Who Should Win the Iron Throne – Vote Now!

Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and more! We make arguments for each of the series' top characters.

by | April 5, 2019 | Comments

In the world of Game of Thrones, conventional wisdom would suggest Daenerys Targaryen has proved herself a fair and just leader, powerful, and compassionate, but firm. Others may see it that Jon Snow, aka Aegon Targaryen, truly is the rightful ruler by Westeros tradition, given that his father was the uncrowned king of the land Rhaegar Targaryen, killed before he could reveal his legitimate marriage to Jon’s mother, Lyanna Stark. Or maybe possession really is nine-tenths of the law, and Cersei Lannister, who in no other way is the legitimate ruler, should continue to reign.

Why bother watching season 8, when you can read our hot takes on who should sit the Iron Throne?

Should Take the Throne: Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)

Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Some in Deanery’s shoes would be content to rest on their laurels: She has two dragons and a rightful claim to the throne – case closed. But Daenerys has gone above and beyond to earn her place on the Iron Throne. She’s endured personal losses (her dear dead Drogo, their unborn child, her dear undead dragon) and inspired audiences over and over again with moments of strength and steeliness. Most of all, across seven seasons of city-hopping and army-charring, she’s proven a master strategist and builder of alliances, bringing together groups as disparate as the Dothrakis and the Unsullied to form a formidable force as she moves towards what’s rightfully hers.

Should Take the Throne: Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)

Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Don’t dismiss Tyrion Lannister as the Miss Congeniality of Thrones’ remaining contenders. He may be likable and gentle-hearted – at least in Westerosi terms – but he is also the shrewdest political mind left, a key skill to have in a place that gets so stabby. He’s in many ways one of the series’ ultimate survivors, managing to make it to adulthood despite his family’s unbridled hatred of him, and working his way to Daenerys’ side (the likely winning side). It should be noted he’s also part of the reason there’s still a throne for the series’ aspirants’ to sit on at all, stopping the destruction/sacking of King’s Landing not once but twice – and earning his scar in the process.

Should Take the Throne: Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

One key to good leadership is growth, and few characters have grown quite as much as Jaime. After all, the wounded, chisel-jawed hero who has slowly won your heart over seven seasons was not so long ago the sister-bonking cad who pushed Bran out of a tower in the final moments of Thrones’ first-ever episode. It’s been a “journey.” Throughout that journey, we’ve seen Jaime develop a number of the traits that would steer him well as king (but perhaps make his reign somewhat short): a developing sense of selflessness, a propensity for mercy (it was to be a painless death for Olenna), and an eye for talent in people, as demonstrated by his connection to Brienne.

Should take the Throne: Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)

Game of Thrones season 6, episode 10 - Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister. photo: courtesy of HBO

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

If Game of Thrones were a particularly bloody and blindside-filled season of Survivor – Outwit! Outslay! – no one could compete with Cersei’s case at final Tribal Council. Just look what she’s both achieved and been through on her little island of King’s Landing. No one has suffered as much: she’s lost, what, all of her kids; her glorious long locks; her dad; her lover/brother/Hand; and been paraded through the streets totally naked (shame!). And she arguably pulled off one of Thrones’ most stunning strategic moves in the destruction of the great Sept of Baelor. Sure, you can admire all those fresh-faced and ambitious kids in the North, forming unlikely alliances and proving themselves in battle as they seek to usurp her, but sometimes staying in power is harder than taking power. For holding on so tightly – and never dropping a drop of red while doing so – Cersei deserves to maintain her place on her throne.

Should take the Throne: Jon Snow (Kit Harington)

Kit Harington. photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

We learned in season 7 that Jon has the strongest claim to the throne, given that his dad was Rhaegar Targaryen, whose marriage to his mother Lyanna Stark was legit, but he also has Thrones’ ultimate mic-drop argument: He died and came back. Who else among these would-be throne-sitters can top that? (Berric Dondarrion isn’t really in the running.) Or say that they led a successful defense of The Wall against attack by the Wildlings? Or that they later forged a key alliance with those same Wildlings – an alliance that could prove key to defending everyone against the oncoming White Walker invasion? No? No one? We’re listening… As if that wasn’t enough, Jon has proved himself the bravest of Thrones’ lead contenders. Recall when he went beyond the Wall. Or when he stood, sword raised, circled by enemy forces in the Battle of the Bastards? And it’s not just cocksure bravery and resurrections that have us rooting for Jon. He’s a sharp mind, too, and one who puts ego aside to “bend the knee” for love.

Should take the Throne: Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)

Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Sure, Jon’s survived the Wall, epic battles and, well, death. And Arya has been dodging swords and arrows all across the continent for several years now. But Sansa is the Stark offspring who has survived in arguably the most dangerous places in all of Westeros: under Cersei’s roof, under Littlefinger’s thumb, and in Ramsay Bolton’s bed. The once-naïve wannabe princess has had to grow up very quickly over seven seasons of Thrones, and her developing understanding of how the world really works and a growing skill to move within it have led her safely and triumphantly back to Winterfell. Also, if ruling the Seven Kingdoms requires a strong ability to deal with toxic men, Sansa should be your top pick: Not only did she manage to outlive a spiteful Joffrey, she escaped the physical and mental clutches of Ramsay and Lord Petyr Baelish, before killing both in wonderfully satisfying fashion.

Should take the Throne: Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)

Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

A girl has no name, perhaps, but she is a strong contender for the throne. More than any other Stark – living, at least – she has had to fight for her life, time and time again, and prove her skills in deception and combat (who else can go toe-to-toe with Brienne, as she did?). Arya’s racked up quite the lethal résumé in her journeys through Kings Landing, Braavos, Riverrun, and beyond: She can fully disguise herself, thanks to skills picked up with the Faceless Men; she’s developed a ruthlessness – sorry, Hound! – that will serve her well when ruling over a court of would-be usurpers; and she’s executed some of Thrones’ biggest moves, chief among them her delicious, crusty vengeance against the House of Frey. “They’re already here, my lord…” Chills.

Should take the Throne: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright)

Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark in Game of Thrones season 8 (Helen Sloan/HBO)

(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

If we’re going to consider other Starks for the Iron Throne, why not also the god-like all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven? Voted “Most Likely to Know About His Surprise Birthday Party” among the Stark kids, Bran’s childhood physical agility has given way to supernatural mental acumen now that he’s in his teens. He’ll foresee any and all plots against him, he can time travel to take lessons from the greatest rulers in the history of Westeros and beyond; with his all-seeing eye, he can find more dragons in the east and train them based on the methods of the best dragon riders ever; and he was a kind and sweet child and still seems so at heart. Honestly, other than his unsettlingly detached demeanor — which is far sight better (pun intended) than some of the crazies that have sat the Throne recently — Bran may actually be the very best choice to rule.

Should take the Throne: The Night King

Game of Thrones, Episode 66 (season 7, episode 6), debut 8/20/17: Vladimir Furdik. photo: courtesy of HBO

(Photo by HBO)

You may not think Thrones’ own Ol’ Blue Eyes has much of a claim, given that we haven’t seen so much of him over the shows’ seven seasons and that we don’t actually know too much about his motives. But when we have seen him, he has almost always outsmarted the living. Case in point: In season 7’s mammoth battle north of the Wall between Daenerys and her dragons and Jon’s forces against the White Walkers and wights, he saw an opportunity in battle to take out Viserion and then resurrected the beast as a Wall-felling ice dragon. So, he’s smart. He’s strategic. And he’s patient, another key quality for a good ruler. He has waited some 8,300 years for summer to end, after all.

Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Avengers PBS docudrama movies Captain marvel Hallmark Turner Classic Movies TCA Winter 2020 Classic Film directors name the review Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Box Office Apple TV Plus WGN fresh Tarantino video Epix boxing comics RT21 Mindy Kaling RT History Universal ITV DC streaming service A&E christmas movies Sneak Peek Disney streaming service Netflix finale Musical Thanksgiving harry potter CMT nfl Tumblr History Spike Tomatazos romance series San Diego Comic-Con Television Critics Association football Horror Nickelodeon political drama Western archives Writers Guild of America Columbia Pictures comiccon NYCC justice league classics technology mutant Emmys President TBS revenge mockumentary doctor who Funimation anthology Disney Plus Logo LGBT crossover breaking bad HBO Max Trailer Fall TV Peacock El Rey italian MTV Interview independent die hard Food Network universal monsters Teen Sci-Fi medical drama french TCA Awards Disney+ Disney Plus Freeform zombies historical drama cops vampires documentaries Year in Review Adult Swim SundanceTV Ellie Kemper Extras Polls and Games quibi remakes ABC Family spinoff social media Set visit Masterpiece hollywood DGA Action reviews Mary Poppins Returns james bond FX on Hulu Grammys ghosts renewed TV shows TCM tv talk kids comic south america video on demand Awards festivals Marvel Television best franchise spain Photos Travel Channel Star Wars FOX NBC Marvel Studios Red Carpet reboot book Turner Fantasy E! USA Network Black Mirror Comedy The Arrangement crime police drama Nat Geo festival award winner rotten movies we love DC Universe children's TV period drama Academy Awards Emmy Nominations foreign Music obituary TV zombie 72 Emmy Awards stop motion Reality Competition ID Schedule a nightmare on elm street Ghostbusters Binge Guide Film TCA 2017 WarnerMedia The Witch First Look cults Sundance TV Hallmark Christmas movies Nominations cinemax ratings Cosplay Warner Bros. diversity serial killer rotten science fiction sequels Mary poppins cartoon animated sports 2020 elevated horror 45 LGBTQ TNT stoner richard e. Grant politics cancelled TV series all-time singing competition See It Skip It National Geographic GoT free movies Infographic anime Spectrum Originals First Reviews supernatural Women's History Month 2018 game show Rom-Com Dark Horse Comics theme song Brie Larson Election Tubi jamie lee curtis YA hispanic Pop rt archives nature GLAAD war Shondaland streaming Trophy Talk IFC Films Apple TV+ Fox Searchlight miniseries Mystery Comic Book casting New York Comic Con BBC America Animation TLC Arrowverse toy story composers VOD GIFs Quiz nbcuniversal MSNBC halloween 24 frames werewolf Super Bowl USA facebook aliens travel VH1 BET indie Trivia OneApp australia adaptation laika Crackle cars screen actors guild A24 Comedy Central halloween tv FX AMC 4/20 Character Guide HBO Go 21st Century Fox Lionsgate 71st Emmy Awards crime drama Cannes blaxploitation Mudbound cooking Apple spider-man 007 based on movie mission: impossible stand-up comedy psycho Family PaleyFest Oscars Marvel Disney witnail BBC ABC critics Winter TV satire 2016 Podcast 20th Century Fox TV renewals black green book HBO game of thrones Musicals dceu Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Black History Month Christmas Pixar screenings Amazon Studios Sundance The Purge Disney Channel Best and Worst asian-american The Walking Dead venice versus television fast and furious Reality Stephen King Bravo space concert FXX Spring TV Mary Tyler Moore cancelled Winners Summer Lucasfilm Alien canceled TV shows Superheroe parents Sony Pictures Opinion The CW Britbox Lifetime Holidays binge Biopics robots SXSW The Academy cancelled television Amazon Prime documentary American Society of Cinematographers romantic comedy Rock DirecTV Paramount Network news dragons movie indiana jones dc spy thriller latino Crunchyroll BBC One Syfy adventure zero dark thirty Certified Fresh sitcom psychological thriller spanish language slashers Elton John BAFTA biography TruTV cancelled TV shows spanish Television Academy films Rocky Shudder scorecard Watching Series OWN Comics on TV CNN sequel PlayStation Netflix Christmas movies Toys criterion Video Games Marathons Amazon Prime Video Amazon VICE hist Film Festival CW Seed Baby Yoda Pride Month natural history Rocketman TIFF Heroines Fox News Awards Tour true crime Valentine's Day E3 deadpool batman Vudu scary movies YouTube golden globes Superheroes boxoffice discovery what to watch APB teaser thriller transformers Cartoon Network Acorn TV dogs japanese Chernobyl CBS All Access disaster Showtime Martial Arts emmy awards X-Men Creative Arts Emmys YouTube Premium Premiere Dates Song of Ice and Fire Paramount Hulu DC Comics Walt Disney Pictures Sundance Now sag awards Ovation chucky unscripted Lifetime Christmas movies worst movies IFC BET Awards Star Trek TV Land Kids & Family Pop TV dramedy Pet Sematary twilight Endgame 2019 comic books Esquire Pirates MCU child's play Starz crime thriller Countdown Anna Paquin Country talk show YouTube Red ESPN joker 99% strong female leads TCA blockbuster 2017 Holiday canceled CBS Hear Us Out toronto worst comedies dark superhero Calendar Drama Discovery Channel SDCC cats 2015