While we must compliment HBO for finding a way to drag out the final Game of Thrones episodes for as long as possible with their upcoming shortened season schedules, the fact is that the beloved series must eventually come to an end. Oh sure, the network might find a way to squeeze a couple of spin-offs into the schedule, but the story of feudal feuding that we’ve been following for years now will lead to a series of climatic moments that may very well determine Game of Thrones’ legacy in the long-term. When those moments do finally air, you can be sure that millions will be watching, waiting, and hoping that the series finale doesn’t disappoint.
So far as that goes, there are many ways that Game of Thrones could end which many viewers may consider to be "disappointing." In fact, given how difficult it is to pull off a truly great series finale, we’d go so far as to say that the odds are that the Game of Thrones series finale will not live up to all expectations. That’s irrelevant, however. The only thing that really matters is that the Game of Thrones finale doesn’t turn into a frustrating mess by featuring one or more of these awful plotlines.
These are the 15 Frustrating Ways Game of Thrones Could End.
15 The White Walkers Declare Total Victory
On the one hand, there is some merit to this idea. One of the underlying themes of Game of Thrones has been the idea that all the show’s political infighting and bickering has really just blinded everyone to the threat of the real evil that is the White Walkers. Who cares who sits on the throne or who has more money when an army of undead monsters is about to wipe out all life? Wouldn’t it be poetic, then, if the White Walkers declare total victory?
Poetic, yes, but that doesn’t mean that ending is remotely satisfying. The White Walkers can serve their purpose by forcing everyone - or at least certain factions - to unite against them. However, the visual of the undead army standing around the throne room having declared total victory is really a “now what?” kind of hollow finale.
14 The Cleganebowl Never Happens
This one's not really an ending, per se, but rather a disturbing possibility that could occur towards the end of the show. For those who don’t know, the Cleganebowl refers to the long-awaited epic battle between The Hound and The Mountain. Ever since Game of Thrones’ first season, the show has been building towards a climactic confrontation between these brothers. While this fight has reached meme proportion among some fan communities, it’s still a showdown that should happen at some point.
There are a couple of things that could prevent said fight from actually occurring. The most obvious of which would be Arya, who still technically has both brothers on her kill list. However, The Mountain’s status as Cersei’s protector means that he is also in danger of being killed by a variety of new enemies somewhere along the way. After so much build-up, it would be incredibly disappointing if we never get to see these two go at it one last time.
13 Gendry Claims the Throne
Perhaps this skirts the realm of possibility, but it’s just likely enough to be considered frustrating. At one point, it looked like Gendry was going to be a major player in the Game of Thrones universe. As one of the only living bastard children of King Robert, a motivated party could put certain events into motion that would elevate Gendry to the throne. However, that plotline seems to have disappeared ever since Gendry took a boat ride away from Dragonstone and was never seen on the show again.
While Gendry has a role in the books at this point in the story that keeps him somewhat relevant, how frustrating would it be if Gendry just kind of shows up towards the end of the tale and manages to take the throne after all this time? This is one of those surprise endings the writers could theoretically squeeze into the final episodes.
12 Cersei Once Again Kills Everyone and Rules Alone
While it’s not entirely accurate to say that Cersei Lannister has been immune to the horrors of Game of Thrones’ world - quite a few awful things have happened to her - she has managed to overcome some devastating odds due to her constant ability to see the move that allows her to advance her own interests. The most recent season finale is more than enough proof of her incredible survival instincts.
How “Game of Thrones” would it be, then, if Cersei once again manages to come out on top after all the chaos is done? While Cersei likely has some supporters among the Game of Thrones fanbase, it’s safe to say that the majority of viewers are just waiting for someone to finally bring her to justice. If Cersei once again manages to use extreme chaos to her advantage, that may prove to be one time too many.
11 Sansa Betrays the North
Towards the end of Game of Thrones' sixth season, John was proclaimed King in the North around the same time that Sansa gave Littlefinger a curious look. It’s hard to read exactly what they were both saying with that look, but it seemed to be related to the possibility that this turn of events is not what either necessarily had in mind. Perhaps Petyr Baelish’s poison got deeper in Sansa’s head than we thought.
While Littlefinger influencing Sansa is a fascinating plotline, it would be a real shame if his influence extended to the show’s finale. So far, Sansa’s story arc has seen her go from the ultimate bystander to an independent force out for justice. It would be a real shame if that growth was compromised by a conclusion which sees Sansa once again become a victim - along with the rest of the folks in the North.
10 An Ambiguous Cliffhanger
Whether or not you consider yourself to be a fan of The Sopranos, you probably joined the rest of the world in a discussion about the show’s controversial series finale. You may not have enjoyed the final episode of that landmark series, but it’s hard to deny that the show’s “fade to black” ending will certainly go down as one of the most memorable final episodes in television history.
Since The Sopranos’ finale aired, a few other series have attempted to replicate its ambiguous cliffhanger ending. For the most part, these attempts have been disastrous. The Sopranos’ finale worked within the context of that show, and because it was genuinely shocking. Now, any other series that attempts a similar conclusion just feels like a genuine rip-off. While we can’t quite imagine what an ambiguous Game of Thrones ending would look like, we just hope that such theoretical events are limited to comment sections.
9 Varys Wins the Throne
At first, this doesn't seem like the worst idea. After all, Varys and Littlefinger have been two people somewhere on the outside of the game looking in since the show’s first season. Each clearly possess the motivation to rise beyond their current station in life, and it was assumed by many fans that said motivations included a seat on the throne. Over time, however, Varys grew into one of the show’s more complicated characters. He’s certainly making moves against those in power, but recent years seem to depict the character as actually being interested in the good of the realm.
If Varys were to be reduced to another mere contender for the throne in the show’s final moments, that would mean that nearly everything that made him a truly great character these past few seasons would simply be undone in service of a twist finale. At least there’s a little more logic to a “Littlefinger wins” ending.
8 The “It Was Our World All Along” Ending
This is one of a few possible absurd endings that unfortunately aren’t entirely impossible. The set-up to this one involves either total decimation of Westeros and all surrounding worlds, or total victory by one party or the either. Whatever happens then would lead to some throwaway line of dialog or extended CG sequence which suggests beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world we knew as Westeros was, in fact, our own world all along.
To be clear: this is a cheap and ultimately meaningless way to end a show like Game of Thrones. It feels like something out of a bad ‘80s show where such a revelation may actually catch audiences off-guard. While it’s fortunately highly doubtful that the Game of Thrones crew would ever decide to do something so pointless, that doesn’t make it any less frustrating of a possibility.
7 Bran Becomes a God
Young Brandon Stark is one of the worst characters in Game of Thrones. While such subjects are always up for debate, the fact remains that Bran’s adventures feel like one of the only aspects of the greater Game of Thrones arc that belongs in a more traditional fantasy story. For his part, Bran has been more of a casual vessel through which these events occur rather than a fully-fledged character.
What if that casual vessel angle comes to a conclusion when Bran just becomes a god and single-handedly wipes out the White Walkers - and maybe everyone else, for good measure. The gods have been mentioned throughout Game of Thrones, and it’s clear that Bran is conjuring powers beyond those any mortal can lay claim to. While Bran fully embracing those powers may be a logical way to end his adventures, it’s sure a cheap way to the show.
6 Jon and Daenerys Live Happily Ever After
This ending assumes that something which hasn’t technically happened will eventually come true. No, Jon and Daenerys haven’t officially become a couple. No, they haven’t even met yet. Yes, they're still very much related. It’s highly unlikely that these two will never cross paths, however, and almost doubtful that there won’t be some romantic sparks when that happens. Hey, attractive young power people got to do what attractive young power people tend to do.
As great as an eventual Jon/Daenerys superteam would be, there are limits to how far the show’s writers should stretch this particular relationship. That limit occurs sometime before the show’s final hours. See, Jon/Daenerys ruling together isn’t just a predictable ending, it’s a happy one. While there are some happy-ish Game of Thrones endings that are acceptable, the “love conquers all” bit just feel a little too out of place for this show’s tone and style.
5 Cersei Is Poisoned
While there are many awful possible Game of Thrones endings that involve Cersei winning, there are few awful endings that actually involve Cersei dying. See, Cersei currently stands as the show’s ultimate human villain by virtue of a couple of recent deaths. Now, while not everyone gets what's coming to them in Game of Thrones, it’s undeniably satisfying to see the worst villains finally get theirs.
Cersei Lannister’s ultimate punishment shouldn’t involve a simple death. We’re way past that. Cersei has had a few brushes with poison throughout Game of Thrones. It’s enough to make you wonder if there’s a bit of foreshadowing going on. Cersei’s death feels like an inevitability, but her demise at the hands of a simple vile toxin is far too clean of a possibility, even if it were to be doled out by a loved one.
4 Nobody Occupies the Throne
While Game of Thrones has gone well beyond a mere quarrel about who sits atop of an iron chair - we miss you Khal Drogo - the throne is still at the heart of the show. In fact, many of the series' best moments still involve a few parties battling for control of the kingdom. That’s why many discussions regarding the show’s finale involve a prediction about who will actually occupy the throne when it’s all said and done.
How disappointing would it be, then, if nobody sat atop of the throne at the end of it all? Whether by total annihilation via White Walker, a peasant uprising, some kind of peace agreement, or some other possibilities we will soon discuss, there are a few occurrences which could result in the throne becoming an irrelevant part of the equation. At the end of the day, we want someone - preferably someone living - to rule over the kingdom.
3 Daenerys Goes Mad
It’s been said that every Targaryen has a little bit of crazy in them to go along with their greatness. Historically speaking, every member of the family has exhibited both of these characteristics, but some have succumbed to pure madness and become the kind of hated ruler whose actions kickstart a beloved series of books and television series. Until now, Daenerys has only exhibited the faintest signs of craziness. The kind of “ the more crazywrong side of the bed” craziness that leads to you crucifying your enemies.
There have been moments along the way, though, which seem to be preparing us for the eventual possibility that Daenerys may be crazier than we think. While this is another ending that wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented in terms of what’s happened in the show thus far, it is one that would involve the sudden betrayal of a lot of beloved people and downer ending that would negate many of the great moments that make this show what it is.
2 Bran Re-Writes History
We’ve covered a possible Bran ending before by suggesting that he could use some eventual god-like powers to simply wipe all evil or life from the land, but that actually isn’t the worst way that Bran’s journey could contribute to Game of Thrones’ conclusion. No, the worst way involves a possibility which is all-too-likely.
Recently, we’ve watched at Bran has gone back through time in order to witness certain key moments that preceded Game of Thrones’ pilot. It’s also been implied that Bran has the ability to manipulate the events of the past to a degree. How annoying would it be if Bran pulled a Back to the Future, made sure his dad punched the big bully, and ends up with a nice pickup truck to call his own? Okay, maybe that analogy doesn’t perfectly apply to Game of Thrones, but the point is that the series' ending shouldn’t involve Bran re-writing history and make the entire show pointless.
Speaking of which...
1 It was all a Dream/Story
In the long history of television finales, none has ever been as disappointing as the final episode of Dallas. For those who have never had the pleasure of watching this prime-time soap opera about an affluent Texas family, just know that Dallas is the show that popularized the “it was all a dream" finale. How anyone thought that was a good idea is one of those long-standing creative mysteries that will never be answered in a satisfactory manner.
You may think it’s impossible that Game of Thrones would ever end in a similar manner, but the show’s growing obsession with mysticism and the curious role of Samwell Tarley in the grand scheme of things have left us nervous. The mysticism element could factor into the dream or vision possibilities, while Tarley’s burgeoning Maester status opens up the possibility that he - or anyone really - could end up recounting the entire events of the show and referring to them as some ancient tale. The latter isn't quite as bad as "it was all a dream," but it was still be pretty disappointing.
How else could Game of Thrones wrap up in a way that would sour the rest of the series? Let us know in the comments.