Game of Thrones‘ sixth season had its fair share of long-awaited victories. Most prominently, we saw Daenerys finally gather enough ships to make the journey to Westeros, while Jon and Sansa expelled the Boltons from their ancestral home at Winterfell. But because this is still the Game of Thrones universe, things were far from happy on a larger scale. A handful of characters are, for lack of a better term, totally screwed in the coming seasons, and there’s not really a way around it for any of them.
If there’s one thing George R.R. Martin’s brutal universe has consistently drilled into us, it’s that storybook endings don’t fall under the category of “reasonable expectations.” Shocking deaths and tragic twists are the bread and butter of A Song of Ice and Fire. Suffice it to say, we don’t expect that to change for these characters.
1. Bran Stark
Even in a family that pretty much wrote the book on tough breaks, Bran still wins out for “most screwed Stark.” He was paralyzed from the waist down one episode into the series, was forced to flee north of the Wall soon after that, and has been dodging White Walkers ever since. He now carries the mark of the Night King on his arm, which as we’ve seen, is the only thing capable of breaking the anti-White Walker magic of the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave (and by extension, the Wall). Many fans are theorizing that Bran crossing through the Wall with that mark could break those wards too, leading to a large-scale zombie invasion that a divided Westeros has little chance of beating back. Tough break, kid.
2. Sansa and Littlefinger
Bran may be No. 1 on the list of “most poorly-treated Starks,” but Sansa is close behind her younger brother. Things don’t look much brighter for her either, especially with Littlefinger in her ear about how she deserves to be in charge. This plan doesn’t really gel with Jon’s recent crowning as King in the North, setting up a Stark-on-Stark conflict that spells almost certain doom for all involved. Having just learned of Jon’s Targaryen heritage though, he holds far more importance to the Game of Thrones endgame than Sansa. This makes her tragically more expendable than her bastard brother, which could be the final nail in her equally-as-tragic formative years.
3. Cersei Lannister
Cersei Lannister has endured a life’s worth of being underestimated due solely to her gender. She now sits atop the Iron Throne, having burned all of her enemies alive, while losing the last of her children in the wake of Tommen’s suicide. It’s a bittersweet victory for her all the same, and it promises to be a short-lived one at that.
Daenerys Targaryen is on her way to Westeros with the support of the Dothraki, Unsullied, Martells, Tyrells, and three nigh-indestructible dragons. You can bet that the Mother of Dragons will be making a beeline for Kings Landing to unseat Cersei, defended only by whatever’s left of the Lannister army.
Game of Thrones really seems to enjoy piling it on for characters who’ve already suffered enough, and few have suffered the way Gilly has. For most of her life, she was one of Craster’s sister-wives, forced to bear him children while living in the harsh blizzards north of the Wall. Things have since turned around for her, but we doubt that lasts long. Her and Sam have finally arrived in Old Town, and Sam’s training as a Maester leaves Gilly out in the cold. Since women aren’t allowed in the Citadel and its magic Beauty and the Beast-esque library, Gilly and her baby will have to make their own way in the town below.
5. Jaime Lannister
When Jaime Lannister left King’s Landing, he departed thinking his sister would keep their last living child alive and safe. Imagine his chagrin when he walked into the Red Keep to see that Cersei had quite literally burnt the whole damn thing down. Under her watch, the Great Sept was blown up, King Tommen jumped out of a window, and all the Lannister’s allies had either defected to the Targaryens, or been cooked into meat pies. We know from the prophecy told to Cersei as a child that she’s destined to be killed by her younger brother, and Jaime’s status as both a Kingslayer and her younger twin brother destine him for a heartbreaking mercy-kill of the newly-crowned Queen of Westeros.
6. Jorah Mormont
When we last left off with Jorah Mormont, he was being tasked by Daenerys with finding a cure for greyscale. Unfortunately, the only people who would possibly be able to help him cure his fatal disease are both dead, with Stannis and his daughter Shireen both having left this world last season. This leaves Jorah with little in the way of resources to cure his affliction, dooming him to suicide, or a life as a Stone Man in the haunted swamps of Old Valyria.
7. Tyrion Lannister
Come on, don’t even try to tell us you’re not at least a little apprehensive about Tyrion Lannister’s future. Notwithstanding that it’d be just like George R.R. Martin to kill off the most popular character in the entire Game of Thrones universe, Tyrion has finally reached the pinnacle of his otherwise miserable life. In the world of Westeros, that positions him uniquely for a massive fall, albeit one that would spur a million angry think pieces.
The last time we saw Gendry, he was rowing away from Dragonstone, and for all we know, he’s still rowing. That said, there are rumors that Robert Baratheon’s bastard son is returning in Season 7. But even as a bastard, he’s a Baratheon nonetheless, immediately putting him in the crosshairs of Daenerys Targaryen, whose family was overthrown and murdered by Robert’s Rebellion.
9. Brienne of Tarth
Brienne has often found herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and as a result, hasn’t quite been able to protect the people she’s sworn to keep safe. Already she’s been helpless to prevent the deaths of Renly Baratheon, Catelyn Stark, and the Blackfish, Brynden Tully. Now, she’s back out in the wilderness, and with a vengeful Arya running around, it wouldn’t be a large stretch for the youngest Stark girl to hold Brienne responsible for not protecting Catelyn.
10. Theon Greyjoy
There are few characters who’ve suffered the way Theon Greyjoy has. After betraying the Stark family, he was tortured into insanity by Ramsay Bolton, only to finally escape and return to the Iron Islands a broken man. He’s now joined forces with Daenerys Targaryen, but that doesn’t mean he’s entirely safe from the wrath of his murderous uncle, Euron. Killing him off certainly wouldn’t be the worst thing Game of Thrones has done to poor Theon.
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