The wait is over. Years of fanatical Game of Thrones viewing sessions have all led up to this. With the premiere of the eighth and final season of the HBO epic just around the corner, it's officially the beginning of the end of Thrones. And that means it's finally time to see who will end up on top.
With the Night King and his army having breached the Wall, they're on their way to eradicate anyone in their path. Jon Snow, once King in the North, has bent the knee to new lover Daenerys Targaryen, and the pair are steeling themselves to face whatever threat comes their way — but a life-changing secret will threaten their intimate bond.
Meanwhile, Cersei Lannister is plotting to stab her allies in the upcoming fight against the Night King in the back, as she does, while Sansa and Arya Stark remain mostly clueless as to what's really going on outside of Winterfell as they man the proverbial ship in Jon's absence. And then there's Jaime Lannister, who's on his way north to lend his sword to the fight. Anything can happen. And anything will happen, if we know Game of Thrones.
With that in mind, we've put together our very own Game of Thrones power rankings ahead of the season premiere: Who's most likely to end up ruling Westeros once the ice settles? Let's find out.
Warning: The following contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones Seasons 1-7.
Least Likely: Jaime LannisterGiphy
The last time we saw Jaime, he wasn't so happy with sister Cersei's machinations. Cersei had been plotting to attack Daenerys and Jon while the rest of the realm is fighting off a threat that could eliminate every single person still living. Jaime sees unsettling notions in Cersei's actions and instead sets out of King's Landing to ride to the North to take part in the upcoming battle.
While Jaime has grown and evolved over the course of the series, however, he isn't particularly the type of character we see ascending to claim the throne. He's still got a lot to atone for, for instance, like pushing Bran Stark out of a window to protect his incestuous relationship with his sister. And while he still may play an important role in the ending, a royal ending doesn't seem likely.
Iron Rating (or, how confident we are they'll end up on the throne): 3/10 golden hands
Game of Thrones may be a cruel show, but it is not (always) an unjust one. When Cersei Lannister has wronged others, she has been rewarded with her own unique punishments, as we've seen in the past (see: the deaths of all three of her children). The self-centered lioness has consistently proven that she's always looking out for her own best interests, and will stop at nothing to ensure she gets what she wants. And she's got something resembling queendom already. But given how she's already planning on wronging her very allies? We don't see her behavior being rewarded with the Iron Throne.
Iron Rating: 4/10 glasses of wine
While Tyrion could potentially make a fantastic king, seeing that happen would be almost too perfect for fans. The purveyor of "drinking and knowing stuff" has a veritable silver tongue and can think quickly on his feet. He would make a staggeringly convincing ruler, especially if it happens to turn out he's an illegitimate Targaryen son, the potential product of Prince Aerys (the Mad King) assaulting Joanna Lannister. If Tyrion does indeed have Targaryen blood, that could easily put him in the running, but that might please the fans too much, and the Game of Thrones writers couldn't have that, now could they?
Iron Rating: 4/10 sarcastic remarks
He may "know nothing," but the former Bastard of Winterfell lived through some harrowing situations to break through as a formidable force for good. Unfortunately for Jon, he's one of the stars of Game of Thrones, and all the do-goodery he's committed throughout the series probably means nothing now that the end is nigh.
Then there's the fact that Jon's true identity as Aegon Targaryen — the son of Rhaegar Targaryen (himself son of the Mad King and brother to Daenerys) and Lyanna Stark (Ned's sister) — makes Daenerys his aunt. They are currently in a relationship. That's not going to work. This fact does, however, put him ahead of Daenerys in his claim to the crown, but don't think for a second this means that's how it's all going to go down. While ending with Jon sitting atop the Iron Throne is the most palatable and logical conclusion given his growth and overall virtue, we just can't see it.
Instead, we predict a whole lot of sorrow for Jon, from the emotional reveal that his new lady love is actually his aunt to a potentially deadly showdown with the Night King — who's really got it out for him. Plus, if he does make it out of this battle alive, does he even want that kind of responsibility? He's only ever had these leadership opportunities thrust upon him. But what does Jon Snow really want?
Iron Rating: 5/10 wights
Daenerys has had her eye on the Iron Throne before we ever knew who she was, and we've been applauding her every step of the way. That's exactly why the Game of Thrones Powers That Be aren't going to give us what we want. We saw her make a pact with Cersei (always a bad idea) before setting off on her own path alongside Jon.
Currently, she's sailing to Winterfell to fight in the Great War, as the last remaining Targaryen... that she's aware of. She has something other contenders for the throne do not, however: her dragons, Rhaegal and Drogon. She also has an army of Dothraki and Unsullied at her side, which makes her extremely formidable. Of course none of this means anything because Dany is a beloved character whose death would devastate any fan of the show — and that's why her fate has been sealed.
Despite how badly we feel Daenerys may deserve redemption for living through such a hellish existence, this is a show that loves to put its viewers through the same thing. Unless some kind of miracle happens, we don't see queendom for Dany.
Iron Rating: 6/10 dragon eggs
Gendry is exactly who you wouldn't expect to emerge victorious, but strap in — because he just might. The illegitimate son of King Robert Baratheon has lived but a humble life throughout Game of Thrones as a simple but talented blacksmith, but he's a young man we can get behind when it comes to selecting a rule for Westeros. Why? Because he volunteered to venture north of the Wall with Jon Snow, even though he knew death was likely. (Thankfully, he survived.)
And what of his mother, the young woman who had "yellow hair" and would "sing to him?" His lineage practically screams that Gendry was born for the throne, but we're hesitant to say he could take it just yet, despite how much we'd love to see this dark horse come out on top.
Iron Rating: 6/10 forges
Arya is currently sticking around in Winterfell with Sansa to hold down the fort while Jon is away, in addition to keeping an eye on brother Bran. We're just not sure where she's going to go from here. She's a ridiculously skilled assassin and has murdered more than a few individuals when she's needed to — and she still has quite a lengthy kill list.
We also know that actress Maisie Williams has hinted that Arya ends up "alone" somehow – this doesn't indicate queendom, but it's possible that it could mean sitting atop the Iron Throne. There's only room for one person in the throne room to sit comfortably, after all. In terms of toughness, she certainly has what it takes to fight off any comers, potentially even some White Walkers.
The only problem with this theory is that everything in our being screams that Arya being queen feels wrong, and that it should be someone else. But why? She's perfectly capable of being a great ruler — despite that veritable mean streak in her. Still, Arya is a free spirit, and if she survives the Long Night ahead, then we hardly think she'll want to be tied down with the most boring, thankless job in the realm.
Iron Rating: 7/10 direwolves
Brienne of TarthGiphy
Out of all the characters in Game of Thrones, Brienne may very well be the most loyal. Her kindness is unmatched, and she continues to value respect, honor, and trust with every move she makes. This has earned her the respect of folks in high places, and she has unexpected allies throughout the entirety of Westeros. And the truth is, with all she's been through, she deserves to sit on the throne. She's had to journey across the entire countryside with Jaime, protect Sansa, and babysit Podrick across the Seven Kingdoms. And all she ever really wanted to do was serve as Renly Baratheon's Kingsguard!
She has been an unmovable pillar for whom she has been planted beside every single time, and she isn't afraid to put her life on the line for anyone whose cause she finds important or noble. Her judgment is keen, her demeanor is regal, and she's as kind as she is tall. Brienne would be a different type of ruler for Westeros, and finding someone in charge seeking good and earnestness is something the land has needed to do for quite some time. Though, her biggest hurdle is that she doesn't have any real claim to the throne, and she's perhaps more skilled as a Hand or top advisor than a ruler.
Iron Rating: 7/10 suits of armor
The elder Stark sister has gone through it these past seven seasons, and we'd love to see her come out of the other side of the fire unscathed, crown atop her head. Sansa has blossomed into a powerful young woman, absorbing the ruling methods, bargaining machinations, and affectations of those who have wronged her and using them to her advantage. She was there to save the day at the Battle of the Bastards and she also warned Jon about swearing fealty to Daenerys, so we already know she's got a keen sense if strategy. She even swiftly executed Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish out of necessity.
Sansa has always been difficult to root for, particularly as she began as such a self-centered, whiny child who was only interested in becoming royalty. But now that she's had a chance to grow into a level-headed and sensible young woman, thinking about her taking over the entirety of Westeros doesn't seem like such a far-off fantasy after all. Game of Thrones loves to throw us a few curveballs here and there (more than a few, if we're counting), and Sansa's ascent to the throne could be one of the most satisfying twists the series has ever given us.
Iron Rating: 8/10 lemon cakes
Let's face it: Fans think Bran is up to some serious craziness, and we're inclined to agree. As a warg, Bran doesn't make much sense as the king of Westeros, Stark or not. He also has Sansa and Arya to contend with, arguably both more qualified than he is. But some believe that Bran's time-traveling powers could position him as either the Night King himself or a power foil for the first White Walker.
And Bran's host of mystical abilities is something none of the other candidates actually have. Sure, Daenerys has her dragons and the others have cunning, kindness, and a vast store of other skills, but Bran — quite literally — is magic personified as the Three-Eyed Raven. Since Bran became the progenitor of the entity's psychic powers, he's blossomed as a character and as a prospective king. In fact, there's something to be said for just how much he's grown, from a paralyzed boy to one of the most powerful figures in the Seven Kingdoms.
He may be the darkest horse in the herd, but from where we're standing, seeing a young Stark find redemption after drawing one of the worst lots in life would certainly be an intriguing ending. We all know deep down a Stark was always meant to sit upon the throne anyway, right?
Iron Rating: 8/10 ravens