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If Danaerys from Game of Thrones could destroy the entire city by herself with only one dragon, why didn't she attack and destroy King's Landing when she first landed in Westeros, had 3 dragons, and there were no giant crossbows?

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She didn't want to be "Queen of the ashes".

(Varys) Now...

(Daenerys) - They cry out for their true queen? They drink secret toasts to my health? People used to tell my brother that sort of thing, and he was stupid enough to believe them. If Viserys had three dragons and an army at his back, he'd have invaded King's Landing already.

(Tyrion) Conquering Westeros would be easy for you. But you're not here to be queen of the ashes.

(Daenerys) No.

(Tyrion) We can take the Seven Kingdoms without turning it into a slaughterhouse. If the great houses support your claim against Cersei, the game is won. With the Tyrell army and the Dornish on our side, we have powerful allies in the south.

(Daenerys, looking at Varys) I never properly thanked you for that.


Game Of Thrones, Season 7, Episode 2 (Stormborn)

She wanted an actual kingdom to rule rather than a few smoldering piles of stone.

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    Cue dramatic head turn by Chancellor Palpatine - Ironic. – Ian May 16 at 6:12
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    I believe the formatting of the quote is misleading. I'm pretty sure some of this was spoken by Tyrion. It was Tyrion that didn't want her to be Queen of Ashes. She reluctantly decided to agree to that. How quickly people forget what her actual opinions were on burning King's Landing to the ground... – zibadawa timmy May 16 at 10:59
  • I've suggested a fixed formatting to properly attribute the lines, but you can't really appreciate the meaning of her response of "No" without watching the scene. She's very clearly being convinced to not burn things to the ground, not simply agreeing to a patently obvious thing she was already pursuing. As such your attribution that she didn't want to be the Queen of Ashes is misleading at best. – zibadawa timmy May 16 at 11:14
  • @zibadawatimmy sorry, my source for the script can be a bit iffy on character cues at times :/ – Daeron May 16 at 12:46
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Because she has been poorly advised by her council. Or, at least that's the in-universe explanation. The real explanation is poor writing by D.B. Weiss and David. Benioff.

When she first arrived to Westeros, the first thing she wanted to do was take King's Landing, but for two reasons, it was postponed.

The first reason is that Tyrion told her that it would be better to leave King's Landing be for now and focus on other targets in Westeros (such as Casterly Rock), since it wouldn't be possible to take King's Landing and the Iron Throne without heavy civilian casualties. Tyrion was wrong. The latest episode demonstrated that the power of a dragon (let alone three) is more than enough to take down the armies defending King's Landing, take down the fleets surrounding King's Landing, and take down the Red Keep itself, without necessarily hurting any civilians. Remember that civilians only started dying in the latest episode in large numbers when Daenerys herself started targetting them.

So Tyrion was wrong and Daenerys could easily have taken King's Landing with minimal casualties in no time, especially considering that when she first arrived at Westeros, her army was much, much stronger than it currently is (she had 2 more dragons, and the full Unsullied and Dothraki armies).

The second reason it was postponed was because of an apparent threat by the army of the Night King. However, this was a poor reason as well. Firstly, because the undead army was not an immediate threat at that point. They were still beyond the Wall, and while Daenerys help would definitely be needed in mounting a defense once the Wall was breached, that had not happened yet. When you then factor into the fact that Daenerys could take King's Landing in a matter of hours, establish herself Queen, and unite all the forces of Westeros, and only then join Jon in fighting the undead army, wouldn't that be much better? It would.

In short: she didn't take Westeros immediately because Tyrion is an idiot and because Jon convinced her to fight the undead army prematurely even though she had plenty of time to take King's Landing first.

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    So Tyrion was wrong and Daenerys could easily have taken King's Landing with minimal casualties in no time The objective is not just to take the throne but also to hold it. Given sufficient war crimes, the odds of other factions banding together to drive you out increases. The more gruesome Dany acts, the more that otherwise divided people will consider her a mutual enemy (very similar to the Night King argument of "us vs them"). Tyrion erred on the side of ruling long-term and thus avoiding or minimizing the odds of a future rebellion. – Flater May 16 at 10:46
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    Daenerys could take King's Landing in a matter of hours, establish herself Queen, and unite all the forces of Westeros How can you guarantee that she unites all the forces? We've seen plenty of times where lords change their alliance, break their vows, or refuse to partake in a changed situation. Pretty much anyone who was loyal to the Iron Throne will intially reject the foreign usurper. – Flater May 16 at 10:48
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    I also don't think you can attribute this to bad writing. Tyrion and Jon's (and Varys') reasons for their arguments were well explored and explained. Regardless of whether their advice was correct, this isn't a matter of bad writing or inexplicable plot turns. Tyrion is considering the long game and sees the PR benefit in helping defeat the Walkers. Jon has no interest other than defeating the Walkers, so his stance is clear cut: the Walkers need to be dealt with before anything else. – Flater May 16 at 10:51
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    @Flater is absolutely right. We had an entire season (or two?) of Dany struggling to hold Mereen after she took it very easily but made enemies of powerful factions that united against her and resisted ongoing rule. Taking the city was the easy part. Maybe the writers could have spoon-fed the viewers more, by reminding them of this...? – user56reinstatemonica8 May 16 at 12:27
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Burning innocent people who had no choice about where they wound up living would have gone against her stated goal of liberating the common folk from mad despots and tyrants.

Daenerys Targaryen : Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell they're all just spokes on a wheel. This ones on top, then that ones on top and on and on it spins crushing those on the ground.

Tyrion Lannister : It's a beautiful dream, stopping the wheel. You're not the first person who's ever dreamt it.

Daenerys Targaryen : I'm not going to stop the wheel, I'm going to break the wheel.

And there are several time in the show when she does want to go into burn-overkill mode (against the rebelling slaver cities and then King's Landing after her setbacks at sea and Highgarden), and she gets talked out of it by her advisors, so it's not like the thought never occurred to her.

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    Yes, she was always conflicted. Her moralizing speeches were against this sort of thing, but when she was stressed and pressed to act she was very in favor of quick, brutal burninations. The whole wheel and freedom stuff was only present when it was convenient and expedient. But when people tried to reject her and reassert the lives and systems they had before...that's when you saw the true Daenerys. – zibadawa timmy May 16 at 11:05
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Well she could have, but:

  • She didn't fully know what she was up against at that point. How could she be sure they didn't have any anti-dragon defense.
  • She decided to help Jon first, if she didn't she could have gotten there sooner
  • At that point she listened to here advisors and had some form of.. morale
  • Wouldn't have been a fun couple of seasons if she did, would it?
  • Hi there! This seems like a good answer but would benefit greatly from a quote or two. – Daeron May 16 at 2:12
  • She could very easily be sure, because she had Tyrion and Varys who had lived in King's Landing until recently – Gaius May 16 at 5:18
  • @Gaius When they lived there, there was no threat of dragons attacking. When she arrives, there suddenly is, and they have no way of knowing if or how the defenses have been changed to reflect that. – Geobits May 16 at 12:45

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