Through and , George R. R. Martin has created a world so rich in history that it feels almost real. The known world that Westeros and Essos are a part of goes back thousands of years, from the First Men and Children of the Forest to the War of the Five Kings. One of the main events of Westeros was the Dance of the Dragons, depicted in and upcoming seasons of .
The Dance of the Dragons was the beginning of the end of House Targaryen, even if the house did reign almost two more centuries. It's well-known as the Targaryen civil war between Rhaenyra Targaryen and her half-brother Aegon II Targaryen, both fighting to be the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Ending in multiple Targaryen and dragon deaths, the Dance of the Dragons traumatized the majority of Westeros and left a resounding economic and political footprint on the country. Even though is set over 170 years after , it makes a few references to the Dance as both a cruel reminder of the Targaryens' downfall and a parallel to the wars presented in the series.
The first reference makes to actually spoils the fate of a royal in the war. In Season 3, Episode 4, "And Now His Watch Is Ended," Joffrey Baratheon gives a tour of the Red Keep to his fiancée Margaery Tyrell while also providing a Westerosi history lesson. He shows her where in the Great Sept of Baelor by Aegon II's dragon, Sunfyre. In classic-Joffrey form, he's gleeful at the prospect of Rhaenyra being burned alive had to watch. to Sunfyre and all that's left of Rhaenyra is a grave in the Sept.
gives a more in-depth explanation of the Dance of the Dragons in an episode titled after the war and the most recent novel of . Season 5, Episode 9, "The Dance of Dragons" features the height of in Meereen between herself and the Sons of the Harpy, and the death of Shireen Baratheon -- both terrible events that mirror the Targaryen civil war.
Shireen tells her father Stannis that she's reading a story about the Dance of the Dragons, the war between Rhaenyra and Aegon II, who both believed deserved to sit on the Iron Throne. She further explains that the family feud divided the country as brothers fought brothers and dragons fought dragons, proclaiming that the Targaryens were never truly the same after the war. When Stannis asks who she would've chosen to side with, she says neither; choosing a side is what caused the fighting to begin with. Stannis disputes this saying that sometimes people are forced to choose a side, even if they don't want to.
Later, Stannis and Melisandre tie Shireen to a pike and burn her alive as a sacrifice to help Stannis win the War of the Five Kings. Ultimately, the reference to in this episode ended up predicting both Shireen and Stannis' fate. Like Aegon II, Stannis burned his living kin alive to strengthen his claim to the Iron Throne. But just as Aegon II, Stannis lost grave supporters after this horrendous act and his own life in the near future. These hasty decisions ended up nearly destroying two of the .
There are also a few subtle references to that fans may have brushed past on first notice. In the first season, a rather naive Daenerys asks her Dothraki servants if there are any more dragons left in the world -- showing how sheltered Daenerys grew up under her brother Viserys. Her servants laugh at her question, reminding her that dragons have been gone for decades. The last dragon died in 153 AC when Rhaenyra's son Aegon III was in power, due to most of the dragons dying during the war and not laying more eggs.
When Daenerys returns to Westeros, she's hit with reality about the reputation her father Aerys II left on Westeros. By Season 7, she's come to the realization that the only people who caused her family's undoing are themselves. She looks upon a decimated dragon pit in Season 7, Episode 7, "The Dragon and the Wolf," talking to Jon Snow about how her family used to keep the creatures in the pit. The dragon pit is known to be well-decorated with dragons in , and is where Aegon II was crowned, the first step in the Targaryens stunting their own growth as a house.
The Targaryens are said to be a prophetic family in Martin's world. The so-called "dragon dreamers" foresee the future, the most famous of which is Daenys predicting the Doom of Valyria. Another dreamer confirmed in is Aegon the Conquerer himself, who saw a vision of another Long Night ending humanity in Westeros. Rhaenyra reads an inscription of Aegon's dream off the Valyrian steel blade used by Arya Stark to kill the Night King in : "From my blood will come the prince that was promised, and his will be the Song of Ice and Fire."
Viserys and Rhaenyra make more references to the dream in later episodes to solidify her claim to the throne, and Viserys fully believes Rhaenyra is the prince that was promised. Alicent later misreads Viserys' as a plea to make her son king. Obviously, from what tells, she isn't . There's still great debate on whether Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen were Aegon's prophetic hero, as the final season of the series makes it unclear whose efforts defeated the darkness. Regardless, puts that isn't ripe with colonialism and ambition, but instead with purpose to save Westeros from another generation of suffering.