Members of the family of Rhaenyra and Daemon Targaryen stand together

Who Sits on the Iron Throne After the Dance? The Answer Might Not Be the Gotcha Moment Some Fans Think It Is

Time for some Westerosi History 101.

The second season of House of the Dragon is finally almost upon us and the fandom—which is notoriously sizzling, even for fandom standards—has been working itself into a frenzy anticipating its release.

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Still, as we wait through the final days before we are all thrown back into the Dance of the Dragons, you might want to take a moment away from the fandom debates to refresh some important bits and pieces of lore—namely, who exactly ends up sitting on the Iron Throne after the Dance ends.

Spoilers ahead for the entirety of Fire and Blood and future events of the Dance of the Dragons, including its ending. Proceed at your own risk.

Who sits on the Iron Throne after the Dance of the Dragons?

The Dance is a brutal and bloody affair, but also a short one. According to Fire and Blood—George R.R. Martin’s book that presents itself as an in-universe chronicle of the reign of House Targaryen and the main source of material for the show—it lasts merely three years, from 129 AC to 131 AC.

Still, in that very short period of time, House Targaryen manages to pretty much obliterate itself into oblivion. Of the thirteen dragonriders alive at the start of it—keeping with the canon of the show and counting only those actually related to House Targaryen—only five are left by the time the Dance ends. That’s Baela and Rhaena Targaryen, the twin daughters of Prince Daemon with Lady Laena Velaryon; little Jaehaera Targaryen, the only surviving child of Aegon II and Queen Helaena; and Aegon and Viserys Targaryen, the youngest children of Queen Rhaenyra and Prince Daemon.

Considering Viserys is actually presumed dead for quite some time after the end of the civil war, it should come as no surprise that the lords of the realm decide that it should be little Aegon to ascend to everyone’s favorite spiky chair. After all, the Dance did start because a King had tried to put his daughter on the Throne and no one was eager to have it all start right back again.

Aegon Targaryen The Younger in season one of House of the Dragon
So far, we’ve only seen little Aegon—known as Aegon the Younger—a handful of times (Max)

So ten-year-old Aegon is crowned Aegon III, marrying his equally young cousin Jaehaera in an attempt from his regents to mend the feud between the Blacks and the Greens. His two male descendants—which he will go on to have with his second wife, Queen Daenaera Velaryon, at least according to book canon—both sit on the Iron Throne to not that great of a success and then the crown lands on top of Aegon’s by then returned brother Viserys. 

Viserys II will go on to father the infamous Aegon IV the Unworthy—whose name should help you understand just what kind of person he is—who will be succeeded by a series of rulers who go all the way to Mad King Aerys II and his daughter, Queen Daenerys Targaryen, the Mother of Dragons. 

So that’s a victory for Team Black, right?

That it’s ultimately Rhaenyra’s line that continues throughout House Targaryen has been counted time and time again as a victory of Team Black. Sure, Rhaenyra and Daemon both perish during the Dance but their descendants continue on. And while that’s certainly true, I always feel like using this fact as a sort of gotcha moment misunderstands the point of the Dance.

That’s because granted, the Dance’s reason to be in-universe is very much who gets to sit on the Iron Throne. But we should look at it from an outside perspective as well—since none of us are actual Westerosi lords and ladies trying to decide in favor of whom to raise our banners—and understand its narrative meaning. And that’s definitely not who of these two absolute monarchs gets to rule.

The point is that the devastating misogyny that has Westerosi society in its clutches—because I will always maintain that the true god of the Seven Kingdoms is the patriarchy, of which feudalism and absolute monarchy are very much an emanation—prevented a woman from stepping into a role that should have been rightfully hers. And yet that role was horrible because the Targaryens have always been a symbol for the cursed nature of absolute monarchies, doomed by the narrative just like Valyria was by the actual Doom.

Viserys and Daemon Targaryen have their weekly family therapy session in front of the Iron Throne in House of the Dragon
Martin might indulge in violence but he’s definitely not writing an apology for absolute monarchy (Max)

The story of the Dance is a story of a family so desperately clawing for power that it ends up destroying itself, obliterating most of its members and also the great beasts that were their greatest asset. Sure, Aegon III is king—but he’s known as the Dragonsbane and the Unhappy, a traumatized boy who saw almost his entire family killed. He’s married to a little girl who witnessed the horrible murder of her twin brother. There are no more dragons, and in fact Aegon is terrified of them. Their House will never reach the splendor it once had. And that’s the true point of the Dance—not who ends up winning, but the terrible cost that hunger for power inevitably has.

Sure, it’s grimdark. But then again, this is the grimdark dragon show.

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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.