the fifth book: “Her captain slept beside her, yet she was alone."
And this is a thought that Jon had when he slept Ygritte: “Even with Ygritte sleeping beside him, he felt alone.”
In the fifth book, Jon has the following thought about Stannis while having a conversation with him: “Are you so blind, or is it that you do not wish to see?”
And Dany, in the same book, after finding out that one of her Dragons had murdered a little girl in Meereen, she thinks to herself: “Was I so blind, or did I close my eyes willfully, so I would not have to see the price of power?”
And not only they have both been considered as The Prince that Was Promised (or a part of the prophecy) by red priestesses, but they have also had a red comet appearing in the sky on top of them at the very start of the second season, which means that they have been hinted to be Azor Ahai, a legendary hero who saves the world. Melisandre pointed out in the third book that “[A] red comet blazed across the sky to herald his coming.”
Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that the saga is called A Song of Ice and Fire, and Jon and Dany have represented these two elements throughout the story. Not only in the hot and cold weathers where they lived, but also in their personalities, his stoicism versus her impulsiveness or fervent idealism, which is reflected in their ways of ruling. Could this hint their complementarity not only as individuals but also as politicians? After all, even the director, Alan Taylor, admitted George R.R. Martin said during the filming of the first season that Jon and Dany's relationship was the point of the story.
Finally, a few of the many more parallels pointed out by the showrunners are presented below:
Credits for the gifs: http://midqueenally.tumblr.com/
Martin, George R. R. (1996). A Game of Thrones. New York : Bantam Books.
Martin, George R. R. (2000) A Storm of Swords. New York : Bantam Books.
Martin, George R. R. (2000) A Dance With Dragons. New York : Bantam Books.