Daemon Targaryen is one of the central characters of House of the Dragon. He’s a rogue prince of the Targaryen dynasty, and a force for chaos who wants power and to be appreciated. The character has plenty of virtues, being a brave warrior, a sharp wit, and a genuine loyalist to his family.
However, Daemon is also immensely flawed. In just a few episodes of House of the Dragon, he has done awful things without remorse. He goes even further in books like Fire and Blood. Daemon’s various acts ensure that he goes down in history as both a great man, and a complete monster.
10 Provoking Laena Velaryon’s Fiancee Into A Duel
When Daemon Targaryen sets his eye on something, he tries to take it no matter the cost. This extends to at least two of his three marriages. Daemon falls in love with Laena following the death of his first wife, Rhea Royce. However, she’s betrothed to a destitute son of the Sealord of Braavos.
Laena doesn’t want to marry the son, and has her wedding constantly postponed. Daemon takes a much more blunt approach to ending the engagement. He goads the man into a duel, and then butchers him. Regardless of the son’s negative traits, Daemon effectively murders him to marry a much younger woman.
9 Organizing The Blood And Cheese Assassination
Neither side keeps their hands clean in the Dance of the Dragons. They both engage in awful deeds, even leaving aside the brutality of the warfare. However, Daemon Targaryen is responsible for the single most reprehensible act in the entire war. He orders the death of one of King Aegon’s sons after his stepson dies fighting Aegon’s brother.
To this end, Daemon hires a pair of assassins named Blood and Cheese. The two capture Alicent Hightower, Queen Helaena Targaryen, and Halaena’s children. They then force Helaena to choose which of her sons to die, and murder the other. It’s the most wicked act in a brutal civil war.
8 Pushing For A War By Crowning Rhaenyra
The Dance of the Dragons is caused by Aegon and Rhaenyra Targaryen claiming the Iron Throne upon King Viserys’ death. Rhaenyra has the superior claim as Viserys’ nominated heir. Aegon, by contrast, holds King’s Landing and learns of Viserys’ death first. So Daemon crowns Rhaenyra to push her claim, even though Aegon holds the Iron Throne.
In doing so, he makes a diplomatic settlement far harder. Criston Cole does bear at least equal blame for crowning a usurper. However, Daemon does nothing to stop the continent from devolving into war. By crowning Rhaenyra, he all but ensures the realm will bleed in the Dance of the Dragons.
7 Starting A War With Dorne And The Triarchy
Daemon Targaryen’s earliest victory in Fire and Blood comes with his conquest of the Stepstones, similar to House of the Dragon. However, the show depicts this as something of a heroic endeavor, while the book makes it more clear that it was both devastating and far pettier.
In Fire and Blood, Daemon doesn’t just fight the Triarchy for the Stepstones, but the Dornish too. As a result, thousands die, all so Daemon can give a few islands to the Iron Throne. Furthermore, the Crabfeeder doesn’t murder and torture Westerosi sailors in the books. Instead, he simply charges too high a toll, making the war far less justified.
6 Marrying His Much Younger Niece
The central romance of House of the Dragon is deeply uncomfortable for many because it is between Daemon and Rhaenyra. The two are uncle and niece, and they have a significant age gap. Yet, despite their relation, and the age gap, Daemon acts very calculatedly to form a romantic bond, expressing a desire to marry her as soon as she comes of age.
In Westeros, women often marry young. Furthermore, intermarriage is a key Targaryen family tradition. However, none of this stops the relationship from appalling modern viewers. Daemon’s behavior isn’t just incestuous. It comes off as predatory to viewers with a clearer and more modern sense of things, verging on grooming.
House of the Dragon‘s first episode centers on the feud between Daemon and his brother Viserys. Daemon is Viserys’ heir as his brother until a son is born. However, his wife Aemma and his son Baelon die due to complications. Daemon is the only family member not to grieve. Instead, he goes to a brothel and calls his deceased nephew ‘heir for a day.’
This happens exactly the same way in the books, except without ambiguity. House of the Dragon leaves it unclear if Daemon said such a thing or if he meant it mockingly. Fire and Blood presents both as fact. While insignificant compared to Daemon’s other atrocities, it’s an exceptionally cruel and callous response to a tragedy.
4 Creating Much Of The Opposition To Rhaenyra
Few of Aegon II’s supporters side with him for him. Instead, much of his support comes from opposition to Rhaenyra. Many are motivated by Westeros’ extreme sexism. They don’t want a woman on the Iron Throne. However, a large part is also due to Daemon’s influence.
Daemon’s ambitious and chaotic nature makes him many enemies in court, notably the Hightowers. For a time, a lot of this opposition favors Rhaenyra, as she poses a barrier to Daemon taking the Iron Throne. Daemon then marries Rhaenyra. The only real option left to his enemies is to support Aegon. Through his actions and his marriage to Rhaenyra, Daemon ensures she has plenty of foes.
3 Allegedly Murdering Rhaenyra’s Husband And Lover
Rhaenyra marries Laenor Velaryon, despite his homosexuality. As such, she also takes Ser Harwin Strong as a lover. Unfortunately, both men die the year after Daemon’s second wife. This conveniently leaves Rhaenyra single and unattached, allowing Daemon to marry her.
There’s no proof that Daemon killed either, but there is plenty of speculation. Both die in suspicious circumstances – a fire and a fight. It happens once Daemon becomes able to pursue Rhaenyra again. He’s shown a habit of murdering romantic rivals. As such, plenty in-universe blame him. If he does murder them, it’s one of his more selfish, cruel acts.
2 His Behavior After His First Wife’s Death
House of the Dragon actually gives Daemon another awful act, not in the books. He’s infamously unhappy in his marriage to Rhea Royce, with neither of them able to tolerate the other. So to end things, he murders her. Then, after throwing her from his horse, he beats her to death with a rock.
This doesn’t happen in Fire and Blood. Daemon isn’t even present when Lady Rhea falls and dies. However, his first response is to fly to the Vale and immediately press a claim for his lands without showing care for her death. It’s a callous act that clarifies his contempt for his wife and selfish ambition.
1 Pushing For Several Houses To Be Exterminated
The Dance of the Dragons initially went well for Rhaenyra. Daemon leads an assault on King’s Landing and takes it. This pushes Aegon’s forces onto the back foot. Corlys Velaryon urges Rhaenyra to show restraint. He suggests she offer pardons, forgive her enemies, and treat her prisoners gently. Daemon advocates the opposite.
Daemon does nothing to stop Rhaenyra from purging King’s Landing of those she considers traitors. Even outside the city, he rejects offers to pardon houses like Baratheon, Lannister, and Hightower. Instead, he urges Rhaenyra to kill them, including noncombatants and innocents.
NEXT: 10 Worst Things Rhaenyra Targaryen Does In The Books