So we’ve been waiting two years to do a post about Game of Thrones, and it’s finally time as the end looms near. We thought of different ways to approach writing about the show: favorite/least favorite episodes, characters, season by season write-ups, etc. What we settled on is an analysis of all the remaining main characters – examining their character arc thus far and estimating their odds of reaching the Iron Throne and/or just surviving the Great War (if we were to do ALL characters from the start of the show, we’d need a week off from work). It’s been an amazing television journey and we really hope it ends in a satisfying way. Here’s our look at who still stands, and predictions on who will get a seat once the music stops.
Daenerys Targaryen (Mike G.)
Of all the myriad characters on this show, Daenerys undoubtedly had the most screentime, but is she the story’s ultimate focus? Her rise from essentially slave status to queen has certainly been remarkable, even if her trials and tribulations in Slaver’s Bay weren’t always the most compelling parts of the show. Vegas would put odds on her to win the Iron Throne similar to what they tag the Patriots with each year to win the Super Bowl. However, personally, that’s not where I’d put my money. Tyrion urging her to consider a succession plan, which she quickly squashed, piqued my interest as a whiff of foreshadowing. There is no doubt she and her remaining two dragons will be crucial to battling the White Walkers and Cersei’s forces, which we’ve already seen puts her physically at risk. She has the bloodline, the dragons, the army, Jon and her entourage of advisors, but it feels too easy that she would end up as Queen of Westeros. After all, she pledged to “break the wheel”, so wouldn’t her sitting on the throne at the end just be reinforcing said wheel?
Jon Snow/Targaryen (DJ)
He came back to life right? That has to count for something. Jon Snow is everyone’s favorite character, especially with the ladies. He led at the wall, aligned with the Wildlings, and is the only one that saw the need to battle the White Walkers. It has to be him on the throne. On the downside, I am not sure he wants to rule the seven kingdoms and when he finds out he is related to Daenerys, the incest quotient may scare him away (or is that a requirement)? Ultimately he has to be favored as much as Daenerys but again probably too obvious. I do believe he will survive all the madness but ultimately what he does after is wide open. I know he doesn’t go back to the wall, but does he stay King of the North or does he do something completely different?
Sansa Stark (MG)
Jon may have endured the most physical pain, but the mental/emotional anguish award has to go to Sansa. As uncomfortable as it was to see her fall victim to Ramsay Bolton’s depravity, once she turned him into dog food she has risen like a phoenix from the ashes. With the dispensing of Littlefinger, she has finally been able to cast off all her baggage and now stands as the clear Queen of the North. The question now is, with no direct adversaries, where does her character go now? What does she truly strive for – does she want to lead or does she still harbor the childhood dream of marrying a dashing prince/knight? Sansa is unlikely to be on the front lines in any battles, so her odds of survival are good. If the show wants to perpetuate its theme of women empowerment, having her take the mantle of leader of Westeros would be one way to do this.
Arya Stark (DJ)
We have seen little Arya become quite grown up over the Thrones run, but I’m not sure this independent and avenging spirit wants to control the kingdom. She still has vengeance on her mind and when that is done what’s left, leading the Seven Kingdoms? Even for a youngling, she commands a presence and she has seen more than most. If anything I think she would make a great commander of the new leader’s army especially if Jon Snow is leading the way. She is a hugely popular character and there is hope she lives on after. Maybe she and Brienne could go be bounty hunters or something. Arya is great at fighting but does she have the smarts to rule. If she does take the throne will she use someone else’s face?
Brandon Stark (MG)
Of all the remaining characters, Brandon may be the one we know the least. We knew almost nothing about him before Jaime pushed him out the window. After that he seemed adrift for most of the rest of the show, being driven by visions telling him to go north of the wall. With the time spent on his storyline of becoming the “Three-Eyed Raven”, one has to think he will be crucial in defeating the White Walkers and/or settling who takes the Iron Throne. In his visions, we saw his point of view flying over King’s Landing with a dragon shadow below him. Will he warg into a dragon? With his lack of mobility, he also seems unlikely to be involved in battle, except via his warg abilities, so he has a good chance of survival. Bran does not have the social skills to be a leader, though, so I don’t see the Iron Throne in his future.
Tyrion Lannister (DJ)
Probably my favorite character and best suited to be the Hand of the Throne, is it possible Tyrion, the black sheep of the House of Lannister, gains the Iron Throne? He may be the smartest of all the characters but he is not a leader. One thing he is though is a survivor, being accused of murder or attempted murder twice (Joffrey and Bran), then he actually did kill his father and survived that. He was almost made a slave until rescued by Daenerys. He has been drunk, belittled, exiled, and unloved by his father and sister and yet he still carries on. One peculiar fact is his ability to touch one of the dragons and what does that mean – could he be part Targaryen and maybe have some claim to the throne? Another fan favorite, I think Tyrion is best left as part of a rebuilding government, staying sober and giving wise advice. He does have a passion to see a united kingdom.
Cersei Lannister (MG)
I think we can all agree that Cersei sitting on the Iron Throne as GoT’s parting shot would be an abomination. Yet, she’s sitting there for the start of Season 8 and is currently located the farthest away from the invasion of the Army of the Dead. She’s eliminated all her enemies in King’s Landing and is protected by the brute strength of Franken-Mountain and the strategic manipulations of Qyburn. The only things she has to worry about right now are morning sickness and the perverse advances of Euron Greyjoy (which she may warm to now that Jaime has run off to potentially die in the battle against the Dead). Like Sansa, she’s vanquished all her foes, so what’s next? I can’t imagine her sitting around waiting to give birth and see whether a White Walker or Jamie comes through her door (or Arya wearing Jaime’s face!). Despite being well-insulated from the battle-lines, her treachery throughout the seasons begs for a spectacular death.
Jaime Lannister (DJ)
Jamie Lannister sitting on the Iron Throne might make the biggest redemption story of all. I hated this guy in season 1: he commits incest with Cersei, he tried to kill Bran, he captured Ned Stark and beat his cousin Alton Lannister to death. But after the loss of his hand and his time with Brienne he has started to change. He still lays down with his sis and supports her mission but he starts to show empathy and a bit of honor. He lets his brother escape from certain execution and starts to disagree with Cersei. By the last season, I actually feel myself rooting for this guy. He even allowed Oleanna to commit suicide by poison. By the final season, he has left Cersei’s side to go North. If they defeat the Walkers then what side will Jamie by fighting on and is it possible for him to win the Iron Throne? I am not betting on this, redemption for him will be helping him defeat Cersei before dying.
Theon Greyjoy (MG)
GoT has had no shortage of redemption tales, and it’s setting us up for one more with Theon having got his balls back, taken command of his motley crew of Iron Born, and set out to rescue Yara, wherever she is. One would expect this to lead to either the satisfying death of Euron at Theon’s hands or his noble sacrifice that saves Yara. Yet, the show has a way of thwarting our expectations and pulling the rug out from under us. It would be just as likely for Theon to get killed in the first episode as it would be to have him still alive for the final one. I don’t see the Iron Throne is his future, but he certainly could help secure the throne of the Iron Islands for his sister.
Yara Greyjoy (DJ)
Maybe the best of the Iron Island Greyjoys, Yara is a fierce warrior stronger than her brother and able to command her own ship of men, The Black Wind. She is a leader and could command a country as easily as a ship, but with so many characters what right does she have to take the throne and would she want it? I think she would be more than happy just to rule the Iron Islands and I can’t imagine a world where HBO would put Yara on the Iron Throne, but who knows they broadcasted Arli$$ for seven seasons.
Euron Greyjoy (MG)
The storyline of the Iron Islands, and by extension the Greyjoys, was not given nearly the time that it occupied in the book. I get why the showrunners downplayed the action in this part of Westeros because it would have added unnecessary complexity (and it was the weaker part of the novels). Having said that, the show could have done more to introduce Euron’s character, especially since he has had a rapid rise in importance last season. He wears his salaciousness and treachery like badges of honor, so it didn’t take us long to get who he is, but he still seemed to come out of nowhere. Therefore his fate is truly a wildcard, and it’s tough to say what his criticality will be in the course of season 8. We can count on him being in at least one more spectacular sea battle. His role could be as the admiral in charge of the Golden Company unless they have their own charismatic leader (hey, why not introduce another major new character in the last season?). We’d all expect him to have a death at sea, but will it be at the hands of his niece or nephew?
Lord Varys (DJ)
This guy is probably the biggest mystery in this whole thing and he could very well by default end up on the throne. First I thought he was a friend of the Starks but he seemed to be scheming with Littlefinger. Then I thought he was a friend of the Lannisters but he ends up helping escapee Tyrion get to Daenerys. I have no clue to where his true loyalties lie although it’s always about self-preservation. I assume he is wise because somehow he is still kicking despite all the little birds he has out there. This eunuch may just be ballsy enough to weasel his way on to the Iron Throne and if not I predict he will be on the new council, the guy is a sleaze but you want him to be your sleaze.
The Hound Vs. The Mountain (MG)
We’ve been promised a heavyweight match between these two brothers, and I don’t think the showrunners would dare disappoint us. I have no idea how this will come about, but one has to imagine an epic battle where fire will be involved somehow – it might be the only way to kill The Mountain, as we don’t really know what is keeping him alive. The Hound has been one of my favorite characters in the series. If he survives the deathmatch with his brother, he can take his bone-dry, foul-mouthed wit on a stand-up tour of Westeros. He’s probably the only character that has made me laugh out loud. My gut tells me he’s not going to make it, though, but I think he could die happy if he knows his brother went first.
The Brain Trust: Davos Seaworth, Samwell Tarly, Qyburn (DJ)
Davos is not a number one but he is a tremendous number two. He was Stannis’s right-hand and now is helping to guide Jon Snow. I don’t see him with a shot at the throne. He is smart and tactical and sees bullshit as, well – bullshit. He also desires the lack to lead and would remain counsel to anyone that will heed his advice. Sam Tarly, on the other hand, is very interesting. He was Sam Gamgee to Jon Snow’s Frodo early on but now with Gilly in tow, he is his own man. He has a wealth of knowledge who has discovered Jon Snow’s origin and was the first to realize that Dragonglass kills White Walkers. His quest has always been to be a maester but could he have a bigger ambition? I doubt it, he is still tentative to fight but like Davos would be a great addition to any administration. He is the future Head Maester. Now for the wizard-like Qyburn, he is like an evil Q from the Bond films, creating weapons for Cersei. I don’t think he survives much longer and if he gets the throne well, it will be the biggest letdown since the Seinfeld finale.
The Lone Warriors: Brienne of Tarth, Tormund Giantsbane, Gendry, Bronn (MG)
First off, will Brienmund be a thing? As Tormund said, they would have amazing children. With looming major battles, we can expect this crew to be swinging their swords/axes/hammers frequently. It was easy to forget that Tormund was slaughtering innocent Westeros villagers not too long ago – yet another character on a redemption path – but now we love him. Brienne has been noble all along, although she did kill Stannis in cold blood. I liked seeing Gendry come back with a substantial role in Season 7. He could either have a meaningful part in the last season or just be part of the action with so much to wrap-up and so few episodes. With Bronn, however, he could succumb to the self-preservation he wears like a badge on his sleeve and head for the hills, but he seems smart enough to read the writing on the wall and choose instead do his part. If any of these warriors survive the war, I’m betting on Brienne – and a role as Queensguard of Sansa.
The Daenerys Fan Club: Jorah Mormont, Missandei, Grey Worm
Jorah has had one goal from the beginning – helping himself get out of trouble- but then he met Danerys and protecting her became his new goal. As he fell in love he became tortured when he fell out of favor with her when she found out about his original mission. It took him a few seasons to meet back up with her and redeem himself. His motivation is only to make Danerys queen. Thanks to Samwell he has beaten Stone Man’s Disease but my guess is he will sacrifice his life to see her get closer to the throne. He has no chance to win her love while living. I just can’t see him surviving once he has nothing to live for. Same goes for Missandei and Grey Worm, they live to support and help Danerys. I hope they live and if they do, they will be nowhere near King’s Landing. They are not rulers but followers. I hope and expect them to run off together and live happily ever after. They can always adopt.
The Lord Of Light Ministry: Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion (MG)
Melisandre promised us she had an important role in the upcoming war, and I believe she will swoop in at a crucial moment, even if her past predictions have been mostly awful and got scores of people killed. The role of religion in GoT has been interesting, and we’ve seen where its power has at times been stronger than military or political power – or even death. Melisandre bringing another character back from the dead feels too obvious, so I’m thinking she helps Bran turn the tide of a key battle. Or maybe she will wield her power in a way that we haven’t seen yet. Having said that, the revelation that she is hundreds of years old, and her statements saying she would welcome death, tells me she’ll be making the ultimate sacrifice. We know Beric has been brought back from the dead, six times, but the death of Thoros indicates he won’t be coming back again. He’s a warrior, so a heroic battle death fighting the army of the dead with his flaming sword seems the obvious choice, but I have a feeling he’s been kept around for something bigger.
Thanks for reading our anthology of all the remaining GoT characters. We didn’t talk about the Night King and his army. I suppose we are assuming they get defeated, but who knows? Maybe it ends up being the age of the White Walkers, but wouldn’t that be a bummer of an ending. No matter how it ends, the show has been a wild ride and has made an indelible mark on pop culture for years to come. We hope its bold approach and commitment to consistent quality from season to season is an inspiration for other writers/directors/producers to push the boundaries of TV/film and give us more awesome content in the future. Enjoy season 8!