House of the Dragon has delighted viewers, but some Game of Thrones fans can’t help being nervous about its eventual conclusion, given how the original series disappointed so many devoteees in the end. One of the biggest letdowns was the Battle of Winterfell. Among other problems, the climactic confrontation between the living and the undead had fewer main character deaths than it should have.
Whether they ought to have died because their character arcs were complete, or because it otherwise made sense for them to fall during the battle, or even because their skills in combat didn’t justify their survival, it doesn’t make sense that these characters didn’t die during the Battle of Winterfell.
Ser Davos Seaworth
Ser Davos Seaworth is one of the kindest and most purely good main characters in Game of Thrones, and for that reason, viewers were happy he survived the show’s events. Still, he probably should have died during the Battle of Winterfell.
Davos’ arc beyond this episode was not much of anything, merely just a supporter and loyal right-hand man to Jon and another voice of reason when Daenerys took over King’s Landing, in keeping with how honorable of a Game of Thrones character he is. His death in the Battle of Winterfell would have added even more emotion to it all and would have made complete sense since Davos is far from the finest combatant Westeros has to offer.
Rhaegal’s death at the hands of Euron Greyjoy and his fleet represents a colossal issue with the show’s final season; a lack of care in writing. Daenerys ‘forgetting’ about the Iron Fleet cost her a child and it was ridiculous.
Rhaegal and season 8 would have been better off had he died during the Battle of Winterfell. He could have been killed by the Night King or even by his already-dead brother Viserion. It would have had the same effect on Daenerys’ psyche and been a death earned rather than one written for shock value alone.
Ser Podrick Payne
It is impossible to hate Pod, so seeing him perish at Winterfell would have undoubtedly upset many fans. Still, that emotion and shock is part of what made the first four seasons so good, and Pod would have been a good candidate to die in this episode.
Like so many others, Payne was overrun by wights during the battle, making his survival baffling. He also enjoyed what could have been an emotional sendoff when he sang a song around the fire prior to the battle. Futhermore, his role in the battle’s aftermath was minimal, so there was no reason why the plot needed him to live.
At least one named character should have suffered the consequences of having the non-fighters take refuge in the crypts of Winterfell only to have the dead resurrected. Gilly would have been the most impactful choice for that fate.
Going to the crypts was a stupid move, even if there were no other places to go to hide. In the golden days of the show, characters were punished without mercy for stupid decisions. It would have been unfair, cruel and sad for Gilly, mother to little Sam, to die, but it would have been in keeping with Game of Thrones‘ established tone.
If he ends up playing a role in the Jon Snow sequel series then fans will be happy that Tormund survived the Battle of Winterfell, but he really should have died alongside multiple other characters.
Tormund is a great warrior who lived through multiple Game of Thrones episodes in which multiple characters die, but it’s hard to buy that he survived the hoards of wights that swarm him during the battle. Had they not been literally climbing on top of him, he could have survived through sheer will and toughness. With what can be seen on-screen, though, it is hard to explain how he made it out alive.
There are a few of occasions during the Battle of Winterfell when Grey Worm could have met his end, and it would have made for an impactful moment that not only would have been suitably upsetting but could also have better supported Daenerys’ descent during the rest of the season.
That initial wave during which the wights take out the Dothraki and fight the Unsullied could have been a realistic and bold moment for Grey Worm to fall. Daenerys would have had to bury not only Jorah but also the endlessly loyal Grey Worm.
Brienne Of Tarth
Prior to “The Long Night,” speculation was rampant among fans regarding who would die during the Battle of Winterfell and who would survive. One of the most common answers to the former was Brienne of Tarth, who seemed to have played out her role in the story to completion.
Her being knighted by Jaime made for one of the best moments of season 8, and would have served as a fitting farewell for the beloved character. Despire being overwhelmed by wights, Brienne survived, going on to write the story of Jaime Lannister at King’s Landing, a dissonant note that felt more mawkish than sweet.
Until the decision to have him return to Cersei just to be stabbed by Euron and crushed under rocks, Jaime Lannister was one of the best and most consistently written characters on the show. Had he died at the Battle of Winterfell, he may well have gone down as the saga’s very best character.
The one-handed warrior should reasonably have died when the wights swarmed him and Brienne. Narratively, Jaime’s death here could have been terrific. From who he was during the first to someone who sacrifices himself not just for Brienne and the heroes but for the greater good, his arc would have been more meaningful had he perished in the Battle of Winterfell.
One of the many controversial elements of Game of Thrones’ eight seasons was Bran’s role in it all, first in his sitting around doing nothing and then in his ultimately becoming king. This could have been solved had he died during the Battle of Winterfell.
Fans tired of Bran after his ascension to the role of Three-Eyed Raven, and had his character died to kill the Night King, save Westeros or anything long those lines, he would be far more fondly remembered. Instead, Bran’s character offered little in the end. The only downside of having Bran die during the Battle of Winterfell is that it would have diminished Theon’s sacrifice, which is one of the most impactful deaths of the Battle of Winterfell.
There may be no character survival more frustrating than that of Samwell Tarly, a kind and lovable character, but one who anyone should have trouble believing could have survived the Battle of Winterfell, much less Game of Thrones overall.
Like others, Sam met waves of wights armed and focused, but unlike characters such as Jaime or Brienne, Sam has precious little combat experience or skill. He survived only through luck — or, rather, through “plot armor.”
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