The Targaryen Family Tree On House Of The Dragon Is A Confusing Mess, And That's Perfect

This article contains spoilers for "House of the Dragon" episode 8. 

There is no drama like family drama, and the Targaryens are one seriously messy family. While "Game of Thrones" followed more than a half-dozen houses in depth, "House of the Dragon" is only concerned with one. House Targaryen began its rule in Westeros with Aegon I, known as Aegon the Conqueror, but in the decades since his death, the family has grown larger, more intertwined, and much more chaotic. It can be challenging to remember how everyone is related and the implications behind those various relations, but that's all a part of the fun. It's "Succession" with swords and incest, so why not lean into the wicked weirdness of this sprawling clan?

While there is absolutely precedent in history for this kind of hilariously complicated royal family, it also makes for great television. There are plenty of players on the board and each can cause complications for the other. It's a tangled web of love, hate, loyalty, and deceit set in a beautiful court, like "The Tudors" with dragons, but it's also occasionally all-too-relatable to anyone who's ever been to a tricky Thanksgiving or rough family reunion. 

Bad blood

Like its fellow HBO hit "Succession" or the eternally-relevant Shakespeare play "King Lear," the problem at the center of "House of the Dragon" is a matter of succession. Everyone wants to claim power from the aging and sickly patriarch, who in this case is Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine). He made his firstborn daughter Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy) his heir, while his children by his second wife, Alicent (Olivia Cooke) are essentially ignored. Add in the fact Rhaenyra's children caused Alicent's son Aemond to lose an eye, and House Verlaryon believes that Rhaenyra and Daemon (Matt Smith) helped kill Rhaenyra's first husband, Laenor Velaryon, and you've got the potential for one absolutely brutal family dinner

In episode 8, "The Lord of the Tides," the family feud moves towards all-out war as Viserys' health finally fails him. The family has grown since we last saw them at Driftmark, and Daemon and Rhaenyra even have twin sons to show off with their bright-white hair. People may be able to argue the heritage of her older sons, but there's no denying that these babies are pure Targaryen. She even named them Aegon and Viserys, because there aren't enough of those running around, apparently. 

Battles over bastards

There has been a lot of fighting in "House of the Dragon" over the legitimacy of Rhaenyra's three eldest sons, as they look nothing like their father Laenor and look an awful lot like the late Ser Harwin Strong. Aemond lost an eye for calling them bastards, and Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) lost most of his head. There are still plenty of blond-haired brats to battle one another, and they're all getting to the age now where they can have their own horrible little children. It's no wonder that a civil war will soon wipe many of them out, and that in the end the Targaryen dynasty will be reduced to a couple of wandering outcasts within just a few centuries. 

I come from a massive Irish Catholic family, the kind that has to rent out an entire county fairground and several hotels for a reunion. While no one's gotten their head cut off at a family event just yet, the snide barbs between the cousins at the dinner table were surprisingly familiar. Sure, none of my cousins were destined to marry one another, but they are always eager to throw one another to the wolves if it means a chance at attention from the adults present. It's strange to find much of anything on "House of the Dragon" relatable, but the chaos of a massive, messy family is all too real. 

A huge clan means more weirdos!

To keep viewers from getting too confused, the folks at HBO created an interactive family tree for the Targaryens on "House of the Dragon," but don't expect it to get any less confusing. After all, Rhaenyra just betrothed her eldest two sons to the daughters of her current husband-uncle Daemon. If her sons were actually Laenor's, it would be even weirder because Daemon's daughters are by Laena, Laenor's sister, but it's probably just easiest to accept that this family tree is more of a telephone pole and carry on. 

All of this bad behavior and insane inbreeding means that the potential for wild card characters grows exponentially. When Targaryens are born, they say the gods flip a coin and the child is given brilliance or madness, and, well, there's a lot of madness going around in "House of the Dragon." Alicent's kids are totally bonkers villains, with Aegon the rapey alcoholic, Aemond the actual anime character, and Helaena the giggly bug girl. Aegon and Helaena are going to reproduce, y'all, and their kids will go on to make more Targaryens! Maybe it's a good thing they pretty much wiped each other out after all. 

New episodes of "House of the Dragon" premiere Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.