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Game Of Thrones Character Endings Ranked From Worst To Best

When HBO's hit series Game of Thrones came to an end in the spring of 2019 after eight seasons and almost 10 years on the air, expectations were wildly high. Unfortunately, fans and critics have largely decided that the show's last season misses the mark in more ways than one. As the final episodes wind on, characters are killed, storylines are wrapped up, and (some) answers are provided. The results are mixed. Ultimately, many viewers have found themselves left with a bitter taste in their mouths. The ending is definitive, but that doesn't mean it's satisfying.

With such an enormous cast of characters, providing a truly great ending for every single major player within Game of Thrones was always going to be a Herculean task. While some endings feel just and deserved, others simply fall short. From its kings and queens to its most sinister villains, these are the most important Game of Thrones character endings, ranked from worst to best. Spoilers for the entire series to follow!

Missandei is murdered to prove a point

Introduced in the third season as a slave in Astapor, Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) first meets her mentor and queen Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) when the young Mother of Dragons is bartering for an army. After outsmarting one of the most vile masters of Astapor, Daenerys welcomes Missandei into her camp as a free woman. The two become close friends and confidantes, rarely leaving each other's side throughout much of the series.

However, in the show's final season, Daenerys' ships are attacked, killing one of her dragons and losing Missandei in the process. As it turns out, Missandei has been captured by the allied forces of Euron (Pilou Asbæk) and Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), and when Daenerys tries to save her friend, the duo beheads her in front of the desperate dragon queen. Missandei's death is tragic, and her last word, "Dracarys," proves her loyalty to Daenerys with gutting finality. With that said, it also didn't need to happen. Ultimately, this thoughtful, layered character, who is also one of the show's few characters of color, is killed off, simply to serve Daenerys' character arc in the show's final few episodes. Even Emmanuel herself thought Missandei's death was in poor taste.

Cersei Lannister definitely deserved a more epic ending

One of the show's most insidious villains — as well as, somehow, one of its most human characters — Cersei Lannister looms large over the entirety of Game of Thrones, from her affair with her twin brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to her abject cruelty towards her enemies. One would think that a fascinating character like Cersei, who has become a major part of the pop culture landscape, would get an ending befitting the woman who once blew up half of Westeros' capital out of sheer spite. But unfortunately, that doesn't come to pass.

After being restricted to scenes of wine-drinking in her chambers for most of the final season, Cersei ends up in the line of fire when Daenerys arrives at King's Landing, dragons blazing. She overtakes the city with seemingly no hesitation. As Cersei's home base, the Red Keep, collapses in rubble, the inscrutable queen is terrifyingly alone until her brother, Jaime, arrives, so the two can die together. Fans had a lot of creative guesses as to how Cersei would die, but "crushed by incidental rocks" likely wasn't one of them. This ending proved to be pretty disappointing, with Headey speaking out about her personal disappointment after the fact.

Jaime Lannister's character arc is completely undone

Right from the start, Jaime Lannister is a complicated character — which is putting it lightly, really, when you consider that he begins the series by trying to kill a child so that he can continue having an affair with his twin sister. However, Jaime becomes one of the show's most complex characters over the course of the series. After losing his hand and falling from his golden pedestal, Jaime eventually gives up on Cersei, deciding to help his brother Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) and Daenerys' forces instead.

However, when push comes to shove, Jaime returns to Cersei at the last minute, leaving Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) out in the cold after the two finally spend the night together. At last, after seasons of development, he chooses true honor — only to shove it aside. Ultimately, Jaime dies along with Cersei in the Red Keep. Though it makes macabre sense that the duo leave the world together, years after their simultaneous arrival, many fans felt as though Jaime's arc, which takes him from zero to hero, is completely diminished by his anticlimactic ending.

Daenerys Targaryen's descent into madness isn't earned

In recent television history, few character's fates have been as thoroughly criticized and derided as the one that befalls Daenerys Targaryen. As one of the most popular and beloved characters on the small screen — so much so that new parents named their children after her — many fans fully expected Daenerys, the Mother of Dragons, who had overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles, to take the Iron Throne by the end of the series. Or, failing that, many thought she might die heroically, or perhaps fail to become queen, but end up shaping a better world some other way. Unfortunately, Daenerys had a far different fate waiting for her.

Upon conquering Westeros' capital of King's Landing, Daenerys is driven mad by the sound of the city's bells. She lays waste to King's Landing, killing countless innocent civilians. Even her right-hand men realize she must be stopped. At Tyrion's urging, Daenerys' lover and nephew Jon Snow (Kit Harington) murders his queen just before she takes the Iron Throne. Then, in the wake of her death, her last remaining dragon, Drogon, torches the Throne and carries his mother away to a mysterious location. Daenerys' ending is certainly dramatic, but her immediate descent into madness and subsequently rushed death tarnish her character's otherwise incredible legacy.

The mystery of the Night King remains unsolved

From the very first scene of Game of Thrones, viewers are made aware that despite rampant infighting within the Seven Kingdoms, the entire realm has a bigger threat looming: Specifically, the ancient and mysterious beings known as White Walkers, which exist north of the Wall. Though the Night's Watch guards the Wall to try and protect Westeros from what lies beyond, White Walkers are shown heading south as soon as Thrones' second season, and audiences know that all of Westeros will have to face their undead army eventually.

When the show's surviving heroes finally face off against the mythical Night King (played by Vladimír Furdík after season six) and his army, all hope seems lost. However, just when the humans have all but given up, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), who has been training for years as a silent assassin, leaps from the darkness and kills the Night King once and for all. While this makes for an incredibly epic moment, it's also weirdly disappointing: After years of mystery surrounding the Night King, his entire storyline ends in mere seconds. The Night King was supposed to be impossible to kill, but ultimately, the show disposes of him like a minor baddie. It's hard not to feel cheated out of a potentially gripping story about this frightening being.

Margaery Tyrell's master manipulations come to an abrupt end

Game of Thrones features plenty of brilliant and conniving characters, but few of them had as much potential as Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), an unparalleled strategist who also happens to be the prize beauty of the wealthy House Tyrell. After a short-lived marriage to Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), Margaery is back on the market, and she intelligently changes allegiances in the blink of an eye, putting herself at the mercy of the Lannister family in King's Landing.

Before long, Margaery finds herself married to the sadistic, inbred Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), but when he is murdered at their wedding, she ends up serving as queen to his sweet, hapless younger brother, Tommen (Dean Charles Chapman). Unfortunately for Margaery, however, she makes an enemy of Cersei almost immediately thanks to her obvious beauty and quick mind. When Cersei, who has been ordered to appear in front of the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and the Faith Militant to answer for her various crimes, blows up the Sept of Baelor right when her trial is supposed to take place, Margaery is among her many victims — though the young queen is the first and only person to figure out that Cersei has fooled everyone. Cersei gets her comeuppance when Tommen takes his own life shortly thereafter, but it's disappointing that Margaery's story, which could have been fascinating, is cut short so quickly.

Bran's ascent to the throne is pretty confusing

At the end of Game of Thrones' pilot, viewers are shocked when Jaime Lannister casually shoves young Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) from Winterfell's tallest tower. At first, it seems that the young Stark is done for. However, as the series progresses, Bran becomes something else entirely, taking on the mantle of the omniscient Three-Eyed Raven.

Ultimately, when Westeros needs to choose a new king in the wake of Daenerys' death, Tyrion dramatically makes a case for Bran, whom he dubs "Bran the Broken," to take the throne. Despite previous assertions from Bran that he doesn't want anything anymore, in addition to all kinds of evidence that he's no longer entirely human, Bran is somehow chosen as the next King of Westeros. While this is a pretty great situation for Bran, the reasons that put Bran the Broken on the throne are nonsensical at best, and when all is said and done, a time-traveling super-being probably shouldn't also rule all of humanity. Fan reactions to Bran's coronation were fast and furious, proving that the show really missed the mark when it came to crowning a new ruler.

Varys deserved a smarter finish

Several characters are described as the "cleverest" people within the realm of Westeros, but few earn that title as well as Varys (Conleth Hill), a master of gossip and intrigue who holds the secrets of the Seven Kingdoms in the palm of his hand. A eunuch who trades in information, Varys frequently teams up with fellow strategists like Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen) and Tyrion to advance his political career and the cause of peace in Westeros. For most of the show, there's little to no doubt that Varys has a brilliant plan up his sleeve.

Unfortunately, Varys' potential is wildly squandered by the time the show draws to a close, and after doing very little in the last two seasons, he seems to lose the majority of his brain cells when he stages an open, obvious coup against Daenerys. Unsurprisingly, his scheme is uncovered, and Daenerys torches him for treason, resulting in an utterly unsatisfying ending for one of the show's most fascinating characters. Fans who are disappointed by Varys' quick and bitter end aren't alone: Conleth Hill didn't think much of his ending either.

Samwell Tarly settles into domestic bliss

Introduced as a perpetually frightened brother of the Night's Watch, Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) eventually comes into his own during Game of Thrones. After proving himself in battle, he spends time studying at the Citadel, where, in pretty short order, he manages to cure Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) of the typically deadly disease known as greyscale. Though Sam finds himself rejected by his noble family, his growth as a character is pretty impressive, and unlike many other Game of Thrones characters, he enjoys an immensely happy ending.

In the last scene of Game of Thrones' finale, Sam is shown wearing the robes of the learned Maesters. As it turns out, he has been named the Grandmaester for King Bran the Broken. He's also spent his time writing a book that chronicles the realm's recent adventures (which, in a particularly clumsy touch, is named after George R.R. Martin's real life series, A Song of Ice and Fire), and has settled down with Gilly and Sam Jr., their young son. Sam's ending might be a bit neat and tidy for Game of Thrones, but this sweet character certainly deserves a happy ending.

Theon Greyjoy comes full circle

At first, it seems like there's pretty much nothing to like about Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), the ward of the Stark family who overtakes Winterfell the second the family scatters. In a disturbingly vengeful move, Theon murders two young boys, pretending they're the two youngest Stark sons, as he wages war on the family that sheltered him. However, Theon ends up suffering for his crimes when he's captured by the Bolton clan and tortured by Roose Bolton's incredibly sadistic bastard, Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). Before long, Theon only refers to himself as "Reek," having lost all semblance of self in the face of brutal pain, castration, and humiliation.

Reek endures endless torture, but eventually, Theon's bravery returns, culminating in a stunning scene where he personally guards Bran in Winterfell's Godswood during the Battle of Winterfell. In this moment, Theon sacrifices himself to the Night King to save Bran, providing redemption for one of the show's most complicated characters and giving his life a purpose after years of pain and suffering.

Jorah Mormont dies for his Khaleesi

Right from the beginning, it's clear to even casual Game of Thrones fans that Jorah Mormont, the disgraced heir of the distinguished Mormont clan, is deeply in love with Daenerys, the young Mother of Dragons. After meeting Daenerys at her wedding to Dothraki warrior Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), Jorah pledges his loyalty to his Khaleesi, and stands by her side until the bitter end — even after she turns him away, having learned he'd once betrayed her secrets to Varys. In time, he makes his back to her: No matter what, Jorah protects his queen.

During the Battle of Winterfell, Jorah sticks by his Khaleesi through the chaos. But when he tries to protect her from a huge pack of wights sent by the Night King, he is soon overwhelmed by their undead might and is mortally wounded in combat. Not only does Jorah nobly sacrifice himself for his leader and the woman he loves, he escapes having to see Daenerys turn away from the path of righteousness during her attack on King's Landing. For this reason, Jorah gets the happiest ending possible to his long and winding journey.

The Hound defeats his demons

One of Game of Thrones' most inscrutable characters, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane (Rory McCann) became a fan favorite thanks to his gruff demeanor, fighting prowess, and secret sensitive side. Early on, viewers learn that the Hound's scarred face is courtesy of his brother, Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane (Icelandic strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson), who shoved a young Hound into the hearth fire when they were both young. The Hound doesn't care about much, but he does deeply care about getting revenge on his brother. For years, rumors swirled among fans about a potential "Cleganebowl," pitting brother against brother in a final grudge match.

Eventually, the Hound forms a close bond with Arya, and before facing down his brother in one last fight, he saves her life by convincing her to escape a crumbling King's Landing. From there, the Hound faces off against his half-zombie brother, who has become an unstoppable killing machine. Not only does he confront the Mountain, the Hound, afraid of fire, flings both Cleganes into the flames below. In doing so, the Hound confronts both of his demons: Fire, and the brother who made him fear it in the first place.

Brienne of Tarth fulfills her destiny

When audiences first meet Gwendoline Christie's Brienne of Tarth in the show's second season, it's clear that this strong, powerful woman has spent far too much of her life feeling utterly out of place. A fighter of uncommon skill, dedication, and honor, Brienne is also a woman — so in Westeros, pretty much no one has any idea what to do with her. Brienne is desperate to prove her worth in battle, and after loyally serving Renly Baratheon in his Kingsguard, she allies herself with the Stark family, promising to protect Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya as well as she can.

Along the way, Brienne also forms an intense bond with Jaime, who seems to trust her implicitly by the time they find themselves at Winterfell together on the eve of battle. Jaime knights Brienne that night, naming her the first ever female knight of the Seven Kingdoms. When they both survive the attack of the Night King and his undead army, Jaime and Brienne consummate their relationship. Unfortunately, Jaime ends up leaving Brienne behind to find Cersei one last time, and though Brienne is left bereft, she ultimately takes over Jaime's former position as the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, and makes sure the realm knows that Jaime was a hero underneath his bluster. Brienne might not get the guy, but she fulfills her destiny as one of Westeros' most formidable warriors and perhaps the truest and most honorable knight around.

Hodor's past is finally explained

Right from the beginning, lovable giant Hodor (Kristian Nairn), who lives alongside the Stark family, is one of the most endearing characters in all of Game of Thrones. Only able to repeat his own name over and over again, Hodor — and Nairn, for that matter — manages to find emotional nuances and beats in each and every "Hodor," even finding ways to make a single word into a joke when the series requires levity. For a long time, viewers have no idea why Hodor can only say his own name ... until season six's "The Door," which explains Hodor's unique affliction.

As Bran learns to become the all-knowing, all-seeing Three Eyed Raven and travel throughout space and time, he ends up encountering a young Hodor, who has a full vocabulary. However, when Bran overstays his welcome in the past as wights attack present-day Bran and Hodor, Hodor uses a door to protect Bran, giving his life in the process. In the past, a young Hodor yells one sentence — "Hold the door!" — over and over again as he convulses in spacetime-spanning agony, until it becomes "Hodor." Losing Hodor is brutally sad for viewers, but explaining his past is an incredible feat of storytelling.

Tormund Giantsbane ends up exactly where he belongs

A violent wildling with an irreverent, cheerful streak played to perfection by Norwegian actor Kristofer Hivju, Tormund Giantsbane quickly became a fan favorite after his introduction during Game of Thrones' third season. Though he's initially no big fan of Jon Snow, a Night's Watch brother infiltrating the wildlings when the two meet, Tormund and Jon eventually become close friends and allies, fighting alongside one another time and time again.

Tormund ends up surviving the battle against the White Walkers as well as the siege of King's Landing. Though his enormous crush on Brienne remains unrequired, Tormund's ending is incredibly fitting, as he gets to return to the far North where he belongs, along with his sworn brother, Jon Snow. Tormund might not earn all the glory in the world, but watching him go back to his beloved home is a perfect capper to his story.

Jon Snow loses his love but gains his freedom

One of Game of Thrones' most emotionally conflicted characters, Jon Snow, like his father figure Ned Stark (Sean Bean), always wants to do what's right. That instinct serves him as well as possible when his lover and aunt, Daenerys, commits mass murder in the city of King's Landing. After a sneaky talk with Tyrion, Jon, who is still deeply in love with Daenerys and wants to serve his queen, realizes he must do the right thing. As the newly crowned tyrant queen reaches the Iron Throne she has fought so mightily to win, Jon stabs her in the heart.

After Dany's death, Drogon leaves Jon surprisingly alone. Instead, he torches the throne itself and carries his mother away to parts unknown. But Jon still must face justice for his crime. Eventually, it's decided that Jon will be banished from Westeros and return to the North. Though this is painted as punishment, it feels natural for Jon Snow, who never felt at home in the halls of the kings and queens of Westeros. He heads back into the Northern wilderness with Tormund and his loyal direwolf, Ghost, by his side.

Littlefinger flies too close to the sun

Game of Thrones is home to plenty of conniving, shrewd strategists, but few are as ruthless or as reckless as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Born without a prestigious name, Littlefinger learned to do anything to prove himself and gain power. Eventually, he became a major player within King's Landing, running a brothel and collecting information on the biggest names in Westeros. Though he seems unfailingly loyal to Sansa Stark, whom he loves with the same creepy intensity as he loved her mother, he'll still trade her as a pawn if he deems it necessary. There is no limit to his treachery.

All of this comes to a head during Game of Thrones' seventh season, in which Littlefinger does his very best to pit sister against sister within the newly reunited Stark family to try and maintain control of Sansa and Winterfell. Though Littlefinger thinks victory is nigh when Sansa calls for a trial that seems like it may be for Arya, the tables turn on this villain quickly: He is the one facing justice. Arya ultimately slits his throat with a particularly meaningful knife that once belonged to him. Littlefinger is no hero, and watching him finally get outsmarted is an incredibly satisfying finish for this often despicable man.

Ramsay Bolton gets a taste of his own medicine

Few villains throughout Game of Thrones, a show with its fair share of bad guys, are as stomach-turningly repulsive as Ramsay Bolton. After watching him torment and mutilate Theon, viewers were even more appalled when Ramsay claimed Sansa as his bride, brutalized her on their wedding night, and killed the youngest Stark brother, Rickon, just for fun. As Sansa and Jon watch Rickon die just before season six's "Battle of the Bastards" commences, the two are filled with even more bloodlust — which is bad news for Ramsay when their forces defeat his army.

Tied up, bloodied, and helpless in the depths of Winterfell, Ramsay sneers at Sansa, finally acting as his captor ... until he realizes that he's surrounded by his own snarling dogs. When Ramsay says they'll never hurt him, Sansa points out that Ramsay stopped feeding them days prior, in anticipation of winning the battle: He's been planning to feed the Starks to his pets. As Sansa turns away, vindicated, Ramsay's dogs rip him to shreds, putting an end to Game of Thrones' most reprehensible sociopath.

Tyrion Lannister ends up exactly where he should

Tyrion Lannister goes on a twisting, turning journey throughout Game of Thrones, but his end is actually perfectly fitting. After facing imprisonment for turning on Daenerys after her siege of King's Landing, the sole remaining Lannister encourages Jon to kill Daenerys for the good of the realm. Though Daenerys' remaining loyal forces are furious, Tyrion is somehow brought to the council that will decide the fate of Westeros' monarchy, and, unbelievably, he ends up picking the new King, whom he christens Bran the Broken.

Bran tells Tyrion that he will serve as Hand of the King, which is ostensibly meant as a punishment — Tyrion says he doesn't want the job, having served as Hand before. But realistically speaking, pulling the strings behind a leader is exactly where Tyrion feels most at ease. The last scene of the series sees Tyrion comfortably leading one of Bran's Small Council meetings, proving that he's exactly where he belongs when all is said and done.

Arya Stark pushes her boundaries

After learning to swap faces, seeking revenge against her enemies, and defeating the seemingly unstoppable Night King, Arya Stark, one of the realm's most skilled fighters, deserves a break. As all the wars in Westeros draw to a close, it remains to be seen what Arya will do — but it's clear that whatever she does, she'll maintain her hard-won independence.

Ultimately, Arya sets off to explore the world, telling her brothers and sister that she wants to find "what's west of Westeros." Armed with her trusty sword, Needle, and aboard a massive ship, Arya sets sail to explore the darkest corners of the world, seeking independence far beyond the squabbles of the Seven Kingdoms. Arya was always a character who sought her own path in life, so to see her continuing to challenge herself and push boundaries is a rewarding end for this beloved character.

Sansa Stark gets her crown

Game of Thrones goes to great pains to illustrate that the perfect leader of the Seven Kingdoms would have the shrewd strategy of Littlefinger or Cersei with the honor and trustworthiness of Jon Snow. Thus, many fans were frustrated when Sansa Stark, the character who most embodies both qualities, is overlooked in favor of her brother, Bran. However, when Bran becomes King, Sansa realizes she can make an important request, and insists that the North remain independent.

Bran agrees, and Sansa, the consummate survivor, is rewarded for her efforts. In one of the very last shots of the series, viewers watch as Sansa is crowned the Queen in the North, keeping a Stark in Winterfell for years to come. Sansa deserves to lead, and though she would have ruled Westeros fairly and justly, the North, where she was born and raised, is where she belongs. At last, Sansa is able to fully return home.

Olenna Tyrell doesn't go down without a fight

When a character is nicknamed the "Queen of Thorns," you can pretty much bet that she won't go down without a fight. Played by the late, great Dame Diana Rigg, Olenna Tyrell, the matriarch of the wealthy House Tyrell, never minces her words, even when they're her last.

After allying herself with Daenerys and her forces, Olenna finds herself outmatched against Lannister armies as they approach Highgarden, leaving her trapped. Unwilling to brutally murder an old woman, Jaime simply gives her a poisoned glass of wine — but Olenna has one last parting shot for him. Before drinking the poison, Olenna tells Jaime that she is responsible for the death of his son with Cersei, the illegitimate King Joffrey. "Tell Cersei," she says, with supreme poise, "I want her to know it was me." As showrunner Dan Weiss once put it, Olenna is "the only character to win her own death scene," giving her the best ending in all of Game of Thrones.