Daenerys Targaryen: The EPITOME of a Third Culture Kid

Daenerys Targaryen: The EPITOME of a TCK


Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons, and the EPITOME of a Third Culture Kid.


Dany? Third Culture? Whaaa?

We meet her as a girl exiled from her homeland of Westeros. She’s young, lost, and afraid. The only family she has left to rely on is her brother Viserys. 

Seriously, how TC can this get? Grew up away from home. Check. Moved around a lot. Check. Had to be very independent. Check. #soTC

SidebarI’m reading the books right now, and just found out that Viserys was going to take Dany’s virginity the night before her forced marriage to Khal Drogo. This girl is all alone because that is not how you treat family… I hope.

While she grew up in the foreign land of Essos, Dany had nothing but stories to paint her a picture of where she came from. She had to be self-reliant because she didn’t have the luxury of a community or people that she could trust. She didn’t settle anywhere for too long, and instead, kept running from one city to the next, never having a place to truly call home.

Seriously, how TC can this get? Grew up away from home. Check. Moved around a lot. Check. Had to be very independent. Check. #soTC


A Model Third Culture Kid

It’s easy to see how much Dany has grown when you reflect on where she came from. She was weak during her years of abuse by an entitled boy (same story arc as Sansa with Joffrey!), but the arrival of the Dothraki became the catalyst for her transformation into the dragon-riding warrior that we know her as now.

Here are some ways that Dany overcame her challenges to become one hell of a role model for Third Culture Kids today:

1. She learned how to adapt to different cultures

It took her a while to find her confidence, but she first found it as she learned to adapt to a different culture. Like what many of us go through, Dany went to a foreign land and experienced culture shock. She kept a muted expression as she watched the Dothraki killing and having sex with each other openly during her wedding. She felt that she needed to hide her true feelings because it wouldn’t be appropriate to express horror towards something that’s totally normally for these people. As the new kid in the group, she’s being more observant to figure out how to fit in.

While she initially thought of the Dothraki as Others, she put her judgments aside and recognized them as merely human beings with different customs. She mingled among them and actively looked to learn about the people – their history, traditions, and beliefs. She even showed the Dothraki the utmost sign of intrigue and respect by learning their language. 

We saw her final transformation when she ate the horse heart and was celebrated as one of them. With an open mind and an open heart, Dany showed a genuine appreciation of another culture and earned their acceptance.

2. She found her own people

Dany struggled to find her own people. To contrast her, Sansa Stark returned to Winterfell and was welcomed back by loyal Northerners, a community she shares religion and history and dismal winters with. However, Dany is not exactly Westerosi, not really from Braavos, and not born into a Dothraki clan either. Her ambiguous background means that she’s treated like a foreigner by all parties. So where are her people?

It didn’t come easy for her, but Dany still found her own love and support. She did so by caring for others (freeing slaves), displaying her power (emerging from fire with three live dragons), and uniting people in her vision for a better world led by a just ruler (aka no more Cersei). Through her efforts, Dany was able to attract people from Westeros and Essos to pledge their loyalty to her.

Total Third Culture move here because she has to work a little harder on her bonds.

3. She defined her own values

Dany’s influenced by many different cultures, some of which contrast each other (Targaryn right to rule as a birthright vs Dothraki earning the right to rule). Yet despite this internal clash of cultures, she held her own ground by picking and choosing the values she wants to abide by.

Dany’s chosen to stand up for the weak. She feels an affinity to them because her brother treated her like a slave, so she spun that bad experience into some constructive good by freeing slaves from the cities she conquers. Now that it’s a solidified cornerstone of her mission to stand up for the downtrodden, she doesn’t let herself be swayed and she isn’t afraid to clash with others over it.

Dany’s developed a good sense of self and stayed true to her values throughout.

4. She became a strong leader

It’s been a long journey for Dany, who blossomed from a fearful girl into a fierce woman. Her vision, determination, and moral compass have won her support far and wide. Now, as a leader, Dany creates her own culture.

“Do you think I have forgotten how it felt to be afraid?”

That is a huge undertaking because, while Dany is strong as hell, she still has moments where she feels lost, in over her head, and unsure of herself. You see this in her interactions with Tyrion and Jon Snow when she asks for advice, dropping her guard to reveal a sliver of fear. It shows that strength is not the absence of fear. After all, isn’t it part of the human experience to have life throw curveballs at you?

“Do you think I have forgotten how it felt to be afraid?” – Daenerys while talking to Ser Barristan Selmy in A Storm of Swords

Dany shows strength in the way she handles uncertainty, relying on those that give her good council and who, as Tyrion puts it, guards her against her worst instincts. While we see her confiding and listening to this very selective group of individuals, outside of that, she projects a consistent image of strength to inspire followers and lead by example.


In Conclusion: “Dracarys”

Whatever happens to Dany in the final season of Game of Thrones (love? betrayal? Iron Throne?), she should be remembered for her persistence that propelled her from a powerless exile to the Mother of Dragons. She has been thrown from one unfamiliar environment to another, but she doesn’t get consumed with her past, and focuses her energy on her future instead. She finds a strength within her by adapting to other cultures, building her own connections, and defining her own values. Before, she was never fully accepted by one group. Now, she is the accepted leader of many different groups.

Cue the music: “Da-na, Na-na-na-na…”



For more on how GOT and TCs are similar check out our previous article: “7 Reasons why GOT is so TC!”




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