How Emilia Clarke Wants Fans to Remember Daenerys From ‘Game of Thrones’

Game of Thrones, at last, came to an end Sunday, May 19. With years of expectations surrounding the finale to a nine-year saga, the episode was bound to satisfy some and upset others. However, though most television conclusions are divisive, the Game of Thrones finale has been at the center of a contentious debate, with many fans of the series arguing that it just fell flat.

Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke | Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Negative reviews have been circling the internet, and a petition pushing for a redo has gained notoriety; many feel the final season, and the last episode, failed to embody the Game of Thrones essence and wow-factor inherent to the show’s earlier seasons.

The “everybody gets what they deserve” decision seemed out of line with the show’s former trends: killing main characters who don’t deserve to die, pushing children out of windows, etc. Following the widespread criticism, stars of the show have spoken out against the backlash. Sophie Turner criticized fans for the “disrespectful” petition and Kit Harington got a bit more heated.

Emilia Clarke, the one behind the famous Daenerys Targaryen, has spoken out regarding her character’s conclusion, and why fans see her the way they do at the end. Whether or not you agree with Clarke’s reasoning, the decision is grounded in the actress’s understanding of who the character is.

Emilia Clarke does not want fans to reduce Daenerys to a “Mad Queen”

Emilia Clarke discussed her final scenes with The New Yorker and explained how she wanted the character to be remembered. She stated:

“I wanted to play a game with what the scene was about. It’s not that I wanted to show her as “mad,” because I really don’t like that word. I don’t enjoy fans calling me “the Mad Queen.” But she is so far gone in grief, in trauma, and in pain. And yet our brains are fascinating in the way that they find a fast route to feel O.K., whether you’re relying on a substance or you’re mildly deluded.

If you see abuse in someone young, they often are able to mentally leave the room. I wanted Daenerys to be there. I wanted to show her as we saw her in the beginning: young, naïve, childlike, open, and full of love and hope. I wanted so much for that to be the last memory of her.”

The New Yorker

Though Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys turns to “madness,” Clarke explains that the character it not vindictive or revenge-seeking at her core. Daenerys’ circumstances turned her into the so-called “Mad Queen.”

The actress hopes that, when fans look back on the show, they do not merely remember the Mother of Dragons as the one who went mad, but rather, as the woman who was filled with hope: the woman with the heart required for mercy and the determination needed to lead.

Daenerys’ conclusion in ‘Game of Thrones’ was not easy on Emilia Clarke

Emilia Clarke was one of the few people who knew the fate of the character; however, after years of playing a character that she looked up to and admired – a character she grew to feel one with – the shift to full-blown “Mad Queen” was an emotional rollercoaster for Clarke. She explained:

“I’d be sitting around the table with my family being, like, ‘Guys, out of curiosity, what do you think of Daenerys? Do you like her? Do you think she’s nice? Do you like her?’”

The New Yorker

Clarke goes on to explain that one of her close friends – after listening to snippets from several of Clarke’s conversations – guessed that she turned bad. Clarke, understanding and believing that this was the inevitable fall-out for her character, said the ending was still “a shocker to read.” However, she told The New Yorker that she didn’t think “there was any other way.”