The Greens vs. The Blacks in 'House of the Dragon,' Explained

The Dance of the Dragon is coming, and the Targaryens are choosing sides.

still from house of the dragon hbo
(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

Seven episodes in (and after a decade-skipping time jump), it's now the eve of the Dance of the Dragons. HBO's new fantasy hit House of the Dragon, the Game of Thrones prequel based on the George R.R. Martin novel Fire and Blood, depicts an earlier time in the Targaryen family's dynasty, when the strongest family in Westeros split into two factions battling over the Iron Throne. On one side we have the named heir Rhaenyra, the first woman to get this close to the crown. On the other, we have the king's wife Alicent Hightower and her son Aegon, the oldest living prince.

Alicent and Rhaenyra's strained relationship hit an impasse in episode 7, when one of Rhaenyra's second-born son Aemond cut out the eye of Alicent's second-born son Aemond. The topic of succession had been a silent tension for years, since the passing of any king often leads to infighting among possible heirs. After Viserys' death in episode 8, both of the opposing sides, known as the Greens and the Blacks, will crown their own rightful monarchs of Westeros, setting off a war that will set family member against family member.

Read on for our tally of who falls on each side of the conflict, which side has the most dragons, and why they're called the Greens and the Blacks in the first place.

Why are they called the Greens and the Blacks?

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(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

A truer name for the conflict would be Team Alicent vs. Team Rhaenyra, but the sides are known by the subtler designations of the Greens and the Blacks. The Greens' name comes from Alicent's habit of wearing green gowns, which she started for Rhaenyra's wedding in episode 5. Her grand entrance signaled the shift in her alliances, from being the perfect wife and stepmother dressed in the Targaryen colors of black and red, to focusing more on her own self-interests and wearing her Hightower family color of green.

For viewers who can't list off the colors of the noble houses of Westeros (i.e. most of us), Ser Larys Strong also explained the strength of Hightower green. He says the light at the top of the Hightower in Old Town, the seat of Alicent’s family, glows green as a symbol for war. The color change shows that Alicent is ready to protect herself and go to war with Rhaenyra if needed, a resentment that grows stronger as the princess births more brunette sons over the next decade.

As for where the name of the Blacks comes from, black is one of the traditional House Targaryen colors, from their sigil having a red dragon on a black background. It also may make more sense considering a change that House of the Dragon made to its source material, Fire & Blood. In the novel, Alicent's green dress moment happened at her and Viserys' fifth wedding anniversary. Rhaenyra was wearing a black and red dress at the time, thus her side becomes known as the Blacks. So both of the names come from the women's symbolic fashion choices.

Who are on Alicent's side with the Greens?

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(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

The center of the Greens are Alicent and her children: Aegon, Aemond, and Helaena. Their side of the succession battle supports Aegon as the true heir, since he's the king's firstborn son and many lords of Westeros expected Viserys to name him as heir as early as his second birthday. Instead, Viserys has stuck with and supported Rhaenyra as his heir, even turning a blind eye to the baby daddy rumors. The king remained as Switzerland in this whole thing, not taking the title away from Rhaenyra but also not disciplining Alicent when she goes off the rails in episode 7. Once he died, Aegon was quickly crowned king before news of Viserys' death could even reach Rhaenyra at Dragonstone.

Aside from Alicent's branch of the family tree, we have her allies, including her father, Ser Otto Hightower, who is newly reinstated as Hand of the King, and Ser Criston Cole, who's now her sworn sword and never got over getting dumped by Rhaenyra a literal decade ago. She also has a ringer in Ser Larys Strong, who showed his ambition by killing his own father and brother to clear the way for Otto to reclaim his position (and for his own new title as the Lord of Harrenhal).

Who are on Rhaenyra's side with the Blacks?

the greens and the blacks house of the dragon hbo

(Image credit: Ollie Upton / HBO)

On the side of the Blacks, we have Rhaenyra and her new husband Daemon. The couple got married at the end of episode 7, out of both love and an allegiance advantage after the Aemond fight. It ended with the Greens gaining the largest living dragon, Vhagar, so Rhaenyra asked her uncle to join her side in the brewing political war. Of course, there was her current husband Laenor to deal with, but he was okay with leaving the picture (alive! not dead! an actual Thrones universe happy ending!).

Daemon is a very powerful member of the Blacks. In addition to his experience in battle and his intelligence, he also has several connections in King's Landing, as well as knowledge of the hidden passageways of the Red Keep. Remember Mysaria, his former partner who he wanted to marry in episode 2? She's now known as the White Worm, the head of a network of spies who have eyes and ears in the Red Keep, and she just became a powerful enemy of the Greens.

We also have her children Jacaerys, Lucerys, and baby Joffrey, as well as the Daemon's twin daughters with Laena Velaryon, Baela and Rhaena (who have a sweet friendship with their three cousins, paternity be damned). Baela and Rhaena's grandmother Rhaenys is also squarely on the Blacks' side, after escaping King's Landing with her dragon Meleys. So Rhaenyra has the support (and dragons) of the second most powerful family in Westeros on her side.

Who is Undeclared?

In the House of the Dragon era, the surviving members of the High Council have taken the side of the Greens as of episode 9, including Grand Maester Mellos and Master of Ships Ser Tyland Lannister (which is a less powerful house at the moment). (R.I.P. Master of Coin Lord Lyman Beesbury, who died defending Rhaenyra's claim.) If the show follows a similar plot as Fire & Blood, House Baratheon and its vassal (a.k.a. subordinate) House Wylde, House Arryn, House Greyjoy, and House Stark will also be involved. Fans should also look out for the several minor houses; any Game of Thrones fan knows that while Great Houses are the faces of wars, their vassal house allies can turn the tide at any moment (see House Frey and the Red Wedding).

What about the Dragons?

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(Image credit: HBO)

For anyone who's keeping a dragon tally as the civil war begins, there are 17 Targaryen dragons total, but House of the Dragon will only introduce nine, per co-showrunner Miguel Sapochnik. Assuming that all 17 dragons are still canon on the show, the Blacks currently have the larger number with six: Syrax (bonded to Rhaenyra), Caraxes (Daemon), Vermax (Jacaerys), Arrax (Lucerys), Meleys (Rhaenys), Moondancer (Baela), and Seasmoke (now wild after Laenor "died"). There are also the three unhatched eggs born to Syrax that Daemon collected in episode 8, but they won't be of any help as the war is starting now.

The Greens may have a lesser number, including Sunfyre (Aegon) and Dreamfyre (Helaena), but Vhaghar is twice the size of the Blacks' biggest dragon, Caraxes. They're also based in King's Landing with access to the Dragonpit and whatever wild dragons live inside, so the sides seem pretty evenly matched. The Dance of the Dragons won't be won in a day.

Contributing Culture Editor

Quinci is a Contributing Culture Editor who writes pieces and helps to strategize editorial content across TV, movies, music, theater, and pop culture. She contributes interviews with talent, as well as SEO content, features, and trend stories. She fell in love with storytelling at a young age, and eventually discovered her love for cultural criticism and amplifying awareness for underrepresented storytellers across the arts. She previously served as a weekend editor for Harper’s Bazaar, where she covered breaking news and live events for the brand’s website, and helped run the brand’s social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Her freelance writing has also appeared in outlets including HuffPost, The A.V. Club, Elle, Vulture, Salon, Teen Vogue, and others. Quinci earned her degree in English and Psychology from The University of New Mexico. She was a 2021 Eugene O’Neill Critics Institute fellow, and she is a member of the Television Critics Association. She is currently based in her hometown of Los Angeles. When she isn't writing or checking Twitter way too often, you can find her studying Korean while watching the latest K-drama, recommending her favorite shows and films to family and friends, or giving a concert performance while sitting in L.A. traffic.