From Bran the Broken to Drogon the Last Dragon: The winners and losers of the 'Game of Thrones' series finale
Bad news White Walker truthers: fan theories, the Game of Thrones series finale, “The Iron Throne,” confirmed that Bran is not and never will be the Night King. But the sole surviving biological son of Ned Stark is, improbably, the King of the Six Kingdoms. So sayeth the heads of Westeros’s still-standing Houses, who picked the continent’s new ruler by votes instead of a prolonged war. King Bran the Broken, first of his name—and also the last since he won’t be spawning any children—now takes his place in the King’s Landing throne room, but significantly not on the titular throne, which has been melted down into so much scrap metal. Bran’s unlikely rise from accidental peeping tom to mystic warg-er to theoretically great ruler may be the stuff of a Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, but Twitter is greeting his coronation with a decidedly mixed reaction. While some of his subjects are hailing the new king:
Others would desperately like a re-vote:
Bran’s ascension to the throne is proving to be the final controversial nail in the coffin of a controversial final season, one that’s transformed social media into a battleground between those eager to keep the faith in showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and those who just threw up their hands at missteps ranging from the duo’s often cringe-inducing treatment of the show’s female characters and skipping over burning questions that have kept fans up late at night spinning wild theories. Expect that fight to continue playing out on Twitter for weeks, if not years.
Overall, House Stark emerged as the biggest winner in the finale, which has gotta put a smile on Papa Ned’s head—wherever it happens to be. Sansa declared her independence from Bran and rules as the Queen in the North, while Arya took off for parts unknown.
Queenslayer Jon Snow’s ending falls somewhere in between. While he loses Daenerys, he does win the life he’s repeatedly said he’s wanted: leaving civilization behind for the frozen frontier beyond the wall. (Although a telling final shot of grass rising through the snow suggests that winter may be on its way out even in the arctic parts of Westeros.) It’s the ending Jon desires, but not necessarily the one his die-hard fans desire for him.
Here are the other winners and losers from the Game of Thrones series finale.
Ghost may not hold a grudge against Jon for abandoning him two weeks ago...but we sure do. Still, even our icy hearts melted when the guy finally put his pride aside and petted his one-eared direwolf. There’s a good boy, Ghost. But feel free to bit Jon if he gets out of line again.
Loser: Daenerys Targaryen
She won the Last Battle only to lose the last war (for now). In her desire to “break the wheel” and free the downtrodden and destitute beyond Westeros, Daenerys let down her guard just long enough for her nephew to drive a dagger through her heart. Emilia Clarke, for one, always assumed that Dany was headed for a tragic end, though not necessarily one brought about by Jon. “I thought she was going to die,” the actress tells Entertainment Weekly. “I feel very taken care of as a character in that sense. It’s a very beautiful and touching ending.”
Winner & Loser: Drogon
Of course, one could argue that Daenerys’s loss is ultimately a victory since it frees Westeros from the tyranny of the Iron Throne. And it’s Drogon who gets to do the honors in that regard, unleashing a mouthful of dragonfire on the thing that so many men and women have fought and died for. Still, we can’t help but feel sorry for the world’s last surviving dragon, who has now lost a mother as well as two siblings. May Drogon find happiness in warmer climates...and maybe, just maybe, find some more dragon eggs along the way.
Loser: Direct Democracy
Clearly, the concept of “one person, one vote” needed a better salesman than Samwell Tarly. While the soon-to-be maester pitches the other Houses on allowing the public to have a say in who gets to be king, his idea is laughed off almost immediately. “Maybe we should gives dogs a vote as well,” scoffs Edmure Tully, who was laughed back into his seat moments earlier when Sansa brought his nomination speech to a screeching halt. Instead, going forward, future kings and queens will be chosen by a small group of elites, which as we all know never results in any disagreements or bitter infighting at all. At least Sam can take heart in knowing that Gilly and their kids—who presumably have made the trip to King’s Landing—would still vote him as “Westeros’s Best Dad.”
Winner: Tyrion Lannister
What Tywin’s ruthless ambition almost destroyed, Tyrion’s subtle scheming has kept intact. The Lannister patriarch’s least-favored son proved to be his House’s savior, paying his family’s many debts to Westeros by nominating its next ruler. Best of all, he and Bronn now get to engage in more brothel-related humor until the end of their days.
Winner: Brienne of Tarth
While we’re not thrilled that she was left pining for Jaime up until the very end, there’s no universe in which we could ever call Ser Brienne a loser. Her victories will be remembered even after the writers botched her final appearances.
Loser: The Night King
Yeah, we know he died three episodes ago. And that’s precisely why he gets slapped with “loser” status. Billed as Westeros’s most dangerous—and mysterious—villain for eight seasons, he wound up ultimately having little to no impact on the show’s endgame. Worse still, he died with many of the theories surrounding his motivations and existence left unresolved. Guess we’ll have to wait for George R.R. Martin to answer all of those questions...one day.
Game of Thrones is streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now