Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Who Will Be House Of The Dragon's Littlefinger?

Back in the spring of 2011, HBO took a chance on a sprawling fantasy epic based on a series of books by author George R.R. Martin, and it ended up changing television forever. No, really, it did — "Game of Thrones" was an absolutely unprecedented success, even after a famously botched pilot that cost the network a cool $10 million, and ever since it ended in 2019, HBO, as well as plenty of other networks, have been trying to recapture this particular lightning in a bottle once again.

Despite how, well, unceremoniously the original series ended — to say fans hated it would be an understatement — "Game of Thrones" was still, ultimately, a win for HBO, and as a result, a lot rested on the success of its prequel and spin-off, "House of the Dragon." Already renewed for a second season and raking in tens of millions a viewer per week so far, "House of the Dragon" is doing its dang best to recapture the magic of the original series... to the point where some of its characters might remind audiences of those who came before them.

Longtime fans and casual viewers alike definitely remember Petyr Baelish, known informally as "Littlefinger" (played by Aidan Gillen), whose machinations and manipulations were constantly happening behind the scenes throughout most of "Game of Thrones." So, years later, is anyone set to take over Littlefinger's role as the puppet ma(e)ster of the Seven Kingdoms? Two episodes in, there are some serious candidates... but the clear winner thus far is Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best).

The other possible Littlefinger is a false flag

Right off the bat, some might argue that Rhaenys isn't the only Littlefinger-esque character in this new series — most people would probably peg Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans), Hand of the King to Paddy Considine's King Viserys I, as the conniving player who best mimics Petyr. However, those fans would be wrong, because Otto isn't Littlefinger; he's Tywin Lannister.

Originally — and brilliantly — played by Charles Dance in the original series, Tywin is two things above all else: a twisted family man and a master manipulator. However, Tywin is not only a more successful player than Littlefinger (generally), but he's much more obvious about it; while Littlefinger is constantly lurking in the background waiting to strike, Tywin makes it no secret that he's hungry for power. His thirst for that power, though, is also calculated, in that Tywin knows that the Iron Throne isn't the real seat of power, while Littlefinger does believe that it is. Otto doesn't seem to want to be king himself, but by offering his daughter to Viserys to align their families — just as Tywin once did with his own daughter — he makes a play to remain one of the most powerful men behind the scenes, like Tywin always was. (Also, on a surface level, Otto and Tywin have both served as Hand). Otto might seem like a Littlefinger, but he's undoubtedly this generation's Tywin.

Rhaenys is a major yet quiet power player

Known as "The Queen Who Never Was," Rhaenys, before the events of the show's main timeline, was famously passed over in favor of her — male — cousin Viserys for the Iron Throne, and it's clear that she's never forgotten it. Much like Littlefinger before her, Rhaenys spends a fair amount of the first episode relegated to the sidelines with a knowing smirk gracing her face, but when she does make moves, they're quiet yet big attempts to secure the power she was once denied.

In episode 2 of season 1, "The Rogue Prince," Rhaenys and her husband, Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Touissant) attempt to offer their own daughter to Viserys, except there's one glaring issue with this: their daughter, Lady Laena, is just twelve years old. Offering a young, apprehensive girl's hand in marriage is straight out of Littlefinger's playbook; who could forget Littlefinger giving Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) over to the sociopathic Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) to gain a tiny bit of power?

Beyond that, Rhaenys, like Littlefinger, knows how to play the game (of thrones). As she tells Rhaenyra (played in her youth by Milly Alcock), the current named heir to the Iron Throne, the men of the Realm would sooner burn the entire world to the ground than watch a woman ascend to power. Rhaenys, like Littlefinger before her, feels robbed — Littlefinger makes no secret of the fact that he's driven by his envy of Lord Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) early in the series — of her rightful power and prizes, but unlike the Ottos and the Tywins of Westeros, she knows that staying in the shadows might serve her better in the long run.

What will Rhaenys do going forward?

As "The Rogue Prince" draws to a close, Rhaenys' husband Corlys allies himself with Viserys' younger brother and current rival Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) — and though Rhaenys isn't present at their meeting, the series has made it entirely clear that Corlys and Rhaenys always work as a team (they're rarely seen apart but their plans are, so far, always on the same page). This means that, through Corlys, Rhaenys is positioning herself against both Viserys and Rhaenyra, but by putting her husband front and center, Rhaenys, like Littlefinger, is playing this quietly and subtly.

Whatever Rhaenys does next is still a big question, but as of the show's second episode, there's no doubt that, as a powerful and smart player who prefers to wait in the wings rather than show her hand, she's following in Littlefinger's hallowed footsteps. Let's just hope that, as "House of the Dragon" continues, Rhaenys doesn't meet the utterly unsatisfying end that Littlefinger faced at the end of the seventh season of "Game of Thrones."