Inherited features of first born Targaryens

“No matter how far back Ned searched in the brittle yellowed pages, always he found the gold yielding before the coal.”

Hair color in ASOIAF, as well as ALL of George RR Martin’s stories, is wildly important. From false colors, to honey-colored, to the shades of white, grey, and silver, it is a clue not to be underestimated. There seems to be a formula that the first born child of a Targaryen/non-Targ mix parentage always physically favors the non-Targ parent, while the second born and subsequent children are a little more of a mix of both. This is done for literary purposes to be able to hide a certain child/ren in plain sight. Detailed below.

I first proposed this idea years ago on the Westeros.org forum to mixed reactions. A common misconception about this theory I want to clear up right away is that Martin is using his own world genetics, not our real world genetics. This is a carryover idea from his SciFi specific preferences, just reformulated and simplified to fit a fantasy story. The other misconception is that this “formula” applies to all people of Westeros. Nope. Just the Targaryens, as the other families have their own simplified formula the author uses for literary purposes only.


In the Baratheon/Lannister- anyone mix, we always get coal before gold. I think it is the same for the first born to a Targ/Non-Targ baby. I was lucky enough to ask George about this theory and he pretty much said yes in a very funny, stumped sorta way.

The book series has to rely on other genetic factors and methods of DNA testing that we do not use or rely upon in our own world (reality is such a silly place!). Therefore, GRRM has to somehow “show” that certain characters are related other than just by looks or swab testing. This is where personality comes in to play. Of course, there is always going to be that one exception thrown in there in attempt to throw things off, but exceptions are not the basis for reality and usually have their own reason why. I am aware that there may be a little crossover with symbolism, something I kinda expect, and that is fine as long as you can provide some links to help validate your ideas.

  1. It seems as though the first born child to a mix of a Targaryen and non-Targaryen parents will conveniently always favor the non-Targaryen as far as physical looks, while the child may favor the Targ parent for personality and demeanor. Sometimes an exception child may have one Targ feature, but mostly they look non-typical-Targaryen.
    1. ADDING: After a little discussion it seems that having a non-Targargyen mother may have more of an effect on this theory. Thoughts???
  2. It is the subsequent children that most often take the Targ looks of skin color, hair color and eye color. This seems to occur mostly with just the second child, while the third child and others can vary.
  3. The typical Targaryen features are pale skin, silver, platinum, or gold hair and eyes in a variety of shades of purple, or light blue.
    • TWOIAF/ Targaryen Kings:  …aquiline nose, fine features, silver-white hair, and purple eyes that bespoke his own Valyrian heritage. Source link.
    • TWOIAF/ Rise of Valyria: The great beauty of the Valyrians—with their hair of palest silver or gold and eyes in shades of purple not found amongst any other peoples of the world—is well-known, and often held up as proof that the Valyrians are not entirely of the same blood as other men. Source Link.
  4. The current, Westerosi Targagryens are descended from Aerion Targaryen (son of Daemion) and Valaena Velaryon. The Velaryons as they are described as having the typical Valyrian looks; pale skin, pale hair, purple eyes. So in this case it makes it should have been Visenya who go the near indistinguishable Velaryon looks, and her personality is something else as well. All of the current Targaryens come from Rhaenys’ line, which means they carry the stronger Targ looks just by that rule (plus the incest- another genetic rule that George is ignoring for his fantasy world).

Male_Great_Bastards
Portrait by Amok of the three Great Bastards: Aegor Rivers aka “Bittersteel”, Daemon I Blackfyre and Brynden Rivers aka “Bloodraven”.

Targ+Non-Targ mixes who look like the non-Targaryen parent: This list can be updated as new information is provided in comments below:

  • Jon Snow (assuming RLJ)= Possible first born to a Stark mother, conveniently looks very Stark, but acts very Rhaegar. Note: Jon is said to have eyes so grey they look almost black while Rhaegar had dark indigo, almost black, eyes. If Rhaegar and Lyanna were to have had additional children then I assume they would look more traditional Targaryen, or at least a good half mix.
  • Duncan “the small” Targaryen= First born son of Aegon 4 (egg) and Betha Blackwood, known for her dark hair and beauty.
  • Baelor Breakspear= first born, Martell mother and he looked very Dornish with dark hair and eyes and more olivy skin.
  • Aegor Rivers/Bittersteal= first/only born, took after his Bracken mother with dark hair and more medium complexion but still had the purple eyes.
  • Nettles= First/only born, Dark hair, dark eyes, dark skin from the mother. A bastard of questionable history, I know, but again I look to the better historians to clarify.
  • Rhaenys, daughter of Rhaegar= first born and looks like mother Elia Martell.
    • Aegon (Young Griff?), as the subsequent child, has/had the traditional Targ looks that he kept hidden.
    • ADWD Epilogue: The girl had been recognizably the Princess Rhaenys, but the boy … a faceless horror of bone and brain and gore, a few hanks of fair hair. None of us looked long. Tywin said that it was Prince Aegon, and we took him at his word.
  • Prince Valarr= First born of Baelor (above) and mother Jena Dondarrion. He looked very much like his Dornish-Targ father, though he was smaller and thinner. He had brown hair, with a streak of silver-gold running through it. He had blue eyes like his Dondarrion mother.
  • Jacaerys, Lucerys and Joffery Velaryon= All three had brown hair and brown eyes even through the mother Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon each has the silver hair and purple eyes of Valyria. The boys were most likely the children of Harwin Strong… who has brown features.
  • Rhaenys, daughter of Aemon= First/only child of a half-Valyrian/half-Baratheon mother and full-Targaryen father. Rhaenys was 3/4 Valyrian (Targ heritage) to begin with. Our only description of her is when she is older and her hair is described silver streaked with white. Could it be how dark blackish hair turns silver as one ages? Or is it silver as in Valyrian silver? Her personality is described as fierce and fearless.
Valarr-THK
Prince Valarr Targaryen was the oldest son of Baelor Breakspear, Prince of Dragonstone, and Lady Jena Dondarrion.

Targaryen+Non-Targaryen any-born mixes who look like a Targaryen:

  • *Aegon 2= First born and looked like his full-Targaryen father, Viserys 1, but did not have his personality at all. His mother was Alicent Hightower, who herself was not first born and her mother is unknown. Aegon 2 is a good example of the example flip I mentioned above. Identity Issue being she was one of the two in the Dance of Dragons civil war, the other being his cousin Rhaenyra. Part of identity issue could be the use of his own gold dragon sigil.
    • ** So far, as of 4/15/16, Aegon 2 is the only first born Targaryen born to a non-Targ mother that looked like his paternal Targaryen side.
  • *Rhaenyra Targaryen= NOT first born, but the only one to survive to adulthood. Looked Valyrian, however, her mother, Aemma Arryn, was the first born daughter to a Targ mother and a typical blonde/blue Arryn father. Identity Issue being she was one of the two in the Dance of Dragons civil war, the other being her cousin Aegon 2.

Speculated Targaryen mixes:

  • Current Joanna Lannister children. Both look like the mother, however, either could be first born if fathered by Aerys depending on your theory.
    • Cersei and Jaime= Conveniently Look very Lannister from the mother with golden hair and green eyes from Lannister parent, yet the personalities of the twins are like two opposite sides of the same coin which is very Targ-like. This would be “normal” for the first born of a Tagaryen/ non-Targ mixture.
    • Tyrion= possible Targ pale blonde hair and black eye and possible misshapeness, but also conveniently Lannister traits of green eye and pale blonde hair. His mother is clearly not a Targaryen so these mixed up features can help hide his true parental maker… and carrying on the suspicions. The dark hair could possibly come from his Marbrand great-grandmother of First Men origin???

Targaryens mixes who look Targaryen yet have “identity issues”, and by identity issues I mean something like not accepting current Targ rule, going against family norms, etc:

  • Brynden Rivers/Bloodraven= Blackwood mother. Not a first born, but the only one of the three to have a description. Albino, white hair and skin and red eyes. Conveniently not either parent, but I am sure this is for other reasons. His personality was very much in line with his Targaryen father. He was a pro-Targ supporter through all of his questionable “mistings” and possible sorcery. Identitiy Issuehe was sent away from his family and royal duties before vanishing from the Night’s Watch. Also, he was legitimized as a Targaryen by his father, King Aegon IV, but chose to still keep his bastard “Rivers” name. Hmmm….
  • *Rhaenyra Targaryen= listed above. Identity Issue being she was one of the two in the Dance of Dragons civil war, the other being her cousin Aegon 2.
  • *Aegon 2=  listed above. Identity Issue being she was one of the two in the Dance of Dragons civil war, the other being his cousin Rhaenyra. Part of identity issue could be the use of his own gold dragon sigil.
    • ** So far, as of 4/15/16, Aegon 2 is the only first born Targaryen born to a non-Targ mother that looked like his paternal Targaryen side.

Other Targaryen mixes with no description:

  • Aemma Arryn= Born to a full Targaryen mother and a blonde/blue Arryn father. Aemma’s description is not stated. She did give birth to Rhaenyra (listed above).
  • Mya Rivers & Gwenys Rivers. Older sisters to Brynden Rivers/ Bloodraven. No descriptions given.

Here is a fantastic post on page 3 of the original thread that shows a more scientific take on this theory. Please read here.

Original Westeros.org thread linked to here if you want to read more, including some feedback, because of course I could be wrong about much of this.


Thanks for reading. Feel free to follow the blog of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire if you want to get posting updates, make comments, and to join in on the tomfoolery! Feel free to share this craziness with your A Song of Ice and Fire friends.