Game of Thrones dragon
Image via HBO

How long do dragons live in ‘Game of Thrones?’

Few get the chance to "dragon" out their lives.

Warning: Spoilers for Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons’ fate in the Game of Thrones series (season 7 and 8) and minor spoilers for House of the Dragon season 1

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We know there’s a House of the Dragon, but what about a Nursing Home of the Dragon?

The HBO show tells us that the Targaryen have dragon eggs placed in their cribs from the time they are newborns. In Game of Thrones, we get to witness three dragons growing up, from the time they hatch as babies to large, imposing adults. Not as large as Vhagar, true, but nevertheless capable of massive destruction.

However, at the end of the day, even if you’ve watched both A Song of Ice and Fire TV series, you may not know what a dragon’s natural longevity can be if it’s not cut short – as most are. So, here’s what we know about how long dragons can live if a belligerent life of incessant fire and blood doesn’t claim them first.

A Dragon’s potential life expectancy

Daenerys and Dragon in Game of Thrones Season 7
Image via HBO

“A dragon’s natural span of days is many times as long as a man’s,” says Jorah Mormont in A Storm of Swords, “or so the songs would have us believe.” He also mentions “wise old dragons living a thousand years,” but dismisses that as a myth. Ser Jorah goes on to say that dragons rarely reach their full lifespan because, especially in House Targaryen, they were bred for war and therefore died in war. For instance, in the fantasy TV show, two of Daenerys’ dragons die at ages six and seven, in seasons 7 and 8 respectively. Drogon, the last living dragon in the GoT universe, is only seven!

Dragon flying away with Danny's corpse as Jon Snow watches
Image via HBO

Considering that “a dragon never stops growing . . . so long as he has food and freedom,” as Barristan Selmy puts it, a hundreds-year-old Drogon will be ginormous. Will he get as big as Vhagar, as we can see in House of the Dragon? Only time will tell, but it’s certain that no mortal human alive at the time of Daenerys’ death, will be able to see the day.

So, although neither an average nor a maximum lifespan is known, dragons of A Song of Ice and Fire can live much longer than humans and continuously grow until they perish. Naturally, the largest dragon is also the longest-lived. That distinction goes to a particular fire-breathing individual who lived long before, during, and long after House Targaryen conquered the continent of Westeros.

How long did Balerion, the oldest dragon, live?

Cercei and Balerion
Image via HBO

Balerion, otherwise known as the Black Dread, was roughly 200 years old when he died. He was the terrifying winged mount of King Aegon I Targaryen the Conqueror, whom he rode during his conquest of Westeros. At his side, he had his two sister-wives and their respective she-dragons, Meraxes and Vhagar, both of whom were still living at the time of House of the Dragon season 1.

“He was so large he could swallow an aurochs whole,” notes Selmy. The only visible evidence Game of Thrones fans have of Balerion’s size is his giant skull resting beneath the Red Keep. At King’s Landing, the Targaryens built an enclosure to house Balerion and their other dragons, which they dubbed the Dragonpit. While it is still functioning in the first season of House of the Dragon, the Dragonpit is in ruins when we fully get to see it in Game of Thrones season 7.

The Dragonpit is where the record-breaking reptilian lived out his final years, in which he had grown tired and sluggish in movement, in great part due to his sheer size. Balerion’s the only dragon known to have died of old age.


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Author
Margarida Bastos
Margarida has been a content writer for nearly 3 years. She is passionate about the intricacies of storytelling, including its ways of expression across different media: films, TV, books, plays, anime, visual novels, video games, podcasts, D&D campaigns... Margarida graduated from a professional theatre high school, holds a BA in English with Creative Writing, and is currently working on her MA thesis.