Before the credits even started rolling on the final episode of Game of Thrones, the Twitter-sphere was aflutter. Reactions to the fates of its main characters abounded. With all the hub-bub about the various endings, seemingly none caused a collective, bewildered “Huh?” more than the crowning of Bran Stark, Brandon the Broken, as King of the Six Kingdoms of Westeros.
I see and respect your right to the fan theories of a malicious plot by the Three-Eyed Raven to conquer the worlds of men. However, I propose a different, more grounded read on that particularly maligned aspect of the story. If we’re pondering the endgame of a war of leadership for a fantasy nation, then I posit that it’s not Bran Stark who “won” the titular Game of Thrones. It’s not Bran Stark who is now ruling Westeros.
It’s Tyrion Lannister.
Consider if you will, a meeting of the surviving lords and ladies of Westeros. A meeting which turned into an impromptu kingsmoot to decide who will handle the task of taking over control of the kingdom. It begins with the debate of Jon Snow’s punishment for his regicide. This vote comes at the demand of Tyrion Lannister. Tyrion, despite standing at their feet in chains is able to make them do the thing that needed to be done. Even when feeling at his most broken, Tyrion continues to turn his brain towards what is best for the future of Westeros. It’s Tyrion who initiates the vote. It’s Tyrion who selects Bran. When the vote is unanimous, it’s Tyrion who names him.
When Jon Snow learns of his sentencing, it’s Tyrion who delivers it. He credits the decision to Bran, but he knows the in and outs of exactly why it’s the necessary choice. This suggests it was also he who crafted the decision. When we see the first meeting of the Small Council, the only two concerns King Bran raises to the council are the filling of the vacant seats and the whereabouts of Drogon. As he’s wheeled out of the meeting, He informs Tyrion and the council to carry on with “the rest.” They do exactly that, the business of rebuilding a country, a discussion led by Tyrion.
There are two significant moments that highlight Tyrion’s ultimate fate on the show. The first is during the initial selection process of the kingsmoot. The humiliated Edmure Tully suggests that Tyrion wants the crown. His rebuke of Tully’s suggestion is not out of his lack of worthiness, but his awareness that the people would never accept him. When he anoints Bran, the emphasis of his decision making is the story. It’s the means by which they will sell the new king to the people. The second moment is later, prior to the Small Council meeting, when Samwell Tarly informs Tyrion that he is not even mentioned in the tome of history recounting the events of the recent wars.
This is the ultimate fate of Tyrion Lannister. He finds himself back in the seat he once kept warm. Without intending to, he’s taken on the task of crafting a nation’s next chapter. He’s the one who breaks the wheel of succession, the beginnings of a sort of Westerosi version of the Magna Carta. And he’ll never get the credit for it. Tyrion has the power he never wanted, Bran has the name and the place in history.
As is the case with most of the endings, it’s truly bittersweet. Tyrion is very suited for the task at hand. An often overlooked detail of the story is that when he served as Hand for Joffrey, he was actually very good at it. His policies kept the city going and his strategic preparation kept it safe during the Battle of the Blackwater. There is undoubtedly no one more qualified for the responsibility of rebuilding the Six Kingdoms than Tyrion Lannister. His curse is that he’s going to accomplish it with nary an ounce of credit, not unlike the recognition he never received from his father. Instead, the songs will be written of Bran the Broken. The stories will be told of the story he wrote.