Game of Thrones Season 8 is almost here, and with its arrival fans are expecting all their questions to be answered. Some will be disappointed, of course, as it’s impossible to please everyone. Characters we love will die, characters we hate may live, and there’s a chance that this whole thing doesn’t end with a winner. I repeat, there is a realistic chance Game of Thrones ends without declaring a winner.
It’s a theory I’ve had for a while that’s been emboldened by recent comments from the cast. Joe Dempsie recently told Men’s Health the ending is “bittersweet” and may not please everyone. Maisie Williams said something similar, although mentioned her reasoning was tied to folks not wanting it to end. In either case, it appears some within the cast are preparing for some fans to be disappointed, and I think it’s because we won’t find out who takes the throne.
Picture this. Game of Thrones is at its finale, and the Iron Throne is sitting empty with three potential kings/queens ready to take a seat. They’re all standing, each one with a case equally as rock solid for assuming the throne. They look to each other and smile at the war being won, but before one of them can take a step to claim the seat, the credits roll.
That feeling you’re imagining? Hold that in your soul for a bit, and watch this video of Kit Harington on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. At about 10:25 in the video Stephen plays a guessing game where he gives increasingly ridiculous scenarios for how the show ends. Harington does a solid job at giving animated responses for the first couple, but be sure to look at what happens when he references the ending of another famous HBO series:
For those that don’t know, that “Don’t Stop Believin’” mention was a nod to the infamous ending of The Sopranos in which the series cut to black before it was clear if Tony Soprano was about to get shot by an assassin or that was just some dude leaving a bathroom. It’s an ending that, while not conclusive, has kept audiences talking for years. If Game of Thrones ended without showing who got the throne, would that outlast an ending with a clear winner?
Really, that answer depends on when Game of Thrones plans to hand the throne to its eventual ruler. If it’s one of those reveals that won’t happen until the eleventh hour of the season with 3-5 minutes left, then it’s basically the same thing. We’ve already been told there will be no sequel series, so seeing someone take control at that stage tells us nothing towards how they will fare ruling Westeros.
And even if it did, their success could always be warped by the next party to conspire against them. As Littlefinger once said, the Westeros realm is merely a story everyone agrees to tell each other again and again until they all forget it was a lie. How can any ruler do a good enough job that no one will ever try to rise up against them?
The truth is, no matter who ends up on the throne, they and their descendants will only be there as long as it takes for another noble house to make a play. It’s literally why the show is called Game of Thrones, and unless the finale features any major changes to the current way things run, the game will likely continue after all the White Walker action has died down.
Hell, it’s even possible the game continues within Season 8, as there are no guarantees Westeros will only get a new ruler in the season finale. Perhaps Cersei gets taken out of commission early, and Dany gets a chance to finally sit atop the Iron Throne. It doesn’t take some characters long to realize her way of doing things isn’t ideal, and side characters start working towards getting her out of the picture.
Of course there’s always the scenario where whoever takes over does a fine job, and if there are any dissenters to their rule, they don’t surface before Game of Thrones rolls its final credits. It’s a possibility, although it just doesn’t seem like HBO or anyone involved with the show would be content with the show devolving into anything but chaos in these final episodes and making it as action packed as possible.
And as Littlefinger said, chaos is a ladder. Fans shouldn’t be at all surprised if some unassuming or new characters manage to make a play that puts them in contention to rule. This will only increase the number of potential rulers, which would make it all the more frustrating if a couple are up for the spot and Game of Thrones ends without crowning one of them.
If there’s anyone still in denial that Game of Thrones may very well end without a ruler being crowned, answer this. How often has George R.R. Martin’s series done the predictable thing throughout this entire ride? Was it so obvious the Lannisters would ultimately decimate the North’s initial war effort in one evening, or that Tyrion would ultimately escape his fate and join up with Dany? The swerves won’t end just because the show’s winding down, so expect something big.
Not crowning a ruler would be something big, but in the grand scheme of things not all that detrimental to Game of Thrones’ legacy. Fans are invested for more reasons than wanting to know how it ends, and that will surely be true for those who watch in the future. There are many who want to see their favorite character sit on the throne, but in the end, it’s not as big a deal as we think it will be.
If Game of Thrones didn’t reveal who got the throne in its final season, would you be upset? Sound off in our poll below and be sure to share additional input in the comments below. The final season premieres on HBO Sunday, April 14 at 9:00 p.m. ET. CinemaBlend will be providing analysis, theories, and the latest news in the meantime, so stick with us all season long!