Warning: Spoilers for the Season 5 finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones abound in this article. If you still want to read about Game of Thrones but don’t want spoilers, why not check out this article where Chris Martin from Coldplay tries to turn Game of Thrones into a musical.
Okay, so HBO’s Game of Thrones managed to shock us with yet another death of an important character in their Season 5 finale. While we can theorize all we like on whether fan favorite Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) is dead or not, but if he really is dead and not coming back in Season 6, then who is next in line to the iron throne? Who is next to rule over Westeros? Let’s have a look.
First we need to understand who is currently on the throne and why many think they shouldn’t be there. Season 1 of Game of Thrones showed us Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), ruler of Westeros. All seemed legitimate until we started to understand it was Cersei (Lena Headey) who was killing off all his bastard children. Dig a little further and we realize she is doing this because all her children do not actually, genetically, belong to Robert — they belong to her twin brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), born out of their incestuous relationship. And so began the game of thrones.
So, if this is the case, the current ruler, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), holds absolutely no genetic ties to the iron throne. But, of course, if we look further back than this, before Robert Baratheon ruled, the Targaryen’s sat upon the iron throne and ruled over Westeros. However, due to his increasingly brutal reign, he was usurped from his position from the iron throne by Robert Baratheon. We also need to understand that while Cersei’s son, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), was considered the heir to Robert Baratheon, many in the kingdom of Westeros knew the truth and this is why people are still battling it out for the iron throne. We now have two Game of Thrones houses that can be considered legitimate contestants battling to win the game of thrones.
While it seems we have watched the house Stark decimated since Season 1 of Game of Thrones, house Baratheon has suffered a much worse fate. We saw Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony) take ownership — in name only — to the iron throne after his brother’s death, even though he was the youngest Baratheon left behind Stannis. But whether he was rightfully a legitimate contestant or not is quickly fixed when Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and Melisandre (Carice van Houten) kill him. Rightfully, many would claim that Stannis is the one true heir to Westeros. After all he is the eldest Baratheon brother. Melisandre certainly saw potential in him and goaded him on to battle it out for the iron throne. Alas, this was not to be when Stannis sacrificed his one heir to the Lord of Light ans still lost the war — and his life — in the recent Game of Thrones finale.
So, are there any Baratheons left? As far as we know, the official Baratheon bloodline is now extinct. Although, for the sake of argument, because Robert Baratheon acknowledged Tommen as his son and heir, he is still considered a Baratheon. We also know, thanks to a prophecy seen in Episode 1 of Season 5, that Robert Baratheon would father 20 children (and that Cersei would outlive her own children). We know Cersei has killed most of Robert’s bastards, but at least one has slipped through the cracks. Gendry (Joe Dempsie) is still considered alive but currently his location is unknown after Davros (Liam Cunningham) helped him escape Dragonstone. He is thought to be heading for King’s Landing. He also knows now he is a Baratheon, but, since Robert never acknowledged him, it may be hard swaying people to believe he is, potentially, the last Baratheon standing.
While there were good reasons to usurp the mad King Aerys II Targaryen in Robert’s Rebellion, many still believe the Targaryens lay claim to the iron throne. However, many people also believe there are no Targaryens left. Of course, Game of Thrones fans know of Maester Aemon on the Night’s Watch. However, most of Westeros do not know his identity as a Targaryen. But, considering he recently died, his legitimacy as heir to the iron throne is now moot. This leaves the one other Targaryen left alive — Daenerys. Her claim actually holds a substantial weight. Not only is she a true Targaryen with no blot against her name, if all the folklore surrounding the myths and prophecies of Westeros are true, she is twice the claim Gendry will ever be. There is a prophecy that proclaims Azor Ahai, who has the blood of dragons and was born among salt and smoke will rise up in Westeros’ time of need.
As Geek.com points out, Daenerys was “born on Dragonstone during a storm (salt), and walked into Drogo’s funeral pyre (smoke), after seeing a comet in the sky (bleeding star).” While many claim Azor Ahai will be a prince, Maester Aemon recently pointed out there could be a slight misinterpretation of the ancient Valyrian text stating the Azor Ahai prophecy. He thought the translation meant “dragon” and not “prince” as most believe. If this is the case, then Daenerys certainly holds a great stand in the game of thrones.
So there we have it. There are only two apparent contestants left in the game of thrones — who do you think will win? Or will HBO and George R.R. Martin save Jon Snow at the eleventh hour? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below!
[Image credits: HBO]