Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers from season 8 of Game of Thrones.
The last season of Game of Thrones has finally come to an end. This was one of those series that by the end had fans completely divided, and the finale was no different.
Well, okay. I tweeted a bunch of jokes, but I largely enjoyed that finale. It has to end somehow, & we were never all going to be happy with every detail. This finale worked for me. I'm sorry if it didn't work for you. #GOTFinale— Jeremy (@cinemasins) May 20, 2019
From being shocked over who finally sits on the Iron Throne to complaining over how certain characters arcs were manipulated and shortchanged, the only thing fans could agree on was that the Game of Thrones ending was unexpected.
But was it really? Because if you take a look at all the hints that the show dropped over the years, it would appear that this was exactly the ending that the GoT creators were leading at:
1. Daenerys' fate as the Mad Queen was predicted back in Season 1 itself.
Whether it was coolly watching her first tormentor, her brother, die or mercilessly killing the witch who stole Khal Drogo's life, Daenerys was never a 'merciful' queen.
The only moment when she truly questions her decisions is in Season 4, when Ser Barrister Selmy advises her to not follow in her father's footsteps. But he soon succumbs to death at the hands of the Sons of Harpy, and Daenerys loses her 'experienced' voice of caution. As Tyrion put it best in the last season, the earlier crimes she committed were against 'evil men' and thus her violence was considered powerful. But it was still violence with which she ruled.
The rushed story in the last two seasons may have made her character development feel unjustified, but the building blocks from the first season itself did establish that Daenerys would rise to be the Mad Queen.
2. Daenerys would arrive at an Iron Throne surrounded by rubble and ash/snow.
In season 2, episode 10, Daenerys hunts for her stolen baby dragons in the House of Undying. That's also when she has a vision where she sees herself in the throne room, in front of the Iron Throne.
However, unlike the throne room in season 2, this Iron Throne is surrounded by rubble, and apparently a fine layer of snow.
At the time many viewers theorized that it was the result of Night King's actions and the Long Winter. Now, it's clear, that it was a mixture of ash and snow that fell across a throne room that Daenerys herself laid to dust.
3. Daenerys would die once she reaches the Iron Throne.
The same vision also predicts a future for Daenerys - one where she is reunited with Khal Drogo and a healthy baby. And that happens right after her first glimpse of the Iron Throne. Since Khal Drogo is dead when she has the vision, she knows that the reunion is only possible in the afterlife, or as she calls it, The Night Lands.
Just like in the season finale, where moments after finally embracing the Iron Throne, Daenerys dies and is carried by Drogon to areas unknown. One of the theories suggests that he might have taken her to the same place where he was born - at the funeral pyre of Khal Drogo - so that she may be reunited with her first love.
4. Daenerys would die at the hands of Jon Snow.
As per the legends that held sway over Westeros, Azhor Azhai was a legendary ruler, in the faith of Lord of the Light, prophecied to be reborn and help win the war against darkness. Jon Snow, who is literally reborn due to the Lord of Light, was predicted to kill the Night King - but Arya stole his thunder there.
And now it's revealed that his ultimate role was to end the darkness that Daenerys would have brought - blinded in her quest to bring the 'new world'. In fact, just like Azhor Azhai, Jon also kills his one true love to bring about the end of darkness.
This was also something that Podrick's song, Jenny of Oldstones predicted - where a Targaryen had to choose between love and duty. And that was the exact discussion that Jon and Tyrion had right before Jon decided to kill Daenerys.
Thus, from the moment Daenerys and Jon got together, her end was sealed. Because while Ygritte may have been his first love, she wasn't his forever love. And she may have died in his arms like Daenerys, but she wasn't killed by him.
5. The Iron Throne would melt to the ground.
Two of the biggest symbols on the show were The Wall (that kept the wildlings and the wights at bay), and the Iron Throne. At the end of season 7, part of The Wall succumbs to zombie dragonfire..
So, it may have seemed like a stretch at the time, but it wasn't entirely unpredictable that the only other iconic symbol of the show, the Iron Throne, will face a similar fate.
After all, it did feature in the opening credits for the last season, was something that everyone talked about since the start of the series, and was a symbol of the old rule - the one A Song of Ice and Fire was supposed to end.
6. Cersei would not be a mother for the fourth time.
Cersei's fate as a mother was predicted (or rather, sealed, now that you look at it) when she visited a witch as a teenager. The witch had prophesied both things - that Cersei would bear three children, sired by her brother, and that all three would die.
As Cersei herself claims to Jaime in season 6, everything that the witch had predicted turns true. It thus made complete sense that Cersei would either miscarry or die, but she would not be able to be a mother for the fourth time.
7. Arya Stark would kill the Night King, and the final battle would be the game of 'thrones'.
Many viewers thought that the Night King dying at Arya's hand was anticlimactic. But, there are multiple things that completely support her actions.
For starters, in season 3 Melisandre had predicted that Arya would close many eyes forever, including blue eyes. The same prediction that she reminds Arya of, right before Arya rushes to kill the Night King.
Secondly, Beric Dondarrion was brought back to life by Lord of the Light multiple times - but it's only when he saves Arya that his purpose is revealed.
And lastly, the training she received with the Faceless Men proved that she alone was capable enough to truly outsmart the Night King and manage a sneak attack. Which is also perhaps the reason why Bran hands her the dagger made of Valyrian steel.
8. The final ruler of the Iron Throne would not be determined by legacy.
In this case, we need to focus on how Game of Thrones uses oft repeated dialogues and statements to predict the future. Like the time that everyone kept repeating that the crypts at Winterfell were the safest place, and then the army of the dead attacked from the same crypts.
Similarly, from the second Jon's true lineage is brought out in the open, Varys continues to comment that the realm deserves an able and just ruler. One who thinks first of the people and then of himself. The assumption here is that Jon is that ruler - Varys too thinks of Jon when he says the statement.
But when has Game of Thrones ever stated exactly what was going to happen. (Read the crypts example mentioned above). Thus, with Bran and not Jon aka Aegon Targaryen on the throne, it was at least ensured that the six kingdoms will not have a ruler determined by lineage, but rather, by capability. And one who hopefully, will think of the realm first.
By the end of it all, Starks did manage to become the Starks - one the ruler of the Six Kingdoms, one the Queen in the North, one possible the King beyond the Wall, and one the explorer beyond the seas. So, not all that bad an end, eh?
Game of Thrones may not have managed to fulfill the expectations of all the viewers, but it did manage to tie up loose ends and ensure that in the end, the pack survived.
All images from Hotstar, unless specified otherwise.