Game Of Thrones Ending Spoilers: Don’t Assume Daenerys Will Actually Beat The White Walkers

Dany and Drogon (Photo: Game Of Thrones)

How will Game of Thrones end? A Song of Ice and Fire has lasted for so long and is so complex that relatively few among us have extrapolated so far out as to think about how the epic fantasy series will wrap up. We know the final conflict: The return of the Long Night and the invasion of Westeros by the Others. It’s been foreshadowed since the prologue of A Game of Thrones. It would never be any other way. But I am not so sure that the story will actually end in victory. I do not assume that Daenerys and the dragons will actually be able to beat the Others, and you shouldn’t either.

Game Of Thrones Ending: Will The Others Win?


A Song of Ice and Fire has always been about subverting expectations. The most obvious examples are the deaths of Ned Stark and King Robb Stark, two events largely without precedent in fantasy literature. In fantasy before A Game of Thrones, the good guys don’t lose. The main character doesn’t die, or if he or she does, it’s at the end, as part of a noble sacrifice to save the world. George R. R. Martin’s subversions run deeper than that, though. Even having Tyrion as a POV character in book one was shocking. He was a bad guy—a Lannister! Not one of the heroic Starks. His portrayal, and clear emergence as a secondary protagonist, was very unusual at the time. Even more so when one of the main villains of the series—Jaime Lannister—became a POV character in A Storm of Swords. These things Just Weren’t Done.

Changing what fantasy literature could be was always part of the point of Game of Thrones. And that’s why we shouldn’t assume George R. R. Martin’s subversive desires are at an end, even though we’re sort of used to his style at this point, and have learned to expect the unexpected (things like Jon Snow getting killed or Daenerys being terrible at running Meereen). Yet that has limits.

Everyone pretty much assumes Jon Snow will come back to life, for instance. And that Daenerys will eventually invade Westeros, sack the Lannisters and set up a new Targaryen dynasty. And that, after that, she and Jon and Aegon will ride the dragons and lead the Seven Kingdoms to victory against the Others. And yea, ultimately I assume that too. But I am not entirely sure.

It’s hardly impossible that Game of Thrones will have a bad ending. That the war with the Others will not end in a victory at a devastating cost, but in an outright defeat. Indeed, wouldn’t that fit the story? The Seven Kingdoms have fallen into total disarray as nefarious forces like Varys prepare the way for Aegon and Daenerys. But the consequences of that will be extreme. Sure, she’ll take over. But she won’t be able to pull the Seven Kingdoms together in time. Their disunity will continue, and Westeros will fail to defeat the Others. Or Jon or Aegon will die, or Aegon will end up being a fake, and the dragon will not have three heads, as prophecy says it must.

Who’s to say that victory in Game of Thrones is preordained? Nothing. Defeat as a consequence of disunity and the foibles of man would fit in very well with the overall themes of Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire. And it would be the ultimate and final subversion of fantasy literature and the tropes of the Hero’s Journey. I’m not saying it will happen. I’m saying it could—and, honestly, it would be pretty awesome if it did.

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