When the Night King rode undead Viserion in the Game of Thrones Season 7 finale, questions sparked again on who can ride a dragon. And now questions are reviving again. Daenerys was the only one so far who’s ridden a dragon as of Season 7, but Jon Snow and Tyrion have both been raised as possible candidates in the past because of fan theories. This post has major spoilers for the Season 8 premiere. Only read on if you’ve seen the episode.
The Night King Can Ride Undead Viserion
For the first time in the Season 7 finale, we saw another character on Game of Thrones riding a dragon, but it wasn’t who fans were expecting. We saw the Night King riding an undead Viserion. It’s unclear if this is just a special power the Night King has or if it’s related to the same powers that let Dany ride Drogon. It’s possible that once Viserion died and was reanimated, the rules about riding dragons changed for him.
Perhaps he can ride Undead Viserion because he shares some of the same magic or blood that lets Dany ride Drogon, or he simply broke all the rules by reanimating Viserion and can now ride him through a completely different type of magic all his own.
Tyrion Can Touch the Dragons
We know that Tyrion has a special ability to touch and communicate with two of the dragons, although we don’t know why or if that would translate to riding a dragon. On the show, Tyrion has said that dragons are very intelligent — far more so than most people realize, and can quickly determine who is friend and who is an enemy.
When Tyrion entered the dungeon where the two dragons were being held in Season 6 Episode 2, the scene was incredibly tense. We know that no one is safe in George R. R. Martin’s realm, so fans truly weren’t sure if Tyrion would survive or if he would be burned to a crisp. At one point, one of the dragons threatened him by beginning to blow out a flame, but then he stopped. He recognized Tyrion as a friend. He let Tyrion touch him and remove his chains. The other dragon then simply presented his neck to Tyrion to have his chain removed. They recognized some kind of kinship in Tyrion, some kind of connection that is typically only seen with Daenerys. In fact, when Daenerys visited them in season five, they didn’t react so kindly to her.
For Tyrion to have such a strong connection to the dragons, he might need to have “dragon’s blood” running through him. In other words, he might part Targaryen. The theory from book readers is that the Mad King (Aerys Targaryen) was infatuated with Tyrion’s mom, Joanna Lannister. There was even a rumor that she had been Aerys’ mistress when she was younger. In the books, she traveled to King’s Landing around the time that Tyrion was conceived, to celebrate Aerys’ tenth year on the throne. This could also explain why Tyrion dreamed about dragons as a child and has been so fascinated by them.
Tyrion was the “breaker of chains” for these two dragons, freeing them after Dany had chained them up. This led to many theories that Tyrion might be Azor Ahai or he might be part Targaryen.
Jon Snow Can Touch Drogon & Now He’s Proven He Can Ride a Dragon Too
We know that Jon Snow is part Targaryen and is the only one who can touch Drogon. (We’re assuming he can touch Drogon because he’s part Targaryen, but that leaves a lot of questions about Tyrion.) And now not only can he touch Drogon but he can ride Rhaegal.
When Dany flew in with a very fierce Drogon in Season 7, the encounter that Drogon had with Jon Snow has left fans talking. Drogon treated Jon in a way that we have only seen with Dany before this. He let Jon Snow touch him. Not only that, but he let Jon Snow pet his face, as if he truly trusted Jon Snow and felt a connection with him. And now, as of the Season 8 premiere, Jon can ridge a dragon just like Dany.
This was likely because of Jon’s Targaryen blood. Jon is not Ned Stark’s bastard child, but is actually the child of Prince Rhaegar (Dany’s older brother) and Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister.
The Targaryen in Jon Snow’s blood is likely making the dragons more amiable to him. Daenerys thinks she’s the last Targaryen left, which might make the dragons’ reaction to Jon even more surprising to her (at least until the truth is known.)
If you don’t like the idea that the dragons like Jon because he has Targaryen in his blood (although we know he does), there’s another theory option for you.
We’ve heard from George R. R. Martin that Beric Dondarrion’s memories are fading and he’s not “a living human anymore.” Beric’s heart isn’t beating and blood isn’t flowing through his veins anymore, Martin said. “He’s a wight, but a wight animated by fire instead of ice,” he told Time.
That means that Jon, who was also resurrected by the same faith that resurrected Beric, could be a fire wight too. So if you’re not buying the Targaryen reason for the dragons’ liking Jon Snow, then maybe it’s because Jon’s a wight animated by fire. (Have we even been told if Jon’s heart still beats?) Perhaps Jon is powered by the same type of fire magic that birthed Drogon, and Drogon recognizes this.
Dragons Can Form Strong Bonds
Dragons can’t truly be tamed, but they can form very strong bonds with their riders. Aegon and his sister-wives, Valyrian descendants, used the last three dragons known to the world to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. In the past, Valyrians commonly rode dragons, but that has not been the case for a very long time.
In the books, it is more strongly hinted that only those with Valyrian blood can ride and bond with dragons. Some Targaryen bastards, who were only part Valyrian, were also able to ride dragons — but not all could do so. Book readers know that not everyone of Targaryen blood is automatically friends with all dragons. But it’s unclear if that’s the case in the show.
The books have also stated that once a dragon bonds with a rider, that dragon won’t let anyone else ride it as long as the rider is alive. Once the rider dies, however, a new person can bond with the dragon. It also appears that once a rider bonds with a dragon, that may be the only dragon that person can ride.
So it looks like Daenerys may only be able to ride Drogon (except, possibly, if Drogon dies.) Which leaves Rhaegal needing a rider. Jon Snow might fit the bill, and if theories about Tyrion secretly being part-Targaryen are true, then he might too. Sadly, there are now only two dragons needing riders, not three.