Did House of the Dragon Break a Big Spinoff Rule With Its Opening Theme?

The title sequence for HBO's House of the Dragon has an unexpected opening theme that Game of Thrones fans will recognize.

Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock) arrives on Dragonstone in House of the Dragon episode 2
Photo: Ollie Upton | HBO

House of the Dragon fans have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the series’ title sequence and theme after the season premiered sans the epic opening that the show’s predecessor was known for. According to showrunners Ryan Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, the goals for the opening moments of House of the Dragon’s first episode were to set up the time period and the era of Westeros we are diving into. 

The pair told CNET that after the Harrenhal sequence where we see Viserys Targaryen named the successor to King Jaehaerys, “[i]t seemed important that once the curtain went up, so to speak, having a title sequence felt like an indulgence. We wanted to get on and tell the story.”

This is why we only see a brief golden dragon symbol on a black background as the score transitions and the story moves forward nine years into Viserys’ reign. Episode 2 “The Rogue Prince,” however, returns to form with the debut of the opening title sequence for House of the Dragon.

The title sequence for House of the Dragon depicts the Targaryen family tree, starting with the doom of Valyria and Aegon the Conqueror. As the opening progresses, a deep red liquid flows between symbols that represent subsequent members of the Targaryen family. Since the Targaryen words are “Fire and Blood,” and so much of the series is focused on the importance of legacy, bloodlines, succession, and family ties, it’s not surprising that the opening shows literal blood flowing through its artwork. It also foreshadows the bloody civil war that will eventually lead to the downfall of the Targaryen dynasty.

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While the title sequence itself is different from Game of Thrones’ – it focuses on the Targaryens rather than serving as an expository map of Westeros – the opening theme is exactly the same. In an interview with EW, composer Ramin Djawadi, who also scored Game of Thrones, says that he wanted to  “keep the DNA alive for House of the Dragon from the original show.” That is understandable given that these shows take place in the same world, albeit 200 years apart, but even though the Game of Thrones theme is epic (and surprisingly catchy despite its lack of lyrics), reusing the same song for House of the Dragon’s title sequence was kind of a disappointing reveal for those of us who were expecting something different. 

Given the backlash surrounding the final season of Game of Thrones, it seems odd to carry over such a memorable part of the series to House of the Dragon. Even with new visuals in the title sequence, that theme has been tied to Game of Thrones, and any emotions that come with that series, for over a decade.

Djawadi further elaborated to EW that he has written new themes for the series, so it seems like a missed opportunity not to introduce these new thematic elements in the title sequence and opting to instead reuse something so many are familiar with. While it is nice to have a familiar tune to bring us back to the world of Westeros every week, House of the Dragon deserves its own opening theme that’s just as epic and memorable.

New episodes of House of the Dragon premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO and HBO Max in the U.S. and Sky Atlantic in the U.K.