What if Rhaegar and Viserys were swapped

Who are the secret Targaryens in Game of Thrones?

By Claire Williams / .22. September 2016, 6:26 p.m. EDT

From that moment the first book in the A song of ice and fire The series was released in 1996. Fans have speculated wildly about the ancestry of various characters - even characters whose legacy is pretty clearly set out in the novels. The rampant speculation usually seems to have centered on the Targaryens and the identities of potential 'secret' children of Mad King Aerys and other prominent members of the near-extinct royal house or Targaryens who now live by a different name. Because of the Three Heads of the Dragon prophecy, many people theorize that House Targaryen is not nearly as endangered as we previously thought, and they offer a variety of potential secret Targaryens. Let's take a look at some of these candidates and try to pull the real dragons out of the pack, but be careful: Spoilers ahead.

Why So Many Secret Targaryens?

The idea of ​​'secret' or hidden Targaryens in the A song of ice and fire The series got off to an early start - after all, an important premise of the story is that the Targaryen house is nearly extinct with only Daenerys and Viserys left. However, we will soon find that this is not exactly the case. The books strongly suggested R L = J. and gives us our first potential 'secret' Targaryen. We learned that Maester Aemon and Brynden Bloodraven (the Three-Eyed Crow) are also Targaryens, and suddenly it seems perfectly plausible that there are many more Targaryens or their descendants hiding in sight.

Targaryens, Blackfyres and Bastards

in the The sworn sword- one of several short stories set about 90 years before the events of the main series - we learn that King Aegon IV (the Unworthy) had a habit of taking lovers and fathering many bastards, similar to Robert Baratheon:

Aegon's bastards had been the curse of the seven kingdoms since the old king died. He had legitimized the lot on his deathbed; not just the big bastards like Bloodraven, Bittersteel, and Daemon Blackfyre, whose mothers had been ladies, but also the smaller ones he had begotten on whores and tavern maids, the merchant's daughter, the mother's maids, and any pretty peasant girl who happened to be caught his eye. Fire and blood were the words of House Targaryen, but Dunk once heard Ser Arlen say that Aegons should have been Wash them and take them to my bed. '

Although no final number is known for the number of bastards Aegon IV fathered, he claimed to have slept with at least 900 women. While this is probably an exaggeration, my guess is that he likely fathered at least 50-100 bastards, all of whom were legitimized before Aegon died. Only one of them - Daemon - actually started a noble house (Blackfyre) after being legitimized while the others kept their maiden names. So when we talk about potential hidden Targaryens, they will fit into one of three categories: trueborn Targaryens born in marriage, Blackfyres, and Targaryen bastards.

House Blackfyre's male line was wiped out when Barristan the Bold killed Maelys Blackfyre during the fifth (and final) Blackfyre uprising. The female line continues, but we have no current information on whether any descendants are currently alive. So let's take a look at the remaining potential Targaryens and who they may be descended from.


Jon Snow

Parents: Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark

Backstory and Evidence: Lyanna Stark, the sister of Eddard and Brandon Stark, disappeared not long after the tournament in Harrenhal - where tournament winner Rhaegar Targaryen crowned Lyanna the 'Queen of Love and Beauty'. Elder brother Brandon and Lyanna's fiancé - Robert Baratheon - was outraged by their disappearance, as well as by Mad King Aerys' other atrocities. Brandon went to King's Landing and asked Rhaegar to face him. Instead, Aerys captured him and asked Lord Rickard Stark to come to King's Landing to answer for Brandon's 'crimes'. He left, but Aerys had him arrested and both Rickard and Brandon were soon excruciatingly executed. Robert Baratheon, Jon Arryn and Eddard Stark raised their banners and soon a full rebellion was underway. After the death of King Aerys and his son Rhaegar, Ned went to Dorne with a handful of companions. At the Tower of Joy - so named by Rhaegar - they met three royal guards who guarded the tower. A fight ensued in which Eddard Stark and Howland Reed were the only survivors. They entered the tower where Ned saw Lyanna die in the birthing bed. When her newborn son Ned was shown, Lyanna asked him to promise me something. This was presumably a promise to raise the child as his own and never to reveal his or her true identity for the child's safety.

Judgment: The fans were confirmed when the long-held theory of R L = J was finally confirmed in the finale of the sixth season game of Thrones. Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark are Jon's parents. All that remains in doubt is his real last name. Some fans believe that Lyanna and Rhaegar secretly married before he was born, which would make him Jon Targaryen. If the birth was not married, his last name could have been either Jon Snow (since his mother is a Northern Noble) or Jon Waters (since his father is a Crownlands Noble). Being born in Dorne has nothing to do with it, so people who claim he should be 'Jon Sand' are dead wrong. Most notable bastards with such a legacy - like Brynden Rivers - eventually adopted their mother's regional bastard name, making Jon Snow the most likely true name. Personally, I have a feeling that if Jon ever learns about his true parentage - and it has not been proven that Rhaegar and Lyanna were married - he will either keep the Snow surname or maybe take one of his choosing. 'Whitefyre' has a nice sound.

Tyrion Hill

Parents: King Aerys II Targaryen and Joanna Lannister

Backstory and Evidence: During his reign, Aerys II had a reputation for persecuting women besides his wife, Rhaella. Among them was the beautiful Joanna Lannister, wife of his friend and hand, Tywin. Not long after Joanna and Tywin's wedding, Queen Rhaella dismissed Joanna from her duties and did not want her husband's infidelity to extend to her waiting ladies. It was rumored that Aerys persecuted Joanna relentlessly, and during the King's Landing tournament in 272 AC, Aerys acted indecently towards Joanna, asking her if breastfeeding her twins had ruined her breasts. Joanna soon returned to Casterly Rock and died in AD 273 giving birth to Tyrion. While Tyrion doesn't really resemble the typical Targaryens on the show, the books describe him as having a mix of light blonde and black hair with mismatched black and green eyes. The only other character we see in the books with mismatched eyes is Shiera Seastar, a 'great bastard' of Aegon IV. He was obsessed with dragons from a young age, which may be due to his potential Targaryen blood. Tywin often told Tyrion that he doubted Tyrion was his son but could not prove it.

Judgment: Plausible, but personally I hope it's not true. We don't know the exact dates of the tournament at King's Landing in 272 or of Tyrion's birth in 273. It is possible that the tournament took place in late summer or fall, and if Aerys impregnated Joanna at that time, she would have done it in the Born spring or early summer 273. The other evidence is circumstantial at best. Much of Tyrion's character arc and motivations have to do with his strained relationship with Tywin. He's constantly trying to earn Tywin's approval and affection, and when he finally realizes the extent of his father's hatred and betrayal, Tyrion eventually murders him. For me, it would really ruin the dynamic of this father-son relationship if Tyrion wasn't really Tywin's son - as Tywin had long suspected. If it turns out to be true I'll be quite disappointed, though it will add a dramatic irony that Jaime and Tyrion killed each other's fathers. As mentioned with the surnames, a bastard born to two noble parents could either use a regional name as a surname, so Tyrion could be a 'hill' or a 'water'.

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Cersei and Jaime Hill

Parents: King Aerys II Targaryen and Joanna Lannister

Backstory and Evidence: As mentioned earlier, Aerys had serious business for Joanna Lannister. Some people theorize that he fathered Jaime and Cersei. Their predilection for brother-sister incest could be an expression of their Targaryen roots, as the Targaryens have often married brother to sister for generations. In particular, Cersei displays many tendencies reminiscent of Mad King Aerys - including her paranoia, cruelty, and revenge.

Judgment: Unlikely. As I mentioned earlier, I'm pretty dubious about the possibility that Aerys fathered Tyrion. The mad king as the father of Cersei and Jaime is still a long way off. Joanna was sent back to Casterly Rock in AD 263 and rarely went to King's Landing thereafter. Likewise, Aerys did not attend Casterly Rock until 267, a full year after the twins were born. Cersei and Jaime are very similar to their Lannister ancestors - with gold (not platinum) hair and green eyes. Cersei's power-hungry madness reflects how she was brought up, and her paranoia is largely based on the 'Valonqar prophecy she received in her youth. There really isn't any concrete evidence to back this up, just a lot of circumstantial evidence.

Khal Tyrion

Parents: Daenerys Targaryen and Khal Drogo

Backstory and Evidence: After Drogo's illness, the maegi Mirri Maz Duur performed blood magic on Daenery's orders to save the khal. Daenerys gave birth to a stillborn child at the same time, whom Mirri Maz Duur described as 'full of serious worms' and 'dead for years'. Some readers suggest that this could be the child Joanna was pregnant with during AD 273 that was somehow magically traded for the child Daenerys had carried. Joanna gave birth to Tyrion, who is actually the son of Daenerys and Drogo. This could explain his mixed light blonde and black hair, as well as his other disfigurements caused by the blood magic ritual. Daenerys gave birth to Joanna's child, which is why it looked like it had been dead for many years.

Judgment: Tyrion is not the promised time-traveling fetus. This whole theory is so insane that only the fans with most of the tin foil armor can consider it as a possibility. Much of the so-called 'evidence' is also based on Tyrion's alleged parallels with the mythical Greek character Oedipus (who killed his father and married his mother), theorizing that Tyrion will end up marrying Daenerys. It conveniently ignores the fact that if this theory is true, the person who killed Tyrion - Tywin - was not his father, and because Khal Drogo was killed by infection (and the interference of Mirri Maz Duur), it mirrors it the whole idea no longer contradicts the story of Oedipus.

Lord Varys

Parents: Descent from Aerion Targaryen

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Backstory and Evidence: Aerion 'Brightflame' Targaryen, the older brother of King Aegon V (known as 'Egg') and Maester Aemon, was known as the man of the ladies. At the end of his relatively short life, Aerion was also drunk and almost insane. Previously, Aerion spent several years in Lys after his father banished him there. It is there that Aerion has probably taken advantage of the city's famous pillow houses and brothels. George RR Martin stated that Aerion may have fathered some bastards in Lys, and although the timeline and age do not match for Varys, he could be a descendant of that line since he was born a slave in Lys. If Varys knows of his true heritage, he could choose to keep it a secret to protect himself - which could also be why he shaves his head when he actually has the silver-gold hair of a Targaryen. This could also explain why he and his friend Illyrio Mopatis were so eager to help Daenerys regain the Iron Throne.

Judgment: Just speculation. We don't know much about Varys' early life or his ancestry, that's true. But there is really nothing that can connect him as a descendant to Aerion Targaryen. Even if Varys really does have silver-gold hair, that doesn't mean he's a descendant of Targaryen. This hair color (and lavender, lavender, and indigo eyes) were commonly found on all of the ancient Valryian bloodlines. Since many of these houses fled to Lys during the fate of Valryia, this combination of hair and eye color is actually more common in Lys than anywhere else in the world. As for his motivations, I choose to believe that 'Show' Varys is really motivated by his desire to keep the empire stable. In the books, his motivations are a little more complicated, but I think the ultimate goal was to enthrone a puppet 'fake' Targaryen - the alleged Aegon Targaryen - who I believe is actually the child of Illyrio himself.

Quaithe = Shiera Seastar

Parents: Aegon IV Targaryen and Sereni from Lys

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Backstory and Evidence: As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Aegon the Unworthy fathered a lot of bastards. The most notable of these were known as the 'Big Bastards'. Among them was Shiera Seastar, the daughter of Aegon and a lover from Lys. There's a theory that's been going around for several years that Quaithe - the mysterious masked shadowbinder of Asshai - is actually Shiera Seastar in disguise. There are several parallels between the two characters that I describe in this article about the Craziest game of Thrones Theories. I would recommend that you read it if you want more details.

Judgment: While there really isn't much concrete evidence to prove this, I really adore this theory and I want it to be true. While Shiera would be roughly 120 years old at this point, this is not entirely implausible. Brynden 'Bloodraven' Rivers (the Three-Eyed Crow) lived 125 years with the help of the magic of the Weirwood tree, and those trained in Asshai (like Melisandre) have mastered the art of unnaturally prolonging life while creating an illusion of projecting youth and beauty. Even Maester Aemon lived to be over 100 years old without the aid of magic.

Melony Seastar

Parents: Daughter of Shiera Seastar

Backstory and Evidence: This theory is similar to the Quaithe = Shiera theory just discussed. The theory doesn't suggest that Quaithe is Shiera, so you don't have to believe this theory to believe this. Basically the idea is simply that Melisandre (nee Melony) was Shiera's child - and either orphaned or abandoned by her mother. We don't know much about Melisander's backstory other than her memory of being sold to the Red Temple on the auction block at a young age. Her red eyes are reminiscent of Brynden Bloodraven, Shiera's half-brother and lover. In the books, Bloodraven was an albino who had red eyes, as was Melisandre. Bloodraven was exiled to the wall in 233 AC. Assuming that Shiera fathered a child with Bloodraven shortly before his exile, her child would do so around 67 today. For a full breakdown of the evidence, check out this thread on the Westeros.org forums.

Judgment: I like the idea and find it very creative. The show revealed Melisander's real face as a very old woman - much older than someone in their 60s. It is implied that Melisandre has lived for several centuries. Just because the show chose that direction with the character doesn't rule out that theory. We have no such revelation of their age in the A song of ice and fire Books, which means this theory could still be true. In fact, I find it more plausible that it isn't actually centuries old. She made a massive mistake in interpreting her visions in the fire and you would not believe that a woman with centuries of experience behind her would make such mistakes.

Mance Rayder = Rhaegar Targaryen

Parents: King Aerys II Targaryen and Queen Rhaella Targaryen

Backstory and Evidence: The theory basically boils down to this: Rhaegar Targaryen was resurrected on the battlefield by supporters of R'hollor after he was killed on the trident by Robert Baratheon. Being prophetic in nature, Rhaegar somehow knew that Jon Snow would one day end up in the Night's Watch, so the resurrected Rhaegar made his way north, crossed the wall and became the eventual king beyond the wall in order to stay one Eye on his son and heir.

Judgment: That doesn't make any sense at all. We have an established history for Mance. He was a wild child who was found among a group of attackers executed by the Night Watch. The guard raised the child among them, and he eventually joined the order. He later gave up the Night's Watch to join the Wildlings and rose to become their chosen leader. There is no evidence that Rhaegar was ever resurrected, and even if he did, his chest was buried by Robert's war hammer. As we saw with Jon Snow and Beric Dondarrion, those old wounds don't just go away with the resurrection. Mance Rayder has no such distortion. If Rhaegar were still alive, one would think he would have gone in search of his son, or at least raised an army of Targaryen loyalists to oust the usurper. Mance has shown no hint or suggestion that he feels anything about Jon other than the kindness and respect Jon deserves.


Although the revelation that R L really = J has many fans feeling like there are secret Targaryens hiding under almost every rock, I just don't believe it. Keeping several of these characters a secret or hiding Targaryens (like Tyrion) would cheapen the entire plot and weaken the strength of Daenerys' plot - the last scion of her house trying to regain her birthright. The only theories mentioned here (besides the tried and tested Jon Snow theory) that I wouldn't mind are those that revolve around Shiera Seastar. I've always been fascinated by this beautiful and mysterious character, and I would love if George R. R. Martin found a way to put her back in today's story. What do you think? Are some of these characters really secret Targaryens? Do you have any ideas about other hidden Targaryens that I may have forgotten? Write me a message on Twitter and let me know!