WARNING: This contains spoilers for the final episode of Game of Thrones.
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Sunday night saw the final ever episode of Game of Thrones hit our screens. There was a dramatic death, a multitude of sassy quips from Sansa Stark, and of course, a new ruler was elected to the Iron Throne (or what was left of it after Drogon had his way.)
Throughout the show, there have been hundreds upon thousands (well, almost) of deaths, and we've seen some of the show's most beloved characters lose their lives. But who deserved better? Here is our rundown of ten characters who had it seriously rough, and should have had a better ending.
Image credit: Global Panorama, via Flickr
10. Ned Stark (Sean Bean)
When the beloved patriarch of the Stark clan was killed off before the end of series one, the whole plot was thrown into jeopardy. Ned’s death showed the audience that no one was truly safe, but did he deserve such a brutal beheading in front of his devastated daughters? No, he didn’t.
He put up with a lot of crap from the other characters, namely his whiney wife Catelyn’s hatred for his ‘bastard’ son, who wasn’t even his son! He dealt with the insufferable drunk Robert Baratheon and his mega-brat Joffrey and the cunning supervillain Little Finger – but it was his underestimation of Cersei Lannister than signed his death warrant. An honourable man, but a stupid one.
He may have only appeared in a handful of episodes, but Sean Bean’s character has gone on to be one of the most iconic, and let’s be honest – who hasn’t tried shouting “Winter is Coming” in his famous northern drawl?
9. Missandei of Naath (Nathalie Emmanuel)
To kill former slave Missandei, by having her die in chains, was not only devastating to watch – it was darn right cruel. Daenerys’s closest and most loyal confidant – Missandei was the only person ever to not betray her.
Her death was necessary to the plot - if she was still alive there’s no doubt she would have been able to steer Dany aware from her mad queen antics in the final episodes. All we wanted was to watch Missandei sail off into the sunset with her beloved Grey Worm, but if it's any consolation (it really isn't) at least we saw Grey Worm heading for Naath in his final moments on the show.
8. Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram)
The saddest death in GOT has to go to the Princess Shireen. Her death was unforgivable and the image of the tiny royal screaming whilst she was burned alive was not a pretty one. She was sacrificed by her power-hungry father Stannis in his quest for the Iron Throne. Cursed with the disease of greyscale, Shireen was practically held as a prisoner by her mother and father. Her only real friend was Ser Davos, whose kindness she repaid by teaching him to read (her lessons paid off - as we saw him correcting Bronn's grammar in the final episode, a sweet nod to Shireen.)
If Shireen had lived only a few seasons later, she could have been cured of greyscale and gone on to rule the seven kingdoms. The only upside to her hideous death is that her father got his comeuppance.
7. Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)
Bear with me on this one – but JAIME DESERVED BETTER. He started off as the text-book villain, a strapping knight with excellent hair. The very first episode ended with him shoving Bran Stark out of the window (I’m not saying Bran deserved it… but Bran deserved it.) However, through the show's eight-season run, Jaime’s character had grown from strength to strength and his arc of redemption was bigger than any other character in the show.
This was all chucked away in the penultimate episode, when Jaime returned to his sister Cersei, and rather than killing her they died together - weeping in each other’s arms. Jaime deserved a better ending than this, and it was truly painful to watch years of character development going down the drain. He and Brienne should have ended up together and had lots of very tall babies with great hair.
6. Margaery (Natalie Dormer) and Olenna Tyrell (Diana Rigg)
The Tyrells were arguably the best family in Westeros. Margaery was kind and quick-witted, and one of the only characters that could really see through Cersei. Very few people showed Sansa Stark kindness in Kings Landing, but Margaery treated her like a sister and was a much need ally for the tortured Lady Stark. She was the only one clever enough to know what Cersei was planning when she took wildfire to the Sept, and she died a highly unjust death.
Olenna was the best character on the show – no question. Not only did she murder Joffrey (“You don’t think I’d let you marry that beast, did you?”) but she was proud of it. She’d do anything she could to protect her grandchildren, and her sharp tongue and unapologetic sass were a great match for Cersei. She was gone too soon, but at least she died in style. A smug grin before announcing that she killed the boy king: “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.”
5. Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman)
Oh Tommen, poor sweet Tommen. When the king from hell Joffrey finally, after what seemed like decades of waiting, died, his brother Tommen assumed the crown. A quiet, sweet and calm ruler, Tommen was the ruler that Westeros most deserved. His relationship with wife Margaery was one of the only relationships on the show that didn't stem from some sort of hatred (and/or incest) - considering he was the spawn of Cersei Lannister it was a miracle he turned out so well.
After Margaery died, Tommen took his own life by jumping out of the window of The Red Keep - a truly devastating but poignant end for a king that was too good for this world.
4. Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
The best bitch on television, Cersei Lannister was always going to die eventually - that was a given - but it was the way that she died that was a let down for the show's legion of fans. She'd been through hell and back, even having her head shaved and being forced to walk through the streets of Kings Landing naked.
To see her dying in the arms of her brother, tears in her eyes, just didn't seem very Cersei. For the entirety of season eight she stood at the window sipping wine - for such an epic villain it was disappointing to see her fizzle away quietly.
3. Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen)
Did anyone in Westeros go through as much as Theon did in the space of eight seasons? He went from Robb Stark's right-hand man to antagonist of the North to slave Reek. He even had his penis cut off, and if that's not unnecessary we don't know what is.
By the end Theon had just started to get back to himself - he helped Sansa escape the hideous Ramsay, and died protecting Bran. It was a shame to see him go just as he'd started being likeable again. Poor Theon.
2. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
In the early seasons of the show, Brienne of Tarth was the strong female warrior who could fight hounds and bears and come up on top every time. Her blossoming relationship with Jaime was at the heart of the show, and millions of fans took to social media to ship 'Braime'. We were all devastated when Jaime left Brienne sobbing in the snow after leaving her for Cersei - it was sad to see them part, but what was sadder was seeing Brienne reduced to a snivelling wreck.
In the final episode, Brienne is still thinking about Jaime, making sure his entry in the Book of the Brothers is filled out accurately - it was an emotional moment and sweet to watch, but Brienne was a badass who deserved a better character arc.
1. Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
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. Oh Dany, why did they have to do that to you?
Watching Dany go from the breaker of chains to burning an entire city was devastating to watch. She lost everyone she ever loved and was betrayed by those closest to her. She couldn't trust anybody and in her mind, she was doing what she thought was best. In order for the show to end the way it did, she, of course, had to die - but her character deserved better. Her descent into madness could have been handled better and would have been easier to watch had it been spread over years rather than two episodes. No matter who is on the throne, Dany will always be our Khaleesi.
This is just ten (well, 11) of the characters that deserved a better send-off. Honourable mentions also go to Jorah and Lyanna Mormont, The Hound, Gendry and of course each of the direwolves. Ghost narrowly avoided having his own spot on the list after being ditched by Jon earlier in season eight - but after their sweet reunion in the finale, Ghost finally got the ending he deserved.
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