House of the Dragon fans are at it again. First, there was the theory that Daemon Targaryen was the Night King. Now fans are turning their eyes to King Viserys Targaryen, who many believe could be the White Walker with the ice spear in Game of Thrones.
Following the release of House of the Dragon, an old Game of Thrones tradition is making a comeback online: complex, retconning fan theories. Was Bran controlling the Night King? Was Jon Snow ever going to marry Daenerys? For how long was Gendry rowing in circles? These theories were a landmark of the weekly Game of Thrones discourse, so it’s great to see them again in full force with House of the Dragon.
One of the latest fan theories alleges that King Viserys Targaryen could be around in Daenerys’ days. How does one beat death in the Game of Thrones universe? You either come back to life through some Lord of Light shenanigans, or you become a zombie. In Viserys’ case, he chose option B – or that is what some fans would believe.
Some sharp-eyed fans have noticed that there are some physical similarities between the late King Viserys Targaryen and one of the more prominent White Walkers (the one with no shirt who wields an ice spear.) Aside from having two eyes, there are some other more convincing reasons why this theory is, sadly, completely bogus.
As some of the greatest pieces of high fantasy have established, your world – no matter how fantastical it might be – needs to adhere to certain rules for fans to consider them believable, “real” places. In Westeros’ case, the lore of the White Walkers, as shrouded in mystery as it might be, has some clear limitations that directly imply that Viserys couldn’t have become a White Walker.
First off, we have to establish some key differences between the White Walkers in the shows and George R. R. Martin’s books. While the mythos surrounding “The Others” – as they’re called in the books – is nebulous at best, the shows have established some rules and hierarchies in the Army of the Dead we can use as guidelines to disprove this theory.
There’s a vital distinction between the White Walkers and the Wights. As Martin describes them, the White Walkers are neither alive nor dead; we see this in the show when the Night King turns the last of Craster’s sons into a White Walker. On the other hand, Wights are most certainly dead, reanimated creatures serving under the guidance of the White Walkers.
Following this logic, there’s one major complication with King Viserys Targaryen’s ability to become a White Walker: he’s already dead. As much as he could still join the Army of the Dead, he would have to do as a Wight, not a White Walker.
There’s also the fact that the events of House of the Dragon, and Viserys’ death, take place 200 years before Game of Thrones. If, for some reason, the White Walkers got to Viserys Targaryen’s body, they would have only found bones by then.
To make matters worse for this theory, what happens to Viserys’ body after his passing in the books pretty much leaves out any possibility of his body ever being reanimated. After hiding the monarch’s death from the public, Alicent Hightower forbids the septons and the silent sisters from treating the late regent’s mortal remains. However, after a new king ascends to the throne, the body of King Viserys receives its last rites: the traditional Targaryen burning.
So, unless there’s a White Walker that’s actually a mound of ashes, this theory involving King Viserys Targaryen has enough holes to sink to the bottom of the narrow sea. As flawed as it might be, however, it’s a testament to the creativity of the GoT and House of the Dragon fandom and shows that the series has had the revitalizing effect that the franchise so desperately needed!