|House of the Dragon|
|Based on||Fire & Blood|
by George R. R. Martin
|Theme music composer||Ramin Djawadi|
|Opening theme||"Game of Thrones Theme"|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Running time||54–68 minutes|
|Audio format||Dolby Atmos[a]|
|Original release||August 21, 2022 –|
|Game of Thrones|
House of the Dragon is an American fantasy drama television series created by George R. R. Martin and Ryan Condal for HBO. A prequel to Game of Thrones (2011–2019), it is the second television series in the A Song of Ice and Fire franchise. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik served as the showrunners for the first season. Based on parts of Martin's 2018 book Fire & Blood, the series begins about 100 years after the Seven Kingdoms are united by the Targaryen Conquest, nearly 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, and 172 years before the birth of Daenerys Targaryen. Featuring an ensemble cast, the show portrays the events leading up to the beginning of the decline of House Targaryen, a devastating war of succession known as the "Dance of the Dragons".
House of the Dragon received a straight-to-series order in October 2019, with casting beginning in July 2020 and principal photography starting in April 2021 in the United Kingdom. The series premiered on August 21, 2022, with the first season consisting of ten episodes. Five days after its premiere, the series was renewed for a second season. Sapochnik departed as showrunner after the first season, leaving Condal to serve as the sole showrunner for the second season.
The first season received highly positive reviews, with praise towards its character development, visual effects, writing, score by Ramin Djawadi and performances (particularly Considine, Smith, D'Arcy, Alcock, and Cooke). However, the pacing, specifically of the time jumps, and the dark lighting of some scenes were criticized. The series premiere was watched by over 10 million viewers across the linear channels and HBO Max on the first day, the biggest in HBO's history. In January 2023, the series won the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||U.S. viewers|
|1||"The Heirs of the Dragon"||Miguel Sapochnik||Ryan Condal||August 21, 2022||2.17|
|With both his sons dead, old King Jaehaerys I Targaryen convenes a Great Council to choose an heir. The Westerosi lords select Jaehaerys' eldest grandson, Prince Viserys, over Princess Rhaenys, the eldest grandchild. Nine years into his reign, King Viserys organizes a tournament to celebrate Queen Aemma Arryn's pregnancy, confident she is carrying his long-awaited male heir. The Small Council disregards Master of Ships Lord Corlys Velaryon's warning that the Triarchy, an alliance of Essos' Free Cities, threatens to cripple Westerosi shipping lanes. Hand of the King, Ser Otto Hightower, criticizes Viserys's brother and heir, Prince Daemon, for his brutality as the City Watch commander. At the tournament, the young, handsome Ser Criston Cole, a common-born knight, outcompetes Daemon. Meanwhile, Viserys sacrifices Aemma in childbirth, performing a C-section Aemma pleads against, and their newborn son, Baelon, dies shortly after. Viserys refuses the council's pleas to appoint a new heir until Otto reveals that Daemon mockingly styled Baelon as, "The Heir for a Day." Outraged, Viserys banishes Daemon from King's Landing and appoints his only living child, Princess Rhaenyra, heir to the Iron Throne, revealing to her Aegon the Conqueror's dream that inspired him to unify Westeros.|
|2||"The Rogue Prince"||Greg Yaitanes||Ryan Condal||August 28, 2022||2.26|
|Six months after Rhaenyra is named as heir, Daemon has illegally occupied Dragonstone, supported by loyal City Watch guards. When Prince-Admiral Craghas Drahar, known as the Crabfeeder, menaces the Stepstones archipelago at the Essos Triarchy's behest, Rhaenyra suggests showing force. The Small Council dismisses this and Rhaenyra is instead relegated to appointing a new Kingsguard knight. Ignoring others' advice, she chooses Ser Criston, the only knight with actual battle experience. Ser Otto sends his teen-aged daughter, Lady Alicent, to privately console the grieving king; she advises that Viserys and Rhaenyra should discuss his kingly duty to remarry. Lord Corlys and his wife, Princess Rhaenys, propose that Viserys unite their Valyrian houses by marrying their twelve-year-old daughter, Laena. Meanwhile, the Small Council learns that Daemon, proclaiming himself the true heir, stole a dragon egg and intends to marry his mistress, Mysaria, as a secondary spouse. Otto and a small detachment sail to Dragonstone to retrieve the egg. Rhaenyra follows on her dragon, Syrax, and forces Daemon to renounce his false claims and give her the egg. Viserys announces that he intends to wed Alicent, angering Corlys, who approaches Daemon to propose an alliance.|
|3||"Second of His Name"||Greg Yaitanes||Gabe Fonseca & Ryan Condal||September 4, 2022||1.75|
|For three years, Lord Corlys and Prince Daemon have battled Craghas Drahar and his pirates in the Stepstones without the Iron Throne's support. Meanwhile, King Viserys plans a great hunt to celebrate his and pregnant Queen Alicent's son Aegon's second birthday. Rhaenyra resents her father's excessive attention towards her half-brother, Aegon. The ailing king insists that Rhaenyra, now seventeen, must marry to form a strong alliance and protect their lineage. Many suitors are considered, including two-year old Prince Aegon. Lord Lyonel Strong recommends Ser Laenor Velaryon, Lord Corlys' son, as a potential match to mend the rift between the two houses. Overcoming previous doubts, Viserys assures Rhaenyra she remains his heir and can choose her consort. Meanwhile, brothers Hobert and Otto Hightower secretly scheme to make Aegon the successor, furthering their family's power and prestige. After Ser Vaemond Velaryon pleads for the king's help, Viserys agrees to send aid to the Stepstones. Seeing his brother's support as ending his chance to prove himself, Daemon acts as bait to ambush the Triarchy warriors, killing the Crabfeeder and winning the ensuing battle before the crown's forces arrive.|
|4||"King of the Narrow Sea"||Clare Kilner||Ira Parker||September 11, 2022||1.81|
|After an unsuccessful months-long tour to choose a consort, Rhaenyra returns to King's Landing. Daemon also returns after conquering most of the Stepstones. Now named "King of the Narrow Sea", Daemon swears allegiance to Viserys and hands over his crown. As the reunited brothers celebrate, Alicent and Rhaenyra reconcile. After dark, Daemon and Rhaenyra sneak out to explore King's Landing, drinking, attending a bawdy play, and visiting a brothel. Daemon seduces a willing Rhaenyra, but unable to consummate their affair, he abandons her there. Returning to the Red Keep, Rhaenyra utilizes her position to coerce Ser Criston into having sex. Informed by the White Worm's spy, Ser Otto tells the king about Daemon and Rhaenyra's carousing. Alicent overhears and privately questions Rhaenyra, who swears against the accusations. Viserys confronts Daemon who, hungover and disheveled, seemingly confirms the rumors and proposes he wed Rhaenyra. Viserys claims Daemon only wants the crown and exiles him to the Vale. To avoid scandal and strengthen the throne, Viserys orders Rhaenyra to marry Ser Laenor Velaryon. Viserys dismisses Otto as his Hand after Rhaenyra accuses Otto of manipulating him for his personal gain. Grand Maester Mellos gives Rhaenyra a precautionary abortifacient tea at Viserys' request.|
|5||"We Light the Way"||Clare Kilner||Charmaine DeGraté||September 18, 2022||1.83|
|In the Vale, Daemon murders his wife, Lady Rhea Royce. Rhaenyra and Ser Laenor Velaryon are betrothed, mollifying Lord Corlys. Understanding Laenor's homosexuality, Rhaenyra proposes fulfilling their royal duties to produce heirs, while being free to pursue their own lovers. Ser Criston is humiliated when Rhaenyra declines his proposal to elope to Essos and assume new identities; she prefers their current sexual liaison. Before departing King's Landing, Ser Otto warns Queen Alicent that Rhaenyra becoming queen makes Alicent's children a threat to the crown, for they are the King’s sons. Alicent questions Criston about Rhaenyra and Daemon, but misunderstanding, he confesses to being Rhaenyra's lover. During Rhaenyra and Laenor's betrothal celebration, Alicent enters, interrupting Viserys' speech, wearing a green gown, the signal color for House Hightower's call to arms. Daemon also unexpectedly attends. Confronted by Rhea's cousin, Daemon denies murdering her and wishes to assert his claim to inherit her lands. Laenor's lover, Ser Joffrey Lonmouth, surmises Criston is Rhaenyra's paramour. When Criston believes Joffrey is threatening blackmail, he brutally kills him, devastating Laenor and horrifying guests. Rhaenyra and Laenor are privately wed late that night. Viserys collapses after the ceremony. Meanwhile, Alicent intervenes as a disgraced Criston is about to commit suicide.|
|6||"The Princess and the Queen"||Miguel Sapochnik||Sara Hess||September 25, 2022||1.86|
|Ten years later, Rhaenyra has given birth to three sons—Jacaerys, Lucerys, and newborn Joffrey. All lack the Valyrian platinum hair, but King Viserys rejects Queen Alicent's assertion that Ser Laenor is not their father. Alicent tells Aegon he must prepare to one day dispute Rhaenyra’s claim for the Iron Throne, as he, Viserys’s firstborn son, will always be a threat to her claim, and his life would not be safe if she were to take the throne. Daemon and his wife, Laena Velaryon, visit Pentos with daughters Baela and Rhaena. The prince offers them a lordship in exchange for an alliance against a resurgent Triarchy. Unable to give birth after an agonizing labor, Laena commands her dragon Vhagar to incinerate her. Ser Criston, now serving Alicent, goads Ser Harwin into attacking him by implying that Harwin fathered Rhaenyra's children. To ease family strife, Rhaenyra proposes Jacaerys marry Helaena, Alicent's daughter, which Alicent rejects. Shortly after, a disgraced Ser Harwin bids Rhaenyra and her sons farewell before his father, Hand of the King Ser Lyonel Strong escorts him to Harrenhal castle. Alicent confides to Ser Lyonel's younger son, Larys, that she wishes her father, Ser Otto, was still the king's Hand. Larys recruits three criminals to set a fire at Harrenhal, killing Lyonel and Harwin. Rhaenyra moves her household to Dragonstone, also bringing Laenor's lover, Ser Qarl Correy.|
|7||"Driftmark"||Miguel Sapochnik||Kevin Lau||October 2, 2022||1.88|
|King Viserys and his court attend Lady Laena's funeral in Driftmark. Rhaenyra and Daemon reunite and are physically intimate. Meanwhile, Viserys fails to reconcile with Daemon. Prince Aemond claims Vhagar as his dragon, causing an altercation with his cousins and nephews in which Lucerys slashes Aemond's eye with a knife. Seeking justice, Queen Alicent lunges at Lucerys with Viserys' Valyrian steel dagger to gouge out his eye. Rhaenyra blocks Alicent, but injures herself in the process. After claims that Rhaenyra's sons are bastards, Viserys decrees anyone questioning their legitimacy will have their tongues removed. Later, Hand of the King, Otto Hightower assures Alicent they will prevail, while Rhaenyra and Daemon unite against Alicent and her family. To continue the true Velaryon lineage, Princess Rhaenys suggests that Lord Corlys pass his title through his granddaughter, Baela by marriage to Prince Lucerys, as Laenor has not sired any children. Ser Qarl appears to murder Laenor, with an overwhelmed and inconsolable Rhaenys and Corlys believing a charred body to be their son's. Daemon and Rhaenyra privately marry in the old Valyrian Dragonlord tradition to perpetuate the Targaryen bloodline. After faking his death, Laenor secretly escapes Driftmark with Qarl.|
|8||"The Lord of the Tides"||Geeta Vasant Patel||Eileen Shim||October 9, 2022||1.73|
|Six years on, Lord Corlys Velaryon is severely wounded fighting in the Stepstones. His brother, Ser Vaemond, petitions King's Landing to name him Corlys' heir, proclaiming Rhaenyra's son, Lucerys, illegitimate. Rhaenyra and Daemon return to the capital to defend Lucerys' claim. King Viserys is now bedridden, disfigured, and mentally muddled. Queen Alicent and the king's Hand, Otto Hightower, oversee all royal matters. Alicent covers-up Prince Aegon raping a handmaiden. Rhaenyra proposes two marriage arrangements with House Velaryon to gain Princess Rhaenys' support. She implores Viserys to defend her succession, quoting Aegon the Conqueror's dream about the Prince That Was Promised. As Vaemond's petition is presented at court, Viserys, barely ambulatory, enters and declares Lucerys the Driftmark heir. Daemon beheads Vaemond when he denounces Rhaenyra as a whore and her children bastards. The family appears to reconcile during a feast, but after Viserys departs, Aemond incites a fight by insinuating Rhaenyra's three eldest sons are illegitimate. Meanwhile, Alicent's lady-in-waiting, Talya, regularly provides Daemon's former mistress, Mysaria, with information. Viserys, near death, mutters parts of Aegon the Conqueror's dream, which Alicent believes refers to their son, Aegon.|
|9||"The Green Council"||Clare Kilner||Sara Hess||October 16, 2022||1.56|
|After Viserys' death, Ser Otto and the Small Council plot to crown Prince Aegon. Ser Criston kills Lord Beesbury, who opposed the scheme. Kingsguard Lord Commander Harrold Westerling resigns in protest. Otto keeps Viserys's death a secret to fortify the council's position, then coerces the noble houses to switch their allegiance to Aegon. Those resisting are imprisoned or hanged. Otto and Alicent discuss on whether to kill or exile Rhaenyra and separately rush to find and influence the missing Prince Aegon: Otto sends Kingsguard brothers Ser Erryk and Ser Arryk Cargyll, while Alicent tasks Criston and Prince Aemond. The Cargylls find Aegon first, but Criston and Aemond forcibly take him. Lord Larys tells Alicent that spies, including lady-in-waiting, Talya, are within the Red Keep. Alicent approves eliminating the head spy. Alicent persuades a resistant Aegon to claim his birthright. King's Landing citizens are herded into the Dragonpit to witness Aegon's coronation. Princess Rhaenys, refusing to support Aegon’s claim, is held captive. Erryk frees her and she enters the Dragonpit caverns. Astride her dragon Meleys, she violently breaches the grand hall underneath the oblivious civilians, causing mayhem and deaths; Meleys roars at the onlooking royals before Rhaenys flees King’s Landing on dragonback.|
|10||"The Black Queen"||Greg Yaitanes||Ryan Condal||October 23, 2022||1.85|
|Princess Rhaenys arrives on Dragonstone to announce King Viserys's death and Prince Aegon ascending the throne; the news shocks Rhaenyra into a premature stillbirth. Daemon pressures Rhaenyra to go to war. When Ser Erryk brings Viserys' crown, Rhaenyra is declared queen. Ser Otto Hightower presents King Aegon II's terms for Rhaenyra's concession, including retaining her royal title and Dragonstone, and her sons' rights to inherit Driftmark; Daemon is angered when Rhaenyra considers conceding to unify the realm against the Northern threat foretold by Aegon the Conqueror's dream. Lord Corlys pledges House Velaryon's allegiance to Rhaenyra's "Black" faction; Daemon plans to recruit more dragonriders and awakens a large dragon hibernating in a cave. Princes Jacaerys and Lucerys are sent as envoys to secure Houses Arryn, Stark, and Baratheon as allies. Lucerys meets with Lord Borros Baratheon and discovers Prince Aemond is there. King Aegon II has offered Borros a political alliance through marriage between his daughter and Aemond while Rhaenyra has offered nothing. Lucerys leaves on his dragon, Arrax, but Aemond pursues him on Vhagar. The fractious dragons defy their riders; Arrax burns Vhagar; Vhagar then devours Lucerys and Arrax, stunning Aemond. Rhaenyra is devastated and enraged upon receiving the news.|
In 2015, with Game of Thrones still in production, HBO executives approached A Song of Ice and Fire writer George R. R. Martin regarding possible successors or spin-offs to the series. In November 2018, Martin stated that a "potential spin-off series would be solidly based on material in Fire & Blood." Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss stated they wanted to "move on" from the franchise and declined involvement in subsequent projects. By September 2019, a Game of Thrones prequel series from Martin and Ryan Condal that "tracks the beginning of the end for House Targaryen" was close to receiving a pilot order from HBO. The following month, House of the Dragon was given a straight-to-series order. Condal and Miguel Sapochnik, who won an Emmy Award for directing the episode "Battle of the Bastards", were selected to serve as showrunners. In 2016, Condal pitched the idea of a series based on Martin's Tales of Dunk and Egg, however HBO initially passed on it. Sapochnik was also hired to direct the series premiere as well as additional episodes. The series begins 172 years before the events of Game of Thrones during the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen, ultimately leading to the Targaryen civil war known as the Dance of the Dragons. The project is a reworking of the rejected spin-off concept from Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman, on which HBO officially passed.
Inspiration for the series came from English medieval history and the Anarchy, a war of succession after the death of Henry I of England between his nephew Stephen of Blois and only surviving child, Empress Matilda, who had fled to Normandy in the 12th century. In January 2020, Casey Bloys, HBO's president of programming, stated that writing had begun. Writers for the show include Condal and Sara Hess, who previously wrote for Deadwood and Orange Is the New Black. Martin was also involved in the pre-production, providing input on storylines and reviewed scripts and rough cuts. On August 26, 2022, less than a week after its premiere, the series was renewed for a second season. On August 31, Miguel Sapochnik stepped down as director and co-showrunner for the second season, but remained an executive producer. Sapochnik stated, "It was incredibly tough to decide to move on, but I know that it is the right choice for me, personally and professionally." Alan Taylor, who directed Game of Thrones episodes, will join in season two and serve as an executive producer and direct. Following the second season renewal, Bloys stated that the second season is expected to premiere in 2024. Hess told Variety in late December 2022 that most of season 2 had been written and will include a revenge plot against Alicent following the events of the first season finale. The second season will consist of eight episodes.
It was very important for Miguel and I to create a show that was not another bunch of white people on the screen. We wanted to find a way to put diversity in the show, but we didn't want to do it in a way that felt like it was an afterthought or, worse, tokenism.
Ryan Condal, July 2022 interview with Entertainment Weekly
In the novels, members of House Velaryon are generally described as having "silver-gold hair, pale skin, and violet eyes", similar to the Targaryens. However, Condal and Sapochnik wanted to introduce more racial diversity with its casting. Game of Thrones was criticized for lacking a diverse cast and including cultural stereotypes. As a result, House Velaryon are portrayed as black in the television series. According to Condal, Martin, while writing the novels, considered making the Velaryons a house of Black aristocrats who traveled to Westeros from the culturally diverse area of Valyria. Despite initial fan criticism of the ethnicity change, publications and commentators stated it helped distinguish between the large number of characters between the two families.
Fire & Blood is written in the style of a history book authored by an in-universe fictional historian studying the Targaryen dynasty and various civil conflicts. The novels of A Song of Ice and Fire, however, are more immersive, with each chapter written in a third-person limited perspective from the immediate point of view of a character. As a result, some accounts of events recorded in Fire & Blood are second-hand narrations that are potentially speculative or distorted, therefore making the narrator unreliable from the reader's perspective. In an effort to make the story more clear for viewers, the show writers decided to portray the book events in chronological order from a third-person perspective.
Casting began in July 2020. In October 2020, Paddy Considine was cast as Viserys I Targaryen. Considine was offered a role in Game of Thrones but declined due to the fantasy elements of the series. Condal in a 2020 interview stated that Considine was their first choice for Viserys. By December, Olivia Cooke, Matt Smith, and Emma D'Arcy were cast as Alicent Hightower, Daemon Targaryen, and Rhaenyra Targaryen, respectively. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Smith stated he was initially hesitant to star in a Game of Thrones prequel but accepted the role after learning of Considine's attachment to the project.
In February 2021, Rhys Ifans, Steve Toussaint, Eve Best, and Sonoya Mizuno were added to the main cast. By April, Fabien Frankel joined the cast as Ser Criston Cole. In May, Graham McTavish was spotted on set in full wardrobe. In July 2021, Emily Carey and Milly Alcock were added to the cast as younger counterparts of Alicent Hightower and Rhaenyra Targaryen, respectively. The time jump midway through the first season prompted the casting of multiple actors for the same role.
On April 24, 2023, Gayle Rankin, Simon Russell Beale, Freddie Fox, and Abubakar Salim were announced to have joined the cast for the second season as Alys Rivers, Ser Simon Strong, Ser Gwayne Hightower and Alyn of Hull, respectively.
Principal photography on the ten-episode first season of the series began in April 2021. The series was filmed primarily in the United Kingdom. House of the Dragon was the first production to be shot at Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios' new virtual production stage. On July 18, 2021, a positive COVID-19 case forced the pausing of production for two days. The Spanish publication Hoy reported that House of the Dragon would be filmed in the Province of Cáceres in western Spain between October 11–21, 2021. The provincial capital of Cáceres along with the medieval town of Trujillo were used in scenes for King's Landing. From October 26–31, the series was filmed in Portugal at the Castle of Monsanto.
Locations in Cornwall, England included St Michael's Mount, Holywell Beach and Kynance Cove. Other locations included Castleton, Derbyshire, in areas such as Cave Dale, Eldon Hill Quarry and the Market Place. Some scenes were shot in Aldershot, Hampshire. In February 2022, HBO confirmed that the first season of House of the Dragon had wrapped production. Visual effects for the series were produced in part by Pixomondo, who worked on Game of Thrones and received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Visual Effects.
The second season began filming on April 11, 2023 at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden in Watford, England, and moved to Cáceres, Spain on May 18, 2023. In October 2022, it was reported that the OSVP stage at Leavesden Studios, used in the series, was shutting down.
Main article: House of the Dragon: Season 1 (soundtrack)
It was announced in February 2021 that Ramin Djawadi would compose the series score. Djawadi composed the music for all eight seasons of Game of Thrones, which garnered him three Grammy Awards nominations and two Emmy Awards wins. Djawadi and the showrunners opted to retain the original theme song, "Game of Thrones Theme", for House of the Dragon. The song debuted in the opening credits of the second episode. In an interview with The A.V. Club, Djawadi stated that the original theme song was used to "tie the shows together". For the first season, Djawadi, along with Condal and Sapochnik, watched each episode and made notes on when the music should occur and what mood the music should set. Character motifs from Game of Thrones are also featured in House of the Dragon, including the Dragon theme "Dracarys".
Game of Thrones linguist David J. Peterson returned to continue his work on the constructed language High Valyrian. Peterson stated that, unlike Game of Thrones, House of the Dragon features scene-long dialogue in High Valyrian. In the series, High Valyrian is spoken by both Targaryens and Velaryons, requiring cast members to learn the language. Emma D'Arcy reportedly enjoyed learning it, while Matt Smith initially dreaded it and found it daunting.
The production budget of the first season of House of the Dragon was nearly $200 million, which equates to an average of under $20 million per episode. In comparison, its parent series, Game of Thrones, cost around $100 million per season, beginning with nearly $6 million per episode from seasons one to five, around $10 million for every episode in seasons six and seven, and up to $15 million each episode in its eighth and final season, earning $285 million in profits per episode over its eight seasons. According to Deadline Hollywood, the marketing budget was over $100 million, comparable to the budget for a blockbuster theatrical film.
House of the Dragon premiered on August 21, 2022. It is HBO's first new series to stream in 4K, Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos on its streaming platform HBO Max. The first episode was released for free on YouTube on September 2, 2022. The first-season finale was leaked online the week before the actual air date, with the full episode appearing on torrent sites. According to HBO, the leak came from a Europe, the Middle East and Africa partner and it will "aggressively" monitor for additional leaks.
See also: List of HBO international channels
In New Zealand, the series is distributed by Sky's SoHo TV channel and Neon streaming service. In the Philippines, SKY broadcasts the show via its main cable television services and other digital streaming platforms. In India, Disney+ Hotstar no longer distributes the show. In the UK, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the series airs on Sky Atlantic and its accompanying streaming service Now. In Canada, House of the Dragon is available on Bell Media's Crave streaming service and its HBO linear channel. In Australia, the series is available for streaming on Binge and Foxtel.
The first season was released on 4K UHD Blu-ray, standard Blu-ray, and DVD on December 20, 2022, and contains over an hour of behind-the-scenes features.
Graphs are temporarily unavailable due to technical issues.
Percentage of positive critics' reviews tracked by the website Rotten Tomatoes
On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an approval rating of 93%, based on 863 reviews, with an average rating of 7.85. The website's critical consensus said, "Covering an era of tenuous peace with ferocious – albeit abbreviated – focus, House of the Dragon is an impressive prequel that exemplifies the court intrigue that distinguished its predecessor." On Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, the first season received a score of 69 out of 100 based on 43 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Reviews for the first season were positive, with critics praising the writing, directing, score and cast performances. Lucy Mangan of The Guardian called the show a "roaring success" with Lorraine Ali of the Los Angeles Times stating the show mirrors the acclaim of the early seasons of Game of Thrones. Reviews pointed out the reliance on Martin's novel was one of the reasons the series fared better critically than the later seasons of its predecessor, specifically the last season. The cast also received praise, with Paddy Considine, Matt Smith, Emma D'Arcy, and Olivia Cooke being singled out for their performances. In an interview with GQ, Considine stated that Martin told him that "Your Viserys is better than my Viserys". The diversity of the characters was met with praise, with Jeff Yang of The New York Times stating that diversification of the cast can help the series gain a more diverse audience. The series was included on multiple critics' top ten television series lists of 2022, including Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, CNN, and Polygon.
Despite the praise, the show's first season did receive criticism for the depiction of violence, pacing and cinematography. Reviewing the early episodes, Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly said the series leaned too much on grand imagery and lacked the breakout supporting characters that Game of Thrones had. Before the premiere, Martin stated that the series is similar to a Shakespearean tragedy with each character being morally grey with no "character everybody's going to love". The Guardian stated the "dullness" of the characters makes the series more of a period drama than an action-adventure fantasy. The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times cited the constant actor changes as a reason for the lack of emotional attachment to characters. The graphic violence in the season premiere with a failed caesarean section was criticized for being excessive and, according to USA Today, "exploitive and in poor taste". The time jumps throughout the first season were also noted for being jarring and causing confusion, while George R. R. Martin defended them as being "handled very well". In addition, the dark cinematography in Episode 7 was a point of criticism from both critics and fans alike. HBO responded that the dimmed lighting in those scenes was an "intentional creative decision". Game of Thrones faced similar criticism regarding the lighting of scenes in Season 8, with one of the show's cinematographers stating it was a "deliberate choice".
The day after the series premiere, HBO said the episode had been viewed by an estimated 9.99 million viewers in the U.S. on its first night of availability – including linear viewers and streams on HBO Max – which HBO said was the largest single-day viewership for a series debut in the service's history, dethroning Euphoria. When renewing the show for a second season four days later, the network said the episode had been watched by over 20 million linear, streaming, and on-demand viewers in the U.S. by that point. After one week of availability, the viewership rose to nearly 25 million in the U.S. across all platforms. Internationally, the series premiere drew more than 1 million viewers when it aired on Sky Atlantic in the United Kingdom, becoming the biggest drama premiere on the channel.
According to Nielsen, the episode had a viewership of 327 million minutes or an estimated 5.03 million viewers on HBO Max in the U.S. during its first day.[b] It later estimated that the episode was watched by 10.6 million viewers on HBO Max in the first four days, with the number increasing to 14.5 million when including the viewership on the main HBO channel. Samba TV meanwhile stated that 4.8 million U.S. households streamed the episode in the first four days.
The size of the audience during the show's premiere caused HBO Max to crash for some users, particularly those using Amazon Fire TV devices. Downdetector reported 3,700 instances of the application not responding. There were also reports of widespread streaming issues on Canadian partner service Crave. Whip Media, who track viewership data for the 22 million worldwide users of their TV Time app, stated that it was the most-viewed debut for a show in the app's history based on viewership over three days following the premiere. The series was also popular on social media, with the show premiere being the number one trending topic on Twitter and Google Trends.
The finale of the first season was watched by 9.3 million viewers across all platforms during its premiere night according to HBO, which was the highest viewership for any finale of a HBO show since the series finale of Game of Thrones. The show averaged 9–9.5 million viewers for an episode on premiere night and 29 million total viewers after a week of release.
Nielsen stated in November 2022 that 35% of the viewers of the show were in the age range of 18–34. Similar to Game of Thrones, the first season of House of the Dragon was extensively pirated. According to TorrentFreak, it was the most pirated series of 2022, beating out The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power and other series.
Critics, fans, and publications have drawn comparisons between House of the Dragon and fantasy series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power on Amazon Prime Video. The Rings of Power is a prequel series set thousands of years before the events of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, while House of the Dragon is a prequel series set before Game of Thrones. The similar fantasy genre, close release dates, and extensive fan bases were cited in articles comparing the two series. Commentators and fans alike have described these comparisons as the "biggest battle in TV history". More negative criticism from the two fan bases also included the character diversity, with some publications describing some of the criticism as racist. Martin stated that although he hopes both shows are successful, he wants to see House of the Dragon "succeed more." Lindsey Weber, an executive producer for The Rings of Power, stated that the head-to-head conflict between the two shows are "totally manufactured by the media for headlines". Show co-creator J. D. Payne said the only competition he sees is with "themselves"; however, he wishes well for "anyone else working on storytelling".
Financially, the budget for The Rings of Power is almost $450 million more than House of the Dragon. Both series fared successfully in the ratings. According to Nielsen and first-party data, The Rings of Power's first two episodes had more than 1.25 billion minutes of streaming minutes after three days of availability. In comparison, a few hours after the episode two premiere of House of the Dragon, the show had reached more than 1.06 billion minutes of streaming minutes.[c] Following the season finale for House of the Dragon, weekly streaming viewership passed 1 billion viewing minutes for the first time. According to Nielsen data, The Rings of Power has a higher percentage of older viewers, with more than 70% of viewers being over the age of 35. In any given week, The Rings of Power tended to have more streams than House of the Dragon given that the viewership of House of the Dragon was split between those watching online and those watching on HBO channel while that of The Rings of Power was online only. However, following both series debuts, streaming viewership for The Rings of Power decreased over the first season, while House of the Dragon viewership increased. The viewership of individual episodes of House of the Dragon also tended to increase over a number of weeks after the episodes became available while that of The Rings of Power dropped sharply after the first two weeks. Despite the age gap in viewership, commentators have stated one of the reasons both shows did well was the consistent release schedule that helped create social-media buzz. Both shows have highlighted the "streaming wars" between both Amazon and HBO and the entertainment industry as a whole.
|2022||Golden Trailer Awards||Best Drama for a TV/Streaming Series (Trailer/Teaser/TV Spot)||House of the Dragon||Won|||
|People's Choice Awards||Favorite TV Show of 2022||Nominated|||
|Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Show of 2022||Nominated|
|American Society of Cinematographers Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Episode of a Series for Non-Commercial Television||Catherine Goldschmidt (for "The Lord of the Tides")||Nominated|||
|Alejandro Martinez (for "The Green Council")||Nominated|
|Art Directors Guild Awards||Excellence in Production Design for a One-Hour Fantasy Single-Camera Series||Jim Clay (for "The Heirs of the Dragon")||Nominated|||
|BAFTA Television Craft Awards||Best Make Up and Hair Design||Amanda Knight, Barbie Gower, Rosalia Culora||Won|||
|Best Sound: Fiction||Alastair Sirkett, Doug Cooper, Martin Seeley, Paula Fairfield, Tim Hands, Adele Fletcher||Won|
|Best Special, Visual & Graphic Effects||Angus Bickerton, Nikeah Forde, Asa Shoul, Mike Dawson, MPC, Pixomondo||Won|
|British Society of Cinematographers Awards||Best Cinematography in a Television Drama||Fabian Wagner (for "The Heirs of the Dragon")||Nominated|||
|Costume Designers Guild Awards||Excellence in Sci-Fi/Fantasy Television||Jany Temime (for "The Heirs of the Dragon")||Won|||
|Critics' Choice Awards||Best Drama Series||House of the Dragon||Nominated|||
|Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series||Matt Smith||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series||Milly Alcock||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Super Awards||Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Series||House of the Dragon||Nominated|||
|Best Actor in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series||Matt Smith||Nominated|
|Best Actress in a Science Fiction/Fantasy Series||Milly Alcock||Nominated|
|Best Villain in a Series||Matt Smith||Nominated|
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Television Series – Drama||House of the Dragon||Won|||
|Best Actress in a Television Series – Drama||Emma D'Arcy||Nominated|
|Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards||Best Period and/or Character Make-Up in a Television Series, Limited or Miniseries or Television New Media Series||Amanda Knight, Sara Kramer, Heather McMullen||Nominated|||
|MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Breakthrough Performance||Emma D'Arcy||Nominated|||
|Queerties Awards||Best TV Performance||Emma D'Arcy||Runner-up|||
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Television Series||House of the Dragon||Nominated|||
|Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Angus Bickerton, Nikeah Forde, Sven Martin, Michael Bell, Michael Dawson (for "The Black Queen")||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Compositing & Lighting in an Episode||Kevin Friederichs, Sean Raffel, Florian Franke, Andreas Steinlein (for "The Black Queen")||Nominated|
It's common knowledge that this is a prequel. So it takes place sometime before the show but its on a medieval timeline. Not much really changed through the Middle Ages.... 200 years in our timeline is a really long time whereas 200 years in the Game of Thrones world wouldn't be that much.
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