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Why The Dragons In House Of The Dragon Look So Different From Daenerys' Dragons In GoT

HBO's "House of the Dragon" is finally here, and with it comes the promise of 17 new dragons — each looking and acting much different than the fire-breathing beasts we saw Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) commanding in "Game of Thrones." But why?

This is the question that many fans have been asking on social media since the debut of Episode 1, "The Heirs of the Dragon," which saw the early beginnings of the infamous Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of Dragons crop up. "Game of Thrones" diehards have been caught off guard by some of the dragon differences and asking about them online, with Redditor u/spaacepirate saying: "Why the dragons look degenerated in comparison to Daenery's?" A number of different answers have been given out by fans, including the possibility that the dragons in "House of the Dragon" are simply more domesticated than their wild future counterparts in "Game of Thrones." 

"Like domestic dogs compared to wild wolves," said Redditor u/Apostastrophe. "Very different breeds to the point of almost being sub-species. In the books we do hear about a wild dragon and its coloring and description is much more like what Daenerys' look like on the show." Other social media users have agreed with the theory, though some believe other factors are also at play. "Different shapes and sizes and age," said u/pvt9000. "Generally [dragons] in the books had a large variety in size and shape as well as color. Some were sleek and a bit smaller others were powerful and imposing. Some had large horns. Some did not." Luckily for viewers, co-creator/co-showrunner Ryan Condal decided to set the record straight about the dragon differences for good during a recent interview.

The dragons in House of the Dragon are 'real dragons' and not born of magic

According to Ryan Condal, perhaps the biggest reason for the "House of the Dragon" dragons looking and acting so different from Daenerys' dragons, aka her "children" — Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion — in "Game of Thrones" is that they were not born of magic like their HBO predecessors. "These dragons grow like a real dragon would," Condal told TVLine in an August 2022 interview, noting how Dany's dragons "were born of magic, so they matured very quickly." 

When it comes to "House of the Dragon" and the overall history of George R.R. Martin's Westeros, dragons not only play an integral role, but they also serve as full-fledged characters in the fantasy franchise. The latest TV story is ultimately based on Martin's book "Fire & Blood" and includes individual characteristics and evolutionary traits for each creature, with them being much more physically unique than Dany's crew. "Not only are they bright and colorful the way George [R.R. Martin] described them in the book, he actually gives a lot of detail about what each dragon looks like," Condal said. "The color of their horns and crest, the color of their scales. And then they have different silhouettes." But that's not all. The "House of the Dragon" dragons actually have two more major differences from their "Game of Thrones" cousins.

The dragons in House of the Dragon are much older and have more personality

Since "House of the Dragon" takes place roughly 200 years before "Game of Thrones," the fire-breathers we see in the new HBO spinoff are further down the dragon family tree and not as physically evolved as Dany's bunch. According to Ryan Condal, this not only means we will see dragons in different sizes and shapes but also ones with individual personalities and traits of "real dragons," as mentioned earlier. 

"Certain ones will look a little bit more like Drogon did, and others look completely different," Condal told TVLine. "And then there's their different scale size. You have the biggest dragon alive in Vhagar, down to younglings and juveniles who have grown up over time." And since the "House of the Dragon" dragons are basically bred and bonded to House Targaryen through their family bloodlines and Dragonriders, viewers get to see a much more emotional and deeper connection between them and the show's human characters. "We really tried to imbue them with an individual personality that you can start to detect," Condal explained, "Through the animation of them and how they interact with their rider, and who their rider is. It's my feeling that the dragons are some of the most memorable characters in our little universe here."

According to The New York Times, George R.R. Martin went through at least two different writers before landing on Condal and co-creator Miguel Sapochnik's Targaryen story. One of the main reasons he reportedly kept pushing for the show's creation and TV pickup was that it featured such a massive spotlight on the dragons. "I did not want to drop it," Martin told the Times. "It had everything that I thought we needed for a successful successor show. It had all of the intrigue around the Iron Throne. It had the great houses contending. It had dragons — a lot of dragons — and battles and betrayals."