Characters / A Song Of Ice And Fire House Targaryen

This is a listing of members of House Targaryen that appear in the Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. Visit here for the main character index. Beware of unmarked spoilers.

For the main Crownlands entry, see here.

House Targaryen of King's Landing

"Fire And Blood"
Targaryen House Words

The former ruling house of the Seven Kingdoms from the capital city of King's Landing. Also known as the Dragon Kings, because they used to ride dragons and had a strange bond with them. Under the historical leadership of Aegon The Conqueror, they unified Westeros with their dragons as weapons and ruled there for 300 years. They often married brother to sister throughout their rule despite the laws of their religion, which probably accounts for their history of mental instability among the later rulers. Their rule ended when Robert Baratheon overthrew Aerys II Targaryen and his surviving children fled into exile in the Free Cities. Their sigil is a three-headed dragon. All reigns dated after the arrival of Aegon I in Westeros.

This entry includes the members of House Targaryen contemporary to and surrounding the events of ASOIAF. See this character page for the many ancestral members of House Targaryen.

See this one for their antagonistic, primary cadet branch, House Blackfyre.

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     Tropes related to House Targaryen 
  • The Ace: When a Targaryen is good at something, they're really good at it. This family boasts having some of the finest warriors, politicians, and scholars in the history of Westeros.
  • The Alcoholic: Underplayed, but... it does seem to crop up a fair bit in the line. Over repeated generations. Somebody is bound to reach for the drink as a solution to their woes at some point in each generation we get to hear anything much of.
  • Ancestral Weapon: The greatest is Aegon the Conqueror's sword Blackfyre, traditionally given to the heir to the Iron Throne. It was lost after the Blackfyre Rebellion, is generally thought to be in the hands of the Golden Company mercenaries. Another is Dark Sister, the sword wielded by Visenya Targaryen and by Bloodraven. As Bloodraven was sent to The Wall by King Aegon V, its current whereabouts are unknown.
  • Animal Motifs: Dragons, of course.
    • In particular, the sigil of House Targaryen was likely inspired by Zmey Gorynych, the three-headed dragon of Slavic mythology.
  • Badass Family
    Catelyn Stark: "Like their dragons, the Targaryens answered to neither gods nor men."
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The conquest of Dorne started by Aegon the Conqueror and finished by Daeron the Good would cost the Targaryens dear (i.e, a rebellion and rival family still scheming to conquer Westeros).
  • Big Screwed-Up Family: Their house dates back to old Valyria, and in part due to centuries of practising incest more than a few members end up unhinged. However, a greater part probably has to do with having a massive entitlement/superiority complex that tends to get passed along as an inherited attitude even without having dragons to back it up with any more. Getting taught (repeatedly) how wonderful they're all supposed to be when growing up... or, how greatness or utter failure is only a synapse away (and, have you got lucky, punk?)... will also likely also help screw you up. No pressure.
  • Body Horror: Some of the Targaryen women (like Daenerys and Rhaenyra) or women married to Targaryens (like Maegor's wives note ) who had miscarriages or stillbirths had babies who tended to look like hideous human-dragon hybrids (complete with scales and/or leathery wings, tails and some even being eyeless). Whether this is due to the extreme inbreeding in the family, the Targaryen affinity to dragons, or a combination of both is unknown.
    • The main Targaryen kingly line were at the very least physically sound save for few exceptions, like Queen Naerys, wife of King Aegon IV The Unworthy, who was noticeably feeble and delicate, and her only surviving son Daeron II. Their soundness of mind is a different matter.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: The family custom is to marry brother to sister whenever possible to keep the bloodline pure. In practice, they've mainly relied on cousins. The occasional (and genetically dangerous) uncle-niece pairing has occurred, too. Only twice of any import, though and only if you also count Bittersteel and his wife. Furthermore, a close-kin match seems to have been mostly a concern / requirement for the heir, specifically; younger sons and daughters frequently married outside the bloodline, though a fair few still married within it.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The Targaryens were still formidable without their dragons. Though they found it harder to intimidate and force their vassals to make reforms.
  • The Caligula: You had the likes of Aegon the Unworthy and Maegor the Cruel, who are occassionally invoked as cautionary tales, and Aerys II who started with promise before slowly sliding into villainy. Likewise even the "good" kings are implied to have had their own brand of crazy. Baelor the Blessed was a religious fanatic. Viserys I cut out the tongues of people who insulted his family (though this hardly seems insane given the standards of this society). The bookish Aerys I and the Internal Reformist Aegon V's dream of hatching dragons proved detrimental to their reigns.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: This attitude turns up. Most prominently in members who take the Dragon motif to extremes. When it does crop up, it's one of the warning signs that the individual you are dealing with might be a little nutso.
  • The Clan: Oh, yes. Like most Westerosi Great Houses. But, like almost everything, Targaryens do it the hard and the more complex way.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Members often have silver-blond hair and unusual purple eyes.
  • Color Motif: Their house colors are red and black, representing the color of the scales of Balerion the Black Dread as well as their potential for great passion and total darkness.
  • Cool Crown: The Dragon Kings have worn their fair share from the iconic iron circlet of Aegon the Conqueror, the simple gold band of Aegon III, to Baelor's crown of flowers, to the evil-looking pointy iron crown of Maekar.
  • Culture Clash: The family's culture and values still clash with rest of Westeros, as they share some traits with people you'd find in Valyrian-influenced Essos. This Essos-like culture might explain the repeated interaction with House Martell and House Velaryon beyond just In the Blood. Paramours (and the resulting bastards) are fairly well accepted within the family as a feature (if not to the extent of in Dornish culture). Most are, if not bilingual, then something close to it, as High Valyrian, both spoken and written, is used as a family tongue, not just as a language of learning, but of songs, legends and stories not always shared with their Kingdom at large. That meaning, of course, being able to understand many related languages at a pinch. Although the Targaryens were originally markedly less patrilineally-based in the early days, there are still shades of acceptance of assertive women rather easier than in the rest of Westerosi society (although that has eroded a lot over the years, so it's not saying much). Even the incest has cultural roots. While they could give up the practice of polygamy to placate the Faith, that was non-negotiable. The family is also not as close to the Valyrian ideal as it once was, either. As well as losing their dragons, their old gods and pretty much all of the lore surrounding them both, most of the modern members of the main line wouldn't tolerate the idea of slavery, for example. They are of Essos...and Westeros, too. And that has led to problems and solutions in both places.
  • Divided We Fall: The Greens vs. The Blacks, The Blackfyre Rebellion and possibly between Daenerys and Aegon VI.
  • Dragon Rider: The earlier Targaryens, before the dragons became extinct. Dany is growing into this.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Targaryens called their psychic dreams "dragon dreams".
  • The Empire: Westeros under Targaryen rule is both a subversion and deconstruction of the typical fantasy empire ruled over by a sorcerous overlord bent on dominating the world (or at least his own little corner of it). Aegon the Conqueror showed up essentially out of nowhere with three dragons in tow and cut a swathe of destruction across Westeros while leading his armies under black and red banners, but once he settled down to rule from his Iron Throne, he proved to be a rather fair and far-sighted ruler. His successors ranged all over the morality and ability scales, and the potential for Evil Overlord-style abuse was always there, but the two who most closely fit the Evil Overlord archetype (Maegor the Cruel and Aerys the Mad) also proved to be two of the most ineffectual kings, and both met unsavory ends when the political realities of ruling a kingdom took their toll. There were some very effective Kings who brought in eras of relative peace, such as Jaehaerys.
  • The Exile: Twice! Once from Valyria (they were the original lords of Dragonstone, Stannis' seat), and then again from Westeros.
  • Expy: Of the House of Normandy and also, The House of Plantagenet, the longest ruling dynasty of England.
  • Fantastic Science: The Targaryens are surprisingly healthy and physically sound even after hundreds (if not thousands) of years of inbreeding, suggesting that there is a magical, unnatural aspect to their genetics. The norm is almost constant save from a handful of individuals who have had deformities and feeble physiques; their state of mind is an entirely different aspect.
  • Foil:
    • Definitely the Fire to the Starks' Ice.
    • Targaryens are of Valyrian descent. Martells are Rhoynish descent. Both are in Westeros, even if their cultures are closer to the Valyrian one.
    • Rich, screwed-up, full of pride, often cruel and usually considered good-looking? House Lannister says hi.
  • Going Native: Later Targaryens have tried phasing out their polygamous and incestuous practices with varying degrees of success.
  • Government in Exile: Illyrio claimed as much and that the Targaryens still had friends in Westeros, even after having basically lost direct supporters in Essos over time. If he meant Varys, well... the one-man-subversive-governmental-cabal, sure. Others? <big shrug goes here> He could have been referring to much of Dorne: they seem to have had something going on between them all.
  • Hot-Blooded: As a general rule, Targaryens are extremely passionate and high-tempered, regardless of their individual, baseline sanity levels.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Dragons: Aegon's army was inferior to the armies of the kings who eventually bent the knee to him, and wouldn't have conquered Westeros if it weren't for his and his sisters' dragons.
  • In the Blood: Though there are two sides to this coin. It is said that some Targaryens shine with the family greatness, while others are stark raving mad. The vast majority actually are, despite popular belief, simply middling ones who somehow tend to get forgotten by most for existing as neither particularly great, nor utterly bonkers. They usually get to live with massive confidence issues worrying about when/if one or both of those shoes is going to drop on them, though.
  • Last of His Kind: They are the last extant line of Valyrian dragonlords; however, they are not the last Valyrians per se.
  • Lost Forever: Daeron I lost Aegon I's crown in Dorne. Aegon's sword Blackfyre is said to still be in the hands of the Golden Company. The other Targaryen sword Dark Sister was last held by Brynden Rivers but its whereabouts is also unknown.
  • The Madness Place: Both Targaryens and Blackfyres might as well have changed their names to "House Madness Place" and quit the feud before it went nuclear. What fuels the special? That might very well be various forms of episodic, high-functioning, trance- or dream-like madness with resulting access to alternative thought-patterns. This can even be present in the brilliant Targaryens... which could explain why the wheels fall off so much on those who can't keep their grips on their entries and exits into and from their individual forms of this as they go along. The general belief about Targaryens is that it's hard to tell the difference between the great and the mad ones since madness and greatness are so close to each other.
  • The Magnificent: "The Dragon" is the greatest nickname for a Targaryen. Aegon I, Daeron I the Young Dragon, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight and Daenerys the "Mother of Dragons" deservedly carry this moniker. Subverted by Aegon III the Dragonbane and Prince Viserys who called himself The Dragon but whom Jorah Mormont described as being "less than the shadow of a snake".
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: On the one hand, "Targaryen madness" might stem from the semi-prophetic dragon dreams they get. On the other, it might simply be the result of congenital conditions getting amplified through constant inbreeding. In any case, the victims are not exactly helped by the fact that Targaryens are essentially taught from birth that they're members of a superior class of people.
    • Their capacity to bind and hatch dragons might have had to do with their incestuous practices. Their bloodline might have diluted by adding the Velaryons and the Arryns to the mix. As is stated by Maester Gyldayn, the dragon's link to the Targaryens was a given by the time of the Dance of the Dragons and the link to other dragonriders was hit-or-miss, so the secret to hatch and bind might had been lost even as early as that or even earlier.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Rhaen" is a common female Targaryen name prefix. It also sounds like the Latin "Rein" which means queen.
    • "Vis" sounds a lot like "Vice" meaning placeholder. Targaryens named Viserys and Visenya tend to be overshadowed by someone greater.
  • Mystical White Hair: While white hair naturally exists in this universe as a mark of Valyrian heritage, it's very rare in Westeros. The fact that Targaryens are one of the few families (others being the Daynes and the Velaryons) that have them only contribute to their rare beauty. It helps that it's only stayed in their line for so long due to deliberate inbreeding and restricting the official outcrossing to mainly to the Daynes, the Velaryons and the Martells (who have it as a very rare recessive as a result of a Targaryen marrying into the line).
    • It should be noted that not a single Targaryen of different coloured hair has ever claimed the throne. The two who came close met with quirky fates. Baelor Breakspear, son of Daeron II and Myriah Martell had dark hair (he died in a tourney in an accident) and then Prince Duncan Targaryen, black-haired eldest son of Aegon V and Betha Blackwood chose to Abdicate the Throne to marry the commoner Jenny of Oldstones, clearing the way for the more traditional Jaehaerys II.
  • Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond: Before the Doom of Valyria, the Targaryens were one family of dragon riders among many, and not even a particularly powerful or noteworthy one. Afterward, however, they became the only dragon riders of note left in the world, allowing Aegon the Conqueror to make his conquests virtually unopposed by any rival.
  • Not So Different: Letís see, basically the ruling family in Westeros, extremely high opinions of themselves, living off past glories of the more competent members of the house who are already deceased, an absolutely remarkable ability to make very powerful enemies and distancing allies, an inability to see past their own egos and a penchant for incest? House Lannister says hi.
  • Our Elves Are Better: Unnaturally beautiful? Coming from a mythical land now lost? Affinity with magic? Check, check and check. Add pointy ears and they're the closest thing Westeros has to a typical race of epic fantasy High Elves.
  • People of Hair Color: White. Justified as it's inbred.
  • Pride: Their defining personality characteristic as a family, and for many their Fatal Flaw, is an immense pride in the fact that they are the last survivors of the Valyrian dragon riders. Even long after they lose the dragons that their reign was originally founded upon, they still often act like they're above the laws of gods and men. Various Targaryens' inability to swallow their pride has often led directly to their deaths, ruined the lives of many others caught in the fallout, and eventually cost them the Iron Throne itself.
  • Purple Eyes: Many Targaryens are said to have purple eyes, although the exact shade varies. It's a bloodline trait and specifically said to be unnatural (the result of Valyrian heritage; though there are a couple of minor houses and even many commoners in Lys who have them, too.)
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The current Targaryens are this out of necessity.
    • Daenerys Targaryen's group has consisted of an exiled knight from The North, Dothraki loyalists, a legendary Kingsguard, a Meereenese pit fighter, an intuitive child slave from Astapor, a flamboyant Tyroshi sellsword, an army of eunuch soldiers and several mercenary companies, as well as droves of devoted followers after her anti-slavery revolution in Slaver's Bay. And should Daenerys live through the rest of the books, she will likely gather many more to her cause.
    • The alleged Aegon Targaryen VI's group consists of an exiled Stormlands lord, a former student at the Citadel who never officially became a maester, a mysterious Westerosi septa, a lowborn hedge knight and the Blackfyres' Golden Company from Essos (which is itself a Rag-Tag Bunch Of Misfits with Blackfyre leanings and loyalties from its founding days). Ragtag? Doesn't do it justice.
  • The Remnant: Of the Valyrian dragonlords. And the Remnant of Remnants for the modern ones.
  • Royal Inbreeding: Often between brother and sister, but if that could not be arranged, they married cousins. There were also a few uncle/niece and aunt/nephew couples.
    • As per The World of Ice & Fire, incest was slowly discouraged in-between. Aegon the Unworthy's marriage to his sister Naerys was the last royal incest until Jaehaerys II revived it nearly a hundred years later. In-between Targaryens married Dornish families, the Martells (Daeron II married Mariah Martell) and the Daynes (Maekar I married Dyanna Dayne), while Aegon V married Betha Blackwood from the Riverlands. Aegon V was especially keen on ending incest for good and was supremely disappointed at his son's actions, while Jaehaerys II later forced his own children Aerys and Rhaella to marry against their wishes.
  • Royally Screwed Up: The trouble with Targaryen princes is that it isn't clear when a King will become a caligula, since "madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin".
  • Royalty Superpower: Well, the whole Royal Blood thing's not without some compensation: to hope to control dragons and benefit from a link to fire magic in general, you need the blood of old Valyria. Some seem to inherit the various aspects of it more than others. Some seem to suffer for it, too.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The fate of the Targaryen dragons sometimes mirrored that of their riders.
    • Balerion was the biggest, baddest dragon that ever lived. Aegon I, Balerion's rider, achieved an unparalleled feat in history by forging the Seven Kingdoms into one, to the point that Westeros now reckons years by Before and After the Conquest.
    • Maegor's inability to bond with dragons reflected his inability to have children.
    • Queen Helaena lost her sons during the Dance of the Dragons, eventually committing suicide. To avenge her, her dragon Dreamfyre went berserk.
    • Nettles won the trust of Sheepstealer. She would later do the same with Prince Daemon Targaryen.
    • Sunfyre was crippled just like his rider Aegon II.
    • Stormcloud flew high and far but was broken by the ordeal, like his rider, the future Aegon III.
    • Daenerys loses control of her dragons much as she does of Slaver's Bay.
  • Rule of Three: Aegon the conqueror and his sisters, the dragon's three heads, the three times Maester Aemon's vows to the Order and the Night's Watch were tested, the three Kingsguard knights who guarded the Tower of Joy, the three mounts Dany must ride, the three betrayals she will suffer and finally, The three eyed crow.
  • Sibling Team
    • Aegon I, Rhaenys and Visenya; the conquerors of Westeros.
    • Baelor Breakspear and Maekar; the Hammer and Anvil.
  • Sigil Spam: Targaryen dragons were on everything. The towers of Dragonstone castle were even shaped like dragons which contributed to its fearsome yet bizarre appearance.
  • Spare to the Throne: Several instances, but in particular there's an odd little pattern that arises when you look at all the different Aegons. No king named Aegon after the first one began their life as the heir apparent.note  The only two princes named Aegon that had clear shots at the Iron Throne — the oldest sons of King Aenys and Crown Prince Rhaegar — both met sticky ends at the hands of usurpers before they ever had a chance to be crowned. Whether the current claimant to Aegon VI's identity ends up reinforcing the pattern or breaking it hinges on both his actual identity and his ability to get himself recognized and crowned as the rightful, lawful, unchallenged King.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: They all tend to look fairly similar due to the frequent inbreeding.
  • Succession Crisis: Several times. While the Dance was the most famous example, a mini-crisis already took place when Maegor usurped the throne from Aenys's heir after Aenys's death. This took place a mere five years after the Dragon himself passed away.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: In official proclamations or when a King is introduced. To wit: (Insert name) Targaryen, the Nth of His Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm.
  • The Usurper: The family took the rule of Westeros by defeating the majority of the ruling kings already in Westeros. The surviving members of the family consider the Baratheons to be usurpers for doing the same thing.
  • What the Romans Have Done for Us: The Targaryens are incestuous dragon-riding conquerors with a gift for self-destruction and mental illness. Yet they unified Westeros into a single realm, codified laws across the realm and abolished Droit du Seigneur, built King's Landing, the Kingsguard and disarmed the Faith Militant and put them on a leash.
    • The likes of Aegon V even instituted reforms that gave smallfolk rights. Tywin Lannister, largely has his "reputation" among nobles for deleting these same reforms. Since the toppling of the Targaryens, one can see Westeros stagnating or proceeding in a reactionary direction. The Rebellion and the Succession Crisis that followed either want to keep the status quo but with a new dynasty (the Lannisters) becoming the new Targaryens, or in the case of Robb Stark restore pre-Targaryen titles, while Cersei has managed to revive the Faith Militant. Seen in this light, one can't blame Varys for wanting to bring the Targaryens back to Westeros via his "perfect prince".
    • Stannis Baratheon, a descendant of Aegon the Conqueror, is unique among the Rebellion and the Five Kings for appreciating the Targaryens role in Westerosi history and for showing the same reformist bent.
    Stannis Baratheon: This talk of Seven Kingdoms is a folly. Aegon saw that three hundred years ago when he stood where we are standing. They painted this table at his command. Rivers and bays they painted, hills and mountains, castles and cities and market towns, lakes and swamps and forests...but no borders. It is all one. One realm, for one king to rule alone.
    Ser Davos Seaworth: One King means peace.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Some of their members, most recently Aerys the Mad. Of course, it has magical connotations, too.

Court of Aerys II

     Aerys II 

King Aerys Targaryen, the Second of His Name; r. 262-283

The Mad King, Aerys the Mad, King Scab
"The traitors want my city ... but Iíll give them naught but ashes. Let Robert be king over charred bones and cooked meat."

The king of Westeros during Robert's Rebellion, and the last Targaryen to sit the Iron Throne. Son of Jaehaerys II and his sister-wife Shaera, he was forcibly married by Jaehaerys to his own sister Rhaella, with whom he had three (surviving) children, Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys. He was known as "Aerys the Mad" behind his back due to becoming increasingly insane in the latter years of his rule. Though served ably by Tywin Lannister as Hand of the King, Aerys nonetheless managed to destabilize his own kingdom, eventually leading to Robert's Rebellion and his own death.

Aerys was by all accounts sane during the early years of his reign, his later mental illness likely a consequence of generations of Targaryen inbreeding. He wore the elaborate dragon-emblazoned crown of Aegon IV.
  • 0% Approval Rating: The most hated of all the Targaryen kings, though that could also stem from him being the most recent and one of the only ones in living memory.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: To Joanna Lannister. He never stopped hitting on her and making lewd jokes in her presence, and even took advantage of the traditional bedding ceremonynote  to feel her up in Tywin's presence at his own wedding. One time, he upset Tywin so much that he turned in his badge, only for Aerys to make an apology.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The very embodiment.
  • Ax-Crazy: This guy basically oozed crazy. Apart from having people burned alive for his amusement, he was extremely paranoid and inconstant; he suspected everyone of trying to kill him and could rapidly switch emotions three or more times in the space of a few sentences.
  • Bad Boss: On a good day, he'd just find a way to dramatically complicate your work life. On a bad... well... You'd die warm, at least.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: He wanted someone to help put an end to Robert's Rebellion. Tywin Lannister did just a way.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Some of his favorite activities include burning his own people alive.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Jaime remembers how Aerys soiled himself when he realized what Jaime was about to do to him. Oh Crap! indeed.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Reluctantly married his sister Rhaella.
  • The Butcher: Quite fond of having people maimed or put to death, often in excessive fashions. Jaime Lannister reveals that Aerys planned to burn King's Landing rather than allow Lord Tywin to take the city during Robert's Rebellion, which is the reason Jaime decided to kill Aerys.
  • The Caligula: He was called "King Aerys the Mad", or just "the Mad King", among other things. As a young King, he went from being a harmless version, coming up with impractical but grandiloquent plans, calling himself Aerys the Wise, extorting sexual favors and being a sleaze. He then went full Ax-Crazy after the Defiance of Duskendale.
  • Create Your Own Villain: No one ever fought against Aerys without a laundry list of grievances:
    • "The Usurper and his dogs" as Aerys' children, Viserys and Dany, call Robert, Ned and Jon Arryn never once opposed the Targaryen family, even after Rhaegar had kidnapped Lyanna and Aerys killed Elbert Arryn (Jon's nephew and heir) and other companions of Brandon Stark. It took Aerys cruelling murdering Rickard and Brandon, and then calling for Ned and Robert's heads for them to decide This Means War!.
    • Tywin Lannister served Aerys for 20 years, withstood constant humiliation of Aerys creeping on his wife, indulging in petty insults and even stood silent as Aerys insultingly called him "servant" and denied his match to Cersei in favor of Elia Martell. Then Aerys nominated Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard denying him his preferred heir. When the rebellion was underway, Aerys II still had the nerve to hold out for Tywin to come to his aid. Instead Tywin came forth to enact a Kingmaker Scenario in favor of Robert.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: When Lyanna was kidnapped and Brandon arrested for threatening Rhaegar's life, Lord Rickard Stark tried to win them back through Combat by Champion with himself as champion. Aerys chose fire as his champion. Guess who won?
    • Wrong Genre Savvy: As it turns out, blatantly flouting feudal rules of behaviour by choosing an elemental force of destruction as your champion in a trial by combat is pretty good propaganda for a rebellion against you.
  • Deconstruction: He's one for the classic fantasy Evil Overlord:
    • There's his penchant for invoking Cruel and Unusual Death and Kick the Dog, being a Bad Boss who ignores good advice, his grandiose impractical scheme, being an Orcus on His Throne and a Non-Action Big Bad who tended to invoke You Have Failed Me to his underlings and try and force people to help him by invoking I Have Your Wife (Jaime for Tywin, and Elia and her children for the Martells). He ticks nearly all the things to avoid in the Evil Overlord list and he pays for making those mistakes. Aside from psychopaths like his pyromancers, no one will willingly serve him, so he has very few competent supporters who can win his war for him and zero public support. When he decides to burn King's Landing to the ground, his bodyguard, who was having doubts about his vocation to start with, in large part due to being privy to Aerys' various depravities, decides that he'll be The Kingslayer instead. Likewise, the former Hypercompetent Sidekick Tywin who he kept abusing and humiliating throughout his tenure decides he'd rather be The Starscream and parley his actions for a plum position in the new government.
    • Likewise, he's also one for the Big Bad. In Robert's Rebellion, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn were the Power Trio, the good guys in a relatively more straightforward conflict than the later wars in Westeros. Unlike other fantasy stories there's no final battle and he dies ignominously by being Hoist by His Own Petard. Once the heroes win, they have to deal with the fact that Aerys was the last king of a nearly 300 year old dynasty and trying to put someone new in that place, creating new alliances and making the new dynasty legitimately acceptable to people in a power vacuum is pretty hard. Turns out a Big Bad doesn't really serve as a Conflict Killer for other social and political issues, or at least not in the long run.
  • Didn't Think This Through: According to A World of Ice and Fire, he appointed Jaime to the Kingsguard as an insult to Tywin by denying him his preferred heir. It only occurred to Aerys after he had sworn Jaime in that this means the favorite son of a man he hates is going to be at his side, heavily armed, for the rest of his life. He reportedly spent much of the night after he named Jaime a Kingsguard panicking.
  • Domestic Abuser: Poor, poor Rhaella...
  • Evil Former Friend: To Tywin Lannister, before the series started. Yeah, Tywin was the good guy in that situation... yikes. Indeed, as per The World of Ice & Fire, his passive-aggressive abuse of Tywin's friendship and service makes you wonder why Tywin didn't try to kill him years before.
  • Expy:
    • To the French King Charles VI the Mad who was initally seen as a good and wise King but eventually became mentally ill. Charles VI was famously paranoid, believed he was made of glass, would randomly attack and kill pageboys and knights and in the infamous Ball of the Burning Men, he and a bunch of people covered themselves in inflammable resin which accidentally caught firenote .
    • His general eccentricism, long hair and nails, constant paranoia is quite similar to the legends surrounding the later life of billionaire Howard Hughes who refused to allow anyone except a trusted few in his company and was deeply hypochondriac. Like Hughes, Aerys II was an active youthful playboy filled with a passion for impractical schemesnote  who eventually became a paranoid hermit.
  • Fleeting Passionate Hobbies: A hallmark of his early reign. He would devise grandiose and impractical schemes to showcase the might of the Iron Throne, then quickly grow bored of them and move on to his next big idea.
  • The Good King: Played with. In ACOK, Arya overhears a peasant complaining about the injustices of Gregor Clegane against the smallfolk and argues that the "Old King" would not had abode to such treatment. She asks him if he's referring to Robert; he's actually referring to Aerys; so yeah... there's still people in Westeros that think that Aerys was a good king, only as far as safety was concerned.
    • Then again, Aerys' actions largely concerned the highborn rather than the smallfolk. There is little to say about his treatment of the lowborn other than what was already mentioned and the fact that he was willing to burn King's Landing to the ground just to get back at Robert Baratheon. The guy was insane, but not everyone got to see it for themselves.
    • Of course, in-universe, Aerys is considered one of the worst, if not the worst Targaryen King of all times.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Towards his childhood friend and Hand Tywin Lannister and towards his son Rhaegar Targaryen.
  • I Have Your Wife: Appointed Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard and always kept him close so he can be used as a hostage to keep Lord Tywin in line, as well as forcibly taking Jaime out of the line of succession. He also forbade Rhaegar's wife and kids from fleeing to Dragonstone to hopefully get Dorne's support against the rebels.
  • Karmic Death: Feared sharp objects and only allowed the Kingsguard to carry weapons. He was killed by a Kingsguard, after ordering said Kingsguard to kill his own father — kinslaying being the only sin in Westerosi society worse than kingslaying.
  • Kill The Creditor: According to The World of Ice & Fire, when the Iron Bank of Braavos pressed Aerys II about royal debts racked up under his father, he instead tried to build a massive war fleet "to bring the Titannote  to his knees"... thankfully Tywin simply paid the debt for Aerys II out of his own pocket.
  • Kill It with Fire: And cackle all the while.
  • Large Ham: As a young King, he kept coming up with grandiose impossible plans, such as building a second Wall in the North and an underground canal in Dorne, and took to calling himself Aerys the Great and Aerys the Wise.
  • Last of His Kind: He was the last reigning Targaryen King.
  • Madness Makeover: As he gradually slipped into insanity, he reached a point where he would allow no blades in his presence save the swords of the Kingsguard. This resulted in him growing long, filthy fingernails and a scraggly Wizard Beard.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: His children with Rhaella: Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys (the ones who survived to adulthood), three miscarried children, two stillborn children (one being a girl named Shaena) and three children who died in infancy - Daeron (lived for half a year), Aegon (born very premature, lived for a few months) and Jaehaerys (also lived less than a year).
  • Older Than They Look: He was only 39 when Jaime Lannister stabbed him in the back. Due to his white hair, gauntness and unkempt appearance, he looked like he was on his 70's.
  • The One That Got Away: According to Ser Barristan in ADwD, there was a woman Aerys would rather have married instead of his sister Rhaella: Joanna Lannister, who wed Lord Tywin and became the joy of his life.
  • Orcus on His Throne: As his madness and paranoia worsened, Aerys increasingly confined himself within the walls of the Red Keep. He spent the entirety of Robert's Rebellion in King's Landing.
  • Papa Wolf: As Brandon Stark found out, to his sorrow. Though he did this solely out of power, he hated Rhaegar.
    • The World of Ice and Fire revealed he was overprotective to the point of paranoia of his younger son, Viserys (due to Viserys being the first surviving child born after a long series of miscarriages, stillbirths and deaths in infancy).
  • The Paranoiac: His life is a long argument against paranoid overreactions. It made him fearful and suspicious, believing in plots everywhere and he ended up becoming so unmanageable and oppressive to be around, eventually people started plotting against for him, for real.
    • The only blades allowed in his presence were the swords of the Kingsguard. Aerys refused to be shaved or have his fingernails trimmed, so his hair and beard grew wild and tangled, while his fingernails practically turned into claws.
    • After losing so many children in the womb or cradle, Aerys smothered Viserys to the extreme. He even had food tasters suckle the wet nurse's breasts to make sure they weren't poisoned.
  • Posthumous Character: He died 14 years before the series' beginning.
  • Parental Favoritism: Aerys II was jealous of his eldest Rhaegar and lavished on his other son, the similarly unstable Viserys.
  • Predecessor Villain: Before there was Joffrey (who is referred to by Tyrion as Aerys the Third) there was Mad King Aerys.
  • Pyro Maniac: This guy loved fire. Jaime speculated Aerys believed that, if his plan of burning down King's Landing with wildfire was carried out, he would not die in the inferno but transform into a dragon and crush Robert Baratheon and his followers.
  • Really Gets Around: In his early reign he was a shameless skirt-chaser, earning comparisons with Aegon the Unworthy. After his wife Rhaella had many miscarriages and stillbirths over the years, and three of their children died in infancy, he turned to the Faith and became a faithful husband to Rhaella. Unfortunately this devotion soon warped into a depraved and malignant obsession.
  • Replacement Goldfish: As he and Tywin became more estranged, he turned to his other childhood friend, Steffon Baratheon for support. He asked Steffon to find a bride for Rhaegar in the Free Cities. After his tragic death by shipwreck, Aerys blamed Tywin for this action and became even more fearful of Tywin's intentions. That said, old friendships didn't refrain Aerys from ordering the death of Steffon's oldest son Robert, simply because he was associated with the Starks.
  • Rich Bitch: Became this as he aged. Aerys refused Tywin's proposal that Rhaegar marry Cersei because the daughter of a servant is an unfit bride for the crown prince. Though since this is Aerys, his idea of "servant" is the wealthiest man in Westeros, someone who paid the Crown's debts to the all-powerful Iron Bank of Braavos and the man who's been running his economy like a well-oiled engine.
  • Sanity Slippage: He is described as having been "a charming and generous man" in his younger days.
  • Start of Darkness: The Defiance of Duskendale, which he caused by ignoring his advisors. The debacle convinced him to ''keep'' ignoring them.
  • Taking You with Me: He wanted to burn down the entire city of King's Landing with wildfire just to spite Robert.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Well, "too mad to live" might be more accurate. He insisted on keeping Jaime Lannister, the son of his enemy, at his side to keep his father in check. He thought he would be safer. That did not end well.
    • Ordered Jon Arryn to hand over Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon for execution. Yeah, Aerys, threatening the lords of three Great Houses in one go is such a great idea.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Of his own doom; Steffon Baratheon and his wife Cassana Estermont died in a shipwreck when they were returning from a trip to the Free Cities to bring a suitable wife for Prince Rhaegar under Aerys' orders. This led to the fostering of their orphaned son and heir Robert at the Eyrie under the tutelage of Lord Jon Arryn alongside Ned Stark, forming the rebellious bloc that would eventually bring Aerys down.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: To his son Viserys and to the Alchemists Guild.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Was initially good friends with Tywin Lannister, right before his Sanity Slippage caused his jealousy to get out of control.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: A classic example.
  • Younger Than He Looks: Described by Martin as being around forty, but looking much older when he died.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In his younger days, he used to shamelessly parade mistresses and cheat on his wife Rhaella, which she tolerated until he started seducing her ladies-in-waiting. Surprisingly, after many child losses suffered by his wife, he actually made an attempt to become faithful and change. However, the start of his madness led Aerys to start raping his wife.

     Queen Rhaella Targaryen 

Queen Rhaella Targaryen

Daughter of Jaehaerys II and his sister-wife Shaera. Sister-wife to Aerys II, and the mother to his three (surviving) children Rhaegar, Viserys, and Daenerys. She was pregnant at the time of the Rebellion. Before the Sack of King's Landing and Aerys's subsequent death, she and Viserys were spirited away to Dragonstone, where she eventually died giving birth to Daenerys.
  • Arranged Marriage: To her brother Aerys. Their marriage is described by Ser Barristan Selmy as "loveless". Also doubles as Unwanted Spouse, since neither of them were happy with the arrangement.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Married to her brother Aerys as mentioned above, to their mutual reluctance.
  • Death by Childbirth: Rhaella died giving birth to Daenerys during a storm on Dragonstone; hence the name "Daenerys Stormborn".
  • Domestic Abuse: Was on the receiving end of this, according to Jaime. Aerys would pay her visits every so often - usually after burning someone to death - to savagely beat and rape her to the point where it looked as though she had been savaged by an animal.
  • The Fettered: Rhaella is described as putting duty and honor first, even over her own personal wishes.
  • Good Parents: She is described as a good mother to Viserys, trying to shield him from his father's insanity.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Her firstborn child, Rhaegar, was carried to term and born healthy, but her attempts to have a second child resulted in three miscarriages, two stillbirths, and three sons who died in infancy. Her second surviving child, Viserys, was eventually born 17 years after Rhaegar. And, of course, she conceived Daenerys when already far past the point of trying for another child.
  • The One That Got Away: To Ser Bonifer Hasty, apparently. He crowned her Queen of Love and Beauty at a tourney, and according to Ser Barristan he had a passionate but ultimately doomed relationship with her.
  • Posthumous Character: She has been deceased for years by the time A Game of Thrones begins.
  • Unwanted Spouse: To her brother Aerys, who would rather have more gladly married her lady-in-waiting, Joanna Lannister. The feeling was very mutual.
  • Uptown Girl: To Ser Bonifer Hasty. As Barristan Selmy said, a landed Knight is no fit consort for a Princess.

     Prince Rhaegar Targaryen 

Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, The Prince of Dragonstone

The Last Dragon, The Silver Prince
"Rubies flew like drops of blood from the chest of a dying prince, and he sank to his knees in the water and with his last breath murmured a woman's name."

The eldest child of Aerys II and Rhaella, and his father's heir. He is a Posthumous Character - everything readers know about him is filtered through Second-Hand Storytelling. Characters such as Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Barristan Selmy, and his sister Daenerys Targaryen (who never met him) have shown a high regard for him. He was despised by Robert Baratheon, who considered him an Arch-Enemy, due to Rhaegar's (supposed) kidnapping and rape of his betrothed Lyanna Stark, whom Robert loved.
  • 100% Adoration Rating: He seemed to have been fairly beloved by commons and high born before the incident with Lyanna Stark. However, the exact reason for this is not specified - which is weird. Targaryen loyalists still adore him.
  • Abduction Is Love: Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna against her will. Some characters say he loved her.
  • The Ace: He's described as having been a highly respected and very handsome man who excelled at anything he put his mind to.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Tons In-Universe. The entire situation with Lyanna Stark is kept very ambiguous and accounts about it differ from character to character, ranging from villainy and romanticism to plain stupidity. To the reader's eye, Rhaegar's path was also, and mostly, driven by prophecy.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Though it is debatable how evil he actually was, Word Of God said the relationship between father and son was tense and bitter, as the king was increasingly paranoid and jealous of his Hand Tywin Lannister and his own son, to the point of getting out of the Red Keep for the first time after Duskendale to attend the tournament at Harrenhal...because Varys had told him that his son had arranged it to make alliances to overthrow him. And there are hints that Rhaegar really was planning to overthrow him, or at least force his retirement from active ruling, though given his father's madness, one could wish he'd done this earlier.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Robert Baratheon. Well, the swine outright swiped his girlfriend and she died, dammit...
  • Arranged Marriage: To Elia Martell.
  • Badass Bookworm: Rhaegar was more interested in scholarly pursuits than in being a fighter, until he decided that his destiny dictated that he become a warrior.
  • Because Destiny Says So: He had absolutely no interest in knightly training growing up, preferring to play the harp and study as a scholar. Until he read something that made him show up at the training yard the next morning and tell the master-at-arms, "I shall require a sword and mail. It seems I must become a warrior."
    • The prophecy about The Prince Who Was Promised haunted his life, it seems. He first believed he would fulfill the prophecy, but changed his mind and decided his son Aegon would. Oh, and the dragon must have three heads.
    • There is a possibility that this is one of the reasons he eloped with Lyanna Stark; see The Rashomon.
  • Big Good: Almost universally loved before the whole Lyanna event. Targaryen supporters currently want to put Prince Aegon on the Throne because he is Rhaegar's son and not for his being Aerys' grandson.
  • Black Knight: He was described as wearing black armor.
  • Bling of War: The Targaryen dragon coat of arms on his armor were made of rubies.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: According to Robert, the ASOIAF app, and the material released for the television series, Rhaegar kidnapped and raped 15-year-old Lyanna Stark.
  • The Chosen One: He believed he filled this trope before changing his views and deciding his son Aegon would fulfill this destiny.
  • Dead Guy Junior: "Rhae" is a common prefix in Targaryen names (his mother's name beimg "Rhaella", for instance). Daenerys later named her son "Rhaego" and one of her dragons "Rhaegal" after her dead brother, which is sweet. One of the numerous Freys named his son Rhaegar, which is creepy.
  • Elegant Classical Musician: He could bring women to tears with his beautiful harp music.
  • Emo Teen: He was repeatedly stated to have had "melancholy eyes". And he played the harp. 'Nuff said. (Tropes Are Not Bad!)
  • Even the Guys Want Him: At least Jon Connington did...
  • Expy: To Edward the Black Prince. Seen as the ultimate embodiment of medieval chivalry and subject to a great deal of romance in his life and after his death, and regarded as the ultimate Great-King-That-Never-Was, at least by his supporters.
    • He also has elements of the Trojan princes Paris and Hector from The Iliad. Like Paris, his abduction of a woman promised to another started a war; and like Hector, he was loved and admired by everyone who knew him, was slain on the battlefield by the vengeful leader of the enemy forces, and his death preceeds the ruin of his family and their dynasty.
  • Foil: Like Eddard Stark, Rhaegar was almost universally loved and their supporters are resorting to frankly insane measures to restore their children to their rightful place as rulers of the realm.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Used a sword against Robert Baratheon during the Battle of the Trident, though despite being a reportedly decent person it is quite arguable if he could be called a hero (the whole irresponsibly disappearing and letting his insane father cause a war and and in doing so killing thousands of people, destabilizing the kingdom, causing lots of extremely serious problems for years to come and causing his own family to be deposed from the throne). Also, it did not go well for him considering the fact that Robert used a warhammer (being a much better weapon for knights in armor and Robert being a much better warrior).
  • Idiot Ball: While he probably couldn't predict that his father was going to burn a Lord Paramount to death, he should have realised that kidnapping and/or spiriting away Lyanna Stark, the daughter of one powerful high lord (and betrothed to another) without anything remotely close to their permissions, was never, ever going to end well, whatever the circumstances. To say nothing of the fact that he left his actual wife (yeah, the one who was the sister to prince of Dorne and closest ally of the Iron Throne), his children, young brother and his mother with his completely insane father and at his whims and mercy. Yeah, Rhaegar was a great family man.
  • If We Get Through This: His conversation with Jaime before he marched to the Trident:
    Rhaegar: "When this battleís done I mean to call a council. Changes will be made. I meant to do it long ago, but...well, it does no good to speak of roads not taken. We shall talk when I return."
  • I Coulda Been a Contender: Rhaegar all had the promise of being The Good King - but died before he could fulfill his potential.
  • Kick the Dog: For all his virtues and accomplishments, he treated his poor wife abominably - first by humiliating her in front of hundreds, if not thousands, of people by snubbing her and crowning Lyanna Stark as Queen of Love and Beauty, and then by running off with Lyanna, in whatever shape or form it took.
  • Last of His Kind: Often called "The Last Dragon". Daenerys and Aegon VI beg to differ. He was indeed the last formal Targaryen crown prince.
  • Love Ruins the Realm: His apparent kidnapping of Lyanna for personal reasons triggered a civil war during which himself and most of his immediate family members were brutally killed. It also led to decades of stagnation and further strife that continually hark back to the direct consequences of that event. Whoops?
  • Noble Top Enforcer: Though he seemed to (mostly) be an all-around nice guy himself, Rhaegar fought to keep his cruel and paranoid father on the Iron Throne in Robert's Rebellion. However, he most certainly was neither ignorant of nor comfortable with Aerys's madness and may have been planning to curb his father's powers before events turned sour.
  • Open Secret: Played with. His reasons for kidnapping Lyanna are greatly speculated upon, but there was no effort whatsoever to conceal the fact that he got away with her; everyone found out immediately and it turned into the biggest clusterfuck the Targaryens had ever seen. Whether he thought that he would get away with it with complete impunity is not known, but there is no question that he did it very publicly. Either he didn't care, or this is something that absolutely had to happen regardless of the consequences.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Very little is known about Rhaeghar and his motivations for allegedly kidnapping and raping Lyanna, but various characters have pointed out that it wasn't quite like that and the fact that Rhaegar is held at such a high esteem among friend and foe alike raises even more questions as of the "official" story regarding the incident.
  • Posthumous Character: Died years before the series began.
  • Present Absence: He's been dead since before the series began, but his actions and legacy have cast a long shadow over the present day.
  • Pretty Boy: Cersei and pretty much everyone who knew him considered him to be very attractive. Even Jaime Lannister is said to have looked plain next to him.
  • Purple Eyes: Like many other Targaryens, Rhaegar had purple eyes.
  • The Rashomon: The motivations of his actions and the aftermath of those are greatly speculated upon in-universe and accounts differ:
    • According to Robert Baratheon, he kidnapped and raped Lyanna; this is the most common attribution in general (mainly because singing some other version would probably lose you a tongue, or something else, if King Robert, a High Lord who supported him in the rebellion or any other government official found out about it);
    • Lyanna could have eloped with him voluntarily; this could have been out of sincere love; this is argued by Barristan Selmy;
    • Lyanna might have eloped with him as a second wife just to fulfill prophecy and/or escape an unwanted marriage — from Eddard's own recollections, she was less-than thrilled at the thought of marrying Robert and might have hoped to out-trump his claim on her by marrying or becoming the official consort of a Prince;
    • Rhaeghar might have lured her or convinced to come voluntarily (or visa versa), but had to abandon her to fight his father's war.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: We only ever hear about Rhaegar though the reminiscing of other characters, some of whom have glowing memories of him. Others... not so much.
  • Together in Death: With Lyanna Stark. Robert later remarks: "Rhaegar won, damn him. I killed him, Ned, I drove the spike right through that black armor into his black heart, and he died at my feet. They made up songs about it. Yet somehow he still won. He has Lyanna now, and I have her."
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His abduction of Lyanna Stark set the ball rolling on a chain of events that ultimately brought about both of their deaths and the fall of the Targaryens from power. The aftershocks are still making themselves felt by the time of the books.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Despite being infamous for kidnapping and raping a teenage girl, Rhaegar is thought highly of by Cersei, Jaime, Viserys, Dany, and Barristan. Mind you, Cersei, Viserys and Dany are pretty are those like Robert, who outright paint him as a villain. It's complicated. Eddard Stark, who probably has more reason to hate Rhaegar than Robert himself, privately notes of Rhaegar's character that in contrast to Robert, he would never be the kind to sleep with every whore in sight.
  • Warrior Prince: He took part in the Battle of the Trident. Even before that, he took up the sword and made himself into this trope by sheer hard work, despite his more scholarly leanings.
  • The Wise Prince: The characters who had a high opinion of Rhaegar think of him this way.
  • Your Cheating Heart: In the Tourney at Harrenhal, he publicly spurned his wife, Elia, in front of many noble witnesses by giving the crown of the Queen of Love and Beauty to Lyanna Stark. Elia's reaction to this is not recorded but one imagines she wasn't thrilled... unless, maybe, she was in on the reasons (yeah: there is so much we don't know about the incident). To say nothing of his later following through on that public token-giving and kidnapping Lyanna.

     Princess Elia Martell 

Princess Elia Targaryen (née Nymeros Martell)

"Elia and her children have waited long for justice. But this day they shall have it."
Prince Oberyn Martell

A princess of Dorne and the sister of Doran and Oberyn. She married Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, and by him birthed Rhaenys and Aegon. Elia was murdered by Ser Gregor Clegane during the sack of King's Landing.

For the main House Martell entry, see here.
  • Adult Fear: Her infant son was ripped out of her arms and gruesomely murdered right in front of her.
  • Arranged Marriage: To Rhaegar, who according to Barristan was fond of her. Before marrying him, she was courted by several others, including Baelor Hightower, and her mother thought of marrying her to Jaime Lannister until Lord Tywin rejected the match.
  • Brainy Brunette: Cersei mentions in one of her chapters that Elia had black hair, and Barristan claims that she was known to have a sharp wit.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: She was raped by Gregor Clegane while he still had the blood and brains of her dead infant son (whom he also killed) on his hands. He then smashed her head open and killed her.
  • Culture Clash: Above all else, she was Dornish in King's Landing. What part, if any, she had to play in the whole Lyanna affair, or any other aspect of Rhaegar's plans, is up for speculation. But, her being a completely passive, politically inactive wallflower even when held as a hostage by her father-in-law is rather unlikely.
  • Cuteness Proximity: She thought baby Tyrion was adorable and fawned over him.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: Her death is this to Oberyn and Doran. In the fourth book it's revealed Doran and Oberyn have been plotting to help overthrow the current dynasty for a long time, all in revenge for her death.
  • I Have Your Wife: During Robert's Rebellion Aerys kept her in the Red Keep against her will to ensure that her brother, Prince Doran, would fight on the side of the Targaryens. Doran and the rest of Dorne were furious over her treatment.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: For Oberyn, she was his Gwen, thanks to the very marriage to Rhaegar that ultimately killed her may not have taken place, except for his jokes turning her off her initial marriage prospect. Instead, it could have been Cersei Lannister in the firing line if the Rebellion had still gone ahead in some way.
  • Ill Girl: Her health was always problematic, and she was bedridden for a year after Rhaenys's birth and nearly died giving birth to Aegon.
  • Mama Bear: "Fought like a tigress" against Gregor Clegane to save her children. It...went badly.
  • Nice Girl: Barristan describes her as being very kind.
  • Posthumous Character: In a very Family-Unfriendly Death way, poor lass.
  • Proper Lady: By all accounts, she was the very picture of good queen material, aside from her health.

    Princess Rhaenys Targaryen 

Princess Rhaenys Targaryen

Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen's daughter with his wife Princess Elia Martell, Rhaenys was Aegon's older sister (and so Viserys' and Daenerys' niece). Her gender and Dornish coloring were held in disdain by her grandather Aerys, who wanted a grandson to carry on the family name. She was killed during the Sack of King's Landing along with her grandfather, mother and brother.

     Prince Aegon Targaryen 

Prince Aegon Targaryen

Young Griff
"I am the only dragon you need."

Aegon was the son and second child of the late Crown Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and his wife Elia of Dorne (and thus Viserys' and Daenerys' nephew). Had he lived to adulthood, he would have ruled as King Aegon, the Sixth of His Name, but he was killed along with his grandfather, mother and sister during the Sack of King's Landing.

... or so most of Westeros believes. He was actually switched with a commonborn child prior to the battle, smuggled across the Narrow Sea, and brought up in Pentos by Lord Jon Connington as his son, "Young Griff". Groomed to become a king who actually puts the people first for a change, Aegon is preparing an attempt to retake Westeros - with or without help from his kin with the military support of The Golden Company mercenaries.

  • The Ace: Invoked. His protectors went to great lengths to mold him into the ideal king. Not only was he trained in arms, history, and law, he was taught practical skills like fishing, mending clothes, and providing first aid. He has lived among the smallfolk to empathize with them and learn humility, so that he would be a benevolent and conscientious ruler.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Both in-universe and Word Of God: When Varys mentions Doran Martell in the second book, he states that the prince "still mourns Elia and her sweet babe." When asked about the Sack of King's Landing, GRRM only definitively stated that Rhaenys was killed.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Had his head bashed against a wall by the Mountain. (Except that, according to Varys, that wasn't actually Aegon.)
  • Curtains Match the Window: Invoked. It draws out the blue in his eyes, which otherwise might also give the game away.
  • Death Faked for You: Varys had Aegon switched with a peasant baby so the realm would believe he had died.
  • Expy: As a result of the author's love of Decomposite Character, he resembles quite a few characters in history:
    • His landing of the Golden Company on the Stormlands under the Dragon banner echoes the arrival of Henry Tudor in England (his banner was a Red Welsh Dragon) who likewise spent much of his reign on a continent separated by sea from his native place and most of his supporters were fellow exiles Fighting for a Homeland.
    • It also carries echoes of the "pretenders": Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, both of whom claimed to be the survivors of the lost and presumed dead "Princes in the Tower" challenging Henry Tudor's claim to the throne after the Wars of the Roses.
    • Young Griff's upbringing closely fits the archetype for legendary kings in human mythology, especially King Arthur and King Oedipus. He also resembles other romantic stories of Hidden Backup Prince who miraculously survived a massacre or purge, such as Princess Anastasia and the Dauphin Louis XVII.
    • Note that Young Griff also acutely resembles Pseudo-Demetrius I of Russia, which led many Russian fans to not take him at face value and predict that he will end up as ashes shot from a trebuchet in the general direction of Essos.
  • Foil: You could say that Varys and Illyrio, in the tradition of Tales of Dunk and Egg, have tried to produce another Aegon V. Like Egg, he hides his identity by altering his hair stylenote , going by a nondescript nickname like "Young Griff". He even nominates a hedge knight, Ser Rolly Duckfield to his kingsguard, a "Duck" to his "Egg". The difference is that Egg was an Unexpected Successor who neither planned nor expected to be a King, whereas Young Griff was brought up knowing he was meant to reclaim the Iron Throne. As such, where Egg became a Humble Hero, Young Griff, as per Tyrion, is just another sheltered Targaryen bratling who has never mixed with people outside a carefully selected few, and who therefore has no real idea of society and politics.
    • He also seems to be a foil to the late king Daeron I Targaryen The Young Dragon and his uncle thrice removed Prince Daemon Targaryen, storming a hostile land expecting to be king (Daeron's conquering of Dorn and Daemon's conquering of the Stepstones); Daemon and Daeron's endeavors didn't last long though, which doesn't fare anything good for Aegon if he turns out like those two.
  • Heir Club for Men: His general assumption, along with that of the Golden Company, is that he will be King with Daenerys as his Hot Consort. Tyrion pitilessly mocks him for this presumption, noting that the obvious flaws in assuming that a Young Conqueror with three dragons would ever choose to consent to play second fiddle to a kid who lived in a hidey-hole should have been a bit more self-evident.
  • Hidden Backup Prince: Raised in Essos by Jon Connington, seemingly at Varys' instruction. However, it's unlikely Jon needed much arm-twisting.
  • Incest Is Relative: True to Targaryen family tradition, Aegon desires to wed his aunt, Daenerys. If he is proven to be a Blackfyre, Daenerys is his cousin at least six generations removed.
  • Moses in the Bullrushes: Spirited away from King's Landing before Lannister forces sacked it.
  • Mysterious Parent: He is supposedly Rhaegar and Elia's son, but this is remarkably dubious at best. He might as well be no one, but fits the part; he might be a Blackfyre through various means justified by the fact that the Blackfyre women are purposely never mentioned in the books and might have survived Maelys the Monstruous, the last Blackfyre. By the way Ilyrio Mopatis is fond of him, Aegon might be his son and was not able to relay this information to the boy as he departed to Westeros sooner than Ilyrio expected.
  • Omniglot: He's fluent in the Common Tongue, High Valyrian, four dialects of Valyrian, and the trade language used by sailors.
  • Pretty Boy: Tyrion describes his good looks at length, even despite his blue hair.
  • Red Herring: Invoked. In Arianne's sample chapter for The Winds of Winter it is openly discussed that Ser Daemon thinks that Aegon died when Gregor killed him, and that this new Aegon is a fake. The Golden Company backing him does a lot of damage to his credibility.
  • Royal Brat: Shows some signs of this, perhaps because of the combination of family insanity and his sheltered upbringing. He's shown to become irrational during a cyvasse game with Tyrion, both due to Tyrion beating him at the game, and Tyrion casting doubt on his assumption that Dany would immediately accept him with open arms. Especially funny because Tyrion's reaction to his sudden freak-out is along the lines of, "Well, at least we know that this kid is definitely a Targaryen"note .
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Despite receiving all the standard education for a prince, Aegon's also been brought up as a relatively ordinary boy, learning the skills a commoner needs to survive, such as treating wounds and cooking. Varys thinks this will be good preparation for being a king who will do everything to help his people; whether he's right remains to be seen. He also insists on leading the upcoming attack on Storm's End from the front, which could very easily prove a foolish idea.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: Despite being more educated than most of Westeros, Tyrion notes that Aegon doesn't really know how people work and has little actual experience when it comes to the cut-and-thrust of politics. You'd have to agree with Tyrion: King's Landing would eat him alive as he is now, much as it did with Sansa Stark.
    Tyrion's thoughts: The perfect prince but still half a boy for all that, with little and less experience of the world and all its woes.
  • Spanner in the Works: He is certainly less powerful than Daenerys (dragons, Unsullied and such, you know), but as Rhaegar's son he definitely has a better blood-claim to the Iron Throne than she does, as he would be ahead of her in succession. On the other hand, Dany's hatching of those dragons does make his claim look much more anemic than would ordinarily be the case, in return. It's a lot easier to call her the truer descendant of The Conqueror with those, even if she isn't waving Blackfyre about to go with. Particularly as she rides the one who is the spitting image of the Black Dread. Double-spanners, hoi!
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Either real or fake, he looks a lot like Rhaegar, Viserys and Daenerys by description (when he doesn't have his hair dyed, that is).
  • Switched at Birth: Varys allegedly switched him with a lowborn baby to save his life.
  • Unwitting Pawn: To Tyrion, who manages to convince him to stop waiting for Daenerys and prove his own mettle by invading Westeros on his own.
  • Walking Spoiler: Real or fake, his very existence throws an entirely new wrench in the already-convoluted Succession Crisis.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: No, really, he honestly does need it. His real hair color might just give the game away.
  • Young Conqueror: Now that he's got the Golden Company backing him up, Aegon has conquered many parts of the Stormlands in a relatively short amount of time.

Court of Viserys III

     Viserys III 

King Viserys Targaryen, the Third of His Name; r. 283-298

The Dragon, The Beggar King, The Cart King, The Sorefoot King
You don't want to wake The Dragon, do you?

The second born and eldest surviving child of Aerys II and Rhaella. Exiled prince of House Targaryen and the older brother of Daenerys, who lives with her in hiding at the beginning of the series. Unlike Dany, he lived as a prince in his childhood and knew his family, but was still very young when he lost everything overnight. A young man with serious mental problems, Viserys has made it his goal in life to return to Westeros and take back the throne. Too bad he foams at the mouth, regularly pinches his sister's boobs and refers to himself as "the dragon".
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: Subverted. Vowed to kill Robert himself, though he's never killed anyone.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Surprisingly, since he's such an utter nightmare to deal with for the majority of AGOT (bear in mind, this is before Joffrey showed his true colors). After he drunkenly threatened Daenerys's unborn child and she tells him that Khal Drogo will give him the "golden crown" he's always wanted, Dany notes the complete change in Viserys' behavior. He loses any trace of hostility and becomes almost childlike with joy and relief that he will finally get to go home and fulfill his destiny. Then right after, when he pitifully begs Dany for his life as Drogo crowns him with molten gold.
  • The Alcoholic: Turned to drink more and more in response to everything he went through over the years. This eventually caused his death.
    Daenerys: They fed him wine and promises, but they starved his soul.
  • Attempted Rape: According to narration in A Dance with Dragons, he tried this on Daenerys the night before her wedding. Fortunately Illyrio was clever enough to have put guards at her door.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Viserys aspires to be menacing and fearsome.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Inverted. He has had tremendous influence in Daenerys' actions, but she mostly wants to do the exact opposite of what Viserys would do. According to her prophetic dream at ADWD, by doing so she has been pussyfooting what she's been destined to do.
  • Break the Haughty: So very much.
  • Bullying a Dragon: No pun intended. Threatening your hulking barbarian warlord brother-in-law's wife and unborn son? Bad idea.
  • Cultural Posturing: Constantly disparages the Dothraki and their culture. In a language most of them do not speak, of course.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Repeatedly annoying the Dothraki with 'I will be crowned' leads them to 'crown' him with molten gold. Ouch.
  • Despair Event Horizon: According to Daenerys, when Viserys had to sell their mother's crown, all joy was gone from him, leaving only rage.
  • The Exile: Something he is not happy to admit.
  • Expy: To James Francis Edward Stuart, "the Old Pretender", living in exile after his father was killed (though James' father James II was merely forced into exile), and styling himself as King. He also has a great deal of similarity in personality to "Bonnie Prince Charlie" (son of the Old Pretender), who despite his romantic reputation in poetry, was an alcoholic, obsessed with reclaiming his birthright and abusive to his lovers.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Was very attached to his mother.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He was bitter and abusive, but after his death, Daenerys named one of her dragons after him, and she admits that if it wasn't for Viserys, she never would have survived on her own living on the run from Robert's assassins.
  • Evil Is Petty: Very, very petty. You know your schemes aren't big when you're plotting and, most importantly, failing to steal your sister's wedding gifts (and virginity) because others saw you coming a mile off without even squinting hard.
  • Fish out of Water: He's so out-of-touch with Dothraki society (and perhaps society in general) that he doesn't even realize he's being insulted when they offer him a cart to ride in, as among the Dothraki only the elderly, infirm, very young and pregnant don't ride a horse.
  • Foil: Because they interact with a completely separate set of characters, the similarity is never mentioned (and it may even be unintentional), but the reader may notice that Viserys acts a lot like Joffrey. They are both very arrogant, products of brother-sister incest, prone to acting irrationally (especially when they lose their temper), torment those weaker than themselves, and are cowards at heart. Viserys abuses Daenerys in some way in every scene he has, and it is implied that Joffrey abused his little brother Tommen. However, the most notable similarity is that both of them order a subordinate to beat their victim: during one of his humiliations, Viserys orders Mormont to hit Daenerys, and Joffrey does this all the time with his Kingsguard and Sansa. Daenerys tentatively saying that Viserys "wouldn't be a very good king" was always an understatement, but we see just how much of an understatement it was when we see how Joffrey turned out.
    • And like his archnemesis Robert Baratheon, Viserys never got over the loss of his loved ones, turned to drink to cope, and got killed for it.
    • To the Blackfyres, who continually claimed to be the rightful rulers of the Seven Kingdoms. However, they actually had an army to back up their claim.
  • Free-Range Children: A total deconstruction. It's probably safe to say that Viserys could give you an entire book's worth on what a stupid trope it is. The age of eight is not really the best age to be forced to look after an entire dynasty's worth of inheritance and expectations...with a baby in tow. Worse, in an alien environment, so you face growing further away from your roots as you age, however hard you try (and fail) to cling onto them. Jerkass though he is, you do have to feel for him a little bit.
  • Freudian Excuse: Part of how he turned out is due to this. He was raised as a prince, and when that was ripped from him in a rebellion he probably didn't fully understand (which his brother was a catalyst of, no less), he was forced to support his infant sister mostly by himself at the age of eight (well, maybe nine) in a world that he had been utterly unprepared to deal with because his father's efforts to protect him effectively isolated him from the outside world. Dany notes that when they were younger he was more of a caring brother to her, but the humiliations he had to undergo to support the two of them took their toll on him. She remembers that the last straw was being forced to sell off their mother's crown, after which all remaining kindness in him was gone.
  • Hidden Depths: Credit where credit is due, he managed to survive in a hostile world for over a decade while simultaneously raising his sister. Much of what Daenerys knows about her heritage and her identity was due to Viserys' teachings. He most likely taught her to speak Valyrian. He was notably able to avoid Robert's assassins for several years and charmed a number of wealthy patrons into taking him and his sister in. On the whole, Daenerys is alive because of him. In spite of this, he was neither loving, caring or entirely sincere with her.
  • Humiliation Conga: When he was eight years old, he lost most of his immediate family, his House's kingdom and was left alone with his infant sister. They wandered the free cities and sold all their possessions just to survive. The last straw for him was when he had to sell his mother's crown. When he was with the Dothraki, Daenerys had his horse taken away when he tried to hit her. To the Dothraki a man who doesn't ride is no man, and they named him "The Sorefoot King". Khal Drogo then had him ride in the cart, an even worse insult from the Dothraki, as carts are for old men, very young children, and cripples. All this culminated with him finally getting his "golden crown" as mentioned above.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Despite coming from a line of kings and believing himself to be the true king of Westeros, Viserys is reduced to begging in order to survive. Unlike his sister, he is extremely haughty and acts like he is still royalty.
  • In the Blood: The other reason for how he turned out. Barristan recalls that even as a young boy he showed some signs of his father's instability.
  • In Name Only: A rare instance of this trope occurring in-universe and being applied to a character. Viserys insists that he is the rightful king of Westeros, and styles himself Viserys III Targaryen. Some characters, like Illyrio and Ser Jorah humor him by calling him "Your Grace," while everyone else (who has even heard of him) simply calls him "the Beggar King".
  • Jerkass: He is cruel to his sister and anyone else he is capable of abusing.
  • Karmic Death: "I am the dragon, the dragon, and I will be crowned!" Khal Drogo responds by giving him a crown of hot melted gold.
  • Kick the Dog: In almost every scene he appears in, he sexually assaults his sister.
  • Lean and Mean: He is described as being thin and gaunt looking in appearance, most likely due to a life of running from Robert's assassins, as well as having to live off the charity of others. This probably didn't help his temperament, due to his immense pride.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Had he had any idea of Illyrio and Prince Doran Martell's plan to marry him to Doran's smoking hot daughter when the Targaryens invaded Westeros, he might have settled the fuck down enough to manage to not get himself brutally slain by the Dothraki. Then again, knowing Viserys, maybe not.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: By rights, he is the heir to the Iron Throne after the death of Aerys, Rhaeghar and the latter's offspring.
  • Promotion to Parent: After the death of their entire family, he raised his little sister Daenerys as a Parental Substitute. Too bad he was an abusive one.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Huge emphasis on the "psychopathic". If he wasn't so much the "child" and less the "man", though, he'd have a chance at seriously scary, rather than just sadly pathetic.
  • Royal Brat: He acts like this all the time, calling himself King and The Dragon. However he has no kingdom, actual followers, and what little wealth he had was lost or sold just to survive.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: A World of Ice and Fire reveals that Viserys's early upbringing took place in an extremely sheltered environment due to his father's extreme over-protectiveness. Even if his issues were truly In the Blood, being effectively isolated from society at an early age certainly didn't help him learn to cope.
  • Smug Snake: Contemptuous to everyone, with an overinflated sense of his own abilities, and ends up dead due to his own stupidity and hubris.
    Ser Jorah Mormont: Viserys is less than the shadow of a snake.
  • Spanner in the Works: To Doran Martell's plan to help him regain King's Landing. Had he not been Too Dumb to Live, he would have had the army he desperately wanted.
  • Start of Darkness: Being forced to sell his mother's crown.
  • Stupid Evil: Oh so very much. See Too Dumb to Live below for details.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Viserys shows up at a banquet in Vaes Dothrak (the Dothraki holy city) wearing a sword, which is forbidden. Then, he not only threatens Dany's life but also to cut her unborn son out of her. Yeah, he's drunk and frustrated, but threatening the wife of a barbarian warlord while you're surrounded by 5,000 of his followers isn't too bright. Drogo melts down his own belt of gold medallions and dumps it on Viserys' head.
  • Tragic Villain: He's a major asshat, however: at the age of eight or so, everything he knew in life was ripped away from him, in addition to undergoing a Promotion to Parent for his little sister. After that, years of living on the run from possible assassination, plus having to swallow his pride at every turn just to live, while probably coping (or failing to cope) with what must been something like PTSD on top of any other inborn issues that only got worse thanks to time and neglect? Ouch.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Went batshit insane and got himself killed just like his father.
    Illyrio: Viserys was Mad Aerys son, just so.
  • Unknown Rival: Viserys likes to imagine that he's the The Hero to Robert's Big Bad, but he belongs squarely in this trope.
    • Robert did want him dead, but he seemed much more concerned with the possibility of Daenerys having children.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: According to Daenerys. According to Barristan, however, he showed signs of his father's instability even at an early age.
  • Values Dissonance: An in-Universe example. The way Viserys acts and the warlike traditions of the Dothraki don't mesh very well. Less "the dragon commands!" and more "please, Mr. Drogo" would have been wise.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Has the white hair of the Targaryens, and is a physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive asshat.
  • Wife Husbandry: Before he arranged her marriage to Khal Drogo, it's implied that he was waiting for Daenerys to be old enough to marry him. According to Doran Martell, there were plans drafted for him to marry Princess Arianne; as Daenerys reflects on this, she speculates that he would have dumped her and jumped at the opportunity with little qualm. Pity nobody saw fit to tell him.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Though he wants to return to Westeros to claim the Seven Kingdoms, he lives in exile with his sister.

     Daenerys I 

Queen Daenerys Targaryen, the First of Her Name; r. 298

Other Targaryens

     Maester Aemon Targaryen