Revisiting the Game of Thrones pilot is a guaranteed way to give your tear ducts a workout. The Stark kids are all so young and innocent, and knowing the world is about to come crashing down around them in unimaginable ways is heartbreaking. Of all the Starks, Sansa has changed the most since the premiere, and her journey makes me ache more than any other. Sansa began as a little girl full of hope and dreams of marrying a prince, and then life set out to crush every shred of innocence she ever possessed. Most people would have broken if they went through even half of what Sansa has, but much like the dragon queen, Daenerys, Sansa rose from the ashes stronger, harder, and more cunning than anyone could ever have dreamed.
The transformation of Sansa is truly astonishing. When Brienne told Jaime he didn't know many girls like Sansa Stark, she was not kidding. While she still has the best needlework in all of Westeros, Sansa has been forced to shed her belief in a world of fairy tales and become a survivor. Here are 13 ways Sansa has changed since she was first introduced way back in the Game of Thrones series premiere.
1. She Is No Longer Waiting For A Prince
Sansa once thought the one thing she wanted more than anything else in the world was to marry Joffrey. After years of being abused at the hands of Joffrey and Ramsay, Sansa is no longer waiting for a happily ever after. Instead, she is raising an army with her brother to take what is hers by right.
2. She Values Her Siblings
Sansa always loved her siblings, but in the pilot she was a young teen and Arya was her annoying little sister, and Jon was her bastard brother. Sansa had never known a life without Jon, Robb, Arya, Bran, Rickon, or even her surrogate brother Theon. It took losing them all for Sansa to understood the true value of her brothers and sister.
3. She Developed A Poker Face
The giggly little girl who could not contain her excitement over the possibility of going to King's Landing has been replaced by a woman with a face that gives away none of her secrets.
4. She Has Major Trust Issues
Remember how readily Sansa trusted Cersei when she first met her at Winterfell? Those days are long gone. Now Sansa never seems to fully trust anyone, and because putting her trust in people has caused her so much pain, she even rejected Brienne's protection the first time it was offered. These days Sansa only truly trusts herself.
5. Her Innocence Is Gone
The sweet innocence of Sansa's childhood was systematically stripped away beginning with Joffrey's beheading of Ned. After enduring rape and torture at the hands of Ramsay, Sansa will never be able to go back to being that little girl with pigtails and an easy smile she was in the beginning, but she has not lost herself.
6. She Is A Survivor
The Sansa who once whined about Arya slinging food at her in the great hall at Winterfell had no idea just how strong she truly was. Sansa is a survivor now. After everything she has been through, she has a fortified sense of inner strength no one can take away from her.
7. She Knows How To Play The Game
Looking back, Sansa seems like the most unlikely Stark to become a master of playing the game of thrones, but all of those courtly manners she displayed in the premiere payed off. She survived her time at court by relying on her manners and quick wits, now she is using her savvy to take back the North.
8. She Is A Leader
I think it is safe to say Sansa was content in following other people's lead when the show began. She had a strong sense of respect for authority figures like her father and the queen. Now, she is the authority figure, and while Jon has the battle savvy, she is the one who is leading the charge to take back their home.
9. She No Longer Judges People By Their Looks
Sansa was definitely vain when she was first introduced — but who isn't at that age? She once equated beauty with goodness, but having seen how ugly men like Joffrey and Ramsay are, and experiencing kindness from The Hound and Brienne, Sansa looks deeper than the surface these days.
10. She Believes In Her Own Strength
Sansa wanted nothing more than to be a proper lady when she was young. I am not even sure she realized she possessed strength of her own, but now she not only knows it, she owns it. Sansa believes she has power over her own life and she is not afraid to take it.
11. She Understands What It Means To Not Have A Home
When the show began, Sansa's desire to leave Winterfell behind and see King's Landing was overwhelming. Now she has seen the world and she knows what it is like to have no home. Without a home, there can be no safety and Sansa wants to take Winterfell back so she and her siblings will never have to feel unsafe again.
12. She Is So Over Romance
Sansa was once defined by her romantic nature, but she is over the whole knight in shining armor business. Romance is currently the last thing on Sansa's mind.
13. She Is An Adult
The little girl who did her needlework and dreamed of being a princess is gone, and in her place is a woman who has been to all seven hells and came out stronger, wiser, and more determined than ever. Sansa Stark is an adult now, and it would be foolish to underestimate her.
Sansa's journey since the pilot has been long and painful, but she has become one of the show's most compelling characters in the process.
Images: Helen Sloan/HBO; Giphy (13)