Vhagar Is the Real Star of House of the Dragon

The ancient dragon is having the time of her life on House of the Dragon - whether she knows what's happening or not.

Aemond Targaryen (Ewan Mitchell) on Vhagar.
Photo: Theo Whitman | HBO

This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 and the book Fire & Blood.

House of the Dragon season 2 episode 4 “The Red Dragon and the Gold” contains one of the most striking visuals within the entire Game of Thrones canon.

As Rhaenys (Eve Best) arrives on her dragon, Meleys, to the Battle at Rook’s Rest, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) triggers a signal of fiery arrows shot into the sky. We then see what appears to be a mossy hill in the woods outside the castle. Suddenly, however, the hill rises – betraying the fact that this isn’t merely part of the scenery but the massive form of the dragon Vhagar. That dragon’s rider, Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) spurs the beast into action and she takes off into the sky, ragged wings beating against the air. From the perspective of the tiny humans on the ground, it must look like a chunk of Westeros kicked itself loose and levitated into the heavens to enact fiery judgment upon them all.

Like the season 1 finale before it, this episode proves yet again how indispensable Vhagar is to House of the Dragon‘s storytelling mission. The ancient creature is a living reminder of House Targaryen’s past, a straight up menace in its present, and a scaly nuclear warhead that threatens the future. Forget Rhaenyra, Alicent, and Daemon – Vhagar is the star of this show.

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The Many Riders of Vhagar

Vhagar is old…like really old. If we don’t count the mystical weirwood trees that dot the North and the Riverlands, this dragon could very well be the oldest creature in the known world.

Vhagar was hatched on Dragonstone 52 years before Aegon I’s Conquest of Westeros. The first human being she bonded with was Visenya, Aegon the Conqueror’s older sister and wife. Along with Aegon, her sister-wife Rhaenys, and their dragons Balerion and Meraxes, Visenya and Vhagar helped conquer the Seven Kingdoms and forge them into one political entity.

Following Visenya’s death in 44 AC (After Conquest), Vhagar refused all other riders for 29 years. It wasn’t until the year 73 AC that King Jaehaerys I’s third son and eventual heir, Baelon the Brave, claimed Visenya’s old dragon. After Baelon died of a burst belly in 101 AC, Vhaegar would once again go riderless. Laena Velaryon eventually claimed her before she died in 120 AC. Finally, Prince Aemond claimed Vhagar shortly after Laena’s funeral. Even before Aemond was born, the dragon was already the last living creature from the era of Aegon’s Conquest. At the time of House of the Dragon season 2, she is around 180 years old.

Vhagar’s sheer longevity within the story allows for some truly heartbreaking dramatic irony. When Aemond instructs Vhagar to attack Rhaenys he is essentially ordering her to kill her former rider’s (Laena) mother. The fact that Vhagar obliges raises some fascinating questions as to how much agency dragons have or whether they really are simple animals, motivated only by fire and blood.

Vhagar’s advanced age has also led to an in-joke among fans that posits the dragon is experiencing a sort of draconic dementia. Perhaps “Meemaw Vhagar” isn’t familiar with the concept of Laena’s mother at all and believes she’s living out her glory years with Visenya, torching Dornishmen rather than her rider’s own kin. Regardless of Vhagar’s mental capacity, her utility as a destructive living artifact is consistently one of the show’s best features.

How Big is Vhagar Really?

Vhagar really is the queen of superlatives. In addition to being the oldest creature in the known world, she is also likeliest the biggest. According to House of the Dragon VFX supervisor Sven Martin, Vhagar is roughly 90 meters long with a wingspan of 150 meters, making her comfortably the biggest dragon in the Targaryen stable.

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She wasn’t always the biggest dragon though. During the time of the Conquest, Vhagar was believed to be the smallest of Aegon, Rhaenys, and Visenya’s dragons. Even at her largest during the Dance of the Dragons, she is described as only being close to Balerion’s size. That begs the question of how long do dragons actually grow? Per the maesters of Westeros: probably forever.

It is said that as long as a dragon has enough food and freedom, it will continue to grow indefinitely. Given that no one can confidently state the typical lifespan of a dragon (most die in battle), it’s possible that there have been dragons bigger than either Vhagar or Balerion, the latter of whom is one of the few dragons who appeared to die of old age at around 208 years old.

Vhagar Will Star in Another Game of Thrones Spinoff

Given that House of the Dragon picks up nearly 200 years before Game of Thrones, no character from the Dance of the Dragons era lives long enough to see the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. As we now know, however, dragons have a much longer lifespan than their human counterparts.

While all the dragons die out in the era between House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones, a recently announced spinoff will head even further back into the past where many dragons are alive and well…including our friend Vhagar. HBO has not yet officially order the untitled Aegon’s Conquest prequel but writer Mattson Tomlin has commenced work on the series and Dragon showrunner Ryan Condal has confirmed himself to be involved in an advisory capacity.

Once the Aegon the Conqueror prequel makes it to air, Vhagar will immediately make history as the first “character” to appear on two Game of Thrones series. More importantly: we’ll get to see the old girl in the prime of her life – bright eyed, wings intact, and ready to torch the world into submission.

New episodes of House of the Dragon season 2 premiere Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.

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