Game of Thrones season 8 wraps up the series by having Tyrion proclaim Bran the only viable option for king because he has the best story out of any of them and stories are what unite people. The problem, however, is that Game of Thrones doesn't earn this ending, leaving it for the finale to argue why Bran should be king rather than use its eight seasons to show why.
The final season of Game of Thrones is by far the most divisive season of the show, disappointing many viewers by rushing through important moments like the defeat of the White Walkers and the reveal of Jon's true Targaryen lineage. Frustrated fans can take some comfort in knowing author George R.R. Martin still has two books left in which to deliver his ending, but seeing as both the books and show will end similarly, that may be of little comfort to those really upset over the ending. Then again, the problem with Bran becoming king isn't the fact that it happens, it's how Game of Thrones season 8 chooses to present it.
Like many complaints leveled at Game of Thrones season 8, the reveal that Bran is who sits the Iron Throne in the end is done hastily. Only a few episodes before the finale, Bran is declaring he has no interest in becoming Lord of Winterfell because as the Three-Eyed Raven, he's really not Brandon Stark anymore. But when it comes to being crowned king, Bran is only too willing, even saying, "Why do you think I've come all this way?" For viewers, it's a hairpin turn for his character, and having Tyrion introduce the idea of Bran being king and argue for it in single speech is at the root of Game of Thrones season 8's whole problem.
Tyrion's King Speech Is All About "The Best Story"
In the Game of Thrones season 8 finale, "The Iron Throne", Tyrion is brought before the remaining lords and ladies of Westeros in order for his and Jon Snow's fates to be decided. Their discussion, however, turns to who will rule the Seven Kingdoms now that all claimants to the throne are either dead or prisoners. After both Sam's suggestion of democracy and Edmure Tully's nomination of himself are quickly shot down, Tyrion gives a speech in which he lays out the case for why Bran should rule.
Tyrion argues that it isn't armies or gold that unite people but stories. "There's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story," Tyrion says, speaking not just to those gathered in the Dragonpit but to the millions of viewers watching at home. It's a fitting message from a television series which captured the attention of the world in a way many haven't and few ever will again, arguing that the stories we tell become far more widespread and unifying than any doctrine or dogma ever could.
Tyrion then goes on to suggest that only one among them has the very best story - Bran. Earlier in season 8, Tyrion asks Bran to share with him his story and it's clear that the tale Bran imparts to Tyrion made an impact. Tyrion tells the assembled lords and ladies that Bran is a "boy who fell from a high tower and lived," and that "knowing he would never walk again, he learned to fly." Bran the Broken's story, Tyrion argues, is just the sort of unbelievable but true story that can unite a kingdom and that is why Bran should be their king. And yet, while Bran's story is truly unlike any on Game of Thrones, is it really their best story?
Bran Doesn't Have The Best Story - In-Universe Or On The Show
Bran has one of the more complex arcs in Game of Thrones, transforming from a young boy with dreams of knighthood to the vessel for all the world's memory. In order to become the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran makes many sacrifices and suffers many hardships. Bran loses friends along the way, and his commitment to becoming the Three-Eyed Raven is repeatedly tested. However, just about every main character on Game of Thrones has gone through difficult trials, some of which are far more interesting than Bran's being carried north of The Wall.
Take Arya, for instance, who after witnessing her father's execution travels the continent in the company of dangerous men, learning from them how to kill and survive. She leaves for Bravos and undergoes even more training with the Faceless Men, before returning home to get revenge for her murdered family. After which, Arya is reunited with her surviving family and helps to defend their ancestral home from the White Walkers, eventually killing the Night King herself and ending the Great War. It's just as wild and unbelievable a story as Bran's, perhaps even more so when you consider how Arya's story so boldly defies the expectations placed on highborn ladies in this society.
Just about any characters' story can be spun as being the "best story", that's partly the reason why Game of Thrones is such a success - it has many characters, all with interesting stories. And yet, you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone arguing that Bran's is best of them all. Many Game of Thrones characters quickly became fan favorites - be it Daenerys or Brienne, or even Bronn - and while Bran certainly isn't a character audiences disliked, he isn't one with a passionate following. In fact, Game of Thrones completely sidelines Bran's story for an entire season and audiences barely noticed or cared. How is it that the character destined to be king can so easily be removed from the narrative?
Tyrion's Speech Shows Game Of Thrones Rushing To Fit
The real problem with Bran being named king is in how Game of Thrones earns (or doesn't earn) that ending. Bran isn't a bad choice for king because as Tyrion also points out, he won't have children to succeed him, essentially breaking the wheel of hereditary monarchy as Daenerys proposed. Bran is also kind and fair, not possessing the entitled attitude of most nobles. And now that he's the Three-Eyed Raven, he is very wise thanks to knowing everything that ever happened and possibly ever will happen. Of all available candidates, Bran is a logical if not the most compelling choice to rule.
However, rather than giving Bran an interesting story for viewers to be engaged with across eight seasons, Game of Thrones instead forces the matter in Tyrion's speech. It's a good speech, one that Peter Dinklage sells quite well, but it rings hollow when the entirety of the series is taken in to account. Who gathered there in the Dragonpit outside of maybe Sansa and Arya even knows Bran's full story? Becoming the Three-Eyed Raven is amazing, but since then, Game of Thrones struggled to ever show Bran do anything with his new power. He becomes a font of knowledge, yes, but that's hardly the sort of thing that becomes the stuff of legends. Had the series better incorporated Bran's abilities into the fight against the Night King, then perhaps there'd be a stronger argument to make for why everyone across the Seven Kingdoms knows about Bran's incredible journey.
Martin will have Bran become king in the books as well, so there's no debating whether the end is true or false to Martin's original intention. But Bran's story in the novels works so much better than it does on the show, with point-of-view chapters allowing readers to experience Bran's strange visions right alongside him. In a sense, the books can show us Bran's true adventure, the one happening within him, where as Game of Thrones can only tells us. The few visions we do see of Bran's in the show all relate to revealing some truth about others characters, like Jon, and are only further evidence of how uninterested the show is in Bran himself.
Tyrion's speech is emblematic of Game of Thrones season 8's whole problem - it's a rushed delivery of an interesting idea meant only to get the series to its endpoint. Rather than take the time to present Bran as an obvious and good choice to be king, the series simply has their mouthpiece character tell us why. Instead of scenes where Bran offers sound counsel to those in power, giving us a reason to want him in charge, he's reduced to a weird character who occasionally repeats a phrase he couldn't possibly know if not for him being the Three-Eyed Raven. It's a shame Game of Thrones couldn't organically build to Bran becoming king, and as a result, the ending feels unearned even if it's not necessarily bad.