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Feature Article

Who Won The Iron Throne In Game Of Thrones' Finale?

Long live the king or queen.

After it all, it's come to this: the end of Game of Thrones. With the final episodes of Season 8, HBO's fantasy epic wrapped up the Last War with the destruction of the Lannisters, the torching of King's Landing, and the embrace of madness by a key protagonist. But as was evidenced by the fact that the conflict with the White Walkers wrapped up halfway through the season, there remained one core matter to resolve that has been central to the series: the titular game of thrones to decide who would sit on the Iron Throne and rule Westeros. Below, we're recapping the finale's ending, and specifically who ended up as ruler of Westeros--the prime motivation for many of the show's characters dating back to the very start.

Of course, one final warning: There are massive spoilers for the Game of Thrones finale beyond this point. Read on at your own risk.

The finale episode resolved the conflict between Daenerys Targaryen and the rest of Westeros after her turn in King's Landing, in which she used dragon fire to kill thousands even after the city had surrendered. Daenerys chose to rule Westeros through fear since she thought she'd never get the people's love. Turns out, that wasn't a great choice either, as it caused some of her most trusted allies to turn on her.

In the end, Jon Snow took matters into his own hands and killed Dany to stop her from becoming the Mad Queen. Drogon melted down the Iron Throne in his grief before bailing with Dany's body--so while there still needs to be a monarch, there's no longer an Iron Throne per se.

That left Jon as the last Targaryen in Westeros to rule, but assassinating a queen is something a lot of people frown upon in a ruler--to say nothing of the fact that Jon has repeatedly said he doesn't want to rule Westeros. The survivors of the war formed a council to democratically choose a new ruler, finally landing on someone who's highly qualified, if a little weird: Bran Stark.

With his powers of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran is easily the wisest person in all of the Seven Kingdoms, and the fact that he has no desires at all anymore means he's a solid choice for a leader, if you're looking for someone who will make good decisions for all of a country's people. Where other rulers get petty, paranoid, or vindictive, Bran's general distance from other humans makes him pretty objective. As Tyrion dictated, from now on, there will be no succession for the throne based on heredity; instead, the lords and ladies of Westeros will choose a new leader by vote. Bran also created a strong small council of people who want to make the realm a better place, led by Tyrion Lannister as his Hand of the King. But they won't lead the North. As Sansa said, the North will now be an independent kingdom (of which Sansa is now queen). That leaves Bran to be the king of the Six Kingdoms.

So what about Jon and the other Starks? As a compromise with Grey Worm and the Starks, Jon was sent back to the Night's Watch and then went beyond the Wall with the Freefolk. Sansa Stark is Queen in the North, and Arya Stark departed Westeros to explore the world. Grey Worm and the Dothraki also departed the continent and were headed back to Essos to free more slaves. Daenerys might be gone, but she still left behind a powerful influence, one that should lead to a better world for her people on both continents. At least, that's the hope.

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Phil Hornshaw

GameSpot editor in Los Angeles, and the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel and The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory. Hoped the latter would help me get Han Solo hair, but so far, unsuccessful.
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Avatar image for sladakrobot

Thats how you ruin the whole series with just one last season.

The special fx was amazing and thats it. Aside of very few moments,everything is bad and rushed. I played with the thought to buy later on the whole collection but the last season is a joke and make all the previous seasons worthless imo.

Avatar image for sonicare

Well it certainly wasn't "The Prince who was Pointless". Ooops, i mean er promised.

Avatar image for wretch1d

Tyrion won, Bran seems more interested in finding a dragon or being a bird or whatever, so the final say on matters will be left to the hand of the king.

Avatar image for Dilandau88

I'm soo utterly disappointed by the Game of Thrones finale. Of the last 3 episodes, 2 of them were beyond epic. Movie quality. The finale was SUCH a letdown. Everything after the Denarys scene in my opinion deflated the entire series and made it end on such a low note. Would have loved to have seen the 7 Kingdoms unite against the Unsullied in one final battle with John on the throne. Such a missed opportunity. I'm extremely disappointed.

Avatar image for BabeNewelll

No one it was melted

Avatar image for jsprunk

I'm thinking it's a toss-up right now between GoT and Lost for worst series ending, and worst final two seasons.

Avatar image for jpcc86

Very underwhelming ending and a very dissapointing final season. Having Bran as the king feels like they didnt know what to do with the story, so they just went with a character thats unexpected for simple shock value. A more predictable ending with Jon being king wouldve been better, given how much weight they gave to his origin story since 3 seasons ago. Or even having Gendry being king wouldve been better, being that he is now legally a Baratheon. Anyhow, why the hell would the North stay independent and yet have a saying in who is gonna rule Westeros? That really baffled me almost as much as Sam inventing democracy.

Avatar image for izraal

@jpcc86: Bran as king is very fitting, and actually fits well within the established structure of similar genre fiction. By the end of the show Bran has become precogniscient, having given up something of his own personal identity and humanity to become a living embodiment of the racial memory of humanity, with unparalleled insights into the past as well as the future. This isn't at all dissimilar from the Dune franchise placing Paul Atreides, and subsequently his son, in the role of precogniscient ruler of human kind, although in the case of Game of Thrones he leads only a portion of humanity. From an in-fiction perspective, once they accepted the reality of Bran's precogniscience, there really is no more logical choice for a ruler. Sansa's request for independence for the north reflects either a myopic outlook on her part, or a core disbelief in the reality of her brother's abilities.

Avatar image for wretch1d

@izraal: He played everyone and did nothing, he doenst even talk, better well rule. If hes so powerful why didnt he say anything, hey guys, you totally pretty much lose the battle for winterfell, and the dragon queen betrays you etc etc....aside from the fact hes a boring character who got everything for being carried it means he let everyone die knowing, he would be king....and that is some cold Sh^&*t,

Avatar image for izraal

@wretch1d: What does he need to say? Everything ended up the way it should. The two apocalyptic threats - the white walkers and Dany - were both ended. Humanity moves on. For someone who is prescient, the outcome is all that matters.

Avatar image for untouchables111

I got all i wanted form the ending and im good with that. dany had to die and nothing else really mattered.... that is honestly after how the season went i didnt expect a feeling of fulfillment. she died and that was the only thing i needed to see happen. hell john could have gotten roasted by the dragon and i would have been upset but would have not cared in the end.

This season needed more time to completely finish developing Dany for what she was to then lead into the death scene we got. however, i knew it was going to happen a long time ago...

calling it now. the books will have her die in the same manner

Avatar image for WhoIsTheDrizzle

@untouchables111: makes me wonder how much influence the tv series will have on the final books

Avatar image for nsa_protocol44

My daddy won the Iron Throne XD

Avatar image for raining51

Wow... that sucked..

Terrible ending IMO.

I'm pretty GOT will stil be analyzed in the future and all that and I'm just going to go

play video games... cause I feel like that debate could be ugly.

Avatar image for deactivated-5d495083aed2b

@raining51: Yea I rarely watch any series but I gravitated towards GoT because it was doing some crazy shit early on, breaking the rules by killing main characters and showing us that even bad guys have a heart. But the thing is, it all made sense, that's the genius of Martin. Now the show writers betray everything he built up and give us a Mad Queen without justifying it. She freed the people of King's Landing by murdering them? Maybe she could've landed in the city after the surrender and they spat on her and rejected her, anything to build up to their demise. No witty lines from the characters and now they left water bottles in the council scene. It's over, let us never speak of it again, back to playing RPGs.

Avatar image for Sound_Demon

@NTenseify: Same pal. It's a shame it ended with Stark fan service. Nothing made sense. Why would the other lords be okay with not vouching for independence. The whole point was to have multidimensional view through different houses. That was all scrapped by death or black and white ideals.

Avatar image for Tekarukite

@Sound_Demon: the North has the best chance of staying independent, though. The Iron Islands, for example, can only fish and you can't build a kingdom with nothing but fish. The 6 remaining kingdoms are to interconnected and reliant on trade to be independent.

Avatar image for Sound_Demon

@Tekarukite: That's most definitely not true. The North have always traded with other kingdoms, look it up. Just because food is available to the North does not mean it's not available to Dorne (i.e). Food's not the only good a kingdom needs to stay self sufficient. Highgarden and the Reach have the biggest farms and food reserves in Westeros. The North is not an exception.

Avatar image for deactivated-5d495083aed2b

@Sound_Demon: And they send Jon to the Wall, even though there's no wall or even White Walkers or Wildlings to defend from. Then on top of that he just leaves the Watch and goes north anyway. Should've just killed him and been done with it. I was cringing so hard.

Avatar image for thenotepadshow

The only answer... you all watched it!!!! The people of Westeros won "The Game of Thrones". Period, end of story, beginning of watch!

Avatar image for cayde

I forget! there's a throne, and they fight for it, to rule the seven kingdom xD

Wait second! there are more than seven kingdoms now!?

Avatar image for jpcc86

@cayde: They are called the 7 kingdoms because there were 7 when Aegon the Conqueror took over Westeros. As of right now there are 9: The North, The Vale, The Crownlands, The Stormlands, Dorne, The Reach, The Westerlands, The Riverlands and The Iron Islands.

Avatar image for cayde

@jpcc86: Don't count Iron Islands, it has a low population, and what left are thug pirates.

Avatar image for gotrekfabian

@cayde: There are seven kingdoms as well as the wild lands of the North, which is the land of a people (the freefolk, who don't have a monarch) and then there is the unexplored side of the world which Arya spoke of and is unknown to Westeros.

Avatar image for cayde

@gotrekfabian: ok tnx, let's enough wester Westeros.