Which House Of The Dragon Character Is The Most Miserable? An Investigation

This post contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon."

No one is Westeros is having a good time. Even Prince Aegon Targaryen (Ty Tennant) is unable to masturbate out his castle window in peace. The pressures of the realm, family, duty, society, the body, and petty jealousy weigh down on every single person at King's Landing and beyond. The 10 year time jump between episodes five and six of "House of the Dragon" may have changed some actors and looks for the characters, but the unpleasantness of life is still as present as ever. With this being a story that comes from George R.R. Martin, I don't expect much light to enter their lives anytime soon. He isn't one for fun parties and happy endings.

Determining who is exactly having the toughest go of it in "House of the Dragon" presents some interesting questions. One's misery is not just determined by what happens to them, but also by how they respond, and every character on this show finds their own place on the misery spectrum. These characters go through unimaginable horrors, but some of them have the will and fortitude to maneuver through their pain and anguish. Some of them, most certainly, do not, and their life is spent wasting away. Every episode inflicts new traumas on each of the characters. Let's look at some of the major players in this Dance of Dragons and see which one's are able to handle the turmoil in their lives and which are buried underneath it.

Is anyone actually happy?

I would argue that only two characters in "House of the Dragon" are generally at peace with their station in life. This is thanks to either them being extremely sinister or extremely naïve. Let's start with the sinister. Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) emerges in episode six as Queen Alicent's (Olivia Cooke) personal confidant/psychopath. He loves being useful through his ability to gather the secrets of all the wheelings and dealings in King's Landing, and he is all too eager to quickly hatch a plot to murder people. Not just any people, mind you, but his own father and brother. There's no equivocation of hesitation about it either. Larys isn't miserable because he has no conscience to feel bad about what he has done.

On the other side is Alicent's daughter Princess Helaena Targaryen (Evie Allen). She is just a kid who is currently in that phase where she is super into bugs. I hope she manages to retain this level of purity forever and becomes the crown's resident entomologist. Her misery is probably around the corner, but we aren't there yet. Let someone live a nice life!

The children of Westeros

Episode six introduces us to a whole crop of child characters. First we have the Princes Jacaerys and Lucerys, sons of Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) and Laenor (John Macmillan), though their actual father is Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr). They must live as though their real father doesn't act like he is their real father, due to them being born out of wedlock and thus disgracing Rhaenyra's reputation. However, everyone knows they are Ser Harwin's sons, and they will always be looked at as illegitimate heirs. They also most endure neglect and abuse at the hands of their fighting instructor Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) because of his hatred of their mother. They theoretically could not be born into a better situation, but their lives will never be as smooth as they should be at no fault of their own.

Then we have Alicent and King Viserys' (Paddy Considine) sons, the Princes Aegon and Aemond. Aegon is a teenager and a horndog who clearly has absolutely no interest in becoming king. All he wants to do is crank it out an open window and gawk at the pretty ladies of the kingdom, but his paranoid mother will not budge from only seeing him as a challenger to Rhaenyra's claim to the throne. Meanwhile, Aemond is the victim of bullying by all the King's Landing sons due to not having a dragon.

Then there's Daemon (Matt Smith) and Laena's (Nanna Blondell) daughters, Baela (Bethan Antonia) and Rhaena (Phoebe Campbell). Like Prince Aemond, Lady Rhaena also does not have a dragon, but her disappointment only manifests from within herself, not from others. However, her and Baela also now have a dead mother and a father who probably isn't the most present. Their misery is only just beginning.

A bitter pair

The two angriest characters in "House of the Dragon" have found each other. Queen Alicent has been completely poisoned by the words of her father and former Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans). She never has a moment in her life where she isn't thinking somebody is out to screw her over. Her father convinced her that because Rhaenyra is a woman and won't be accepted by Westeros as the next ruler of the kingdom, she'll be out for blood to make sure no challengers to her claim will stand in her way. This includes Alicent's children. Over the last decade, she now believes that everyone in the kingdom is out to get her, and that is psychologically breaking her down to the bone. The innocent, scared waif from the first couple episodes is no more, and Alicent is now a power-hungry, resentful power player.

It doesn't help that her closest confidant is Ser Criston Cole, who is Rhaenyra's spurned former lover. He has become a vessel for petty rage and revenge, taking out his hatred of Rhaenyra on her children and spewing any venom he can behind closed doors with the Queen. Criston Cole can't get over his ex, and time has done nothing but to amplify his psychotic obsessions over getting dumped. A once noble knight is now a frightening incel with a sword. The two share in their disdain for the Princess, and their talks become a circular echo chamber of hatred and paranoia. If they were around today, we'd tell them to go to therapy to help get over their issues. Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of Westerosi shrinks walking around. So, the two of them stew in their own distorted reality of misery, unable to get out.

The traveling Targaryens

Things seemed to be looking up for Daemon Targaryen in episode six. He had been married to Laena Velaryon, a strong woman willing to go head-to-head with her husband, and he actually has two daughters in Baela and Rhaena. Though he may give slightly more attention to Baela because she is a dragon rider, there was a surprising warmth in him as a father that runs counter to his rough demeanor in the previous five episodes, which included murdering his first wife. Daemon seems to have found a life that kind of suits him, where he isn't tied to a home or any royal duties whatsoever. He can fly his dragons, eat good food, and have a family he actually likes. This was something Laena pushed back against, but there is some hope that a compromise can be reached.

Well, considering the end of the episode features Laena choosing to die by dragon fire after a probably fatal birth, Daemon is brought back to a place without a grounding force. He may have liked his fatherly duties thus far, but do you trust this man as a single father of two girls? This could send him spiraling back to his depraved ways of the first half of the season, but this time, he would have children as collateral damage in his wake. Daemon looked like he was pulling himself out of a life of misery that caused everything from exile from by his brother to frequent bouts of erectile dysfunction, but a retreat back to that may be in his future. For Daemon, it's a wait-and-see on just how miserable he becomes.

An undermined princess

Alicent may think the world is against her, but you could actually argue that is true for Rhaenyra. This is someone who has been named by her father to be the heir to the Iron Throne, yet no one, including herself, believes that transition of power will not be undermined at every possible step. After all, a woman in charge of Westeros is unheard of. There is precedent for her to be wary of her future. Meanwhile, her words at the Small Council are frequently dismissed and ignored. Politically, she is clinging to as much air as she can.

On a personal level, she is married to a gay man, and she is completely unable to show true affection for the man she does care about in Ser Harwin Strong, who is also the father of her children, as they aren't married. Also, she has to say goodbye to him for what she hopes isn't the last time, but he ends up murdered shortly after. In a smart move for her sanity (though it will most certainly backfire politically), she decides to step back from all the pressures and make her home in Dragonstone. She is able to recognize the misery in her life and actively decides to make a change about it, a rarity for the characters in this show who more often than not stew in their own agony. I admire that about Rhaenyra. She recognizes that there are ways to possibly ease her burdens. Out of all the characters, she probably has the most right to be miserable, but it won't overtake her.

The king of misery

I honestly cannot believe that King Viserys made it past the 10 year time jump after episode five. When he collapsed during Rhaenyra and Laenor's wedding, I thought that was it for the king whose body had been crumbling since the first episode of the show. To my surprise, he shuffles his way into his wife's chambers, missing his left arm and looking like a man in need of the sweet relief of death. This is a man who effectively murdered his first wife, has no strong leadership skills as a king, and whose body actively fights against him on a daily basis. Alicent has essentially taken over the duties of ruling the kingdom, and by this point, he is a bag of bones needed to be pushed around.

King Viserys is racked by guilt, shame, and pain, and there is not a second that goes by where you don't see it plastered across Paddy Considine's face. Even when he smiles at something amusing, you can see that he's trying to use those smiles to momentarily mask that agony. His weak will as a king manifests itself in how he handles that pain. All he can do is sit back and let it consume his every waking (and probably sleeping) minute. You know the old saying, "Put him out of his misery?" That's reserved for the folks suffering so much that death is just a few moments away and nothing can be done to stop it. Someone could say that to Viserys, and it would not be surprising. For as miserable as nearly every character on "House of the Dragon" is, I don't think anyone can hold a candle to King Viserys.