The sight of Daenerys Targaryen finally setting sail for Westeros was one of the most triumphant (and overdue) images in Game Of Thrones history. However, there was also something bittersweet about it; despite the armies she commands, Dany is perhaps more alone now than she's ever been. With Ser Barristan murdered by the Sons of the Harpy, Ser Jorah off in search of a cure to his greyscale, and Daario left behind in Essos, the Mother of Dragons really only has Tyrion, Grey Worm, and Missandei to rely on. (Sure, she also has new allies Olenna Tyrell and Ellaria Sand, but it remains to be seen how much she can actually trust them.) Dany will need all the help she can get if she hopes to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. So where is Daario Naharis, and will we ever see him again?
The simple answer to his whereabouts is… right where Dany left him, keeping the peace in Meereen while she goes about the business of conquering a continent. Although she defeated the Masters and their Sons of the Harpy minions before she left, there's always a chance that the Bay of Dragons (aka the area of Essos containing Meereen, Yunkai, and Astapor, formerly known as Slaver's Bay) could still descend into chaos without her. Since she's taking her army of Unsullied with her to invade the Seven Kingdoms, she needed to leave somebody behind to protect the freed cities — and that job falls to Daario and his sellsword company, the Second Sons.
As far as Game Of Thrones exits go, it's a fairly happy one. Sure, his girlfriend dumped him and then left him in charge of an unruly city… but at least he didn't get murdered at his own wedding or burned alive at the stake or have his skull ripped off by a zombified giant. Daario is now in the very small percentage of GoT characters who got to leave the show alive and in one piece, along with the likes of Hot Pie (still baking) and Gendry (still rowing, presumably).
Of course, that's assuming the Season 6 finale, "The Winds Of Winter," was Daario's swan song. This being Game Of Thrones, the character could always pop up at some unexpected place and time in Season 7 or 8 — at a perfect moment to cause maximum drama for Daenerys, natch. The show has moved so far past George R.R. Martin's novels at this point, and changed so much along the way, that it's almost useless to draw comparisons between the two. But it can still be fun to look for clues in the text… and if A Dance With Dragons is any indication, Daario's story may be far from over.
When the fifth novel in Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire series ends, Dany is still missing after flying off on Drogon's back and the battle of Meereen is just getting underway. (Tyrion also hasn't yet reached the city and Ser Barristan is alive and in charge after his queen's disappearance.) Before she took off, Dany had given Daario to the besieging Yunkai armies as a hostage — along with Jhogo, one of her bloodriders, and Groleo, the captain of her fleet — to be a sign of good faith. But when she suddenly abandoned the city, Yunkai finally declared open war on Meereen, and began firing their trebuchets at the city; flinging not rocks but corpses, bringing Daario's ultimate fate into question.
Obviously this exact sequence of events won't happen, but there's still a similar way Daario could be drawn back into the story. Remember, Euron Greyjoy is on his way to Meereen to take Dany as his bride and use her dragons to take over Westeros. Imagine that he arrives in the city and realizes he just missed her and, enraged, slaughters the skeleton crew of Second Sons left behind and takes Dany's former lover hostage to use against her when they finally meet in battle.
That would certainly be one way to get Daario back to some semblance of his book plot. So while fans of the character might be sad at the idea of never seeing him again, it's probably better for Daario if we don't. If he does somehow get drawn back into the story, it can only mean bad news for him and his fans. We're probably better off hoping that he'll stay in Meereen, ruling a peaceful city and wistfully loving his dragon queen from afar, until he dies at a very old age of natural causes.
Aw, who am I kidding? Euron will probably show up in Season 7 waving Daario's decapitated head on a stick. This is Game Of Thrones, after all.
Images: Macall B. Polay (3), Helen Sloan/HBO