The Game of Thrones series finale is finally here, and it is sure to answer the show's biggest question: who will end up sitting on the Iron Throne?
Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones through Season 8, Episode 5 lie ahead!
Westeros has been at war for nearly a decade now, and somehow it all has to wrap up this Sunday. The series that has defined the TV landscape in recent years will finally come to an end, and years of feudal political drama with it.
At the beginning of Season 8, many fans reasoned that the question of who sits on the Iron Throne didn't matter much anymore. After all, most of the forces of mankind were gathered in the north for the war against the White Walkers, and if they lost there would be no throne left to sit on.
The show's writers put an end to that concern in Episode 3, when the Night King fell to Arya Stark's dagger. Since then, the show has returned to its roots with Daenerys storming King's Landing to seize the throne, and Varys sending out letters urging other lords to support the claim of Jon Snow, whether he wants it or not.
Now, it looks like those two are the top contenders for the throne, at least on the surface. However, it seems unlikely that the show will leave off with Daenerys on the throne after last week's blood bath. She would have a lot to answer for before the audience could believe that she would serve the realm justly, leading to an era of peace and justice in the Seven Kingdoms.
On the other hand, Jon himself has turned down the throne more times than can be counted at this point. The once-Lord Commander of the Night's Watch and once-King in the North has no interest in crowns, and and no matter how hard the other lords pressure him, he cannot be forced to rule over them.
That leaves the possibility for Jon to name a successor in the end, which opens up some interesting possibilities. In the last two seasons, Sansa has become a powerful leader in Winterfell while Jon has been off at war, so she may be his best choice. He knows that she has the mind for the kind of politics he does not, so he could choose her.
On the other hand, Jon values the skills of a warrior, and his favorite little sister just became a hero by killing the Night King. There's a chance that Jon puts Arya on the throne — perhaps wearing another face, maybe even his. For that, he would likely have to sacrifice his life again, but there is little doubt that Jon would do whatever it took to secure the safety of the realm.
Finally, we can't ignore the possibility of Tyrion taking the throne himself. The Lion of Lannister is a born leader, as he has proven time and time again over the course of the series. Tyrion could find his way onto the throne a number of ways, although the most straightforward seems to be a renewal of his wedding vows to Sansa, and the two of them ruling in tandem.
No matter who sits on the throne when the credits roll, the real trick of the Game of Thrones finale will be convincing the audience that there is stability ahead for Westeros. If there is one thing we've learned throughout the show it is how quickly power can change hands. To end the series, we need not just a single ruler but the promise of a peaceful dynasty.