Spoiler alert: None of the Paste writers whose theories you will read below is secretly George R.R. Martin or an HBO bigwig, which means that no, we have no idea who Game of Thrones will actually end.
Spoiler alert no. 2: We will be re-hashing quite a bit of both the TV show and the books, so if you’re not caught up—and I can’t believe I have to say this, since the post is literally titled “How Game of Thrones Will End”—do not read any further!
Now that we’ve issued our dual disclaimers, it’s on to the fun stuff! One of my big obsessions over the last couple years, since I finished Martin’s last book A Dance With Dragons, has been plotting in my head how his endgame will play out. How will the puzzle pieces connect? Now, there are some (like me) who think he’ll never release another book, but the good news is that he’s already confided in his HBO buddies how this will all go down, so we won’t have to spend the rest of our lives in suspense.
But why wait for the resolution, two whole years from today? Let’s prognosticate NOW! I asked Pasts’s finest to sound off on this problem, and to map out exactly how the drama in Westeros will conclude. Who will live, who will die, and who will sit on the Iron Throne when the dust has settled?
Check out our predictions—most of them sincere, some of them sarcastic—and leave your own in the comments. If we get enough, we’ll write a separate post featuring the best of the commentariat.
At the end of this season, Sansa will have taken back Winterfell with the full support of the North and Jon Snow at the lead (killing Ramsay Bolton in the process, of course). Sansa will be Queen in the North and Jon Snow will head back to Castle Black to try and muster the forces of all of Westeros to hold back the White Walkers. Tommen will be assassinated by super ninja Arya Stark and the Faith Militant will completely overtake King’s Landing and destroy the rule of the Iron Throne.
Next season, Daenerys will finally make it over to Westeros via dragons and Dothrakis but by this time she will have gone full on Mad King. She arrives in King’s Landing with the support of both Dorne and the Iron Islands and retakes the throne for herself, ending the rule of the Sparrows and restablishing the rule of the Queen.
The Wall will have been brought down and Jon Snow will have gathered all of the North and all the Wildlings to help fight the White Walkers with a huge shipment of Dragonglass that Davos brings from Dragonstone (unless Sam discovers something crazy in Old Town). Daenerys says that she will only help stop the invasion of the White Walkers if the entire seven kingdoms agree to bend the knee and pledge their devotion to her rule. She’s totally crazy, until she sees the White Walkers for herself, which snaps her back to reality. Daenerys has to end up sacrificing herself in order for Jon to go full Azor Ahai and get the whole flaming sword thing to kill the Night’s King with. In the end, all the dragons die, Dany dies, and a whole lot of other people die too. Go figure.
After the chaos, Jon Snow goes back to Winterfell to be the Warden of the North and Sansa takes the Iron Throne as Queen with Tyrion as her Hand and Brienne as her Queensguard. As Queen, Sansa finally gets around to giving Jon his true name, Jon Stark (not Targaryen, come at me bros). A new, more Democratic rule is established where each of the seven kingdoms are represented in the Council and the new King or Queen is voted on by the people, thus bringing an end to the fight for the Iron Throne and the ushering in of a new era for Westeros.
It is, after all ‘a song of ice and fire,’ so fire and ice must come against each other in one glorious battle between chilly white walkers and fire breathing dragons. The old gods are the Weirwood trees, and Bran will probably set down roots and become a tree god, leaving his human body behind. Sansa will join Jon at the wall. The characters on the other side of the narrow sea – Arya, Daenerys, and Tyrion — will unite and head towards the wall. Daenerys will somehow escape from the widow’s watch tower she is being doomed to, and will be saved by her dragon, Drogon. Tyrion will ride Viserys. It seems pretty evident that R+L does equal JS, so he’s destined for a dragon, and it’s fitting that that dragon would be the one named after his dad, so he’ll hop on Rhaegal.
Jon Snow will lead the battle at the wall against the white walkers, and will be joined by Daenerys, Tyrion, his beloved Arya, and the three dragons. Back at King’s Landing, the prophecy Cersei heard will come true: Tommen will die, a younger queen (Daenerys, not Margaery) will replace her, and her brother (Jamie, not Tyrion) will kill her. Daenerys will marry Tyrion, and rule the Iron Throne. Jon Snow is only returning temporarily to complete his Messiah-like character arc, and will die once he completes his destiny. Sansa will return to Winterfell with Arya, where they will rule. Or maybe I’m totally wrong, and Ramsey Bolton marries Cersei, they turn into zombie white-walkers, and they kill all the good left in this world.
Daenerys will eventually cross the narrow sea using Dornish ships with a Dothraki army at her back (Note: I wrote this before the last episode, and now I believe the ships will be from the Iron Islands), and with Tyrion and Varys as her advisors. Jon Snow (still alive after they try to burn his body and he goes full Targaryen and comes back to life) (Note: oops!) will be king of the north at that point, having defeated Roose (oops!) and Ramsay Bolton, and he’ll be fighting a losing war to keep the white walkers from destroying the known world. Daenerys will destroy Cersei and Jaime and Tommen, but as she’s doing so, Bran will warg into a dragon and come to Jon Snow’s aid.
The dragon, or maybe multiple dragons if Bran gets really good at warging, will help Jon Snow defeat the white walkers. At that point, Daenerys will have become dangerous and power hungry, and Arya will use her Braavosi ninja skills to assassinate her. Sansa will join with Jon Snow’s army (and bring Theon + the Iron Islands with her), but Jon Snow will die in battle, and in order to unite Westeros, Sansa will once again marry Tyrion Lannister (now the head of Dany’s army) and rule as queen in King’s Landing, while Arya marries Gendry (the last Baratheon) to rule as her sister’s ally in Winterfell.
It’ll end with nerds all mad about something.
This the way Westeros endsThis is the way Westeros endsThis is the way Westeros endsNot with a bang but a whimper
Anyways, Dany is crossing the Narrow Sea, not with the help of the Dornish but of the Greyjoys. In the books, Victarion Greyjoy has sailed to Essos with a horn that can supposedly control dragons. Is there any chance Daenerys doesn’t take that from him and use it to rein in Drogon? Nope.
She arrives in Dorne, where the Lannisters, having defeated the Tyrells and the Faith Militant with the help of Littlefinger and his Vale armies, are fighting the Sand Snakes. Dany obliterates them all, and Tyrion gets the distinct pleasure of killing Cersei himself. Meanwhile, Jon Snow has come back to life imbued with magic powers but no army. He goes on a mission to find the remaining Starks, all of whom now have supernatural abilities—Bran can time travel and warg, Arya is the best assassin in Westeros, Sansa has learned all of Littlefinger’s scheming skills, and Rickon (remember him?) can command White Walkers. They band together (Theon joins in, too) and take the North back in a vengeful storm. Ramsay gets his genitals chopped off by Sansa and Theon.
Now it’s Jon Snow vs. Daenerys—a song of ice and fire, if you will—but instead of fighting each other, they just get married because their revenge objectives are complete, they’re sick of war, and Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke would make a really hot couple.
Jon Snow, now reborn as Azor Ahai, will lead Davos and the remaining wildlings (plus Wun-Wun) into battle, destroying Ramsay Bolton’s army with the help of Melisandre, who will sacrifice herself to R’hllor by fire for Jon’s benefit. During the battle, Jon will warg into Ghost and eviscerate Ramsay, serving him up a heavy dose of karma in light of all the victims that the Bastard of Bolton sicced his hounds on. With the help of the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran will discover while time-traveling that Jon is not his half-brother at all, but is actually the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, giving him a rightful claim to the Iron Throne. Jon, now Lord of Winterfell, will safeguard Sansa, recruit Brienne to lead his army, and unite the North, gathering an army to face the White Walkers.
Meanwhile, Daenerys will escape Vaes Dothrak with the help of Daario and Jorah, with the latter (already doomed by greyscale) sacrificing himself for his beloved Khaleesi. Daenerys will leave Slaver’s Bay to the slavers, allying with newly Kingsmoot-crowned King of the Iron Islands Euron Greyjoy so she can sail her remaining Unsullied (plus Daario, Varys and Tyrion) to Westeros and invade King’s Landing. Still full of rage after her humiliation at the hands of the Sparrows, and fed false information by Littlefinger (whom she still trusts, for some godforsaken reason), Cersei will compel Tommen to fight a losing battle, leading to King’s Landing’s destruction (and the death of all Lannisters but Tyrion) by Daenerys, her dragons and the Ironborn. In the aftermath, Varys finds out Euron plans to betray Daenerys, so she has Crow’s Eye executed, leaving Theon as the rightful ruler of the Iron Islands.
Having then consolidated the South, Daenerys will install Tyrion as her Hand and the castellan of King’s Landing, then march her army North to take on Jon Snow’s for dominance of all of Westeros, as she believes is her birthright. But before the two sides can clash, Bran will use his greensight to show Daenerys the truth about the White Walkers, and, their armies then united, Jon, Daenerys and the dragons will wipe out the White Walkers in an epic, HBO budget-obliterating final showdown. Jon will marry Daenerys, resuming the “pure” Targaryen bloodline—there’s no chance this happens, but I’ve now painted myself into a corner and I’m sticking to my crossbows—and he’ll appoint Samwell Tarley as his grand maester.
Some last loose ends: Arya, whom I somehow totally forgot to account for, will abandon her goal of becoming no one after being asked (by Euron Greyjoy) to assassinate Daenerys, and will return to King’s Landing to become a “dancing master” (At least one cool central character has to have their storyline fizzle out in disappointment, right?) Rickon, who has apparently just been kickin’ it with the Umbers this whole time, will become the Lord of Winterfell, while Bran will set up shop north of the wall somewhere and settle down with Meera Reed. Hot Pie will continue to bake the dopest bread in all of Westeros. And most importantly, Hodor will Hodor his enormous ass off.
Personally, I’m hoping for a Tommy Westphall-style ending where we zoom out to see George R. R. Martin holding a snowglobe and find out the entire thing has taken place inside his mind. He’ll shake the snowglobe, look directly into the camera, grin and whisper “Winter is coming.”
The questions I most hope get answered by the end of Game of Thrones are religious ones, especially since we’re not likely to get definitive answers in our own world until we leave it. And maybe that’s not fair to ask of George R.R. Martin, but there’s real power in the religions of Westeros, whether that stems from a real entity called R’hllor or it’s just another application of the magic in the Game of Thrones world by misguided fanatics. And I have to imagine that those religious forces will play a big role in the final chapters of this tale. Melisandre has committed horrible deeds in the name of the Red God but used that same power to bring back Jon Snow from the dead. We’ve seen that Daenarys has her own relationship with fire. And all the petty squabbling over the Seven Kingdoms will soon be trumped by a larger war—one between the darkness of winter (the White Walkers of the north) and light (led by the Mother of Dragons). I’d long thought that Bran would control the dragons, but we learned last week that the creatures are more intelligent than we realized and I’m not sure they need controlling.
I don’t think Daenarys will need Dothraki help to take Westeros, and an invading force of Dothraki won’t make her beloved in her home country. But she’ll need warriors, and that means either carrying the Unsullied across the sea or finding allies in Westeros. Her choices are Dorne, the Iron Islands or the Vale, and I’d love to see Littlefinger with dragons on his side. But Jon Snow, now freed of his vows by death, can reclaim Winterfell with the help of the wildlings, and a Targaryen/Jon Stark alliance would crush. Plus, to borrow a phrase from daughter’s generation, I’m totally shipping them (did I use that right?). I think that by the time they unite Westeros, Winter will have descended upon King’s Landing, and the final battle will be dragons vs. an enormous horde of zombies, and I can’t think of anything cooler than that.
My Game of Thrones knowledge is limited to watching Khaleesi hair braid tutorials, hearing from strangers that I look like Sansa Stark on the daily and half-heartedly watching a handful of episodes, so clearly I’m well-qualified for this!
Khaleesi is going to win the Game of Thrones because she has dragons on her side, and dragons > humans. However, I hear that Sansa and the dwarf guy have joined forces and he seems to be a pretty smart dude, so maybe she has some tricks up her sleeves. Melisandre is super old in real life so she is probably going to die soon because someone is going to steal that necklace she wears… my guess is that Lancaster blonde lady who is all about revenge. Jon Snow is alive and well (thanks, social media!) so obviously there’s going to be some exciting and plot-thickening stuff going on with him— maybe he’ll fall in love with the newly blind Aria Stark and save her from the streets! Unless they are related, which actually I’ve heard that is fair game in this show, so who knows. I’m pretty certain that annoying blonde kid Joffrey is dead, so I don’t think he’ll have anything to do with the ending. I’ve thoroughly exhausted anything I know about Game of Thrones, so I hope I’m right about some of this!
The White Walkers bring down the Wall. Jon Snow, the Wildlings, Sansa, and all their friends hole up in Winterfell. Cersei poisons Tommen and burns down King’s Landings and everyone in it, although Jamie survives. Dany crosses the Narrow Sea with her army including the Dothraki plus Tyrion and all of her advisors, oh and dragons that can be controlled. Everything leads up to a climactic battle between dragons and ice zombies, which the dragons win. Dany and Jon Snow meet and fall in love. Dany is happy to have saved the day but realizes her home is now in Essos and heads back to rebuild the Slaver’s Bay cities and rule that continent, leaving the Iron Throne and all of Westeros in the hands of Jon Snow, “the prince who was promised.” Sounds like a cool gig except Westeros is completely destroyed so Jon Snow is again given the world’s shittiest job but hey it’s a living. Bran time travel wargs into Jamie to push himself out the window, knowing that spark was needed to set these events in motion. And then there’s a curtain call where everyone reveals they were all Faceless Men the entire time. Talk about a twist ending!
Unpredictability has long been Game of Thrones’ chief magnetic quality. Viewers, once regular people, now diehard fans, tune in each Sunday for ten weeks out of the year specifically to thrill in bloody narrative caprice and the show’s willful contempt for the “rules” the fantasy genre. But over time, we’ve become inured to the notion that shitty things will happen to characters we love, and even those we don’t, from one installment to the next; we’ve also observed that the most likely outcome to a story arc is often the most obvious. (See: Last Sunday, when hey, surprise surprise, Jon Snow came back to life just two episodes into season six.) That unpredictability has become predictable.
So try not to scoff when I suggest the most straightforward resolution: That Game of Thrones will end with the invasion of the White Walkers being either repelled or defeated by Jon Snow, Daenerys, and all of their friends. You have to move around a few cyvasse pieces to get this to happen, but as the “ice” and the “fire” in the umbrella title of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series, they are the two most important pieces on the board. It only makes sense that the story will wrap up based on actions that they take, and besides: Those pieces are already on the move.
Once Ramsay makes his ill-advised move against Castle Black and brings about the ruin of his house in the process (because duh), Sansa will unite the North under the Stark banner once again, buying humanity a replenished defense against the White Walker invasion; Daenerys, meanwhile, will get her shit together in Essos and hoof it to King’s Landing with her Unsullied legions, her advisors, maybe a Dothraki horde, and three hungry dragons at her back. After laying waste to her various enemies and taking back the throne for House Targaryen, she’ll join Jon, also a Targaryen, at the Wall with their combined forces, who will only achieve victory through the timely intervention of Bran. Hodor will realize his missed potential as a warrior and storm the battlefield crushing skulls while shouting his own name. Tyrion will be drunk somewhere. Most of these characters will die, and with the White Walkers beaten, they’ll stay dead. Here’s to peace.
At this point, I’m basically just watching Game of Thrones to stay culturally relevant, since so much “happens” in the show, but rarely anything actually happens. There’s so much plot but very little character development for me, and like The Walking Dead, I mostly keep up with it for the sake of being able to join in on conversations on the show and since I’m this deep in, I just want to know how the hell this thing is going on.
I also get overwhelmed by just how many characters there are in GoT, often relegating characters to their characteristics, such as “guy who got his penis cut off,” “dude who loves dragon girl,” or “other guy who got his penis cut off.” Because of this, here’s how I want GoT to end:
Last season hinted that a true leadership shouldn’t just be one person, but many. Since I’ve found GoT lacking in any real surprise for me as a viewer since The Red Wedding, I’m going to assume that one of the main theories is accurate: the “three-headed dragon” will be Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. I feel like this show can kill off almost any other characters, but I don’t think it would have the guts to kill off either of these three (permanently, that is. Ugh.)
But before we get to that, I want a lot of people in the GoT world to die, solely for the purpose that I can keep up without Googling every person mentioned while watching. I basically want everyone but like 20 people to die. Specifically people whose names I can never remember. Hodor and Littlefinger? You guys are fine. But seriously, you guys, there’s a character named Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun in this world? You’re outta here!
And how do I want this entire universe to die out? First, I want winter to finally come, yet people still aren’t prepared somehow, so the majority of people die of frostbite. Second, one of the dragons gets loose and just burns everyone to a crisp. Finally, I want Melisandre’s smoke baby to come back and kill the rest of them. Then I want the last few episodes to be the remaining people to be like “hey, remember that time a smoke baby came into our world and no one talked about it?? That was weird right?”
Because c’mon, if a smoke baby got loose in our world, that’s like all we would ever talk about.
OK, so I haven’t seen Game of Thrones. I know there are dragons, I know Peter Dinklage is on the show, and I know there is a blonde lady. Oh, also there is a dude who, in real life, has a somewhat complex name, and he seems to have done a lot of press for the show, so he seems like a solid guy, and he’s probably important. I would imagine Peter Dinklage comes out well, in the end. Or maybe he has a tragic ending. Maybe he ends up a tragic hero? Are there wizards on the show? Because wizards are very powerful. They have magic. I’m talking both male and female wizards. A wizard is different than a witch/warlock, right? Then again, weren’t Merlin and Morgan Le Fay siblings, and Merlin is definitely a wizard, and Morgan Le Fay is a witch. What I’m trying to say is, dragons and wizards are powerful, and having a dragon or a wizard on your side is probably important.
Are any wizards in line for the “iron throne?” Also, what is the “iron throne?” Should it be capitalized? Is it the “Iron Throne,” or is it just a throne made of iron? Then again, if a wizard was in line for the throne, they’d probably already be on it? Who is throwing a wizard off a throne? But maybe somebody aligns themselves with a wizard. Could it be Peter Dinklage? Or the blonde lady? The blonde lady has the dragons, though, right? Man, if she also had a wizard on her side, she’d rule all of the place where Game of Thrones takes place. In conclusion, Peter Dinklage dies, but probably as some sort of hero, and then wizards or dragons sort of decide what happen, and the blonde lady is the queen of the land. Unless she’s evil. Somebody who isn’t evil probably is on the throne at the end. Unless the show wants to be cynical. Is Game of Thrones a cynical show? Also, are there mermaids? That would be pretty cool. New theory: A mermaid is the deciding factor, but probably doesn’t end up on the throne. Because iron rusts, you know?
It’s hard to think the show will end well, particularly when you consider GRRM’s writing history and even more so when you consider that the series has taken some darker liberties with its own divergences from canon. I’m inclined to believe that the woman at the center of it all (at least for me)—Queen of Dragons and ultimate Game of Thrones hero Daenerys Targaryen—will fail. She will not make it to Westeros (in line with every other attempt to acquire her ships and army and physically sail to the throne) and all that ra-ra will be for naught. I also imagine that villains like Cersei Lannister and Ramsey Bolton will get theirs, simply because the show likes to kill powerful people, and not necessarily because it has any desire to generate a narrative balance between good and evil. While my outlook on the Targaryens and (hopefully) Lannisters is more than bleak, the show’s revival of Jon Snow does give me pause. If Game of Thrones was willing to save one of its most moral of heroes, perhaps the story will end with the Starks claiming the throne and me believing that there is some cosmic balance in the world. And while it’s highly unlikely, I never stop myself from dreaming that perhaps the best ending would be everyone we love and hate—who have fought and played the game like we are told you should—dies. Meanwhile, Sansa Stark, the woman who quietly bided her time and survived the unimaginable, comes out on top.
I’m that horrible human being who is currently not caught up on Game of Thrones (currently on season three of the show, haven’t read the books), but I’m just as entitled to my predictions as anyone else. Right now, I’m especially loving me some Robb Stark and this nurse he’s falling for. They are crazy cute, so I’m going to assume things will work out for them in the end. Also heavily shipping Jon Snow and the homie Ygritte—I’ll assume she takes his V-card and they make lots of babies by the series finale. Mostly, I just hope that it all ends with one of the badass women characters on the iron throne. Preferably Arya. Or Daenerys. Not Cersei, though.
Oh Shannon…ohhhhh Shannon. Poor, poor innocent Shannon.
Now it’s your turn—sound off in the comments below.