By Caleigh O'Toole
“Game of Thrones” is a fictional drama and fantasy series that aired on HBO for nine years, from 2011 to 2019. The show is based on George R.R. Martin’s best-selling book series, “A Song of Ice and Fire.” Martin worked as a co-executive producer and writer for the show for a period of time. Over nine years and eight seasons, we have seen many characters come and go. There have been too many beloved characters to name, but let’s take a look at some of the favorites who made it to season eight, the final season. These ten characters are listed in order of my most hated to my favorite because, well, “the things you do for love.”
10) Bran Stark
The king? Really? Where do I begin? Bran is brother to Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Robb Stark, Rickon Stark, and Jon Snow, and he is the son of Ned Stark. Although I, like most viewers, sympathize with Bran (since he was permanently confined to a wheelchair after the first episode of season one), with time and age, he just got, well, annoying. Throughout the show we see Bran develop into what is known as the three-eyed raven. This makes him the holder of all memories and allows him to see everything that has and is happening. This is cool and all, but when the white walkers were making their way to the North, he didn’t really give much of a heads up. Also, he never gave any indication that he wanted to be king. Then, bam! … guess who is on the throne? BRAN. In the final episode, when Tyrion asked Bran if he would sit on the throne, Bran had the audacity to say, “Why do you think I came all this way?” Ugh.
9) Samwell Tarly
This guy started off as someone whom I could possibly relate to due to his almost likeable personality. However, as the show progressed, he became a very frustrating character. For example, during one of the main battles, “The Long Night,” rather than fight with his brothers alongside the wall, he chose to go and hide in the library. This was far from noble. Earlier on in the series, after meeting a woman named Gilly, he disobeyed his oath and the rules of the Night’s Watch by letting her past the gate. Gilly made it to season 8, but was too insignificant to make it onto this list. After finding out she was pregnant (not with his baby), Sam decided to go after her into the night and ended up having an encounter with a white walker. My God, he kills one white walker before everyone truly understands they are a threat, and he never lets anyone hear the end of it. In my opinion, he got lucky the show writers didn’t write him off right then and there. Towards the end of the show, during the third episode of season eight, “The Long Night,” Samwell was single handedly responsible for killing at least three people. This was the most intense battle in the show, and as he stood frozen, he was the reason three more important and better fighters got killed.
8) Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister is the daughter of Tywin Lannister and sister to Jamie and Tyrion. The Lannisters were one of the most powerful families in Westeros, and from the final episode of season 6 up until her death, she sat on the throne and was ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Although Cersei can be annoying with all the violent killing and brutal “justice” she serves, she is also an intimidating character who is not to be messed with (unless, you know, you’re Daenerys Targaryen or Jon Snow). One act of cruelty that let everyone know who was really in charge involved placing barrels of radioactive materials underneath the Great Sept of Baelor (a church-like structure controlled by the High Sparrow) and then blowing it up when she knew all of the people she wanted gone would be there. As a result, her son, the King of the Seven Kingdoms at the time, killed himself (his wife was in church). Talk about taking charge and letting everyone know who’s boss.
To say the Greyjoys have caused some problems throughout the series would be an understatement. Let me give you some background on this imbecile. He was taken hostage by the Starks of Winterfell, who took him in and raised him. He is a Prince to the Iron Born but is definitely not fit for the title. After leaving the Starks, even though he loved them, he felt as if he needed to fulfill a duty for his true family, the Iron Borns, and impress his father. However, after being captured by Ramsay Bolton (another abhorrent character who would be my most hated character if he made it to season 8), he is subjected to physical and psychological abuse and becomes a shell of himself. While this is terrible, when given the opportunity to leave with his sister after she risked her life to rescue him, Theon couldn’t bring himself to go. But, as we know, families give second chances. When fighting in a battle after being welcomed back to the Iron Born family, Theon was given a chance to try and save his sister from being killed, but instead, he left as a coward yet again. In season 8, episode 3, Theon said he would volunteer to protect Bran against the Night King at Winterfell. This is all well and good except for the fact that this guy can’t make up for all of his mistakes with one gesture. Personally, I would never trust Theon Greyjoy. ESPECIALLY against the Night King.
6) Jaime Lannister
Jaime Lannister, son of Tywin Lannister and brother of Cersei Lannister and Tyrion Lannister, is also known as the King Slayer. We have known Jaime since the beginning of the show; in the first episode, viewers learn how cruel he can be. After Bran observes an incestuous encounter between Jamie and his sister Cersei, Jamie pushes the young Bran out of a window, leaving him permanently crippled. This is the start of a long list of Jamie’s terrible deeds. Throughout the seasons, viewers observe an arrogant man whose only weakness is his love for his sister. He often flaunts his skills and uses the power of his family name. However, a name can only get you so far, and if you become too confident, well, you get your hand cut off. We see the same “I am the king slayer, do whatever I say” attitude from Jaime for a while, until he meets Brienne of Tarth. The two form a friendship and while fighting for opposite houses, they show respect, and even admiration, for each other. Eventually, many fans grew to love Jamie’s character. This is especially true toward the end of the series when Jaime decides to turn his back on his sister in order to keep his word and help the North fight the undead. It is during these scenes at Winterfell where he and Brienne take their relationship to the next level. However, old habits die hard. After spending the night with Brienne, he attempts to sneak back to King's Landing—to Cersei, whom he loves. Ultimately, the two die together, which seems like an appropriate ending for these two complex villains.
5) Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys Targaryen: she has so many names, so this may take a second. Daenerys of the House Targaryen, the First of Her Name, The Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Queen of Meereen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Protector of the Realm, Lady Regent of the Seven Kingdoms, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons. The only reason she is in the number five spot and not six is because in the beginning of the show, like many viewers, I really liked her. But as the show neared its end, she began to reveal the infamous traits of her father, “The Mad King,” and started behaving less like the queen she originally wished to be. I like Daenerys because she’s certainly a complex character who, despite her flaws, had worthy qualities. Before she went all crazy, she was able to free people without taking too many other innocent lives. However, it’s clear that she becomes jealous of Jon, whom she loves, as the episodes progress. Jon assures Danny that despite his claim to the throne, he does not want it. But I know his decision was because of her. In my opinion, she took advantage of Jon and his control of the North. In the final season, she goes full on crazy and burns down all of King’s Landing, killing thousands of innocent people in the process. While I understand it was war and she argued it was necessary in order for her to ensure she took the throne, she was supposed to stop when the church bells rung. Cersei stood down and surrendered, but Daenerys continued to burn and ruin everything in her path. So, when Jon tricked her and ended up stabbing her and watching her bleed out, I was all for it because by that time, she was completely “mad.” Despite some fans’ disappointment, I am very happy she did not end up sitting on the Iron Throne.
4) Arya Stark
Arya Stark, where to begin? Arya is the daughter of Ned Stark and sister of Sansa Stark, Robb Stark, Bran Stark, Rickon Stark and Jon Snow. The fans knew from the beginning that Arya was not going to sit on throne or become a lady. Ever since she was given her first sword, Needle, the fans knew that she was destined to be a warrior. Although she eventually found her way, Arya went through a great deal after being separated from her family. For a decent period of time, Arya did not want anyone knowing who she was. To maintain her warrior/fighter identity, she even pretended to be a boy. I guess you could say this is the turning point in the review of characters because I did not HATE Arya; however, there is something that is a little off-putting about her. I can’t quite put my finger on it, and I know she has been through so much, but I think it was her slightly arrogant attitude in later seasons that placed her here on the list. In the last season, when the living were fighting the dead, Arya had an epiphany right before the Night King was about to reach Bran. She somehow makes her way to the tree where Bran was waiting and lodged the Valyrian steel dagger through the heart of the Night King, which then killed all of his subjects, the dead, leaving the living free to walk away with the win. But looking back on this moment, I have to say I was a little disappointed that it was not Jon who killed the Night King. I will say, despite my feelings about Arya being the one who kills the Night King, this did add an element of surprise to the final season, one of the only ones.
3) Tyrion Lannister
I love Tyrion Lannister. Brother of Jaime and Cersei Lannister and son of Tywin Lannister, Tyrion served as hand to Daenerys Targaryen. Tyrion’s character arch was quite impressive throughout the show. And frankly, it is amazing he is still alive. I think this is what makes fans like him so much. Shout out to the author and writers for developing this character because they did a fantastic job. Although Tyrion was not built to be a warrior in the traditional sense, his wit, intelligence, and good advice helps propel the plot forward. Throughout the show, Tyrion was able to talk his way out of trouble in almost every situation. Despite his many internal conflicts, Tyrion’s character grows. Going from a drunk who frequented brothels on a regular basis to becoming hand of the queen is quite an accomplishment. I will say I did feel a strong dislike for him in the final episode when he said that Bran should be the king because, well that is super stupid, but I still love him.
What a guy. Jon Snow, brother of Robb Stark, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, and Rickon Stark was known throughout most of the series as the bastard of Ned Stark. And boy has he gone through it all. I adore his character because he was always true to his word. Toward the end of the show, he did not have as many ¨make the audience gasp¨ moments as he used to, but he did give the fans a nice surprise when he killed Daenerys in the final episode. What I don't understand is why the writers insisted that he did not want the Iron Throne. Personally, he was my choice, and I was very disappointed when he did not sit in his rightful place. I will say I feel like Jon was jipped out of his role by none other than Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion goes on a long rant about the power of stories and how Bran holds the stories of the world, and that's what the people need. But who has a better story than Jon? He grew up as a bastard of the Starks, went to the Night's Watch, became Commander of the Night's Watch, and eventually became the beloved King in the North. Then the audience discovers he is actually the true heir to the throne as he is the last living male Targaryen. But, yeah, let's give it to a kid who has zero leadership experience and literally sat on his butt the entire show.
1) Sansa Stark
UGH, I love Sansa. Sansa Stark, sister of Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Robb Stark, Bran Stark, and Rickon Stark, and daughter of Ned Stark. Like many of the others, Sansa has been on the show since the first episode, and she has grown despite the unimaginable hardships she has had to endure. Throughout the seasons, she has been forced to marry two husbands. In the first season, viewers see Sansa when she is begging for mercy on behalf of her father while he is about to be executed. She is in King’s Landing because she is to be married to Joffrey Baratheon, who is Cersei Lannister’s child and the soon-to-be King of the Seven Kingdoms. After many surprising twist and turns, Sansa is no longer to be married to Joffrey but is, instead, to marry Tyrion. After many dramatic episodes, she is then shipped off to marry Ramsay Bolton of House Bolton. Unlike Tyrion, who was a perfect gentleman and did not force Sansa to consummate the marriage, Ramsay rapes and beats her repeatedly. Sansa escapes with the help of Little Finger (another character who did not make it to season eight) and eventually makes it back to the North. Toward the end of season six up until the final season, we see Sansa become a symbol of hope for the people in the North, and she begins to hold a lot of power. She quickly becomes Lady of the North. When having to deal with problems, she is able to resolve them as a true leader would. When Jon comes back to the North with Daenerys, informing Sansa that he has bent the knee and pledged the North to fight for Daenerys, Sansa is suspicious and feels betrayed. When Sansa finds out Jon’s true identity, she tells Tyrion about Jon’s claim to the throne, and just like that the word is out that he is the rightful king. Looking back, everyone should have listened to her. Just to be clear, I did not want Sansa on the Iron Throne, but I did want her brother to be. In the final episode, she plays a major role in determining the new king. When the Lords and Ladies of powerful houses agree that Bran will be on the throne, she makes only one demand: that Winterfell no longer be a part of the Seven Kingdoms. She becomes Queen of the North, and that was really the only good outcome of the final episode, besides Jon killing Daenerys. Rightfully, Sansa takes back the North and becomes Queen, leaving Bran to be King of the Six Kingdoms.