House Targaryen is the most mysterious and elusive of the Game of Thrones houses. They stand apart from everyone else in appearance (their silver hair and violet eyes), in mythology (their legendary ties with dragons), in personality (with their propensity for madness), in tragic history (their dramatic rise and fall) in badass slogans (fire and blood), and in numbers (they’re almost extinct, with Daenerys being the last known Targaryen). But that last part is almost certainly not as accurate as we think. Though their numbers are certainly diminished below that of other houses, there are more Targaryens out there than many would believe. Here’s a roundup of all the Targaryens we’ve encountered — both confirmed and speculated.
1. Aerys II, aka The Mad King
Though we never meet The Mad King onscreen, he’s discussed enough that his absence on the show has been its own kind of presence. Daenerys’s father is the reason Jaime Lannister is The Kingslayer, he’s the reason Daenerys has grown up in Essos in the first place — and for better or worse, he’s the reason the Baratheons now theoretically claim the throne. For an unseen character, he’s certainly driven a great deal of the narrative.
Daenerys’s douchelord brother only lasted six episodes and is remembered for his uniquely gruesome death. He had the imperious and entitled Targaryen attitude with none of the balls to follow through. And in the end, he didn’t have enough Targaryen fire in his blood to withstand the heat of molten gold.
Daenerys is a true Targaryen: She’s got dragons, fire in her veins, she’s imperious, and sometimes a little mad. Odds are she’ll come out on top in the end, but because this is Game of Thrones, it’s equally likely that she’ll be her own downfall.
4. Maester Aemon
Maester Aemon was Daenerys’s great uncle most of Westeros forget about, since he shirked the political game in favor of The Wall, and swearing in to The Night’s Watch meant dropping his surname. He bonded with Jon (hmmm) and died in Season 5, but not before waxing poetic about the tragedy of a Targaryen alone in the world to Jon (hmmm) and making references to George R.R. Martin’s Dunk & Egg novellas.
Like The Mad King, we haven’t met Danerys’s deceased older brother onscreen yet — though that might change in Bran’s storyline this season — but he’s had a major lasting impact on much of the story. When he fell in love with Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark, abducted her, and either raped or had a consensual affair with her (depending on which version of the story you hear), he sparked Robert’s Rebellion. His dalliance with Lyanna might have also led to Jon Snow’s birth, but more on that in a bit.
6. The Three-eyed Raven
Bran Stark followed the Three-eyed Raven for several seasons before finally encountering his human form at the end of Season 4. Though that storyline was benched in Season 5, it will return in Season 6 in a major way, as the Three-eyed Raven guides Bran through visions of Westeros’s past and future. Before he became the Three-eyed raven, the man was known as Brynden Rivers, the bastard of Aegon IV Targaryen and a Lord Commander of The Night’s Watch. Rivers took his half-sister Shiera Seastar as his mistress — more on that in a bit, as she might be Melisandre — and mysteriously disappeared on ranger expedition beyond The Wall before Bran encounters him alive as the Three-eyed raven.
As we mentioned above, the longstanding theory is that Jon is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, a fact the Three-eyed Raven will reveal through Bran’s visions this season. This would give Jon a claim to the throne, and it makes sense, then, why Ned Stark would keep Jon’s parentage a secret from even his own wife. Of course, it would be pointless to reveal more information about Jon’s past if he stays dead. But that’s where Melisandre’s magic powers come in.
House Targaryens might be the most elusive, but it’s far from extinct. There might be more secret Targaryens revealed as the story continues. Just as Game of Thrones is about to get an influx of Red Priests, there’s a storm of secret Targaryens around every corner. The house might be poised for a comeback or will go out for good in a spectacular blaze — either way, it will be a spectacle worth watching.