After seven seasons, 67 episodes and a ridiculously high body count, “Game of Thrones” kicks off its eighth and final season this weekend.
Yet as HBO’s blockbuster adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series nears its conclusion, we’re still no closer to knowing who will ultimately win the “game” and find themselves sitting atop the Iron Throne as ruler of Westeros than we were when we were first introduced to the Lannisters, Starks and Targaryens back in 2011.
There’s certainly no shortage of potential victors or theories about how the final season will play out. And since the show long ago advanced beyond Martin’s published works, the source material isn’t likely to offer many clues as to who will reign over the Seven Kingdoms.
While fans of the show will undoubtedly be rooting for their favorite, Las Vegas oddsmakers have chimed in with their picks.
According to the website Odds Shark.com, which monitors betting odds and trends, Bran Stark is the current betting favorite at +220, just ahead of Jon Snow (+350), Sansa Stark (+500), and Daenerys Targaryen and Gendry (+700).
Those looking to support an underdog may want to cast their allegiance with Theon Greyjoy, Tormund Giantsbane or the Mountain, who are among those checking in at +15000.
I’m certainly no oddsmaker, but I have my own ideas about who will wind up on the Iron Throne. Below I’ve listed my top five best bets for potential rulers, along with my pick for who I personally think will win. Take note that the following information is strictly for fun; sports betting may be legal in West Virginia, but wagering on entertainment is prohibited.
Also, there are spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up.
Jon Snow — The former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch has already reunited the North and reclaimed his childhood home of Winterfell from the Boltons, defeated a White Walker and been brought back from the dead, so his credentials speak for themselves.
And then there’s that whole “I’m actually a Targaryen and a have a rightful claim to the throne” thing. Speaking of which, it will be interesting to see how Jon and his newfound love interest, Daenerys Targaryen, take the news that Jon is actually Dany’s nephew. After all, there’s only room for one person to sit on the Iron Throne. Odds: 5-2
Sansa Stark — One would be hard-pressed to find a character who has suffered more during the course of the first seven seasons than the eldest daughter of House Stark. The abuse she endured at the hands of King Joffrey and Cersei at King’s Landing paled in comparison to what awaited upon her return to Winterfell, where she was married to the show’s most vile and cruel character, Ramsay Bolton.
But years of humiliation and torture have transformed Sansa from a naïve young girl into a strong, resilient woman capable of ruling the Seven Kingdoms. It also doesn’t hurt that she no doubt learned a thing or two about playing the game from her time spent with Westeros’ master manipulator, Littlefinger. Odds: 6-1
Cersei Lannister — No character has proven to be as vindictive and vicious in the pursuit of power as the current occupant of the Iron Throne. And now with no children left to protect, Cersei seems focused solely on self-preservation — no matter the cost.
Neither family nor foe has been spared Cersei’s wrath in the past, and with victory now within sight, it’s safe to assume no one is safe. The Night King and his army of the undead may be the greatest threat to Westeros, but the single most dangerous individual in “Game of Thrones” resides in King’s Landing. Odds: 10-1
Daenerys Targaryen — Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains and Mother of Dragons — or Dany to her friends — has the backing of two massive armies, a pair of fully grown dragons (RIP Viserion), and a rightful claim to the throne.
She is also one of the few genuinely good people to be vying for control of Westeros. But if we’ve learned anything over the past few years, it’s that good things rarely happen to good people on this show. Odds: 15-1
Tyrion Lannister — Ignoring the far-fetched theory that the Dwarf of Casterly Rock is actually of Targaryen descent and not a Lannister, Tyrion’s path to the Iron Throne isn’t as winding as some may think. While serving as Hand of the King (and now of the Queen), he has proven to be a competent, compassionate ruler who inspires fierce loyalty.
Though he’s far from a saint, Tyrion’s journey has led him to become a hero, albeit a reluctant one. Combine all of that with his wisdom and quick wit and it’s clear Tyrion has all the tools necessary to become the ruler Westeros will likely need in the aftermath of the war that’s about to begin. Odds: 25-1
So, who do I think will be the last person standing when the final credits roll in a few weeks?While there’s a part of me that can see the show ending without a ruler in place, that would be a really lame way to wrap up what has been a fantastic series. With that said, as much as I’d love to see Tyrion on the throne, I think we’re going to get a Stark ruling Westeros.
In a world in which survival isn’t guaranteed, Sansa is the ultimate survivor. Once merely a pawn in the game, she has — against all odds — become a major player. And after the dust settles, she will be the one who captures the ultimate prize — the Iron Throne.