After eight seasons and 73 episodes, Game of Thrones finally reached its long-awaited conclusion, leaving fans with mixed emotions. The series finale, which aired in May 2019, sparked a whirlwind of opinions, interpretations, and theories.

I figured that enough time has past that we can look back on the series and dissect what happened at the end and what we were supposed to take away from spending so many years in Westeros.

Let's dive in.

Editor's Note: This post contains spoilers for all eight seasons of 'Game of Thrones.'

Game of Thrones Ending Explained

The Iron Throne: A Symbol of Power Destroyed

The central conflict of Game of Thrones revolved around the question of who should rule the Seven Kingdoms and sit on the Iron Throne. This symbol of power and authority was the driving force behind many of the show's central characters and their actions.

However, in the series finale, the Iron Throne itself was destroyed by Daenerys Targaryen's last surviving dragon, Drogon, after Jon Snow kills Daenerys in the throne room.

This act represents the end of the old ways and a new beginning for Westeros. With the Iron Throne gone, the focus shifts to the question of how the realm should be governed moving forward. The destruction of the throne symbolizes the breaking of the wheel and the end of the cycle of violence and power struggles that have plagued Westeros for centuries.

The age-old system of selecting Kings and Queens was abolished, Bran Stark ascended to the throne as the new King of Westeros, while Sansa Stark declared the North an independent kingdom. Jon Snow, the tragic hero, was exiled beyond the Wall once more, and Arya Stark set sail west, venturing into uncharted territories.

This ending gives us hope and excitement for the future, but also a melancholy certainty that we saw one age end and that whatever the new age brings, there will still be stories inside this kingdom.

A man bowing to two women and a man in a wheelchair, 'Game of Thrones'

'Game of Thrones'


Bran Stark: The Unexpected King and a Move Toward Democracy

One of the most surprising developments in the finale is the appointment of Bran Stark, also known as the new Three-Eyed Raven, as the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Despite his lack of interest in power and his otherworldly abilities, Bran is chosen by the remaining lords and ladies of Westeros during a council meeting after there are some quips about democracy made.

This is a kingdom and it needs a king.

Bran's ascension to the throne represents a significant departure from the traditional concept of rulership in Westeros. As the Three-Eyed Raven, he possesses the knowledge and wisdom of the past and the ability to see into the future, which could make him a benevolent and wise ruler.

With Bran as king, a new system of governance is introduced to Westeros. Instead of the ruler being determined by birthright or conquest, the lords and ladies of the realm elect their king or queen. This shift towards a more democratic process is meant to break the cycle of power struggles and warfare that has plagued the realm for centuries. Although it is not a perfect system, it represents a step towards a more just and stable society.

There's a big deal made about Bran's story of becoming ruler, but it is also shown that the council will have a heavy hand in deciding what happens inside the city.

A young boy wrapped in furs, 'Game of Thrones'

Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) in 'Game of Thrones'


What Happened to the Other Game of Thrones Characters? 

The best part of Game of Thrones is that it was full of characters we could fully embrace and wanted to follow on their respective journeys. Let's take a look at how the show ended for some of our beloved heroes.

The Tragic Fall of Daenerys Targaryen

Daenerys Targaryen's story is one of tragedy and ambition.

Despite her initial intentions to liberate the oppressed and create a new world, her quest for power ultimately leads to her downfall. Her death at the hands of Jon Snow serves as a reminder of the dangers of unchecked ambition and the potential for even the most well-intentioned individuals to become tyrants.

To understand the finale, it's pertinent to revisit the series' beginning. Daenerys Targaryen's death mirrors the end of her father's reign. Like her father, she was betrayed by her Hand – a Lannister in both cases. Both rulers' downfall was precipitated by their descent into madness, with Daenerys' decision to burn King's Landing leading to her eventual assassination by one of her most trusted allies, Jon Snow.

The Iron Throne, built centuries prior by Daenerys' ancestor, Aegon I, was reduced to a puddle of molten steel by the dragon Drogon after Daenerys' death. The destruction of the Iron Throne symbolized the end of the Targaryen line.

A woman with white hair in leathers, 'Game of Thrones'

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in 'Game of Thrones'


Tyrion Lannister: The Hand of the King

Tyrion Lannister, once a central figure in the Game of Thrones, is appointed as Bran's Hand of the King. This position allows him to continue his redemption arc and make amends for his past mistakes. As the Hand, Tyrion will play a crucial role in advising and guiding the new king, using his intelligence and experience to help shape the future of Westeros.

A future he hopes is more peaceful than where his story started.

A man with a hand pin on his heart, 'Game of Thrones'

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in 'Game of Thrones'


Sansa Stark: Queen in the North

Sansa Stark's journey throughout the series has been one of growth and resilience. From a naive and sheltered young girl to a strong and capable leader, her transformation is complete when she is crowned Queen in the North. Sansa's insistence on the North's independence from the rest of the realm is a testament to her fierce loyalty to her people and her determination to protect and serve them.

As Queen in the North, Sansa represents a new era of leadership for the region. Her experiences and the lessons she has learned from various mentors, including the horrific Cersei Lannister and Petyr Baelish, have shaped her into a wise and just ruler. Sansa's reign promises a brighter future for the North and the Stark family.

A red headed woman siting on a wooden throne, 'Game of Thrones'

Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)


Arya Stark: Headed West of Westeros

Arya Stark's character arc has been one of constant change and self-discovery. From her early days as a tomboy with dreams of becoming a warrior, to her time training with the Faceless Men and ultimately becoming a skilled assassin, Arya has always defied expectations.

In the series' final moments, Arya decides to embark on a new adventure – exploring the uncharted lands west of Westeros.

This decision is in line with Arya's restless and adventurous spirit. While she has found closure with her family and avenged those who wronged her, Arya is not content to settle down and live a quiet life. Her journey into the unknown represents her desire for freedom and the continuation of her self-discovery.

A woman on a boat, 'Game of Thrones'

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in 'Game of Thrones'


Jon Snow: The Queenslayer

Jon Snow's identity as a Targaryen and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne was one of the most significant revelations in the series. However, in the end, it is Jon who kills Daenerys in an attempt to save Westeros from her increasingly tyrannical rule. This act of betrayal and love ultimately seals Jon's fate and leads to his exile to the Night's Watch as a peace offering to the Unsullied.

Despite being a Targaryen, Jon has always identified more with his Stark heritage and the people of the North. His return to the Night's Watch and subsequent journey beyond the Wall with the Wildlings represents a return to his roots and the place where he feels he truly belongs. Jon's fate may be bittersweet, but it is fitting for a character who has always been torn between his duty and his heart.

With the Night King and the White Walker threat seemingly eradicated, the purpose of the Wall and the Night's Watch is unclear. However, as Jon ventures beyond the Wall, it is evident that the organization will continue to serve as a place for those who do not fit within the traditional confines of Westerosi society. The Wall and the Night's Watch now represent a symbol of hope and the possibility of redemption for those who seek it.

A man holding the dead body of a woman, 'Game of Thrones'

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in 'Game of Thrones'


The Fate of the Starks

The Stark family has been at the center of Game of Thrones since the very beginning. While the series finale sees the siblings separated once more, their individual journeys and successes are a testament to their resilience and strength. Each Stark has found their own path, and their achievements are a reflection of the values and legacy of the Stark family.

A group of people wearing furs, 'Game of Thrones'

The Stark family in 'Game of Thrones'


Summing Up The Game of Thrones Ending Explained 

With the Iron Throne destroyed and a new system of governance in place, the future of Westeros is uncertain but hopeful. The remaining characters are left to pick up the pieces and forge a new path forward.

While the realm will undoubtedly face new challenges and conflicts, the series finale suggests that the people of Westeros have the opportunity to build a better world, free from the destructive cycle of power and war that has defined their history.

And while the journey may have been filled with tragedy, loss, and heartbreak, the ending of Game of Thrones serves as a fitting conclusion to a groundbreaking and unforgettable series.

Let me know what you think in the comments.