WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Game of Thrones up to Season 7 Episode 5
The Game of Thrones just got a lot more interesting, now that Gendry - the last living son of Robert Baratheon - has returned to join the show's heroes. We had previously explained how Gendry could save Westeros putting his skill as a master blacksmith to use forging Jon Snow's dragonglass into White-Walker-killing weaponry (hopefully before the Night King breaks down The Wall). But now that he's returned, fans are likely to wonder if it's the royal blood flowing through his veins that matters most - especially now that King Robert Baratheon's other 'children' have all been killed.
With Daenerys Targaryen claiming the Iron Throne as the last Targaryen, and fans all but certain that Jon Snow has his own claim to kingship, the injection of a Baratheon bastard may change the game. Or will it? Can a Baratheon bastard be the true king of Westeros?
To make sure fans have all their questions asked, and know just what might come from Gendry's return, we're breaking down the must-know facts about his past, present, and future.
Who is Gendry?
We'll start with a short refresher for viewers who have genuinely forgotten about the full extent of the role Gendry played. They would be forgiven, since his story began early in the very first season of Game of Thrones as part of a mystery that got Ned Stark (and his predecessor) killed. To make a long story short, Ned retraces the steps of the former Hand - his brother-in-law, Jon Arryn - and discovers that a lowly blacksmith caught his attention. Specifically, the young man working for the blacksmith as a talented apprentice.
Upon learning that the boy, Gendry, was born of a "tavern wench" and never knew his father, Ned sees the secret that had likely gotten Jon Arryn killed. After taking a long look at the boy and seeing just how talented he truly was with his work, Ned recognizes the full meaning of Jon's final words: "the seed is strong." A quick read through of the historical records of the Seven Kingdoms' Great Houses, and confirmation that all boys of the House Baratheon are born "black of hair" revealed Gendry to be the fully grown bastard son of Robert Baratheon.
Not to mention the fact that the "black of hair" chain broke when Robert's son, Joffrey, took over the throne. It was proof that Joffrey was not a trueborn heir or Baratheon at all - which explains the massive killing of Robert's scattered illegitimate children that was ordered, intended to eliminate any potential competition (bastard or not).
Gendry Learns He's The Son of a King
Gendry was lucky enough to escape that Lannister plot and join up with the Night's Watch, beginning his long trek to The Wall with Arya Stark at his side. That storyline may also seem like years ago (for a good reason), but the travel gave the showrunners a chance to flesh out Gendry's lineage and character. Ned had presumably seen in Gendry's face the young Robert Baratheon he had once known, long before he claimed the throne from the Targaryen dynasty and descended into lust and gluttony. And with Arya, Gendry showed it was more than just a genetic resemblance.
Standing up for the little guy (or girl) helped Gendry survive the Lannister pursuers who knew Robert's oldest bastard had escaped King's Landing, until the Brotherhood Without Banners rescued the lot of prisoners. Unfortunately for Gendry, his hopes of finding a sense of family with the Brothers was cut short when Melisandre saw him for who he truly was. Knowing that the blood of the Baratheons could be used to power her magics in support of Stannis Baratheon, she set about seducing, withdrawing blood from, and ultimately imprisoning Gendry.
But not before filling him in on the secret so many others already knew: that Gendry was the bastard son of King Robert Baratheon. And to both her and the Lannisters, that makes him a powerful player in the game of thrones.
Gendry Escapes Dragonstone & Disappears...
Thankfully for Gendry - and perhaps the survival of the Baratheon line - Ser Davos Seaworth visits the boy in his Dragonstone prison cell and reveals that the pair have a similar rise from obscurity to at least partially-regretted importance. Having already witnessed the lengths of Melisandre's magic, and Stannis's brutality under her thrall, Ser Davos makes a bold decision. Knowing that Gendry has been sought out and used for blood magic because Stannis can't endure the toll himself (not after the 'smoke baby' Melisandre delivered), Ser Davos acts before Gendry can be killed.
After trying to convince Stannis to let Gendry, his brother's only son go free to no avail, Ser Davos opens Gendry's cell and sends him off in a small boat. Although Gendry has never been in such a vessel, Ser Davos tells him to not stop rowing until he reaches King's Landing. He won't need to fear slaughter by the Lannisters since none of the guards who know his face ever returned to the city. And with Stannis beginning the larger war, King's Landing may be the only place to be saved from the conflict.He ultimately freeing Gendry and telling him to keep on rowing until he reaches King's Landing.
As we learn in Season 7 Episode 5, Gendry followed Ser Davos's words to the letter. He has set up shop as a blacksmith in King's Landing when his rescuer stumbled upon him once again. And recruits him to the cause of Daenerys Targaryen, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister, and Jorah Mormond... since forgotten children rising to greatness is kind of their thing.