The nicest thing I can say about the Game of Thrones series finale — and even its final season — is that a lot of things happened.
“The Iron Throne” included the murder of Daenerys Targaryen; Jon Snow returning North to a Night’s Watch that doesn’t seem to have a reason to exist; and Tyrion Lannister plotting his Queen’s death, avoiding execution, and then being installed as Hand of the King by Bran Stark, the newly minted ruler of what is now the Six Kingdoms. Sansa Stark became the queen of the North, ruling over an independent Winterfell. And Arya Stark set off on a ship in search of a new adventure.
Though a lot happened in the finale’s 80 minutes, it feels as though the show ended with plenty of unfinished business that couldn’t be addressed in even a feature-length episode. Here are 20 thorny questions we’re still wondering about.
1) Does Tyrion know how awful his sister was?
When Jon Snow visits Tyrion — who’s being held by the Unsullied for treason against Daenerys — Tyrion states that Daenerys is completely mad because her body count is so high after destroying King’s Landing.
In support of this, he cites that his family, particularly his father and his sister Cersei were truly awful people, but never leveled a city. But Cersei did bomb an entire church in season six, leveling a section of King’s Landing to take out the High Sparrow and the Tyrells:
While Tyrion might not know his sister was behind this, Game of Thrones presents him as a voice of reason and logic. Remembering how Cersei bombed the Sept of Baelor for personal reasons, are we then supposed to take Tyrion’s speech to Jon about assassinating Daenerys skeptically? If so, is Daenerys really more of a “Mad Queen” than Cersei?
2) Where does Arya stand on the “sanity” front?
Throughout Game of Thrones’ eight seasons, Arya was trained as a face-stealing assassin, devoted years of her life to exacting revenge on her enemies, and at one point created human pies out of Walder Frey’s family and fed them to Frey. Going by the rubric that Game of Thrones applied to Daenerys, wherein revenge and vindictiveness are signs of irredeemable madness, shouldn’t we, and Arya’s friends and family, be more worried about Arya?
3) Was Maggy the Frog’s prophecy really just about Daenerys?
In season five, Cersei received a prophecy from Maggy the Frog, foretelling that “another — younger, more beautiful — [will] cast you down and take all you hold dear.” Many Game of Thrones fans understandably thought that Maggy was talking about Daenerys.
But there were also fan theories that the prophecy wasn’t as simple as Daenerys coming in and killing Cersei. Some suggested that Jaime would kill his sister, or that Sansa or even Tyrion might. Or was Maggy talking about Bran (definitely younger, but maybe not as beautiful) since he’s the one who ultimately took control of the kingdom?
4) Did Game of Thrones forget the casualties Daenerys’s army suffered at Winterfell?
In season eight’s third episode, “The Long Night,” Daenerys sent her Dothraki army into the darkness to fight the advancing Army of the Dead, which resulted in mass casualties. During the same battle, the Unsullied held formation outside Winterfell’s gates, and many sacrificed their lives to protect the forces of the living during a retreat.
But in the series finale, Daenerys’s army still seemed to be pretty huge:
So, exactly how big was Daenerys’s army to begin with for it to withstand an epic death toll from the Army of the Dead and still look so massive?
5) What was the deal with Arya’s white horse?
At the end of Game of Thrones’ penultimate episode, “The Bells,” a white horse magically appeared before Arya, who’s barely evaded death. She rode it out of the crumbling King’s Landing following Daenerys’s assault on the city. Her triumphant exit suggested that Arya riding this horse would be significant in some way. But at the start of the series finale, Arya was … hanging around the burned-down city again, the horse nowhere to be found. What happened to the horse? Did she just ride it, like, 20 feet before coming back?
6) Why didn’t Daenerys have more of a security detail after winning the throne?
As the new queen of the Seven Kingdoms and most powerful person in Westeros, it seems unlikely that Daenerys would want to wander around without security, especially after she decimated King’s Landing, a move that likely made her the enemy of anyone who survived. Yet she approached the Iron Throne on her own — albeit with a dragon keeping watch outside. This gave Jon Snow the chance to come in after getting past her one fire-breathing guard, who seemed to trust him, and to use his and Daenerys’s relationship to get close to her and then kill her. It was a dramatic turn, but one that seemed sloppily executed, given the circumstances.
7) Where did Drogon take Daenerys’s body after he melted the Iron Throne?
Did he drop her off somewhere (Dragonstone, perhaps)? Or is he just flying around with a decomposing body in one of his talons?
8) Who dry-cleaned Daenerys’s outfit?
In the penultimate episode of the season, Daenerys has a full day of torching innocent people and inundating King’s Landing with dragonfire and terror. Her outfit is a mess and she’s covered in dirt, grime, and ash from the incinerated human bodies. But somehow, after the siege (presumably the same day) she’s cleaned up and her outfit is neatly pressed when she gives her big villainous speech. Which Dothraki or Unsullied dry cleaner is responsible for reviving the outfit? And where did she go for what appears to be a relaxing and rejuvenating spa day?
9) Why doesn’t Bran just tell Arya what’s West of Westeros?
When Arya tells Jon and her family that she’s going to go west of Westeros and explore what’s beyond where all the maps stop, couldn’t Bran just have warged into a sea bird and saved her a trip?
10) Did Bran know he was going to be king all along? If so, did he just let a bunch of bad things happen (including Jon Snow’s exile) so he could be king?
With his warging power, Bran can see the past, present, and some glimpses of the future. And when Tyrion asks Bran if he would agree to rule over the kingdom, Bran agrees by saying, “Why do you think I came all this way?” — a strange turn considering Bran previously said he couldn’t be lord of Winterfell he is the Three-Eyed Raven.
Did Bran know the events that were going to play out during Game of Thrones’ final season — Cersei not sending her army to Winterfell; Arya killing the Night King; Euron’s surprise attack on Dany; Cersei executing Missandei; Daenerys torching King’s Landing; Jon killing Daenerys; Jon being sent to the North — and decide to sit idly by so that he could inherit the throne by a process of elimination?
11) What age is Bran going to live to? Does his council know the previous Three-Eyed Raven was 1,000 years old?
The previous Three-Eyed Raven said in the season six episode “Oathbreaker” that he had been waiting 1,000 years for Bran to take his place. While I’m assuming that some of that longevity comes from being magic and living in a tree (which Bran will not do, as far as we know), what happens if Bran has a similar kind of power? Does his council know that Bran might live longer than the average human? Do the people he’s ruling over know that he’s going to have an extremely long reign?
12) Why didn’t Grey Worm kill Jon and Tyrion?
Grey Worm is Daenerys’s most loyal soldier. He kills anyone who’s perceived as a threat to his queen. Why, then, would he allow Tyrion and Jon to survive instead of killing them immediately when he found out that Tyrion hatched a plan to kill Daenerys and Jon killed her? Given the way Grey Worm is portrayed — killing Lannister prisoners on behalf of his queen — it seems plausible he would have killed them instantly.
While one could make the argument that the North would revolt if Jon were killed, that doesn’t really explain why Grey Worm would then let a treasonous criminal like Tyrion speak effusively in front of the council later in the episode.
13) Why didn’t the Dothraki bloodriders kill Jon and Tyrion?
The same question goes for the Dothraki: One of the mythologies on the show is that the Dothraki “bloodriders” will avenge their Khal until they die. And in season six’s “Blood of My Blood,” Daenerys mades the entire Khalasar her bloodriders.
“I will not choose three bloodriders,” she tells them. “I will choose you all.”
So, uh, now that their Khaleesi is dead, where’s the bloodrider revolt?
14) Is anyone going to punish Grey Worm for his own war crimes, or does everyone post-Daenerys’s death just get a clean slate?
At Tyrion’s trial, everyone on the council — save for Yara Greyjoy — seems to be in agreement that Daenerys committed horrendous atrocities on innocent people. Well, Grey Worm and the Unsullied were an integral part of the King’s Landing slaughter. Did everyone on the council forget this? Was there a deal made in which the Unsullied would just get to leave instead of receiving further punishment?
15) Why would Grey Worm allow Tyrion to become Hand of the King?
If Grey Worm worked out a compromise with the council and Tyrion for Jon Snow to go North, why would he allow Tyrion to be Hand of the King again — after Tyrion freed his brother Jaime, who would go on to attempt to save Cersei, and encouraged Jon to kill Daenerys? Wouldn’t it be more plausible for him to ask for a compromise for Tyrion as well, one that wouldn’t essentially let him off scot-free?
16) Why is there still a Wall?
In Game of Thrones’ season seven finale, the Night King completely destroyed the Wall with his zombified dragon. Of course, the Night King and the Army of the Dead have now been destroyed themselves, raising the question: Why is the Wall even needed anymore? And since we saw it standing in the series finale, we have to wonder: Who rebuilt it?
17) Why is there a Night’s Watch that Jon needs to join if the wildlings are at peace with the Seven Kingdoms and the White Walkers have been destroyed?
The Night’s Watch was previously made to guard the crossing into the Seven Kingdoms from the freefolk and other threats, but now that everyone’s getting along, especially the wildings who live beyond the wall, and there’s no great evil to guard against, what does the day-to-day schedule of the Night’s Watch look like? And further, Jon Snow hanging out with his direwolf Ghost and good friend Tormund doesn’t really seem like punishment.
18) Why didn’t Arya or Sansa remember that Daenerys and her army saved the North?
At the council meeting, Yara is taken to task for defending Daenerys, who she says freed her people from a tyrant. Sansa and Arya immediately get snippy, retorting that Daenerys was absolutely crazy. But do they remember that without Daenerys, her dragons, and her armies, Sansa would essentially be the zombie queen of the North?
19) Why is the North the only independent kingdom?
Sansa declared to Bran that the North would be an independent kingdom. How come no one pushed back on that? Why did all the other lords not follow suit? Why wouldn’t Yara, who has asked for sovereignty for the Iron Islands, or the new unnamed prince who’s running Dorne not also want their independence?
20) Why does Jon being a Targaryen — something the show spent the better part of two-and-a-half seasons teasing and revealing — even matter?
At the beginning of season eight, there were two episodes devoted to Jon’s true heritage; Bran and Sam, who were both on the final council with Bran becoming king, both made a huge stink about how the throne is Jon’s destiny. Neither one mentioned it again after that, not even when Jon was being punished for essentially saving the entire world from Daenerys’s mad reign. Was all that buildup — including a scandalous turn toward Jon dating his aunt Daenerys — really just background noise?