Claim Of Thrones: Contenders For The Iron Throne, Ranked

Editor-at-Large
04.10.19

HBO

The thing about giving your show a title like Game of Thrones is that it implies someone is going to win that game. That’s been the main theme of almost everything we’ve seen so far, through many episodes and many contenders, some of whom live on to fight in the final season and many more of whom were killed in just about every way you can think of. (Poison, decapitation, stabbing, magic fire, more poison, more stabbing, head crushed like grape, etc.) The obvious question this raises is who.

Well, I don’t know. It would be weird if I did. I do have ideas, though. Not necessarily “good” ideas, but ideas nonetheless. Below, please find contenders for the Iron Throne, ranked not necessarily by who has the best claim or shot at winning, but more by who I think would be the best ruler or who I really just want to see in charge. Apologies to the honorable mentions, including Lyanna Mormont, Gendry, Podrick, Bran, Brienne, and any number of other characters I could have easily included but didn’t. Life’s not fair. People on this show should know that better than anyone.

10. Tormund and/or Bronn

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This is worth it just for the wild set of circumstances it would take for it to happen. I don’t even know how it would work. All of the major characters would need to die or be disgraced in such a powerful way that they find themselves incapable of ruling effectively. I kind of want to see it now, just out of curiosity. Well, curiosity and an undying affection for these two maniacs.

Please do note the “and” in the “and/or” up there, too. Tormund, the flame-haired wild man who wears furs and probably eats raw meat for fun, and Bronn, the mercenary swordsman whose allegiances change based on who is offering the best payday, somehow ruling Westeros together, again, through a set of circumstances so profoundly confusing that I can’t even really wrap my head around it. There’s zero chance Game of Thrones does this. Less than zero, probably. But that’s the fun part of these kinds of preseason rankings. Anything is possible until the show explicitly rules it out.

Like, for example, two beloved side characters somehow defeating the Night King and sharing the Iron Throne to rule all of Westeros. They’ll lead as two kings.

9. Arya

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Arya is awesome. Everyone loves Arya. She’s a huge badass and she’s finally reunited with Sansa after years of running around in the woods and learning to become an assassin with the magical power to wear someone else’s face like she’s in the Mission: Impossible movies or something. No one is disputing any of that. Especially not me, a man who is definitely not at least a little afraid that Arya will somehow find out he disrespected her and step out of the television to slit his throat.

She would not be a very good queen, though. She loves killing and revenge too much. There’s a place for that, somewhere, on the show, at least. Maybe Sansa becomes queen and Arya serves as her Hand, just dispatching potential threats one at a time and absolutely loving it to a degree that is unsettling. That’s a possibility. But queen? I don’t think so. She’d be the type of queen people talk about hundreds of years in the future, not in a good way, like the Mad King but smaller and maybe more bloodthirsty.

8. Jon Snow

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I’m sorry. I am. I know Jon Snow has as good a claim to the throne as anyone, and maybe even the best claim now that his Targaryen lineage has been revealed. He’s a great swordsman and a nice guy and it would be a real kick in the pants if the show went to all the trouble of bringing him back to life and making him Secret Royalty All Along and then they just killed him off in the final episodes anyway. If any show would do that, it’s Game of Thrones, but it feels like a stretch to assume at this point.

Here’s the problem, though: Jon is such a doofus. The show is absolutely littered with dumb decisions he’s made, often with his heart in the right place, but still. Remember the Battle of the Bastards? Remember how strategically outmatched he was until Sansa showed up with the cavalry to save the day? Remember his ill-fated mission to kidnap a wight that ended with him marooned in a frozen lake while the Night King took down a dragon with the greatest javelin throw in history? Is that the guy you want leading a post-war Westeros out from whatever ravaged hell remains after the battle with the Walkers? He’d probably, like, forget where he put the key to the castle, multiple times, and need to call a locksmith to let him in.

“I locked myself out of my house.”

“Again, Your Grace?”

“Yes, again.”

Everyone would be doomed.

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