The Song of Ice and Fire Varys is different from the Game of Thrones Varys, still it seems out of character for either to support the Targaryen claim to the throne.

We know very little about Varys' background. We know he was in the small council of king Robert because of his skills. It was the same when he served the Mad King, he has no family ties to one house or another. He could easily sell his skills anywhere, he is in no way tied to Kings Landing.

But even assuming that Kings Landing is the best place for a man like Varys, there is no reason for him to support the Targaryens, as we learn he and Illyrio Mopatis did.

First it is a (very) long-shot. Second, Illyrio, Varys and Doran Martell initially plan to put Viserys on the throne (in the books). Viserys who was as evil and incompetent as Joffrey, and undoubtedly would have done many evil and stupid things before getting himself killed, if he were put on the throne.

And thirdly, the Targaryens have magic and Varys fears and loaths magic.

  • Doesn't feel right to post as an answer, but according to a theory proposed by Alt Shift X, Varys may be a Targaryen (well, Blackfyre) himself - thus why he (in the books) seemingly seeks to put "young Griff" on the throne - a Blackfyre posing as a true Targaryen. GOT has established that lineage can often be recognized by hair color, and Varys may be intentionally bald to hide his (possibly) Targaryen hair color. It's a theory, but AFAIK a reasonable one that would (if correct) answer your question.
    – Flater
    Nov 8, 2018 at 7:26
  • the Targaryens have magic and Varys fears and loaths magic I think it would be more accurate to say that Varys hates magic wielders (i.e. those who actively practice it); and that the Targaryens somehow are magically infused. I can't think of a Targaryen that actively wielded or practiced magic - certainly not the currently living ones.
    – Flater
    Nov 8, 2018 at 7:27

2 Answers 2


According to the Game of Thrones TV Series Wikipedia, Varys supported the Targaryens from the start of the series and before, during the rein of the Mad King.

Despite his previous loyalty to the Targaryens, Varys was pardoned by the new King Robert Baratheon and allowed to keep his position on the Small Council under the advice of his Hand, Jon Arryn.

One of his jobs was to keep an eye on the movements of the Mad King's surviving heirs, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen, and ensure they do not become a threat to King Robert's reign.

However, as neither the books or the TV series are complete, I do not think we necessarily know Varys' true intent and support reasoning around the OP's question, especially because he does seemingly agree with Robert Baratheon on the assassination of Daenerys during a small council meeting. (Season 1) and because Daenerys behavior & choices, especially some actions taken in season 7, could prove to go against the grain of Varys' [alleged] beliefs.

Here is some Vary's (TV Version) introspection through some of the character's dialogue which mostly suggests his support for Daenerys:

  • How he feels about supporting the lie of 'false power' of Monarchs of the [Iron] Throne:

    “What do we have left, once we abandon the lie? Chaos? A gaping pit waiting to swallow us all.”

  • About his ambitions (to Tyrion)

    “Peace. Prosperity. A land where the powerful do not prey on the powerless… Perhaps. And perhaps we’ve grown so used to horror we assume there’s no other way.”

  • And [allegedly] what kind of Leadership he desires (again to Tyrion, about Daenerys)

    "The Seven Kingdoms need someone stronger than Tommen, but gentler than Stannis. A monarch who could intimidate the High Lords and inspire the people. A ruler loved by millions, with a powerful army, and the right family name… Who said anything about ‘him’?”

However, again I think it's debatable if this is truly where Varys' legions lie, or will continue to lie.

Some other things to consider about his beliefs, loyalty, or undiscovered motivations:

His mysterious ESSOS past:

As Varys finishes his tale, he finally finishes prying the last nail out of the crate and opens it - revealing none other than the elderly sorcerer, the same one that castrated Varys so many years ago. He is still alive but gagged, and was shipped to Varys in the crate. Using his own life as an example, Varys thus urges Tyrion to be patient, and his revenge will come to him in time. Varys then closes the lid of the box again, with the sorcerer still inside. http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Varys

It's unclear what exactly happened to the Sorcerer after this point and if it bears any significance on future plots of the series and/or if this Sorcerer is another known or established character throughout either the TV series' or books' histories, but in theory, it could. Especially since the TV series also chose to save Euron Greyjoy for last, whom also *could still pack a punch, depending if he will more ardently live up to his book counterpart. Although an unreliable narrator, the character has relationships to Essos and its magical practitioners.

In addition there is the semi-hostile exchange between Varys' and Melisandre in season 7. There is something rather ironic in way the scene is written, given how Varys feels about those that use magic, when Melisandre, a practitioner of Magic also from the continent of Essos, and someone who believes in Daenerys (and Jon Snow) also, prophesizes Varys' fate.

Passage contains season 7 spoilers

Melisandre says that she will stay away from both Jon and Daenerys as her days of "whispering in the ears of kings" are over – a direct dig at Varys's chosen position. Melisandre declares that she has "brought ice and fire together" and that her work is done. Varys is delighted to hear that she will depart for Volantis soon, and advises her not to return to Westeros. Melisandre states that she cannot follow that advice, as she must return to Westeros once more to face her end: like Varys, it is her fate to die in Westeros.

And lastly his book counterpart seems to support "a believed to be fake" (by most readers' standards) Targaryen, a character who goes by "Young Griff", whose not been introduced in the TV series. Varys wants to put him on the Iron Throne. But again, the TV series and books are not finished, may end up having some significant variations (which there already are some), and/or it's possible some book plots could still be introduced in the final season. In any case, because of those things, it's unclear if this piece of information matters at all on the TV series.

  • 2
    There is no way they'll add Young Griff or the likes to the show. They've got six (long) episodes left with at least one major battle (Westeros vs the Others), there's no time for anything like that. Just look at the ridiculous way they got rid of Littlefinger as an example of the show cleaning house in order to focus on a small group of characters.
    – BCdotWEB
    Jan 8, 2018 at 10:48
  • 1
    I doubt they will add Young Griff either, but I think they need some other plots than just the others vs westoros, since some episodes will be featured length (80+) minutes. All six episodes can't be all epic battles--there is still going to have to be some political and tactical manuavering involved outside of that. I just mentioned it on the off chance, and because it does relate to book Varys. Jan 8, 2018 at 13:43
  • It will be boring if there are no unexpeted monkey wrenches. About LF: On one hand, I felt like ya, would LF --- so easily/stupidly? On another, I do like some of ways that came about, including book fans have the advantage of knowing his Braavosi heritage, and I do think there was an irony that he could not take on three younger persons and that it would be Cat's kids that would be his ---. Jan 8, 2018 at 13:51
  • 2
    @BCdotWEB: While (show) young Griff is likely not going to be added - (show) Varys may still be pro-Targaryen because that mirrors (book) Varys. (book) Varys' pro-Targaryen attitude causes him to be in a certain place doing certain things, and even with the omission of (show) young Griff, (show) Varys may need to be in the same place doing the same things for other story elements that are carried over from the books.
    – Flater
    Nov 8, 2018 at 7:33
  • 1
    I read in an interview that the director of the Red Wedding episode came back to direct one episode in the last season and its duration topped a little over an hour but not quite feature-length, so I would expect the same for the other five episodes, roughly an hour each
    – m1gp0z
    Nov 29, 2018 at 20:57

In Varys' mind the realm is best ruled by a Targaryen under his control. In the books he planned to install a (fake) Targaryen who would rule the land under his control. (Varys himself is possibly a Blackfyre, and thus related to the Targaryens.)

That Viserys turned out to be not up to the job, was unfortunate; but Varys likely had considered ways to control him in due time. His death removed that obstacle, leaving Daenerys who would likely be easily controllable. But then Daenerys gained dragons and turned out to be quite the ruler herself. And once you have dragons, you'll likely easily conquer Westeros -- hence Varys joining her side.

Let's also not forget that he had a foe at the Lannister court: Littlefinger.

And yes, his skills would be valuable elsewhere, but Varys is already getting on in age, so moving to a totally different city and setting up a new network would be a significant undertaking.

In the end, the simplifications of the show meant that plenty of story-lines that only were unveiled in later books were simply dismissed, but that was not planned for early on in the show.

  • "fake"? I didn't get that from the books, or is it in parentheses to indicate a possibility? Jan 8, 2018 at 18:06
  • 1
    @PoloHoleSet It's a pretty common theory--if you look up "Faegon" you can find evidence for and against it.
    – Kitkat
    Jan 8, 2018 at 19:01
  • @Kitkat - Yeah, there are theories for just about everything, plausible and not. I was asking if this was a fan theory or if I missed something in the books, specifically. Jan 8, 2018 at 19:18
  • 1
    @PoloHoleSet It's a fan theory with a decent amount of supporting evidence--not as much as R+L=J, but up there. But yes, still a theory only at this point.
    – Kitkat
    Jan 8, 2018 at 19:41
  • 1
    "That Viserys turned out to be not up to the job, was unfortunate;". There's another fan theory that Varys planned on using Viserys to overthrow the current king, and then letting Viserys be overthrown by the (possibly fake) Targaryen heir.
    – alexgbelov
    Jan 9, 2018 at 1:01

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