Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in the final season of 'Game of Thrones.'
Source: HBO

An Incestuous Family Tree Reveals How Daenerys Is Related to the Mad King

Allison DeGrushe - Author
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Aug. 29 2022, Published 2:53 p.m. ET

Although our new favorite show, HBO's House of the Dragon, offers us a closer look into the infamous Targaryen dynasty (alongside more familial drama and dragons than ever before), all we can currently think about is Daenerys Targaryen.

The beloved Mother of Dragons is one of the most remarkable characters to ever grace the small screen, with many fans appreciating her more as of late via tributes that regard her as the reason for the idolization of House Targaryen.

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Even though Daenerys won't appear in House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel honors her and King Aerys II Targaryen, aka the "Mad King," in the series premiere. It's rather interesting that the show pays homage to these two specifically — what is it about them?

Better yet, how is Daenerys related to the Mad King? Keep reading to find out.

King Aerys II Targaryen, aka "the Mad King," in 'Game of Thrones.'
Source: HBO

King Aerys II Targaryen, aka "the Mad King," as seen in 'Game of Thrones.'

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How is Daenerys related to the "Mad King"?

As it turns out, the Mad King is Daenerys's father. If you were unaware of this prior to the series premiere of House of the Dragon, the episode confirmed their connection within the first five minutes by declaring the show takes place "172 years before the death of the Mad King, Aerys, and the birth of his daughter, Princess Daenerys Targaryen."

The Mad King and his sister, Queen Rhaella Targaryen — House Targaryen is famous for incestuous relationships — had three children together: Prince Rhaegar, Prince Viserys, and Princess Daenerys. Unfortunately for Daenerys, the only family she's ever known is Viserys; the Mad King and Rhaegar were killed during Robert's Rebellion, and her mother died in childbirth.

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'House of the Dragon' is set 172 years before the death of the Mad King and the birth of his daughter, Daenerys Targaryen.
Source: HBO

'House of the Dragon' is set 172 years before the death of the Mad King and the birth of his daughter, Daenerys Targaryen.

King Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the Mad King, is the 17th and final Targaryen to sit on the Iron Throne. His reign as Lord of the Seven Kingdoms began marvelously, with Aerys II known to be a compassionate and beloved king.

However, he eventually surrendered to paranoia and went mad after several miscarriages, stillbirths, and the death of three sons, not to mention the revolt known as the Defiance of Duskendale, in which an unruly lord held Aerys II captive for half a year.

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The final season of 'Game of Thrones' attempted to make Dany the "Mad Queen."

Let's face it — the final season of Game of Thrones remains a total disappointment.

By the end of the fantasy drama series, the writers turned Daenerys into the "Mad Queen," and fans were undoubtedly infuriated as there was hardly any justification for her shift in attitude. Nearly three years later, the decision remains controversial since fans believe Dany's character arc was discarded in order for the writers to argue she was always meant to go mad like her father.

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 8 of 'Game of Thrones.'
Source: HBO

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Season 8 of 'Game of Thrones.'

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"It's kind of a pet peeve of mine when people compare Dany with Aerys, because it kinda tosses her entire story in the trash and reduces her character to just 'destined to be crazy 'cause genetics,'" one Redditor shared. "I just don't think that's the kind of thing [author George R.R. Martin] would be inclined to write about, especially for that prominent of a character."

Another fan on Twitter wrote, "Daenerys Targaryen was THE best character in Game of Thrones with such great character development acquired through trials each bigger than the last. The way the writers took such a strong, assertive, incredible woman and turned her into nothing but a mad queen baffles me." Ugh — preach!

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