Game of Thrones left out a key Daenerys detail that went on to change the rest of the Targaryen family in the HBO series and its prequel spinoff, House of the Dragon. From the start of Game of Thrones, Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen was presented as a critical piece of George R. R. Martin’s Westeros tale. Though initially seen as an obedient princess, Daenerys used her family’s complicated history and her own personal loss as motivation to rise to power. By the end of Game of Thrones season 8, Daenerys acquired the Iron Throne, but she also proved that she was a formidable threat to the Seven Kingdoms.
Rather than become the start of a new Targaryen dynasty, becoming the first family ruler since “The Mad King,” Aerys II Targaryen, Daenerys fell into her father’s footsteps, succumbing to madness before Jon Snow assassinated her. Granted, Game of Thrones made some changes to the source material, especially since the show’s plot eventually got ahead of the books, so it’s unclear how Dany’s journey will conclude in the novels. However, even from the start, there were stark differences between the book and the show, particularly when comparing character appearances. While Daenerys’ TV counterpart is often compared to the book, there’s one specific detail the show cut that’s difficult to get over.
Why Daenerys & Other Targaryens In Game Of Thrones & HOTD Don’t Have Purple Eyes
Daenerys and members of the Targaryen family tree have been known for their platinum white hair, but there’s another trait connected to the family: purple eyes. In A Song of Ice and Fire, Targaryens are notorious for their purple eye color, but that detail wasn’t used for HBO’s Game of Thrones, nor was it used in House of the Dragon, a series that heavily features House Targaryen. The reason for cutting Targaryens’ purple eyes wasn’t a creative decision; instead, it was a practical decision.
According to Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, through season 1 DVD commentary (via PopCulture), the purple contact lenses were distracting, and CGI options were too complicated. There were also rumors that Emilia Clarke and Harry Lloyd, who played Dany’s onscreen brother Viserys Targaryen, tried out purple contacts to achieve the family characteristic, but the lenses were too uncomfortable. Therefore, the HBO series went with Clarke’s green eyes, and House of the Dragon went the same route by ignoring the purple detail.
Why Targaryens Having Purple Eyes Is An Important Detail
While an eye color switch might seem small to some, cutting the detail was a significant change for the Targaryens. A Song of Ice and Fire lore has revealed that Targaryens commonly have eyes in various shades of purple, including indigo and violet. The characteristic is seen as a sign of power within Westeros, primarily because the trait links back to House Targaryen’s ancient Valyrian ancestry. The purple eyes and platinum hair seen through Targaryens were originally tied to Valyrian blood, so its continued existence was a reminder to the rest of the Seven Kingdoms that the Targaryens were a powerful force.
With the rarity of eye color and other specific traits being important details linked to the family, it makes sense why the characteristics were expected to appear in HBO’s adaptations. Though Game of Thrones cut purple eye colors, Daenerys’ status as a Targaryen was never questioned. House of the Dragon‘s focus on House Targaryen and their complicated role in Westeros’ history continues to nail down the fact that the royal house is truly one of a kind, for better and for worse.