Balerion Will Not Be In HOTD, But Vhagar Is The Best Alternative!

Vhagar, the dragon in the series most capable of matching the size and might of Balerion the Black Dread, is introduced in “House of the Dragon” season 1, episode 2. One of “House of the Dragon’s” main draws is how many dragons there are. “House of the Dragon” will have approximately 17 dragons overall (although not all will appear in season 1), two of which have already been seen in action to great effect in the shape of Syrax and Caraxes the Blood Wyrm from Game of Thrones, which only had Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons.

Balerion, though, is the best dragon in all of Westeros when it comes to dragons. In Game of Thrones, The Black Dread is the stuff of legend; his enormous skull can be seen in the cellars of the Red Keep. The dragon of Aegon the Conqueror, he was and is still the largest dragon the Seven Kingdoms have ever witnessed, although he is sadly no longer alive by the timeframe of House of the Dragon, having passed away in or around 94 AC (with his last dragonrider none other than Viserys).

In “House of the Dragon,” Balerion’s skull is once more seen, but unless there are flashbacks—which would be unexpected considering that there is no obvious necessity for them—Balerion won’t be seen alive during the program. That’s unfortunate, but Vhagar the dragon will come close. The dragon, who is now missing in action with rumors that she has been spotted over the Narrow Sea, is addressed by Viserys during his conversation with Laena Velaryon (whom, happily, he does not marry). That neatly sets up Vhagar’s arrival later in Season 1 of House of the Dragon, which should be quite the sight to behold because, as Viserys points out, she is possible “too huge for our world” and, by the time of the Dance of the Dragons, is almost as large as Balerion at his largest (and far, far bigger than a dragon like Caraxes). The Dread will therefore be absent from the show, but Vhagar will be extremely near to mirroring him.

What Function Vhagar Has in the Narrative of “House of the Dragon”

It is no accident that Laena shows such interest in Vhagar because, as stated in the novels, she is the first person to ride the dragon in a long time, following in the footsteps of Queen Visenya, Aegon’s sister-wife, and Prince Baelon (Viserys’ father). In fact, she is supposed to have turned into a dragonrider before turning 12 years old, which is the episode’s revealed age for her. Although the timeline in “House of the Dragon” is altered (a few events take place years after they did in the books), this may indicate that Laena and Vhagar may develop a close relationship sooner rather than later. However, that is nothing compared to what is to come: after Laena passes away, Aemond Targaryen, the second son of King Viserys and his new wife, Alicent Hightower, will claim Vhagar. Vhagar will grow to be one of the Dance of the Dragons’ most potent and devastating forces under Aemond’s command.

Vhagar is the only dragon in Westeros to come close to Balerion in age, size, and ferocity by the time of the Dance of the Dragons, at about 180 years old. Seeing her in action should be unlike anything in “House of the Dragon” or Game of Thrones because of her stature, combat prowess, and intense breath heat. Assuming that the first season of “House of the Dragon” ends with the Targaryen civil war just getting started, Vhagar might show off her full, astounding might right at the very end, but there will be more to come because she is a crucial player in the Dance of the Dragons between Rhaenyra’s “blacks” and Alicent and Aegon’s “greens” factions. If done well, watching Vhagar in motion should awe and thrill viewers in the same way that seeing Balerion in person would.

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