Game Of Thrones: Character Analysis Of Ned Stark

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For my assessment task, I chose to assess one of Ned Starks many moral dilemmas. As pretty much all of his decisions have something to do with morals, I thought he would be an interesting character to choose. The moral dilemma I’m assessing is Ned Stark’s decision to defend and not kill Daenerys Targaryen.

His Character

Ned Stark is a very headstrong character. He has a strong moral compass and believes in duty and honour and is quick to obey orders from his king. He has a much simpler view of morality than the other characters in A Game of Thrones. However, his morality and duty of a Kingsman come to clash against one another in a council meeting.

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So, What Happened?

Ned Stark was called to a council meeting with various other members of the small council and when he got there, he learned the news, Daenerys Targaryen (exiled heir to the Iron Throne) was pregnant or, as Robert Baratheon (current King on the Iron Throne) put very nicely, ‘The whore is pregnant!’. The issue is, Robert wants to kill Daenerys and the baby, but Ned believes it is immoral and wrong seeing as she’s only a child. Robert thinks that Daenerys will give birth to a son that will lead an army of Dothraki and invade Westeros, where he currently rules. Ned, however, doesn’t stand for it because she’s only fourteen and they don’t even know if it’s a boy or girl. He also doesn’t think that the Dothraki will ever be able to invade Westeros because they’re afraid of water and you have to cross a lot of water to get to Westeros.

Robert is adamant that Daenerys has to die and threatens to take away Ned’s position in court, the Hand to the King, and give it to someone who will do what Robert wants. Ned, still sticking to his moral compass, resigns from being the hand and leaves the council room.

What is the Moral Dilemma?

Ned has to choose between letting Robert send out assassins to kill the pregnant Daenerys, or, refusing to let Robert end both Daenerys’s life and her unborn child, at least while he’s hand.

This is a moral dilemma for Ned as he’s always had a very strong belief that you shouldn’t harm children. Maybe it comes from the fact that he has children and a daughter, Sansa, who is around Daenerys’s age, and put his daughter in Daenerys’s shoes. Maybe his belief stemmed from his sister, Lyanna’s death, seeing as she was only a teenager when she died because of a King. However, he also believes in duty, the duty being serving his King without a second thought, without hesitation. He wants to serve his King and do what Robert tells him to do, but when what he has to do is try to kill a child and her baby, he doesn’t know what to do.

Ned desperately tries to convince Robert not to kill Daenerys, trying to get him to see Ned’s point of view before he has to take any drastic measures. His attempts, however, are unsuccessful. Robert still wants to kill her and the child on the slight possibility that it’s a boy actually gets born, lives through childhood, convinces Dothraki to cross over water and invade Westeros.

Ned now has a tough decision to make, whether or not he does as his King commands of him. He reminds Robert how many times he’s done as Robert asks, how many times he’s followed him into battle, trying to get it across to Robert that he’s loyal to him, but he won’t stand for the killing of a pregnant child.

He eventually makes the choice to resign from his position as Hand and not stand for what he believes is morally wrong.

What are the Consequences?

The consequences of Ned’s decision go as follows:

He resigns from being the Hand.

Robert threatens to chop Ned’s head off and put it on a stick.

Robert sends out assassins to kill Daenerys.

One assassin actually gets to Daenerys and tries to kill her by poisoning wine and giving it to her.

He gets caught and Daenerys’s husband, Khal Drogo gets mad.

Kahl Drogo decides to travel across the Narrow Isles to get to Westeros and teach Robert a lesson for trying to kill his wife and unborn child.

Jaime gets mad that Ned’s wife, Catelyn kidnaps his younger brother and since Ned isn’t the Hand anymore, attacks him and his group of friends, injuring Ned in the process.

Kahl Drogo dies while raiding villages to get gold for boats to Westeros.

Daenerys decides to take over from Drogo and leads an entire army to Westeros, causing the deaths of millions in the process.

Did he Make the Right Choice?

Personally, I believe he made the right choice in the moment with the knowledge he had. Daenerys then was a young girl who was sold to a horse lord and got pregnant. He didn’t know what would happen in the future which, arguably only happened because Robert sent out assassins to kill her. Ned decided that sticking to his morals was the better choice and honestly, so do I.

What Would I do?

If I was in Ned’s position with no knowledge of what would happen in the future, I don’t think I would’ve been able to refuse to send people to kill her. In Westeros, the hero doesn’t prevail, only the most cunning survive. Because as Queen Cersei says, ‘When you play the Game of Thrones you win, or you die. There is no middle ground’.


Ned Stark faced a difficult moral dilemma in which he had to choose between duty (serving his king and allowing Daenerys to be killed because she was pregnant) or his morals (sticking up against his King and not allowing her to be killed). In the end, his morals won. Was it the right choice? Well, that’s subjective.


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