#22. Brienne of Tarth
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As it was unveiled in the Season 7 finale, Jon Snow is not only a Targaryen, but the true-born son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Since the Targaryens ruled the seven kingdoms for thousands of years, and Rhaegar was legally wed to Lyanna, this makes the hitherto-"bastard" Jon Snow or Aegon Targaryen as his parents named him, a true-born heir to the throne. And as Rhaegar's son, he has a stronger claim than Daenerys (his aunt). Jon has had training to be a leader with the Night's Watch, and even managed to convince the Wildlings beyond the Wall to follow him. And after being resurrected, Jon has transformed from an unassuming young man into a warrior worthy of being called king. He united the North and forged a historic alliance between former enemies to combat the Night King, someone he actually survived a fight with. With Samwell Tarly and Davos Seaworth at his side, Jon's sure to have all the insight and Dragonglass necessary to slay the Night King. There is little doubt about Jon's capabilities and he would certainly bring true justice to the Seven Kingdoms and beyond. With all the respect he has garnered, on any show other than Game of Thrones, it would be easy to see him ascending to the throne as a man so many people trust. However, that is not a role Jon necessarily wants to take on. Obviously he has a natural charisma and a strong heart, two qualities that make him such a successful leader. But it is hard to see him going back on his word to Daenerys, his newfound lover, whom he has pledged to support in her quest to retake the throne for the Targaryens. So any eventuality in which Jon Snow is ruling the Seven Kingdoms would likely also involve Daenerys's death. It does seem that time and time again we have seen Jon lifted into these positions of power, often against his will. He begrudgingly takes on these responsibilities because of that northern Stark sense of honor and duty. Jon certainly does not want to be in power and knows that he does not belong in a castle scheming and plotting. He certainly feels at home on the field, with his men, leading the fight against the next threat. That could all change if his identity is revealed to the people of Westeros, and absent any better alternative he just may have the responsibility thrust upon him again.
Daenerys may have lost Viserion, one of her three dragons, but she still has Drogon and Rhaegal, the Dothraki hordes, contingents of the Unsullied and an armada of Greyjoy and Mereenese ships at her command. Her massive military also has the allegiance of the army loyal to the King in the North Jon Snow and this puts her on paper in an advantageous position against the Night King's legion now that the army of the dead has breached the Wall. She also has a wealth of advice thanks to the likes of Tyrion Lannister, Missandei, Varys and now Davos Seaworth thanks to her alliance with Jon Snow. The Dragon queen has made reclaiming the Iron Throne her mission ever since she lost her husband Khal Drogo at the end of Season 1. Her entire journey since then has been focused on that singular quest. Whether she will be able to make good on her ambitions, though, is not entirely certain. She is definitely one of the most deserving and the hardest working. She has had to learn the most and sacrifice just as much as the other contenders. She is certain of her destiny, and is unafraid of any obstacles. And as her advisor Missandei revealed - the prophecy of Azor Ahai, about the one who was promised could just as well indicate a prince or princess. Ultimately, many fans of the show want to see her sit atop the throne, as seen by the reception to her reaching Dragonstone (the home of the Targaryens) and how she's gone about plotting her coup on her chessboard. It does looks as if the show is setting her up for success, but that might not bode well for Daenerys. But ever since the Red Wedding, fans have learned their lesson about pinning all hopes on their beloved characters. Of course, the White Walkers threw a chilly wrench into Daenerys's plans, but with Jon swearing fealty with the Northern army at his command, not to mention she's got Grey Worm and her own military, the odds are in her favor to secure what she believes is her birthright. From Season 1, Daenerys has grown from a girl into a woman, and with or without her soldiers, her resolve is so strong it is hard to see her not getting what she has always wanted, especially as we know she wants rule the Seven Kingdoms in a more just manner than her ancestors. Sadly, because this is Game of Thrones, it might very well be that Daenerys is not going to win the throne. It is difficult to say where exactly Daenerys will end up but it is quite likely that she will lose her life abruptly and unexpectedly before ever becoming queen. That is simply how character arcs seem to play out in the Game Of Thrones.
According to Aidan Gillen, who played Littlefinger, until he met a decidedly brutal end in Season 7, it is quite possible that no one might win the Iron Throne. Way back in Season 2, Daenerys did have a vision in the House of the Undying, which showed how that might look like - a King's Landing in ruins and the bleak long winter engulfing far more than the North. This could come to pass if the battle for Westeros between the living and the dead ends in a catastrophe. Another less calamitous scenario is that the eventual winner lets each of the seven kingdoms govern themselves. This is certainly not without precedent in Westeros and could happen if, for instance, the victor is reluctant, such as Jon Snow or Arya Start or one without a legitimate birthright or the political will such as Jorah Mormont or Davos Seaworth. If one is pedantic, however, there is yet another way in which this could happen. It could also simply be that the Iron Throne itself will be destroyed and replaced by a new throne to reflect the end of an era.
The show may be called Game of Thrones, but they are based on the stories depicted by George RR Martin in the series 'A song of Ice and Fire'. Since Jon grew up in the north where it is cold and winters run long it is not hard to argue that he could be the Ice referred to in the title even though he likely is both Targaryen and Stark in terms of lineage. Daenerys, on the other hand, is a Targaryen through and through and with Dragons by her side, there is very little doubt that she is the embodiment of fire. What could be a more fitting end to this epic saga than a union of ice and fire - perhaps through the marriage between the show's most well known heroes allowing both to become co-rulers of the Seven Kingdoms? While this would certainly be a happy conclusion, it is hard for fans to even contemplate such an ending given the show's proclivity for shocking its viewers.
While Gendry may not be the most obvious choice for the next ruler of Westeros, it is exactly because he seems so unlikely to win the throne that he may be seated atop it when all is said and done (perhaps with Tyrion by his side). We all know that we can expect major heartbreak before the end of the series, which means most, if not all, of our favorite characters are likely to meet a grim ending. There seems very little reason, from a storytelling standpoint, to bring Gendry back into the series just before its end unless he has a big role to play in its final six episodes. We know that author George R.R. Martin draws great inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien. In Tolkien’s work, Kingdom’s are often destroyed and rebuilt, never quite the same, never quite as well, but they survive and they remain. A Baratheon on the thrown brings us full-circle, maybe not quite the kingdom it was, but a kingdom still standing. George R. R. Martin's novels indicate that the late King Robert slept his way around his kingdom, leaving bastard children (and potential claimants to the throne) in every brothel in King's Landing and elsewhere. In HBO's Game of Thrones, however, since Cersei has done away with many of these illegitimate children, those characters are condensed into the role of Gendry, the ferocious blacksmith whose life got a lot harder after his parentage was discovered. As the sole living heir to the last "rightful" king - though the Baratheon claim to the throne can obviously be disputed - Gendry is certainly a contender to watch. He is young and fearless, and wields that warhammer like the Baratheon he truly is. Gendry is motivated solely by revenge and an indebtedness to his companions but not at all power. That could take him farther than expected.
There are some fans of the series out there that believe Tyrion Lannister will be the man left seated on the throne when this it is all said and done. Tyrion would make for a great ruler - thoughtful, wise, well-traveled, and intelligent enough to play the game. And maybe if he looked anything like his brother Jaime, he could actually sit on the throne. The truth of the matter is, the people of Westeros just would not accept him as their king. The show has demonstrated countless times how the people of Westeros feel about dwarves. It seems clear, that the hand of the King or Queen is as high as he can go. The only real question is which King or Queen will he serve when it’s all over? Tyrion evolved from an alcoholic and petulant outsider into a wise leader, wanting to undo the Lannister legacy of blood -- which is why he has endorsed Daenerys to take the throne. However, in Season 7's finale, "The Dragon and the Wolf," we saw he was indeed jealous of her romance and overall alliance with Jon Snow. Now, because he is a Lannister, we can not put it past him putting a knife in her or Jon's back once the dust clears after the battle with the Night King. The Targaryens' rule, after all, has always led to chaos, as per the Mad King Aerys and the war Rhaegar started, so Tyrion could attempt to keep them off the throne in a power play that would make his father and sister proud. No one would see it coming, as everyone loves Tyrion's heroic turn. In any case, even if Jon and Daenerys perish in battle, he is still the best man for the throne, as he wants a free and fair Westeros.
Euron has a long and bloody history with the Lannisters and nearly a decade before the events of the show began to unfold, it was Euron who led the Lannisport raid during the Greyjoy rebellion. He set fire to their naval fleet, dealing a major blow but the Lannisters persisted and later attacked the Iron Islands. When the rebellion was eventually quashed, Euron slipped away and spent the next several years roaming the seas, reaving whatever he pleased, until he finally returned to the Iron Islands in Season 6. Even when he was away from home, Euron had his eyes on the Iron Throne. After he seized his role as the king of the Iron Islands in Season 6, he declared his plan to wed Daenerys Targaryen by offering his ships and services in return for a seat at the Dragonqueen's table. But when Theon and Yara stole his fastest ships and made way for Meereen, he opted instead to aim for Cersei’s hand, believing it to be his best chance at ruling the Seven Kingdoms. But Euron must overcome quite a few obstacles before he can wear the crown and proclaim himself first of his name. Euron’s first step toward claiming the Iron Throne must be winning Cersei Lannister’s trust. After being invited to King’s Landing courtesy of Cersei in Season 7, Euron promised to return to the queen once he has retrieved a gift so significant she will have no choice but to accept his alliance. Assuming Euron wins Cersei’s favor, he still has to make good on his promise of defeating Danerys’ fearsome army including her two dragons. Euron has claimed that his new Iron Fleet is superior to her vessels but Daenerys has shown how effective her dragons are at laying waste to opposing fleets during the battle at Slaver’s Bay. Assuming, though, that Cersei actually follows through with her end of the bargain and wed her dearly loathsome suitor, Euron still would not be sitting on the Iron Throne. In order for Euron to truly be king of Westeros, he will have to take out Cersei and Jaime (not too mention Qyburn, the Mountain and other Cersei loyalists) and that is easier said than done.
The Targaryens intermarried for millennia, which led eventually led to the Mad King and subsequently Robert's Rebellion. Now that Jon and Daenerys have become lovers, and the audience knows that they are technically aunt and nephew, is it possible that they will unite to rule the kingdom together? The series hinted that Daenerys might be able to bear children after all. She has stated before that her three Dragons were the only children she would ever have. Since she has lost one of them to the Night King's army of the dead, does this mean that she would be able to bear a child once more. Jon and Daenerys's marriage would re-establish a Targaryen dynasty in typical Targaryen heritage and would also restore some peace to the kingdom, as Jon is allied with the Starks and Khaleesi has at least one Lannister on her side. However, for Jon Snow's child to sit on the Iron Throne rather than him or Daenerys, it would unfortunately mean that the child's parents are both dead. This could come about in a pretty harmless fashion if the show decides to fast forward a few decades when both of our heroes have died after ruling over Westeros peacefully or in a more sinister way if the battle for Westeros against the Night King ends in disaster for Jon and Daenerys.
When she took the throne for herself following Tommen's death, fans truly understood how conniving and ruthless Cersei was. In a genius stroke, she transitioned the Lannisters from being Wardens and Hands of the King to the folks laying down the law. Make no mistake, with this taste of power, no one expects her to relinquish it anytime soon. If Jon, Daenerys and company battle the Night King to the death, the surviving party could well be wiped out by Cersei in a strategic move. She is just as passionate about the throne as Daenerys, and is even willing to sacrifice her own blood for it, which says it all. Cersei has already lied about joining the alliance against the White Walkers and is ready to sweep up the crumbs, with the Golden Company of Braavos (sellswords and mercenaries) and Euron Greyjoy's ships comprising her own personal hit squad. It would be naive to underestimate someone this smart who always has a trump card up her sleeve.
It seems strange to think that the cripple boy with the ability to see into the past could be king, but there are a number of theories that suggest the Three-eyed Raven’s apprentice could be the key to the whole storyline. The reason for this could be down to the fact that fans now believe that Bran’s forays into the past could be affecting what happens in the future. In season six, the explanation of how Hodor got his name showed that Bran could cause seismic ruptures in the space-time continuum. Many theories now suggest that Bran tries to go back and stop the White Walkers before they are created, but inadvertently enters the body of the Night King in the process. This would mean that the two characters are interlinked, and if the White Walkers prevail in the battle at Winterfell then Bran could have more of a part to play in stopping them thereafter. Despite the theory seeming completely farfetched and actor Isaac Hempstead Wright pouring cold water over it, bookies seem convinced that Bran ruling Westeros is a real possibility. The series based on George RR. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books certainly has a habit of throwing up unexpected outcomes and twists, so there may be some truth to the speculation. Viewers will find out soon enough when the series makes its long-awaited return in a few months’ time.
There is perhaps no one who is more aware of the brutal and unforgiving nature of Westeros that Sansa Stark. She has been through a lot, from being emotionally tortured by Joffrey and his mother Cersei to the physical abuse by Ramsay Bolton. She has also been witness to the beheading of her father, Ned, and the death of her little brother, Rickon. By the end of Season 7, Sansa is no longer the innocent wilting flower, but a strong and astute power broker in Westeros. She has the leadership ability, the highborn title, and has learned quite a bit from the rocky road she has been forced onto. Sansa has traveled Westeros and knows the inner machinations of her rival families. Littlefinger's execution shows how cerebral she has become, and there is a chance that her concerns about Jon's alliance with Daenerys could lead to her turning on them. After all, the Starks have known nothing but betrayal and death, so if she sees the opportunity to take the throne, especially if she distrusts this power couple, we can't rule out Sansa stabbing them in the back. She did learn manipulation from Littlefinger himself, and it seems she has become a master at it. Harboring secret intentions to put a Stark on the throne, especially as she knows people would follow her based on her family's reputation, may well be her solution to a new Westeros.
In many ways, Varys is the antithesis of what has thus far transpired in the series. A proponent of stability, peace and continuity, he has unfailingly but ineffectively supported those who he thought could prevent the seven kingdoms from descending into chaos. To that end, he has served the causes and ambitions of Houses Baratheon, Lannister and finally Targaryen. However, despite his apparent loyalty towards Daenerys now, it is hard to set aside the fact that he was once the Master of Whisperers on King Robert Baratheon's Small Council and was in charge of disposing the Targaryen siblings. Clearly, he is not above switching allegiances when it suits him or the good of the realm. And fans of the show will remember his infamous exchange in the throne room with then rival Littlefinger about using cunning to climb up the ladder of power and success. With Littlefinger gone, there is nothing to thwart Varys from climbing further. The question is how far is he willing ascend? We will just have to wait and see.
In any other show, the possibility of all our favorite heroes and heroines losing to an army of dead soulless White Walkers would be an unthinkable outcome but this is Game of Thrones. It would certainly make for a grim finale, but the series has not exactly shied away from such ends. Killing off every character the fans are rooting for would be a distinctly Game of Thrones way to end the series. The Night King does have an an endless supply of bodies to raise from the dead and the vicious Wights. And since the end of Season 8, he also has at his command, Viserion, an ice dragon that was one of Daenerys's three dragons. With the wall penetrated and an innumerable number of the army of the dead pouring in, can we be so confident that the living will make it out this time?
The most fearless of the Starks, often-underestimated but wise-beyond-her-years, Arya has proved to be a ruthless assassin, racking up a lengthy “kill list” as she seeks to avenge the murders of people she loves. She is, however, motivated by revenge rather than a desire to capture the throne, which makes her a likely candidate to get rid of the heartless Cersei Lannister, the current queen of the Seven Kingdoms. but several theories suspect Arya would destroy the throne if she did ultimately claim it. There is no doubt fans would love to see Arya on the Iron Throne but the showrunners are not fond of the popular choice and she is arguably the most popular character in Game of Thrones. It is not clear what series of events would see her end up on the Iron Throne, but if the Starks do finally end up in a good position, it would make this more likely. There are several scenarios in which this could happen. First of these involves Arya taking the throne as queen regent for a Targaryen child born of Jon and Daenerys. This would mirror Ned's adoption of Jon and would bring that bittersweet closure that showrunners have been hinting at. Another possible scenario is that all Targaryen claims are dead by the end. Gendry is recognized and legitimized as a Baratheon and married to Arya, after which he too meets with an untimely death. Here too, Arya is Queen regent, but this time for her own child.
No character in Game of Thrones has gone through as massive a character transformation as Jamie. The confident and brash Lannister firstborne and member of the King's Guard, is still known in Westeros backstabbing the Mad king (literally). So there is a chance the Kingslayer could strike again — this time against his twin sister (and lover), Cersei. He’s made it clear he disagrees with her schemes and has carried out a number of virtuous deeds, but he has his own questionable moral compass, exemplified by the pair’s incestous relationship and his shoving Bran Stark out of a window in order to protect it. Still, as a Lannister, Jaime has a claim to the throne.
As Jon Snow’s closest confidant, Samwell Tarly may seem an unlikely contender for the throne. More bookish than brave, he provides key insight and intelligence as a steward in the Night’s Watch and their battle against the White Walkers, but fans suspect there may be more to him beneath the surface. Their theories speculate that he could be the reincarnation of Azor Ahai, the Prince Who Was Promised and who will once again save the realm from the White Walkers.
The mysterious priestess from Asshai is a servant of R'hllor (better known as the Lord of Light) and has been out on a mission since Season 1 of the Show to install the Lord's Chosen (Azor Ahai) on the Iron Throne. Admittedly, she made a costly mistake in placing all her faith on the notion that Stannis Baratheon was the Prince that was Promised. Now with Stannis gone, she has reevaluated her beliefs and seems outwardly convinced that Jon Snow is actually Azor Ahai. Whether or not she has her own designs or machinations to secure the throne for herself is not yet clear. As with everything the Red Priestess does, her actions remain shrouded in mystery.
Bronn certainly expresses no desire to fight for the crown. It may be because he is already the Meme king of Game of Thrones. If quick wits, a black sense of humor and a pragmatic amoral life philosophy were regal attributes, then Bronn would long be sitting on the Iron Throne wondering which of the many beautiful ladies of the realm would have the good fortune of spending the night with him. Unfortunately there is the small matter of royal lineage, and on this count the sarcastic sellsword comes up short. However, if either Tyrion or Jamie end up surviving till the end, be sure that everyone's favorite annointed knight - Ser Bronn of Blackwater will be right by their side to sneer and jeer them on.
The Onion Knight is an unlikely contender for the Throne, but you can never tell considering the series’ penchant for plot twists. Azor Ahai theories abound in the fandom, and some suspect that Stannis Baratheon’s former right-hand man might just be the guy to fulfill the prophecy.
Everyone knows that Jorah is Khaleesi's most loyal supporter (in addition to being the Lord Protector of her "Friendzone"). So any scenario in which Jorah ends up on the Iron Throne, would probably need to be predecated by the death of Daenarys (or possibly Jon Snow). While Jorah does not have a legitimate claim to the throne, if Jon Snow had an untimely demise and Daenarys's feeling towards Jorah somehow blossomed into romance - then Jorah could end up on the throne if something untoward were to happen to Daenarys later in the season. This is certainly a long shot but it could well be argued that someone as level-headed and wise as Jorah would be the perfect person to rule over the seven kingdoms to help the realm rebound from the tumult and chaos depicted in the show. However, this is Game of Thrones after all - a show where ideal outcomes don't happen very often. As of now, the exiled Jorah has a much better shot at becoming Lord of Bear Island than he does at claiming the iron throne.
As far as household names go, Beric Dondarrion is not among them. Is he foxy, even without the eye? Absolutely. Is he rugged? You know it. Would it be kind of strange to see him on the throne? One hundred percent. For years, Dondarrion was a tertiary character; after leaving King's Landing, he took up with the Brotherhood Without Banners and swore allegiance to the god of fire. He's been killed and resurrected more than once, which means Jon Snow isn't the only guy in the running with that on his résumé. The Lord of Light is on his side. In more ways than one, too: Fans noted his use of a flaming sword in the fight beyond the wall, which sure looks a lot like the fabled Lightbringer. This isn't the most likely outcome, but it's definitely one worth considering.