I want to say upfront that I recognize how hyperbolic the headline can seem. Game of Thrones returns to television for its fifth season Sunday, and everyone is running stories with the loudest, boldest claims possible in order to score attention, so I recognize the natural skepticism that comes with seeing anything with “most” in the title. However, I genuinely believe that there’s one potential ending for the series that will the be most surprising specifically because of how rarely it’s talked about online. Which is essentially not at all.
To play doubly safe, I also checked with GoT guru Joanna Robinson, and she said I was on firm footing with how surprising this particular finale would be.
Considering that the fandom for Game of Thrones is a ravenous bunch, and our absolute favorite pastime is trying to predict what will happen/who will die next, I dug through as many message boards as possible and Google-hunted in order to see if anyone else was discussing my personal pet theory. I only found one.
A single comment on an ASOIAF message board that sparked five pages of responses. Thus, I recognize that this isn’t a unique idea, but simply one that has almost completely slipped through the cracks because the way most fans frame the question of who will ultimately sit on the Iron Throne.
That’s the problem. If we’re asking who will sit on the Iron Throne in the end, it assumes that someone will be sitting on the Iron Throne at the end. My theory is that no one will. Or if someone does, it’ll be as a figurehead, because my theory is that Game of Thrones will end in democracy.
This is about as outlandish as any other theory. The most popular is almost definitely that Daenerys will roll into Westeros with her dragons and reclaim the pointiest chair in the land, but while it fits the story’s momentum, George R. R. Martin has repeatedly proven that his tale isn’t bound by the typical structural rules. Things shift quickly, major figures die. Life is chaos, and chaos is fair. That also means that the traditional ending we might expect because of the build-up may also be the most ridiculous to expect. That’s the price of expecting the unexpected.
My that metric, democracy doesn’t seem totally insane. “A Song of Ice and Fire” features a world ravaged by factional wars that have achieved little except destruction, and while the citizenry is not highly (or at all) educated, they’ve proven before that they can participate in a groundswell of populist support. That support was religious, and led by a charismatic figure, but the potential is still there.
What’s more, Daenerys (who I still firmly believe is the central figure of the story) is learning how difficult it is for an individual to rule a large nation that is used to violence and wrath, and the assumption is that she’ll continue to learn this lesson. The result could be her becoming wise enough to rule, or becoming wise enough to recognize the futility of that brand of rule.
Finally, there are few things that bring people together better than a common enemy (see: Independence Day). The Others represent a comically evil presence who exist only to be scary and different and aggressive and land-hungry. We have zero avenues into their culture or mindset beyond dramatic growling and zombie-like biting fits. It doesn’t seem that unreasonable that the kingdoms would work together to battle them back and, in doing so, recognize the need for a governing council (Dany, Jon and Tyrion would be too much for fans to ask for) or even full bore democracy.
If they do, it’ll be a giant, final surprise.