From humble beginnings (well, as humble as HBO primetime can be), Game of Thrones grew from a niche series applauded by fans of the books to an international sensation. It has magic, political intrigue, sword-fighting, unadulterated lovemaking (several times per episode), dragons, and even a bit of humor sprinkled in between our broken hopes and dreams. It's no surprise how famous it's become, spawning a plethora of fan art, fan fiction, plot theories, and, of course, gorgeous cosplay.
In one interview, Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt... (and so on, because seriously, that girl has so many names), revealed the reason she felt nudity, in particular, was so empowering. The explicit nature of the show is no secret and is actually a significant reason for its success. Rather than take offense, scores of fans and cosplayers embraced the "liberal" nature of many of Westeros' (and Essos') fashion trends. Even still, most outfits retain a classier and more elegant look. With this in mind, let's explore some talented cosplayers. You'll get some background info but don't worry, no spoilers from the current season. Also just a heads up, most of these are of Daenerys.
25 Silver-Haired Beauty
In a throwback to her season one outfit, the cosplayer Elysia takes on a pensive pose by a white stallion. At the time, the character was married to Khal Drogo, the leader of the Dothraki people who essentially worship horses in their culture. In exchange for her hand in marriage, Drogo offered Daenerys' brother his army on a quest to reclaim his rightful place on the Iron Throne. The marriage was quite abusive at first, but she slowly learned the language and gained the confidence to take charge of the more intimate aspects of their marriage. Eventually, she earned Khal Drogo's respect as an equal, rather than a submissive wife.
This character development is a key cornerstone of the character; her ability to take charge in difficult situations makes her such a powerful character and fan favorite.
24 My Eyes Are Up... Ah, Never Mind
With a signature low-cut top and royal hairstyle, Margaery Tyrell arrives in King's Landing searching for a powerful man to seduce. When Joffrey falls for her, she remembers her ex-husband's preferences and thinks to herself, "finally, someone who appreciates my cleavage." Then she proceeds to systematically regret most of her life choices. Still, she fared far better than Sansa when it came to managing Joffrey's child-like and cruel tendencies.
The beautiful cosplayer behind this portrayal is Julia Korobeinikova, a Russian artist who specializes in more racy content. You can find her portfolio on DeviantArt, and if you're so inclined, follow her on Instagram.
23 Every Queen Needs Her Handmaidens
During her marriage to Drogo, Daenerys learned both the language and culture of the Dothraki people with some help from her handmaidens. One of them, Doreah, uses a "hands-on" approach to teach her how to, for lack of a better word, perform, in bed. In a way, she was instrumental in allowing Daenerys to take control of her abusive marriage. Under the guidance of these handmaidens, she learned how to become a true Khaleesi.
The cosplay above is part of a photo shoot reminiscent of season one of Game of Thrones, a relatively happier time when our innocence had only just barely been corrupted. The model for Daenerys is Reilena, a talented cosplayer who makes her own crafts. Even more impressive, she works as an FX artist at Blizzard. Check her out on Facebook.
22 If Drogo Were A Girl
In any case, I suppose the marriage with Daenerys might be a little more interesting. Wearing a Dothraki outfit and wielding an arakh (crescent-shaped blade), Jessica Nigri reimagines Khal Drogo as a woman. The telltale signs include heavy eyeshadow and unmistakable blue shoulder tattoos. The upper body armor is somewhat inaccurate but understandable. While most Dothraki soldiers are equipped with an arakh, the only other main character to use one is Daario in the later seasons. Interestingly enough, Drogo's nickname for Daenerys was "Moon of My Life". The moon can be a crescent. The weapon is shaped like a crescent. Both of Daenerys' love interests wielded an arakh. Coincidence or subtle symbolism? You decide.
21 If The Dragons Were Girls
The genius idea for this cosplay comes from the girls over at Anna Lynn Cosplay. Drogon (center), Rhaegal (right), and Viserion (left) are the names of each of Daenerys' dragons. Drogon was named after her late husband, Khal Drogo. Viserion was named for her late brother, Viserys, and Rhaegal after her eldest brother, Rhaegar, who's relation to another character from the series was finally confirmed last season. Using the dragons' unique color schemes and horn accessories, a more feminine interpretation was formed. Rhaegal and Viserion still have their chains, from when they were kept captive after Drogon went missing.
For a similarly inspired cosplay, check this out. You can also see more of Anna herself on DeviantArt. She's been cosplaying for a few years now and has expanded her skills in art and photography as well.
20 Bran Is A Stalker
So in previous seasons, we learn that Bran is a Warg, a person who can enter the minds of animals and control their actions. With the right level of skill, they can even do the same with human beings, but this can have unfortunate consequences (let's not get into that, RIP). In several instances, he wargs into Summer, his direwolf. On one occasion he warged into a raven, a fairly iconic animal from the series. Now I'm not saying that the raven in this picture is Bran but if you were a warg, what would you do?
19 You Could Cut Someone With Those Cheekbones
Here's another beauty from our friend Ilona, this time posing as Melisandre, the Red Woman. In a previous image of her, you may have noticed an intricate necklace around her neck (hidden here by a scarf), which occasionally glows when she's performing shady magic (like the shadow that killed Renly). But it is also the source of powerful illusion magic that keeps her looking young and beautiful. In the last season, she removes it for the first time and is revealed to be a frail old woman, several centuries old.
We hope that if Ilona does the same, she won't undergo the same transformation. How else would she be able to do these amazing cosplays?
18 Too Precious For This World
There's a certain aesthetic to this cosplay that captures the youthful innocence of the character, before her coming of age and the various events of later seasons. Born into the House Targaryen, her father was King Aerys II who was killed, along with much of the family, during the Sack of King's Landing when the Lannisters took power. Daenerys' mother died soon after giving birth to her, and the young girl was left to be taken care of by her abusive brother. Such an upbringing left her much to overcome in the years that followed.
Anastasya is a Russian cosplayer who's done portraits of several recent popular female characters. Her favorite protagonist is Lara Croft, with whom she shares an adventurous spirit. You check out her work on DeviantArt.
17 Looking At The Camera Like She's On The Office
The subtle expression masterfully captures the nature of her relationship with Drogo, when she's hiding her fear and uncertainty of what's to come. There he stands in the background, blurred out but ever present. However, it does not take long after the marriage for her to realize she is still a queen, a Khaleesi. Her power grows as she exercises her authority throughout the first season, and both her husband and her people recognize it. The expression you see remains accurate, yet it is not one of uncertainty, it is of resolute confidence. This dichotomy was no doubt expertly planned by a talented model.
The photo is part of a set which you can view here, on the website of the photographer.
16 I'm Not A Model I Swear
As you may know from the lore of Westeros, there is a great wall built of ice and magic in the northern part of the continent. It separates the "civilized" region of Westeros from the frozen North, where the terrifying White Walkers (magic ice zombies) roam. However, it is also the home of Free Folk, normal people who live beyond the wall.
The lovely cosplay above is based on Ygritte, one of these Free Folk who falls in love with Jon Snow (just like the rest of us). She's quite handy with a bow and has a spunky, independent personality. Yashuntafun, the cosplayer, captures the character's carefree lifestyle with a rather playful portrait lying in the snow. Her other costumes can be found on DeviantArt or her website.
15 Smile Away The Pain
With a more candid depiction of the Mother of Dragons from a convention, Sara Underwood opts for the attire worn during season 2. She seems awfully chipper for someone whose husband just died, but then again her three new baby dragons might be able to lift her spirits. According to Emilia Clarke, her least favorite outfit was actually from this season. She didn't care for the ragged look with lazily assembled top and pants covered in dirt and grime. She was much happier later on when she got to wear beautiful dresses, and I feel most of us would agree.
Sara Jean Underwood is a model, actress, and cosplayer who loves video games and pop culture. From Playboy playmate to social media star, she's made quite the name for herself. You can see more of her on Instagram or her website.
14 Fire Cannot Kill A Dragon, But It Can Burn Clothing
From the very first episode, we witnessed Daenerys' natural immunity to any type of burning, whether it be a hot bath or fire itself. Genetically, Targaryen descendants have the ability to bond with dragons, and inbreeding has kept this gift in the family. However, it has also caused many of them to succumb to what is widely known as "Targaryen madness", including the last King of Westeros (The Mad King) before the Lannisters took over. Still, while biologically they can withstand extreme heat, they are generally not invulnerable to fire. This ability seems reserved for only Daenerys. But at the end of season one, we saw what happens when you mix an inflammable woman with flammable clothes (cosplay #1 on the list).
Ari Rubin is a professional model, actress, and cosplayer from Germany. She loves the fantasy worlds of Tolkien and Martin, and you can see her portfolio on DeviantArt.
13 When Will My Dragons Return From War?
Given a soft blur effect, season 2 clothing, and an oddly contemporary bridge, this Daenerys has a face of longing, of solemn yearning. The image is aptly titled "Where Are My Dragons?" as a reference to a subplot in near the end of season 2. After being recognized as the true Khaleesi after the death of Drogo and the hatching of her dragons, the Dothraki go to the city of Qarth where they find some allies. However, they prove to be more treacherous than she'd hoped and in an act of deception, they steal her dragons. Unsurprisingly, she is able to get them back and punish those who crossed her. Having cared for the beasts in their youth, their attachment is too strong for anyone to break.
Olimpia Pagni is an Italian artist and cosplayer, check out more of her work on DeviantArt.
12 Are There Any Decent Men Left In Westeros? (Besides Jon Snow)
This character brings up the interesting theme that no woman in Game of Thrones is safe from a terrible marriage. Daenerys was abused by an initially loveless husband. Sansa suffered at the hands of Joffrey, then later of Ramsay Bolton. Margaery's first husband was gay and the second was, spoiler alert, also Joffrey (don't worry, she was his last bride). We won't even talk about Cersei or Jeyne (wife of Robb Stark; he was a good husband but that ended badly in a different sense). Still, all (but one) seem to have survived and emerged stronger for it. Margaery uses her charm and family influence to climb to the height of political power in Westeros. However, this does eventually lead to her downfall.
Also no, this isn't a screenshot from the show, it's an actual cosplayer with an uncanny resemblance to the character. You can check out a comparison of the two here, and if you like what you see, follow her on Instagram!
11 When Will My Husband Return From Being Dead
As much as we love ripped clothing, the homeless look is getting to be a bit old for the Mother of Dragons. Still, the pet dragon sitting on her shoulder doesn't seem to mind, and neither would Ser Jorah Mormont. This soldier acts as the Khaleesi's travelling companion and protector throughout most of her journey and is the sad victim of her unrequited love (and also a terminal illness called Greyscale, but that's not nearly as painful).
Marianne Fredericks is actually a tattoo artist who's also well-versed in black-and-white sketches. She dabbles in photography and cosplay and many would agree she's done a fantastic job. She showcases her many talents on DeviantArt.
10 Finally, A Dress
After months of wearing rags and unfashionable gray clothing, our favorite dragon queen arrives in Astapor in season 3. Here, she struggles with a moral conflict over slavery, thwarts an assassination attempt, and gains an army in the most badass way possible, all while dressed in the most stunning outfits. Where she acquires them is somewhat of a mystery, but no complaints here.
The cosplayer, Ida (known on social media as Starbit Cosplay) has done numerous projects with prominent female characters from The Hobbit, Disney, Star Wars, The Hunger Games, and more. Her expertise in photography, art, and editing make her a talented model, and you can see her amazing work on DeviantArt or her website.
9 One Day...
She wears her dress from season one, but sits on the Iron Throne as if she's already claimed her title as Queen. It's an interesting design choice that shows Daenerys' ambition and goals, however hidden they may have been at first, were ever present in her mind. In a later season, she even has a similar vision in which she in King's Landing, the throne within her reach. In the current season of the show, that may even become a reality.
The photographer is Vasiliel, who hails from Russia and has an impressive portfolio which you can find on DeviantArt. The model is a cosplayer named Trisha Layons, also from Russia, and you can see her work on Facebook.
8 Glad You Asked, No I Don't Need Sublock
Fire cannot kill a dragon, so it makes sense that a dragon (or Daenerys) cannot get sunburned. So I suppose there's no harm in her laying in the sand for a moment looking fabulous before plotting her world domination. Returning to the character's outfit in the earlier seasons, the cosplay's story reference contrasts to the playful nature of the model herself. That's more of a compliment than a complaint.
Savvy (or Savanna, or Vanna) is a talented American cosplayer who crafts her own costumes. Her character inspirations range from Sherlock and Doctor Who to anime and video games. Witness the fruits of her creativity on DeviantArt or Tumblr.
7 OK, This One Is Actually Natalie Dormer
Just kidding! This is also a cosplay, how wild is that?? We all love Natalie Dormer, the beautiful actress who plays Margaery Tyrell on Game of Thrones, and it seems she's got at least two lookalikes in the cosplay community. The noblewoman seems to fit in perfectly among the elites in King's Landing, even helping Sansa find her footing. Sadly, the "friendship" didn't last.
Santatory, better known as Trine Ercizon, is a Norweigan cosplayer who crafts her own costumes from scratch. Her photography and editing skills also come into play to create a truly impressive portfolio. But don't take my word for it, see for yourself on DeviantArt.
6 If It All Came Down To A Staring Contest...
With some on-point, next-level makeup and seductive stare, this cosplay perfectly captures the beautifully ruthless charisma that Daenerys possesses. She chose the white dress from the Khaleesi's time in Yunkai, and unsurprisingly there is a wedding involved. Around this time, she meets a nobleman called Hizdahr zo Loraq. As she attempts to gain a foothold as leader of the city, she has several disagreements with him and the other nobles. Eventually, this is remedied by her (purely ceremonial) marriage to Loraq, as a way of showing the people she is emotionally invested in their future.
The cosplayer is Victoria (but you can call her Vick), a Russian model and artist with a certain affinity for fantasy female characters. She uses her skills in photography and graphic design to create life-like and CG cosplay portraits of some pretty awesome ladies. Check her out on DeviantArt.
5 Try Not To Cry
A relatively minor character in Game of Thrones, Myrcella is the daughter of Cersei and Jaime Lannister (yes, incest), though most believe her father is actually Robert Baratheon. Much to the grief of her mother, Myrcella is sent to Dorne to secure a political alliance with the Martells through marriage, where she remains for some time. Eventually, Jaime is sent to retrieve her, as Cersei believes her daughter is no longer safe. After some struggle, she is allowed to leave with Jaime. She is kissed goodbye by the evil Ellaria Sand, who has coated her lips with a fatal poison. She then dies tragically in Jaime's arms on the boat home. As such, the battle lines are drawn between the two families for the upcoming war.
4 What If I Told You The Dragon Was Real
The only thing that doesn't fit into this serene, majestic backdrop is an apparently very angry Drogon. Then again, he was never the most temperamental beast. With a calming sunset, generously sheer dress, and impressive dragon model, this cosplay captures a more graceful side of Daenerys' personality.
The creative model behind the photo is Kay Pike, who is actually more famous for her unique body paint cosplay. She's also an avid gamer and streamer, and you can learn more about her on Facebook. Believe it or not, the dragon isn't photoshopped, but a physical model created by Jesse Sinclair. He's also a cosplayer skilled in sculpting crafts, and you can see his work on Facebook as well.
3 You Know You've Thought About It
Makeup is a powerful thing. It can provide a little touch-up or, with the right contour, turn you into a different person. One look and you'll recognize the characters featured as Sansa (left) and Daenerys (right). In a rapidly shrinking world setting, the two have yet to meet. But this hasn't stopped the creation of all manner of fan-made art and fiction about the duo. They've gone through an impressive amount of character development these past few years, and it really comes as no surprise that the two would get along swimmingly.
2 Let's Have A Shadow Together
Melisandre is a priestess of the Lord of Light and acts as the personal advisor to Stannis Baratheon, brother of Robert and another contender for the Iron Throne. As you may be able to tell from the cosplay above, she possesses certain powers of seduction and uses them often for personal gain. In one memorable instance, she seduces Stannis and uses dark magic to give birth to a Shadow. This creature assassinates Renly Baratheon, Stannis' rival, and allows the latter to gain the upper hand in his rebellion. It becomes clear in following seasons that she is loyal to no man and serves only herself.
Jeff Zoet is a professional cosplay photographer; with some fancy editing he places his subjects in a scene that matches their outfit. You can see his portfolio on his website. The cosplayer is Claire Ana, who is also a model and writer. You can see more of her here.
1 My Dragons Are Up Here
Inspired by the iconic scene at the end of season one, the cosplayer Annet bares it all for a beautiful shot. Moments before, she had a funeral pyre constructed, upon which she placed her husband's body, a witch she wanted punished, and her three dragon eggs. As the flames raged on, she herself walked into the inferno. Once the fires died down she emerged unscathed, naked, and holding three baby dragons. At the sight of this, the Dothraki people hailed her as their Queen and savior. And let's be honest, who wouldn't?
Annet Voronaya is a gifted cosplayer, photographer, artist, and graphic designer. She even made the CG dragon above, as well as a stylish touch to an elegant photo. Learn more about her work and see her portfolio on DeviantArt.
Also, since this cosplay feature turned into more of a history lesson, you should feel aptly prepared to start (or continue on with) the latest season, at least as far as Daenerys' storyline is concerned.