Movies & Television

Who was the Mad King in Game of Thrones and Why Did He Go Mad?

**Warning – Spoilers ahead for House of the Dragon**

Talk of the Mad King, first mentioned in Game of Thrones, surfaced during House of the Dragon’s debut and we recap who was the Mad King and why he went mad.

The prequel’s premiere is the event everyone is talking about to bring us into the Fall television series. Naturally, there are a few references from Episode 1 that need to be addressed.

Created by George R. R. Martin and Ryan J. Condal for HBO, House of the Dragon will serve as a prequel to Game of Thrones starring Paddy Considine, Emma D’Arcy, Matt Smith, Olivia Cooke, and more, following the beginning of the end for House Targaryen including the family’s war known as the Dance of Dragons.

House of the Dragon | Official Trailer

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House of the Dragon | Official Trailer
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Who was the Mad King?

Aerys II Targaryen became known as the worst king to rule over Westeros in Game of Thrones history and a great villain of the Seven Kingdoms.

After being dubbed a war hero, Aerys became king after the Targaryen family was obliterated during the Summerhall fire, with only Aerys, his wife Rhaella, and his son Rhaegar escaping.

Ruling from 262 AC to 283 AC, Aerys also had Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen as children before a series of events took a toll and turned him into the Mad King.

Aerys was killed by Kingsguard Ser Jaime Lannister during Robert Baratheon’s rebellion.

Why Did the Mad King Go Mad?

In addition to Aerys’ loss of several children with Rhaella, the king was also held captive for six months by House Darklyn which fuelled his descent.

Alongside being known as The Mad King, Aerys was also dubbed King Scab, after the Iron Throne left him with several wounds on his body, causing the king to develop a fear of sharp objects.

Aerys became increasingly paranoid, distrusting his Hand, Tywin Lannister, and even his children at one point, leading to several massacres within the kingdoms.

His fear of sharp objects made him grow his fingernails and hair unnaturally long and he also developed paranoia over being poisoned, all leading to the Seven Kingdoms dubbing him the Mad King.

House of the Dragon – Cr. Photograph by Ollie Upton / HBO, 2022. Warner Media, LLC

Targaryen Family Tree

House of the Dragon has called for a Targaryen family tree recap, considering how many names are similar to one another.

The following family tree contains spoilers for House of the Dragon.

Episode 1 established that Lord Corlys Velaryon and Prince Rhaenys (who were considered for the throne) had Laenor Velaryon and Lady Laena Velaryon, the latter of which marries Prince Daemon, brother of King Viserys, after Lady Rhea.

King Viserys and the late Lady Aemma Arryn had Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen before Viserys remarried Alicent Hightower.

By Jo Craig – [email protected]

House of the Dragon is now streaming on HBO Max.

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Jo Craig
@shingeekyjo

Being a pop culture writer and a proud geek of all trades, Jo loves to dissect fandoms and marvel at their insides. The entirety of The Lord of the Rings, superhero origins, the Ghost of Tsushima score, the Wings of Freedom, and the endless search for a sleepy Tyranitar are but a few of Jo's passions, with a penchant for contributing to the geek culture community.

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