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House Of The Dragon Season 1's Most Devastating Deaths Ranked

Though it takes place almost 200 years before the events depicted during "Game of Thrones," "House of the Dragon" is very similar to its predecessor in many ways. The aesthetic is the same, brought to life by HBO's signature big-budget production design. The political intrigue and treacherous landscape of Westeros are back in full swing as well, as is the ever-present threat of civil war. And of course, just like "Game of Thrones," "House of the Dragon" is packed to bursting with sudden, devastating, and often grotesque deaths.

Women die. Children die. Lords, knights, and innocent animals die. No "Game of Thrones" episode would be complete without some kind of fatal violence, and "House of the Dragon" is clearly cut from the same cloth. If you're averse to blood, viscera, or seeing every half-decent person quickly erased from existence for their morality, this may not be the show for you. But after the long and brutal run of its predecessor, there should have been no doubt about what kind of show the prequel would be.

Of course, no two deaths are the same, either in method or in emotional impact. "House of the Dragon" Season 1 features a lot of good old-fashioned murder, but not every death is premeditated. They all take a toll on the viewer, however, albeit to varying degrees. Here are the most devastating deaths in "House of the Dragon" Season 1, ranked. Be warned, there will be major spoilers ahead.

12. Mysaria

At the end of "House of the Dragon" Season 1, Lord Larys Strong (Matthew Needham) orders a covert attack on Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno), the leader of a spy ring within King's Landing. Queen Alicent (Olivia Cooke) signs off on the move, which she pays for with feet pics. We then get a very brief scene of Mysaria's brothel on fire, with one of Larys' apparent agents walking away into the night.

Mysaria is a cool character who genuinely wants to improve living conditions for the ordinary citizens of King's Landing, and if it were actually confirmed that she perished in this fire, she'd rank much higher on the list. Here's the thing, though: She's almost certainly not dead. Killing such an influential character offscreen isn't really the "Song of Ice and Fire" way, and Mysaria seems way too cunning and informed to be dealt with so easily. Plus, in "Fire & Blood," George R.R. Martin's fictional history of House Targaryen on which "House of the Dragon" is based, Mysaria gets up to a lot more mischief than we see in Season 1.

Since the so-called "White Worm's" fate is left ambiguous at the end of the season, and since Mysaria is a great character whose death would be pretty devastating, she gets a spot here. But since it seems so unlikely that she's actually been killed off, she sits at the bottom spot.

11. The Crabfeeder

Why does the Crabfeeder (Daniel Scott-Smith), a brutal mercenary warlord known for his intense cruelty, earn a spot on our list of the most devastating deaths in "House of the Dragon" Season 1? Well, his death is devastating, just in a different way than most of the other deaths included here. Put more bluntly, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) absolutely devastates him.

After years of fighting in the Stepstones, Daemon defeats the Crabfeeder in just about the most decisive and brutal way imaginable. Not only does he use himself as bait for the entire opposing army and fight through a cadre of soldiers on his way to the mercenary leader — he emerges from the Crabfeeder's cave dragging his corpse behind him. Or, rather, part of his corpse. The shoulder-to-hip slash that cleaves the Crabfeeder's body is a stark reminder of just how strong Valyrian steel is, and how deadly it can be when put to the test in real combat. Surely, no one will miss the Crabfeeder too badly, if at all, but in this instance, he's the one being devastated.

10. Vaemond Velaryon

Vaemond Velaryon (Wil Johnson) doesn't get as much "House of the Dragon" screentime as his brother, or his sister-in-law, or his niece or nephew. However, he's still an important part of the Valyrian house. The younger brother of the Sea Snake himself, Vaemond is instrumental in the fighting in the Stepstones, and he repeatedly demonstrates both martial prowess and strategic insight. However, he makes a major miscalculation in Episode 8, "The Lord of the Tides," when he makes a bid to have the birthright of Driftmark revoked from Rhaenyra's (Emma D'Arcy) son Lucerys (Elliot Grihault).

Vaemond knows the truth — that Lucerys is no true son of Laenor (John Macmillan). But both Viserys and Rhaenys are clearly on Rhaenyra's side from the start. When Vaemond realizes that he's not going to get his way, he lashes out, giving voice to the treasonous (but true) accusations that everyone's only whispered before. And then, before he even gets a chance to finish, Daemon cleaves his skull in half.

Vaemond doesn't spend enough time onscreen for us to get truly attached to him, and his attitude toward Rhaenyra and her children is downright venomous. But that doesn't make his death any less brutal. Though his approach is flawed, it's easy to sympathize with Vaemond's plight. He's not here for power, but to ensure the true continuation of his family line. When that means attacking the princess, however, it's a death sentence.

9. King Viserys I Targaryen

In many ways, the entire plot of "House of the Dragon" Season 1 revolves around the death of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine). From the very beginning, his health problems are apparent, and it seems like he won't be long for his world. And yet, episode after episode, he insists on staying alive.

As Viserys slowly rots into a living corpse, his family schemes around him. Plans are set in motion, orders of succession are discussed, and battle lines are drawn. But until the king actually passes, none of these things can manifest. Viserys does end up being a king who keeps the realm from chaos and war, but not in the way he might have hoped. Instead, he becomes the sole barrier between Westeros and widespread bloodshed.

It's for this reason, more than a real love of Viserys, that his death is so impactful. In the grand scheme of things, he gets a pretty good ending, especially compared to what usually happens to characters in "Game of Thrones." He lives to be an old man, to see his grandchildren grow up, and he dies believing that he has set things right for the future. He's wrong, of course, which is makes his slow death all the sadder. Viserys is not a character who demands sympathy, but he is a man who's clearly stuck in a cage. It's hard to watch the life fade from him and not feel a bit of pity.

8. Lady Rhea Royce

We barely get to meet Lady Rhea Royce (Rachel Redford) in "House of the Dragon." She appears in one brief scene, and then her psychopathic husband Daemon Targaryen kills her with a rock. And yet, with just a few lines of dialogue, Rhea makes sure we know how cool she is. She is very, very cool.

Not only is she an exceptional rider and hunter, but she's got the swag to back it up. In the whole show, she's the only one to unabashedly tear into Daemon for being a coward and a dirtbag. And then, of course, she dies for it. No matter how many times Daemon ends up helping out Rhaenyra later on, he'll never be able to escape this ghost — murdering his own wife in cold blood simply because he's on a power trip.

From the absolute senselessness of this death to its abject brutality, it's hard not to feel rage at Daemon when he takes Rhea out. He not only robs Westeros of an innocent (and again, very cool) person, but he robs us, the viewers, of a character with a ton of potential. The only reason Rhea's death doesn't rank higher on this list is that we barely spend any time with her before it happens.

7. Lord Beesbury

Poor Lord Beesbury. Veteran Scottish actor Bill Paterson plays King Viserys' Master of Coin, who loyally serves the crown and the realm through his reign. He rarely has much to say, but in a Small Council filled with schemers and power-hungry fools, Lord Beesbury is an exception — a genuinely honest and loyal man dedicated to doing his job. So when Viserys passes and Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) immediately makes moves to install his grandson Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney) as king, Lord Beesbury understandably takes umbrage.

Eschewing the quiet demeanor that's defined him all season, he stands up and objects. He tells the whole council what an outrage Otto's whole plan is, and that he refuses to be a part of it. He finds their whole deal perverse and really starts laying into them. Unfortunately for Lord Beesbury, Ser Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel) is also in the room — Westeros' patron saint of bashing people's skulls in.

Clearly angered by lord Beesbury's outburst, Ser Criston shoves him back down into his seat, but "accidentally" pushes too hard and ends up killing the Master of Coin on the spot. His head meets the council meeting table with a sickening smack, and Lord Beesbury's brief rebellion is no more. Not only is this death visually unsettling, but it's just plain sad. Beesbury is the rare example of a good person in the Red Keep, and he's essentially killed for standing by his morals.

6. Arrax

Okay, yes, Arrax's death could easily be combined with Lucerys' death, as they both fall in the same moment (or rather, chomp). But as a dragon, and the only dragon on this list, Arrax is deserving of his own independent tribute. Throughout "House of the Dragon" Season 1, we're shown the mythical strength of the dragons. We understand through their titanic stature why no one has ever been able to usurp Targaryen rule. And we come to appreciate the magic of the creatures — the fact that they're not just powerful weapons, but majestic beasts of an ancient time with complex intelligence.

If you watched all eight seasons of "Game of Thrones," then you've seen dragons die. You've even seen dragons fight each other, albeit only after one is resurrected in a zombified form. But you've never seen anything like what happens to Arrax. The little guy flies and fights so valiantly to defend his rider, but he just can't stand up to the mammoth that is Vhagar. All it takes is one bite, and Arrax is nothing more than a tumbling collection of bones and wings. It's terrifying, devastating, and a grim, to say the least.

In this death, we see the coming carnage of the Dance of the Dragons. We see that the Targaryens are the only ones capable of destroying themselves, and we see exactly how such a self-destruction could happen. In this way, Arrax becomes a dark prophecy of what's to come, but he's also just a loyal dragon who deserved so much better.

5. Ser Joffrey Lonmouth

It's only fitting that we group both of the characters savagely murdered by Criston Cole together on this list. Lord Beesbury is the second man to suffer the knight's savage outbursts. The first is Ser Joffrey Lonmouth (Solly McLeod), Laenor's love who travels to King's Landing with him when the young Velaryon is betrothed to Rhaenyra.

At first, it looks like everything might go great for Ser Joffrey. Rhaenyra understands that Laenor is gay, and they agree to each see other people as they see fit after getting married. Knowing that, Joffrey introduces himself to Ser Criston at the dinner celebrating the betrothal. His intentions are clearly innocuous — a shaking of hands between the two lovers of the future king and queen — but Criston takes Joffrey's another way. Obsessed with his honor and despondent after Rhaenyra's recent rejection, Ser Criston feels that the very mention of the arrangement is treasonous and possibly even interprets it as blackmail. So what does he do? What any self-respecting knight of the Kingsguard would do at a fancy dinner party: Beat the other man to death with his bare hands.

Joffrey's death is tough to watch, and there are layers to its brutality. It's visually sickening. It's ethically enraging. It casts a long shadow over Laenor and Rhaenyra's entire marriage, and it's another instance of fridging in a franchise with a long history of killing gay characters. With this crime committed (and left unpunished), any chance the happy couple may have had for real happiness vanishes. It's whisked away on the wind alongside an innocent life.

4. The Lords Strong

Oh, the Strongs — a reminder that if you don't treat your younger son or brother with respect, they might lock you in your bedroom and burn you alive. Lord Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes) is one of the rare good people in King Viserys' court, serving him loyally as Hand of the King for years. But when the scandal of Lyonel's eldest son Harwin's (Ryan Corr) secret affair with Princess Rhaenyra becomes too much for him to bear, he puts in his two weeks' notice and returns to Harrenhal — a place where only good things ever happen.

Oh wait, that's wrong, because Harrenhal is actually the most cursed place in all of Westeros. Lyonel and Harwin barely have time to put down their bags before a raging inferno claims both of their lives. And the kicker? It's set by a member of their own family, the sinister Larys. The death of the Strongs earns a spot in our top four here for a few reasons. First off, Harwin and Lyonel are both good guys: Loyal, trustworthy, and true. Second, the fact that Larys murders his own brother and father is just despicable, and it elevates the crime to a whole new extreme.

But the most devastating part of this tragedy is the effect it has on Rhaenyra and her children. Lucerys and Jacaerys (Harry Collett) don't figure out that Harwin is their real father until after he leaves King's Landing, which means that they never get to interact with him as a real family.

3. Lady Laena Velaryon

The second in-childbirth death in "House of the Dragon" and the first to appear on our list is that of Lady Laena Velaryon (Nanna Blondell). One of the daughters of Lord Corlys and Princess Rhaenys, Laena ends up marrying Daemon Targaryen after his first wife dies in a ... riding accident. We don't get to spend that much time with Laena, which is the only reason her death ranks no higher than the bronze-medal spot on this list. The scene itself is one of the most impactful of the entire show.

While trying to give birth to her and Daemon's third child, Laena realizes that it's not going to work. Nothing that the medical professionals in Essos have to offer is enough to get the baby out, or to save the mother. In a move that's as heartbreaking as it is badass, Laena carries herself outside where her dragon, Vhagar, is resting. She gives the "dracarys" order to Vhagar because she wants a dragonrider's death, but her loyal mount hesitates. The dragon clearly cares for Laena, but she also understands that her rider is serious. So Vhagar belches a gush of flames and incinerates the dying Laena on the sand.

It's tragic. It's devastating. And it's a grim reminder of the kinds of dangers women under patriarchy are often forced to face. With Laena dead, Vhagar is claimed by a less admirable rider, whose own actions make this death all the more regrettable.

2. Lucerys Targaryen

Not even kids are safe in "House of the Dragon," as Lucerys Targaryen learns in the season finale. In a bid to gather allies to her banner, Rhaenyra sends her two eldest sons away on their dragons to impart with the Starks and the Baratheons. Lucerys, the younger of the two lads, is sent to Storm's End, alone on his dragon Arrax. And he never comes back.

What makes this death so absolutely devastating is that we see it coming from a mile away. The second Rhaenyra announces that he'll be going alone, it's pretty clear that it's the last trip he'll ever take. This foreboding carries through Lucerys' entire exchange with Lord Borros Baratheon, during which he stands tall and speaks with the composure of a full-grown man. His mother would be so proud. She never gets to congratulate — or even see — him again, though, because Prince Aemond (Ewan Mitchell) follows Lucerys on Vhagar and ends up murdering him in the sky.

Through the extended dragon chase, which takes place in the midst of a violent storm, you'll hope against hope that maybe Lucerys could actually get away. He's fast. Arrax is small and maneuverable. And surely Aemond doesn't really want to kill him, right? Well, sort of. But Aemond also can't fully control Vhagar — a dragon who's been killing since Aegon's Conquest. Lucerys' death is the breaking point for what's sure to be all-out war, and the look on his mother's face when she hears the news is enough to break your heart.

1. Queen Aemma and Prince Baelon

The first major death in "House of the Dragon" Season 1 is also its most devastating. At the end of Episode 1, we witness the death of Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke), followed closely by her infant son Baelon. And they are rough. Real rough. When the main action of the show starts, Aemma is close to giving birth to a child, who Viserys wants deeply to be a son. He believes he needs a male heir to ensure the successful passing of his line, and indeed, the baby turns out to be a boy.

Queen Aemma may not be around that long before she dies, but her death is easily the most brutal and unsettling in the entire show. Viserys' decision to cut her open in the hopes of saving the child is made with the belief that she was going to die anyway, which might be true, and might not. Regardless, the scene is messed up beyond measure. Listening to Aemma scream in terror and agony as she realizes what's happening is sickening. And what's it all for? Nothing. The baby dies almost immediately, leading to a desolate shared funeral.

Of everyone in "House of the Dragon," Aemma may get dealt the worst hand. It's no narrative accident that Viserys' fixation on securing a male heir leads to the decision to kill his own wife. He is guilty for what happens, and he knows. From the moment Aemma and Baelon die, the king becomes a walking ghost haunted by his complicity in the crime. They say not to start the show with a showstopper, but "House of the Dragon" tells us exactly what we're in for out of the gate.