Why Drogon Acted So Unexpectedly in the 'Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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As expressive as they can be, it's tough to know what's going on in a dragon's mind. But somewhere behind all the teeth and the scales, the deadly and majestic creatures must possess brains, which provide intuition and help them make decisions. Over the course of the series, Daenerys's city-destroying dragon Drogon, the last of her three magical children, consistently displayed a degree of emotional intelligence and a fierce sense of loyalty to his mother and commander. So, the series finale leaves us with one burning question: Why didn't he avenge her?

After thrusting a dagger through the heart of his lover and relative, Jon Snow must have known that Drogon wouldn't be very far off. Earlier this season, the dragon gave him a suspicious look after he kissed the Queen, a glance that launched a thousand memes, and that was a comparatively low-stakes encounter. When Drogon did appear after Dany's death, he looked like he was going to kill Jon Snow, showing off his chompers and flashing the inside of his throat, but then he pivoted to impromptu blacksmithing, melting down the Iron Throne into a pile of molten lava.

As the flames cooled, Drogon tenderly nudged his Mother. Then, in a moving act of devotion, he scooped her up into his claws and soared into the air, carrying her away into the clouds and leaving a spot of blood on the ash-covered floor of the demolished throne room. If the episode had ended there, fans would have likely rioted in the streets over the lack of "closure," but it would have been pretty metal.

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Why did Drogon burn the Iron Throne?

Let's get one thing out of the way: Drogon burned down the Iron Throne because it looked cool. The first 40 minutes of the Game of Thrones series finale possessed a number of images with a horrific, over-the-top potency -- Tyrion discovering his brother's golden hand in the rubble, dragon wings appearing behind Dany's back as she appeared on the stairs, Drogon emerging from under an enormous pile of ashes as Jon Snow approached the throne room -- but the sight of Drogon laying waste to the Iron Throne, the show's terrifying symbol of monarchy and warfare, was as striking as the series has ever been. In their first episode as directors, show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss weren't afraid to unleash hell.

Besides the visual spectacle, the moment also had thematic power to it. On some level, Drogon clearly knew that despite the fact that Jon Snow just killed his mother, the former King of the North was not the real enemy in this situation. With its strong grip on the imaginations of the leaders in Westeros, the Iron Throne itself was the source of so much of the suffering, murdering, and scheming that drove the series. Instead of arguing that individuals were inherently evil or cruel, the show presented a world where good men and women acted against their better instincts in the hope of wielding the chair's power. Just look at the awed way Daenerys approached the chair, like it might start levitating or shooting sparks at any moment.

But, in the end, the Iron Throne didn't have any innate power or mystical qualities. It was just a fancy piece of furniture, a fact that Drogon affirmed by melting it to the ground. (The moment was slyly echoed later in the episode when Tyrion, back in his old role as the Hand of the King, spent time fiddling with the chairs before his first big meeting.) While it's possible to speculate that Drogon was consumed with grief in that moment and just wanted to set something ablaze, I like to think he knew he was helping to destroy the system that turned him into a winged instrument of death.


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Where did Drogon take Daenerys?

After incinerating the Iron Throne, Drogon wraps one of his giant claws around Dany's body and carries her off. Where? No one knows. Maybe he's heading back to the wastelands beyond Lhazar, where he was born. Maybe he's going back to Dragonstone. Maybe he's just flying as far away as possible from the scene of Dany's demise.

There will certainly be theories about where Drogon ended up and what role he could play in future stories set in George R.R. Martin's larger fantasy universe. Was he preparing Dany for a burial or possibly readying her for a resurrection as a dragon herself? Will Bran attempt to find him by warging his way across the lands, as he suggests during the council meeting? Could Arya find more dragons in the unexplored parts of the world she set sail toward? Those questions are up in the air at this point, and will likely remain that way. For now, you can always remember Drogon as a breaker of traditions and a melter of thrones.

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Dan Jackson is a senior entertainment writer at Thrillist. He's on Twitter @danielvjackson.