House Of The Dragon: What Disease Is Killing King Viserys?

House Of The Dragon: What Disease Is Killing King Viserys?
Images via HBO

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

6th Oct 2022 10:30

Warning: House of the Dragon spoilers ahead

If George R.R. Martin is good at one thing, it's killing off characters - beloved or not. We're officially past the halfway point of HBO's House of the Dragon Season 1, and already, we've had more shocking deaths than your average Game of Thrones season. Weirdly, Paddy Considine's King Viserys I Targaryen is afflicted by a devastating disease but is still hanging on by a thread.

Those who've read up on their Targaryen history in Martin's Fire & Blood visual encyclopedia will know the bulk of the text focuses on those who come after Viserys I, and with Considine's troubled king looking like he'll be this season's Ned Stark as canon fodder, it's only a matter of time until he pops his clogs. Seriously, we've seen The Walking Dead extras that look in better health than this dude. But, what disease is killing King Viserys and how long does he have left?

What Disease Is Killing King Viserys?

At first, some thought Viserys was suffering from the deadly greyscale that plagues the old Targaryen homeland of Valyria. The maesters first suggested amputating his infected finger, but by the time we've got to Episode 6, he's had his whole arm lopped off. Greyscale would've been a nice way to tie back to Game of Thrones with characters like Shireen Baratheon and Ser Jorah Mormont, but according to Considine, it's something else entirely.

In an interview with EW's West of Westeros podcast, Considine explained the disease killing King Viserys is actually leprosy. "He's actually suffering from a form of leprosy. His body is deteriorating, his bones are deteriorating. He is not actually old," said the star. "He's still a young man in there. He's just, unfortunately, got this thing that's taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king, and the stress and strain that it puts on you, and what it does to you physically, what it does to you mentally." Still, King Viserys isn't shuffling off this mortal coil just yet.

How Did King Viserys Get His Disease On House Of The Dragon?

House of the Dragon King Viserys Disease
Click to enlarge

Heading back to the start of the season, we saw King Viserys being tended to by the maesters for a small cut on his back. Given that he sits on a throne made from the melted swords of Aegon the Conqueror's enemies, it's no surprise Vis has had the odd nick over the years. Could it be a cut from the Iron Throne that gave King Viserys his leprosy?

Interestingly, the franchise lore states that the Iron Throne judges those who sit on it as being worthy or not. Joffrey Baratheon cut himself, while Aerys II (The Mad King) was nicknamed King Scab because he was constantly cut by the Iron Throne. Although Viserys isn't a tyrannical madman like these two, it's suggested that his indecisiveness makes him weak - and therefore unworthy to rule the realm. It's a sad fact Prince Daemon (Matt Smith) reminded us of when arguing with his brother. 

When Does King Viserys Die In House Of The Dragon?

It's been hard to keep track of what's going in terms of timeline jumps in House of the Dragon, and to be honest, we'd just like two episodes that stick in the same time period. The massive skip between episodes four and five was a decade, and due to the death of Laena Velaryon, we know the next took place in the year 120 AC (after Aegon's Conquest). 

 

Leana's death triggered something known as the Year of the Red Spring that also claimed the lives of Lyonel and Harwin Strong, as well as Laenor Velaryon - although the show mixed this up in a much better way. Viserys sits on the Iron Throne from 103 AC to 129 AC, and from the first look at the episode 8 trailer, this is the big one. October 9's "The Lord of the Tides" definitely makes it look like Vis is done for. As well as some sombre stares and the threat of war, there's only a brief snippet of Viserys' voiceover, AND we see Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) taking charge. Oh well, at least we had a noble king for once. 

While it's clear this disease is killing King Viserys, there have been some clever analogies about those around him also being behind his downfall. By trying to have a simple life and keeping peace in that land, Viserys has actually triggered a Targaryen civil war which will see supporters of Rhaenyra and her children turn against Queen Alicent Hightower's brood and the King's direct line of succession. To be honest, leprosy is the least of Viserys' worries these days... we'll prepare the coffin. 

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