A picture of older Prince Aemond Targaryen, as he will appear during the Dance of the Dragons in House of the Dragon

Aemond Targaryen is Becoming one of the Most Popular Characters on ‘House of the Dragon’ and I am Here for it

Mommy's little war criminal

The last episodes of House of the Dragon — past the second major time skip that has happened in the series — have shown us that there might be a hot new bombshell competing with Daemon Targaryen for the title of “messiest bitch in Westeros.” That new contender is none other than Daemon’s certified number one stan, Aemond Targaryen—and what can I say but I love him.

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If you thought you liked Matt Smith’s Daemon Targaryen, king of committing heinous crimes every single time he’s on screen, then think again. You’ll never love one of the most complex Targaryen characters ever created—George R.R. Martin’s own words—more than his nephew Aemond (Ewan Mitchell), who clearly has portraits of Daemon all up in his room in the Red Keep and vibrates at a frequency that could shatter glass whenever he’s close to him.

We have had the chance to see a couple of interactions between the two in Episode 8: their staring contest at the Targaryen family dinner being the most important of them all, filled with anticipations on what might come in future seasons of House of the Dragon. I don’t want to spoil too much, but those who have read Fire & Blood know what’s in store for both once the Dance of the Dragons really gets underway.

Daemon and Aemond are, after all, narrative mirrors of each other. Both the second son, plagued with feelings of resentment towards their older brothers; both think they would make better rulers than said older brothers, even though everyone around them finds that claim questionable at the very least; both are skilled dragonknights and fearsome warriors; both aren’t beyond some murdering and maiming to get to their goals; both care a bit too much for their family members, namely Rhaenyra and Helaena. Even their names are similar, marked only by the different placement of the “D”— if that isn’t a textbook example of being narrative mirrors then I don’t know what is!

Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon
The dragon must have three heads and those three heads better always be the most unhinged they can be (HBO)

Besides, both of them have now also risen to the ranks of “Internet Boyfriend du jour,” as Tweets and TikToks and comments all throughout the web confirm— to the surprise of absolutely no one, I should say:

It’s not just his membership in the Daemon Targaryen fan club that makes Viserys and Alicent’s secondborn that interesting, though. The fact that he’s bonded to the biggest dragon alive and that he claimed Vhagar pretty much through sheer willpower definitely lets us know that there will be many massive—and probably criminal—events coming for him and from him throughout the Dance.

Aemond’s completely feral discipline when it comes to fighting and the way he moves with what seems like barely contained rage that is constantly on the brink of exploding—you just know there’s gotta be a release sooner or later and it’s probably going to be a nuclear one. Even his physical appearance is intriguing, with the eye patch and the angular lines of his face. At least for me, Aemond steals every scene he’s in. Or maybe is just that I love my problematic faves. The more unhinged a character is, the more I pick them up and put them in my pocket, from where they leave to go do their horrible deeds—which I will watch with an extremely entertained look on my face. 

Because that’s what I want from characters in the media I watch: to be entertained. And if a show is about dragon-riding nobles and princes and kings with terrible impulse control and a history of inbreeding that makes them all always an inch away from incinerating everything and everyone around them, then that’s exactly what I want—moments of humanity mixed with moments of absolute monstrosity, general unhingedness and a whole lot of drama.

This is also a good moment as any to say once more than enjoying a morally deplorable fictional character—emphasis on the “fictional,” because media portraits of actual real-life people are a whole other bag entirely—and making memes and fancams about them isn’t the same as endorsing what they are doing on the screen. And it’s also not an indicator of the fan’s own moral compass. 

This is, after all, a fictional story about fictional people in a fictional world where dragons are real. So let’s all enjoy Aemond “Mommy’s Little War Criminal” Targaryen without thinking that we’re horrible people for doing so.

(image: HBO)

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.