Viserys Targaryen was the younger brother of the late Rhaegar Targaryen and the older brother of Daenerys Targaryen. Viserys and Daenerys were the remnants of the exiled House Targaryen following Robert’s Rebellion against their father Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King. He claimed the Iron Throne as King Viserys III after his father was overthrown and killed in Robert’s Rebellion, but never returned to Westeros, as he was killed by his brother-in-law Khal Drogo before he could take the throne.
Viserys is the second son and heir of King Aerys II Targaryen, the former ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. During Robert’s Rebellion, after Viserys’s older brother Rhaegar was killed at the Battle of the Trident, his father sent Viserys and his pregnant mother, Queen Rhaella, to safety on Dragon stone island. King Aerys was soon killed during the Sack of King’s Landing along with Rhaegar’s widow and children, and thus at the age of only five Viserys became the titular head of House Targaryen, though by this point the war was officially lost.
Not long afterward, his mother died in childbirth, while the forces of Robert Baratheon closed in on the island. Before they could arrive, Viserys and his newborn sister Daenerys were smuggled to safety in the Free Cities, across the Narrow Sea on the continent of Essos. Bereft of followers, Viserys spent the next 17 years traveling between the Free Cities trying to find new supporters for an attempt to retake the Iron Throne. At times, however, he was left literally begging for food and shelter, much less an army.
Viserys claims the title of Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and refers to Robert Baratheon only as “the Usurper”. After years spent fruitlessly wandering the Free Cities seeking military support to retake his throne, Viserys and Daenerys became guests of the powerful Magister Illyrio Mopatis of Pentos.
In the Free City of Pentos, across the Narrow Sea, Viserys and Daenerys Targaryen enjoy the hospitality of Magister Illyrio Mopatis. Viserys has arranged to wed Daenerys (whom he also calls “Dany”) to Khal Drogo, the warlord of a Dothraki khalasar of forty thousand warriors. In return, Drogo will give Viserys the manpower he needs to reclaim the Iron Throne. Viserys fondles a naked Daenerys before her bath, on the pretext of “seeing how much she has grown”. Daenerys does not want to marry the Khal, but Viserys insists that she will.
A short time later, Drogo arrives at Illyrio’s estate. After taking a glance at Daenerys, Drogo rides away without dismounting from his horse. Viserys is concerned, but Illyrio assures him that, if he did not approve of Daenerys, they would have known. After their departure, Illyrio and Viserys discuss the quest to sail back to Westeros, and Viserys inquires when the wedding will take place. Daenerys is not pleased with the arrangement and blurts out that she does not want to marry Drogo. Viserys insists that Daenerys will marry him, because in return, Drogo will give Viserys the army he needs to retake their father’s throne from Robert Baratheon. Viserys adds that he would let his sister be raped by all forty thousand of Drogo’s men and their horses if it meant getting his throne back.
Daenerys marries Drogo and a great celebration is held on the shore outside Pentos. Several Dothraki die in impromptu duels, which Illyrio says is a good sign: “a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair.” The bride and groom receive many gifts, but for Dany two are particularly interesting. The first is a box containing three beautiful stones. According to Illyrio these are petrified dragon eggs from the Shadow Lands beyond Asshai. The second is a selection of books containing stories and songs from the Seven Kingdoms, given by Ser Jorah Mormont, an exiled knight of House Mormont.
Ser Jorah swears fealty to Viserys as King and offers him his support and advice. For his gift, Drogo gives Daenerys a beautiful silver mare. Viserys instructs his sister to make Drogo happy before Drogo takes her away to consummate the union. Viserys decides to travel with Drogo’s khalasar until the bargain is fulfilled. Jorah suggests that Viserys remain at Illyrio’s manse but Viserys ignores the advice to ensure that Drogo does not go back on his word. He tells Viserys that he offended his liege lord by selling poachers into slavery. When he received word that may be executed for the crime, he fled to Essos. Viserys laughs at the notion, saying such trivialities would not be punished under his reign.
While traversing the western edge of the Dothraki sea, near Qohor, Daenerys orders the khalasar to halt. Viserys is furious at Daenerys giving him orders and threatens her with a sword. Rakharo, her bodyguard, disarms Viserys and offers to kill him, but Daenerys spares his life, which is done through Irri’s translation. He is forced to walk rather than ride, a tremendous sign of weakness among the Dothraki. When even Ser Jorah will not take his side, Daenerys realises that Viserys will never succeed in retaking Westeros. He could not lead an army, even if her husband gave him one, but still prays for her and Viserys to go home. Daenerys becomes pregnant with Drogo’s child.
After his horse is taken away, the Dothraki derisively refer to him as Khal Rhaggat (Cart King) and Khal Rhae Mhar(Sorefoot King). The Dothraki feel that a man is only truly a man if he rides on his own horse: only the sick or elderly would ride in a cart, and only slaves walk for miles alongside a horde. That Viserys could not stop his horse being taken away is seen as utter humiliation by the Dothraki.
The khalasar reaches the Dothraki city of Vaes Dothrak. Viserys despises it as a city of sticks and mud huts and takes pleasure with Daenerys’s handmaiden, Doreah. Doreah makes him unhappy when she asks him about the dragons and their extinction. He then asks Doreah why she thinks he bought her, to which she replies “To teach your sister”. Viserys then corrects her, saying that he did not buy her simply to make Khal Drogo happy.
Later, Daenerys sends Doreah to Viserys with an invitation to dinner. Enraged at what he perceives as another order, Viserys drags Doreah by her hair to Daenerys. He strikes Daenerys and rants about his superiority. Daenerys hits him in the face with a heavy metal belt, visibly shocking him, and warns him that the next time he raises his hands to her will be the last time he has hands. Illyrio visits King’s Landing to meet with the King’s Master of Whisperers, Varys. Illyrio confirms that Drogo does eventually mean to honour the bargain to invade the Seven Kingdoms, but will not move until his son is born.
Viserys grows increasingly agitated by Drogo’s inaction and fears the Khal will renege on his promise. During the dosh khaleen’s celebration of Daenerys’s pregnancy (who is proven to be a boy by eating a stallion heart, who she names Rhaego), Viserys observes how the Dothraki people have come to love Daenerys, making him feel jealous and inadequate. He tries to steal Daenerys’s dragon eggs so he can buy his own army, but Ser Jorah stops him. He accuses Jorah of having physical desires for Daenerys, but says he doesn’t care. Subsequently, Viserys leaves; without the eggs.
A drunk Viserys later stumbles into Khal Drogo’s tent during a feast, and demands to be seated in the front near Drogo, in a place of honour. With Ser Jorah translating, Drogo says that there is a place for him: in the back, with the children and old women. Viserys angrily insists that he is a king, and will be treated as such. Khal Drogo addresses Viserys for the first time in the Common Tongue of Westeros, “You are no king.” Furious, Viserys unsheathes his sword, too drunk and arrogant to heed Jorah’s warning that brandishing a sword in the Dothraki holy city is punishable by death.
Defiant and undaunted, Viserys goes on to demand that he wants to leave immediately with the army he was promised, or else he will leave with his sister (who according to the custom of House Targaryen, should have been his wife, and whom he always thought of as his sexual property). He threatens to cut out Daenerys’s unborn son and leave it for Drogo unless they leave at once and Drogo gives him what was promised: the crown of the Seven Kingdoms. The Khal coldly acknowledges Viserys’s wishes (via Irri’s translation) and promises him a “golden crown that men will tremble to behold”.
Viserys, believing himself victorious, lowers his guard and is suddenly restrained by Qotho and another blood rider. Drogo then melts several gold medallions from his belt in a nearby pot. Viserys yells “I am the dragon” and pleads for his life from Daenerys, but when Drogo looks to her, she silently nods. Jorah tries to make Daenerys look away, but she insists on watching her brother’s death.
Drogo later addresses him in the common tongue, “A crown for a king”, and pours the molten gold onto Viserys’s head as the promised “terrible golden crown”, killing him for his impudence. Viserys dies in agony, and when his dead body slumps to the ground the solidified gold makes a resounding metallic thud. Daenerys coldly remarks that “he was no dragon”, as “fire cannot kill a dragon”. With Viserys dead, Daenerys is now held by her supporters as the rightful (and last) Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne, although later events will reveal someone who may actually have a stronger claim.
Viserys is mentioned by Daenerys saying that she knew he was a fool but he is – or rather was – the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. But Jorah Mormont dismisses this saying that if Daenerys cannot inherit the Throne, she can conquer it instead like her ancestors.
Daenerys disdainfully mentions Viserys, saying that he is the only family relative she had – and he’d have let a thousand men rape her just to get the Throne.
Daenerys mentions Viserys at a war council on Dragon stone. She claims that if Viserys had three dragons he would have invaded King’s Landing already. She turns her attention to Varys and begin interrogating him over his actions when she and Viserys were in exile. She asks if his “little birds” told him that Viserys was cruel, stupid and weak.
Daenerys tells Jon that both Viserion and Rhaegal were named for her deceased brothers.
After being rescued in the mission beyond the Wall, Jon refers to Daenerys as “Dany” when she is at his bedside. Amused, Daenerys remarks that nobody has referred to her as Dany since Viserys.
After Daenerys and Jon Snow reach Winterfell, Jaime Lannister, who killed the father of Daenerys and Viserys to prevent him destroying King’s Landing, also arrives at the Stark ancestral home. He is brought to a meeting with Daenerys, Jon, and their allies, where Daenerys tells him about the story Viserys told her when she was a child, about the man that murdered their father and what they would do to Jaime if they had the chance. However, following Jaime’s pledge to help the fight against the Night King, Daenerys accepts his offer to join her forces, as they need every man they can get in the Battle of Winterfell.
Following the battle at Winterfell, Daenerys and her allies go south to fight the Battle of King’s Landing, during which Daenerys destroys most of the city, against the wishes of Jon and many of her other supporters. After the battle, Daenerys approaches the Iron Throne in what remains of the Red Keep. When she sees Jon enter the ruins of the throne room, she tells him that when she was a girl, Viserys told her the throne was made from the swords of a thousand of Aegon’s fallen enemies. The subsequent end of Daenerys has a number of echoes of the end of Viserys: like Viserys, Daenerys is killed by someone who believes her to be out of control and believes that she needs to be prevented from harming others in the future; like him, she is killed before she gets to be crowned or sit on the Iron Throne itself; and like him, she is also lulled into a false sense of security in the moments before her death, believing she has now achieved the thing she always wanted, without realising a former ally is about to strike a fatal blow.
Viserys was cruel, condescending, arrogant, aggressive, sadistic, temperamental, and immoral. Much like Joffrey Baratheon, Viserys believed that people should obey him simply because of his birthright and would throw temper tantrums when he was not treated with the respect he thought he was owed, even though he did nothing to earn it. Viserys described his temper as “a dragon”, but also referred to himself as such, thinking himself as one of the greatest Targaryens to have ever lived. Viserys’s temper hopelessly outweighs his common sense, making him rash, temperamental, impetuous and reckless.
Viserys was also extremely self-deluded and believed himself to be a mighty warrior, like his brother Rhaegar Targaryen, even though he had never wielded a sword against an opponent in his life and didn’t truly know the first thing about combat, strategy or warfare. When he was attacked by Dothraki, he did not fight back himself but instead tried to get others such as Jorah Mormont to do it for him, regardless that he had, not so long ago, belittled the man and insulted his concept of loyalty. Viserys never expected any true consequences to come from his more rash actions, reacting in shock and awe when Daenerys fought back against him.
Viserys was similarly as arrogant as his own father and neither could believe their allies would turn on them. For Aerys, he opened the gates of King’s Landing to his old friend Tywin Lannister and his army, despite his remaining loyalists telling him it was a trap. This act of utter folly led to the Sack of King’s Landing and his own death. For Viserys, he arrogantly believed that the Dothraki would never strike back at him for threatening their Khaleesi, and that he had the right to bare steel against them. His self-conception of being ‘the dragon’ blinded him to the fact that no man could shed blood or bare steel within Vaes Dothrak. Similarly, this belief cost Viserys his life.
In regards to his sister Daenerys, Viserys looked at her as his property to abuse or hand out to others whenever he pleased. On the day he was to marry his sister over to Khal Drogo, he even fantasised that men will write that his reign began on that day, even though it was more an ascension of her status than his – he never inquired, nor cared, as to whether or not she wanted to be married to a Dothraki savage. As he said to her about her marriage to Khal Drogo, “We go home with an army. With Khal Drogo’s army. I would let his whole tribe fuck you, all forty thousand men and their horses too, if that’s what it took.” Despite this, Viserys believes that she is still loyal to him and nobody else. As Khal Drogo was preparing to “crown” him, he begs for her to intervene, despite giving her absolutely no reason to do so. In fact, only moments before, he had threatened to cut her open with a sword during her pregnancy.
Daenerys believes Viserys could be good, due to him being kind and respectful to her once, but that the loss of their mother, father and brother early in his life, and having to beg everyone for money and shelter made Viserys cruel and bitter. She clearly once had some affection for him as her only living blood relative, since, in tribute, she named her dragon Viserion after him.
Viserys was an individual with a terrible sense of morality, as evidenced by how he callously implied that, under his rule, Jorah Mormont would not face consequences for the crimes of selling slaves. A good king would have been appalled at the crime, as Jorah himself regretted it, but this reinforces the idea that Viserys did not see other men, especially common men, as people. He also did not see any problem with insulting or questioning other people’s honour, integrity or duty, chastising Jorah Mormont for wanting Daenerys for himself, stating that he could ‘dine on her’ however he wanted, so long as he let Viserys go. Viserys desired loyalty, power and fealty, but he deserved neither.