House of the Dragon: What disease does Viserys have?

Paddy Considine as Viserys in House of the DragonHBO

By the end of House of the Dragon Episode 5, the king is in the worst shape of his life – but what disease does Viserys have, and will it kill him?

The tenure of King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) hasn’t been smooth sailing. While trying to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, Jaehaerys Targaryen, he’s had to contend with his brother Daemon (Matt Smith), his daughter Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), and all sorts of political and personal woes. 

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This includes, but isn’t limited to: the brutal death of his wife Aemma Arryn (Sian Brooke); his brother’s rebellion and campaign in the Stepstones alongside Lord Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint); and the sly power-grabbing efforts of his own Hand, Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans).

Most of all, Viserys’ health has been on a downward spiral – but what disease does he have, was it caused by the Iron Throne, and will he die as a result?

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Spoilers for House of the Dragon to follow…

House of the Dragon: Viserys’ disease, explained

According to Paddy Considine, Viserys has a “form of leprosy” in House of the Dragon.

During an appearance on Entertainment Weekly’s West of Westeros podcast, the star discussed his character’s illness and how it could affect the story going into the second half of Season 1.

“Viserys is suffering from a form of leprosy. He’s suffering. His body is deteriorating. His bones are deteriorating,” he said.

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“So, he’s not actually old. He’s still a young man in there. He’s just, unfortunately, got this thing that’s taken over his body. It becomes a metaphor for being king and the stress and strain that it puts on you, you know? And what it does to you physically. What it does to you mentally.”

House of the Dragon: Where did Viserys get leprosy?

While he may have leprosy, the origin of his diagnosis likely links back to George R.R. Martin’s Fire and Blood, teasing the true cause of his ill health: he caught the disease from the Iron Throne, because it rejected him as king.

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In the first five episodes, we’ve seen Viserys treated for pus-filled legions on his back, and he’s lost two fingers. All of his wounds seem to stem from – or at the very least, be worsened by – the sharp, rusty dangers of sitting on the Iron Throne.

When the throne was first assembled, Aegon the Conqueror designed it to be uncomfortable, because a “king should never sit easy.” Over the following decades, particularly with the suspicious death of Maegor the Cruel, a theory developed that the throne casts aside rulers it deems unworthy.

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Stannis Baratheon once told Davos Seaworth: “Have you ever seen the Iron Throne? The barbs along the back, the ribbons of twisted steel, the jagged ends of swords and knives all tangled up and melted? It is not a comfortable seat, ser. 

“Aerys cut himself so often men took to calling him King Scab, and Maegor the Cruel was murdered in that chair. By that chair, to hear some tell it. It is not a seat where a man can rest at ease. Ofttimes I wonder why my brothers wanted it so desperately.”

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House of the Dragon: Will Viserys die?

By the end of House of the Dragon Episode 5, Viserys collapses to the ground. While he hasn’t passed away yet, it’s likely we’ll see him die in the coming episodes.

In Fire and Blood, Viserys dies in 129 AC, with his body swelling and rotting from his disease. He also had two of his fingers removed by Maester Gerardys after cutting his hand on the Iron Throne.

House of the Dragon Episode 6 will be available to watch on September 25 in the US and September 26 in the UK.

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