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Every House Of The Dragon Character Ranked By How Well They'd Survive Today

Nobody could have predicted the frenzy of attention and supposition that "House of the Dragon" has created since it began airing in August of 2022. The ending of "Game of Thrones," with its numerous twists and betrayals, left many with a bad taste in their mouth. Daenerys Targaryen's heel turn as the destroyer of King's Landing comes off as a bit sudden, even if the show tries to justify it with Varys' murder plot and Jon Snow's aversion to incest. 

Daenerys' greatness, as a dragonrider and revolution leader, are eventually tempered by her sadness at realizing she'll never gain the respect typically associated with her gods-given position. What the betrayal of (and by) Daenerys shows us once again is the truth of that old saying — the gods flip a coin when a Targaryen is born to determine whether they will be great or insane. 

The truth is that most Targaryens are both, given enough time. Now we're being treated to a tale of Daenerys' Targaryen forebears 200 years earlier, and we can definitely see the gods flipping the coin. Rhaenyra and her friends and foes are all 200 years away from Robert Baratheon's reign, the Seven Kingdoms look very different during their time. It could make you wonder how Rhaenyra, or Alicent, or Criston Cole, would fare in Queen Cersei's court. It also makes you wonder what each of these "House of the Dragon" characters would do if they were somehow to visit our world today. Who would rise, and who would fall?

12. Laena Velaryon

As a dragonrider, Laena could have inherited her mother's fearlessness and strength, as well has her father's boldness and tactical mind. She's a Baratheon, a Velaryon, and a Targaryen by birth, meaning she's got the genes to grow up to be equal parts brave and cunning. What Laena learns from hanging around royal wheeling and dealing starting from well before she'd be in middle school in our era could give her a wisdom beyond her years. She's got the background and some attributes that seem like they should secure her a space on this list, but ultimately, her major disadvantage keeps her at the bottom of these rankings. While Lady Laena Velaryon's ostensible precocity makes her a fairly strong contender for modern survival, as a literal 12-year-old child, she would face an uphill battle if she wanted to achieve as much as some of the adults from the show. In the modern world, Laena would be considered too young to take out a credit card, rent a car, buy alcohol, or cosign a lease for an apartment, and in most U.S. states, she definitely couldn't legally consent to marry a middle-aged man even if her parents said it was okay.

11. King Viserys I Targaryen

Known as a good and kind man, King Viserys is hampered by the asterisk next to his reign. He will always be the king that succeeded over Princess Rhaenys, and we see his discomfort with that role all too often. He seems impulsive at times, although his predilection for fairness tends to temper his Targaryen anger.

With wounds that never heal and a real problem with marrying kids, Viserys clearly shows room for improvement. His grief over his wife's torturous death and his tense relationship with his daughter Rhaenyra put him in his cups when a clear head is called for. 

His entitlement and weakness are hidden by his station in King's Landing, but nobody would listen to a word the old man says today. A major difference between Westeros and today's world is that nobody would hold down a stag so he could drunkenly pretend to kill it, like his royal underlings do while egging him on and supporting him in the Kingswood.

While in the Seven Kingdoms, Viserys is king of all he surveys; in the real world, he wouldn't last very long at all. While his kindness is a good thing, it's that impulsiveness and anger — fruits of a lifetime of being catered to — that would derail his attempts at living in the 21st century.

10. Ser Laenor Velaryon

Perhaps more beautiful than his sister, proven in battle, and dedicated, Laenor has a claim to the throne through his mother Rhaenys, the Queen Who Never Was. His father's strength and his dragon-riding prowess combine to make him a formidable warrior. 

He would be a great catch for a hypothetical wife despite his utter lack of interest in women, and he carries the blood of three proud families in his veins: he's a Velaryon through his father Corlys and, thanks to his mother, he's both a Targaryen and a Baratheon. This gives him a fairly solid claim to the Iron Throne, but his subtle family prefers to work behind the scenes. 

Laenor may lack cultural capital despite growing up royal and at court, but that's only because he's already a man out of time. He's a good conversationalist and a passionate lover, but it's his habit of waiting for just the perfect moment to move — like he and his dragon do at the Stepstones against the Crabfeeder's pirate army — that would serve him best in the modern world.

9. Ser Harwin Breakbones Strong

Massive and redoubtable, the man nicknamed "Breakbones" is another of Princess Rhaenyra's personal sworn shields with whom she grows particularly close. Harwin Strong is the strongest man in the Seven Kingdoms, after all — not that this is a quality that would get him very far in today's job market. 

He is a great warrior and knight, as evidenced by his success in tourney; this indicates a dedication to honor, service and sacrifice that are prime qualities in any era. Breakbones has shown he knows how to achieve his goals, often overcoming considerable hardship in the process. 

Ser Harwin Strong is a formidable ally and loyal to the extreme, with an eye for opportunity that makes him pursue Princess Rhaenyra from the moment he arrives at court. This, more than anything, is a sign of Harwin's shrewdness — another quality that we think would serve him well in the modern age. His dedication, strength, and cleverness are all timeless qualities.

8. Ser Criston Cole

If he came to our world, this handsome errant knight could probably get by on looks alone. A son of the Dornish Marches, he has the distinction of battle experience during an extensive though soon-to-conclude period of peacetime. His father is a mere steward, and so when he presents himself for the Kingsguard, it's notable that he's the only knight without a squire. 

Known as the "Kingmaker" by Jamie Lannister's time, Criston Cole has a powerful but shifting loyalty that may have more to do with heartbreak and frustration than with any ill intent. This shady quality serves him well at court, and unfortunately would be useful for him in our age as well. As we see him move from camp to camp throughout the decades that "House of the Dragon" covers, the only constant is his dedication to the regime's strength by any means. 

A slick operator in some ways, Criston would only be helped in our current age by his willingness to go low when things get sticky, advocating equally for cruelty and treachery depending on what side he's on.

7. Ser Otto Hightower

Ser Otto Hightower, hand to multiple kings, is a sharp illustration of the difference between knowledge and wisdom. He knows the path to power, not unlike a certain Petyr Baelish from a few centuries down the line, and Otto is even more willing to go after it. Hightower uses everything at his disposal to achieve his aims, and worst of all he always believes he is working toward the best for the Seven Kingdoms. This is a dangerous mindset that would not serve him well in the modern age. 

Unfortunately, his gift for whispering secrets and advice in the ears of powerful rulers would serve him much better. There will always be a spot for a whispering toady, after all. Meanwhile, his iffy relationship with morality has him marrying off tweens and toddlers, sometimes to their own relatives, all in pursuit of a stable kingdom. In fact, his most redeeming quality — his horror at Prince Daemon's brutality — might well stand him in good stead today if he let that sensitivity drive his choices rather than his relentless search for influence.

6. Lady Alicent Hightower

Lady and Queen Alicent is known for two things: kindness and beauty. As the comeliest maiden in the Seven Kingdoms — at least, according to her father Otto — she commands attention. As queen to King Viserys, she commands many more tangible matters in addition to an abstract quantity of attention. 

But what put her in the Red Keep would help her out just as much in 2022. Even as a teen, she uses her position to influence her king toward justice, kindness, and aid to the helpless. While Ser Otto's motives for pushing his adolescent daughter to spend more time with the recently widowed king are unabashedly depraved, the show doesn't lead us to assume Alicent shares Otto's ambition to control the Iron Throne. As we see her trying desperately to hold onto her dearest friendship with Princess Rhaenyra, Queen Alicent demonstrates a loyalty and an open-hearted disposition that might be more useful in modern times than it is King's Landing. 

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5. Princess Rhaenys Targaryen

The dragonriding Princess Rhaenys is known throughout the Kingdoms for her bravery and drive. She is a canny diplomat and master at manipulating situations from behind the scenes. This is due partially to the tragic aspects of her life story. As the Queen Who Never Was, Rhaenys is passed over, and her younger and weaker cousin Viserys inherits the Iron Throne. Rhaenys spends her whole life learning the ways of court and the ways of men and women as she attempts to build her life in the shadow of a reign that probably should've been hers. 

It's sad to say, but Rhaenys' jaundiced eye toward the sexual politics of Westeros gives her a kind of wisdom that would break a weaker person. She presumes a woman will never be queen, because she was herself denied. Whether or not Rhaenyra's quest for power proves Rhaenys right or wrong is secondary; it's this understanding of her situation that would stand Princess Rhaenys in good stead today. She would thrive.

4. Lord Corlys Velaryon

Lord Corlys, also called the "Sea Snake," is a vibrant presence on the small council and on the battlefield. His secret is that he views them both in much the same way — as tactical games of collecting power and influence. His concern over the shipping lanes during Crabfeeder's siege is a smart way to protect his financial interests in the area, and it's clear that Velaryon funds are just as important of a talisman as their Old Valyrian blood. 

Wedded to a powerful dragonrider, Corlys is willing to marry off his prepubescent child to a 40-something king. He, like Otto Hightower and King Viserys himself, has become accustomed to the dynastic woes and inbreeding that make the Targaryens such an unstable brood. If power means loveless marriages for both his children, that's not too high a price to pay. This kind of clear-eyed amoral bargaining, along with Lord Velaryon's boldness and cunning, make him one of the most likely candidates to thrive in 2022.

3. Mysaria

A foreign-born dancer and smooth operator, Mysaria isn't afraid to take Prince Daemon on, and calls him out for lying in front of his men. She has a nose for power and the ability to insert herself into advantageous situations. As she tells Daemon, she has made her way to his heart and bed out of a desire, first and foremost, for safety. This is key to her character — as a person constantly in survival mode, she has limited opportunities to rest. As Mistress of Whisperers to more than one ruler or regent, Mysaria controls the most valuable coin in the Seven Kingdoms: secrets. 

Assuming she made her way to D.C. or Downing Street to form her alliances and whisper her secrets, Mysaria could easily place herself at the center of our modern day's areas of greatest power, perhaps as a fixer or some other shadow operative. That makes her both powerful and subtle enough for the modern age.

2. Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen

In many ways, Rhaenyra Targaryen is a tragic figure from the start of her story, but as we spend more time with her than anybody else, we get a strong sense of how deep her honor, shrewdness, and dedication all lie. The greatest betrayal of her youth — that would be when her father Viserys marries her best friend and crush Alicent Hightower — sets the tone for everything that follows. 

But Rhaenyra's story truly begins with the original Great Council that passed over her second cousin Rhaenys in favor of the lesser King Viserys. This first move in the game of thrones echoes through every move Rhaenyra makes, even during her youth. She grumbles through her brother's name-day, for example, because she thinks Rhaenys might be right and King Viserys is merely watching the clock until someone bears him a boy. Viserys largely validates these concerns by obsessing over his supposed need to generate a son.

A sulky and recalcitrant child who grows into a wise if impetuous ruler, Rhaenyra spends her life with the Iron Throne just barely within her grasp. It's actually that humility, along with her killer instincts, that would make her formidable and skilled in navigating today's world. She knows the system and her place in it, and she's willing to go above and beyond for what she knows is right.

1. Prince Daemon Targaryen

The Rogue Prince Daemon is a study in contrasts. His tenderness with Mysaria and his young niece, as well as his love for his dragon, lie in sharp definition against his brutality, will to power, and general callousness. 

Described as "dashing, daring, and dangerous," but "mercurial and quick to take offense" by Maester Yandel, and by Archmaester Gyldayn as "ambitious, impetuous, and moody," he is called "as charming as he was hot-tempered." 

When his brother King Viserys finally offers aid in Daemon and Corlys' offensive against Crabfeeder's pirates in "House of the Dragon" Episode 3, Daemon's pride is so wounded that he very nearly beats the messenger to death. And yet his loyalty, once earned, is pretty hard to shake. These qualities would make Daemon a powerful individual in 2022, perhaps in the world of finance, as befits a sociopath. 

We'll never know what would happen if these characters were real, but it's fun to make guesses based on what we know. And what we know is that surviving in any age is a lot tougher than we sometimes admit. Next time you're watching "House of the Dragon," we invite you to imagine the characters as your contemporaries. You can learn a lot about power and about duty from being at court.