House of the Dragon Keeps Teasing the Upcoming Death of King Viserys

In the series premiere of House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones fans met the mighty King Viserys I (Paddy Considine), who's had a tragic trajectory, to say the least. Despite being an empathetic figure, each installment of the series confirms that Viserys is getting closer to shuffling off this mortal coil, with the big question not being if he'll die, but when he'll die. With the first season already including one major time jump, there's a lot of questions fans have about how much longer we'll have to wait to say goodbye to Viserys for good. 

Since the beginning of the House of the Dragon, we've been constantly reminded that King Viserys I is not as firm a man as he looks to be. And as House of the Dragon has unfolded over Episodes 2, 3, 4, and 5, the showrunners have slowly but surely shown us that as much as family turmoil is eating Viserys alive, there is indeed disease also consuming his body. 

What is King Viserys' illness?


In House of the Dragon Episode 4, "King of the Narrow Sea," a lot of the hype and focus was put on princess Rhaenyra's (Milly Alcock) strange bond with her uncle, prince Daemon (Matt Smith). However, juxtaposed to Rhaenyra and Daemon's tryst was how Rhaenyra's childhood friend Queen Alicent dealt with her husband King Viserys. While Rhaenyra and Daemon became intimate inside a pleasure house, Alicent did her queenly duty, first by bathing Viserys and tending to his increasingly diseased body, covered in lesions, with the rot in his hands already costing the King multiple fingers. Later on, the queen is letting the king have his way with her, and Viserys' s naked body tells an even more horrific tale of the disease's progression. 

While some Game of Thrones fans may be quick to say that Viserys I is suffering from Greyscale, his disease is more like what we now call Leprosy. While today Leprosy is a treatable disease, in the Medieval era, it was much less so. However, Leprosy was not an open-and-shut case of premature death, even back then: people could live for decades with the infectious bacteria, despite the scarring and amputation, and still die a somewhat premature death. That certainly seems to be the trajectory that King Viserys is on, meaning that it's less a question of if King Viserys will die, and more like: 

When will King Viserys die? 

(Photo: HBO)

As is always the case with House of the Dragon, we know the general framework of the Targaryen family history – but the devil is in the details. The show has made it clear that the focus (right now) is how the family of Viserys I comes apart over the line of succession – a succession that only kicks in when the king is no more. What's unclear, still, is just how this series is pacing itself. 

We know that House of the Dragon has a major time jump and big character recastings coming in Episode 6. It's hard to believe that Viserys I survives after that gap in time is passed over – but trailers tell us otherwise. But how much longer will Paddy Considine's Viserys I be there for the drama of House of the Dragon

House of the Dragon premieres new episodes Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.