House Of The Dragon: The Targaryen Dragons, Explained

In 2019, the Game of Thrones fandom collectively denounced the show’s eighth and final season for the truncated plots, botched character arcs, flanderization, and bad writing. Yet, contrary to the chatter that HBO squandered an opportunity to spawn a sprawling Thrones universe, the first spin-off — House of the Dragon — arrived on August 21, 2022. As of March 2024, many more are reported to be in development.

The first Game of Thrones spin-off focuses on the Targaryens and their dragons, demonstrating the fandom’s fascination with the two. The mysterious bond between the Targaryens and their dragons is at the core of House of the Dragon. For the people of Westeros, dragons hold allure, but the Targaryens are friendly and twine around their serpentine beasts.


House Of The Dragon: Every Unclaimed Dragon So Far

There are still several dragons left up for grabs in HBO’s House of the Dragon, threatening to tip the balance in the upcoming civil war.

Dragons Arrive At Dragonstone

Jace and Luke on dragonback leaving Dragonstone in House of the Dragon.

Lord Aenar Targaryen, in a real sense, is the patriarch of House Targaryen of Westeros, which eventually established rule on mainland Westeros. Aegon, though, gets the credit, because he saw Westeros as a land ripe for capture and unification. His ancestor, Aenar, colonized the strategic island of Dragonstone.

Aenar fled Old Valyria at its pinnacle because his maiden daughter, Daenys the Dreamer, had a powerful prophetic dream about the Doom. In 114 BC, he imposed a self-exile upon his family and settled on Dragonstone, located off the eastern coast of Westeros. Balerion the Black Dread was one of the five dragons the Targaryens brought to Dragonstone. The Doom occurred 12 years later, and the Targaryens, far from being the most powerful nobles, were the only ones who survived.

Viserys I Targaryen, who was Balerion’s last rider, remarks in House of the Dragon season 1, episode 1 “The Heirs of the Dragon”:

Balerion was the last living creature to have seen Old Valyria before the Doom. Its greatness and its flaws.

The remaining two of the trinity, i.e., Visenya’s Vhagar and Rhaenys’ Meraxes, are quintessentially Westerosi dragons. They were hatched on Dragonstone during the Century of the Blood. Balerion, Vhagar, and Meraxes provided the holy trinity of Targaryen power that shaped Westeros during and after Aegon’s Conquest. While Balerion died of old age, Meraxes and Rhaenys were killed at Hellholt in the Conquest of Dorne in 10 AC. Vhagar still lives.

Dragons On Mainland Westeros

How Many Dragons Did The Targaryens Have?

Rhaenyra watches the Greens' dragons in House of the Dragon.

By Rhaenyra Targaryen’s account, House Targaryen had 10 adult dragons as the Targaryen empire was approaching its hundredth year. She explains in the cold opening of House of the Dragon:

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 ten adult dragons under its yoke. No power in the world could stand against it.

The most notable dragons in House of the Dragon are Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s she-dragon, Syrax; Princess Rhaenys Targaryen’s she-dragon, Meleys; Laenor Velaryon’s Seasmoke; Laena Velaryon’s Vhagar; and Daemon Targaryen’s Caraxes. Balerion the Black Dread is dead, while the Old King’s Vermithor and his Queen Alysanne’s Silverwing are riderless on the Dragonmont.

Once Viserys ascended the throne, House Targaryen embraced the convention of placing dragon eggs in the cradles of newborn Targaryens. Viserys remarried Lady Alicent Hightower, and they had three children, per House of the Dragon canon. Their firstborn, Aegon, claimed Sunfyre. Helaena bonded with Dreamfyre, and Aemond claimed Vhagar following Laena Velaryon’s funeral at Driftmark.

Rhaenyra’s three boys from Laenor Velaryon (Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey) were given dragon eggs which hatched into Vermax, Arrax, and Tyraxes, respectively. Queen Alicent’s rumor mill went overdrive to cast doubts on the boys’ Targaryen-Velaryon heritage, but Rhaenyra’s sons bonded with the hatchlings. The late Ser Harwin Strong is the real father of Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey, but the boys are just as Targaryen as Alicent’s children.

Princess Rhaenyra also bears her husband-uncle, Daemon Targaryen, two sons: Aegon the Younger, and Viserys. Dragon eggs are also placed in their cradles, as per the custom. Daemon also has two daughters, Lady Baela and Lady Rhaena, from his previous marriage to Laena Velaryon. Baela has the she-dragon Moondancer, but Rhaena remains without a dragon, per House of the Dragon.

In the thick of the war, Prince Aegon and Prince Viserys are shipped to Pentos to be fostered by a Pentoshi prince for their own good. The young Stormcloud accompanies Aegon, while Viserys carries his dragon egg aboard the Gay Abandon cog. The Triarchy warships, (on behalf of the Greens) attack them in the Gullet. While Aegon manages to escape on Stormcloud, Viserys is taken captive. This leads to the Battle of the Gullet, in which Jacaerys and Vermax perish.

The Bygone Age Of Dragons

Seasmoke and Vermithor in House of the Dragon.

Almost all adult dragons perish in the war between Rhaenyra and her half-brother, Aegon II. The only four that survive the Dance of the Dragons are Rhaena’s Morning (hatched in the Vale of Arryn), Silverwing, Sheepstealer, and the Cannibal. The wild Sheepstealer survives because he and his baseborn dragonrider, Nettles, escape the war scene sometime after the Fall of King’s Landing. The wild Cannibal remains riderless and unbothered until the end of his days. Among the Targaryen dragons, Silverwing takes no part in the Second Battle of Tumbleton but, becomes riderless after her rider, the Dragonseed Ulf the White, is poisoned. Silverwing lairs on an island in Red Lake, northwest of the Reach.

The last dragon dies in 153 AC during the rule of Aegon the Younger, formerly known as King Aegon III. This event is a stain on Aegon III’s name, and he is dubbed “Aegon the Dragonbane.” The Targaryens try to hatch dragon eggs under Aegon the Fifth, but the attempt goes haywire and results in the Tragedy at Summerhall.

Daenerys Targaryen Brings Back Dragons

Daenerys and Drogon in Game of Thrones.

The world hadn’t seen a dragon in centuries until my children were born.

The Mad King’s daughter, Daenerys Stormborn, brings back three dragons in Game of Thrones season 1, episode 10 “Fire and Blood.” She hatches three petrified dragon eggs at the Red Waste and names her hatchlings Drogon, Viserion, and Rhaegal. She takes her dragons to conquests in faraway lands and eventually brings them to Westeros.

Their fates, though, are far from ideal. Viserion dies beyond the Wall at the hands of the Night King. The Night King mounts the undead Viserion in the Battle of Winterfell, and he drops dead when Arya Stark kills the Night King using the Valyrian steel dagger. Rhaegal is killed by a Scorpion bolt, and finally, Drogon flies off with Daenerys’ corpse following the Battle of King’s Landing.

The second Long Night ended only because of the Targaryens (Daenerys and Jon Snow) and their dragons. The rest had lost the plot early on, thanks to their squabbles and the inability to perceive the threat of the Dead.

House of the Dragon season 2 premiers on HBO in June 2024.

House of the Dragon-1


House Of The Dragon: Every Dragon Who Survives The Dance Of The Dragons

Here’s everything you need to know about the dragons that survive the Dance of the Dragons.