In the Game of Thrones, they say, either you win, or you die. So: as Sundays big finale approaches, which characters are going to do which when all is said and done? Will Jon Snow wind up reluctantly defeating his aunt-lover-queen, Daenerys, and return north to range among the Free Folk? Will Bran somehow finish the series atop the Iron Throne, as Vegas oddsmakers seem convinced he will? Will Sansa and Tyrion be drawn back together again, ruling over the North with just wisdom and good common sense? Will Robin Arryn show up, maybe? (Remember Robin Arryn?)
Below, eight Vanity Fair staffers try their hand at guessing where Game of Thrones will land when the HBO epic finally finishes up for good. Some of their guesses are thoughtful and methodical, carefully considering the potential fate of each major character; some are, lets just say, a little more whimsical. Good thing the land of Westeros is vast enough to contain multitudes.
Daenerys finds out that Tyrion freed Jaime with Davoss help, and condemns them both to death. Grey Worm captures Davos and delivers him to Drogon, who incinerates himbut Tyrion escapes one last time. In the wilderness, he meets Bronnwho has been tracking Sansa, Brienne, and Bran, who are headed to Kings Landing with reinforcements from the North. Tyrion persuades Bronn to help him (Cersei is dead, after all), and together they meet up with Team Stark.
Meanwhile, Jon tries to reason with Dany, who tells him hes lucky she doesnt condemn him too, since he is a traitorous rival. She has a big rally for the troops, and Jon stands by looking worried. Arya arrives to enact one final revenge killing on Daenerys, but Jon stops her. Then Daenerys orders Grey Worm to kill Arya, and Jon kills him instead.
Then Drogon tries to kill Aryaand Jon throws himself in front of her, sacrificing himself for his sister-cousin. Except that, being a Targaryen, he doesnt die! Now his secret ancestry is revealed to all, and Daenerys is so enraged and horrified that she climbs on Drogon and flies off into the sunset. The Northern troops loyal to Jon face off with the Unsullied and Dothraki, until the reinforcements from the North arrive and tip the equation in favor of Team Stark.
Jon counsels peace and nominates Sansa to take the Iron Throne, with Bran as her Hand. Jon travels back north to be with Tormund, Ghost, and his memories of Ygritte. The end. Mike Hogan, executive digital director
The Ice-and-Fire Battle
Given how poorly Jon Snow handled things the last time some of his trusted compatriots broke bad, I doubt hell get it together to challenge Daenerys himself. But it has to happen, maybe once she turns her fiery vengeance on someone Jon cares about. (Sansa?) I also dont expect to see Tyrion go unpunished for his insubordination in freeing Jaime, as little as that seems to matter now. As for the Iron Throne, I sincerely hope to see no one sitting on it. Instead, it ends with Sansa ruling in the North, Bran being all psychic wherever he wants to land, and something sorta resembling democracy arriving in Westeros. At least until the next war. Katey Rich, VF.com deputy editor
The Practical Answer
Heres whats probably going to happen: Arya is going to kill Dany somehow, and were all going to be semi-satisfied by that. The long arc of this show bends towards justice, in one way or another.
Heres whats 100 percent certain to happen: everyone who survived the disappointing final season of Lost is going to be re-traumatized by the disappointing ending of Game of Thrones, and the failures of another ambitious fantasy attempting to properly stretch itself across too many conflicting seasons, too many psychological loose ends, and too many questions answered in bad faith with bad writing. And were all going to have to hear about it. Forever. Ive got my earplugs ready! K. Austin Collins, film critic
The Bran Plan
If the signs are right, the show will end with Bran leading the Seven Kingdoms (for more on this theory, head here). The thesis of this show is how power corrupts vis--vis the Iron Throne. That means that, ultimately, the throne has to be destroyed and replaced with a more democratic form of government. The Three-Eyed Stoner (which, in retrospect, would have been a great name for a 90s ska band) could be the perfect intermediate leader while Westeros sorts its shit out, serving as an all-knowing diplomat who brings peace to the realm. Meanwhile, Jon will (read: had better) reunite with Ghost and Tormund in the true North; Sansa will rule Winterfell in her finest leather-mommy couture; and Arya will take a much-needed gap year, studying abroad in the Free Cities. Yohana Desta, staff writer
The Green New Deal
Now that Game of Thrones has become like any other TV show (read: predictable), it seems foolish to bet on anyone other than a Stark to take the Iron Throne. After all, we didnt endure Neds execution and the Red Wedding to see the series end any other way. Arya will want to go west of Westeros as promised, Sansa loves the North and loathes Kings Landing, and Jon is categorically too dumb to rule. That leaves Bran, wholl have to rebuild the Red Keep to be ADA compliant. That, or hell spend his reign plantingand sitting underweirwood trees. Daniel Taroy, senior social media manager
I am certain Dany's going to become queen and reign for about 10 minutes before Arya assassinates her. Jon's not going to do it, he's too loyal and good and whatever; but my guess is Arya will do it so that Jon can become king. Maybe Jaqen Hagar will visit her and remind her about faceless men one last time. Maybe Syrio Forel will loom out of the shadows, water dancing like he was living in the walls of King's Landing this whole time. Maybe Nymeria will show up and tear Drogon to pieces. Either way, Arya's got the most loose ends to tie up, and becoming a Queenslayer might be the way to do it. Then Tyrion becomes Jon's hand (they are old friends, after all), Sansa's lady of Winterfell with Brienne as her knight-at-arms... and I forget who all the rest of the characters are. Sonia Saraiya, TV critic
The Nihilistic Approach
Everyone dies, nobody wins! I dont even watch Game of ThronesI studiously avoid it. My husband goes to another apartment to watchnot because its banned, but because my derision annoys him. At this point, it is more about clinging to my own righteousness than it is about actual moral ground, but I feel my turf is still pretty high and dry.
But, from what I have absorbed through cultural osmosis and marriage, a lot of people die on the show, and this season has been especially fatal. Death is the ultimate throne one ascends, I guess. So maybe everyone wins, everyone dies. Claire Howorth, deputy editor
The Sweet Summer Child
As a non-show watcher, my official guess is that the Night King is going to rise from the dead, kill Dany and Jon during their unexpected wedding ceremony, and take over the kingdom. Sarah Shoen, editorial assistant
The Long Shot
The last three minutes are a major fast-forward, and we find out Queen Elizabeth and baby Archie are descendants of Daenerys Targaryen. Alyssa Karas, special projects editor
The Perfect Ending
Daenerys realizes what a stupid mistake she just madelike, bigger than accidentally sleeping with your nephew, bigin razing Kings Landing, and comes to see that she can never show her face on this side of Westeros again. She rides atop Drogons back across the skies, searching for some godforsaken spit of land to call home. And just when she thinks shell die from dehydration or maybe falling off her dragon , it happens. She finds landpopulated with a whole lot of people who look like nothing shes ever seen, and full of technology she cannot believe.
Stunned and enchanted, Daenerys gazes down at four women screaming on a ferry. We never see Daenerys again. Its the Staten Island Ferry. The women are Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Cynthia Nixon, and Kristin Davis. This is Sex and the City 3. Laura Bradley, staff writer
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