The Game of Thrones is a deadly one, and like all good games, it has winners and losers. Welcome to Game of Thrones: Winners & Losers, where we take in the latest episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones and determine the top MVP’s as well as those who were handed a healthy dose of defeat.
Below you’ll find the winners and losers for the series finale, Game of Thrones Season 8, Episode 6, “The Iron Throne.” If you find your favorite character listed as a loser, too bad! This is the final episode! Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
*Spoilers for the latest episode of Game of Thrones below*
1. Tyrion Lannister
Though he doesn’t end up on the Iron Throne, Tyrion dominates “The Iron Throne.” After a few seasons of being narratively sidelined, Tyrion’s time in the limelight during the finale is probably the most satisfying aspect of the series finale that doesn’t involve Ghost. Taking a showy moral stand to the Dragon Queen, convincing the ever-brooding Jon Snow that they goofed and backed the wrong horse, making all of the lords and ladies shut up and listen to a prisoner politic, and shifting Westeros to a geniocracy was sure to land the imp in the winner’s section, but his most impressive feat? Giving King Brandon Stark his official nickname. Coining a nickname is difficult to begin with, but assigning one to your new ruler that not so subtly highlights his status as a paraplegic is incredibly bold. Clearly feeling himself, Tyrion makes his triumphant return to the small counsel, back in the Hand’s chair where he belongs. Instead of figuring out how to place a foreign invader in power or defeat an army of the dead, Tyrion is left to lead discussions on water sanitation and construction, a de facto ruler while their figurehead spends his days spying on a dragon and chilling in the past. You’d have to add a honeycomb and a donkey to give Tyrion a happier ending.
2. Bran Stark
Ok, so Bran the Broken isn’t the most flattering nickname for a king, but this Three-Eyed Raven is doing quite well for himself considering the last guy to hold the position lived in a goddamn tree in the middle of nowhere like a goth Keebler elf. Tyrion says that Bran’s life story is the best among the group that assembles to discuss Westeros power structure moving forward, which isn’t quite true, but arguable, I suppose. I must admit, I was pretty underwhelmed by Bran’s presence this season prior to this point, wondering why the Warg of Winterfell didn’t do more to help the Northerners and the people of King’s Landing or stop Daenerys, but maybe this monotone madman was planning for this power grab all along? It sure seems like it when he grinningly tells Tyrion, “Yo, why do you think I’m here, dog?” Bran’s always been a climber, don’t forget. Though he’s already lost a kingdom, Bran should be able to rule and hold power well. With his abilities, he’ll know exactly when a threat is coming, where he needs to send resources, and the secret motivations of every member of his small council. Bran the Broken has the Sev…erg..Six Kingdoms on lock.
3. Sansa Stark
Sansa attended the power vacuum summit dressed to kill and ready to make her case for the throne. She rides into King’s Landing on such a strong combination of “I Told You So” energy and gained wisdom from all of the cruel rulers that she’s outlasted, it makes her seem like the most important, strong-willed person in attendance. When her little brother is suggested as the best candidate to rule, she interjects with harsh a but relevant, “But his dick don’t work,” the only person to be bothered with logical concerns like the line of succession. When she realizes that King Bran the Broken is inevitable, she doesn’t lose an ounce of resolve, immediately brokering a deal for the North’s independence. So, while she may not be the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, she’s the Queen of the North, quite a high peak for someone who was once just a little bird. Finally, Sansa looks like she spent her last moments in King’s Landing raiding Daenerys’ closest, dropping her Cersei-inspired death uniform for one of Khaleesi’s winter gowns. A real glow-up indeed.
4. Arya Stark
Arya was put through hell last week, so here she pretty much just gets to hang out, supporting her siblings and throwing threats Yara Greyjoy’s way. Though I would have liked to see a little more Faceless Man action out of our favorite assassin, Arya is the entire reason while a throne is still around to squabble over in the first place, so if she wants to just relax or go boating, let a girl live. Arya decides to spend her Savior of Humanity retirement sailing west of Westeros, uncharted waters that could hold any number of adventures for Arya Columbus. As a searching traveler at heart, it’s another neat and tidy ending for a Stark, a family that was put through more than enough. Honestly, I’m just relieved that Arya isn’t a Flat Earther. Out of all of our surviving characters, Arya has the most spinoff potential. Hey Maisie Williams, what are you doing for the next, oh say, 10 years or so?
5. Jon Snow
This guy is clearly only happy when he’s sad, so it’s only fitting that his ending is the most bittersweet. Jonny with the good hair puts duty before love and once again holds another girlfriend in his arms as she dies, though this time he did the dirty deed himself. For a second, it really seemed like Daenerys’ “you need to break a few eggs to make an omelet” speech was going to work on our dim prince that was promised, but he takes his conversation with Tyrion to heart and sticks ol’Stormborn in her ribs. Imagine having to explain what happened to everyone else; that must have been a fun conversation. The murder only nets Jon with his second stint at the Wall due to some excellent negotiating by Tyrion, who became a political mastermind again just in the nick of time. Seeing as Jon had no interest in ruling, this is probably best-case scenario for the lovable mope. Jon gets to return to the North, reunite with two of his remaining best friends in Tormund and Ghost (!), and it’s implied that he immediately abandons his post as a member of the Night’s Watch to go North of the Wall and start a new life with a gang of Wildlings. Perhaps Jon, like Sansa and Bran, becomes a ruler himself, the new King Beyond the Wall. His watch, like our own, has ended.
1. Daenerys Targaryen
Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In the end, Daenerys’ self-mythologizing and savior complex made her no less self-serving than Cersei Lannister or any ruler that came before. Daenerys only wanted to break the wheel so that she could build a new one and say that she invented it. Though she’s essentially right when she tells Jon that changing the world takes major change and sacrifice, she also sounds quite a bit like Thanos. Meeting with Jon Snow alone and unarmed seems short sighted. This is a guy that you knew was going to have major issues with your war methods. You just got done mean-mugging the fuck out of him after your scary victory speech (I don’t think it’s lost on anyone why they chose for her to deliver her speech in a foreign tongue to a group of characters seen as “Others”), then you seem almost giddy to celebrate with your nephew boy-toy in private? It’s another example of this whiplash season. Regardless of her last minute heel turn, she’ll always be my Queen, and as far as funerals go, having a dragon pick up your body and fly away into the horizon is definitely a flex.
2. Edmure Tully
This fail-son, this absolute goon. Read the room, you dolt. The conversation is opened up for King suggestions, and the Magikarp of the Tully family has the gall to be like “Well, spending majority of the series imprisoned after being a feckless, Daddy’s boy stooge makes me uniquely equipped to rule.” That pitch may work if you’re trying to be the Democratic nominee for president, but it’s not gonna fly here. Sansa promptly tells her uncle to stfu and sit down, and Edmure finally does something smart and listens. On what planet did he think he could make a compelling case to lead? I’d rather Titty Boy Robin Arryn take control of Westeros before you, the embodiment of unearned white male privilege. Get this filet of fish all the way the fuck outta here.
3. Yara Greyjoy
First off, Arya dunks all over Yara in front of Westeros’ elite. Her poppa Baylon was always railing about how the other lords and ladies, particularly the Starks, didn’t respect him, and now the cycle continues. But Yara is a loser for more reasons than that. Adding to her embarrassment, she laughs out loud at Tyrion’s suggestion that they just assemble and choose a new ruler every time a change needs to be made. Um, excuse me Yara, but what do you think the Kingsmoot is? You’re laughing off this suggestion as if it isn’t the exact stupid way that the Iron Born more or less decide who’s going to rule the Iron Islands. Then, Yara just sits idly as Sansa negotiates Northern independence as if independence wasn’t the thing that the Iron Islands were after all along. The same criticism goes to the unnamed new prince of Dorne as well. If we’re being honest, the new status quo that Tyrion sets up doesn’t seem positioned for long term success for this very reason. How long until Pyke or Dorne decide that they want to secede from the crown too? Finally, I just feel like Yara’s a loser because she essentially had to learn about the events of this last season like she was reading Twitter reactions. Can you imagine how frustrating following all of this by raven must have been? “My brother died HOW?!” “Euron did WHAT?!” “Cersei killed WHO?!” “Daenerys, WHY?!” Maybe you shouldn’t have decided to sit this one out.
4. Grey Worm
While I was genuinely touched by his decision to sail off to Naath with the remaining Unsullied in a tribute to his departed Missandei, politically, my guy got absolutely steamrolled. In the wake of Dany’s death, he just turned over and let the lords and ladies of Westeros choose his fate for him. Tyrion was Grey Worm’s political prisoner and yet Tyrion is the chief architect of Westeros’ new power structure, getting to monologue uninterrupted while Grey Worm just stands by and lets it happen. Then, after Jon Snow had his queen killed, he has to watch as Jon just walks right out of his cell and off to a life that he probably would have chosen for himself regardless. There’s a certain irony to an unsullied getting cucked this hard. If I’m Grey Worm, I’m going complete John Wick and I’m not resting until Jon Snow is face down in the snow.
5. Samwell Tarly
Hey, congrats on being the Grand Maester of the Six Kingdoms. Truly deserved. But hey, next time you’re going to argue for the merits of a democracy, try to be a little more strong-willed. Maybe channel some of that Sam the Slayer energy. My guy attacked that debate like Jeb Bush. A terrible showing, Sam. If you’re going to start fixing the many things that are wrong with the Six Kingdoms, you’re going to need to be more aggressive. Next, I just have to shoot the messenger for Sam plopping down A Song of Ice and Fire, written by Archmaester Ebrose. Sam tells Tyrion that he doesn’t appear within the pages of the history book recounting the fallout from Robert’s Rebellion up until the present day, and that’s just, wow; it’s complete bullshit. How do you tell that story and not mention the hero of the Battle of the Blackwater? The man that killed the powerful Tywin Lannister? The man initially accused of killing King Jofferey? The person that was being represented by Oberyn Martell when he was brutally murdered in trial by combat against the Mountain? Daenerys Targaryen’s one and only Hand of the Queen? I’m sorry Sam, but your boss wrote a bullshit book, I don’t care if you gave it a cool name.
Ghost – Vindicated! – WINNER
Robin Arryan – Ask Tormund; milk works. – WINNER
Bronn – Master of Coin? Sure, whatever. – WINNER
Drogon – A big believer in symbolism. – WINNER
Brienne of Tarth – A better writer than that hack Ebrose. – WINNER
George R.R. Martin – The bar has been lowered. – WINNER
David Benioff and D.B. Weiss – Everyone’s a critic. – LOSERS
Listen to our Game of Thrones season 8 discussion on the Sci Fi Fidelity podcast:
Nick Harley is a tortured Cleveland sports fan, thinks Douglas Sirk would have made a killer Batman movie, Spider-Man should be a big-budget HBO series, and Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson should direct a script written by one another. For more thoughts like these, read Nick’s work here at Den of Geek or follow him on Twitter.