Follow TV Tropes


Series / House of the Dragon

Go To
"Men would sooner put the realm to the torch than see a woman ascend the Iron Throne."

"There is no war so hateful to the gods as a war between kin, and so no war so bloody as a war between dragons."
Rhaenys Targaryen

House of the Dragon, or Game of Thrones: House of the Dragon, is a HBO series based on George R. R. Martin's book Fire & Blood from his epic fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. It is a prequel to Game of Thrones, which adapted the main saga of A Song of Ice and Fire. The showrunners are Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik (who also directed some episodes of Game of Thrones), and composer Ramin Djawadi returns for the score.

The series returns to the realm of Westeros and starts 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Her ancestors of House Targaryen, the Valyria-descended ruling dynasty of Westeros who have based their power on the use of dragons since the days of Aegon the Conqueror, are divided in a war of succession that will come to be known as the Dance of the Dragons.

After Queen Consort Aemma dies in childbirth without bearing a surviving son, King Viserys Targaryen names his only living child Princess Rhaenyra heir apparent ahead of his volatile younger brother, Daemon. At the same time, Viserys then remarries to Alicent Hightower, the daughter of his ambitious Hand of the King, Otto Hightower, alienating Rhaenyra. While this second marriage produces several children who survive into adulthood — including sons Aegon and Aemond — Viserys makes the controversial decision to stand firm by his vow that his eldest daughter will succeed him, rather than one of her half-brothers. And as pressure mounts for Rhaenyra herself to marry and bear children, she walks a fraught path between following her duty or her desires; a balancing act made all the more difficult by the passion growing between her and Daemon.

In the following decades, a Succession Crisis brews, and rival factions of the Targaryen family and their allies — the Blacks and the Greens — form around Rhaenyra and Alicent. Though these two women were once the closest of friends, the struggle between the princess, the queen, their supporters and their children over who will succeed Viserys and claim the Iron Throne inevitably becomes deadly... and ignites a conflict that threatens to burn Westeros to ashes.

The show was ordered by HBO for a full 10-episode first season and premiered on August 21, 2022 as a Sunday Evening Drama Series. Less than a week later, HBO formally announced that it has been renewed for a second season, which will reportedly count eight episodes and is set to premiere in 2024. According to Martin, the show will need at least four seasons to complete the arc he intends for the Dance of the Dragons.

Season 2 Previews: Teaser.

This series provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 
  • Adaptation Distillation: See here.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: See here.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The first season of the show as a whole greatly expands the section of Fire & Blood where the events depicted take place, which amounts to less than 100 pages. The chapters in question are:
    • "Heirs of the Dragon: A Question of Succession", which starts with the death of Prince Aemon of Dragonstone (Jaehaerys I's firstborn) and ends with the death of Viserys I. In practice, Season 1 skips the previous generation, and opens the main narrative directly nine years of Viserys I's reign (straddling the first 8 episodes).
    • "The Dying of the Dragons: The Blacks and the Greens", involving Aegon II's coronation, is portrayed with additional events and character arcs as "The Green Council".
    • The first half of "The Dying of the Dragons: A Son for a Son", narrating the preparations of Rhaenyra's council, is given additional in-universe contexts as "The Black Queen".
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • In the book canon, Criston Cole kills Joffrey Lonmouth during the tourney that follows the wedding, in a manner that can at least be mistaken for/explained away as an accident. In the show, Criston publicly bludgeoned Joffrey to death during the wedding, in full sight of a hall full of guests. It is insane that Criston is allowed to remain in the Kingsguard after that. At minimum, he needs to be tried or punished for this. The show simply handwaves it with a 10-year timeskip, during which anything could have happened, but nothing is specifically implied to have happened.
    • In the book, Laenor actually died. In the show, he fakes his death and runs away. His dragon Seasmoke remains on Driftmark despite being bound to him. In a show where the math of who has what dragon matters a lot, this is not an insignificant detail. Him not being dead makes Rhaenyra's subsequent marriage to Daemon bigamous and thus not legitimate. This in turn makes their children illegitimate. For a woman already dealing with the legitimacy of her other children, this is not an insubstantial detail.
    • The Painted Table at Dragonstone has Summerhall in it, which wouldn't be built until ~6-7 decades later. Since Summerhall would be located at the Dornish Marches, these were disputed territory between the Targaryens Kings and Dorne during the time depicted on House of the Dragon, making Summerhall (a Summer palace of leisure for the Targaryens) an impossibility at the time. Another anachronism of the map deals with the inclusion of High Heart, which is a mere hill that would be marginally noteworthy at least a century later due to a minor character that lives there; the location is too minor and strategically unimportant for someone like Aegon The Conqueror to have commissioned its inclusion on the table. On a minor note, the Painted Table is also shown to have a luminescent function (with burning coals put under, their light reflected in the built-in dragonglass). This function was never used in the original series. By the time of Game of Thrones, the table has also been moved to a different, smaller room, so the future occupants of Dragonstone may not have been aware that it could be lit.
    • The two Targaryen factions are called "the Blacks" and "the Greens" in the book because of the colors of the dresses Rhaenyra and Alicent wore during the tournament to celebrate Viserys and Alicent's 5th wedding anniversary. And while the series draws attention to Alicent wearing a vibrant green dress at Rhaenyra and Laenor's wedding, with some people discussing the deeper meaning the color has for House Hightower in times of war, Rhaenyra was wearing a white wedding dress at the same event, yet her faction is still referred as "the Blacks". Possibly just because it's the more traditional Targaryen color.
    • House Velaryon have been Race Lifted to have dark skin, but in the books the mother of King Jaehaerys I and Good Queen Alysanne was Alyssa Velaryon, so all of the Targaryens should have a darker skin tone than they do in the series unless her identity has been changed in this version or there's a light-skinned branch of House Velaryon we haven't seen. The same holds true for Valaena Velaryon, the mother of Aegon the Conqueror and his sister-wives Visenya and Rhaenys.
  • Adaptational Protagonist: Fire & Blood is written like a history book and tells the Targaryen family's conflicts in a detached third-party way. The parts of it adapted into the series are reframed into the story of Princess Rhaenyra trying to claim her throne against the setting-wide Heir Club for Men.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: The relationships are consistently changed to make the characters more emotionally entangled in each other. This is a Pragmatic Adaptation because if the characters don't care about each other, it's hard to make a story engaging.
    • Rhaenyra and Alicent have a We Used to Be Friends relationship that's entirely absent in the book, due to their age gap being larger there.
    • Daemon is forever wanting his big brother's attention and respect, also absent in the book.
    • In the book, Daemon's interest in Rhaenyra is implied to be purely pragmatic. In the show it's not just that.
    • Alicent and Criston's bond has I Owe You My Life as its foundation, rather than just shared animosity for Rhaenyra.
  • Adaptation Title Change: The series is titled House of the Dragon and mostly adapts Fire & Blood (which is titled after the Targaryen motto).
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: See here.
  • Adaptational Friendship: Alicent and Rhaenyra start the series as best friends, making the war more emotional and dramatic, while in the original book Fire & Blood they were nine years apart in age and never particularly close.
  • Adaptational Villainy: See here.
  • Adapted Out: See here.
  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • Viserys (middle aged) chooses Alicent (late teens) as his next bride, though she is around the same age as his own daughter. In Westeros, though, it's considered socially acceptable. In fact, he turns down a more politically prudent marriage to an even younger girl.
    • After his first wife's death, Daemon marries Laena Velaryon, who is nearly twenty years his junior. She is the same girl his older brother almost married before he chose Alicent. At least by the time Daemon marries her, She's All Grown Up.
    • Rhaenyra ends up in a few of these over the course of the first season. At the age of 18 she gets with Ser Criston Cole of the Kingsguard, who appears to be somewhere in his 30s (an Age Lift from his in-book age of late 40). A few years later she starts a long-term tryst with Ser Harwin Strong, Lord Commander of the City Watch, who's probably a bit older than Ser Cole, and ends up having three children with him. After Harwin Strong's death and faking the death of her husband Laenor Velaryon, Rhaenyra (now about 28) finally resolves the Unresolved Sexual Tension between her and her much older uncle Daemon and marries him.
  • Age Lift: See here.
  • Altar Diplomacy:
    • After Aegon's birth, Otto Hightower advises Viserys to marry him off to Rhaenyra, which will resolve questions regarding the idea of a woman ascending to the Iron Throne, as it will still allow Rhaenyra to eventually become queen, albeit as a consort to a male monarch. Of course, this will also make Otto the grandfather of a king who will be governed by a regent for many years, which is what he actually desires. Viserys rejects this, not because of their kinship but because Aegon is only two years old at the time.
    • Rhaenyra is married off to Laenor as a way for the Targaryens to mend fences with the Velaryons, whose previous proposal for King Viserys to marry Laena was spurned off. Both agree to an open marriage, and, despite their Incompatible Orientation, seem to hold no ill will against each other even ten years later.
    • Rhaenyra suggests for her eldest son, Jacaerys, to marry Alicent's daughter, Helaena, which, had it been acceded, might have prevented the Dance of the Dragons from happening down the line. However, Alicent rejects this because of Jacaerys' clearly illegitimate parentage and Rhaenyra's refusal to acknowledge it. It's subtly implied Alicent might regret that decision at a later family dinner. Helaena reveals the abusive nature of her marriage to her brother Aegon, and Jacaerys asks his aunt for a dance as a diplomatic show of support. Alicent watches them take a turn with a sad half-smile.
    • Following the above, Rhaenyra then proposes the betrothal of Jacaerys and Lucerys to their stepsisters, Baela and Rhaena. Although Lucerys is the heir apparent of Driftmark, his claim has been challenged by Vaemond Velaryon. Rhaenyra knows that the Velaryons are more open to the idea of the twins — who are undisputed Velaryon children compared to Lucerys — succeeding the Driftwood Throne, and she knows that Rhaenys clearly favors them over her "Velaryon" grandsons. Marrying them off will bring the Velaryons to her camp and give an air of legitimacy to Luke becoming the eventual Lord of Driftmark.
    • After Aegon is declared king, the Greens immediately dispatch Aemond to Storm's End to propose a betrothal between himself and Floris Baratheon, one of Lord Borros' daughters. When Lucerys arrives later, he cannot give a better deal because of his betrothal to Rhaena Targaryen, causing Borros to cast aside his late father's fealty to Rhaenyra and side with the Greens.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Simply put, Hightower ambition is framed as evil, Velaryon ambition as iffy, and Targaryen ambition is unquestioned. The Hightowers wanting to see their own grandchildren on the throne is treated as much more immoral and dangerous than the Velaryons doing the same. Both are trying to climb the ladder, but because at the beginning of the story the Hightowers don't have a Valyrian ascendency, dragons, and all the edge that entails, they have to rely on conventional scheming and subterfuge more often to try punching above their weight. The legitimacy of Targaryen rule is not questioned nor presented as ambitious, as it is the status quo. If anything, it's further justified through Aegon's prophecy of the return of the White Walkers.
  • And That's Terrible: This is one of the ways the show frames the Greens as villains and Blacks as heroes (if anti-heroes). With the Greens, morally dubious actions are followed up with reminders — from them! — that this is wrong. With the Blacks, morally dubious actions are breezed past. The Blacks basically glamourize their own actions, and the audience is meant to follow those cues and view the actions likewise. The Greens view their own deeds as questionable, and so the audience is meant to do likewise:
    • When Criston calls Rhaenyra a cunt, there's a Beat, the show lingers on it, and then he apologizes and says it was wrong. Contrast this with Daemon, who calls Rhea a bitch and Alicent a whore without breaking stride. He doesn't think it's wrong, and the editing doesn't try to emphasize it.
    • Compare Daemon killing Vaemond to Criston killing Beesbury. In both instances, Lord A accuses Lady B of serious impropriety, and so C — as B's protector — suddenly lashes out with inappropriate violence in what's supposed to be a civil court proceeding. Daemon follows it up with a Bond One-Liner. By owning it, he himself is basically framing it as a badass "keep my wife's name out of your fucking mouth" moment. By appreciating him doing this, Rhaenyra helps affirm this framing. In contrast, Criston stands awkwardly over Beesbury's body, shaken and unsure what to do next. Alicent is shaken by it as well and tells him to stop.
    • When Alicent lashes out during the an-eye-for-an-eye debacle, this is followed up with a scene of her in her own quarters regretting her actions. Within the same incident, no Blacks ever express regret for maiming Aemond, dismissing his maiming, or saying he should be tortured.
  • Annoying Arrows: Downplayed, but still present to a degree. Daemon does get weakened by the three arrows he's shot by while fighting at the Stepstones, but he still has the energy to go after the Crabfeeder and cut him down (granted, the latter has a rather serious case of Greyscale).
  • Anyone Can Die: The show is based on the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, so this was to be expected.
    • Season 1 sees the deaths of Queen Aemma Arryn, Prince Baelon Targaryen, The Crabfeeder, Lady Rhea Royce, Joffrey Lonmouth, Laena Velaryon, Lyonel Strong, Harwin Strong, Vaemond Velaryon, King Viserys Targaryen, Lord Lyman Beesbury, Lord Allun Caswell, Arrax, and Prince Lucerys Velaryon.
  • Arrows on Fire: The Crabfeeder's forces shoot volleys of arrows on fire at Daemon when he attacks them on the back of Caraxes, who's then quick to pull a Wing Shield to protect his master.
  • Anti-Villain: Alicent gradually falls from grace into this, though she's only a villain from the Blacks' perspective due to the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the series. The sympathetic traits she possessed earlier in her life, her Freudian Excuse, her horror and disgust at Larys murdering his own family, and Daemon giving her good reason to fear for the lives of her children all help to cement her as this.
  • Artistic Title: Starting with the second episode, the credits consist of blood flowing through the trenches and corridors of a stone citadel with Clock Punk seals adorned with symbols of the Houses on the way. The Title Theme Tune is the same as Game of Thrones.
  • Ascended Extra: Many of the characters in this series started out as historical characters in "A Song of Ice and Fire".
  • Atrocious Arthropods: The Crabfeeder owes his nickname to the fact that he feeds hapless sailors he catches to hungry crabs.
  • Badass Boast: See here.
  • The Beard: Rhaenyra tries to make the best of her Arranged Marriage to Laenor by telling him (in medieval-ish metaphor) that she knows he's gay and that they can seek their own pleasures as long as they fulfill their marital duties. He agrees and the two convincingly play the part of a happily betrothed couple until their wedding feast violently goes sideways.
  • Behind Every Great Man: Gender-Inverted Trope. Rhaenyra and Alicent are the figureheads of the respective factions (even if Aegon is technically claimant, Alicent is a more central character than he is). But behind them there's Otto and Daemon, two men with a longstanding rivalry, egging the women on to war.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Alicent lost her mother some time ago, and her best friend Rhaenyra loses hers in the first episode. This strains Rhaenyra's relationship with her father, Viserys. Alicent's ambitious dad Otto sees an opportunity and has his daughter offer words of advice and comfort about missing a Viserys, not Rhaenyra. Viserys becomes fond of Alicent, and she has become Rhaenyra's new stepmother by the third episode.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: For the Targaryen themes, Ramin Djawadi rearranged much of Daenerys' themes from Game of Thrones.
  • Bread and Circuses: The prosperity of the reigns of Jaehaerys I and Viserys I has led to the realm becoming restless and overeager for conflict. Wanton acts of violence are commonplace in tourneys and even during Rhaenyra's marriage interviews. The underbelly of King's Landing even houses children engaging in mortal combat bouts, and this is tolerated with a stiff upper lip.
  • Broken Bird: Alicent's miserable marriage to the older Viserys is wearing her down, and she becomes noticeably more upset, angry and depressed as time goes on. It becomes worse when she loses her only friend, Rhaenyra, for good this time.
  • Broken Pedestal: Rhaenyra and Alicent become estranged after she learns of Alicent's betrothal to King Viserys. After three years of being queen, she is still distant with Rhaenyra despite her attempts to rebuild their old relationship. However, their relationship becomes a Rebuilt Pedestal as Rhaenyra realizes Alicent had no choice in the matter, and admits she misses their old friendship. Alicent even furiously defends Rhaenyra at every turn, slowly earning Rhaenyra's trust back. However, the pedestal begins to chip once she’s told that the Maester brought Rhaenyra Fantasy Contraception tea at the request of the King, and it breaks permanently when Alicent discovers that, while Daemon didn't take her virginity, Ser Criston Cole did, and Rhaenyra had lied to her. This all takes place against the backdrop of her father's warnings that unless she 100% unquestionably trusts Rhaenyra, she better start fending for herself.
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • Following Targaryen tradition, Alicent's children Aegon and Helaena are betrothed to each other in "Driftmark". By the events of "The Lord of the Tides", they are married with at least two children.
    • Years before Aegon marries Helaena, he is almost married off to another sister, Rhaenyra. In "Second of His Name", Otto tells Viserys it would be prudent to marry them off, as it will still allow Rhaenyra to become queen, even if only as the consort to a male monarch. Viserys objects because Aegon is still an infant.
    • The betrothals between Jacaerys and Baela, as well as Lucerys and Rhaena. Although they are only first cousins once removed / third cousins biologically, the marriage between their parents Rhaenyra and Daemon means they are also stepsiblings.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Literally. So, you took care of the pirates in a narrow sea strait, which is actually beneficial to the large power to the west. You can raise a modest toll for all the many ships passing by and still make a fortune. It would be an easy living, occasionally taking care of any other pirate pretensions. Does the Crabfeeder do this? No. Instead, he provokes the multiple dragons at the head of a large power to the west by cruelly killing their sailors, hurting their trade, and humiliating them, forcing them to go after him.
  • Call-Forward:
    • Viserys believes in the prophecy of a great and cold threat that will descend upon Westeros from the North, which will happen in Game of Thrones more or less 200 years later in the form of the Night King and his armies of White Walkers and undead. The editing of the scene has Lord Rickon Stark pledging fealty to Rhaenyra at the ceremony to officialize her as Crown Princess. House Stark will be of crucial importance in dealing with that threat. He also says a Targaryen will have to be on the Iron Throne to unite Westeros and prevent this, which will end up only partially true (the Targaryen will be on the throne of Dragonstone when it happens, at least).
    • Alicent attacks Rhaenyra and her son with a Valyrian steel dagger, in significant part because Alicent knows he is a bastard who destroys Rhaenyra's claim to the throne. This majorly contributes to starting a civil war. In Game of Thrones, an assassin attacks Catelyn and Bran Stark using the same dagger, in significant part to cover up that Joffrey is a bastard, and this too contributes to a civil war.
  • Casting Gag: Of the Whovian variety. The young Aegon is played by Ty Tennant, the son of David Tennant (who played the Tenth Doctor) and grandson of Peter Davison (who played the Fifth Doctor). Aegon's uncle Daemon is played by Matt Smith, who played the Eleventh Doctor.
  • The Cavalry: Rhaenyra to Otto Hightower and his men at Dragonstone. Things were about to turn violent, and their opponents had a massive dragon in their corner, when she shows up and solves the issue with a talk to her uncle.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: Once Viserys threatened to send The Cavalry to help Daemon deal with the Crabfeeder, Daemon rushes to deal with the problem himself rather than be seen to need his big brother to bail him out of a war he's bogged in.
  • Chocolate Baby: A Targaryen-Velaryon kid should look like Laena and Daemon's daughters: dark-skinned and white-haired children. Rhaenyra's sons by Laenor all have light skin and dark hair. They take after their biological father, Harwin Strong, and everyone at the court knows it. This further enflames tensions between Alicent and Rhaenyra, who views Rhaenyra's open flaunting of her infidelity as an insult and a danger to the realm's stability. Rhaenyra and Laenor later mention that they tried to conceive to no avail, and Rhaenyra needed heirs at any cost.
  • City Guards: The City Watch of King's Landing. Their gold-colored cloaks are revealed to have been implemented by Daemon, and they engage in much Judge, Jury, and Executioner behavior and Police Brutality under his command.
  • Conlang: Game of Thrones linguist David J. Peterson returned to do the High Valyrian. In a podcast interview, he mentions Daemon's dialogue in particular as a challenge. Valyrian was already a language that could convey ideas, but now it needs to be a language that can convey personality and character voice.
    David J Peterson: As he's speaking English, he speaks in a very different way from the other people he is talking to. Not necessarily less formal, but perhaps more flippant. I really wanted to be able to capture that in the Valyrian... That was kind of a difficult thing, it was one of the challenges I faced this season. How can I kind of convey that sense in Valyrian? I know how to do it in English, but how do I do it in Valyrian?
  • Civil War: Aegon the Conqueror's biggest claim to benefiting the Westerosi people is bringing an end to the multitude of wars that were fought between the disparate Seven Kingdoms. That lasted about a hundred years; now it's time for a long string of wars between disparate Targaryen factions to begin.
  • Contrast Montage: Rhaenyra's and Daemon's passionate liaison in a pleasure house is intercut with Alicent having dispassionate and unpleasant sex with Viserys. The scene becomes even more powerful when Daemon tells Rhaenyra that sex should be pleasant for both woman and man. In the next shot, Alicent is the focus, doing her duty as a wife to the king, while Daemon talks about marriage being a duty, but that shouldn't stop anyone from fucking with whom they want and enjoying themselves. Unlike Alicent, for Rhaenyra, her first sexual experience is pleasant.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Has its own page.
  • Contrasting Sequel Setting: Contrasting "Prequel" Setting.
    • The Westeros of this series is not in the same shape as the one featured in Game of Thrones. For one, the kingdom is much more prosperous (it wouldn't be the case under Robert Baratheon even before the War of the Five Kings and all the other awful conflicts stemming from it made things even worse). There hasn't been a major war in over 60 years, and generations of peace and prosperity have given the royal court a very decadent aesthetic.
    • The Starks and Lannisters featured prominently at Robert Baratheon's royal court because they were his close allies during the rebellion that put him on the throne. Two centuries earlier, however, neither one was part of the royal family's inner circle: the Starks are completely aloof from the royal court, and the Lannisters are only just starting to get their foot in the door. During this time the strongest Houses after the royal family are the Velaryons and Hightowers. The Baratheons at least show up a little in Season 1, to support Rhaenys who is half-Baratheon. The Starks and Lannisters will show up more after Season 1 but they're not the main focus of the story.
    • For Season 1, the focus is mainly on the places held by the Targaryens and the Velaryons, namely King's Landing, Dragonstone, and Driftmark, and also the Stepstones which the Velaryons aim at controlling. By contrast, Season 1 of Game of Thrones featured long stays in a wide array of places and climates in the Seven Kingdoms (King's Landing, Winterfell, the Vale, Daenerys' ordeal/odyssey in the Free Cities and the Dothraki Sea, etc). Essos is only physically featured via a stay of Daemon's family in Pentos.
  • Cool Crown: King Viserys wears a gold crown with small spikes along the top and the sigil of House Targaryen prominently displayed.
  • Cool Helmet: During The Tourney, Daemon wears a helmet that resembles a dragon with its head along the crest and its wings along the cheeks. The Hightower boy in the tournament wears a helmet with a crenellated top of a tower atop it. Helmets used in actual war are more practical and less elaborate.
  • Cool Sword:
    • King Viserys bears the Targaryen family's ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Blackfyre.
    • Daemon Targaryen wields another ancestral sword, Dark Sister. Both swords are already considered cool by the time the series starts, as Dark Sister has been wielded by Visenya and Blackfyre by Aegon during their conquest of Westeros.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Alicent starts the series as the kind, dutiful, sweet best friend and lady-in-waiting of Princess Rhaenyra. After she is forced to marry King Viserys, she endures an unhappy marriage to Viserys, Rhaenyra lies to her about sleeping with Ser Criston Cole, and she comes to believe Rhaenyra is planning on massacring her children in order to secure her claim. This results in her becoming a twisted, bitter, paranoid Anti-Villain.
  • Cosmetically-Advanced Prequel: While the technology is recognizably medieval (and will remain so until the time of Game of Thrones), the clothing fashions of the period look more like that of The Renaissance in England in contrast to the late-medieval, Wars of the Roses-consistent style of at least Season 1 of the parent show. The producers use it to highlight the wealth and excess of the time period—and how Westeros is enjoying a period of plenty it will never see again after the Dance of the Dragons.
  • Costume Porn: The dresses, robes, and tunics of the nobles look absolutely gorgeous, laced with gold and jewels. Daemon's armour is intricately decorated with a dragon motif. It's quite fitting as this was the apex of Targaryen wealth and power.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: See here.
  • Death by Childbirth:
  • Death from Above: Subverted. The Crabfeeder keeps scanning the skies for a dragon attack. The attack comes, but from the ground. Played straight when Seasmoke takes to the sky and rains fire on the bowmen and other fighters, who by then don't have time to hide in the caves.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance:
    • The central Succession Crisis is nominally about the Greens opposing Rhaenyra's succession on the grounds of Heir Club for Men. If played straight, this would be Deliberate Values Dissonance — but it's actually a Zig-Zagging Trope. Few characters actually appear to feel strongly about the question of a female monarch. It's merely the ideological guise for a conflict that's really more of a Realpolitik power struggle between houses Targaryen, Hightower, and Velaryon.
    • Otto Hightower sends his daughter Alicent to effectively seduce the mourning king in a move that would be incredibly scandalous in real life but is par for the course in the ancient, feudal society of Westeros, where marriage alliances are the basis of power.
    • Nobles are expected to marry for alliances, and women often marry men far older than they are. The middle-aged Viserys finds the prospect of marrying a 12-year-old Laena Velaryon (and bedding her when she turns 14) uncomfortable but not necessarily an immediate deal-breaker, and Rhaenys isn't especially keen on the prospect of her daughter marrying so young but is determined to make the most of the opportunity. He settles for the slightly older Alicent, marrying her in her late teens. Alicent's own children by Viserys are also betrothed to each other as teenagers, making her a grandmother in her mid-30s. Daemon marries three times, once to a woman his own age, then to two different women who are a good 15 years younger than he.
    • House Targaryen still commonly practices incest. For example, while it isn't brought up, Queen Aemma is Viserys's first cousin (though by their standards, first cousin marriage is relatively common among all the noble families in Westeros and officially not considered incest). It's somewhat downplayed early on since there just weren't enough Targaryens to continue the custom and both Viserys and Daemon take wives that aren't closely related at one point or another, while Rhaenys married Corlys Velaryon (whose House has Valyrian origins and has married into House Targaryen in the past). When Otto Hightower suggests that Rhaenyra marries her half-brother Aegon, Viserys is incensed not because of their shared blood but because Rhaenyra is seventeen and Aegon has just turned two. When Viserys is furious at Daemon for apparently taking Rhaenyra's virginity, the fact that they're uncle and niece is never mentioned. Little Aegon himself (when he's substantially older) ends up married to his full sister Helaena with three children.
    • Smallfolk don't much care for the idea of a woman ruling them. However, Rhaenyra's response is to declare that the opinion of commoners doesn't matter.
    • It’s perfectly normal for children to drink alcohol at feasts and gatherings, as demonstrated by 13ish-year-old prince Aegon at Laena's funeral.
  • Didn't Think This Through: See here.
  • Disappointed in You: In "The Lord of the Tides", when Alicent learns that Aegon raped a servant girl and he shows no remorse for it, with it being implied that this isn't the first time it's happened, she slaps him and says that he's no son of hers.
  • Divine Right of Kings: Downplayed Trope. There's no explicit theology attached to it, but the Blacks have supernatural signs attached to their reign: the prophesy, and the White Stag.
  • Doomed by Canon: Quite aside from the fact that, being an adaptation, everyone who's read Fire & Blood knows what will happen, being a prequel to Game of Thrones means that certain things are already set in stone within the TV series continuity as well. King Joffrey Baratheon describes Rhaenyra's fate to his fiance Margaery Tyrell during season 3 of that show, and it is frequently mentioned that prior to Cersei, there has never been a successful regnant Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Most of the war was also covered in Histories & Lore "The Dance of Dragons" special released with Game of Thrones Season 5 BD.
  • Dragon Rider: The Targaryens have a number of dragons at this stage in history, and all get ridden by Targaryens once they're big enough.
  • Dragon Tamer: Targaryens seem to have a special kinship with their dragons and are able to ride them. They also employ professional dragon wranglers to tend to their dragons when they're not around.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Pun unintended, the series' storyline has this built-in within the Iron Throne's politics, if only because the two houses in closest proximity and influence to House Targaryen are what Real Life medieval European historians would call "overmighty subjects" (i.e. those whose influence and wealth potentially outstrip their relative social standing in the feudal society, even the Royal house).
    • House Hightower's position in the realm (by virtue of the long service of Otto Hightower as Hand of the King) supersedes even the nominal suzerainty of House Tyrell, the Great House of the Reach they swear fealty to. This only increases with the marriage of their daughter, Alicent Hightower, to King Viserys I.
    • House Velaryon, by contrast, enjoys (and suffers) their position as the only other Valyrian-descended House in Westeros—bolstered by the accumulated wealth of Corlys Velaryon's naval power, and their previous relation-by-marriage to House Targaryen (which produced their current lady, Rhaenys). Corlys, for better or worse, seeks to maintain and expand his proximity to the Iron Throne—both through calculated politicking in the Small Council and by taking his duty to the realm seriously.

  • End of an Age: End of the Golden Age of the Targaryens in Westeros that started with Aegon and found its peak during the reign of the well-respected Jaehaerys and Alysanne. It's not immediate as the Targaryens are still powerful at the start of the series and can rely on many dragons to keep them so, but the rot has set in. It is noted that after Queen Alysanne died, King's Landing became more unruly. It goes downhill further with Viserys's reign. This new weakness has already been picked up on by people like the Crabfeeder, who see an opportunity to challenge Westeros on their doorstep, and Daemon, who takes Dragonstone without anything being done about it.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Both the Black and Green factions contain people who have done horrific things. On the Black Faction theres Daemon murdering his wife and killing an innocent guard and Rhaenys murdering dozens of innocent people at Aegon's coronation. The Green side has Aegon as a rapist who also enjoys watching children (including his own bastards) in pit fights and Larys Strong who murdered his own father and brother.
  • The Exile: Daemon makes getting exiled into a sport, with him returning to King's Landing whenever he wants.
  • Eye Scream: Lucerys slashes out Aemond's eye in defense of his brother and cousins.
  • Fantasy Conflict Counterpart: The Dance of the Dragons is one of "the Anarchy", a medieval English civil war between the king's daughter Matilda, whose father named her heir and made the nobility swear oaths of loyalty to her, and her cousin Stephen of Blois.
  • Fetishes Are Weird: Larys the Clubfoot — the most Obviously Evil character in the show — is revealed to have a foot fetish. He has a Sex for Services arrangement with Queen Alicent where he serves as her Knowledge Broker and she lets him masturbate to her feet. She is clearly viscerally uncomfortable with this arrangement. Larys's actor Matthew Needham says his read is that it's less of a foot thing and more of a power trip thing — although clearly the feet are still somewhat relevant because he could've asked for something else in their Sex for Services arrangement if he so chose.
    Matthew Needham: I don't think it's a foot fetish like we understand in 2022. I think it's weirder than that. It's not just about a man with a clubfoot being attracted to feet. It's that he can make her do it. This is a very disturbed person with a lot of trauma... It's about making her feel as much shame as she does for that part of her body as he does for his. He can cut out tongues and he can cut out eyes. I think he likes that. I think he likes making people incomplete. He can't do that with her. He can, though, associate that part of her body with a trauma so that long after he's gone, she's got this sick feeling about it that's connected to that. That's the thing about assault like that: it makes the victim's body the scene of the crime, and I think that's what he likes to do. So I don't see it like he loves feet. It's the fact that she's not into it and he can make her do it.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Daemon and House Velaryon. As Rhaenys comments during the tourney, the knights of Westeros have zero battle experience. By fighting in the Stepstones for two years, they are the only ones who do get some and they do it together.
  • Fisher King: A symbolic example. As Viserys' health begins to fail, the Red Keep's interior becomes increasingly grey, dark and dreary.
  • Foil: Alicent and Rhaenyra are dead opposites when it comes to social interactions. Rhaenyra refuses to play along with social niceties. She's disdainful and rude to most people she doesn't know, from the highborn ladies at the royal hunt, to her suitors on her marriage tour, to smallfolk in the audience during her night out with Daemon. Even when she's not unwilling to be polite, she still needs reminders and prompting, like when Otto has to tell her to thank the candidates for the Kingsguard. Meanwhile, Alicent is unfailingly polite to everyone. While she's not extroverted or gregarious, she's personable in a quiet way. She knows how to work Viserys, does well with the highborn ladies on the hunt, and earns Criston's undying loyalty by taking him under her wing.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling:
    • King Viserys is the responsible monarch trying to ensure peace and stability in the realm, while his younger brother Daemon is "the Rogue Prince" — mad, bad, depraved, and dangerous to know. They do love each other underneath it all, but Daemon tries Viserys's patience with his scandals, and Daemon resents that he isn't as well-respected as Viserys. On the other hand, the Small Council thinks Daemon is such a maniac he should never be named heir to the throne, while Viserys's stable character was a major factor in the broad support he had to be named king over Rhaenys (beyond the main factor, that he was a man and Rhaenys a woman). In contrast, more lords would go along with Viserys' daughter Rhaenyra being named heir (albeit some of them grudgingly) than let the wild child Daemon be first in line to the throne.
    • Reversed for Viserys' sons Aegon and Aemond. Aegon indulges himself with drinking and whoring and has no desire to be king (or take on any sort of responsiblity, for that matter), but his younger brother Aemond is a skilled swordsman with a sense of duty and responsibility more befitting his station. This causes some friction between the brothers, with Aemond privately lamenting to Criston that he should've been heir instead.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • The Targaryen dynasty will survive the events of the show. The overthrowing of King Aerys the Mad by House Baratheon and its allies (who will all gain prominence, especially the Lannisters and the Starks) will set the stage for Game of Thrones.
    • House Velaryon, House Hightower and House Strong won't be power players anymore by the time Robert Baratheon is king.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Viserys tells Alicent of his prophetic dream while she's pregnant with Helaena, who is later revealed to have prophetic dreams of her own.
    • Aegon leers at servant girls a couple of times while he's a teenager. Later, when he's an adult, Alicent confronts him for raping one of Helaena's maids, with the story implying that this is not the first time.
    • In the first episode, Viserys tells Rhaenyra that "the idea that we control the dragons is an illusion." Not only this is an echo of Daenerys' "a dragon is not a slave" line from Game of Thrones, it is also a foreshadowing to a pivotal moment in the season 1 finale, where both Aemond and Lucerys cannot stop their dragons from acting on their own, leading to the accidental death of Luke.
    • Helaena's prophetic dreams have predicted some future events from happening, including Aemond's loss of his left eye, and Rhaenys breaking out of King's Landing on board Meleys.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: It's easy to miss, but when Daemon Targaryen moves to advance on the Iron Throne during his confrontation with Viserys, you can see that, between cuts, the king's grip has changed on Blackfyre to hold it overhand, showing that he expected that he might need to defend himself from attack. After the Kingsguard closes ranks to block Daemon's path, Viserys goes back to holding it underhand, now that he feels safe.
  • Freudian Excuse: Alicent has become a bitter, paranoid Wicked Stepmother. However, she began as a sweet, loyal and dutiful noblewoman. She enters a miserable marriage with the older king out of duty. Then, her sole friend Rhaenyra broke her trust and lied to her about having sex with Ser Criston Cole, rendering Alicent feeling utterly alone and isolated, left only with her paranoia and resentment.
  • Gambit Pileup: Like in its parent series, the story is driven by conflicting schemes, in which each noble house and its members play their own game to climb the ladder or just not falling from it.
  • Generation Xerox: Rhaenyra repeats Viserys's mistakes. Both position their firstborn as their heir, but nonetheless choose to enter a second marriage which yields children with a more traditional claim, weakening their chosen heir's position. Both father and daughter deal with problems by avoidance. Viserys makes decisions as rarely as possible; Rhaenyra deals by saying Screw This, I'm Outta Here and removing herself from court for 6 years.
  • Giant Flyer: The Targaryens' largest dragons are massive. When Daemon is standing beside his dragon, he's dwarfed by just the creature's head. And Vhagar, the last of Aegon the Conqueror's dragons, is so large a rope ladder is needed just to climb up the height of her neck to get to the saddle.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: A Velaryon knight is relieved by the arrival of Daemon and Caraxes, who are on his side, knowing he will be spared an death from being eaten alive by crabs. Instead, Caraxes lands directly on top of him and flattens his torso and lower half with a massive hindpaw.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Alicent, after the timeskip, has become bitter, cynical, and suspicious thanks to Old Man Marrying a Child and Rhaenyra lying to her about sleeping with the Kingsguard knight, Ser Criston. She plots to pass over Rhaenyra in the succession, grooming her son to prepare for a coup.
  • The Good King: The show begins with King Jaehaerys having delivered a decades-long rule of peace and prosperity to Westeros, and the story proper starts almost ten years into the reign of Viserys.
  • Gone Horribly Right:
    • The opening narration foreshadows the fact that King Jaehaerys's decision to have the succession be decided by a Grand Council might have brought peace to the realm for the next generation, but it also set precedents that will make the next Succession Crisis a lot worse.
    • In the first season finale, Aemond confronts Lucerys and demands to settle their old scores by having his eye in exchange for his having taken out his eye. Aemond is so successful in this endeavor that he ends up killing Luke, something that he evidently does not mean to.
  • Good Stepmother: Alicent starts off her time as Rhaenyra's stepmother defending her and trying to regain friendly relations. After Rhaenyra betrays her and lies to her, Alicent begins becoming more of a Wicked Stepmother. Played straight with Rhaenyra, who serves as a good parental figure to Baela and Rhaena Targaryen, and Daemon, who does the same with Jacerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey Velaryon.
  • The Grand Hunt: The majority of episode 3 of season 1 follows the court on a royal hunt for a white hart. Everyone of any note that is not fighting at the Stepstones, including the pregnant Queen, are present.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The conflict between Rhaenyra, Alicent, and their respective supporters grants neither side the moral high ground. While Rhaenyra is shown to be shortsighted and arrogant, Alicent can be equally selfish and her family (with the initial exception of her) have been trying to usurp Rhaenyra from the get-go. Both sides have members who will commit atrocities to advance their own interests (Daemon Targaryen and Larys Strong above all), with even the children getting in on the feud.
  • Gutted Like a Fish: Courtesy of Daemon to the Crabfeeder. Daemon being Daemon, he doesn't just cut open the belly, but he cuts his body in half and drags one part behind him, intestines rolling around with it.
  • Happily Married:
    • Viserys deeply loves his first wife, Aemma, which stands in contrast to his brother, Daemon's bitter relationship with his first wife, Rhea Royce. Viserys is left heartbroken by Aemma's death, wrongly calls Alicent "Aemma" at one point, and his last words before he passes away are "my love", implicitly referring to Aemma.
      Viserys: I loved her. She made a man of me.
    • Corlys Velaryon and Rhaenys Targaryen have the healthiest relationship of any married couple in the show, with both confiding and supporting each other whenever an issue comes up. When Corlys is reportedly injured during the War in the Stepstones, Rhaenys waits for his return and refuses to let his brother discuss the succession to Driftmark, saying that his words are the law. When Rhaenyra is preparing for the upcoming showdown with the Hightowers, Rhaenys does not bend the knee until she reunites with Corlys and they come to an agreement to support her. They reportedly had a Grief-Induced Split for a couple years, but that's off-screen.
    • Downplayed Trope in Daemon's second marriage to Laena Velaryon. From what little we see of their marriage, they seem fond of each other — although there's a certain melancholy that hangs over their relationship too. Despite being known for troublemaking back in the Seven Kingdoms, Daemon willingly settles down in Pentos with Laena, becomes a family man by fathering two daughters with her, and argues in favor of staying there rather than returning to the royal court of Westeros, which Laena would prefer. Daemon also tried to stop her suicide by dragonfire and, like Viserys with Aemma, was is left heartbroken by Laena's death.
      Daemon: We were happy enough.
    • Rhaenyra and Daemon, who decide to marry the instant they are reunited after many years. Ironically, in a reverse of the situation from a decade ago, their marriage serves as a contrast to Viserys and Alicent, who only stay together for the sake of the realm, and with Viserys dying and Alicent serving as his unhappy caretaker on top of that. That said, their marriage is somewhat abusive, as Daemon chokes Rhaenyra when she repeatedly refuses to heed his advice to strike first against the Hightowers, with Rhaenyra's unfazed reaction suggesting that this is not the first time it happens.
  • Heir Club for Men:
    • In the opening to the show, Viserys is named heir to the throne over his female cousin Rhaenys for being male.
    • One of the catalysts for the conflict is the dynastic crisis that results when Viserys I names his daughter as his heir in defiance of the realm's customary patrilineal primogeniture. This is further complicated with the birth of Aegon, who some believe should be given priority over Rhaenyra. Breaking this down further, Otto claims that it wouldn't matter how good a queen Rhaenyra would be, since the lords of Westeros simply couldn't reconcile the idea of a woman ruling over them.
  • The High Queen: Alicent began her life as the new Queen of the Seven Kingdoms as this, remaining generous, gentle and loyal. However she gradually fell from grace into becoming a God Save Us from the Queen! Anti-Villain.
  • History Repeats: There are several parallels between the events of the Dance of the Dragons and the War of the Five Kings that are highlighted by the series. This is all in keeping with the Central Theme and Deconstruction that Martin puts in his books; since the medieval system prevalent in Westeros and other forms of media doesn't work, and the people in power refuse to learn from history, the repetition of these kinds of conflicts becomes inevitable.
    • The death of a monarch causing a historical succession war? Viserys and Robert to a T.
    • Legitimacy of the parentage of the late king's heirs? The children of Rhaenyra and the children of Cersei, the Queen Regent. Both times, their bastard status is true and both times it is the reason war is sparked, but only Rhaenyra's become known to the public.
    • Greedy politics taking reign of the realm and causing even more chaos and strife? Look no further than both generations of the Small Council, Otto Hightower and Roose Bolton or Cersei Lannister.
    • A sneaky and unsuspecting lord looking to further his place in the world by any means necessary? We have Larys Strong and Littlefinger (Petyr Baelish).
    • A foreigner with a network of spies that works for the greater good of people? Mysaria and Varys.
    • Both Joffrey and Aegon II are fine examples of a Royal Brat who inherits the throne while being completely undeserving of it.
    • The Lord Commander of the Kingsguard (an older, wiser man) removing his cloak (and himself) after a sketchy regime change - Harrold Westerling or Barristan Selmy?
    • A brilliant and dashing noble who loses a part of themselves they can never get back (which shapes their character for better or worse), whose actions are pivotal to history and involve someone's death? Look no further than Ser Jaime "the Kingslayer" Lannister (who murdered King Aerys II and was branded a traitor and coward for the rest of his life before his sword hand is cut off and leads to his Redemption Arc) and Prince Aemond "One-Eye" Targaryen (who lost an eye as a boy to his nephew Lucerys Velaryon, which leads him down a dark path and culminates in him inadvertently causing the deaths of Lucerys and his dragon Arryx, sparking the Dance of the Dragons). Both also have an incestuous bond with their sisters, but with Aemond it's more implied than stated.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Throughout the first half of Season 1, Rhaenyra and Alicent see their friendship tested, but appear to have things reconciled by the time Daemon returns from fighting in the Stepstones. Daemon taking Rhaenyra to a pleasure house and the ensuing events (which lead to Rhaenyra having sex with Ser Criston and then lying to Alicent about it), coupled with other issues, however, completely destroys any chance of healing, setting the stage for the Dance of the Dragons.
    • Years later, a dying Viserys gathers his family for dinner together and pleads with them to love each other as much as he loves them, for his sake if nothing else. This final speech moves both Alicent and Rhaenyra enough to briefly reconcile, making complimentary toasts to each other and giving Viserys a happy memory of his family getting along. Things fall apart soon after he retires to his chambers, but he saw none of this and even then Rhaenyra and Alicent brushed it off and promised to sort it out later. Unfortunately Viserys passes away later that night, but not before Alicent misinterprets his final words about the Prince that was Promised to mean that he wanted their son Aegon to succeed him. The Greens immediately moving to deprive Rhaenyra of her inheritance is the catalyst for war breaking out soon after, destroying any possibility of true reconciliation.
    • In the first season finale, Otto personally visits Dragonstone to make an offer to Rhaenyra; she can keep her titles and rule Dragonstone in exchange for recognizing Aegon as king. Despite Daemon's protests and her own coronation earlier in the day, Rhaenyra is seriously considering the offer, and tasks her sons to contact her allies as messengers, not warriors. Then Aemond kills Luke in a revenge attack Gone Horribly Right, and when the news reaches Rhaenyra, it's pretty clear that she considers this a declaration of war.
  • Hourglass Plot: It happens with Aemma and her daughter, Rhaenyra. Aemma lost five babies to miscarriages and stillbirths with her only surviving child being a girl. She is pregnant with a baby boy in episode 1, but she suffers from birth complications so severe that the C-section is needed to be performed. Aemma dies horribly of blood loss in childbirth with her agency taken away by her own husband, hoping that at least the baby will live. Rhaenyra, for all her fears to become a mother in her youth, gives birth to exactly five healthy boys over the years, but suffers her first miscarriage after hearing that Viserys is dead and that her younger brother, Aegon, was crowned king of the Seven Kingdoms. The stillborn was a girl in Rhaenyra's case.
  • A House Divided: The central concern of the series, as House Targaryen lurches towards the Dance of the Dragons. Notably, Jaehaerys the Conciliator tried to avert a succession crisis (hence the Great Council of AC 101), yet as reflected upon by Rhaenyra in the opening narration of the first episode, it may have just sown the seeds towards it.
    Rhaenyra: Jaehaerys called the Great Council to prevent a war from being fought over his succession. For he knew the cold truth. The only thing that could tear down the House of the Dragon was itself.
  • Idiot Ball: Otto Hightower takes only a small company of men with him to reclaim the dragon egg from Daemon and then proceeds to go out of his way to be as rude to Daemon as possible, despite knowing full well that Daemon has a massive dragon in the near vicinity. Granted, had Daemon actually torched him to death, it would basically be an open declaration of war against both the crown and his own brother; Otto seems to have been banking on the fact that not even Daemon is willing to go that far. That said, it's only thanks to Rhaenyra's intervention that things calm down and Daemon gives up the dragon egg.
  • I Got You Covered: Smoke is mentioned on the trope page, which is very apt considering it was Seasmoke that came to Daemon's rescue at the Stepstones, as did the Sea Snake and his allies.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Daemon waves a white flag at the Crabfeeder's army to draw them out. He keeps up the pretense until Dark Sister is taken from him, then goes on a killing rampage through their ranks.
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • Viserys is considered by many to be a weak monarch compared to his cousin, Rhaenys, who comes off as more personally formidable versus the king's somewhat feckless, indecisive nature. However, Otto Hightower believes that Daemon Targaryen would be even worse. He even compares him to Maegor the Cruel, which is the deepest insult you could apply in this period of Targaryen history.
    • Alicent is more and more eager to prove that Rhaenyra is this too. While it's undecided how well Rhaenyra would fare as a ruler, her rebellious sexual escapades are directly threatening the stability of the realm and the Targaryen dynasty itself. Producing three sons with another man and unconvincingly trying to pass them off as her lawfully wedded husband's offspring has significantly weakened her claim to the throne in the eyes of several people who aren't Viserys. In the same time, she pushes for her first born, Aegon to be king after simply misunderstanding Viserys' wishes on his deathbed, believing he was talking about Aegon, her son, when he actually meant Aegon the Conqueror. Only thing is, Alicent completely ignores there is absolutely nothing in Aegon II or in his actions (drinking, raping, having bastards) paints him as capable of this and he fully knows and admits it, let alone his visible and audible lack of motivation for it.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Rhaenyra agrees to marry her gay cousin Laenor as long as they have a discreet open marriage. Though they tried for an heir (and Rhaenyra really needs one as it would help solidify her as next-in-line to the throne), they were unable to conceive, with their incompatible sexualities being a likely contributing factor. She mentions that she enjoyed her affair with Harwin Strong because it felt good to be with a man who actually desired her.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: The series reprises the theme of Game of Thrones starting with the second episode.
  • Kissing Cousins: In keeping with their Royal Inbreeding, the Targaryens frequently wed their own cousins if Brother–Sister Incest is unavailable. Keep in mind that first cousin marriage is officially not considered incest in Westeros and is in fact relatively common (though uncle-niece is considered incest, the Targaryens tolerate it too):
    • Daemon almost takes his niece Rhaenyra's maidenhood in a pleasure house, and later, wants to marry her either out of desire for her, or for the Iron Throne, or to restore the glory of their house, or all of the above.
    • Viserys and his first wife Aemma are first cousins.
    • Rhaenyra is betrothed to her second cousin Laenor. The politically-minded Rhaenyra notes that as far as arranged marriages go, she could do worse than a gay guy she grew up with who also happens to be easy to talk to (as well as on the eyes), and proposes an open marriage.
    • Daemon's second wife is his first cousin once-removed, Laena Velaryon. Her mother, Princess Rhaenys, is one of Daemon's first cousins.
    • Rhaenyra tries to propose a marriage pact to her estranged stepmother and one-time friend Alicent by wedding Rhaenyra's son Jacaerys to Alicent's only daughter Helaena. While they're of a similar age, they are also aunt and nephew.
    • The proposed marriage betrothals between Laena's daughters and Rhaenyra's older sons, to unite their claims to House Velaryon (and the Iron Throne). Laena was Rhaenyra's second cousin, making them third cousins through them. Legally they're first cousins, though in secret Laena's brother Laenor wasn't actually the father of her sons. Through Daemon, Laena's daughters are also Rhaenyra's first cousins, and thus they (actually) are first cousins once removed to Rhaenyra's sons. On top of this, Rhaenyra remarried to her uncle Daemon, making Rhaenyra's sons and Daemon's daughters stepsiblings (though they didn't grow up together).
  • Lured into a Trap: The Crabfeeder and his men very much expect a trap when Daemon appears with the white flag. Their bowmen are set ready to fire and most other men stay in the safety of the caves at first. Expecting a dragon attack from above, they get lured into leaving the caves when no dragon appears. The attack then comes from the ground, not the sky.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Despite dreading and fearing motherhood at first, Rhaenyra eventually becomes a mother of five sons. She also adopts Daemon's two daughters from his second marriage, meaning her household consists of seven children.
  • Medieval Stasis: The looks, technology, and knowledge are not much different from Game of Thrones, which is set 200 years later. If anything, they're slightly more advanced, with costumes and props looking like Tudor designs from the 1500s, instead of how Game of Thrones was inspired by the Wars of the Roses from the 1400s. The showrunners state in behind-the-scenes videos that they did this to reflect how it starts at the end of the Targaryen golden age, and their society never reached this level of peace and prosperity again.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: On the flip side of how the Heir Club for Men standards negatively affect women in Westeros, the show also goes out of its way to show that things are differently bad for the men.
    • Several men are killed during the tourney in Episode 1, and this is met with uproarious applause. Notably, this sequence is intercut with Aemma's Death by Childbirth, showing how men and women are disposable under certain circumstances.
    • The only visible victims of Daemon's raid on Fleabottom are men.
    • Ser Criston Cole brutally murders Ser Joffrey with no intervention from any of the onlookers (except Laenor), and then the wedding is hastily finished while Ser Joffrey's blood is still on the floor.
    • While Rhaenyra having sex out of wedlock puts her at risk of losing her inheritance, and she gets more crap for it than Aegon does, the price is much steeper for her paramours, who can be sentenced to a torturous death by gelding if they're caught. This understandably puts Ser Criston on edge constantly after his affair with Rhaenyra.
    • While everyone is shocked by Ser Criston murdering Lyman Beesbury, they still decide to keep his body where it is while they continue plotting against Rhaenyra, and Criston is once again given no punishment.
  • Missing Mom: Both Alicent and, from the end of episode 1, Rhaenyra deal with the loss of their mother. It's a big part of what made the relationship between Rhaenyra and her father uneasy.
    Viserys: Your mother's absence is a wound that will never heal. [...] I wish I had known better what to say to you in the aftermath.
  • More Experienced Chases the Innocent: When the series begins, Rhaenyra is a young 14-year-old girl whose closest brush with romance is her Pseudo-Romantic Friendship with Alicent. Daemon on the other hand is at least 15 years her senior, unhappily married, and a frequent visitor to whorehouses where he has a long term lover. Daemon spends much of the early episodes grooming Rhaenyra into falling for him, seemingly out of a genuine attraction between the two — and later, once she's been named heir, because being with her would be a chance to be king consort. This climaxes in Daemon taking Rhaenyra for a night out on the town, seducing her, and almost having sex with her in public at a brothel. The ambiguity around whether or not he took her virginity (he implies to the king he did) can ruin her as a marriage prospect and King Viserys essentially exiles him to Dragonstone for doing it.
  • Mother Makes You King:
  • My God, What Have I Done?: See here.
  • Mystical White Hair: The blood of Valyria manifests in white-blond hair. This series also establishes that even black-skinned Valyrians, such as the Velaryons, have the white-blond hair.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Otto Hightower's brother, the Lord of Oldtown, has the given name Hobert here, whereas he was unnamed in the source material.

  • Odd Name Out: Rhaenyra's children with Laenor were named Jacaerys, Lucerys and... Joffrey, which is not a Valyrian name at all, and was decided at the last moment by Laenor when Alicent asked him and Rhaenyra what was the name of their youngest son, and it's clear that Laenor named him after his lost lover. This trope becomes even more noticeable when Rhaenyra marries Daemon, who already has two daughters named Baela and Rhaena (named after Daemon's father and Laena's mother respectively), and has two more sons with him, Aegon and Viserys, making Joffrey the only one of seven children that has a typically Westerosi name. From the books
  • Off with His Head!:
    • The dubious honor of 'first person to be beheaded in the series' goes to a nameless alleged criminal in the streets of King's Landing in "Heirs of the Dragon", by the hand of Daemon using his sword, Dark Sister, during The Purge Daemon leads the City Watch into committing to secure the capital city for The Tourney the next day. Interestingly, Dark Sister is made of Valyrian steel just like the weapon that was used for the first onscreen beheading in Game of Thrones, Ned Stark's BFS Ice.
    • The second onscreen beheading also happens courtesy of Daemon using Dark Sister in "The Lord of the Tides", slicing the upper half of Vaemond's head, ironically leaving his tongue attached to his body when King Viserys threatened to have it cut for voicing out that Rhaenyra's children are bastards.
  • Oh, Crap!: Two understated ones in quick succession from the Crabfeeder. The first is when he sees the Sea Snake and his fighters appear and then when Seasmoke appears not from the sky as he searched for, but from the ground.
  • Old Soldier: Harrold Westerling, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, is a white-bearded and bald man, though he still looks solid.
  • One-Man Army: Daemon cuts down enough of the Crabfeeder's men to draw out all his forces, which then makes them easy pickings for the Velaryons and Seasmoke.
  • Opening Narration: Provided by adult Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy, who's not seen in the series until the sixth episode of Season 1):
    "As the first century of the Targaryen dynasty came to a close, the health of the Old King, Jaehaerys, was failing. In those days, House Targaryen stood at the height of its strength, with 10 adult dragons under its yoke. No power in the world could stand against it. King Jaehaerys reigned for nearly 60 years of peace and prosperity but tragedy had claimed both of his sons, leaving his succession in doubt. So, in the year 101, the Old King called a Great Council to choose an heir. Over 1,000 lords made the journey to Harrenhal. 14 succession claims were heard but only two were truly considered: Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, the King’s eldest descendant and her younger cousin, Prince Viserys Targaryen, the King’s eldest male descendant. Rhaenys, a woman, would not inherit the Iron Throne. The lords instead chose Viserys, my father. Jaehaerys called the Great Council to prevent a war being fought over his succession, for he knew the cold truth: the only thing that could tear down the House of the Dragon was itself."
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Enforced. Per directive by George Martin, there is a far greater variety in dragon appearances than in the previous show (which were essentially all just palette swaps of the same model), to give the individual dragons distinct identities. To that end, the show runners formed at least three "breeds" of dragon: the standard "T-Rex" heads (which the OG three were from), the "wolf" heads (such as Caraxes), and the "horse" heads (Syrax).
  • Outliving One's Offspring: See here.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Daemon, Rhaenys, Aemond, Talya… a simple cloak isn't the disguise you seem to think it is.
  • Parents Suck at Matchmaking: King Viserys loves his daughter Rhaenyra, but his preferred choices for the Princess's future consort have been rather lacking. Initially he tries to set up Rhaenyra with Jason Lannister, an arrogant Upper-Class Twit whom Rhaenyra despises but one who belongs to a powerful House. He then allows her to select her own suitor, but when she takes too long he arranges a marriage with her cousin Laenor Velaryon from a different powerful House. While Rhaenyra and Laenor grew up together and are definitely friends, Laenor is a closeted homosexual who never sires any true heirs.
  • Plot Parallel:
    • Mysaria, Criston, and Alicent are all trying to gain protection from the Targaryen that they have sex with. All three at some point face a stark realization that this royal doesn't really care about them. The Targaryen has some casual fondness for them, sure, but they don't care about them substantially enough to consider how their decisions will affect their lover. In the wake of this realization, Mysaria, Criston, and Alicent all strike out on their own after some fashion. They need to protect themselves, make their own allies and own decisions, because if they were to stay in league with this Targaryen they would continue to be used callously and left to bear the consequences alone.
    • Aegon's claim to the Iron Throne and Luke's claim to Driftmark. Both are usurping, and both are more about protecting the family than they are about really wanting the seat in question. This is the "you win or you die" principle at work. They can't just set aside these claims without putting their whole family in jeopardy. Viserys's sons are inherent threats to Rhaenyra's claim, and they're obvious targets for any Black allies trying to strengthen her position. Giving up the claim would only mean intentionally disarming themselves when there's still a target on their backs. Much the same is true of Luke. His claim to Driftmark cannot be renounced without admitting that he and his brothers are bastards, which would further weaken Rhaenyra's claim. Having the throne or Driftmark are important political considerations, yes, but they're secondary in both cases. They don't back out because there is no safe way to do so.
    • There's a second Succession Crisis being staged in the wings between the Black heirs. Just like the first succession crisis, it deals with half-siblings from two different unions. The elder sibling (Rhaenyra; Jace) is the designated heir, but that claim will be controversial for some reason (sex; legitimacy). The younger sibling (Aegon the elder; Aegon the younger) has a traditionally stronger claim, and is the descendant of an ambitious second son (Otto; Daemon) who's unhappy about his own lack of inheritance and disinclined to calmly accent his descendants having the same fate. The Black succession crisis is 20 years behind the Targaryen one and is not an issue yet, but the echoes are strong.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Queen Alicent hears for the first time about the secret Targaryen prophecy of Aegon the Conqueror when Viserys is on his deathbed. He thinks he's talking to Rhaenyra and Alicent misundertands it, thinking he's designating their son Aegon as The Chosen One, making her determined to press the claim of Aegon and the civil war unavoidable.
  • Practically Different Generations:
    • Rhaenyra is a good 15 years older than her half-siblings, and her first three children are roughly the same age with their half-uncles and aunt.
    • Jacaerys and Lucerys Velaryon are in their teens when their younger half-brothers, Aegon and Viserys Targaryen, are born. Baela and Rhaena are of a similar age gap to the two.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation:
    • As in Game of Thrones, all naval warfare portrayed in the show is conducted with sailing ships such as carracks, instead of the galleys used in the novel, thus sparing the CGI budget the need to render hundreds if not thousands of individual oars in motion during every sea battle.
    • In the book, much more detail is provided on the various claimants to the throne at the Great Council of AC 101, and the frontrunners are Viserys and Laenor rather than Rhaenys. The show simplifies this and focuses on Viserys being chosen over Rhaenys to emphasize Westeros's Heir Club for Men attitudes, since this is central to the plot of the series, and Viserys's status as The Wrongful Heir to the Throne, since as weak as he is, audiences would still consider him a better choice as king than a child, especially since Laenor grows up to be a somewhat irresponsible Upper-Class Twit.
    • The events leading up to the Dance of the Dragons feature multiple instances of generic miscarriages, stillbirths and women dying from childbed fever, which, due to how similar they are to each other, would feel tedious and redundant in the pacing of a TV series. For the adaptation, each of them has been modified to be more distinctive: Aemma has been given a Traumatic C-Section to signify both the worth of women in the setting and how badly Viserys was pursuing a male heir, Mysaria's miscarriage got turned into a Fake Pregnancy to show Dameon's mischievousness, and Laena committed suicide by dragonfire to give herself more agency.
    • Fire & Blood was presented as an In-Universe historical text, and as such contains many Ambiguous Situations involving character's actions and motivations, since the people who know for sure what really happened have been dead for over 100 years. Due to events occurring unambiguously on-screen in the TV series and the viewers witnessing private conversations that the in-universe authors of Fire and Blood did not, the number of ambiguities is reduced and several events that were presented as mere theories in the book are made to be factual in the show, such as the true paternity of Rhaenyra's sons and the identity of the mastermind behind the fire at Harrenhal.
  • Princeling Rivalry: There's two pairs of brothers experiencing this as a Subverted Trope. These younger brothers covet their elder brother's throne, think they would've made a better heir — but not to the point that it overrides their brotherly loyalty. They're jealous, absolutely, but not fratricidal.
    • Otto Hightower implies Daemon is a danger to Viserys. Right off the bat this seems plausible, as Daemon makes no secret of the fact that he'd like to be king. But as the season unfolds, it's subverted. Daemon never shows any sign he's anything other than loyal to his brother. He would certainly like to be king, but he wouldn't kill his brother for the chance. Their relationship is often strained — severed first by Viserys, and later when he invites his brother back into his life, Daemon rebuffs him — but even then the brothers still love each other despite everything.
    • Aemond is frustrated that Aegon is the firstborn and thus Hightowers' heir to the throne. Aegon has glaring vices and is obviously disinterested, while Aemond takes his education and combat training seriously. Neither brother is a big fan of the other; Aegon calls Aemond a "twat", Aemond calls Aegon a "wastrel". While out searching for Aegon so he can be taken back to the Red Keep and crowned king, Aemond confides to Criston that he hoped that they wouldn't find Aegon so that he might have an opening. However, Aemond still ends up having his brother's back, as his mother taught him that the family must always support each other because Divided We Fall.
  • Prequel: The teaser states that the series takes place "200 years before the fall of the Throne". The series itself starts 172 years before the birth of Daenerys as mentioned in the opening card of the first episode.
  • Prequel in the Lost Age: The show is set almost 200 years before Game of Thrones, when the Targaryens were still a powerful dynasty ruling the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and had at least ten dragons.
  • Prophecy Twist: Viserys based much of his treatment of his beloved wife Aemma on a dream that his son would wear the crown of Aegon the Conqueror and all the dragons would roar. He naively presumed that it was a good thing.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Rhaenys Velaryon's murder of countless smallfolk at Aegon's coronation is framed as a triumphal moment for her, while her refusal to kill Alicent and her family is depicted as a heroic decision, as she didn't want to be responsible for hurting another mother.
  • Pseudo-Romantic Friendship: At the start of the series, Alicent and Rhaenyra's relationship is extremely close, as Alicent is her primary lady in waiting and closest confidant. In the first episode, with her head in Alicent's lap, Rhaenyra tells Alicent she just wants to ride off into the sunset on dragonback with Alicent by her side and eat cake. Their relationship begins to deteriorate once Alicent marries Viserys, with Rhaenyra becoming notably cool towards Alicent, not unlike a jilted ex, but it absolutely crumbles once Alicent learns Rhaenyra lied to her about sleeping with Daemon, with Alicent exhibiting some barely contained Tranquil Fury. Seeing as Alicent's father was deposed as Hand because Rhaenyra swore he was lying about that, it's not unwarranted but the depth of the betrayal comes off just as much as a Woman Scorned, especially since Alicent's relationship with her father was cool at best.
  • Quantity vs. Quality: When war seems to be imminent between the Blacks and the Greens, Daemon is confident that the Blacks will win, as they have seven dragons with riders, with six additional riderless dragons they can try to tame, while the Greens have less than half of that. However, Rhaenyra points out that most of their dragons have seen little combat experience, so the numbers don't really mean anything, especially since the Greens have Vhagar, the oldest, biggest, and most combat-worthy dragon in the world. Sure enough, Vhagar manages to kill Arrax with a single bite, showing that the competition is not as lopsided as it seems to be.
  • Queer Establishing Moment: Laenor Velaryon is confirmed as gay after a scene with him alone with his lover where they discuss his betrothal and how Rhaenyra's agreement with him to seek pleasure outside of martial duties works to their advantage.
  • Race Lift: Westeros is more diverse than is characterized in the original books or seen in Game of Thrones.
    • Overall, Westeros is almost uniformly white in the books, with residents ranging from Nordic to Mediterranean in appearance. Nonwhite immigrants are rare and exotic. In the show, however, it's not uncommon to see nonwhite background and bit characters, chiefly in the cities.
    • In the book, the Velaryons have the same white skin as their fellow Valyrians, the Targaryens. In the show, Corlys Velaryon is black. His hair is Valyrian-white but black-textured, and he wears it in dreadlocks. His children Laenor and Laena are mixed-raced, as are Daemon's children with Laena.
    • Mysaria is the only main character who's not Westerosi. She's foreign-born and speaks with an accent. In the book, she's explicitly Lyseni and of Valyrian descent like the Targaryens. In the show, she's played by a mixed-race Japanese-Argentine-British actress, making her visually distinct from the white, European-looking Westerosi. Unlike in the books, she has no recollection of her original home, having been enslaved as a child, so she may have come from Lys or somewhere else altogether.
      Mysaria: I have been sold as property more times than I care to count, beginning in a homeland I can no longer recall.
    • Downplayed Trope in Ser Criston Cole. In both the book and show, Criston's father is the steward of Blackhaven, which is in the southern Stormlands along the Dornish border. In such border regions Dornish ancestry would not be surprising, but it's not the assumed default. (It's kind of like someone from France's southern coast actually being a Spaniard.) In the books, there is no indication that Criston has any Dornish blood. In the show, he's explicitly stated to look Dornish, although it doesn't seem like he's culturally Dornish—he got his battle experience fighting against the Dornish incursions. (Although claimed by the Iron Throne as part of the Seven Kingdoms, Dorne is an independent kingdom in practice at this point in time since the Targaryens were unsuccessful in conquering it despite repeated attempts. It doesn't actually join the realm until a few generations later, thanks to a double marriage alliance between the Targaryens and Martells.)
  • Rain of Arrows: Somewhat downplayed as the Crabfeeder doesn't have hundreds of bowmen, but Daemon still needs to run like hell to avoid them.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: As nauseating as it may seem, not only were maggots used historically to remove necrotic flesh, but it's also still used today by some modern doctors. They'll eat only the dead tissue while removing the dead tissue surgically would mean cutting into some of the live tissue around the edges as well. Interestingly, given the prominence of dragons in the series, one of their most prominent uses is to treat burns, as their ability to remove dead tissue while doing no further damage to what (now very vulnerable) living tissue is left is very useful. Maggots specially bred for this purpose are often used.
  • Realpolitik: The central Succession Crisis is ostensibly a conflict about whether or not to uphold Heir Club for Men... except no one actually cares about that. People first decide who they're going to support out of pragmatic self-interest — which claimant's ascension would be better for me personally? — and then defend the inheritance law that person needs to come to power. People are willing to espouse whichever view about inheritance serves them best at the present moment, switching sides as the situation changes. Otto speaks against male-only inheritance when the man in question is Daemon, his personal rival, and later in favor of it when the man in question is his grandson Aegon. Daemon is in favor of male-only inheritance when that man would be him; after the birth of Aegon, he favors unisex inheritance to make Rhaenyra queen and co-rule with her. Alicent and Criston support Rhaenyra up until interpersonal drama drives them apart. The only character for whom the prospect of a female regnant is actually a meaningful consideration is Rhaenys — and even for her, this is merely one factor out of many when deciding where she stands in this conflict. Otto claims that the lords of the realm would be against a queen regnant, and that too would be a pragmatic stance: it would be disadvantageous to undercut the system which allowed them to inherit, when (statistically speaking) half of them have older sisters.
  • Related Differently in the Adaptation:
    • Vaemond Velaryon is Corlys's younger brother instead of his nephew like in the books.
    • Boremund Baratheon is Rhaenys Targaryen's cousin. In the books, he is her uncle.
  • Red Baron:
    • Corlys, "the Sea Snake" for the ship on which he made his famed "Nine Voyages" that made his name and his fortune.
    • Rhaenys, "the Queen Who Never Was" since part of the Realm considers her, and not her cousin Viserys, as the rightful heir of their grandfather Jaehaerys I.
    • Aemond "One-Eye" Targaryen.
  • Royal Inbreeding:
    • The Targaryens have a tradition of keeping marriage in family. After Aemma's death, Corlys and Rhaenys propose that Viserys marry their daughter, Laena. Rhaenys is Viserys' first cousin, meaning Viserys and Laena are first cousins once removed. And that's far from the worst case. Otto proposes the betrothal of half-siblings Rhaenyra and Aegon as a way to resolve dispute about the succession to the Iron Throne. Daemon makes a pass at Rhaenyra, his niece, and asks Viserys for her hand in marriage. Daemon later marries Laena (first cousins once removed), while Rhaenyra marries Laena's brother, Laenor (second cousins). Then Daemon and Rhaenyra (uncle and niece) marry. Rhaenyra proposes that her son Jacaerys can marry her half-sister, Helaena (i.e., his half-aunt), and after this is rejected, betroths him to Daemon's daughter Baela, who is his legal first cousin, biological first cousin once-removed and third cousins, and stepsister all at once. Oh, and Helaena marries Aegon, her full brother, and has several children with him.
    • While the series does not spell this out, Queen Aemma is a Targaryen on her mother's side, and is one of King Jaehaerys' grandchildren, meaning she and Viserys are first cousins. This is the reason why she has the same silver-blonde hair as her husband. Meanwhile, Viserys and Daemon are the product of two consecutive generations of brother-sister marriages.
  • Rule of Symbolism: A number of Targaryen regalia seems to have evolved in tandem with their growth in power as Kings of the Seven Kingdoms:
    • The pommel of the sword Blackfyre (which King Viserys I wields) seems to have been marked with the Seven-Point Star of the Faith of the Seven, once again emphasizing the close relationship between Crown and Faith. From the books
    • The King's crown (worn both by Viserys I and the Old King Jaehaerys I), instead of the books' simple band with seven gemstones, is instead an elaborate, wrought crown comprised of gold and silver bands, with the sigil of House Targaryen at the middle and the sigils of the Great Houses surrounding it.note 
    • The dress Rhaenyra wears when the lords swear loyalty to her in episode one is full of symbolism, as it tries to make her look every inch the heir to the Iron Throne of Westeros.
      • Her headgear is made to look like Aegon I's crown; notice the red gemstones and the outline.
      • Her necklace, for lack of a better word, is also symbolic; in a Freeze-Frame Bonus we can see the signs of the great houses, including House Martell (which wasn't part of the realm at this point, but the dragon kings claimed it as such in "English kings claiming France" fashion). Also, we can see the star of the Faith of the Seven as well, symbolizing the divine authority of the monarch.
    • The opening credits sequence features rivers of blood flowing through seals connecting the individual Targaryen family members, representing the genetic blood that connects the family members and the literal blood that will be spilled when they turn against each other in a bid for the Iron Throne.
    • "Second of His Name" has at its heart (pun intended) the hunt for the White Hart, recorded to be a mystical creature representing royalty in pre-Targaryen Westeros. The royal hunting party's search for it is all about shoring up the legitimacy of King Viserys I, as well as the palpable right of succession of the young prince Aegon over Rhaenyra. Ironically, the White Hart chooses to appear to Rhaenyra instead.
    • Alicent uses green, the color that her house uses to declare war, to make a statement on Rhaenyra's wedding.
    • Larys wants to masturbate to Alicent's feet. There's two aspects to this: the foot thing and the Alicent thing. The foot fetish is clearly linked to the fact that Larys "the Clubfoot" is a cripple. Feet are a symbol of power in a lot of cultures, as they give people the ability to do most things, while also having destructive power. Larys lacks this kind of power. Next, the person involved. Larys could've tried to find someone who's actually interested in this too, who wants to take part. He is Master of Whisperers after all. Failing that, there's a more-or-less tacitly permitted way for men in this setting to impose their one-sided sexual desire onto a woman bribed into enduring it—King's Landing has a huge prostitution industry for precisely this. Yet Larys has instead sought out the queen for this purpose, the most powerful woman in Westeros. So it seems that by pleasing himself to Alicent's feet, he is indulging in her power as queen and deriving further pleasure from forcing a woman of her status to debase herself in such a way.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: The entirety of Episode 4 from Season 1 is about Rhaenyra finally getting to know the pleasant side of having sex by secretly visiting the houses of pleasure in King's Landing, after years of worrying that sex is only for producing heirs for men. Of course, the one who introduces her to this is Daemon, who hopes to tarnish her reputation enough to force a marriage between the two.
  • The Show of the Books: The show is primarily based upon Fire & Blood, a prequel to A Song of Ice and Fire that covers the rise and fall of House Targaryen written like an in-universe history book. Some of the same events and characters were also the topic of the earlier-published novella Archmaester Gyldayn's Histories (consisting of The Princess and the Queen and The Rogue Prince), as well as being discussed in The World of Ice & Fire, although Fire & Blood goes over the events that form the basis of House of the Dragon's plot in more depth.
  • Sibling Rivalry: Brothers Viserys and Daemon have a mutual jealousy of each other. Daemon is jealous of Viserys being king, while Viserys is jealous of Daemon's natural charisma. Tempering it is the fact that they want to be close—Daemon seems to crave approval from Viserys, and Viserys wants to defend Daemon, forgiving him more than other people think is appropriate. But then they're pushed back apart by the fact that Daemon is—at heart—an Annoying Younger Sibling who cannot stop Trolling his big brother for 5 minutes. Their feud is tempered significantly as the years pass, and Daemon makes up with his brother shortly before Viserys' death.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The sons of Lyonel Strong are separately called out by name in "We Light the Way" in scenes that establish a stark difference intact. Larys walks with a cane and stokes drama for unknown ends when he hints to Alicent that Rhaenyra's virtue might not be intact. Harwin Strong fights his way through a crowd to protect Rhaenyra, showing him as very physically capable and loyal to the royal family.
  • Significant White Hair, Dark Skin: House Velaryon retains their book counterparts' Mystical White Hair (a visual indicator of Old Valyrian ancestry) and are played by brown-skinned Black British actors. As a result, its members have a striking and unique phenotype among the rest of the mostly-white cast. It's immediately obvious that Laenor Velaryon's sons with Princess Rhaenyra are not biologically his, due to their fair skin and dark hair.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Alicent often wore quite simple outfits as queen without very bright colors. When she makes her declaration of war during Rhaenyra's wedding, she appears in bright green.
  • Sleeping Single: King Viserys and Queen Alicent sleep in separate rooms of the Red Keep. When Viserys wants to have sex with his wife in the middle of the night, servants have to be called to summon her to his bed. Truth in Television for medieval monarchies due in part to the conflicting and exacting schedules of many kings and queens making sleeping separately more practical.
  • Snooty Sports: Made so because the stag Viserys 'hunts' is tied so it can't defend itself when he strikes.
  • Stock Sound Effects: When King Jaehaerys opens the wooden casket containing the deliberations of the Great Council to choose his heir, it makes the same sound the Warcraft III Undead unit Meat Wagon makes when gathering corpses.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Used to evoke the looming crisis brewing during Visery's reign due to the growing antagonisms derivated from his uncertain succession.
    Corlys Velaryon: To elude a storm, you can either sail into it, or around it. But you must never await its coming.
    Rhaenyra Targaryen: You do not desert your post when the storm lashes.
    Laenor Velaryon: The wise sailor flees the storm as it gathers.
  • Succession Crisis: The main theme of the show. After Viserys disinherits his brother Daemon for his daughter Rhaenyra, tensions continue to rise until the crisis becomes a full blown civil war in the season finale, The Black Queen.
  • Sworn in by Oath: The practice of swearing obeisance to a monarch or heir is routinely deconstructed. They are always portrayed with an air of coercion, and must be secured with material benefits and the support of the nobility. The lords of the realm are not necessarily willing to set aside the concept of absolute male primogeniture, but swear an oath of obeisance to Rhaenyra because Viserys mandates it. When Viserys dies, not all of the houses, many of whom are now led by different people, or feel disrespected and ignored by the pro-Rhaenyra faction in the decades since she was invested as heir, are willing to honor the oath.
  • Symbolic Distance: In the episode The Lord of the Tides, childhood friends turned political enemies Alicent and Rhaenyra are positioned next to each other at the dinner table, but with a large, conspicuous space between them. Viserys, who is both Alicent's husband and Rhaenyra's father, later sits down in that space, representing how his decisions throughout the first season have led to the two women's estrangement.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Because of Royal Inbreeding, the family tree of House Targaryen, House Velaryon, and House Hightower gets increasingly convoluted over time. Rhaenyra herself marries her second cousin, then her uncle, who himself married his cousin once-removed (the sister of Rhaenyra's first husband) and produced two daughters with her, who are then betrothed to Rhaenyra's two sons from her first marriage (who were sired by an unrelated man, Ser Harwin Strong). The betrothed are stepsiblings, first cousins (legally), first cousins once removed (due to Daemon being Rhaenyra's uncle), and third cousins (due to their grandparents Rhaenys and Viserys being first cousins).
  • Terminally-Ill Criminal: Craghas Dahar, aka "the Crabfeeder", is the Triarchy's admiral and leader of their armies during their war against the Velaryon. He's infamous for his cruelty and ruthlessness towards his enemies —he feeds them alive to crabs, hence his nickname— and by the time he first appears in the series, he's already contracted the (usually) incurable Greyscale. He dies at the hands of Daemon before the disease would have claimed his life.
  • Theme Twin Naming: Two members of the Kingsguard are a pair of twins named Erryk and Arryk Cargyll. Subverted with Laena and Laenor Velaryon, who have very similar names but are not twins (Laenor is older by a few years), and averted with Daemon's daughters, Baela and Rhaena, who are twins but have dissimilar names, and Lannister twins named Jason and Tyland, which seems to be a family tradition considering that another pair of Lannister twins from Game of Thrones also have unique names.
  • This Means War!:
    • Before leaving court, Otto lays out the score for Alicent in very plain terms: when Viserys dies, there will be a Succession Crisis. At that point, Alicent can either advance her son Aegon's claim or throw herself behind Rhaenyra and hope she won't try Removing the Rival. The latter option relies entirely on how much Alicent can trust Rhaenyra, and after learning her friend lied to her about something else, it looks like the answer is "not entirely". Alicent declares it by showing up to Rhaenyra's wedding in the traditional color that her house used for a call to arms, green that is.
    • After Viserys dies and Aegon is crowned king by the Hightowers, Rhaenyra is still hesitant to fight for her inheritance. Then Aemond kills her son Lucerys, and she is filled with a cold resolve to bring fire and blood to the Greens.
  • Throne Made of X: The Iron Throne is made of hundreds of swords. Unlike in Game of Thrones, a number of swords were either melted flat on the ground around it or melted into pikes planted around it.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Several characters have different actors to portray them as late teens/young adults then as adults, from Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock then Emma D'Arcy), Alicent (Emily Carey then Olivia Cooke), Laenor and Laena all the way to their numerous children, such as Aemond (from Leo Ashton to Ewan Mitchell) and Aegon (from Ty Tennant to Tom Glynn-Carney).
  • Time Skip: There are a lot of time skips in Season 1, used to cover a story that spans over two decades. And there's much changes of actors as a result.
    • Between the first and second episodes, it's stated that half a year has passed since the deaths of Queen Aemma and Prince Baelon. Lord Commander of the Kingsguard Ser Ryam Redwyne has passed away in the meantime.
    • Around three years pass between the second and third episodes. The second episode ends with the announcement of a marriage, and at the start of the third, its offspring Aegon is celebrating his second birthday.
    • Several months pass between the third and fourth episodes. Alicent is seen heavily pregnant in the former, and has given birth to baby Helaena in the latter.
    • There is a ten-year time skip between the fifth and sixth episodes, with several characters (including Rhaenyra and Alicent) being played by older actors. Rhaenyra has become a mother to three children, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey, and Alicent has given birth to one more child, Aemond, in addition to Aegon and Helaena. Grand Maester Mellos has passed away offscreen in the meantime.
    • Six years pass between the seventh and eighth episodes. Rhaenyra has given birth to two more children, Aegon and Viserys, with another one on the way (all three fathered by Daemon).
  • Tragedy: George R. R. Martin characterizes the show as a Shakespearean tragedy.
  • Truer to the Text:
    • There's noticeably more swords on and around the Iron Throne, which makes it closer to its book description than it was in Game of Thrones.
    • The City Watch's signature gold cloaks are dyed a much richer shade of gold compared to the more muted colors used in the original show.
    • Similarly, the Kingsguard wear armor that is mostly white and light grey, in addition to their white cloaks. This is much closer to how their armor was described in the books, rather than the gold armor (with only the cloaks remaining white) in the original show.
    • The official title of the King of Westeros has also expanded to include the Rhoynar (as in the books), unlike the original show which only included the Andals and the First Men. Somewhat ironically, this is at a period in time when the Iron Throne doesn't have rule of Dorne, where the overwhelming majority of those with Rhoynarish blood live, but has maintained since Aegon the Conqueror that they have rightful rule over it as part of the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Viserys, who's middle-aged and not particularly handsome, marries Alicent, who is much younger than he is and very beautiful. As time goes by, they become an even stronger example, because Viserys becomes prematurely haggard and then outright disfigured by a leprosy-like illness.
  • Unwanted Spouse: Daemon is not happy in his marriage to Lady Rhea Royce, whom he derogatorily calls his "bronze bitch". They are separated, with her being in Vale, while he frequents brothels and keeps a long-term mistress, Mysaria. They never even consummated their marriage. He ends up killing her.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: When Aegon first appears, he's a two-year-old toddler and appears to be a normal and happy child. It's unknown what he was like as a small child, but when he reappears as a teenager he's grown into a lazy Big Brother Bully who only wants to drink and leer at girls, and finally as a adult he's a hedonistic, selfish wreck of a man who only wants to sleep with women and drink and does not want to be king because he knows he has neither the skill nor temperament to make a good one.
  • Villain Episode: The Green Council, the ninth episode of the first season, is the first episode of the series without Rhaenyra and Daemon, and it focuses from start to finish on Alicent and the Greens, antagonists of Rhaenyra, and how they react in the immediate wake of Viserys's death. Rhaenys is the only main character allied with Rhaenyra who appears in the episode, and even then, she is a supporting character in this episode's plot.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Caraxes, Daemon's massive dragon, attempts at a Mighty Roar but produces a high-pitched squeaky noise similar to that of a dolphin.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Alicent and Rhaenyra were childhood best friends, but their relationship is strained when Alicent becomes Rhaenyra's stepmother and sires a trueborn male heir. Though their relationship appears to be on the mend in the fourth episode, it is shot to hell in the fifth when Alicent realizes that Rhaenyra lied to her about her virtue and that the impending Succession Crisis will put her and her son in danger. At Rhaenyra's wedding feast Alicent dons her family's war colors and coolly refers to Rhaenyra as "stepdaughter", indicating that she's fully turned on her.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Alicent channels the energy of this trope as an older adult but is also a more nuanced examination of it. On the surface, she is bitter, spiteful, paranoid and petty towards her stepdaughter. However, it is not so simple because her suspicions about Rhaenyra are correct. She is increasingly unhappy and lovelorn in her relationship with Viserys, but is still devoted to him, fussing over him and bearing him four trueborn children. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra has been lying to her, to her father, and to the realm constantly for ten years, bearing three obvious bastards and having the gall to insult everyone's intelligence by calling them legitimate Velaryons (although by modern real-world standards, Rhaenyra isn't doing anything wrong). When she brings the matter to her husband, he tells her essentially to shut up, never speak of it again, and that to do so would be treason. By the time she confides in Larys Strong that she wants — no, needs her father back as Hand of the King, it looks less like a Wicked Stepmother and more like a put-upon wife who needs someone, anyone to believe her when she tells the truth.
  • Worst Aid: While the Maesters of Westeros know a lot of good medicine for their medieval setting, they still rely on some treatments we now know as outdated or even harmful to the patient. Grand Maester Orwyle might be an exception — while he didn't manage to cure the condition Viserys is afflicted by at the end of his life, he surely allowed him to survive 16 more years whereas what Grand Maester Mellos prescribed to him would have guaranteed him a much earlier death.
  • The Wrongful Heir to the Throne: The agnatic primogeniture system is paired with very few eldest sons who actually have the disposition of a good leader, and multiple eldest daughters and second sons seem to have an ironic knack for it.
    • King Viserys lacks both the gravitas to make people listen to him, and the decisiveness to make actual decisions. In some ways his younger brother Daemon might have made a better king—he has the charisma to rally men around him and the strength of will to actually lead, although his decision-making is deeply questionable, and he found the actual hard work of ruling to be too "boring" when he actually tried. Their cousin Rhaenys has both decisiveness and good decision-making skills, and it's widely agreed that she would've made a great queen.
      Alicent: You should've been queen. […] The Iron Throne was yours by blood and by temperament. Viserys would've lived his days a country lord, content to hunt and study his histories, but here we are.
    • Alicent's heir, Aegon, is ill-suited to be king. He's unserious, flippant, prone to drinking, doesn't want the Arranged Marriage that's set up for him, and is a Serial Rapist. Meanwhile, second son Aemond could be a creditable option. He's sharp, serious, pious, very well trained in combat, Vhagar-approved, and would be willing to enter the Arranged Marriage his older brother rebuffs. And yet, The Coup of the Hightowers-Targaryens crowns Aegon solely out of male-preference primogeniture and nothing else after the death of Viserys.
      Aemond: Here I am, trawling the city, ever the good soldier in search of a wastrel who's never taken half an interest in his birthright. 'Tis I, the younger brother, who studies history and philosophy, it is I who trains with the sword, who rides the largest dragon in the world. It is I who should be…
    • Jacaerys (the Crown Prince in line after Rhaenyra) and Lucerys (the appointed heir of House Velaryon) struggle with this as well. Temperament and talent-wise, they acquit themselves pretty good. However, as is plainly shown by their appearance, they are bastards, and it undermines their efforts and self-confidence.
      Rhaenyra: I don't expect you to learn High Valyrian in a day, Jace.
      Jacaerys: (sighing frustrated by his slow learning progress) A king should honor the traditions of his forbears.
      Lucerys: I can't be Lord of the Tides. Grandsire was the greatest sailor who ever lived. I get greensick before the ship even leaves the harbor! I'll just ruin everything.


Video Example(s):


The Great Council

King Jaehaerys outlived his sons, leading to a question of succession. The lords of Westeros prefer Viserys over his female cousin Rhaenys because he is male, even though she is older, the child of the deceased crown prince, and has a better temperament for ruling. She will eventually become known as "The Queen Who Never Was".

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HeirClubForMen

Media sources: