This is a listing of members of House Targaryen that appear in A Song of Ice and Fire.
For the main character index, see here
For the main Crownlands entry, see here
House Targaryen of King's Landing note
- "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 and other intra-house close relations throughout their rule for several reasons: keeping their dragon blood and magic as pure as possible, retaining their elite and beautiful looks, and reminding the Faith of the Seven that the royal house was above the dominant religion of Westeros. 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.
House Targaryen are Valyrian in origin, being one of the lesser Dragonlord families in the now decimated peninsula. Due to prophetic foretelling, the household and their dragons were able to survive the Doom and settle on the Blackwater Bay island of Dragonstone before the Conquest, being the only Dragonlords that thus remained.
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.
- 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.
- Of course, this also leads to examples of the Broken Ace. Even if you are good at a lot of things, there will be some things beyond you (like, taking Dorne easily, for one). That, or all the sheer expectation heaped on you from an early age might help curdle your very ability to perform when you have to get it right.
- The Alcoholic: A common problem. Somebody is bound to reach for the drink as a solution to their woes every generation or so. Notable examples include Aegon II, Daeron the Drunkard, and Viserys the Beggar King. Princesses Saera and Viserra, both daughters of Jaehaerys I, were also known to be overly fond of the bottle, which led to the latter's death.
- 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.
- The Beautiful Elite: Most Targaryens are physically attractive or at least striking-looking with their metallic hair and purple eyes and they were the most elite family in Westeros. They held the throne for generations, they started out the current dynasty as the only dragon riders left in the world, and even after their dragons died out, they were still in possession of dragon eggs which are extremely valuable, as well as ancestral weapons made of the highly sought after Valyrian steel, some members still have the ability to predict the future in their dreams.
- 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 dearly (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 practicing 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.
- 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.
- BrotherSister 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.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Of Westerosi nobility. They are weird, colorful, self-destructive, and have a laundry list of a weird stuff happening to them, and their family roster reads like both a Rogues Gallery and a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits, at the same time, and yet they boast the most prodigious dynastic accomplishment of any noble family in the history of Westeros, building the biggest roads, most populous city, and passing more legal and institutional reforms in 300 years than anyone else in thousands.
- The Caligula: You had the likes of Aegon the Unworthy and Maegor the Cruel, who are occasionally 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.
- Cool Crown: The Dragon Kings have worn their fair share from the iconic Valyrian Steel 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.
- Crazy Awesome: In-universe. The hallmark of being a Targaryen is not fully obeying "the Rules" and finding the crazy third option to shove into the awesome sauce. Failing that, they're just supposed to try being awesome or crazy, either one. A widely perceived "meh is for mediocre" means questions about legitimacy start getting asked.
- Culture Blind: Despite being descendant from Valyrian nobility, the Targaryens were just as ignorant as everyone else when it came to Valyrian history, culture, and magic, with the only surviving traditions being dragon riding and incest. Likewise, while most nobles know the entire history of their family, which can often stretch back for thousands of years, the Targaryens knew almost nothing about their ancestors before the Doom of Valyria. This is odd because it means that the early Targaryens did not bring any type of historical documents with them when they fled Old Valyria, they never made any attempt write it down themselves, and they never verbally passed the information to their children.
- 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 (Maegor, for one, seems to be viewed rather differently in his family's oral history than in that recorded in the Citadel's written records, even by Daenerys' time period). 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: Maegor vs anybody not of Visenya's line... and vs the Faith (including his remaining Kingsguard); The Greens vs The Blacks; The Blackfyre Rebellion, and (possibly) between Daenerys and Aegon VI — however they're actually related.
- 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". Although most traits of the Targaryens (metallic hair and purple eyes, high tolerance for heat, affinity with dragons) were common in Old Valyria, the ability to dream the future seems to have been unique to the Targaryen family and was the reason they escaped the destruction of Valyria.
- 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.
- Everyone Has Standards: The Targaryens have never practiced parent/child or grandparent/grandchild incest.
- The Exile: Twice! Once from Valyria (they were the original lords of Dragonstone, Stannis' seat), and then again from Westeros.
- 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.
- Fire/Ice Duo: With House Stark, obviously. The dragon riders, hailing from a now Lethal Lava Land, whose words are "Fire and blood". On the other side the Stark's, rulers of the northern half of the kingdom, whose ancestor build a Wall of ice and are generally tied with harsh winters.
- Feuding Families:
- For most of its history, it had this with the Martells, their Arch-Enemy who resisted them longest and inflicted the most humiliating defeats on House Targaryen, which led to Daeron I killed in Dorne, but a marriage alliance ended it.
- For most of their history, they had good relations with the Baratheons, but that fractured when Prince Duncan broke a marriage alliance with Lyonel Baratheon's daughter. A relationship that did heal under Jaehaerys II and Aerys II (both of whom befriended Lyonel's son and grandson) but that ended when Aerys II, the Mad King, for no sane reason called for Robert's head alongside Ned's, simply because he was engaged to Lyanna Stark and co-ward with Ned. Indeed, Aerys II somehow managed to trigger a feud with three families (Stark, Baratheon, Lannister) at the same time, and had things went longer, would have undoubtedly pissed off the Martells (since he said his own grand-daughter "smelt Dornish" and he blackmailed them into fighting for the Iron Throne by holding Elia Martell hostage at the Red Keep).
- And of course there are in-family feuds, between Maegor the Cruel and Jaehaerys I, the Blacks (Rhaenyra) and the Greens (Aegon II), Aegon IV and Daeron II, and of course the decades long feud between House Targaryen and the Cadet Branch of legitimized bastards, House Blackfyre.
- 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 Essosi one.
- Rich, screwed-up, full of pride, often cruel, and usually considered good-looking? House Lannister says hi.
- Generational Magic Decline: Originally, the Targaryens had an apogee of dragons and dragonriders by the time of the Dance of the Dragons, after which only a handful survived. Aegon III then was then surprisingly unsuccessful in his efforts to both breed and raise new Targaryen dragons, leading to their total extinction during his reign. Since then no one has been able to successfully hatch a dragon for several generations... until Daenerys comes along and hatches three of them.
- 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. He could have been referring to much of Dorne: they seem to have had something going on between them all.
- His Own Worst Enemy: The most devastating and deadly wars in the history of the Targaryen reign, happened when Targaryens fought each other, or made their own enemies.
- This includes Maegor the Cruel being toppled down by a pan-Westeros alliance between House Tully, the Faith Militant, and Jaehaerys I, the Dance of the Dragons, the Blackfyre Rebellion. And those are the occasions when Targaryens fought each other.
- Even the good Targaryens, whether it's Aegon V or Prince Rhaegar ended up being undone because of their actions, or their attempts to act heroically. While Bloodraven, the bastard who was loyal to his family, was such a zealot at doing so, that he ultimately brought infamy and had to be shipped to the Wall to save face.
- Daenerys in A Dance with Dragons has a long interior Character Development about being afraid of going mad or worried about the power her dragons and her control over them could unleash. Ultimately, she decides "Dragons plant no trees".
- History Repeats: Targaryens with the same or similar names tend to have one particular trait in common, though it's by no means a hard rule.
- Aegon: Inadequate. Every crowned Aegon after the first one has failed to live up to the standard the Conqueror set. Aegon II was a lazy, gluttonous womanizer, Aegon III was depressed and mopey, and Aegon IV was a horribly incompetent king and a Fat Bastard who slept with hundreds of women. Aegon V tried harder, but his pro-smallfolk reforms were quickly reversed by Tywin Lannister after his death. Varys and the Golden Company are setting up Aegon VI to be the perfect prince and the founder of a new Targaryen dynasty, but what he's actually going to accomplish is still up to chance.
- Vis-: Overshadowed. Targaryens with "Vis-" as a prefix tend to find themselves in the shadows of their siblings or other relatives. Queen Visenya was the lesser loved sister wife of King Aegon I, Prince Viserys was killed by Maegor at fifteen with his younger brother Jaehaerys becoming king instead, Princess Viserra's only accomplishment of note was dying in a drunken carriage race, King Viserys I came after Jaehaerys the Conciliator and set the stage for the Dance of the Dragons, and King Viserys II was a King's Hand to his brother and nephews for much longer than he was a king. And, of course, Viserys III gets crowned with molten gold for pissing off Khal Drogo, with his sister being the one to hatch three dragons and conquer the slavers' cities.
- Bae-: Beloved. Baelon, son of King Jaehaerys I, was known as "Baelon the Brave" and "the Spring Prince", King Baelor I was loved for his kindness towards the smallfolk, and Baelor Breakspear was The Ace as a warrior and his father's Hand, winning respect from many.
- Rhae-: Unlucky. Queen Rhaenys was the first of her siblings to die, Rhaena was widowed three times and her young daughter died a horrible death, Princess Rhaenys was passed over in the Great Council of 101 AC and burnt to a crisp by Aegon II and Aemond One-Eye, Rhaenyra fought a bitter civil war against half her family trying to claim her father's crown and got eaten by her half-brother's dragon, Queen Rhaella was forced to marry a brother who never wanted her and later lost her kingdom and died in childbirth, Prince Rhaegar died at the Trident before he could become king, and his daughter Rhaenys was violently murdered when she was just a toddler.
- Aemon: Dutiful. Although no Aemon has held the crown yet, every Prince Aemon has been a kind and selfless man who did his duty to the realm and loved his family deeply. Aemon, son of Jaehaerys I, was a great knight who was very close to his brother Baelon, Prince Aemon the Dragonknight was renowned for his chivalry and died defending his brother, and Maester Aemon loved his brother so much he joined the Night's Watch so no supporters could use him to challenge Aegon V's right to hold the crown.
- Daenerys: Beautiful. Every Daenerys has been said to be the World's Most Beautiful Woman: Daenerys, daughter of Jaehaerys I, Daenerys, sister of Daeron II, and Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons.
- Mae-: Merciless. Kings with this prefix are fierce, harsh, brutal, and not much loved. Maegor the Cruel was hated for the slaughters he committed, and although Maekar was much more reasonable (albeit stern, judgmental and unforgiving), he was still called a kinslayer by many for accidentally killing his brother Baelor Breakspear. Maelys Blackfyre, though not a true Targaryen, was called "Maelys the Monstrous", and was also infamously brutal, winning command of the Golden Company by ripping off his cousin's head with his bare hands.
- Daemon: Ambitious. Prince Daemon Targaryen wanted more than anything to be a king, fighting hard in the Dance of the Dragons for him and his wife's right to claim the Iron Throne. Daemon Blackfyre would follow in his footsteps, trying to wrest the crown from his trueborn brother Daeron.
- Hot-Blooded: As a general rule, Targaryens are extremely passionate and high-tempered, regardless of their individual baseline sanity levels.
- Ideal Illness Immunity: Viserys claimed that Targaryens had this, and Dany believes him enough to personally attend to the ill in Meereen with no fear of infection. Of course, several historical Targs are stated to have died from disease, so maybe it doesn't extend to all of them (evidently it's only a few of them can hatch dragon eggs, after all). And, of course, this clearly does not extend to mental illnesses.
- 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.
- Though they mostly relied on incest for practical purposes, there are members of the family whose preference tended to incest regardless. Aegon V was engaged to a sister when he was young, even when the family had veered against the practice at that point (he later denounced it); his own son Jaehaerys married his sister much against Aegon's wishes.
- It's Okay If It's You: After marrying his sister, Jaehaerys I created the Doctrine of Exceptionalism to avoid the issues his father and older brother faced from the Faith of the Seven. The Doctrine states that the Father made Valyrians different than the Andals, using their unique physical traits and ability to tame dragons as proof, and that this makes them exempt from being judged by the Faith for their incestuous practices.
- King Bob the Nth: Aegon is the most popular Targaryen name. Jaehaerys, Viserys and Daeron come a close second.
- Last of His Kind: They are the last extant line of Valyrian dragonlords; however, they are not the last Valyrians per se.
- 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, although the Velaryons were also a Valyrian House and said Arryn had a Targaryen mother. 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.
- The Missing Faction: Though by no means the last Valyrian survivors, House Targaryen were conspicuously the last extant Valyrian dragonlords. Whatever other dragonlords that survived the Doom died and disappeared shortly thereafter, leaving the Targaryens on their own. This has overtones of The Prophecy and even hints of foul play, but any defining circumstances surrounding the Doom went up in flames and are lost in time.
- 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 colored 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.
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
- Like the Greek Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt, the Valyrian Targaryens ruled a land they have no real cultural or ethnic claim to, nor relation with. Both have a long-running practice of wedding siblings to each other. The last Ptolemaic ruler was Cleopatra, who ditching the brother she was supposed to marry and co-rule with, and went abroad to Rome to get support and power to enable her to reign. Hmmm, which Targaryen queen is doing a similar thing now...
- They are also similar to the semi-legendary Tarquinius family, the ancient kings of early Rome, down to similar-sounding names. Both were overthrown in reaction to a tyrannical King's son's actions with a noblewoman (in the case of Sextus Tarquinus he raped her, in Rhaegar's case it is.... unclear whether Lyanna consented). The Tarquins were, like the Targaryens, not native to the place they ruled, being Etruscans.
- Their overall inspiration is The House of Plantagenet, the longest ruling dynasty of England, from which Targaryen derives its name(Plantagenets), while its dragon motif echoes their famous nickname (the "devil's brood").
- 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 Invincible After All: The Targaryens were thought to be immune to disease that killed normal men, until Princess Daenerys, daughter of Jaehaerys and Alysanne, was killed by the Shivers plague.
- Opposites Attract: Invoked by the obvious "ice and fire" theme. House Targaryen shares a connection with House Stark that remains unfulfilled. The Starks are the ice to the Targaryen fire, and there is an implied power to be had from this union in the same degree that there's a connection between the Free Men and the Valyrians. The most significant connection between the latter two races of men comes with the birth of Brynden "Bloodraven" Rivers, a tremendously powerful and influential individual that came from the union of House Targaryen (Vayrians) and House Blackwood (First Men).
- The first time the Targaryen-Stark connection came close to fruition was through the "Pact of Ice and Fire", a deal to marry a Targaryen princess with a Stark boy, which fell through due to the high casualties of the Targaryen Royal Family during the Dance of the Dragons.
- The other time has been the rather infamous liaison between Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, whatever the nature of their relationship was ( kidnapping or elopement ) and their union has been speculated for years to have lead to the conception of a son, Jon Snow.
- 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.
- The Power of Blood: Invoked. It's implied to be the key to their dragon hatching and binding, and one of the possible reasons why they kept incestuous relationships as to not lose this ability; they eventually did lose it with no reason, but after hundreds of years of failed attempts, Daenerys Targaryen was just as inexplicably able to hatch dragon eggs.
- Playing with Fire: Several Targaryens have used burning alive as a method to dispatch their enemies, the earlier ones used their dragons, whilst Aerys II had a thing for wildfire. Although the idea that the Targaryens are immune to fire themselves is a fallacy, they do have a high tolerance for heat; at least two Targaryens, Daenerys and Egg, are stated to enjoy scalding hot baths.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Most of the story wouldn't turned out this way if Rhaegar didn't die.
- 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.
- 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.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: 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.
- The Remnant: Of the Valyrian dragonlords. And the Remnant of Remnants for the modern ones.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: Aerys may have been quite right about somebody actively moving against specifically him, but more generally the entire family, in a complex and convoluted plot that he thought only he could see, if Maester Marwyn is correct that there is a Citadel bloc actively working against magic and dragons. Shame Aerys never worked out the sheer enormity of any likely threat. Or the fact that neither Tywin nor Rhaegar were directly involved in it — at first (his actions kind of made them have to take steps to counter the worst of his moves as he jumped off the slope). Nor the many others his paranoia pointed him at. He should have paid more attention to Oldtown and those connected to it. Including Maester Pycelle. Makes you ask questions about some of the so-called mad, unexplained actions other Targaryens have taken against the Faith, the Citadel, the Hightowers and Oldtown over the years. They might not have been as without cause as they look on the surface — and, keep in mind who recorded that they were nuts.
- 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. Aerion did marry a first cousin but this is not considered incestuous in Westeros. 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 always clear if (or, more importantly, when) a potential king will become a Caligula, since "madness and greatness are two sides of the same coin". They can start out as charismatic little Aces, to trade all that in for Axes down the line. The line has produced many able warriors, statesmen, and scholars as well as a rogue's gallery of tyrants and psychopaths. Some Targaryens begin quite noble and lose their grip on sanity as they age, such as King Aerys II — by the end of his reign, he was known as King Aerys the Mad, and in the end his excesses sparked a revolt that toppled the dynasty.
Aegon I — Perfectly normal,
- By the way, if we have to take a look at the family tree, there aren't so many maniacs as one would think:
his son Aenys I — Fairly normal, if a bit Weak-Willed
his half-brother Maegor I — Psychopathic murderer,
his nephew Jaehaerys I — Best king Westeros ever had,
his grandson Viserys I — Aside from not clearing up his line of succession quite normal,
his son Aegon II — Paranoid,
his half-sister Rhaenyra I — Started out well, but Aegon II usurping her throne, multiple betrayals, and the loss of her sons turned her paranoid and ruthless,
her son Aegon III — Depression, but stemming from watching his mother be devoured by a dragon rather than genetics,
his son Daeron I — Became king far too young but not actually crazy,
his brother Baelor I — Religious fanatic but nonetheless loved,
his uncle Viserys II — Kept his nephews from imploding the realm during their reigns, but died before he could finish the job as king himself
his son Aegon IV — Obese, corrupt, and horribly ineffectual,
his son Daeron II — Second best king Westeros ever had,
his son Aerys I — Obsessed with books to the exclusion of all else, including having children,
his brother Maekar I — As stern, harsh, and unyielding as his great-great-grandson Stannis and even more unpopular but again not crazy,
his son Aegon V — Sane aside from maybe the Summerhall incident and well-known for his kindness to the smallfolk,
his son Jaehaerys II — Often considered weak due to his poor health and short reign but thought well of by anyone who actually knew him,
and his son Aerys II — Psychopathic pyromaniac.
- That's only three crazy kings, two borderline crazy kings, one borderline crazy queen, and one horribly incompetent one out of the seventeen monarchs. If you want to count the Targaryens who never became kings, only Rhaegal (brother of Aerys I and Maekar), Aerion (brother of Aegon V), and maybe Viserys (brother of Daenerys) were crazy. When you put it like that, it seems less like a Targaryen trait and more like random chance.
- 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 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.
- Ruling Family Massacre:
- They were nearly wiped out during Robert's Rebellion. Rhaegar was killed in battle by Robert Baratheon. Aerys, Elia, and Rhaegar's children were killed by the Lannisters during the Sack of King's Landing. Rhaella and Viserys were the only survivors, but Rhaella soon died giving birth to Daenerys.
- During the War of Conquest, Aegon inflicted this on House Hoare (burned alive in their castle Harrenhal) and House Gardner (burned alive on the Field of Fire).
- The Scottish Trope: All of the Aegons who followed the Conqueror met horrific ends. Frankly, its a wonder that no one has stopped to ponder the possibility that the name might be cursed. Needless to say, this does not bode well for Young Griff.
- Having "rhae" as a prominent component of your name also seems to be inviting the world to kick you, yet it remains popular.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: They were able to retain their tradition of incest in the face of disapproving Westerosi by virtue of being the ruling family.
- 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' heir after Aenys' death. This took place a mere five years after the Dragon himself passed away.
- Too Clever by Half: Targaryens are expected to be daring and ambitious as a matter of course, and most of the more infamous ones tend to be at least intelligent enough to get themselves into some real trouble with their ambitions. This probably contributes at least somewhat to the "coin flip of the gods" phenomenon; whether it's truly In the Blood is an interesting little chicken-and-egg dilemma.
- 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.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: They have a strong tendency to look very alike. Sure, some will get compared more to, say, a grandparent or aunt/uncle than to either parent, but, in reality, even the ones who somehow don't get hit with the classic hair-and-eyes will still have more than a few other features in common with those who do. Short and stocky with barrel chests, for example, isn't very Targaryen; trim, long-limbed mediums and above need only apply (unless you either starve or glutton yourself regularly, that is). It's all the inbreeding.
- The Un-Reveal:
- While it's known why the Targaryens were spared from the Doom of Valyria, it hasn't been revealed why other Valyrian dragonlords didn't; even the scattered few that survived did so for a considerably short time.
- Having participated in a war to extinguish the imperial pretensions of Volantis, Aegon the Conqueror turned his sights toward Westeros. It's not known why he did this in the first place or why he refrained from pursuing conquests in Essos, though participating in said war gives some credence on the respect he had towards the system that the Free Cities achieved after the Doom and the potential that the multiple kingdoms in Westeros were wasting due to relatively petty skirmishes, leading to his unification efforts.
- It's not entirely clear why the Targaryen dragon cache died out or why they were unsuccessful in hatching new dragons after the mass casualties of the Dance of the Dragons.
- In the same measure, it hasn't been revealed (yet) why, among all people and multiple attempts, Daenerys Targaryen was able to hatch her dragon eggs after hundreds of years.
- 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. But, that is only a fraction of their legacy.
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.
- They unified the disparate cultures of Westeros into a single realm, codified most laws across said realm and put an initially dragon-enforced muzzle on much rampaging interfaith, intercultural and inter-House prejudices at the downright acceptable price of the occasional Succession Crisis rather than constantly reigniting Wall-to-Dorne wars; they abolished the abhorrent practice of Droit du Seigneur; they built King's Landing and the Kingsroad to facilitate and monitor trade and communication routes; they founded the Kingsguard as symbol for meritocracy as well as a symbol of unity; they disarmed the Faith Militant and put the Faith of the Seven on a leash by separating Faith (Oldtown; the ex-political capital and current cultural capital of most of the Andel parts of the Kingdom) and State (King's Landing; the political capital of all of the combined Kingdom, Andel, First Man and Ironborn, thank you very much) so religious fanaticism wouldn't end up in genocides; and, last, but not least, they put a damper on Ironborn raids on the Western shores by securing, connecting and facilitating the funding for naval ports across the Kingdom (the Iron Bank generally rather enjoyed the relative predictability and dependability of the Targaryens vs the mess before and after them). Not all bad, huh?
- 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.
- White Hair, Black Heart: Some of their members, most recently Aerys the Mad. Of course, it has magical connotations, too.
Court of 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 Ill 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 in recent memory. By the end of his reign, all the high lords either hated him enough to take him down, or did as little as possible to support the Targaryens while waiting to see if Rhaegar would prevail. Only Maegor "the Cruel" also holds that distinction. That said, during Gregor Clegane's rampage through the crownlands, Arya forgets herself and asks an elderly prisoner to elaborate when he claims to miss the "old king", assuming it to be Robert. It's Aerys, "gods grace him", whom the old man claims would never have stood for the Mountain's atrocities. At the very least, it seems the smallfolk suffered at Aerys' hands far less than the highborn did.
- 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 Joanna so much that Tywin turned in his badge, only for Aerys to make an apology.
- Archnemesis Dad: As a result of his paranoia, he grew envious of his overtly popular heir and antagonized him in every possible way. This, with his terrible skill at ruling and increasingly uncontrollable madness may have something to do with his son's rumored planning of deposing him.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The very embodiment. However, it is debatable how culpable he is for his actions given his fragile grip on reality and increasingly deranged delusions. Certainly in his later actions.
- 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.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Even as a young man, keeping Aerys focused on one thing at a time was somewhat of an uphill struggle. Which helps explain why Aerys could get along with Tywin back then. Prince Airy Dandelion Fluff rather needed somebody like Ser Laser-Focused Seriousness in his life. The good news was that any hare-brained scheme was likely to be forgotten (or quietly shunted to one side and then forgotten) just as quickly as the latest fad to hit King's Landing's markets. Certainly by the time Duskendale came around, however, Aerys' relatively harmless inconsistency had converted itself into full-blown (and incredibly dangerous) Ax-Crazy, instead.
- Awful Wedded Life: His marriage to Rhaella, which neither of them wanted in the first place, was loveless and fraught with tension, cheating, and domestic abuse.
- 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 that... in a way.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Jaime remembers how Aerys soiled himself when he realized what Jaime was about to do to him. Oh, Crap! indeed.
- BrotherSister Incest: Reluctantly married his sister Rhaella, as per Targaryen tradition.
- 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: To be perfectly truthful, nobody ever fought against Aerys without a laundry list of honestly acquired grievances racked up over months or years, despite his protestations of their treason being either unfounded or nefarious in nature:
- "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 cruelly 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 and indulging in petty insults, and even stood silent as Aerys insultingly called him "servant" and denied a 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.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: 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 Psychos For Hire 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 ignominiously 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.
- Dirty Coward: Despite indulging in Suicidal Overconfidence as a younger man, Aerys is most known as a craven little worm, petrified by enemies both real and (mostly) imagined. It was only when he was surrounded by his guards and secure in the Red Keep that he acted tough. The second Jaime turned on him, he shit himself and tried to run away.
- Domestic Abuse: 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.
- Evil Is Petty: When he realized the rebels might succeed in overthrowing him, Aerys was prepared to obliterate the entire capital city of King's Landing — and scorch who knows how much of the surrounding lands — with wildfire, just to spite Robert Baratheon. He planned this without any concern for the lives of his own grandchildren still in the capital or the future of his surviving heir, Viserys.
- 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 have abided by 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. To Aerys II's credit, he did expand rights to the residents of the Kingswood (on Ser Arthur Dayne's appeal), so it might be that this one peasant remembers that one Pet the Dog moment. The nobility of course consider Aerys one of the worst Targaryen kings of all time, if not the worst, and thanks to Jaime's secrecy the Mad King's final act of cruelty, destroying all of King's Landing and taking them with him, remains unknown to the public.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Towards his childhood friend and Hand Tywin Lannister and towards his son Rhaegar Targaryen.
- Horrible Judge of Character: One reason why Sanity Has Advantages:
- He surrounded himself with flatterers and schemers rather than people who could win him wars, and when those flatterers failed, he empowered actual psychopaths like the Pyromancers. He also inexplicably never latched on the fact that Grand Maester Pycelle was a Tywin lackey and kept him in court, and likewise let Varys the Spider whisper into his ear.
- He also had a bad habit of making impulsive paranoid decisions like appointing Jaime into the Kingsguard to undermine Tywin and then regretting after he realized he put a Lannister with a sword by his side 24/7. Perhaps his biggest misjudgment is his belief that somehow, after years of insulting and humiliating and undermining Tywin, when he was standing outside the gates of King's Landing with an army, that he was actually on-the-level and come to bail him out.
- I Have Your Wife: Appointed Jaime Lannister to the Kingsguard and always kept him close so he could 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 ensure that Dorne would support them against the rebels. This backfired horribly, because it meant Elia and her children were still at King's Landing when the city was sacked. They were found and promptly murdered by Gregor Clegane.
- I Was Quite a Looker: He was quite handsome in his youth. This did not last.
- In-Series Nickname: He was known as both "The Mad King" (due to being The Caligula) and "King Scab" (due to constantly cutting himself on the Iron Throne).
- In the Back: Subverted. Despite popular rumor that Jamie Lannister stabbed him in the back, he actually died from a Slashed Throat. Presumably the symbolism of a Bodyguard Betrayal being in the back was too good to pass up.
- 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.
- Kick the Dog: When Joanna Lannister returned to court for the first time since giving birth to Jaime and Cersei, Aerys asked her if nursing twins had ruined her breasts. Apparently Joanna was so upset and humiliated by this a furious Tywin tried to resign as Hand of the King, only for Aerys to give a grovelling apology. After Joanna died giving birth to Tyrion, Aerys opined that the gods had done so to teach Tywin some humility at last; the grieving Tywin never forgave Aerys when those words reached him at Casterly Rock.
- He also complained that baby Rhaenys (his own granddaughter!) "smelled Dornish", in front of Elia and the entire court.
- 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. Though he may not be the last reigning Targaryen if his daughter Daenerys has anything to say about it...
- Lean and Mean: In his later years, he ate very little and became thin as a stick because of his fear of being poisoned, a notable contrast to his equally mad ancestor Aegon IV.
- 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).
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
- To the French King Charles VI the Mad who was initially 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 Bal des Ardents, aka "the Ball of the Burning Men", he and several other young nobles disguised themselves as wood savages as a lark, using costumes made of linen, flax and inflammable resin, which accidentally caught firenote .
- His general eccentricity, long hair and nails, and constant paranoia are 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.
- Non-Action Big Bad: While he did apparently fight in the War of Ninepenny Kings when he was still a prince, this is what Aerys was as king. The one time he tried to personally exert his authority, he was captured and held for ransom. The result of which left him a hysterical basket-case for the rest of his life, constantly in fear of betrayal and death.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Somehow he decided he didn't like his son's family, despite having agreed the match himself (he favoured Elia Martell over Cersei Lannister just to spite Tywin). He not only purposely missed Rhaegar's wedding to slight him, but even refused to embrace his newborn granddaughter saying she smelled Dornish. Also during the war, he refused to let Elia and her children leave the capital city in order to keep the Dornishmen at his side, despite her son being his direct heir after Rhaegar and very much the case for the royal family to leave for somewhere safer.
- 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.
- Outliving One's Offspring: He had many children with Rhaella, but all but three of them were either stillborn or died as babies. Of the three that made it past the cradle, Rhaegar also predeceased him.
- 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. His paranoia made him fearful, sadistic and suspicious when dealing with others even in everyday settings, since he believed (either rightly or wrongly) that plots against his rule were playing out everywhere around him. He ended up becoming so unmanageable and oppressive to be around as he lashed out in his fear, that eventually people actually started plotting against for him for absolute, rock-hard definite — if only to prevent him from trying to undermine or kill them with his own schemes, digs and plots.
- 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.
- Parental Favoritism: Aerys II was jealous of his eldest son Rhaegar and lavished attention on his other son, the similarly unstable Viserys, while trolling Rhaegar in turn. This very jealousy might have been what eventually pushed Rhaegar into making moves to remove his father from power (possibly even with Tywin's aid), since Aerys' actions weren't exactly stable for the realm.
- The Pig-Pen: In his later years, he became so afraid of blades that he refused to cut his hair or his fingernails. As a result, his hair and beard grew filthy and matted, while his nails turned into nine-inch yellow claws.
- Pet the Dog: While not fond of his wife, he did try to comfort Rhaella initially over miscarrying their children... until it happened so many times Aerys became convinced she was cheating on him.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Hated the Dornish and insulted his baby granddaughter Rhaenys for "smelling" like one.
- Posthumous Character: He died 14 years before the series' beginning.
- Predecessor Villain: Before there was Joffrey (who is referred to by Tyrion as Aerys the Third) there was Mad King Aerys.
- Pyromaniac: 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.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Not a prophecy per se, but Aerys became increasingly fearful of assassination plots after the Defiance of Duskendale, suspecting everyone of being out to get him. This fear of being killed only contributed to his growing insanity. As his madness grew, so did his cruelty. Eventually, as a result of this, nearly the entire realm wanted him dead. In the end, he was murdered by one of his own Kingsguard, the only ones he allowed to carry weapons in his presence.
- 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.
- Ungrateful Bastard: His more competent Hand of the King, Tywin, ran his kingdom like a well-oiled machine for him for 20 years. Aerys thanked him by repeatedly hitting on Tywin's wife Joanna, refusing to let Tywin's daughter Cersei marry his own son Rhaegar, and denying Tywin his preferred heir Jaime by appointing him to the Kingsguard, preventing him from marrying or inheriting any lands.
- 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: The Alchemists' Guild loved him because he funded their creation of wildfire, while his son Viserys thought of him as a hero and the true king of Westeros.
- 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. Some of his favorite activities included burning his own people alive.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: He developed a phobia of blades after the Defiance of Duskendale, only allowing the swords of his Kingsguard in his presence and refusing to cut his nails or hair.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: As it turns out, blatantly flouting feudal rules of behavior by choosing an elemental force of destruction as your champion in a trial by combat is pretty good propaganda for a rebellion against you.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: The birth of his son Jaehaerys seemed to snap him out of his madness and he became much happier, much like in his youth. Then Jaehaerys died half a year later and it was back to crazy town for Ol' Aerys.
- Younger Than He Looks: Described by Martin as being around forty, but looking much older when he died. 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 in his 70's.
- 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
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' subsequent death, she and Viserys were spirited away to Dragonstone, where she eventually died giving birth to Daenerys.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Gave birth to Rhaegar when she was 13 or 14.
- Adult Fear: Her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren were killed, forcing her to flee to Dragonstone with her remaining son. She died giving birth to her daughter, leaving her two surviving children to the mercy of an unforgiving world.
- 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.
- Awful Wedded Life: Forced to marry Aerys, who didn't want her (and she didn't want him, either). He went from openly cheating on her and sleeping with her handmaids to having a change of heart and becoming completely faithful to her...and then raping her savagely every night.
- BrotherSister 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.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: One of the reasons Ser Jaime Lannister lost all respect for the institution of the Kingsguard was having to see Queen Rhaella be savaged and raped by King Aerys while his sworn brothers and Lord Commander stood idly. Adding to the marring, the execution of Rickard and Brandon Stark brought Jaime ever closer to the edge, finally drawing a line and killing Aerys to prevent his genocidal city-burning plot from taking place.
- Nice Girl: From what we know about her, she seems to be a kind woman and a caring mother. When Elia presented her with baby Rhaenys, she embraced her granddaughter warmly (unlike Aerys, who just made racist comments).
- 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.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Many of her babies were stillborn or died in the cradle. Her son Rhaegar and two grandchildren Aegon and Rhaenys also died before her unless you believe Aegon is still alive.
- Posthumous Character: She has been deceased for years by the time A Game of Thrones begins.
- Someone to Remember Him By: She was pregnant with Daenerys when Aerys died.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: She was in love with landed Knight Ser Bonifer Hasty, who crowned her Queen of Love and Beauty at a tourney, but a marriage between them was, of course, unlikely and she eventually went through her Arranged Marriage with her brother, while he became a knight devoted to the Faith.
- 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, 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."
Rhaegar was the eldest child of Aerys II and Rhaella and his father's heir. He is a Posthumous Character, and everything the readers know about him is filtered through Second-Hand Storytelling. Characters like Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Barristan Selmy, and his sister Daenerys Targaryen (who never met him) speak well of him while Robert Baratheon considers him an Arch-Enemy, due to Rhaegar's (supposed) kidnapping and rape of his betrothed Lyanna Stark.
- 10-Minute Retirement: He was nowhere to be found during the early days of Robert's Rebellion, but he eventually returned to take charge of the royal forces and fatally face off with Robert Baratheon at the Trident.
- 100% Adoration Rating: He was beloved by common and highborn people alike before the incident with Lyanna Stark, and Targaryen loyalists still adore him.
- Abduction Is Love: Officially, Rhaegar kidnapped Lyanna against her will, but some characters say he loved her and there are hints she went willingly. Welcome to Hearsayville. Not that it excuses his breaking of the feudal pact either way.
- The Ace: He was well-respected and handsome, and he excelled at anything he put his mind to. Barristan Selmy calls him "able."
- Aloof Older Brother: To Viserys, who was born when Rhaegar was seventeen, because of that and Rhaegar's distant personality. Viserys never reached his level in looks, wits, or combat skills, and furthermore he was troubled since childhood.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe. What happened with Lyanna Stark is ambiguous, and accounts differ from character to character, ranging from villainy to romanticism to plain stupidity. Readers know that Rhaegar's path was driven by a prophecy, but how that comes together is still uncertain.
- Always Someone Better: Rhaegar believed he was meant to be a great hero, which drove him to become one of the best warriors in Westeros. Despite all of his skills and gallantry, he was soundly defeated and killed in single combat by Robert Baratheon.
- Antagonistic Offspring: Word of God says that the relationship between father and son grew increasingly bitter, as the king became more paranoid and jealous of his Hand Tywin Lannister and his own son. Aerys did not leave the Red Keep for four years after the Defiance of Duskendale, but he left to attend the tournament at Harrenhal because Varys told him that Rhaegar had arranged it to make alliances to overthrow him. There are hints that Rhaegar really did plan to overthrow him, or at least force his retirement from active ruling. Given his father's madness, one might wish that he'd done so earlier.
- Arch-Enemy: To Robert Baratheon. Rhaegar disappeared with his betrothed, and she died.
- Arranged Marriage: To Elia Martell. They seem to have gotten along well before he met Lyanna Stark.
- Badass Bookworm: Rhaegar was more interested in scholarly pursuits until something made him decide that he must be a warrior. As a child, he started reading so early that men commented that his mother must have swallowed some books and a candle while he was in her womb.
- Because Destiny Says So: He had 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 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 him his entire life. He first believed he would fulfill the prophecy, but he changed his mind and decided his son Aegon would. Oh, and the dragon must have three heads. This might be why he eloped with Lyanna Stark, since his wife could not give him a third child; see The Rashomon.
- Big Good: He was almost universally loved before whatever happened with Lyanna. Targaryen supporters want to put Prince Aegon on the Throne because he is Rhaegar's son and not because he is Aerys' grandson.
- Birth/Death Juxtaposition: He was born during the Tragedy of Summerhall, the freak fire where King Aegon V, Prince Duncan, Ser Duncan the Tall, and many others lost their lives. The shadow of this tragedy haunted him for his whole life and he ended up dying in the Trident river with his body, and the rubies in his armor, falling into the water (and the area being called Ruby Ford).
- Black Knight: He wore black armor.
- Bling of War: The Targaryen coat of arms on his armor was made of rubies.
- Byronic Hero: He was born under inauspicious circumstances, which he often dwelt upon; he was well-liked but introspective and introverted, he had an... interesting romantic history, and he played the harp. 'Nuff said (Tropes Are Not Bad!). Also, the true purpose of his actions is still shrouded in mystery, in-universe and out.
- Clashing Cousins: His Arch-Enemy Robert Baratheon also happened to be his second cousin.
- Dead Guy Junior: "Rhae" is a common prefix in Targaryen names (his mother's name was "Rhaella", for instance). Daenerys later named her son "Rhaego" and one of her dragons "Rhaegal" after her dead brother. Ser Rhaegar Frey was named after him when Rhaegar was still alive, but the name is still jarring (not least because Rhaegar Frey is a smug sack of crap with none of his namesake's better qualities).
- Deconstructed Character Archetype:
- Prince Charming: He was the most handsome man in Westeros as well as being chivalrous and intelligent, but a Prince Charming wouldn't abduct a noblewoman (even if he loves her), an act which led to a Civil War.
- Knight in Shining Armor: His aforementioned qualities and flaws aside, his skills at the knightly arts were less than helpful when he faced Blood Knight Robert Baratheon and his huge warhammer. Quoth Ser Jorah:Ser Jorah Mormont: He lost the battle, he lost the war, he lost the kingdom, and he lost his life. His blood swirled downriver with the rubies from his breastplate, and Robert the Usurper rode over his corpse to steal the Iron Throne. Rhaegar fought valiantly. Rhaegar fought nobly. Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.
- Determinator: He had no interest in martial training as a youth until he read something that convinced him he needed to become a warrior. So he did.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Possibly, and invoked in-universe. It's certainly what most Westerosi believe is the reason for the noble Rhaegar to act so thoughtlessly in naming Lyanna Stark his Queen of Love and Beauty in front of his own wife and to then runaway with/kidnap Lyanna. His last conversation with Jaime Lannister implies that he was involved in a conspiracy to peacefully depose the Mad King, but was distracted with whatever his intentions were with Lyanna. Not only that, his absence deprived the country of his military leadership while the rebellion was still in its infancy, so King Aerys was forced to rely on ineffectual or inexperienced Hands.
- Downfall by Sex: Rhaegar had everything in check for being the next great king after Aegon V (and was seemingly set to depose his mentally unstable father to become so)...but (allegedly) he met Lyanna Stark and everything fell apart. No one is sure of what happened between them, but it did bring his downfall along with woes for everyone else.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: As Robert himself notes, the duel on the Trident with between them was dream stuff for poets, singer and folk tales. According to lore, they fought to the death for the woman they both lived until only one of them stood alive. The rubies from Rhaegar's armor fell into the river, which was renamed the Ruby Ford after that fateful duel.
- Elegant Classical Musician: He was so good that he could bring tough women like Cersei Lannister and Lyanna Stark to tears.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Well, Jon Connington did...
- Famous Last Words: "Lyanna..." Daenerys only says that he whispered the name of a woman when she sees him die in the House of the Undying, but the official encyclopedia says it was Lyanna's name.
- Fire/Ice Duo: His pairing up with Lyanna Stark. Fire is strongly associated with the Targaryens (dragons), while ice with the Starks (wolves). While the nature of their relationship hasn't been revealed yet, it is worth thinking that when alive Rhaegar sought to fulfill a prophecy named "the song of ice and fire".
- Flowers of Romance: The first hint of his interest in Lyanna Stark was crowning her Queen of Love and Beauty with a crown of winter roses, the traditional flower of the North. Ned Stark recalls that there was plenty of roses in Lyanna's chamber at the Tower of Joy. Blue roses are still the symbol of their fateful liaison.
- Eddard Stark. Like Eddard, 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.
- Robert Baratheon. Both Warrior Princes but in a Noble Male, Roguish Male dynamic. Robert is a larger than life Boisterous Bruiser Proud Warrior Race Guy with no love for music save for bawdy songs, Rhaegar was a more thoughtful Emo Teen Warrior Poet who made women weep with his harp. Also, Rhaegar carried a sword, Robert a huge warhammer.
- Robb Stark. Both are Warrior Princes widely thought of as The Ace and Big Good, with a 100% Adoration Rating, and are in-universe Memetic Badasses. Both made bad decisions in regards to a woman (Rhaegar eloping with/kidnapping Lyanna Stark, Robb marrying Jeyne Westerling) that required breaking marital vows (Rhaegar's vows to Elia Martell, Robb's marriage alliance with the Freys) and ultimately got them killed. They were both possibly motivated by family history regarding childbearing (Rhaegar's wish to fulfill the Prince That Was Promised prophecy, Robb's fear of siring a bastard like his father). After their deaths, former supporters remain deeply devoted to their memories, and plot to put their heirs (Aegon VI and Rickon Stark) on the throne. Both are entirely shown to us from others' perspectives, Robb being one of the only Starks who is not a viewpoint character, and Rhaegar being one of the most notable Posthumous Characters, leaving them subject to a lot of Alternate Character Interpretation. Both are also brothers to two characters often speculated to be The Chosen One (though Jon may very well be Lyanna Stark's son by Rhaegar Targaryen, making Jon Robb's blood cousin instead of his blood brother.)
- Bael the Bard. The Prince of Dragonstone and the King-Beyond-the-Wall shared a taste for songs, Stark ladies, blue winter roses and eloping. Both of their affairs with Stark women brought misery to House Stark and resulted in the birth of heroes, if Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen are Jon Snow's biological parents.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: He used a sword against Robert Baratheon during the Battle of the Trident, but it's arguable whether he could be called a hero. It didn't end well for him.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: His best and oldest friend was Ser Arthur Dayne, who (according to Barristan Selmy) he trusted more than anyone and who he left guarding Lyanna when he went to fight Robert Baratheon.
- Honor Before Reason: In the words of Ser Jorah Mormont: Rhaegar fought valiantly, Rhaegar fought nobly, Rhaegar fought honorably. And Rhaegar died.
- I Coulda Been a Contender!: Rhaegar had all the promise of being The Good King, but he died before he could fulfill his potential, and his choices caused a great deal of turmoil for the realm.
- Idiot Ball: While he probably couldn't predict that his father was going to kill Rickard and Brandon Stark, he should have realized that kidnapping and/or spiriting away Lyanna Stark, daughter of one lord paramount and betrothed to another, was never going to end well, whatever the circumstances. To say nothing of the fact that he publicly humiliated his wife (sister to the Prince of Dorne, the closest ally of the Iron Throne) and left her, his children, younger brother, and his mother at the mercy of his mad father.
- He crossed the Trident, even though Robert was on the offensive, when he could have waited for Robert to come to him and had the advantage of having his army on dry land with the high ground. This resulted in his death.
- Insisted on fighting a battle although his army was made up of raw recruits and he had no experience as a commander, whereas his opponent had a veteran army and had won several battles.
- If We Get Through This...: His conversation with Jaime before he marched to the Trident:
- Informed Ability: Many considered him the Westerosi chivalry ideal, but he failed to show either the social dignity or the military aptitude necessary when the time came. Along with knighting a monster like Gregor Clegane and not looking at all into the kind of man he was. Also while known as a great Warrior Prince his only real battle (read outside a tourney where killing the heir of the throne looks bad) ended with his death.
- Inheritance Murder: His father suspected him of plotting this. Aerys left the Red Keep for the first time in years to attend the Harrenhal tourney because he believed Rhaegar was plotting with other high lords to get rid of him. It's heavily implied that this time Aerys was right.
- Kick the Dog: Barristan says their marriage was amicable, but Rhaegar embarrassed and shamed Elia after he noticed Lyanna Stark, first by snubbing his wife in front of thousands of people to crown Lyanna as Queen of Love and Beauty and then by running off with her.
- Last of His Kind: He is often called "The Last Dragon".
- The Lost Lenore: A rare LGBT male example. His friend Jon Connington harbored romantic feelings for him and blames himself for Rhaegar's death, and he plans to restore Rhaegar's son to the throne in his honor.
- Love Ruins the Realm: His apparent kidnapping of Lyanna triggered a civil war that ended with him and every member of his family but two dead, and this led to decades of stagnation and further strife that continually hark back to the direct consequences of that event. Whoops?
- Mad Dictator's Handsome Son: King Aerys was not always ugly or mad, but Rhaegar is in the collective imagination (don't mind Robert Baratheon) as the Mad King's handsome and noble son, who'd have made a great king.
- Magnetic Hero: Robert's victory ensured a Historical Villain Upgrade treatment, but many different characters were and are loyal to him, seemingly past the point of reason. It's part of what makes his true legacy so mind-screwing.
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed: To Edward the Black Prince. Both are seen as the ultimate embodiment of medieval chivalry and subject to a great deal of romanticism in life and after death, and they are regarded as the ultimate Great-King-That-Never-Was, at least by 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. 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 precedes the ruin of his family and their dynasty.
- In the vein of Paris he has similarities to Sir Lancelot of King Arthur, including his renown for chivalry and his Love Ruins the Realm act.
- Noble Top Enforcer: He seems to have been a (mostly) nice guy himself, but Rhaegar fought to keep his cruel and paranoid father on the Iron Throne during Robert's Rebellion. However, Rhaegar was neither ignorant of — nor comfortable with — Aerys's madness and may have been planning to curb his father's power before things went south.
- Open Secret: Played with. His reasons for kidnapping Lyanna are cause for speculation, but there was no effort whatsoever to conceal the fact that he'd run away with her. It is unknown whether he didn't care or he thought it had to happen regardless of the consequences.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Little is known about Rhaegar's motivation for running off with Lyanna, but the fact that Rhaegar is held at such high esteem among friend and foe (save Robert) alike raises questions about both Rhaegar and the "official" story.
- Plot-Triggering Death: Most of the events in the saga turned out this way because Rhaegar died.
- Posthumous Character: He died years before the series began.
- Posthumous Sibling: He was killed in war before his youngest sibling, Daenerys, was born. Daenerys only knows of him through stories from people who knew him, like their brother Viserys.
- 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. Of all the Loads and Loads of Characters, he's the one who provides the Title Drop and major hints about the prophecy of the Prince That Was Promised.
- 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.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Jaime recalls he used to wear his silver hair long.
- The Quiet One: He was known to be very reserved, and he spent little time with the other kids as a child.
- The Rashomon: No one in-universe (or out) is sure why he did what he did and what exactly he did. Accounts differ:
- Robert Baratheon claims that he kidnapped and raped Lyanna. This is the most common story in Westeros, probably because singing another version would probably result in arrest (or worse) for treason.
- Barristan Selmy thinks that he eloped with Lyanna out of sincere love.
- Viserys thought he was unhappy in his marriage and found solace and pleasure in another woman.
- Reluctant Warrior: By all accounts, he looked as though he was going to be more of a singer, reader, and poet than any of his ancestors ever were. But then, one day he read somethingnote that lit a fire in him, and turned up in the training yard the next day demanding, with an air of resignation if the person sharing this information with Daenerys is to be believed, that the Master-at-Arms educate him in the use of a sword. He kept his edge, participating in tournaments and the like, but always resorted to diplomacy when possible before he would do battle.
- The Rival: To Robert Baratheon, after stealing away his betrothed.
- Second-Hand Storytelling: We only ever hear about Rhaegar through other characters, some of whom have glowing memories of him and some who don't.
- Superior Successor: People believe he would have been this to his father, which may or may not be true.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Daenerys almost confuses him with Viserys during a vision in the House of the Undying, but Rhaegar was taller, fitter, and more handsome.
- Teen Genius: He was extremely intelligent, to the point where he was impressing the maesters at a very young age.
- The One That Got Away: He would have been betrothed to a young Cersei, but Aerys refused the match just to spite Tywin, telling Tywin that he is his most "able servant" and "a man does not marry his heir to his servants daughter." Even decades later, Cersei thinks that she still would rather have married Rhaegar than Robert.Cersei: Father found no better man [than Rhaegar]. Instead he gave me Robert, and Maggys curse bloomed like some poisonous flower. If she had only married Rhaegar as the gods intended, he would never have looked twice at the wolf girl. Rhaegar would be our king today and I would be his queen, the mother of his sons.
- Together in Death: With Lyanna. Robert says of him and Lyanna: "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."
- The Unchosen One: Rhaegar believed he was "The Prince who was Promised" until he realized this destiny belonged to his son Aegon, or his children as a whole, since he claimed that "the dragon must have three heads".
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His foolish 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: His supporters (and some of his enemies) continue to think well of him even after he allegedly kidnapped and raped Lyanna.
- Warrior Poet: Emphasis on the "poet".
- Warrior Prince: He was a prince who was a fine warrior... but not as good as Robert Baratheon.
- The Wise Prince: So his supporters say.
- Your Cheating Heart: He publicly spurned his wife, Elia, in front of both nobles and smallfolk by giving the crown of the Queen of Love and Beauty to Lyanna Stark. Then he followed through on that and ran off with her.
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.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: See Impaled with Extreme Prejudice below. It's noted that even Tywin Lannister was shocked at how brutal her death was, but used it to prove his loyalty to Robert all the same.
- Death of a Child: She was three years old at death.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: She was hiding under her father's bed during the Sack when Amory Lorch dragged her out and stabbed her half a hundred times, because she'd kicked him and wouldn't stop screaming.
- Kindhearted Cat Lover: Had a black cat named Balerion, after Balerion the Black Dread, whom she was fond of and played with in the Red Keep.
- Mixed Ancestry: Half Valyrian, half Dornish.
- Strong Family Resemblance: She inherited her mother's Dornish look, with black hair and brown eyes, to her grandfather's displeasure.
Prince Aegon Targaryen
- "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 aunt Daenerys and his Martell kin — with the military support of The Golden Company's mercenaries.
- The Ace: Attempted Invocation. His protectors went to great lengths to mold him into the ideal king. Not only was he trained in arms, history, arithmetic, languages, geometry, and law, he was taught practical skills like fishing, mending clothes, and providing first aid. He was raised among the smallfolk in hopes that it would teach him to empathize with them and learn humility, so that he would be a benevolent and conscientious ruler. He doesn't ever display this much-lauded humility, but he is a decent fighter, quick-witted, and knowledgeable when it comes to history and languages.
- Actually Pretty Funny: His crack about Old Volantis and it's failed attempt at conquering Essos manages to make a severely depressed Tyrion laugh."If you want to conquer the world, you best have dragons."
- 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.
- The Chosen One: If he is "The Prince who was Promised", which his supporters certainly believed.
- 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. His dyed blue hair draws out the blue in his eyes, as purple eyes might give the game away.
- Death Faked for You: Varys had Aegon switched with a peasant baby so the realm would believe he had died.
- Did Not Think This Through: As Tyrion sarcastically points out while wearing his best Captain Obvious dress uniform, this so-called "plan" to just show up at Daenerys' court, introduce himself and then demand that she marry him... was unlikely to ever succeed.
- Entitled to Have You: Although he hasn't actually met Daenerys, he expects that she'll want to be his consort and is surprised by the idea that she might refuse him.
- 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 Dorne 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.
- To Jon Snow. They are both idealistic Sheltered Aristocrats who long for adventure as children and initially start off with romanticized notions — but both get shaken from a good talk with Tyrion Lannister. While Jon resolves to do the best he can despite his unfortunate odds and chooses a life of hard duty, it is yet to be seen what Aegon will do.
- To Gendry. Aegon is the alleged legitimate son and heir of Rhaegar Targaryen, and has been raised to seek the Iron Throne, but it's entirely possible he's a fake. Gendry is most definitely the son of Robert Baratheon, Rhaegar's worst enemy, but he's an unacknowledged bastard oblivious to his parentage and wholly uninterested in any degree of political power. Aegon was raised to be Modest Royalty, with both a classical education and time among the smallfolk learning survival skills. He is, however, arrogant and blind to the realities of the game of thrones. Gendry was raised in the slums with no formal education (it's unknown if he can even read), but has a trade and other useful skills, and is highly perceptive about how the world works. Aegon acts entitled to relationships, such as assuming his aunt Daenerys will be eager to marry him simply because of his birth, while Gendry is aware that his low birth makes his relationship with Arya impossible.
- To Daenerys, his only other remaining family. Aegon was raised and groomed from birth to be a Young Conqueror and the future king of Westeros, while Daenerys grew up believing the most she would ever be was her brother's wife and was unexpectedly thrust into a position of power after the birth of her dragons. Aegon has the birthright, the education, and the backing of the Golden Company to claim the Iron Throne with, while his Auntie Daenerys has an army of Unsullied and the only three dragons in the entire world — but which one will be the deciding factor?
- 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 should have been a bit more self-evident. Why would Dany, a certified Young Conqueror and Targaryen in her own right and with three dragons proving her blood, ever choose to play second fiddle to a kid she doesn't even know exists?
- 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.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Invoked. Tyrion notices that he's way too handsome to be Griff's "son".
- Lost Orphaned Royalty: Claims to be Rhaegar's son, raised in Essos after his family perished during Robert's Rebellion.
- A deconstruction of this trope. Whereas a humble upbringing is often considered a bonus in fantasy stories because it will allow Royalty to emphasize with their subjects, Aegon shows what a massive handicap it can be. He lacks the necessary experience and training to play the 'game of thrones' effectively and is easily manipulated.
- Mixed Ancestry: Half Valyrian, half Dornish.
- Moses in the Bulrushes: Spirited away from King's Landing by Varys before Lannister forces sacked it and raised by his father's friend.
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed:
- His landing of the Golden Company on the Stormlands with the backing of Dorne 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 homeland and most of his supporters were fellow exiles Fighting for a Homeland, as well as mercenaries and Welsh (the closest Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Dorne, if Westeros is to be equated with Britain). Like Henry Tudor, Aegon is also young and not an experienced military commander, thus he relies on a very close subordinate to handle the martial side of things.
- On the whole, he echoes many historical pretenders claiming to be missing and dead Princes who somehow survived massacres and purges. Examples include Pseudo-Demetrius I of Russia, and from the Wars of the Roses itself: Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, both of whom claimed to be the lost and presumed dead "Princes in the Tower" challenging Henry Tudor's claim to the throne.
- Omniglot: He's fluent in the Common Tongue, High Valyrian, four dialects of Valyrian, and the trade language used by sailors.
- Pet the Dog: He orders Griff to save Tyrion after he falls into the Rhoyne, and when Yandry suggests throwing him back, Aegon forbids it.
- 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 the Martell camp wonders about his legitimacy, as he shows up in Essos with only the Golden Company's word for it and the Martellsnote being none the wiser about his survival.
- 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, as his purported ancestor Daeron I proved.
- 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: If he really is the son of Rhaegar, then his claim to the throne takes precedence over Daenerys'. However, he is certainly less powerful than Daenerys (she has dragons and highly loyal Unsullied, and may have an opportunity to add more Dothraki to her side, whereas all he has is a bunch of, admittedly very excellent, mercenaries). Plus, those dragons make it a lot easier to call Dany the truer descendant of Aegon the Conqueror, whereas Aegon's origins are questionable. And while Aegon does have the support of the Golden Company, by far the most respectable sellsword army in the world, they are associated in Westeros with traitors, pretenders and other general fakers; their very presence makes Aegon look like a sore loser.
- 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.
- The Un-Reveal: While it's known that Varys scampered Aegon out of Westeros as a babe, and has groomed him to be a king who actually thinks about his people, it's not known why Varys did not do this with Rhaegar, a man who (at least by reputation) had already become the man Varys is trying to turn Aegon into, and had the approval of the realm to prove it.
- 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's moving to conquer the Stormlands. In a preview chapter for The Winds of Winter, Aegon and the Golden Company have taken Storm's End. Whether he took it by force of arms or the castle surrendered is still unknown, but it is hard to imagine the garrison that Stannis Baratheon left behind giving in very easily when they are holding one of the strongest castles in the realm. If Aegon took the castle by force then he is the first attacker to do so, ever.
- You Remind Me of X: His spoiled attitude and short temper remind Tyrion somewhat of Joffrey, though thankfully he's shown no signs of sadism and so far his temper has been limited to stereotypical teenage outbursts rather than anything malicious.
Court of Prince Viserys
Prince Viserys Targaryen
The Dragon, The Beggar King, The Cart King, The Sorefoot King
- "You don't want to wake The Dragon, do you?"
Styling himself King Viserys, the Third of His Name. The second born and eldest surviving son 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".
- 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' 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.
- Authority in Name Only: Invoked. He styles himself King Viserys III Targaryen, though he doesn't have the education, the training in arms, or even the support necessary to lay such claim. Keep in mind, he has the name (and this is the reason him and Dany have a price on their heads), but he's severely lacking in everything else that comes with it.
- Big Brother Bully: He physically, verbally, and sexually abused his little sister Daenerys for years, justifying it by blaming her for the downfall of the Targaryens, when she wasn't even alive during most of Robert's Rebellion. Failing that, he'd hurt her for doing anything he deemed un-Targaryen, like wanting to sail a ship.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Viserys aspires to be menacing and fearsome. Most people just think he's pathetic.
- 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.
- 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.
- Didn't Think This Through: Viserys would be a poster child for the trope:
- He gave away his most prized possession, Daenerys, to the leader of a horde of warriors that value strength in combat and arms, expecting to become their leader in spite of lacking both;
- He continues to see Daenerys as his item, threatening her at every possible opportunity he has in spite of her becoming an extremely important person to her Khal husband and to his horde;
- Daenerys tries to make a conscious effort to integrate Viserys into the people he's supposed to be leading, only for him to staunchly refuse, as he considers them filthy savages;
- His final threat, he has to pay dearly, as he threatens a pregnant Daenerys with cutting Drogo's unborn child in front of him and his Khalassar. This becomes the last offense Drogo takes from him, killing Viserys once and for all.
- Early Personality Signs: Though his traumatic childhood may partly explain why he ended up going mad, Barristan notes that as a little boy, prior to Robert's Rebellion, Viseys showed signs of being just like his Ax-Crazy father.
- Embarrassing Nickname: After Dany punishes him by taking his horse and forcing him to walk back to the khalasar, the Dothraki mockingly call him Khal Rhae Mar, the Sorefoot King, as a man who does not ride a horse is considered the lowest of the low. Later Khal Drogo offers him a cart to ride in, but this is actually another insult and earns him the name Khal Rhaggat, the Cart King. Among the Dothraki, carts are only for eunuchs, cripples, heavily pregnant women, the very young, and the very old.
- The Exile: Something he is not happy to admit.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Was very attached to his mother. Daenerys recalls that all the joy went out of him when he was forced to sell their mother's crown for food.
- Even Evil Can Be Loved: 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. Viserys was eight when he and his baby sister were sent into exile and just a few years older when their protector, Ser Willem Darry, died and left them on their own. Viserys had to raise his sister, try to win back the throne, and look after an entire dynasty's worth of inheritance and expectations before he was in his teens. This greatly contributed to his madness and cruelty toward Daenerys, leaving him a bitter and broken man by his early twenties. Worse, he was in an alien environment and faced growing further away from his roots as time went on, however hard he tried (and failed) 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.
- Generation Xerox: He beat his father on the speed-run playthrough and couldn't get the resources to enjoy playing with the green liquid fire, but their Sanity Slippage otherwise shares many features. Also, Aerion Brightflame; meet an exiled, jerkish distant nephew, and one very familiar with Alcohol-Induced Idiocy, too...
- 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, truly caring nor 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.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Viserys is a far cry from the noble lineage of dragon kings. Viserys is cruel, impatient, belligerent, entitled, martially deficient, has piss-poor decision-making and thinks himself peerless, hardly the kind of man who would contest Robert Baratheon's throne. There's little surprise when Khal Drogo just kills him when he takes it too far.Jorah: "Viserys is less than the shadow of a snake."
- Insane Troll Logic: He believed that Daenerys is to blame for Rhaegar kidnapping Lyanna Stark, reasoning that if she had been born sooner then he would have married her and would have never looked at any other woman. He cruelly beat Daenerys after she pointed out that, by that same logic, he should have been born a girl and married Rhaegar himself.
- 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".
- Incest-ant Admirer: Viserys has always had a creepy interest in his younger sister, molesting and making inappropriate remarks about her. It's even stated that he'd tell Daenerys that as Targaryens, they must marry for the sake of remaining "pure-blooded". And when he was forced to let Daenerys and Drogo marry, he was planning on sneaking into her room to take her virginity before the wedding. Daenerys is clearly uncomfortable with all this.
- 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.
- Last of His Kind: Upon Rhaegar's death at the Trident, Viserys effectively became both the last Crown Prince of House Targaryen and the Prince of Dragonstone. This served him very little purpose at the time, as his father would be shortly killed by Ser Jaime Lannister of the Kingsguard, ending the Targaryen claim to the Iron Throne right then and there. It wouldn't be a long time before his mother died giving birth to Daenerys and they both had to be scampered to Essos by Ser Willem Darry. This aspect defined his entire will to live, as Viserys would spend the rest of his life trying to uphold that claim to no avail.
- 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.
- Like Father, Like Son: Barristan Selmy expresses that Viserys was very much like Aerys precisely in the ways that Rhaegar wasn't, which, along with the age gap, also explains why Rhaegar and Viserys don't ever seem to share much similarity as brothers... besides their classic Targaryen features, that is.
- 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. Daenerys even states that had Viserys known there was a Dornish princess for him to marry, he would have gone to Dorne as soon as he was old enough to wed, regardless of the consequences, and bringing Robert's wrath down on his head and House Martell.
- No Historical Figures Were Harmed: 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.
- Passed-Over Inheritance: By rights, he is the heir to the Iron Throne after the death of Aerys, Rhaegar and the latter's offspring, not that the plot accommodates this.
- Princess in Rags: He was raised as an extremely sheltered prince, but was then forced to go on the run in a foreign country with his baby sister at the age of eight after his family's dynasty collapsed during Robert's Rebellion. It's safe to say this didn't do wonders for his mental health, and he continues to act like an entitled prince when he's anything but.
- 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. Took after his own daddy there: even though his mother did her best to shelter him from the worst of Aerys' moods, it's clear he still learned how from him.
- 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.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: Subverted. Vowed to kill Robert himself, though he's never killed anyone.
- 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' 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 over-inflated sense of his own abilities, and ends up dead due to his own stupidity and hubris.
- 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.
- Also, to Illyrio Mopatis, as the Golden Company's initial instruction from him was to join Viserys and the Dothraki horde before the kingling got himself killed by his own brother-in-law for having a big, big mouth; his death, and later Dany's ebbing in Slaver's Bay cause the Golden Company to finally tell Illyrio to go screw himself and his plans, and cross the Narrow Sea with Aegon without Illyrio's Dragon Queen.
- Spare to the Throne: The very reason he was so sheltered by Aerys. He was kept away in Dragonstone because Aerys didn't trust Rhaegar, and as Second Prince, Viserys would have been given priority over Rhaegar had the latter proven himself treacherous as Aerys thought.
- Start of Darkness: Being forced to sell his mother's crown.
- 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. He thinks himself safe since the Dothraki are forbidden from shedding blood while in the sacred city, but Drogo melts down his own belt of gold medallions and dumps it on Viserys' head without spilling a single drop of blood.
- 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? He also inherited his father's mental instabilities, and compared to his older brother Rhaegar (who was repeatedly noted to be awesome at anything he did), Viserys comes off as quite unimpressive. He was essentially screwed from birth.
- 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. While Robert did want Viserys dead, he regarded him as an annoying loose end rather than a serious threat, and was much more concerned with the possibility of Daenerys having children.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Many of his choices, decisions and follies have had major impacts nobody could have foreseen at the time. Not least, treating and exhibiting Daenerys the way he did as they were growing up together both limited her and pushed her to become who she ultimately turned out to be. And, caused major Essosi power-players to totally misread the "doormat" sister. He had just wanted a compliant Queen Consort who wouldn't say boo to a goose (and who would certainly not know enough about their history or ruling to question him). What he ended up producing was vastly different. Both he and she have been spanners in a lot of plans because he was both unpredictable and untrustworthy in the places he went to and the people he sought help from.
- 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, Khal Drogo" would have been wise.
- What the Hell, Hero?: A vision of Viserys tells Daenerys that she never bothered to mourn him even when he spent most of his life protecting her, and that if she never did, no one else would. He also expresses that he was robbed of what he bargained her for, meaning his conquering army, and that by doing so, he also lost her to Drogo.
- 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.
Queen Daenerys Targaryen, the First of Her Name; r. 298
- See Daenerys Targaryen.