The Game of Thrones power rankings determines which character is most likely to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the series next year: not the power behind it, but officially ruling Westeros. Our judgment is based on information available at the end of each episode. You can read last week’s rankings here.
This isn’t so much a spoiler alert as a blindingly obvious fact: Jaime Lannister isn’t dead, despite that final shot of his armor-covered body plummeting to an apparent watery grave in “The Spoils of War.” The showrunners already tried this fake-out by “drowning” Tyrion in a season 5 cliffhanger. Besides, Jaime has a clearer path to floatation: lose the armor (and the gold hand).
So Jaime retains the top human position in our power rankings. Read on to find out how that devastating dragon-made massacre has scrambled everyone else’s chances of reaching the Iron Throne, with unexpected results.
10. Petyr Baelish (-1)
Oh, Littlefinger, we can tell you’re hatching a plot of some description involving Sansa in Winterfell. We know you have the most burning ambition of anyone in the Seven Kingdoms.
But you didn’t reckon on the other two Stark kids arriving, did you? Arya just bested one of the best swordspeople in the kingdom; a girl will not be taken in by your schemes. And Bran is the gods-damn NSA: he’s been listening in on just about everything that happens in your brain, apparently.
Chaos is a ladder and you’re out of rungs, my weird friend.
9. Bran Stark (+1)
Still creepy, now even more omniscient, the Three-Eyed Raven is still the, um, dark horse of the power rankings. (Hey, it’s fantasy, ravens can be horses, just go with it.)
Think about it: even Dany is going a bit loopy with power. But if you really wanted to break the wheel of monarchy, to end the violent cycle of Westerosi house fighting Westerosi house, who would you install on the throne?
Answer: an all-knowing, time-traveling superbeing who doesn’t owe allegiance to any one house anymore and, having no ego and no tempestuous emotions, would hatch no plots against his people.
8. Euron Greyjoy (unchanged)
The psychotic Jack Sparrow of Westeros is, so far as we know, still bombarding Grey Worm and the Unsullied from the coast of Casterly Rock. Not a bad holding pattern to be in.
7. Daenerys Targaryen (-3)
What? How can we rate the Queen of Dragons this low in her moment of total fire-breathing triumph over the Lannister forces?
Well, for two things, she and Drogon came within a white hair’s breadth of fairly stupid deaths, at the hands of Jaime’s lance and Bronn’s Scorpion respectively. The word is out now: dragons can be gravely wounded. You can bet Qyburn is churning out Scorpions by the dozen to defend King’s Landing.
That ripping sound you hear is any reasonable insurance agent tearing up the Targaryen dragon-riding policy.
Furthermore, Dany appears to be getting so drunk with power in the sneak peek of next week’s episode that Varys and Tyrion have to figure out ways of roping her in. She’s also letting one of her dragons scream in Jon Snow’s face. None of this bodes well for her mental state.
6. Sansa Stark (-1)
The acting Queen in the North is still in a powerful position. But the mistrust she showed towards Arya on hearing of her kill list, combined with the fact that she hasn’t kicked Littlefinger to the curb, suggests Sansa doesn’t quite know who her real friends are yet.
5. Jon Snow (+1)
The King in the North seems to have, er, rubbed Dany the right way during their encounter in the cave. And he’s giving her all the right advice: If you burn cities, you’re no better than any other despot in Westerosi history. All this suggests Jon has what it takes to unite the rest of the power players in a do-or-die struggle against the White Walkers.
4. Cersei Lannister (-1)
The main body of her army is quite literally toast. But that doesn’t mean this most cunning of Queens is out of tricks. She has sacks full of Highgarden gold to pay her debts; she has the Iron Bank to finance further defenses; she could be about to hire the Golden Company to wear down Dany’s forces in the countryside; she has Qyburn’s ingenious Scorpions to ward off any dragon attacks. She can hole up in King’s Landing for years.
3. Jaime Lannister (-1)
Drowning but not out. If he does survive the best possible moment to kill him off, it’s probably a sign that the show has seriously big plans for Jaime; stripping his Lannister armor could literally make a new man of him one willing to conspire against his murderous sister.
Perhaps Jaime, a prince now, is actually Azor Ahai, the Prince who was promised, rather than Jon or Dany? Misdirection for the win! From Kingslayer to King is still the most compelling narrative arc at the end of the day.
2. The Night King (+5)
The show appears to be saving all its White Walker appearances in 2017 until the last few episodes, which does not suggest a happy ending to the penultimate season. Nor does the new state of anarchy that seems to have descended across most of Westeros without anyone really noticing.
Thanks to this brutal war that Dany just prolonged, the Seven Kingdoms are historically weak and ripe for annihilation by a growing army containing potentially every corpse who ever died the only army ever designed (by the viciously clever Children of the Forest) to swell its ranks with every mile it marches.
In the end, it’s likely to come down to a question of whether this still most mysterious Night King character wants to sit on an actual throne or not, and …
1. No One (unchanged)
… we’re still betting not.
But don’t despair. If the show finale of Season 8 does end with the ruined, human-free Throne room Dany saw in her vision, that does allow the showrunners one final opportunity to send the internet into a frenzy.
Picture it: close up on the Iron Throne, where we can just about make out the small stern face of the one hunter who thrived amid all the Fire and Ice and lost not one of his nine lives. It’s Ser Pounce! Where Lannister lions once roared, a cat now casually rules. Fade to black and drop the mic.
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