By Valerie Tejeda
Before Sunday night’s (April 14) Season 8 premiere, I went into my rewatch of Game of Thrones as I usually do, a hardcore Daenerys Targaryen fan and true believer that the Mother of Dragons should be the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Don’t get me wrong — I love Dany and she is still arguably my favorite character (she walks through fire and has dragons, how can I not love her?) — but after watching every season of GoT again, and the beginning of this final season, a new front-runner came to mind who would be better-suited to sit on the Iron Throne than anyone in Westeros: Sansa Stark.
When we first met Sansa, she was a young, highborn Westerosi with a love for fancy things and a longing to become queen. Then, well, lots of shit happened. She became the target of constant abuse by her once-betrothed King Joffrey (who cut off her father’s head, mind you), a chess piece to be manipulated by Cersei and Lord Baelish, and was tortured and abused by Lord Ramsay Bolton.
But through it all she’s had a quiet, enduring strength. She’s smart, she’s resilient, she’s a survivor, and she’s the kind of hero who would make a great queen. "Many underestimated you. Most of them are dead now," Tyrion Lannister said to Sansa in the Season 8 premiere of Game of Thrones. And he’s right.
Here are seven reasons why Sansa Stark should sit on the Iron Throne — if there even is an Iron Throne after the Night King and his undead army invade the Seven Kingdoms.
She has the Stark nameHBO
The North remembers, and they seem to remember a lot. The Northerners are also extremely loyal and, among the people of this kingdom, the Stark name holds a lot of weight. While Jon, who was named King of the North, is still known as Ned Stark’s bastard (even though we know the truth about his Targaryen and Stark blood), Sansa is the daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully, giving her more claim to the North than even her half-brother. If she were queen, her lineage would give her a level of loyalty and support that the North hasn’t given a king or queen since her dearly departed brother Robb. And it would be the first time someone from the North (and a Stark) has sat on the Iron Throne, which, considering all that the Stark family has been through, would be pretty epic.
She’s learned from the best, and the worstHBO
Being the daughter of Ned Stark and Catelyn Tully meant Sansa grew up with two great examples of strong and honorable leaders. But apart from what she gleaned as a child at home, Sansa has also been around some people on her journey — Cersei, Lord Baelish, King Joffrey, Margaery Tyrell, Lord Bolton — who have shown her what to do and what not to do. One of Sansa’s greatest strengths is learning from those around her — and she certainly paid attention to Cersei, especially in regards to keeping your enemies close, trusting no one, and observing everyone. (In fact, Sansa seems to be the only one in Winterfell who knows Cersei shouldn’t be trusted — when did they all become so trusting anyway?) Arya said it best to Jon in the Season 8 premiere, "[Sansa]’s the smartest person I’ve ever met."
She slayed as the Lady of WinterfellHBO
One of the best things that resulted from Jon leaving Sansa in charge of the North while he ventured to Dragonstone was seeing Sansa’s abilities as a leader. Not only did calling all the shots come naturally to her, Sansa also showed wisdom beyond her years by not falling for Lord Baelish’s scheme to put a wedge between her and her sister, Arya. She sentenced Little Finger to death (by Arya’s hand), showing him that messing with a “wolf” is never a good idea.
She won the Battle of the BastardsHBO
Remember the Battle of the Bastards between Jon Snow and Ramsay in Season 6? Well, if it wasn’t for Sansa, Jon would have never been able to take Winterfell back and he might even be dead. After realizing Jon didn’t have enough men for the battle, Sansa sent a raven to Lord Baelish, and the knights of the Vale showed up to lead Jon to victory. This decision showed Sansa’s keen ability to advise during wartime, an obvious asset for any queen.
She’s already lived in King’s LandingHBO
Unlike Jon and Daenerys, Sansa has already lived in King’s Landing and in the royal castle, the Red Keep. She’s already familiar with the people and the politics, and not having to be spend time learning about a new city would give her more time to do the things that she does best — like ruling. (Of course, this is assuming King's Landing is even still standing after the Night King is done with it.)
She has the respect of almost everyone
While Cersei definitely has it out for Sansa (but come on, she has it out for everyone!) it appears that most people in Westeros wish her well. She has the respect of Lord Tyrion Lannister (her former husband), and Brienne of Tarth and her sister Arya are both by her side. The Tyrells liked her when they were around. Daenerys, in spite of a salty look or two, appears to have nothing against her (yet). The Boltons, who had it out for her family, are dead. Lord Frey is gone. The Vale supports her, as do Jon, his men, and the North. That kind of likability could help bring some much-needed peace to the Seven Kingdoms.
She’s tough but also kindHBO
Sansa has shown time and time again that she’s much stronger than she gets credit for. She’s not a victim, she’s a survivor, and that strength has been made all the more evident these last two seasons. But even though she’s been forced to make tough decisions (as any leader would), she remains kind — unlike, say, Cersei. The best leaders are those who can be strong when they must, but kind when they can; Sansa embodies both of those attributes. She is not the queen that Westeros deserves, but the queen they so desperately need.