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In the first book (and the first season of the TV Show if I'm not mistaken), it is quite often mentioned that Rhaegar was the last Dragon.

Why do people not consider Daenerys (before she proved she was) and Viserys (before he died) as Dragons? They were legitimate Targaryens, right?

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Perhaps being a legitimate Targaryen is not enough? Perhaps one has to be a ruling Targaryen? Or an acknowledged heir? –  Jimmy Shelter Feb 16 at 14:45
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up vote 16 down vote accepted

You misremember. I just searched through my kindle edition of book 1-4, and there is really only a single mention of Rhaegar as "the last dragon", of Ser Jorah Mormont to Daenerys. However, this makes a big impression on Dany, and she remembers it several times.

So it's really only the opinion of one man, and he dismisses Viserys as "less than a shadow of a snake" because, well, Viserys. As for Dany, she is at that point just a young girl who's been sold off to a barbarian chieftain. Besides, Ser Jorah has feelings for her that wouldn't fit well with seeing her as a dragon, and that does become an issue later on.

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In that case, "last" could be taken to mean "most recent", not "final". –  Niall C. Feb 16 at 15:11
    
@NiallC.: I don't think so. There is an earlier scene when Viserys calls himself "the last dragon", and the conversation between Dany and Ser Jorah starts with a reference to Viserys' threatening that Dany is "waking the dragon" when she makes him angry. It is this notion that Ser Jorah dismisses. –  Michael Borgwardt Feb 17 at 16:00
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In my opinion this naming convention depends on their actions, too. Rhaegar had done some impressive actions like winning a big Tourney, while Dany and Viserys never appeared in the public view by doing impressive actions.

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In my opinion being "a dragon" means you have the powers of the dragonblood (like immunity to heat). As none of the brothers had shown that trait prior to the sentence of Ser Jorah,it's believed that Rhaegar was the last.

At least it makes sense to me.

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