Characters: Game Of Thrones House Targaryen

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House Targaryen

"I will take what is mine."

Eddard Stark: It's done, Your Grace. The Targaryens are gone.
Robert Baratheon: ... Not all of them.

The last surviving noble house descending from the now extinct eastern land-mass of Valyria. They invaded Westeros and unified the seven kingdoms under a single monarchy using dragons, some three hundred years before the start of the show. They were in turn overthrown by a rebellion led by House Baratheon seventeen years prior to the beginning of the series, though a few surviving members of the family escaped into exile and are still waiting for an opportunity to strike back and reclaim their lost dynasty.

    In General 
  • Adapted Out: Partly because of the Age Lift and narrative convenience, King Jaeherys II is not the father of Aerys II; rather it is King Aegon V, the star of Tales of Dunk and Egg, who is the father of the Mad King and so grandfather to Daenerys, rather than her great-grandfather.
    • From supplementary materials for the series specifically, Prince Duncan "The Small" Targaryen is the only one of Aegon V's children from the books who is confirmed to exist within this continuity - the books have him, Jaeherys, Daeron, Shaela, and Rhaelle (who married the Lord of Storm's End, giving birth to Lord Steffon Baratheon and being grandmother to Robert/Stannis/Renly). Aegon does have at least 3 children confirmed in this continuity however (and Daeron is alluded to in one episode, though not named), even though the added-on Aerys and Rhaella would likely be young compared to Duncan (even with the Age Lift).
  • Animal Motifs: The Dragon. Unlike the other Westerosi houses, this is seems to be partially literal: Daenerys was immune to the flames of Drogo's pyre due to Mirri's spell, which she interpreted as true Targaryens being fireproof. (Hint: All the past Targaryens were cremated...)
  • Balance of Power: The Targaryens served as an Outside-Context Villain (from Westeros' perspective) for most of its near 300 years of reign. They held power by dragons but they also managed to keep a lid on all kinds of regional grudges and jealousies when they were in charge and they kept the Faith of the Seven on a leash, removing their militancy and curbing some of their most fundamentalist strains. Seventeen years after Robert's Rebellion when the new dynasty has a Succession Crisis, all the old problems come out, regional grudges, over-ambitious vassals, dislike between the North and the South and the South and the far south as well as religious fundamentalism is back and all of them trying to go back to some ideal past before Aegon's Conquest.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: To keep the bloodlines pure, despite diminishing returns. However, Aerys and Rhaella was the first time it had been done in more than a century. Even before that, it was by no means a given; Aenys I married a Velaryon, Maegor I many women but the closest relative was his niece (And none of them had any children anyway), Viserys I an Arryn and a Hightower in succession, Rhaenyra I her cousin once removed (Paternal grandfather's brother's daughter's son) then her paternal uncle, Aegon III his cousin followed by a Velaryon, Viserys II a Lyseni from Essos, Maekar I a Dayne, and Aegon V a Blackwood. Aerys II's father Jaehaerys II did marry his sister, but he has been adapted out of the TV series. That means that the only monarchs to marry their sisters were Aegon I (Dany's Greatx10 Grandfather), Jaehaerys I (Her Greatx8 Grandfather), Aegon II (No direct relation as all of their children died but technically her Greatx6 Uncle), Baelor I (Unconsummated, and therefore no direct relation, but her cousin five times removed), and Aerys II (Her father). That said, many splinter branches of the family did marry their siblings-but these are the only monarchs to do so and two of them had their branches die out.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Taken as a group across three centuries. It is said that madness and genius are two sides of the same coin, or only a difference of degree. In-universe, a common saying became that every time a Targaryen was born, the gods would flip a coin to see if they'd be insane. Half of them were crazy, the other half were brilliant statesmen, conquerors, and builders of empire. They were all kind of quirky, though (routinely practicing incestuous marriages to "keep the bloodline pure", apart from probably causing half of them to be born with mental defects, was also consided an abomination to every major religion in Westeros). Even in the current generation, Aerys II was infamously "the Mad King" and his younger son Viserys wasn't far behind (and at the least, delusionally arrogant); yet on the other hand, Aerys II's elder son Rhaegar was considered one of the most skilled knights of his generation, while Aerys's uncle Maester Aemon and his daughter Daenerys are born leaders. A Targaryen might either be a great monster or a great hero, but they're never boring.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Littlefinger, beholden to Realpolitik as he is, regards this as the real cause for the Targaryens eventual downfall. Their power was based almost entirely upon their dragons and when the dragons died out, with a few exceptions, several successive kings wasted time, energy and lives trying to reclaim their lost advantage, with the resulting failure driving many of them mad. It was only a matter of time, before the other vassals would rise up in rebellion - though Varys's counterpoint is that "a matter of time" turned out to be over a century, with long periods of stable Targaryen rule even without dragons. Still, dragons helped a lot.
  • Dragon Rider: The Targaryen armies were unstoppable during Aegon the Conqueror's invasion because their dragons could attack from the air, and their fire breath had the power to reduce entire cities or castles to ashes. They inherited this from the former Valyrian Freehold where their family originated from.
  • 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.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: To the Norman invaders of England and the House of Normandyand The House of Plantagenet. Them being of Valyrian (i.e. "Roman") descent and having access to wildfire, an analogue of Greek Fire, makes them also a bit Byzantine. Their preference for dynastic incest to maintain the purity of their bloodline, and their rulership of a land to which they have little ethnic relation and speak a different language, draws from Ptolemaic Egypt.
    • They are also similar to the semi-legendary Tarquinius family, the ancient kings of early Rome. Besides the similarly spelt names and connections to a lost, ancient civilization, Sextus Tarquinius, the son of the final (and notably cruel) Roman king, kidnapping and raping another man's wife is seen as the event that triggered the eventual overthrow of the Etruscan kings and the establishment of the Roman Republic, much like Prince Rhaegar and Lyanna Stark.
  • Impoverished Patrician: After Robert's Rebellion.
  • Last of Her Kind: Daenerys believes she'll never have children.
    • Not to mention that the only other Targaryen known to be alive is the 100 year old Maester Aemon, who is sworn to celibacy and not holding titles twice over and whom she probably assumed died decades ago, if Viserys ever got around to telling her about him at all. Well, that and her second cousin Stannis, second cousin once removed Shireen, Robert's surviving 13 bastards, third cousins of various degrees of removal descended from her great-great uncle Aerion Brightflame, and fifth cousins of various degrees of removal descended from her great-great-great-great half-uncle Daemon Blackfyre.
  • Might Makes Right: Became Kings of Westeros by bare conquest alone, without even a pretense of a claim (which was probably inevitable, considering that Westeros was divided between seven kingdoms upon Aegon's landing).
    Jorah Mormont: Forgive me, Khaleesi, but your ancestor Aegon the Conqueror didn't seize six of the kingdoms because they were his right. He had no right to them. He seized them because he could.
  • Pride: They've got it even worse than the Lannisters, who at least have the money and holdings to back it up.
  • The Remnant: Daenerys is the last Targaryen. House Targaryen themselves are The Remnant of the Valyrian dragonlords.
  • Royally Screwed Up: Because of the incest thing, some Targaryens are born mad or gradually become mad as they grow up.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The three heads symbolize Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: Wrath.
  • Theme Naming: Targaryens are typically identified by their penchant for incorporating "ae" in almost all of their names — for example; Aerys, Aemon, Daenerys, Rhaella and a double usage example with Jaehaerys.

    Princess / Queen Daenerys I Targaryen 

    Prince Viserys Targaryen 
"You don't want to wake the Dragon, do you?"
Played By: Harry Lloyd

"You dare? You give commands to me? To me? You do not command the dragon. I'm lord of the Seven Kingdoms. I don't take orders from savages or their sluts. Do you hear me?"

Daenerys Targaryen: He was no Dragon. Fire cannot kill - a Dragon.

The last male heir of the Targaryen line, and self-proclaimed rightful King of Westeros. Viserys is obsessed with claiming his birthright at any cost, including marrying his own sister off in exchange for an army.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While his creepiness is still present, his actual attempts to claim Daenerys's maidenhead are absent in the show. In the books, Ilyrio has to post guards in her room so Viserys doesn't derail years of planning, ruining the alliance with the Dothraki in a single night.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Not that he didn't earn his demise, but it's hard not to feel a little sorry for him as he pleads pathetically for his life.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Viserys stumbles drunkenly into a Dothraki party to insult and threaten them all. Stupid as he may have been, it seems from his drunken behaviour that even Viserys needed some liquid courage to blunder forward.
  • Bait the Dog: His more humane side is briefly seen during a love scene with Doreah, in which he talks nostalgically about the life he felt was taken away from him. However, Doreah inadvertently says the wrong thing and Viserys proceeds to overreact, flip out and revert back to his usual cruel temperment.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The unrelenting self-proclaimed rightful King gets easily trumped by the first powerful foe he antagonizes.
  • Big Brother Bully: Viserys has spent his entire life browbeating his sister through emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
  • Blatant Lies: In the DVD extras, he tells one after another in defense of House Targaryen. Of course, he may actually believe his lies.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil: Bright blonde/white hair is a mark of a is madness and cruelty. He fits all of these.
  • Break the Haughty: His time among the Dothraki is not fun for him. Subverted in that it does little to break his haughtiness.
  • Brother-Sister Incest:
    • One-sided and very creepy. His very first scene involves forcing his sister to undress and commenting on her figure while pawing at her boobs. Cersei later mentions that the Targaryens wed brother-to-sister for three hundred years.
    • In interviews, the actor who portrays him describes Daenerys as his "sister, wife, and daughter" all in one, often mentions that his character feels as though he "owns" Daenerys due to the fact that he would have married her if he still had the throne, and is even somewhat jealous of having to give her up to another man.
  • Bullying a Dragon: If your sister — who is effectively the Barbarian Tribe's queen — is the only person who can ensure you will be tolerated, assaulting her is definitely a pretty dumb thing to do. The irony is that when he Turns Red, he describes it as "waking the dragon." Viserys tries this with Drogo himself by threatening Dany's life right in-front of the horse-lord... a horse-lord nearly a half foot taller, more heavily built, and vastly more skilled at fighting than the amateur Viserys. Even without his bloodriders, it's hard to imagine that Drogo wouldn't have been capable of easily snapping his brother-in-law in half like a twig.
  • Character Death: After Viserys goes too far, Khal Drogo fulfills his promise of a golden crown by melting some gold trinkets in a pot, and pouring it over his head as part of the 'ALS Gold Bucket Challenge'.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Pot of molten gold poured over his head. "A crown for a king" indeed.
  • Death by Irony: Should have been more specific when he demanded a golden crown, because his idea was not 'being forced to participate in the ALS Gold Bucket Challenge'.
  • Entitled Bastard: Viserys seems surprised to discover Dany is unwilling to save him after he threatens her life and the life of her unborn child.
  • The Exile: He fled Westeros as a very young child.
  • Freudian Excuse: Both due to what happened to his family and the pressure on his shoulders to avenge them. He hints at the reasons behind his behavior in a conversation with Jorah Mormont, expressing the overwhelming pressure of being the "last hope of a dynasty" and his obsession to restore it, as well as bitterness over Dothraki reverence of his sister, not a piece of which he's ever gotten himself. A lot of his behavior is an obvious case of In the Blood... One of Aerys' kids had to have inherited his crazy gene, after all. Blame the inbreeding.
  • Green-Eyed Monster/The Resenter: Is quite jealous of his sister when he realizes that the entire Dothraki tribe loves and respects her.
  • Hidden Depths: He managed to survive in a hostile world for over a decade while simultaneously raising his sister. Daenerys would be long dead if it wasn't for him.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Formerly a member of the Royal Family.
  • In-Series Nickname: Viserys likes to style himself as the rightful King of Westeros, along with its other titles, but most people simply refer to him as the Beggar King. During his time with the Dothraki, he is also known as the Sorefoot King and Cart King.
  • Insistent Terminology: Referring to Robert Baratheon as "The Usurper", and calling himself a "King".
  • It's All About Me: He's never shares credit that it was his sister and Magister Illyrio that got him the Dothraki alliance, insisting it was his idea. Also he claims that the Dothraki are his people and army to command when they aren't and are actually Daenerys'. In the DVD extras, he narrates the history sections, giving the perspective of House Targaryen. While recounting the Sack of King's Landing, he mentions that he was spirited out of the city before it fell as, with his brother Rhaegar's death, he was now heir to the throne. Technically, he was second in line behind his nephew, Aegon. In fact, as his sister-in-law was a Dornish princess, he may well have been third in line behind his niece and nephew.(Dornish law puts women in the line of succession; while Dornish law doesn't officially apply to the royal line, had the Targaryens won, Dorne would have had a significantly stronger army than the Targaryens, having not taken part in the war.)
  • Jerkass: Viserys is self-absorbed, disrespectful to just about everyone, thoughtlessly cruel, abusive to his own family members and he's generally unpleasant.
  • Kick the Dog: Pretty much every scene with Daenerys involves him abusing her physically and/or emotionally.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: As mentioned above in Bullying a Dragon, the only reason the Dothraki tolerate him is because he is their Queen's older brother. Any mercy he had from Daenerys or the Dothraki evaporated the second he threatened Daenerys' unborn child.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Despite his pretenses of restoring the family name and dreams of being a conquering hero, he's thoroughly incompetent about politics and incapable of commanding an army, as noted by both Jorah and Daenerys.
    "My brother didn't know anything about dragons. *beat* He didn't know anything about anything."
  • My Parents Are Dead: His father was killed by Ser Jaime Lannister. His mother died not long after she fled with him.
  • No Respect Guy: Despite being the brains of his and Dany's attempt to reclaim the Iron Throne during his time on the show, almost all of the attention, both positive and negative, was directed toward his sister. All of the Dothraki were in love with her, and King Robert primarily focused on her when dreading their return (not that Viserys actually knew this; to him Robert was his Arch-Nemesis, but Robert was more concerned with Dany having children, making this a case of Unknown Rival). Since Viserys was doing all of this so he could be on the throne and not Dany, it perhaps explains why he went off the rails so much more toward the end of his life.
  • Promotion to Parent: Has been taking care of Daenerys for almost her entire life since their exile. He is abusive, but Daenerys still gets to her wedding day healthy, unharmed, reasonably innocent and with her virginity intact.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Viserys is not quite sane. He's prone to tantrums when his sense of childish entitlement is infringed even slightly.
  • Revenge: One of his driving motivations is to punish those who stole the Iron Throne.
  • Rose Tinted Narrative: One can blame his youth and the circumstances of the death of his father and exile, but even then he's thoroughly deluded about what kind of person his father was. He also believes that the Usurpers are unpopular and hated and people are secretly dreaming of a Targaryen restoration.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: As far as he cares, he carries the blood of "the dragon". Nobody else, besides Dany to begin with, gives a hoot.
  • Smug Snake: He's far too arrogant for his own good, acting like he's a King before he even has an army...or anything, for that matter.
  • Stupid Evil: Provoking his superiors is not a wise idea.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Maybe he shouldn't have spent most of his time in the company of the Dothraki wigging out at them every few minutes, openly insulting their traditions and threatening his sister, who happens to be carrying the unborn son of their king. His visible intoxication during his final scene doesn't improve his chances of living.
  • The Unfettered: He will do anything to retake the Iron Throne. Or rather, he'd let his sister do anything.
    Viserys: I would let his whole tribe fuck you. All 40,000 men and their horses too if that's what it took!
  • Unknown Rival: To Robert Baratheon. When Robert hears that Daenerys is pregnant, he goes berserk and calls for her assassination, but when giving the order he throws out "and that fool Viserys", almost as an afterthought. Viserys however saw Robert ("the Usurper") as his Arch-Nemesis.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Never the most stable of individuals to begin with, but becomes increasingly unhinged as he loses control over Daenerys and realizes his powerlessness in the new 'alliance' with Khal Drogo. This finally culminates in his drunkenly storming into a feast and threatening Drogo's wife and unborn child in front of him and his entire Khalasar. He ends his life whimpering and begging before the molten gold does its work.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: He's a reminder that the Targaryens were pretty bad people for the most part, at least towards the end.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Seems to be under the impression that he's the divinely appointed hero in a epic tale that will end with him retaking the Iron Throne for the Targaryen Dynasty. Suffice to say, it seems obvious to everyone else that he's not.

Played By: Wren Ros Elliot-Sloan

"The stallion who mounts the world. The stallion is the Khal of Khals. He shall unite the people into a single Khalasar. All the people of the world will be his herd."

The son of Daenerys and Khal Drogo, who according to prophecy will unite all Dothraki khalassars under his command.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: In the books, Daenerys sees a vision of the man he would have been. He closely resembles Drogo, except with the Targaryen silver-blonde hair and purple eyes.
  • Dark Messiah: He's prophecised to be "The Stallion Who Mounts the World" (in which 'Mounts' doesn't mean 'Ride' but 'Fuck') the khal of khals who will lead the Dothraki to dominion over all the lands of the world.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Obviously named after the late Prince Rhaegar, with the termination changed to reflect Dothraki naming customs.
  • Draconic Humanoid: His unseen stilborn body has dragon features like scales and tiny wings according to Mirri Maz Duur, a combination of her blood magic and the Targaryen blood of the dragon. Deconstructed, as rather than becoming some superstrong dragon-human hybrid it just means he didn't survive in this impaired state.
    "He was scaled like a lizard, blind, with leather wings like the wings of a bat. When I touched him the skin fell from his bones. Inside he was full of graveworms."
  • Fetus Terrible: To Mirri Maz Duur he's one.
  • Magical Abortion: Due to Mirri Maz Duur's Blood Magic, Rhaego is the sacrifice for Drogo's cure. He's born terribly deformed and already dead.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: As stated above, the Dothraki title for him would effectively be "The Stallion Who Fucks the World". Had he been born, things would probably not have been good for the Westerosi.

    King Aerys II Targaryen 
"Burn them all."
Played By: N/A

""Burn them all," he kept saying. "Burn them all." I don't think he expected to die. He- he meant to... burn with the rest of us and rise again, reborn as a dragon to turn his enemies to ash. I slit his throat to make sure that didn't happen."
—- Ser Jaime Lannister

"I know what my father was, what he did. I know that the Mad King earned his name."
Daenerys Targaryen

The last reigning Targaryen King of the Andals and the Rhoynar and the First Men, Aerys II was deposed by a successful rebellion led by Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn and Ned Stark after he had summarily executed Rickard and Brandon Stark. He was renowned for his cruelty and numerous atrocities and reviled as "The Mad King" even two decades after his ignominious death. Before the Sack of King's Landing, he had sent his pregnant wife (who would give birth to his daughter Daenerys) to Dragonstone along with his son and heir, Viserys. He was killed by Jaime Lannister, a member of his Kingsguard, an action for which Jaime is known as the Kingslayer.
  • Age Lift: Being Aegon V's son (rather than grandson, from the books), this is inevitable. More specifically, Aerys is close in age to Tywin Lannister, who in the books was 57 when he was killed (in the show he was stated to be 67 at that time). Aerys was a bit younger, barely 40 when he died (Tywin was 41); given his Childhood Friends backstory with Tywin has been retained in the series, Aerys in the show would have likely been in his mid-to-late 40s when he died. No specific age has been given as yet, however.
  • Ax-Crazy: There's a very good reason he's known as The Mad King.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: His homicidal mania is ended when he is backstabbed by Jaime Lannister, a member of his Kingsguard.
  • Broken Pedestal: Daenerys finally finds out from Ser Barristan that the Usurper and his followers didn't have to spread propaganda against her father. He really was the Mad King after all. Later she tells Tyrion that if she ever returns to Westeros, she will not return to the old form of feudalism that created something like her father and that she will break from her family traditios as well.
  • The Caligula: Was known as "The Mad King" and apparently had a penchant for killing people in nasty ways.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While Aerys was an evil bastard to everyone, he was a Doting Parent to Viserys, and sent him and his mother, whom Aerys abused, off to Dragonstone after Rhaegar died to keep him safe. Seeing how Aerys planned on burning the entire city of King's Landing, it's a huge Pet the Dog moment for him, since he kept Rhaegar's wife and children to force the Martell Family to help, which led to their deaths by Gregor Clegane's hands.
  • 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 .
  • Hearing Voices: Renly says that he used to burn women and children because the voices in his head told him to.
  • In-Series Nickname: Known by many as "The Mad King", and with good reason. From the books... 
  • In the Blood/Royally Screwed Up: His insanity was passed on to Viserys, and he himself probably inherited it from over three hundred years of Brother-Sister Incest.
  • Jerkass: This guy was rotten to the core. The History and Lore on the Kingsguard reveal how Jaime had to stand guard while he raped his wife, unable to intervene. He also tried to blackmail the Martells, his in-laws (and long-time allies), by virtually holding Elia Martell and her children hostage. The Martells saw their collaboration with the Targaryens (Aerys and Rhaegar) as Teeth-Clenched Teamwork for a bunch of Ungrateful Bastard who insulted and dishonored their beloved princess.
  • Kill It with Fire: His last words were "Burn them all." Also, that's how he killed Ned's father. His obsession with wildfire and burning things also derived from the Targaryen fixation on lost dragons. Since he did not have dragons, he decided the next best thing was burning people so he could pretend to be one.
  • Madness Mantra: "Burn them all."
  • Memetic Psychopath: Aerys' madness was so horrifying that it reached very horrifying memetic levels in-universe. He's now the go-to comparison for when you really want to offend someone, or want to make a really dramatic point. This is shown a few throughout the show — Firstly, when Ned Stark says that Robert's and his council will be little better than the Mad King should they kill Daenerys and her unborn child. The second time is when Cersei is on the brink of an emotional breakdown, recognising that her incestuous affair with Jaime has created another Aerys.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: He arranged to burn the Westerosi capital Kings Landing, a city of some 500,000 people, to the ground purely to spite Robert for winning the civil war. He wanted all of his subjects to burn to death along with him, and no king before or after Aerys ever aspired to such a sheer level of destruction.
  • One-Winged Angel: According to Jaime, his lunacy got to the point that during his downfall he believed he would turn into a dragon if he were burned alive with his subjects. Jaime, normally skeptical, slit his throat just to make sure it didn't happen.
  • Posthumous Character: Jaime killed him at the end of Robert's Rebellion.
  • Pyro Maniac: See Kill It with Fire.
  • Sanity Slippage: It's implied his raving madness increased with time, and Pycelle describes the young Aerys thusly: From the books... 
    Pycelle: Aerys Targaryen. Of all the thousand thousand maladies the gods visit on us, madness is the worst. He was a good man, such a charmer.
  • Taking You with Me: He intended for his pyromancers to burn all of King's Landing to the ground and kill everyone in it to spite Robert.
  • Villainous Breakdown: He completely lost it when his defeat was imminent.
  • Villainous Incest: Rhaegar, Daenerys, and Viserys are the products of his marriage to his sister.
  • You Killed My Father: He killed Ned's father, and had his elder brother Brandon Driven to Suicide. This action, along with Rhaegar's abduction of Lyanna, incited the Rebellion that led to his downfall and the exile of the Targaryens.

    Prince Rhaegar Targaryen 
The Last Dragon
Played By: N/A

Barristan Selmy: When your brother Rhaegar led his army at the Battle of the Trident, men died for him because they believed in him, because they loved him. Not because they'd been bought at a slaver's auction. I fought beside the last dragon on that day, Your Grace. I bled beside him.
Jorah Mormont: Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, and Rhaegar died.
Daenerys Targaryen: Did you know him well, Ser Barristan?
Barristan Selmy: I did, Your Grace. The finest man I ever met.

Daenerys and Viserys' elder brother. His abduction of Lyanna Stark was the spark that ignited Robert's Rebellion. Killed in battle by Robert Baratheon roughly seventeen years prior to the start of the series.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: In-universe and out of it. Daenerys and Barristan regard Rhaegar positively while Robert views him as evil. Oberyn Martell who was initially taken by Rhaegar's charm and good-looks regards him as an arrogant idiot who got himself killed and who made the Realm suffer for his actions.From the books... 
  • Arch-Enemy: Robert Baratheon viewed him as this.
  • Badass: He was a famous one. As per Petyr Baelish, he unhorsed Ser Barristan at the Tourney of Harrenhal, Barristan being the greatest knight of Westeros!
  • Big Brother Worship: Both Viserys and Daenerys revere his memory. Viserys saw him as a great warrior who died in battle. Daenerys names her son and one of her dragons after him and seeks to live by his memory. Jorah and Barristan later tell her that he was The Ace and after Viserys' death, Dany is happy to learn from Ser Barristan that Rhaegar was much nicer than Viserys led her to believe, especially after he had told her that her father really was The Caligula.
  • 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.
  • The Hero Dies: From the view of the Targaryen supporters and loyalists.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Robert Baratheon's ascension ensures that Rhaegar is remembered as a vile rapist and the Mad King's son. Ser Barristan Selmy, who respected Robert Baratheon, however, regards Rhaegar as the finest man he ever knew and obviously Viserys and Daenerys think highly of him too.
  • I Have Your Betrothed: His kidnapping of Robert Baratheon's betrothed Lyanna Stark (probably in combination with his father's penchant for burning his vassals) is what started Robert's Rebellion.
  • Modest Royalty: Ser Barristan tells Dany that he often went King Incognito and mingled with the smallfolk. He was also a gifted musician who successfully busked a lot of money and then distributed that among the people.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Whether he abducted and raped Lyanna or they eloped, either way his actions ultimately led to the end of the Targaryen dynasty. His defeat at the Trident drove Tywin to sack King's Landing which led to the deaths of his children and the rape and murder of his wife.
  • Posthumous Character: He died near the end of Robert's Rebellion.
  • Pretty Boy: Despite Oberyn's anger at Rhaegar's abandonment of Elia, he acknowledges that Rhaegar was beautiful. Petyr Baelish also admits that Rhaegar was incredibly good-looking
  • Warrior Prince: He is implied as this by Jorah Mormont, who refers to him as "the real Dragon" of the Targaryen family at the time of the Rebellion. Robert turned out to be a far better one when they met, though.
  • Wham Episode: The Tourney at Harrenhal as Petyr Baelish describes it to Sansa:
    Petyr Baelish: Lord Whent held a great tourney at Harrenhall. Everyone was there. The Mad King, your father, Robert Baratheon, and Lyanna. She was already promised to Robert. You can imagine what it was like for me, a boy from nowhere, with nothing to his name, watching these legendary men, tilting at the lists. The last two riders were Barristan Selmy and Rhaegar Targaryen. When Rhaegar won, everyone cheered for their prince. I remember the girls laughing when he took off his helmet and they saw that silver hair, how handsome he was. Until he rode right past his wife, Elia Martell, and all the smiles died. I've never seen so many people so quiet. He rode past his wife and he lay a crown of winter roses in Lyanna's lap. Blue as frost. How many tens of thousands had to die because Rhaegar chose your aunt?
  • The Wise Prince: According to Ser Barristan, who considers Rhaegar, the finest man he ever knew.
    When your brother Rhaegar led his men at the battle of the Trident, men died for him because they believed in him. Because they loved him. I fought beside the last dragon that day, my grace.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Oberyn Martell is highly critical of Rhaegar for running off with Lyanna Stark, humiliating his sister (and Rhaegar's wife) Elia, and then starting a war which ultimately led to the deaths of his children and the brutal rape and murder of his wife. Littlefinger confirms that Rhaegar publicly spurned Elia at the Tourney at Harrenhal by putting a crown of winter roses on Lyanna's lap.

    King Aegon V Targaryen 
Played By: N/A

"My father was Maekar, the First of his Name. My brother Aegon reigned after him, when I had refused the throne, and he was followed by his son Aerys, whom they called the Mad King."
—- Maester Aemon

Maester Aemon's younger brother, who ended up being crowned king after their father Maekar died. While he is the Mad King's grandfather in the books, the TV series condensed this to make him the Mad King's father. Aegon V's nickname was "Egg", and he is one of the two titular heroes in the Tales of Dunk and Egg prequels (which HBO is in discussions to adapt as a prequel series after the main TV series finishes).

  • Adapted Out: Partly because of the Age Lift and narrative convenience, King Jaeherys II is not the father of Aerys II; rather it is King Aegon V, the star of Tales of Dunk and Egg, who is the father of the Mad King and so grandfather to Daenerys, rather than her great-grandfather.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Aemon felt this way about Egg all his life. When he plays with Little Sam he remembers little Egg and their youth together.
    Aemon: Egg, I dreamed that I was old.
  • The Good King: Cersei remarks to Margaery Tyrell upon Tommen's coronation in Season Four's "First of His Name" that a good king hasn't really sat on the Iron Throne in about fifty years. Joffrey was king for about three years, and Robert for about 17 (in the TV timeline). The Mad King ruled for over 20 years. She doesn't mention Aegon V by name, but she was apparently referring to him (Aegon V ruled for over 25 years, so there's no way she's talking about his father Maekar).
  • Hero of Another Story: If the negotiations succeed for HBO to make a prequel TV series adapting the Tales of Dunk and Egg.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Histories and Lore: Dragons", Maester Pycelle states that in his final years he became obsessed with dragons and burnt himself and several others in an attempt to hatch dragons at Summerhall. Bear in mind this is Maester Pycelle we are talking about, but the Summerhall disaster is mentioned numerous times in the Lore.From the books... 
  • Posthumous Character: Outside of Histories and Lore, we only know him through the reminscences of Maester Aemon, his elder brother who outlived him by nearly fifty years.
  • Unexpected Successor: Egg was not the eldest son and was not expected to become king. Maester Aemon was not the eldest son either. But the heir to the throne died, and Aemon refused the throne due to his vows as a maester (and not wanting to fight his own brother) and left to join the Night's Watch to remove himself from court. Thus the crown passed to Aegon V.

    King Aegon I Targaryen, the Conqueror 
Played By: N/A

"Forgive me, Khaleesi, but your ancestor Aegon the Conqueror didn't seize six of the kingdoms because they were his right. He had no right to them. He seized them because he could."
—- Ser Jorah Mormont

The conqueror and unifier of six of the Seven Kingdoms (Dorne forced him out), along with his two sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys. Founder of the Targaryen Dynasty, of the capital King's Landing and maker of the Iron Throne. Wed to his elder and younger sisters, Visenya and Rhaenys, respectively. The original Lord of Dragonstone, currently King Stannis's seat.
  • The Ace: To all the Targaryens and to Westeros in general.
  • Beast of Battle: He introduced the concept of using dragons as weapons of war to Westeros.
  • Brother-Sister-Sister Team / Rule of Three: Each with a dragon mount.
  • Dragon Rider: His personal dragon was Balerion "the Black Dread", the biggest dragon ever known. He forged the Iron Throne by melting down the swords of Aegon's enemies, and is one of the dragons that turned Harrenhal into the blasted ruin it is now. From the books... 
  • Famed In-Story: Remembered in a positive light as founder of the realm by many, his conquest ended the independence of the Seven Kingdoms and while many of the previous kings were downgraded to Lords Paramount, others were elevated. From the books... 
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Unifier of the realm, founder of King's Landing and maker of the Iron Throne. Aegon's Landing established a Year Zero in the current Westerosi calendar.
  • Hollywood History / Historical Badass Upgrade: In-universe, he is remembered as the founder of the realm, while his sisters' part in the conquest tends to be sidelined.
  • The Magnificent: Known as "Aegon the Conqueror" for subjugating six of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros into one realm, making him the single-most successful named conqueror in the history of the series. From the books... 
  • Outside-Context Villain: To the seven divided kingdoms he invaded, though not to Houses Tyrell and Tully, whom he elevated to their current ranks.
  • Posthumous Character: Not surprising, since he lived 300 years before the start of the story.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Aegon didn't melt the thousand swords of his vanquished foes into the Iron Throne, but less than 200. This kind of mystique helps to seam the realm together.From the books... 

     Queen Visenya Targaryen 
Played By: N/A

Arya Stark: Visenya Targaryen was a great warrior. She had a Valyrian steel sword she called Dark Sister.

Aegon I's elder sister, and one of his sister-wives. She wielded the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister, and rode the Dragon Vhagar into battle alongside her brother and younger sister, Rhaenys.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: Dark Sister was this even more than most Valyrian steel weapons, since it was designed for Visenya, and was therefore skinnier and more flexible than the typical broad or longsword, and thus had to rely on sharpness for cutting power more than raw force. It was not, however, a rapier like Arya's Needle.
  • Action Girl: Riding dragons into battle and subduing whole kingdoms certainly qualifies her.
  • Badass: Was renowned as a great warrior in her day, though the histories have sidelined her and her sister in favor of their brother, Aegon. Arya, however, made a point to learn all she could about Visenya, and points this out to Lord Tywin at Harrenhal.
  • Cool Sword: Again, Dark Sister.From the books... 
  • Dragon Rider: Visenya rode Vhagar, the smallest of the original three Targaryen dragons. But, according to a history Davos reads, Vhagar was still large enough to swallow a horse whole.
  • Femme Fatale: Described as such in the books.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Her sword, Dark Sister, is probably actually more famous than she is, due to the marginalization of her martial attributes in the histories.
  • Hero-Worshipper: She is the idol of every highborn girl feeling oppressed by the institution of arranged marriage, certainly including Arya and probably including Cersei and Brienne of Tarth.
    Lord Tywin: She's a heroine of yours, I take it? Aren't most girls more interested in the pretty maidens from the songs? Jonquil with the flowers in her hair?
    Arya: Most girls are idiots.
    Tywin: Ha! You remind me of my daughter.
  • Posthumous Character: Long dead by the time the show takes place.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: With her sister, Rhaenys. Visenya was far more martial than her gentle sister, and preferred her sword and mail to Aegon's bed, and so Rhaenys become the mother of the Targaryen lineage. Only one Targaryen king descended from Visenya, the third, Maegor the Cruel, who built the Red Keep and died without issue.
  • 24-Hour Armor: Preferred plate and mail to gowns.

     Queen Rhaenys Targaryen 
Played By: N/A

Arya Stark: It wasn't just Aegon riding his dragon. It was Rhaenys and Visenya too.
Lord Tywin: Correct. A student of history, are you?
Arya: Rhaenys rode Meraxes. Visenya rode Vhagar.

The younger of Aegon's sister wives, and one of the original Targaryen dragon riders.
  • Action Girl: Less so than Visenya, but definitely still an example.
  • Badass: Not physically, it seems, but she still rode a dragon, which makes you a Badass no matter what.
  • Dragon Rider: Alongside her siblings.
  • Girl Next Door: Compared to her sister, which is part of why Aegon preferred Rhaenys.
  • Posthumous Character: Along with all her siblings.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Much girlier than her sister. Though she rode a dragon and fought in Aegon's wars, she fit the image of a "proper" queen much better than her sister, which is probably why she's better known.

    Baelor the Blessed 

The famously pious Targaryen King who built the Great Sept which bears his name, Baelor I Targaryen was known for his religious devotion and his piety. He remains one of the most controversial Kings and opinions on him are divided even by characters in the present day narrative of the series.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: How high lords like Tywin Lannister see him. Tywin mentions that he appointed a six year old boy as High Septon and starved himself to death.
  • The Fundamentalist: Strong in the Faith and loved by the commons yet neglected his responsibilities as a ruler. On the other hand, the High Sparrow likewise sees him as not fundamentalist enough and regards the Great Sept he built as a mere display of vanity rather than genuine religious belief.
  • The Good King: Tywin presents him as a test case on how Baelor fit the picture of a Good King but actually was not a good ruler. Oberyn Martell, in the Histories and Lore on the other hand, seems to like him for his attempts to bring peace to Dorne and arrange a marriage contract between the Targaryens and the Martells.
  • Heroic Willpower: How else would he have survived getting bit by vipers to save his cousin?
  • The Madness Place: If Madness and Greatness are two sides of the same coin, then Baelor is the test-case. He built a great Sept and an impressive work of architecture, was kind to the poor and brought peace between the Iron Throne and Dorne, but he also neglected his responsibilities and made a mockery of the Crown.
  • Messianic Archetype: A deconstruction. Many of the characteristics that made him a beloved ruler among the smallfolk also got in the way of his actual job of ruling and his responsibility to perpetuate the royal line.
  • Monument of Humiliation and Defeat: As per the High Sparrow, Baelor built his Great Sept over a smaller and far more modest Sept that pre-existed the Targaryens. To him the Great Sept, regardless of Baelor's piety, is a symbol of the Targaryen imposition of the Faith's traditions which Baelor never upended.
  • Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: He locked up his sisters in the Maidenvault so they wouldn't tempt him.
  • Turbulent Priest: Has shades of this in his personality, though he was not as Turbulent as the Sparrows.

    Maester Aemon Targaryen 
Played by: Peter Vaughan

The son of King Maekar, First of His Name, Aemon Targaryen stepped aside so that his brother Aegon V, "The Unlikely", could inherit the throne. Aegon V is the father of the Mad King Aerys, which makes Aemon Daenerys Targaryen's great-uncle and after the death of Viserys, her only surviving blood relation. After completing his studies as a Maester, he took the black and became a sworn brother of the Night's Watch, secure from the backstabbing politics of King's Landing that he loathed all his life.

See Night's Watch.