Stop Using "Friend Zone" to Describe Dany and Jorah's Relationship

Updated on May 1, 2019
Holley Hyler profile image

Holley Hyler is a freelance writer and has been published in Adelaide, Buck Off Magazine, Rebelle Society, and The Urban Howl.


With the first three episodes of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones airing on HBO, there has been a ton of buzz online and plenty of memes about it. This is much to my own delight, but I have noticed quite a few that refer to the relationship between Daenerys Targaryen and Jorah Mormont as "the friend zone." I feel this is an insult to the beauty of this connection between them, so I wanted to write a post to refute it. Please know that I will do my best to keep this post as free of major spoilers as possible for those who are not caught up, but it would be very difficult to write this blog without giving some minimal details on the previous seasons. I will mainly be talking about the show, because I haven't read all the books yet.

Definition of Friend Zone from Wikipedia

In popular culture, the friend zone is a situation in which one member of a friendship wishes to enter into a romantic or sexual relationship, while the other does not. It is generally considered to be an undesirable situation for the rejected person.

Check the Facts

To say that Dany put Jorah in the friend zone implies:

a) that he, at some point, asked her to be in a relationship with him and was denied,
b) that Jorah was unhappy with their relationship as a whole and perhaps expected something more from her.

Jorah has professed his love to Dany and told her that all he wanted was to serve her. (You can watch that segment here.) Without knowing the context behind this scene, you'll see a man who feels deeply for a woman and is letting her know it, but at no point is he demanding with his words or with his energy for her to return his feelings or do anything for him. All he has ever wanted - as he confirms in this segment - is to serve her.

Relationships Have Many Layers

Viewers might find the scene referenced above and the relationship as a whole dissatisfying, because there does appear to be chemistry between these two characters. He clearly loves her and would do anything for her, and she returns at least some of those feelings, judging by her tears in that scene and later (I will say no more).

People might think that Jorah should feel stung or disappointed by her lack of saying "I love you" in return. As a person who has had this experience, I can tell you that it didn't kill me, and I even felt a bit better knowing that my feelings were out in the open.

Many people see strong chemistry that is not acted upon as a waste of opportunity, something that invokes sadness and deep longing. They see it as a rejection from the person who does not openly express the same longing.

While these emotions can be part of the spectrum in a friendship that could clearly be more, but isn't, they are not the entirety of it.

If the Love Was Mutual, What Happened?

If Dany had feelings for Jorah, why did she not act on them? I can think of several reasons. First, I feel it is entirely possible that she did not become fully aware of Jorah's feelings for her until right after she lost Drogo. She did not seem to understand how precious her life was to him until the moment between them that occurred before she climbed on Drogo's funeral pyre. (That moment is included in this compilation.)

After her loss of Drogo, it makes sense that she would not wish to jump into something new with someone else, no matter who it is. Even though things with Drogo got off to a rocky start, she truly loved him in the end.

Second, she was busy doing Queen things! It's true that, in the middle of all this, she still managed to have a fling with Daario Naharis. I call it a fling because it didn't seem to have much depth to it. It seemed more a physical connection than an emotional one. I never did see that same depth between Dany and Daario that existed between her and Jorah. I think she was much too distracted to act on anything she might have felt for Jorah, and many of us have been in situations where there was a person we really, really wanted or felt a profound bond with, but maybe the connection was so deep that it was scary or we felt safer while distracting ourselves with others in more superficial connections.

After all, the way most people think is this: the more superficial it is, the less there is to lose if anything goes awry.

I think the rest of the reasoning comes down to timing. Most of you will know about the rift that formed between them (I forget which season it was - possibly four?), but ultimately, Jorah proved himself to Dany and earned back her trust. He never again broke it. For the anti-spoiler people... I can say no more.

With that rift and all the things that happened after it, timing was not good for them to make something more of their relationship.

I'm sure it was hard for Jorah to see his Queen with other men, but he always stayed by her side, only leaving when she commanded him. Despite all that happened during the course of their relationship and times of separation, there was always something compelling enough for Jorah to go back, to never lose hope for a place in his Queen's life, and for Dany to accept him willingly and with a glad heart. Can the same be said of most romantic relationships?

Call me cynical, but I say no.

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

I am writing this post not only to defend the beauty of this relationship, to hopefully convince people to stop minimizing it, but also to comfort those who have experienced this kind of connection with no or limited ability to actualize it. Being friends in undivided loyalty and unconditional love is a state of perfection that not many human dynamics come close to. That ability to love and be loved, to forgive and be forgiven, unconditionally and irrevocably, is the mark of something very special indeed.

Sexual desire is common, but I would argue that the emotional bond between Daenerys and Jorah is rare. It is extremely evolved, which is why Jorah never demanded anything in return from Dany. In terms of a romantic bond and commitment, I believe Dany had very valid reasons for not going there with Jorah, none of which had anything to do with her not returning his love.

You might feel sad about how things have turned out for Jorah, but I believe he has always been exactly where he needed and wanted to be in Dany's life. Anything else would still be cherished deeply by him, but it is not needed to establish their love, nor to make it apparent to the rest of us.

I think it would be amazing if we could abolish the term "friend zone" altogether, but please, for the love of all that is sacred and holy, do not use it to describe these two.

From season one, I have wanted them to end up together in a romantic relationship. However, for me, this may have somehow taken away from the essence of Jorah's pure love and devotion toward her.

I think the way things ended up was ultimately perfect.

Just like their love.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Holley Hyler


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      • MrBandezReviews profile image

        Anthony Bailey 

        3 months ago

        Ive seen the latest episode, and for me personally i saw this no more than Jorah love and devotion towards Dany. They have been through a lot of the past couple of seasons and have bounced off each other. It seems more like a Father Daughter relationship than a friends zone type thing.


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