HBO’s epic fantasy series Game of Thrones is wrapping up its final season, and one key question, possibly the MAIN question of the series, still remains very opened ended- WHO WILL SIT ON THE IRON THRONE?
I prefer to word it, Who will win the Game of Thrones?, but it’s the same question really.
For years Daenerys Targaryen was favored to rule when all was said and done, but as Game of Thrones has a way of doing, season 8 has really taken all of our expectations and left them behind even worse than Jon Snow abandoning his direwolf, Ghost.
Just kidding… nothing is worse than Jon not even giving his incredibly loyal puppers a hug to say goodbye. BTW- You’re a jerkface Jon.
So now that there’s no clean favorite to take the throne, let’s have a look at the likely contenders and what would and wouldn’t make them the right choice to rule Westeros.
Chances of Ruling: 4:1
Why it works- The show has obviously been grooming Jon (Aegon) as the lead/prime good guy since the beginning. Seasons 6 and 7 were heavily about Jon and he received more screen time than any other character of the show (including Tyrion or Daenerys). He has the strongest birthright claim to the throne, and is a natural leader who people want to follow. There has always been a leering sense of destiny and eventuality with the character, and as the series comes to an end, he is in the perfect position to wear the crown.
Why it doesn’t work- He actually does know nothing. Let’s face it fam… Jon is kind of an idiot. Though to be fair, that’s never really stopped anyone from being a King (or President?) before. Jon also has repeatedly stated that he doesn’t want to rule. He didn’t WANT to be Lord Commander, he didn’t WANT to be King in the North, and he doesn’t WANT to be the King of Westeros. So maybe this time he’ll actually get what he wants and not take the crown? Also, once Daenerys finds out that some people are trying to usurp her rule and place Jon at the head of the table, would he even be safe from her Dragon Fire? Honestly, she is more of a threat to him than anyone else. Lastly, in a series that has shown the strength of women in a man’s world more than any other show- possibly ever- it would be a disservice to all of them for a man who doesn’t even want to rule to just stumble onto the throne.
Safe Bet: Jon either helps Dany rule, or takes the crown for himself after Dany steps aside or is killed.
Crazy Theory: Dany turns Mad Queen and Jon is forced to take her out and take the title of Queenslayer.
Super Crazy Theory that might actually pan out and I called back in like Season 3: Dany turns Mad Queen, and Arya goes to do what is right for the realm and kill her- but Jon protects her. We get an epic fight to end the series of Jon v. Arya with tears all around and no one knowing who to root for. Arya is clearly the better fighter of the two, but Jon’s plot-armor is thick as Dragon’s hide, and maybe she’ll hesitate at the final moment? No idea… I think this would be the most epic conclusion, but I also have no f’in idea how to resolve it with satisfaction without everyone dying.
Chances of Ruling: 4:1
Why it works: She’s the Dragon Queen. What would be the point of the show which so heavily focused on her ascension and struggles if it weren’t going to reward her in the end with the crown. The series has basically been half about everyone else in the kingdom messing around with each other, and half about Dany’s unstoppable quest to reach King’s Landing and take the throne. Her path has seemed inevitable, and again, what would be the point of like, the entire series if she didn’t end up as queen? She may hint at being a Mad Queen, but in the end, she very well could overcome her natural urges to “BURN THEM AALLLLLLL”
Why it doesn’t work: Daenerys has seen a sharp decline in odds after Season 8’s episodes 3 and 4. Where before season 8 she would probably have been at EVEN odds to take the whole thing, she’s now about even with Jon. Only like four people in the entirety of Westeros like her (it was six people… but you know…) and if we’re being completely honest here, Dany is actually a pretty shite ruler. I know I’m going to get flak for this but let’s be serious, the only reason she has ever been able to do, like anything, was because she employed the “carry a big stick” philosophy of management. Her dragons are the reason she was able to get The Unsullied, and have been her crutch for accomplishing everything she has done. Now I want to be clear, I have SO OFTEN rooted for Dany through this series, but she’s never really shown me any traits that make her a ruler anyone would WANT to follow besides being a momma to a few fire spitting reptiles. Her strategies and leadership leave much to be desired on the battlefield. She doesn’t DESERVE the throne, and most people don’t want her to even have it- something that was never more evident than after the Battle of Winterfell when everyone heaped praise on Jon and Arya, and she was basically left alone at the table with her Chai Latte.
Safe Bet: It’s still a safe bet to say she winds up on the throne. Especially with all the trouble she’s had in the last few episodes. She will probably, as stated above, show hints at turning into her father and be a Mad Queen, but in the end find a way to be a good queen that everyone loves. Her key here would be making people love her- look for that.
Crazy Theory: What would a real Queen do? She would sacrifice herself in the end for her people. Something no one would see coming, would be Dany going through her huge character arc and journey, to in the end fall on the sword (figuratively? literally?) to eliminate the big baddie… making everyone remember why they love her and be sad they ever doubted her.
Super Crazy Theory: In Dany’s moment of need, the remaining other dragons of the world we never knew about are called to her like she’s Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon, and they win the city for her just by their presence. The people of King’s Landing bow to her because she’s obviously a bad ass.
Chances of Ruling: 6:1
Why it works: No.. freaking way.
I mean really this bitch has to die right? RIGHT?
No show in their right mind would let the bad guy win in the end.
Well, I mean… if any show would let the bad guy win in the end, it would be THIS one.
Cersei has proven to be one of the most cunning players in the Game of Thrones, and her ruthless “win by any means” attitude (as seen by blowing up the Sept of Baelor, one of the most BADASS power plays I’ve ever seen) is exactly what makes her so dangerous.
If Game of Thrones has taught us anything over the years, it’s no one is safe, which also means anyone can rule, and Cersei might be the fittest to rule out of anyone.
Why it doesn’t work: After all the shit we’ve been through. Ned’s beheading, the Red Wedding, Sansa getting raped on her wedding night, Oberyn’s sexy ass beating The Mountain but then getting killed, like all the direwolves being killed, Theon getting snuffed out, 2 dragons (so far) getting slain, Missandei’s sexy ass getting killed… after all of that, WE DESERVE TO WIN! I mean come on already, we’ve suffered enough. This thing HAS to have a happy ending right? Right? …. Please?
Safe Bet: Cersei’s army, while superior, still needs its figure head (much like the White Walkers). She’s most certainly going to be killed, and soon, most likely by Jaime. Sure there’s the theory that Arya kills her, but I seriously doubt they would let Arya kill BOTH of the two main baddies of the show.
Crazy Theory: Jaime kills Cersei and then kills himself in the most Shakespearean ending since… well, Shakespeare. Still a better love story than Twilight.
Super Crazy Theory: Arya has her sights on Cersei and is about to take her out, but Jaime jumps in to the rescue at the last minute, killing Arya. Dany turns Mad Queen and Cersei becomes THE GOOD GUY and takes her out.
Chances of Ruling: 8:1
Why it works: When Daenerys legitimized Gendry as the last son of Robert Baratheon, she may have unwillingly made him a strong contender for the throne. Robert Baratheon was the last true ruler of Westeros, and you know the people are just freaking tired of the Lannisters and Targaryens and Starks just always warring with each other. Wasn’t everything just great when Robert was king? A Baratheon on the throne = peace… and that’s just what the realm needs after this hellish series. There’s a real chance that Dany and Cersei end up both dying at the end here, and we all know Jon doesn’t want to rule anything- so that leaves the door wide open for Gendry to swoop in and do what he was bastardly born to do.
Why it doesn’t work: Would anyone actually be happy to see Gendry on the Iron Throne? I mean really? That would just be even more of a let down than Gendry apparently was in the sack.
Safe Bet: We don’t even see this dude again for more than like two minutes.
Crazy Theory: He’s pretty handy with an ax, imagine if he actually came in at the end and used it to like… kill someone important.
Chances of Ruling: 10:1
Why it works: The little bird has really grown up and it’s been one of the more satisfying story arcs on the show. She’s learned enough through the years to know how to rule, and she has an extremely level head on her shoulders. The Starks have been the main protagonist house in the series, so it would be fitting for one of them to end up on the throne. She’s intelligent, people love her, she’s been through a lot, and she’s the oldest Stark who actually cares about ruling. Huge bonus is that she is one of the few NOT currently in or around King’s Landing- which means she’s in little danger of getting killed, while the others on this list are all more and more likely to have their watch ended preemptively.
Why it doesn’t work: In the end, Sansa only loves the North, while the South holds nothing but bad memories. There’s little chance she would ever leave the North without a Stark (there must always be a Stark in Winterfell people… and Bran’s a… well he’s Bran.) There’s always the chance she could move the capital to Winterfell, or leave Winterfell in Jon’s non-Stark care, but there’s just a lot that would be out of character for her here. I’ll admit she’s probably the best candidate to rule if I just had to pick someone to take the throne, but man, a lot of people would have to die first.
Safe Bet: Sansa ends up as Queen in the North of an allied, but not fully together any more Seven Kingdoms.
Crazy Theory: In the middle of the final battle of King’s Landing between Dany and Cersei- Sansa rides up with the armies of the North (lots of houses didn’t answer the call for the Battle of Winterfell, if she gathers all of them it would be a sizable force). Sansa cleans house and wins the day. All hail the Queen.
The Iron Throne gets destroyed- 6:1
What better way for a show about unexpectedly losing things you didn’t expect to lose to end than to make the end goal actually unattainable? Multiple people end up ruling together, or -GASP- the world crumbles into a DEMOCRACY!
Tyrion Lannister- 15:1
Everyone loves this dude. He would make a great ruler too, but much like Jon he has no care to rule. Unlike Jon though, he doesn’t have swarms of backers pushing for him.
Jaime Lannister- 20:1
I mean… yea I’m not seeing it. He isn’t emotionally stable enough but, if the Lannisters win, and Cersei dies, this could happen.
Arya Stark- 20:1
The hero of The Battle of Winterfell, if she ends up killing Cersei, or killing a Mad-Queen Dany, would basically have won the throne outright by her exploits. I don’t see her dying at the end, but I don’t see her ruling a nation either.
Here’s hoping they haven’t totally abandoned the Direwolf story arcs for some reason and Arya strolls up to Kings Landing with The Hound, Nymeria, and a pack of wolves ready for war.
The one person in the entire realm who just wants the best for the realm, Varys is quite probably the best option and most deserving of this. He’s played “the game” masterfully and always finds a way to not only survive, but thrive. The main detractors being he doesn’t have much of any following, and he also can not have children, meaning there would be no proper succession. No one wants that type of instability. Though I could see him some how winning the first democratically elected leadership role!
Bran Stark- 35:1
Somehow, some way, Bran Stark is the FAVORITE, he is the leading contender to end up on the Iron Throne according to Las Vegas gamblers. I don’t know man, I just can’t see Bran the Emotionally Absent as the Ruler of Westeros, just sitting on the throne touching himself under his lap blanket. GTFO… no.
Literally anyone else, including Grey Worm, The Hound, and the Ghost of a dead Stark 50:1
I wouldn’t put it past this show to just surprise the piss out of us at the end of the day. Everyone has a chance.
written by: Mike Slade