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Who is the Mad King in House of the Dragon? Everything you need to know about Aerys Targaryen



Credits: HBO

In Game of Thrones, we are introduced to the cruel Mad King who wreaked havoc across Westeros. Robert Baratheon and Eddard Stark join forces to dethrone the last Targaryen king. This move eventually puts into motion a series of events that lead to Daenerys Targaryen marching on Westeros and claiming her birthright. However, the central question is who is the Mad King? And how is he so important to the story of both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon? Read on to get all the answers.

Quick answer: Mad King is Aerys Targaryen, who has been seen through visions in Game of Thrones. We’re unlikely to see him in House of the Dragon because it’s set 150 years in the past, but it’s possible we see him towards the end of the show.

📜Quick Details:

Prince of Dragonstone
King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men
Lord of the Seven Kingdoms
Protector of the Realm

Aliases: Mad King

Born: 244 AC

Died: 283 AC

House: Targaryen

Culture: Valyrian

House Targaryen

Prince Jaeherys

Princess Shaera

Spouse: Rhaella Targaryen

Rhaegar Targaryen
Shaena Targaryen
Daeron Targaryen
Stillborn child
Aegon Targaryen
Jaehaerys Targaryen
Viserys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen

Played by:
David Rintoul

Also Read: All the characters in House of the Dragon, explained

Who is the Mad King?


Credits: HBO

While popularly known as the Mad King, his real name is Aerys Targaryen. He becomes the last Targaryen to sit on the Iron Throne after his descent into madness makes him unfit to rule. After being king for 19 years, Aerys was dethroned by rebel forces who could not see Westeros in peril. Aerys earned the nickname Mad King due to his erratic behavior where he shouted in the middle of council meetings and experienced fits of rage.

People posit Aerys to be the villain of the story since he wanted to destroy King’s Landing and Westeros. Despite being a charming king in the beginning, he is slowly driven mad after a series of events that jumble his thoughts.

How does Aerys go mad?

The first tragedy strikes when the entire Targaryen dynasty dies after an attack at Summerhall. The weight of carrying his family’s legacy and representing the Targaryen name is a heavy burden. His reign started with a bad omen.

The sadness didn’t end there. Aerys and his sister-wife Rhaella faced miscarriages and stillbirths. That also explains the age gap between Rhagar and his younger siblings Viserys and Daenerys. The king had to suffer through various losses and deaths, a factor undeniably contributing to his deteriorating mental state.

The last straw broke when he was deviously imprisoned by the Lord of Duskendale. His people were able to free him after six months of prolonged torture and loneliness. Such an event can drive the most sane person mad. This betrayal led him to grow increasingly paranoid. Aerys could not trust his own family, let alone the Small Council.

Gradually, his obsession with green wildfire grew. We’re well familiar with the power of wildfire as Cersei used Aerys’s stores to destroy the High Septon. Aerys became the Mad King after he wished to spread wildfire across King’s Landing and burn the place to the ground. Suspicion and paranoia become the end of him soon after his ability to think rationally runs out.

Also Read: Everything we know about Ulf White

How did the Mad King die?


Credits: HBO

In the last few years of Aerys’s reign, he suspected threats from every corner of the kingdom. He thought his son Rhagar would overthrow him to take the throne for himself. His suspicions towards Tywin were not misplaced as he was planning on rebelling and stealing the throne to further his agenda for his House.

Moreover, Aerys’s obsession with burning the place also manifested from his need to not give up the throne. If he could not sit on the Iron Throne, nobody else could either. This is the striking similarity where life comes full circle for Daenerys as we see her do exactly the same before Jon Snow assassinates her. Consequently, she is portrayed as a Mad Queen, first by the Lannisters and then by her own actions.

Another theory posits that as a king, Aerys was aware of the prophecy that plagued the rules of Westeros and a story passed down the ruling generations of the Targaryen family. Thus, his obsession with wildfire becomes rational in retrospect since people can defeat White Walkers only through fire.

Ultimately, the Mad King’s rule could not be endured any longer. Tywin Lannister, Eddard Stark, and Robert Baratheon join forces to take Aerys down. Jaime Lannister, the Commander of the City Watch, stabs Aerys in the back and kills him in the Throne Room. Thus, gaining the title Kingslayer. The Lannisters spread the news that it was crucial to end Aerys’s murderous reign and protect the realm from his cruelty.

Aerys in the Targaryen Family Tree

Mad King's daughter Daenerys

Credits: HBO

Aerys is the sixth great-grandchild of Rhaenyra from House of the Dragon. He is the son of Prince Jaeherys and Princess Shaera.

Aerys Targaryen aka the Mad King is Daenerys’s father. His death is the reason that prompts her to march westward and take the throne back as her birthright. Aerys’s death marks the end of the Targaryen dynasty’s three-hundred-year-long rule over the Seven Kingdoms.

Aerys Targaryen is Jon Snow’s grandfather. Initially assumed to be the bastard son of Eddard Stark, we soon learn Snow’s true ancestry. Rhagar and Lyanna Stark elope and get married in secret. Subsequently, Lyanna gives birth to their legitimate son Jon Snow or Aegon Targaryen.

Also Read: Who is Rhaenyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon?

Mad King in Game of Thrones


Credits: HBO

Even though the Mad King is mentioned several times in Game of Thrones, he is rarely seen on screen. Aerys appears in an episode titled Blood of My Blood in season 6 of the show. Bran sees a vision in which Aerys, in the last few days of his life, is at the lowest moment in his sanity. Subsequently, Bran witnesses Jaime stabbing Aerys and putting an end to his insanity.

Moreover, the Mad King’s rule is shown as proof of the end of Targaryen’s rule as the Lannisters use his cruelty to turn the masses against Daenerys who tries her best to be stable and calm. His mention by other characters evokes an image of utter cruelty that does everything out of sheer murderous intent.

Will we see the Mad King in House of the Dragon?

Credits: HBO

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House of the Dragon is set more than 150 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Therefore, it seems unlikely for us to see anyone featured in Game of Thrones make an appearance in House of the Dragon. The prequel series focuses on the Dance of the Dragons, a turning point in the Targaryen dynasty that took in-fighting for the throne to a whole other level. If the show decides to pivot after the main conflict and include more events from the future, only then we might see Aerys in the show.

Also Read: Everything you need to know about Tyland Lannister in House of the Dragon


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Vidhi has been an entertainment writer for the past 4 years. She has a knack for identifying subtleties and intricacies of movies and television shows that can add a new dimension to her content. Having watched Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon countless times, she knows most details by heart and thrives in trivia contests related to the same!