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House of the Dragon: why do all Targaryens have white hair?

House of the Dragon: members of the Targaryen family share a number of similar features but is there a reason they all have silver white hair?

House of the Dragon: why do all Targaryens have white hair?

Why do all Targaryens have white hair? The fantasy series House of the Dragon’s taken us back to when the Targaryen family was in control of the Seven Kingdoms before the Baratheons and Starks overthrew them. However, the seeds of the Targaryen’s destruction are already being sown, and a big part of the coming conflict boils down to blood purity.

It’s clear that Targaryens expect their children to be born with a shock of white or silver hair. Indeed the true-born sons of King Viserys Targaryen and Alicent Hightower all inherited their father’s mane of white hair. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra Targaryen’s children, who all have brown hair, are presumed to be bastards on hair color alone.

But why do Targaryens have white hair? Can Targaryens be born with different colored hair? To get to the bottom of this, we’ve gone back through the Game of Thrones TV series and had a thumb through our well-worn George RR Martin books, and Targaryen hair color isn’t as clear cut as you think.

Why do all Targaryens have white hair?

The Targaryens have white or silvery blonde hair because the family is originally from Old Valyria, where lighter hair colors and skin were extremely common. Thanks to generations of inbreeding, the Targaryens have managed to preserve their distinctive Valyrian features.

Out of the universe, George RR Martin may have given the Targaryens such a distinctive hair color to differentiate them from their Westerosi subjects and imply a degree of otherworldliness about the royal family, to underline the fact they don’t really belong in the Seven Kingdoms.

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That said, not all Targaryens have white hair. In the TV series, Jon Snow is a Targaryen, and he’s got hair darker than the howling void of space, so let’s get that out of the way first. He’s not the only one, either. In the books, Baelor Breakspear, Aegor Rivers, and even our beloved Rhaenys Targaryen are all described as having dark hair. Notably, these examples all have parents who didn’t ‘keep it in the family.’

Without boring everyone to death with a lecture on genetics, the likely reason why Targaryens not born from incest have darker hair is that in the real world, dark hair is a dominant gene, while light hair is recessive. So children born with only one Targaryen parent are less likely to display Valyiran features.

If you can’t get enough of the Targaryen civil war, check out our guide to House of the Dragons season 2, or we have guides on some of the best House of the Dragon characters, including Daemon Targaryen, Larys StrongAlicent Hightower, Otto HightowerKing Viserys Targaryen, and Ser Criston Cole.

Finally, check out our article looking into whether Daenerys Targaryen could return (alongside other members of the Game of Thrones cast) in a hypothetical Game of Thrones season 9.