Like so many in our community, I’ve been a huge Game of Thrones fan over the years. I started watching the show having not read the books, and made the conscious choice to stay away from the books so they wouldn’t spoil the many great moments for me throughout the show. This, of course, is before such concerns became academic. 🙂
After having finished watching season 1 (and, still, having not read the books and avoided the spoilers) I predicted that, in the end, it’d be Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen who’ll team up, get together, and ultimately win control over the Seven Kingdoms. Over the years, I rather enjoyed patting myself on the back as the prediction seemed to coalesce into a stronger and stronger possibility. But now, with only a handful of episodes remaining and on the eve of the Battle of Winterfell episode which is likely to kill off a number of major characters, I’d like to revise my prediction to something seemingly a lot more far-fetched.
No one will sit on the Iron Throne.
By the end of the series, the Iron Throne will be destroyed. Figuratively, and perhaps even literally.
With the recent revelations on the show (avoiding specifics for those who are an episode or two behind) the long-lasting union between Jon and Daenerys is less likely. They’re focusing more on the bad things Daenerys has done on her path to power, and why Jon might be a better candidate to rule over the Seven Kingdoms. Were this a lesser series, one might predict that Jon, the character whose moral compass has remained true throughout, would be the perfect king and his triumph over all enemies and ascension to the throne would be a natural an end-cap to the story. But Game of Thones is not a Tolkien fantasy and it’s aesthetic has never been about clean and easy resolutions.
So what could possibly work as the resolution of the story to both provide a satisfying conclusion to the fans and stay true to its grimdark roots? A dark horse candidate could ascend to the throne: perhaps someone like Gendry Baratheon. They could opt to take a redemption arc further than it needs to go and have Jaime Lannister rule with the council and blessing of the Three-Eyed Raven (which would mirror the opening episode nicely, in its own way.) But I still like my own theory best.
Over eight seasons we’ve seen many examples of how the wars of succession have been the bane of the regular people of Westeros. Not only have many died or suffered in the conflict that is virtually meaningless to them, but these struggles have left the Seven Kingdoms ill-prepared for the zombie invasion from the north. Installing any one person on the Iron Throne would only perpetuate this cycle–even if the ruler is highly effective–as the new succession war might begin anew after their passing.
The destruction of the Iron Throne and perhaps even all of King’s Landing as a seat of power would break the wheel in a more meaningful way than Daenerys meant when she talked about interrupting the cycle of succession struggles with Tyrion a couple of seasons ago. I could see a council of survivors (some good, some bad, most in-between) overseeing the Seven Kingdoms without a single monarch as a more viable long-term solution to Westeros’s problems. In a true GoT fashion, I could see a character people love to hate, like Cersei, even surviving to claim one of the seats. (Though her dying at Jamie’s hand would probably be far more satisfying to most.)
This is how I would end the story but, of course, I’m no Martin. Supposedly he and the showrunners knew exactly how the story would end before they even began filming, and I doubt the fact that the show has outpaces the book series would result in significant changes to that intended ending. Whatever they end up doing, I’m certain there will be plenty of gasp-worthy moments in the remaining episodes and that the finale will not disappoint.