Game of Thrones season 8 finale winners? It's a complicated call

Let's just say the new king saw this coming.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
CNET freelancer Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
3 min read

In the end, the surviving Stark children went their separate ways.

Helen Sloan/HBO

Every game has a winner, right? So who won Game of Thrones, which ended its eight-season run on HBO Sunday night to mixed reviews?

As you might expect from a series based on an unfinished series of gigantic, complex books, it's not a simple answer.


If the answer to that question is "who now sits on the Iron Throne," well, ha ha ha boo hoo hoo. Drogon, Daenerys Targaryen's lone surviving dragon, melted the throne into little drips of lava-like liquid metal while mourning the Mother of Dragons. Honestly, it was ugly anyway.

Watch this: Game of Thrones season 8 finale: Our watch has ended

But maybe the answer to that question is, "who now rules the Seven Kingdoms?" Which has a similar answer: Nobody rules the SEVEN Kingdoms, because Sansa Stark had the North pull a Brexit and go independent. So now there are six kingdoms, and they agreed to be ruled by Bran Stark, who has the unpleasant regnal nickname Bran the Broken.

Why Bran? Well, Tyrion picked him, saying "he knew he'd never walk, so he learned to fly." Bran, of course, lost the use of his legs in the first episode when Jaime Lannister tossed him out a Winterfell window for catching him engaged in twincest with Cersei. But he gained all kinds of wacky three-eyed-raven warging powers, and he is Ned Stark's trueborn son, so ... let's go with it, I guess? Not really sure Sansa had to blurt out that his nether parts will nether be making any children, but what's a big sis for if not to humiliate you in front of everyone you know?

Maybe, though, the answer is who received a satisfying ending, after all these fits and starts and Red Weddings and battles and torture scenes.

In that case, it's a tie between a batch of Westerosi.

ARYA... who set off sailing away, to set an open course, for the not-a-virgin-anymore sea. The Game of Thrones successor shows are said to be set well in advance of this generation of characters, which is too bad, because Travels With Arya would've been a natural sequel.

SANSA... who gets to be Queen in the North, ruling Winterfell, though with all her siblings scattered or dead. Still, she's shown some impressive maturity since the days she drooled over Joffrey, so more power to her.

JON... who maybe went back to the Night's Watch, or maybe just bailed on it and wandered off with Tormund, and the Wildlings, maybe to be King Beyond the Wall, or maybe just to hang out, since there's not a huge lot for the Night's Watch to watch at the moment.

TYRION... who is now Hand of the King, despite him not wanting it, like he always doesn't want it. And who will appear to do a good job, but probably make a ton of bad decisions, but will do so wittily and with a goblet of wine in his hand.

You could certainly argue for others as winners. Gendry, for making it to the end, and making it with Arya. Syrio Forel, for surviving his battle with Ser Meryn Trant (in our imagination) and perhaps meeting up with Arya on her travels. Ghost, for finally, finally, getting the scritches he so doggedly deserved. HBO, for making more coin than the Iron Bank. The fans, for getting a satisfying ending that didn't rush through the final season and delivered thoughtful answers to the unanswered questions and -- no, I can't even type that with a straight face.

Let's just give it to Ghost.

See all the Game of Thrones season 8 photos

See all photos

Game of Thrones stars, from season 1 through today

See all photos

Originally published May 19.