The eighth and final season of the acclaimed HBO drama Game of Thrones, touted by showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff along with the cast as heartbreaking and exciting, will bring to a close everything that the series has been building towards over the previous seven seasons. The final season will reportedly feature the longest battle sequence in cinematic history as the living, led by Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, square off against the Night King and his army of wights for control of Westeros.
Theories abound as to who will sit upon the Iron Throne by the series' end and who will be revealed as Azor Ahai, the prince that was promised. Among those theorized to be Azor Ahai are Jon and Daenerys. However, a new theory posits that Daenerys may not be the prince who was promised after all, but rather the final villain in the series, supplanting the Night King and Cersei Lannister as the greatest threat to Westeros.
In the fan theories subreddit, user nanoelite created a thread outlining why Dany will prove to be the ultimate big bad of the final season of Game of Thrones. The basis of the theory is that Dany represents a more interesting and dangerous villain than either the Night King or Cersei, as they are both far too easy to root against (though another user in the thread suggested that the Night King, under the control of Bran Stark, is marching the army of the dead south of The Wall specifically to stop Dany from ascending the Iron Throne).
The theory proposes Dany as the ultimate villain because she tends to operate in a morally grey area, despite being presented as a morally good character. The methods by which she operates and upholds her worldviews have been pretty brutal and devoid of any real ethics. Dany's actions in abolishing slavery, ending the chaos in Westeros and stopping the Dothraki and Ironborn from raping and pillaging are all morally good. Conversely, she used her dragons to decimate an army on the march before executing Randyll and Dickon Tarly, both of whom were taken as prisoners of war, for refusing to bend the knee to her cause.
Daenerys has pledged that she isn't going to stop the "wheel," but rather break it. This theory suggests the wheel that Dany is referring to isn't the moral failings of Westeros, but rather the political system in which ultimate power is placed in individuals and not the rule of law. If Dany were to ascend to the Iron Throne, it would represent more of the same. A ruler with a steadfast belief in her worldviews who's willing to use any means necessary to enforce them.
This theory does provide some interesting food for thought. Game of Thrones portrays a fantasy world with medieval realism. The series examines the brutality of war, the political struggles for the Iron Throne and the morality, or lack thereof, of its characters. In that sense, Daenerys Targaryen would be a fitting villain.
Having the Night King or Cersei be the final villain of the series would be in opposition of the themes that Game of Thrones portrays. Apart from a flashback sequence in which it is revealed that the White Walkers are the result of the Children of the Forest piercing the hearts of men with dragonglass in hopes of ending their conflict, which ultimately backfired, not much is known about them or their motivations. Cersei, on the other hand, has only been portrayed as an evil character who's only become more evil as the seasons went on.
Game of Thrones has sought to distance itself from the typical good versus evil theme that is all too common in fantasy stories, instead opting to present characters as having the capacity for both good and evil. Having Daenerys become the evil she sought to destroy, despite her good intentions, would be a more than fitting ending to the series. After all, George R. R. Martin has stated that "the true horrors of human history derive not from orcs and Dark Lords, but from ourselves."
Season 8 of Game of Thrones, the show’s final season, will premiere April 14. It will feature six episodes with longer than usual runtimes. The HBO drama stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.