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GAME OF THRONES

No, Targaryens Aren’t Fireproof—’Game of Thrones’ Lied to You

Daniel Roman
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in ’Game of Thrones.’
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in ’Game of Thrones.’ / HBO
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Warning: This article contains spoilers for House of the Dragon and Game of Thrones.

“If Laena Velaryon truly had the blood of Old Valyria, she wouldn’t have burned, right? Because people with Targaryen blood are fireproof.” You’d be forgiven for thinking something like this after watching episode six of House of the Dragon.

It’s understandable that there’s some confusion: On Game of Thrones, Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, the Unburnt, was absolutely immune to fire. The show made it a point not just to illustrate how she went into a pyre and emerged with three baby dragons in the season 1 finale, but also how she used this special ability time and again, from taking scalding hot baths to burning alive the Dothraki khals who wanted to force her into the Dosh Khaleen.

As it turns out, this special ability was something specifically created in the show. So let’s clear the air and settle the matter of whether the Targaryens are fireproof once and for all … because with a civil war between members of the dragon-riding family brewing on House of the Dragon, you can bet some people are going to get burned.

The idea that Daenerys was “fireproof” was not in the Game of Thrones books.

Targaryens being are immune to fire is a rumor that was whirling around even before Game of Thrones launched in 2011. There’s some precedent for it in the Song of Ice and Fire novels by George R.R. Martin. Daenerys hatching baby dragons amid her husband’s pyre and her dip into the scalding bathtub are straight from A Game of Thrones, the first novel in the series. Martin does allude to Dany having an affinity for heat and fire … but she is definitely not immune to it the way she is in the show. In fact, Martin outright said as much during a Q&A back in 1999, calling the idea that Targaryens were magically immune to fire a “common misconception.” He elaborated:

“TARGARYENS ARE NOT IMMUNE TO FIRE!” the author emphatically stated. “The birth of Dany’s dragons was unique, magical, wonderous, a miracle. She is called The Unburnt because she walked into the flames and lived. But her brother sure as hell wasn’t immune to that molten gold.”

You might recall that Daenerys’ husband Khal Drogo dumped a pot of molten gold over Viserys’s head, which led to Dany saying that “fire cannot kill a dragon.” While that’s a cool line, it’s more a metaphorical statement made in the haze of adrenaline than something she’s saying as a matter of fact.

We also have another example from Martin’s books of a Targaryen being burnt, since we now know that Jon Snow is in fact a Targaryen by blood. During the first novel, Jon grabs a flaming curtain and throws it over a wight that’s trying to kill the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. This severely burns Jon’s hand, an injury that bothers him throughout the entire rest of the book series as well as occasionally on the show.

Daenerys gets burned in the Song of Ice and Fire novels.

But let’s put all those other Targaryens aside and look at Daenerys herself. In the novel A Dance with Dragons, Dany rides out of the Great Pit of Daznak in Meereen atop her dragon Drogon. It’s a peak moment in both the show and novels, but the danger to Dany from her dragon is far greater in the books. When approaching Drogon, Dany thinks that “he will burn [her] and devour [her]” if she tries to run from him. After successfully flying Drogon out of the fighting pit, we next catch up with Dany and Drogon out in the wilderness, where she’s ruminating on her many injuries, including burns she got from holding onto the dragon with her bare hands:

“The rocks had scraped her hands raw. They are better than they were, though, she decided as she picked at a broken blister. Her skin was pink and tender, and a pale milky fluid was leaking from her cracked palms, but her burns were healing.“

This should pretty much lay to rest the idea that Dany is immune to fire in the novels, or that there’s some Targaryen trait that makes them fireproof.

Just because Daenerys is immune to fire on Game of Thrones, that may not extend to other Targaryens.

As we’ve said, the show treated Dany’s immunity to fire differently than Martin did. It’s almost a superpower she has. It never suggests that other Targaryens have this ability, however.

This is important, because House of the Dragon will involve many Targaryens taking to the skies on their dragons. Let’s just say that the idea that Targaryens are fireproof is something this show will absolutely prove wrong if it sticks to George R.R. Martin’s book Fire & Blood. Laena Velaryon is not the only person with the blood of Old Valyria to meet their end by dragonflame.

It’s always possible that House of the Dragon will carry over Dany’s special ability in one way or another, perhaps with one specific family member. But judging how adamant showrunner Ryan Condal has been about remaining faithful to George R.R. Martin’s written works, and how involved Martin himself is in the production, it seems unlikely.

As for Daemon’s flight of fancy through Vhagar’s dragonfire, we can probably chalk that up to him and his dragon simply flying swiftly through the cloud of flame, and being out of it before it could catch. Viewers also see him hit with a burning arrow during the third episode of the season when he’s warring in the Stepstones.

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