Assuming the Iron Throne and the Seven Kingdoms still exist at the end of Game of Thrones when all the dust from the war to come has settled, Sansa Stark is the only logical Protector of the Realm.
In Season 7, she’s already halfway there as the Queen in the North. The season’s second episode, “Stormborn,” sees Jon Snow depart for Dragonstone, leaving Winterfell and the North in Sansa’s capable hands.
Why should she rule all seven kingdoms, too? Because she carries the name of a great house and she’s experienced in both northern and southern ways. But most importantly, she has intimate knowledge of the worst hardships one can experience and it hasn’t broken her.
Face it: Westeros is a place where life is nasty, brutish, and short. The only person who can truly be a “protector” of the Realm is not someone who wants to rule because it’s their birthright. It’s someone who understands that life sucks for most people in Westeros. In “Stormborn,” Lady Olenna Tyrell scoffed at the idea of peace. “It never lasts,” she said.
But it might if Westeros had a ruler who truly understood the plight of the lowest in the seven kingdoms. Varys does, and he’s working for the common people — but he doesn’t want the throne itself.
In its recent history, Westeros hasn’t had kings (or queens) who have experienced what Sansa has. They’ve seen battlefield horrors; they’ve observed hardships from the comfort of towers or from the backs of dragons. But they haven’t been manipulated, psychologically abused, dragged through the mud, and forced to endure indignities and humiliations.
Even during hard times, Daenerys has always had advisors and companions who treat her like royalty. Plus, although she technically has the right name, she’s a foreign queen. She doesn’t understand daily life in Westeros — and though she’s heard stories about her father, she hasn’t seen the horror of the Mad King’s legacy. As Daario once told her, she wasn’t made to sit in a chair. She’s a conqueror.
Assuming Petyr Baelish makes it to the end, he’s too willing to throw others under the bus (or out the Moon Door) for personal gain.
As for Tyrion or Jaime Lannister? Jaime wouldn’t want the job, and Tyrion himself acknowledged that House Lannister has been pulling the strings for years. It’s time for a new House to come into power.
And House Stark is due for a comeback. Bran is busy being a time-wizard, and a gig as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms wouldn’t come with nearly enough blood for Arya. Jon Snow is technically a Targaryen — but even if he took on his mother’s name, he doesn’t care enough about political bullshit. It’s an admirable quality, but it’s already gotten him killed once.
Although some viewers have grumbled about Sansa’s penchant for publicly disagreeing with Jon in Season 7, she’s had sound points. Every Northern Lord agreed with her take in “Stormborn” that Jon should not leave Winterfell. In fact, although Jon is looking at the big picture, he’s showing his usual tendency to miss the forest for the trees.
You know who doesn’t do that? Sansa. She’s had a mixed bag of role models, but she’s absorbed their best qualities. She has Ned’s honor while understanding that it got him killed. She has Catelyn’s steel with a greater willingness to challenge her male family members’ decisions. She has Cersei’s ruthlessness, but with more compassion and Baelish’s penchant for playing the game with none of his creepiness. Even Sandor Clegane has his own honor code — loath as he is to admit it — and that’s rubbed off on Sansa. She began Game of Thrones as a spoiled, clueless girl, but her experiences have turned her into a tough, intelligent, and political-minded woman.
Sansa sees the forest and the trees, and her Small Council — which would include Tyrion and Varys — would fill in any gaps in knowledge. If the Iron Throne exists when all is said and done, it belongs to Sansa Stark.
Game of Thrones Season 7 is currently airing Sunday nights on HBO.