Ranking Game of Thrones’ Character Endings: Who Won Out & Who Deserved Better?

As prequel House of the Dragon approaches, we revisit which Game of Thrones character arcs had satisfying endings, and which left fans frustrated. Spoilers

Sansa crowned in Game of Thrones
Photo: HBO

Warning: contains spoilers for all eight seasons of Game of Thrones

“When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die,” as Cersei Lannister famously told the naïve Eddard Stark. But there’s more to wrapping up a fictional character’s arc successfully that just whether they win or lose the Game – sometimes, it’s the Winner of the Game who has the least satisfying arc of all.

There were 161 regular and recurring characters across the eight seasons of Game of Thrones, most of whom were killed off at some point during the first seven seasons. We ranked every named character death in the series, including Season 8, back in 2019 in order of how upsetting they were, with the top spots going to characters killed early on whose deaths were tragic and tear-inducing in the best, most dramatic way.

However, 22 main characters and 17 recurring characters were still alive at the start of Season 8 and a few of those even made it all the way to the very end of the show, and were therefore left off our list. So today, we’re doing a slightly different ranking. Game of Thrones’ final season was notoriously divisive, and while some characters’ final scenes offered catharsis and satisfaction others… did not go down so well with audiences. For this list, we’re ranking how satisfying the character arc endings were, whether they died or not. The show itself told us that Bran the Broken had the best story, but were they right?

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This list ranks all the main and recurring characters who were alive at the beginning of Season 8. Any character who doesn’t fit that bill most likely got killed off in an earlier season, and you can see how upsetting or otherwise we found their death in our earlier list; if they lived but never showed up again, they obviously weren’t important enough for us to be too bothered about!

Honourable mentions: Daario Naharis got dumped by Daenerys at the end of Season 6 and never appeared again, which was a bit surprising – perhaps he will have more to do in the books. Hot Pie also didn’t appear in Season 8 and therefore doesn’t fit our criteria for this list, but we were very pleased that, when last seen at the end of Season 7, he was working at the Inn at the Crossroads and reassuring Arya that he’s a survivor. We choose to assume that he survived the war and lived happily ever after, baking pies.

43. Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) – Lives

Winner of the Game of Thrones

At the bottom of the list are the really problematic endings, the characters who deserved so much better for the culmination of their 8-year story arcs. Though in this case, it’s not so much about Bran’s character because by the end of the story, Bran has no character to speak of. It’s about where he ends up in relation to everyone else, because urgh! – King Bran.

Perhaps there could have been a way to make this make sense. The possibility that Bran has been secretly plotting to become King ever since he became the Three-Eyed Raven is sort of intriguing, and at least it provides some pay-off to everyone’s efforts to protect Bran during the battle against the Night King.

But really, that’s being generous because Bran becoming King of the Six Kingdoms just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Meera says Bran died in the cave with the Three-Eyed Raven and it’s questionable whether the person who becomes King is even Bran; he also told Sansa in Season 7 that he “can never be lord of anything” because he isn’t entirely human any more. He has no hereditary claim to their hereditary monarchy (unlike Jon, Gendry, or even Tyrion, the heirs of Aegon and Daenerys Targaryen, Robert Baratheon, and Joffrey, Tommen, and Cersei Lannister respectively), and his homeland of the North isn’t even part of the Kingdoms any more. He is neither the most effective with a sword nor the most intelligent person there. Tyrion completely illogically insists that the best candidate for the next King should be someone incapable of fathering children who has the “best story” but even if that made sense, that would still suggest the King should be Grey Worm, not Bran. The whole of the Six Kingdoms deserved better.

Game of Thrones Jaime Cersei death scene

42. Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Dies

Oh, Jaime. From the bath scene in Season 3 onwards, we were primed to expect a story of redemption for Jaime, and those characters who did get redeemed are higher up on this list, because redemption stories are usually pretty satisfying. That scene revealed that Jaime’s character was never as simply evil as we had thought when he pushed Bran out of a window; that he was a man who cared deeply about other people, but got led astray by his all-consuming love for his sister/lover Cersei. So when he finally turned his back on Cersei and joined the other characters to fight the Night King, not to mention starting a much healthier relationship with Brienne, it was all looking good for Jaime’s character arc, whether he lived or died. But then, in Episode 4 of Season 8, it all falls apart.

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Jaime ups and leaves Brienne in the middle of the night to go back to his old sister-lover and abandon all his character growth and development so they can rather pointlessly die together by having stuff dropped on them (in a long tradition of unsatisfying deaths that also includes Captain Kirk in Star Trek: Generations and Rocket Romano in ER). Worst of all, he claims to Tyrion that he “never really cared” about the innocent people of King’s Landing, which pretty much re-writes his entire character and all the actions that created him as the Kingslayer in the first place. We can only assume that he is lying to both Tyrion and himself to make himself feel better about his choice to come running back to Cersei out of misplaced love and loyalty. Brienne sees it as “protecting his Queen,” but Jaime and his fascinating and complex story deserved so, so much better.

41. Varys (Conleth Hill) – Dies

Varys was a compelling secondary character made great by Conleth Hill’s performance and by his heightened intelligence and knowledge from his network of spies, whose friendship with Tyrion, the other character known for his intelligence and political savvy, was one of his most interesting and endearing characteristics. So it’s just utterly disappointing to see Varys betrayed by Tyrion and executed by Daenerys after he correctly points out that Dany is on a slippery slope to mass murder and that Jon would be a better choice for King. Tyrion couldn’t have warned him to get out and go into exile? Or, even better, listened to him being absolutely correct as usual?

40. Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) – Dies

Missandei’s death can be described by using the sometimes controversial term “fridging.” The trope of “women in refrigerators” originally referred to the killing off of a female character in order to motivate a male character, without providing a satisfying resolution to the female character’s own story, named for the death of one of Green Lantern’s girlfriends. These days the term can be used to refer to the death of one character in order to motivate another, regardless of gender, and that’s what happens to Missandei. There’s an argument to be made that, with all her happy plans with Grey Worm, Missandei’s story was at an end and she was ripe for a tragic death. But although her last words to Danaerys, “Dracarys,” are kind of badass, they also lead to the slaughter of all of King’s Landing, which is unfortunate, and her execution by Cersei feels like a pointless move designed simply to motivate Danaerys since Cersei is usually more calculating than, for example, her son Joffrey.

Game of Thrones Missandei death scene

39. Rhaegal the Dragon – Dies

Already wounded from a battle with his own undead brother, poor Rhaegal is the other character who is “fridged” to motivate Danaerys’ turn to the Dark Side, abruptly killed by Euron Greyjoy, because, according to the show-runners, the Queen had “forgotten” about Euron and his fleet. Really?!

38. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) – Dies

The idea that Melisandre’s story had come to an end with the death of the Night King makes sense, but the execution was a bit lacking. She just wanders off into the snow, takes off her magic necklace and dies, even though we’ve seen her take it off without immediately dying before and there’s no obvious reason for her to do this. Some explanation along the lines of being worn out from magical exertion or R’hllor only wanting her to live long enough to defeat the Night King would have helped.

37. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) – Dies

We were all expecting Cersei to die, but the way it happened was a bit underwhelming. It was a surprise to book readers because it didn’t fit the book version of Maggy the Frog’s prophecy to Cersei, that “the valonquar” (meaning “little brother”), would kill her. The TV version of Maggy’s prophecy left that part out, and it fudged the rest of the prophecy anyway (Cersei is indeed replaced by a younger and more beautiful queen, and all her three children die before her, but in the TV show, her daughter Myrcella is never crowned). But even without the valonquar prophecy, this is a deeply unsatisfying end for Cersei. True, she wasn’t as despicable as Ramsay Bolton, or her own son Joffrey, and didn’t need such an horrific end as those two. And the decision to make her pregnant in Season 8 also complicates viewers’ desire to see her killed in a horrible way. But she was still the last primary antagonist standing and watching her get crushed by falling rocks while weeping and pleading for the life of her unborn child is just not a satisfying way to see out a character we mostly loved to hate.

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36 – 31 Alys Karstark (Megan Parkinson), Qhono (Staz Nair), Harry Strickland (Marc Rissman), Ned Umber (Harry Grasby), Maester Wolkan (Richard Rycroft), John Royce (Rupert Vansittart)

Alys was such a minor and unimportant character that her fate wasn’t even revealed until the release of some deleted scenes when Season 8 came to DVD and Blu-ray (and as a result, she’s missing from our ranking of character deaths, which doesn’t include deleted scenes). She’s one of several characters who just aren’t that important, meaning their final fates are neither satisfying nor unsatisfying, but are simply *there*. That list also includes Dothraki leader Qhono, Grey Worm’s victim at the Battle of King’s Landing, little Lord Ned Umber, Maester Wolkan who crowned Sansa, and Yohn Royce, last seen electing the new King.

30. Robin Arryn (Lino Facioli) – Lives

Wins leadership of his House (in the inciting incident that kicked off the Pilot episode)

Robin Arryn, son of Lysa, was one of several surviving characters last seen at the Great Council in the Dragonpit that serves as Jon Snow’s trial for the murder of Queen Daenerys, Tyrion’s trial for freeing his brother Jaime from prison, and that sets up a new political system in Westeros. The kingdom remains a monarchy with a single ruler, but they are elected by an oligarchy of aristocrats, because Sam’s suggestion that they let the people as a whole choose is laughed off as clearly ridiculous by the aristocratic lords present. Robin has clearly grown up a lot since he was first seen enjoying some very extended breastfeeding, and his mother is gone now, but his position is otherwise completely unchanged from his very first appearance 8 years previously.

29. Ser Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies) – Lives

Wins leadership of his House

Catelyn’s fairly useless brother, the groom from the Red Wedding, represents House Tully at the Great Council. Him embarrassing himself is quite funny, and it’s nice that someone is left to carry on House Tully, but half the audience had probably forgotten his existence by the time he showed up again.

28. Ser Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) – Dies

Ser Beric was already long gone in the books, where his final death kick-started the Lady Stoneheart plot which was cut from the show, so the show-runners needed to come up with their own conclusion to his character arc. This got tied in to their somewhat divisive decision to have Arya kill the Night King, as Beric is mortally wounded protecting Arya and Melisandre informs him that he’s done the job R’Hllor kept bringing him back for and now that’s done, he’s going to die for good. As an explanation, this isn’t overly convincing, but the idea that Beric is finally able to die and be at rest is definitely a satisfying ending for his character.

Jacob Anderson Grey Worm Game of Thrones

27. Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) – Lives

Doesn’t Win much, aside from leadership of the Unsullied, which he already had

Someone from Daenerys’ gang had to survive, and Grey Worm was the Chosen One. His ending is bittersweet with the emphasis heavily on the “bitter,” since everyone he loves is dead and he’s heading off for a new life on an island full of poisonous butterflies. At least one of the thousands of slaves Daenerys freed but then led into mortal danger many times survived I guess?

26. Zombie Viserion the Dragon – Dies

Pretty much the only thing we want for any characters who’ve been killed and come back as mindless zombies (as opposed to being more substantially resurrected, like Jon Snow or Beric Dondarrion) is for them to die again and go to their eternal rest. So it’s a relief when that happens for Zombie Viserion, along with a number of human characters.

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25. Qyburn (Anton Lesser) – Dies

Qyburn gets somewhat randomly killed by his own creation, Frankengregor. That seems like an appropriate ending for the mad scientist.

24. Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) – Dies

Euron was supposed to be the third and final of Game of Thrones’ love-to-hate-him characters, a smiling, smiling villain whose death was eagerly anticipated. He never quite connected with audiences in the same way as the complex and almost pitiful Joffrey or the downright gruesome Ramsay, and his death is therefore not quite as satisfying as either of those were. It’s also tied up with Jaime’s unsatisfying character arc, since Jaime kills him as the culmination of their rivalry over Cersei, which takes away some of the sense of satisfaction over his death, since not too many people were pulling for those two to get back together. But at least he does get his comeuppance for his many, many misdeeds.

23. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) – Dies

There will be many viewers who would put Daenerys lower down on this list. Her decision to slaughter the innocents of King’s Landing seems out of character for someone who was dedicated to saving lives. However, the problem with this ending isn’t so much the actual ending itself but, once again, the execution – it was too rushed. There are hints throughout the series that Daenerys can be violent and ruthless (crucifying the Masters in Meereen, or burning Sam’s father and brother alive, for example) and lots of conversations about Targaryens having a tendency towards “madness.” The problem was that the descent into full on villainy happened too quickly, and involved the abrupt and unexpected deaths of two other characters to motivate it (see above). Dany’s ending ends up feeling unsatisfying, but given a bit more time and a bit more subtlety in the development of it, it could have been a satisfying, if sad, conclusion to her arc.

Game of Thrones finale: Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington

22. Drogon the Dragon – Lives

Doesn’t really Win anything except his mother’s corpse

Exactly why Drogon destroys the Iron Throne is up for debate (does he understand the symbol as a result of some kind of psychic connection with Daenerys, or does it just look pointy and ugly and he’s taking his anger out on something?). But whatever the reason, it is thoroughly satisfying to watch him do it. And he lives! As the last dragon in the world, all alone, his brothers and mother dead. It’s terribly depressing, but those shots of him carrying Daenerys’ dead body far away from Westeros are undeniably moving.

21. Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) – Lives

Wins leadership of her House

Yara’s ending is mostly fine, but a lot of it takes place offscreen. She re-takes the Iron Islands offscreen, we don’t get to see her react to the death of Theon after everything they’ve been through, nor do we get much sense of how she feels about King Bran after her failed attempt to get Jon executed for killing her Queen, Daenerys. It feels like this is a character who got largely thrown under the bus because of the rushed pacing of the final seasons, and Yara was an exciting and entertaining character who deserved better.

20. Frankengregor, a.k.a. Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane (Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) – Dies

Gregor Clegane was killed by Oberyn Martell back in Season 4, but thanks to Qyburn’s Dr Frankenstein-style experiments, he hung around in Frankengregor form until almost the very end. It was a relief to finally be rid of him, thanks to his brother…

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19. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) – Dies

This is a good example of how sometimes getting exactly what you want isn’t the most satisfying thing. The Hound’s death was exactly what fans had been clamouring for – an horrific swan dive into his worst fear in the course of taking out his zombie brother. But the experience of actually watching it is somehow… empty. It’s fine. It looks great. Frankengregor is finally taken out. But since Dany then destroys the whole of King’s Landing, it doesn’t really achieve very much, and Gregor hasn’t been himself since his original death in Season 4 anyway. So, meh.

18. The Night King (Vladimir Furdik) – Dies

The Night King’s fate is clearly to die in battle – this may be a subversive, grimdark epic fantasy, but it’s still an epic fantasy, after all. There are some quibbles about exactly who killed him, with many fans feeling that it should have been Jon Snow who did the deed (see below). But Arya as his killer is not a completely ridiculous choice. She’s an assassin rather than a soldier, but maybe that’s what helps her to get to him and jump him from behind, and she’s certainly handy with a dagger.

What’s really unsatisfying about the Night King’s death, though, is that it happens only halfway through the final season. There were two key plots driving the series that needed to be resolved – the political issues over who should sit on the Iron Throne, and the threat posed to all human life by the Night King, the White Walkers, and their zombie army. For the TV show, show-runners Benioff and Weiss decided to resolve the Night King plot first, under the impression that what was really exciting viewers was the political drama. While there is some truth to that, what viewers were anticipating was the resolution of the political plot in order to allow the characters to come together to fight the Night King. Reversing these two climaxes resulted in a thrilling, if literally too dark, battle episode building up to the saving of the world from the Night King, which then left audiences completely deflated while they sat through another three episodes of political shenanigans and humans doing bad things to each other before the show actually came to an end.

Game of Thrones Tyrion Lannister season 8

17. Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) – Lives

Wins leadership of his House, Hand of the Winner of the Game

Tyrion ends up Hand of the King as well as Lord of Casterly Rock, which is cool and which is also a logical end-point for his character, even if it’s a shame that he’s really depressed about it by the time it happens. But he’s now Hand to King Bran, on which, see above, so that somewhat detracts from any feeling of satisfaction about this conclusion. Peter Dinklage does his absolute best to sell that ridiculous speech justifying it, though.

16. Gendry (Joe Dempsie) – Lives

Wins leadership of his House

Gendry gets turned down by Arya, but as the only surviving child (biological or otherwise) of any of the Baratheons, he gets to be the head of House Baratheon and Lord of Storm’s End. It’s got to sting that no one even suggested him as a potential King, though.

15. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) – Lives

Kingsguard to the Winner of the Game

There are a couple of key ingredients to Brienne’s character and her arc: her desire to be a Knight and fight loyally for a worthy master or mistress, and her tendency to find love in unfortunate places. One of those aspects of her story got a satisfying ending. It would have made more sense if she had continued to serve Sansa, in fulfilment of her vow to Catelyn Stark, but she becomes head of the Kingsguard for Catelyn’s only surviving son, so that more or less works. She’s a respected Knight, she’s a member of the Small Council, it’s all good. But Jaime did her wrong. This is through no fault of her own and Brienne is totally classy about it, giving him a better write-up in The Book of Brothers than he deserved, but we wanted a happier ending for her.

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14. Eddison Tollett (Ben Crompton) – Dies

We knew not all the characters we loved – if any of them – were going to get out of this show alive, and there were two deaths in the final season that were simply tragic deaths of secondary characters designed to make us shed a tear or two. And as such, they’re reasonably satisfying – someone has to die whenever there’s a big battle, after all. And so we say a tearful goodbye to Dolorous Edd, killed protecting Sam, who really shouldn’t have been anywhere near that battlefield even if he did kill a White Walker that one time.

13. Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) – Dies

Lyanna gets a pretty horrifying death scene – you can actually hear her bones being crushed – but she takes a giant down with her, living up to the sheer awesomeness of Bella Ramsey’s performance. Both Lyanna and Edd are briefly raised as zombies, but that’s just upsetting, and thankfully doesn’t last long.

Game of Thrones Arya Stark season 8

12. Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) – Lives

Exits the Game of Thrones altogether

Arya’s ending is pretty good and sends her off to what we can imagine is an exciting future full of new adventures. The only real drawback to it is that a lot of her story arc was centred around Arya denying who she is, and eventually reclaiming her own identity. She hid from Joffrey and dressed herself as a boy under the name ‘Arry,’ then she became “no one” in the House of Black and White, until she reclaimed her sword Needle and returned home to re-join her remaining family and reclaim her identity as a Stark. So, after all that, it seems a bit of a shame that she heads off to pastures new. But she’s still got Needle, she’s travelling as herself, and with one sibling in King’s Landing, one in Winterfell, and one North of the Wall, it’s not like they could all live together as one, big, happy family anyway.

Ramsay Bolton said “If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention,” but Ramsay was a despicable bad guy who was killed off in Season 7, so what does he know? A handful of characters did actually get happy endings, including…

11. Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) – Lives

Assistant to the Winner of the Game

Granted, he’s probably horrifically traumatised from the deaths of his son, his surrogate daughter, his liege lord… but he ends up sitting on King Bran’s Small Council as Master of Ships, which is as happy an ending as the poor man was going to get.

10. Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman) – Lives

Assistant to the Winner of the Game

We don’t get much detail here, but judging by his uniform and his job helping Bran get around, Podrick is a member of the Kingsguard now, working under Brienne. Shame about that vow of chastity though.

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9. Gilly (Hannah Murray) – Lives

Was never really playing the Game in the first place

OK, she can’t officially marry Sam if he’s a Maester, but if being a Night Watchman didn’t stop him being in a committed relationship with her, being a Maester won’t, either. And they’re even expecting a second child together.

8. Ghost the Direwolf – Lives

Exits the Game

We didn’t see anything like enough of Ghost in the later seasons, but thank goodness he did make an appearance in the very last scenes, reunited with Jon Snow and heading North where we hope both will be happy. Jon even smiles!

7. Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) – Lives

Exits the Game

Tormund rides off into the wilds beyond the Wall with his friend Jon Snow, free of the White Walkers at last and not required to bend the knee to anyone.

6. Bronn (Jerome Flynn) – Lives

Wins all the things he wanted to win when he entered the Game

Bronn gets his Lordship and his castle as Lord of Highgarden and Lord Paramount of the Reach, and he gets a seat on the new Small Council as Master of Coin as well. It’s not a job he’s super qualified for, but he seems happy.

5. Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) – Lives

Wins what he wanted to win when he entered the Game

Sam is the character George RR Martin identifies with the most himself, and the character most obviously named after a character from The Lord of the Rings. There was no way Sam was getting anything other than a happy ending, and while he doesn’t seem entirely qualified to be Grand Maester, we’re happy for him.

And we’re back to the bittersweet and the tragic…

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4. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) – Dies

Now here is a redemption character arc done right. When Theon had Ser Rodrick Cassel executed in Season 2, Ser Rodrick told him he was “truly lost.” Considering he not only killed many of the people he’d grown up with at Winterfell but also threated his foster brothers Bran and Rickon’s lives and took Bran’s home and position, Theon was one of the characters with the steepest hill to climb to get any kind of redemption. The fact he is so horribly tortured in between those events and the final season helps, but ultimately he died in the only way that could give him true redemption – protecting Bran.

Game of Thrones Theon Greyjoy death

3. Jon Snow (Kit Harington) – Lives

Exits the Game

Jon’s ending is, in some ways, a bit frustrating, especially for book fans. In the books, Melisandre and other followers of R’hllor talk about a legendary hero called Azor Ahai, who killed his own wife to create a sword that could defeat the Long Night. Imagine that the two climactic events of the story – the battle against the Night King and the killing of Daenerys – were swapped around. And now you can see why book fans in particular are disappointed that Jon Snow didn’t kill Daenerys because she had gone mad, use her blood and her soul to forge a new magic sword, and then use that to kill the Night King. Though even for TV-only fans, his lack of involvement in the Night King’s death because he was busy fighting Zombie Viserion is a bit frustrating.

That aside, though, Jon’s ending is otherwise pretty satisfying. Although he may be the rightful heir of either his grandfather Aegon Targaryen or his aunt Daenerys Targaryen, Jon is not a person who especially wants a Kingship. He was happiest when he was living with the Wildlings beyond the Wall, and even without Ygritte, this still seems like his best chance at some peace. In theory he has re-joined the Night’s Watch, but he is last seen heading North with Tormund and the Wildlings. Is he escorting them a little way, or is he planning to abandon his post in the Night’s Watch to join them? We’d place bets on that second option.

2. Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glenn) – Dies

George RR Martin has said that the tone he’s going for with the ending to his books – if he ever writes it – will be “bittersweet.” For the most part, although the endings given to the TV versions of his characters were sometimes rushed, and sometimes unconvincing, they were indeed bittersweet. And the death of Ser Jorah might be the most bittersweet of all. Ser Jorah dies protecting Daenerys, his one goal since he fell head over heels for her way back in Season 1 in a way that was never going to be requited. It’s tragic and epic, and best of all, he doesn’t have to see Daenerys go completely off the rails afterwards – he can die believing she is the good Queen he believes her to be.

Sansa crowned in Game of Thrones

1. Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) – Lives

Regional Winner of the Game of Thrones

Sansa has possibly the most satisfying character arc in the show. She is insufferable in the early seasons, being accidentally responsible for her own father’s death and wanting to be Queen in a passive way (by marrying a King) and for all the wrong reasons. The first few seasons are a harsh lesson in how fantasy and reality don’t always match up, and Sansa spends her time being slowly broken down. But she isn’t broken – she learns from teachers who are the worst possible role models in terms of being moral people, but who are fairly effective Players of the Game; Cersei Lannister, Olenna and Margaery Tyrell, and Petyr Baelish.

There’s a blip when Littlefinger inexplicably sells her to Ramsay Bolton, but once she gets out of that situation she gets back on track and fulfils the promise of her Epic Walk Down The Stairs In A New Outfit scene at the end of the eighth episode of Season 4. She becomes quite the Player, bringing down Littlefinger and setting the events of the last few episodes in motion by telling Tyrion about Jon’s biological parentage. Finally, she claims independence for the North and achieves exactly what she wanted at the very beginning – except that, instead of relying on marriage with a man to passively bestow Queenship upon her, she has taken/earned it through leadership, intelligence, determination, and scheming.

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The only real problem with Sansa’s ending is simple plausibility. She just… tells Bran that the North is going to be independent and he just says, “OK,” despite the clearly tumultuous implications if Dorne or the Iron Islands, both of whose leaders are present and both of which have well-established independence movements, should decide they quite fancy going it alone as well. Like everything else about the last couple of seasons of the show, it’s rushed. But otherwise, this is a perfect ending for one of the characters who has grown and developed the most over the course of the series.