The Starks Should Lose The 'Game Of Thrones' & Here's Why
Who will end up on the Iron Throne? That has been one of the lingering questions of HBO's Game Of Thrones for six years running. But, while the title of the show itself certainly suggests that the contest for the crown is the most pressing issue, that's belied by the fact that an army of White Walkers is about to invade Westeros. Does it really matter who ends up ruling the Seven Kingdoms if there aren't even Seven Kingdoms left to rule? So if you're hoping to see Jon Snow or any of his half-siblings (or cousins, rather) wind up on the Iron Throne, I'm sorry to say you're probably in for some disappointment. The Starks will likely lose the game of thrones… and what's more, they probably should lose.
One of the most common theories about the end of the series is that Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen will marry and rule Westeros together — the literal embodiment of George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire. But is a show as brutal and as ruthless as Game Of Thrones really going to have an ending that predictable and (even worse) happy? Don't count on it. Way back in the first book of the series, Martin made it clear when he cut off Ned Stark's head that one of his missions was to subvert traditional expectations of the fantasy genre. Sullen bastard Jon Snow rising to claim the throne of his secret birthright is about as traditional as it could get.
In a lot of ways, that ending would be a betrayal of the very heart of Game Of Thrones — not to mention it wouldn't make much sense in the context of the story, either. After his disastrous tenure as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch ended with Jon being stabbed by a horde of murderous mutineers, the bastard has understandably lost all interest in ruling. Of course, that didn't stop the Northern lords from essentially electing him as King in the North after he won the Battle of the Bastards; but if he only accepted that title reluctantly, it's hard to imagine Jon willingly sitting on the Iron Throne and ruling all of Westeros.
Then there's also the fact that Daenerys has promised to essentially put an end to Westeros' feudal system:
Lannister, Targaryen, Baratheon, Stark, Tyrell… they're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that one's on top, and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. … I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel.
Given that sentiment, it's hard to imagine Game Of Thrones ending with just another person sitting on the Iron Throne.
Jon would certainly be a more well-liked ruler than either Joffrey or Cersei; but would he really be a better one? Sure, he probably won't murder hundreds of innocent bystanders in a giant wildfire explosion just to avoid a trial. But the show has made it clear from the beginning that the Starks, while the nominal protagonists of the story, are perhaps too noble to be effective leaders in a world as cruel as Westeros. It proved to be the death of Ned, and of all the Starks, Jon takes after him the most in this regard — ironic, since we just learned that Jon isn't even Ned's son at all.
Would Jon be able to make the hard choices necessary to be a good king, to keep his enemies at bay, and protect the realm from ice zombies and pirates and foreign invaders? It's hard to say for sure, but so far the Stark track record isn't exactly great in the leadership department. (Heck, Jon even had to be saved by Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale during his battle against Ramsay.)
What about the rest of Jon's family? Bran is too wrapped up in exploring the past to worry about becoming king in the present. Arya has completed her transition into cold-blooded assassin; the thought of her on the Iron Throne is actually quite frightening. Out of all the Starks, Sansa would probably make the best ruler, after all the time she had observing politics in King's Landing and learning the art of manipulation from Littlefinger — but even she has been showing worrisome tendencies lately, proving herself untrustworthy by keeping the secret of Littlefinger's army from Jon, and looking displeased as Jon was chosen to lead the North over her.
Do we really want any of the Starks to sit on the Iron Throne, anyway? Just think of what has happened to the last four kings: one stabbed in the back by his own Kingsguard, one killed in a hunting accident arranged by his wife, one poisoned at his own wedding, and one who took his own life after his mother blew up his bride. Would we really want a similar fate to befall one of our beloved Starks? The idea that the series ending with Jon or Sansa sitting on the Iron Throne means happily ever after for that character is a naïve one; more likely it would mean a horrible death within a few years' time.
So, yes — losing the game of thrones would probably be a good thing for the Starks in terms of their longevity. It would also be more in keeping with the themes of Martin's story than the pat "King Jon Targaryen" ending some fans seem to want. Of course, just because I don't want them to win the game of thrones doesn't mean I want them to die. Although Cersei would claim those are the only two options, there's always a third way, right?
Hopefully that third way involves Dany reaching Westeros and ending the game for good before the music stops and time runs out for the Starks. It would be nice to see at least one of them make it out of the show alive…
Images: Helen Sloan/HBO (2); Giphy (2)