‘Game of Thrones’ 101: Why Daenerys Says She Can’t Have Children

Daenerys Targaryen lost a baby back in Season 1 of “Game of Thrones,” and ever since then, she’s believed the only children she’ll ever have are her dragons

(Note: This post contains some light spoilers from Season 1 and Season 7 of “Game of Thrones.”)

At last, Daenerys Stormborn’s (Emilia Clarke) quest to reclaim the Iron Throne for the Targaryens is fully underway on “Game of Thrones.” But there’s an important question that comes up when discussing what happens after (presumably) Daenerys wins: who will lead the realm after she dies?

She very well could die, after all. Wars are dangerous, and as a dragon rider, Daenerys is often on (or above) the front lines. The problem is, she says she can’t have children. She refers to her three dragons as her children, of course, but she maintains to her Hand of the King, Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage), and to Jon Snow (Kit Harington), that she’s incapable of having additional human kids.

Daenerys was pregnant once of course, way back in Season 1. She lost that baby, but why does that mean she can’t have more kids? The reasoning goes to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books on which “Game of Thrones” is based, and it has to do with magic.

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In Season one of “Game of Thrones,” Daenerys was married to then-leader of the Dothraki Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), and rode around with his khalasar, the horde of warriors a khal commands. The Dothraki are nomads, and they live to conquer, sacking cities and villages, raping and pillaging, and taking slaves wherever they go.

When Khal Drogo and his forces sacked one such village late in the first season, one of their captives was a midwife named Mirri Maz Duur, who Daenerys saved from what she thought was the first of many rapes to come at the hands of Dothraki warriors. Daenerys came to trust Mirri, even though the Dothraki warned her that the woman was a witch.

Later, Drogo sparred with one of his bloodriders and killed him, but not before he was cut in the chest. The cut got infected and Drogo became seriously ill. So Daenerys asked if there was a healer among the people now with the khalasar. Mirri Maz Duur stepped forward.

Drogo got worse and began to die, and Daenerys asked Mirri to use blood magic to save him. Mirri told Daenerys that a sacrifice would be required to save Drogo, so Daenerys had his horse killed. But Mirri tricked Dany: It was really her unborn child, Rhaegal, who was paying the price for his father’s life — Daenerys miscarried. And worse, while Drogo’s life was saved, he came back brain dead.

The whole thing was a chance to get revenge for what the Dothraki did to Mirri’s village.

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After losing Rhaegal, Daenerys asked Mirri when she’d get Drogo back, to which the witch replied: “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east. When the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves.” Daenerys is forced to kill the brain dead Drogo, and Mirri along with him.

But in the first of the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books on which the show is based, there’s another line to Mirri’s curse: “When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child.”

Essentially, the reason Daenerys thinks she can’t have children is that Mirri cursed her, killed her baby and wrecked her husband. Repeatedly in the book series, Daenerys recalls Mirri’s words and assumes she’s cursed, although she doesn’t have a ton of evidence backing it up.

In the books, Mirri gives Daenerys a weird drink while she’s in labor, which might have had some effect on the health of Rhaegal when he was born. The other stuff Mirri said could have been a misdirection — and that might mean that Daenerys is wrong about her inability to get pregnant. She even seems to suffer a miscarriage later in the books, after eating berries that have a familiar, bitter taste. It’s possible she accidentally ate the same stuff that Mirri gave her that caused her to lose Rhaegal.

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So Daenerys believes she can’t get pregnant thanks to a magic curse. At least in the show, she apparently hasn’t been ever since Season 1. But the evidence backing up that belief is pretty thin, in both the show and the books. And now that the question of Daenerys’ heir is coming up, just how the curse works, or doesn’t, will definitely be something to worry about when we finally get to Season 8.