'Game of Thrones' Finale: Odds of Who Will Take Iron Throne - Rolling Stone
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‘Game of Thrones’ Finale: Who Will Sit on Iron Throne?

10 likeliest candidates to be in the big chair when the music stops

game of thrones iron throne


We have no idea how Game of Thrones will end, but surely someone will be sitting on the Iron Throne by the end of it, right? Or maybe not? Assuming Benioff and Weiss don’t go for the utterly nihilist ending where the war with the Night King kills everyone on both sides, these are the 10 likeliest candidates to be in the big chair when the music stops.

Episode 64 (season 7, episode 4), debut 8/6/17: Jerome Flynn.photo: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO

Macall B. Polay/HBO



OK, so there are probably more obvious choices here, like Jaime Lannister. But after seven seasons of Game of Thrones, we’ve learned to never count out the show’s ultimate survivor, who’s also the one character everyone in the audience still loves. He may not look or fight pretty, but he keeps outlasting stronger and more prestigious opponents.

lyanna mormont

Helen Sloane/HBO


Lyanna Mormont

It would have to require a very complicated chain of events, in which all the Starks and Lannisters die, humanity prevails over the Night King, and Dany either dies or decides to go back to Essos. But it could happen, and the pre-pubescent but wise Lady of Bear Island is the leader fans deserve — even if we’re not likely to get her.


Helen Sloane/HBO



Gendry, not Joffrey, was technically the rightful heir to Robert Baratheon’s reign, and the show went out of its way to bring him back as part of Jon’s stupid expedition north of the Wall last season. Melisandre once tried to use his royal blood for her magic. Maybe his name could count for something when other parties fall.

Season 8: John Bradley.photo: Helen Sloane/HBO

Helen Sloane/HBO


Samwell Tarley

This would only be if the war with the Night King, and all the civil wars leading up to it, convinces the people of Westeros that monarchies are a mug’s game, and that it’s time to consider the value of a democratic government. And who better to lead one than our resident scholar? Even if the Throne would become more of an unofficial seat of power as a result.

Season 8: Lena Headey.photo: Helen Sloane/HBO

Helen Sloane/HBO


Cersei Lannister

As the Throne’s current occupant, she has the homefield advantage. But the show enjoys turnover too much to leave her there. The Golden Company will only get her so far before dragons and/or zombies take her down.

night king



Night King

This is basically the nihilist ending: the bad guy wins, turning everyone into his undead slaves. Would an inscrutable superhuman creature want to sit on an actual throne? Or would he be too busy figuring out a way to get his zombies to Essos?

Season 8: Peter Dinklage.photo: Helen Sloane/HBO

Helen Sloane/HBO


Tyrion Lannister

The sentimental favorite, Tyrion did well running Westeros as Joffrey’s Hand, but he’s stumbled a lot doing the same job for Daenerys. His desire to find a new path for the world would probably make him a good king, even if a lot of people would have to die for him to have any shot at it. Ranked this high mainly because Peter Dinklage is arguably the face of Game of Thrones (it’s him or the actor playing our top contender), and you should never count out showrunners wanting to service their biggest stars.

sansa stark

Helen Sloane/HBO


Sansa Stark

What a comeback this would be, from child hostage of the Lannisters to ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Between Ned, Joffrey, Cersei, Ramsay and Littlefinger, she’s been exposed to more leadership styles than anyone else left. If, say, Jon and Dany were to decide to fly back over the Narrow Sea when all this is said and done and enjoy a lifetime in a warmer climate, Sansa would have both the skills and the consensus from the North.

jon snow

Macall B. Polay/HBO


Jon Snow

Yes, he’s a dope, but he’s a dope with both Stark and Targaryen blood, and the closest the show still has to a traditional hero figure. That last is a double-edged sword (Valyrian steel or otherwise), in that letting him win the Game feels almost too obvious on a show that’s valued surprise and the triumph of outcasts. Jon’s no underdog anymore, and the creative team may want a more unconventional choice to rule. Which leads us to…

Season 8: Emilia Clarke.photo: Helen Sloane/HBO

Helen Sloane/HBO


Daenerys Targaryen

Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Favorite to Win the Game. The series has encompassed many hero’s journeys for many characters, but none has been as consistently pointing towards this goal than Dany’s. She has traveled the farthest distance in terms of geography, maturity and power dynamics. Her reclaiming her family’s birthright wouldn’t be a surprise, but it would also feel like a very natural and fitting conclusion to the show we’ll have watched for eight seasons.

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