'House of the Dragon' fans react to shocking and heartbreaking season finale

Warning: spoilers ahead for the season finale of House of the Dragon.

Since Sunday marked the first season finale of House of the Dragon, fans were anticipating a shocking ending. With everything that has transpired since Queen Alicent misunderstood King Viserys's final words on his deathbed, thinking he wanted their son Aegon to be the heir to the Iron Throne, not Princess Rhaenyra, fans knew things weren't going to end well. Many took to social media saying the moment was likely the catalyst to the Dance of the Dragons, the generational war that consumed Westeros two centuries before the events of Game of Thrones. However, following Sunday's finale, a different incident appears to have launched the first salvo in war.

And this is where you should stop reading if you have not seen the Season 1 finale of House of the Dragon.

After Rhaenyra learned her father, Viserys, had died and Aegon was crowned king of Westeros without her knowledge, she and her Black Council began the dash to collect allies across the realm, trying to determine who would remain loyal to their original oath avowing Rhaenyra as the true heir to the Iron Throne. Although all the men around the council's Painted Table wanted to immediately plunge the realm into war, Rhaenyra was the only one with reason.

"I do not wish to rule over a kingdom of ash and bone," said Rhaenyra. "My father's dead and he chose me as his successor. To defend the realm, not cast it headlong into war."

Rhaenyra also explained to Daemon, "You know my oath reaches beyond our personal ambitions. A Song of Ice and Fire." (Viserys had only trusted Rhaenyra with the prophecy that eventually plays out in Game of Thrones, and her ability to look at the bigger picture makes her a worthy monarch.)

Despite mourning the death of her father, a miscarriage (she went through a lot this episode), her throne usurped and everyone betraying her, Rhaenyra still was making decisions in the best interest of the realm. Up until the fateful final moments of the episode.

Rhaenyra allowed her sons Jacaerys and Lucerys to travel by dragon to Winterfell in the North and Storm's End in the South, respectively. It was at House Baratheon in the South that Lucerys came face-to-face, or eyes-to-eye, with Aemond, who never forgave Lucerys for taking his eye when they were kids. Aemond demanded one of Lucerys's eyes for revenge, but Lord Borros Baratheon condemned it.

So while Lucerys was flying his dragon, Arrax, back to Dragonstone, Aemond hopped on his (stolen) dragon, the behemoth Vhagar, to harass his nephew mid-air in, well, a dance of dragons.

An out-of-control Arrax attempted to get Vhagar off his back by spitting fire at the larger beast, which triggered Vhagar into a full on dragon fight. Aemond couldn't maintain control over the raging Vhagar, who chomped Arrax to bits in one bite, sending pieces of dragon — and Lucerys — plunging to the ground.

Killing Lucerys and ripping his dragon to shreds was actually not what Aemond meant to do. Regardless, that shocking and heartbreaking moment was what had fans running to Twitter with tweets like:

The final season played out in one long, silent take, with Rhaenyra learning what had become of her son and turning staring straight into the camera with a look so fierce, viewers are ready for anything and everything she will do in Season 2 to avenge Lucerys's death.

The season finale of House of the Dragon aired Sunday, Oct. 23 on HBO.

Watch this awkward 'HOTD' family reunion ending with a shocking death and a major misunderstanding:

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