In the fictional world of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, the dynasty of House Targaryen is undoubtedly one of the most important and influential families in the entire story. Their rise in Valyria and their reign over Westeros is the stuff of literal legend, and the madness that seems to run through their DNA is almost as notorious as their literal fire power.
Daenerys is only the last mad Targaryen in a long line of mad Targaryens, and there is even an old saying that when a Targaryen is born the gods flip a coin. On one side of that coin is greatness. And on the other there is madness. It seems like on some level every Targaryen has been touched with a bit of the crazy, but clearly some of them have outshone others. So here are the ten craziest things the Targaryens ever did.
10 Rhaegar Marrying Lyanna
As far as crazy things go, marrying a girl that you've fallen in love with doesn't really rate that high. But if you're already married, and your father has gone insane, and the entire continent is on the brink of war because of his insanity, then maybe this isn't quite the time or place to be getting hitched. And while Rhaegar and Lyanna were both willing participants in their marriage, Lyanna was a young girl who might not have been able to predict the consequence of this particular decision, and Rhaegar's obsession with fulfilling the prophecy of a three headed dragon at any cost certainly clouded his judgment as well.
9 Maegor's Youthful Indiscretions
Maegor the Cruel is a Targaryen who undoubtedly earned his name. However, Maegor's violent and terrifying behaviors didn't begin when he was an adult and king of the seven kingdoms. Maegor was actually murdering and mutilating animals and humans before he even reached his double digits.
In one particularly gruesome instance, Maegor was kicked by a horse when he was eight years old. He stabbed the horse to death for the great offense, and when a stable boy came running to see what all of the ruckus was about Maegor slashed up his face. And as we all know now, that was only the beginning of his violence and cruelty.
8 Viserys' Stand Against Khal Drogo
It's true that Viserys was first in line for the Iron Throne after most of the Targaryen dynasty was wiped out in the rebellion against the Mad King, but it may have helped Viserys if he didn't feel quite so entitled to that throne. Viserys was clearly willing to do whatever it took to become the king of the seven kingdoms, but he certainly overestimated his hand when he decided to stand up against Khal Drogo. After "selling" Daenerys to Drogo, Viserys expected to have an entire Dothraki army assisting him in his quest to conquer Westeros, and that entitlement cost him his life.
7 Baelor The Blessed's Zealotry
Out of all of the Targaryens that ever ruled over Westeros, Baelor the Blessed is probably the one who is admired and remembered the most fondly. And of course it was he who built the now iconic Sept of Baelor. However, Baelor was also, to put it frankly, more than a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Baelor was devoted to the faith of the Seven to the point of near madness, and while many of his expressions of that faith were for the benefit of the smallfolk, often times they were to his own severe detriment. He would often starve himself or otherwise punish himself for even one sinful thought.
6 Dany's Rule In Mereen
Daenerys Targaryen is definitely everyone's problematic fave. She often times has a good intention at the heart of her decisions, but often times the results wind up being a complete train wreck. Such is the case with Dany's rule in Mereen.
No one is ever going to argue that abolishing slavery is a good idea, but Dany did so in Mereen without any thought of the consequences or plans for the future. And as Dany is wont to do, when things started to go sideways she just started killing anyone who crossed her. And when the whole endeavor proved to be too much, she bailed.
5 Maegor The Cruel's Capital Punishments
A Targaryen killing those that disobey them with the fire of a dragon isn't exactly a foreign occurrence within this crazy family, however Maegor the Cruel took that idea to whole new heights with his completely insane punishments. In one particularly gruesome instance, some religious zealots rebelled against Maegor's rule, and in response Maegor hopped on Balerion the Black Dread, burned the sept they were occupying (the Sept of Remembrance), and instructed his archers to kill anyone who tried to flee the burning building. And the ruins of that sept are actually what were built into the infamous dragon pits.
4 Marrying Their Siblings
Not marrying your brother or sister seems like a pretty obvious rule, no? But let's give the Targaryen clan the benefit of the doubt and assume that in their culture, marrying someone who shares half of your DNA isn't as weird as it is in most cultures. Royal families have come up with this "bloodline purity" delusion before, so it's no surprise it's happened again. However, you'd think after everyone in your family seems to go completely insane you might reconsider how wise it is to keep your bloodline quite so pure.
3 Aegon's Invasion
Ultimately it's not that surprising that someone with unlimited power might want to flex that power on other people. As they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But the entire Targaryen invasion in Westeros is kind of insane in its own right.
Yes, the Targaryens were the last of the Valyrian dragon riders, but the mere fact that you have dragons doesn't mean that you have to find some foreign land and claim it as your own, let alone that you have to brutally murder all of these complete strangers who don't feel like they should have to bow to you the minute you show up on their doorstep.
2 The Mad King's Wildfire
Maybe it's because their gene pool is about as deep as a puddle, but the Targaryen family are a very predictable bunch. They love to go nuts, and they love to burn things. And when it comes to the favorite Targaryen pastimes, no one was more passionate about them than the Mad King Aerys. Aerys was so unhinged that he caused the rebellion that ended their entire dynasty, and he took great pleasure in burning anyone who he believed to be his enemies. But apparently towards the end he believed every soul in King's Landing was the enemy, because he buried deadly wildfire everywhere throughout the city with the obvious intention of burning them all alive.
1 Daenerys Burning King's Landing
Well, I guess daddy would be very proud. Many fans were disappointed and enraged by the fact that Daenerys Targaryen herself wound up being the most dangerous threat in the entire Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire world, but evidently the heroine was the villain all along. But the thing is, not only did Dany decide to burn King's Landing to the ground, she decided to do that just after the city had surrendered to her. Which is absolutely insane. Perhaps her idea was to get a fresh start, but that's really not the best way to make a positive impression on the country you've just invaded.