Cersei Lannister is dead. Daenerys Targaryen has become a tyrant. Jon Snow won't press his claim. With only one episode to go in the show's history, the question of who will sit on the Iron Throne still remains as open as ever. Will Bran be king when Game Of Thrones ends? The youngest surviving Stark has never been very high on lists of potential candidates for the position… but he may actually be the most qualified person for the job when you think about it. And, believe it or not, the show has actually done a fair amount of foreshadowing to tease that the series might end with King Brandon, First Of His Name.
After years of fans being convinced that either Jon or Dany would end up on the Iron Throne (or Sansa or Gendry or no one), why are so many viewers suddenly convinced that Bran is the man for the job? This is a relatively new theory, and would certainly subvert expectations for the finale. Bran ending up as king would be a memorable twist ending — but like all the best twist endings, it wouldn't be completely out of nowhere. The clues would be there if you ever go back through the series and look for them.
1. He Doesn't Want
One of the qualities that convinced Varys that Jon would be a better monarch than Daenerys is that he doesn't want it. "Have you considered the best ruler might be someone who doesn't want to rule?" the Spider asked Tyrion in Season 8's fourth episode, "The Last Of The Starks." Earlier in that very same episode, Bran corrected Tyrion when the Hand of the Queen referred to the Stark as the Lord of Winterfell. "You don't want it?" Tyrion asked. "I don't really want anymore," Bran replied.
If the best ruler is someone who doesn't want to rule, maybe the best candidate is someone who doesn't want… anything. A person who will never fall prey to human weaknesses like ambition, pride, lust, greed, or anger might just make for the perfect king.
2. He's Not A Stark Anymore
When Daenerys first met Tyrion in Meereen, she told the Lannister that her plan when she conquered Westeros was to break the wheel. "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," she said. "I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel." What breaking the wheel looks like is still unclear; ending the series with a Targaryen or a Stark on the throne would simply be rotating the wheel to a new position and starting the game all over again.
But what if the Iron Throne went to someone who didn't belong to one of those great families; someone who was… no one? That could have been Arya at one point, but she reclaimed her identity as a Stark at the end of Season 6. Now the closest character to "no one" is her brother, who told Jaime in Season 8's second episode, "A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms," that he would still be Brandon Stark if the Lannister hadn't pushed him out of that tower window. "You're not?" Jaime asked. "No," Bran replied. "I'm something else now." Bran shed his old identity when he became the Three-Eyed Raven, so crowning him king might be as close to breaking the wheel as things could get.
3. He Can See Everything
Part of the reason it's so difficult to rule Westeros is because it's so large; it's made up of seven kingdoms with their own customs and laws, sprawled across a massive continent, from the sands of Dorne to the snows of the North (which itself is as large as the other six kingdoms combined). How can anyone effectively rule all Seven Kingdoms when they can't always know what's going on in each of them? No one can be in multiple places at once.
Well, Bran can. He can see anything and everything that's going on all at once, thanks to his powers as the Three-Eyed Raven. While this power was used frustratingly sparingly in Season 8 (he couldn't warn Daenerys about Euron's fleet?), it would come in super handy for anyone wanting to keep peace throughout the Seven Kingdoms.
4. He's One Of Martin's Favorites
In George R.R. Martin's original outline for A Song Of Ice And Fire, he lists the five main characters whose stories will be integral to the story from beginning to end: Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion, Arya… and Bran. That fact might be surprising to show watchers, given that Game Of Thrones has emphasized Sansa and de-emphasized Bran in its latter seasons. But it also implies that Martin has huge plans for Bran in his books.
It's clear now that the main conflict of the story will ultimately boil down to Jon vs. Dany, that Tyrion will be caught between them, and that Arya's training as an assassin will be instrumental in the final conflict (whether she kills the Night King or some other high-profile target in the books). But what's Bran's endgame? Unless the showrunners have completely cut out the majority of his impact on Martin's story, it's possible that there' sone major plot point left for the character both on the page and in the show: becoming King of Westeros.
5. He Remembers Everything
Not wanting to rule, not holding allegiance to one of the great houses, and being able to keep an eye on all Seven Kingdoms at once would be important traits for a good ruler. But perhaps the most important trait would be the ability to remember history, and use that knowledge to make wise decisions. "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," philosopher George Santayana famously said.
If breaking the wheel means ending the cycle of violence — and if it what it takes to end the cycle of violence is full awareness of its patterns — then absolutely nobody in Westeros is better suited to the job than Bran. Earlier this season, Bran told everyone that he was the memory of the world. If so, he could use that memory to analyze patterns of history and avoid making the same mistakes other rulers have made. Bran might be the first king in a long time to leave Westeros in better shape than he found it in.