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House of the Dragon: who is Otto Hightower?

House of the Dragon has introduced us to countless courtiers and advisors but none are more ambitious than the conniving Otto Hightower

House of the Dragon: Otto Hightower explained

Who is Otto Hightower? House of the Dragon explores the final days of the Targaryen’s golden era, before the last dragon perished and their grip on the Iron Throne was broken forever.

As such, we’ve met a host of hangers-on, clinging to the Targaryen family tree like parasitic beetles sucking the delicious royal sap dry. One such person is Otto Hightower, King Viserys Targaryen’s Hand, who’s plotting to our his grandson King Aegon II Targaryen, on the throne ahead of the chosen heir Rhaenyra Targaryen.

But is Otto really just a desperate social climber, or is there more to his motivation than a desire for power? To examine this, we’ve broken down precisely who Otto Hightower is looking, where he came from, and his ultimate fate during the Dance of the Dragons. Warning spoilers ahead.

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Otto Hightower early life

We don’t know much about Otto Hightower’s early life, just that he was born the second son in the Hightower family and presumably grew up in Old Town. He eventually married (although his wife is never named in the books or fantasy series) and has a daughter who he names Alicent Hightower. In the books, he also has a son Ser Gwayne who appears to have been adapted out of the show.

House of the Dragon: Otto Hightower explained

Otto Hightower as Hand of the King

As he grew, Otto’s reputation as a wise and clever man grew, and he was eventually called to court to serve as the Hand of the King for Jaehaerys Targaryen. Otto served the realm well, and after Jaehaerys passed away and King Viserys Targaryen took the throne, he was kept on as Hand.

Dutiful but ambitious Otto frequently clashed with Viserys’ younger brother Daemon Targaryen and he advised the king to remove the Rogue Prince from his small council Viserys remained loyal to his brother, however, and simply moved Daemon around different offices.

During this time, Otto hated Daemon, Viserys heir, so much that he backed Rhaenyra Targaryen’s claim to the throne. When Viserys’ wife, Aemma Arryn, dies, Otto sees an opportunity to advance his family’s station.

House of the Dragon: Otto Hightower explained

He sets Viserys up with Alincent, and the pair soon marry. Alicent gives Viserys what he’d always wanted a son, Aegon Three other children, Aemond, Helena, and Daeron, soon follow. Otto starts to pressure Viserys to name Aegon his own grandson, the heir to the Iron Throne.

After overstepping himself, however, and revealing he’s been spying on Rhaenyra, Viserys fires Otto as Hand and sends him back to Oldtown. Otto then spends several years away from court while Hawyn Strong serves as Hand.

Eventually, Larys Strong murders his own father on the orders of an unwitting Alicent, and Otto returns to court. Otto spends the next few years working to discredit Rhaenyra, and as Viserys weakens due to illness, the Hightowers essentially tule Westeros in all but name.

Otto eventually conspires with disenfranchised members of House Velayron to expose Rhaenyra’s children as bastards, but Viserys thwarts him. That night Otto dines with his extended family, and briefly, it seems as though the two factions can find common ground. That night, however, Viserys dies, and Otto enacts his plan.

House of the Dragon: Otto Hightower explained

Otto Hightower during The Dance of the Dragons

Following Viserys death, Otto quickly names his grandson Aegon king, and it’s revealed that the small council has been filled with people loyal to the Hightowers. While Aegon is crowned, Alicent convinces Otto not to have Rhaenyra and her family killed.

As such, Otto is dispatched to Dragonstone to meet with Rhaenyra and offer her peace terms. This goes as well as you might expect, and Otto is forced to head back to the Red Keep with his tail between his legs.

During the early days of the war, Otto continues to serve as King Aegon II Targaryen’s Hand and is instrumental in finding new allies for the Greens. His efforts eventually break the Velayron’s blockade of King’s Landing, but his diplomatic efforts don’t impress the king.

Ultimately Aegon firs his grandfather and names Ser Criston Cole the new Hand of the King as he believes a younger, more aggressive steward is needed during war. Following his dismissal, Otto stays at court with his daughter Alicent.

House of the Dragon: Otto Hightower explained

How does Otto Hightower die?

Otto Hightower is in King’s Landing when Rhaenyra captures the city from the Greens. Rhaenyra then executes the former Hand of the King for putting Aegon on the throne.

If you’re enjoying the new Game of Thrones TV series, then check out our list of the best Game of Thrones characters; we also have a breakdown of the House of the Dragon cast (and the Game of Thrones cast) you may like, or we have guides to the Game of Thrones dragons and individual articles on, Balerion the Black DreadMeleys, Arrax, Meraxes, Syrax, and Vermithor for your enjoyment.

We’ve also done a deep dive into the history of Daenerys Targaryen if you prefer your Targaryens less scaly.

Finally, we have an article breaking down everything you need to know about the House of the Dragon season 2 release date, as well as a guide to a possible Game of Thrones season 9 and the return of the Game of Thrones cast.

Our sister site Wargamer also has a guide to the best Game of Thrones board games if you want to play this deadly political game for yourself.