When it comes to big casts of characters, Game of Thrones tops the list. Even at the beginning of Season 8, there are still well over 20 important characters movin’ and shakin’ as they prepare to battle the White Walkers and take back the Iron Throne for the good of Westeros.
It’s easy to get caught up in the drama of big leading characters like Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, but what about the characters you might not classify as leads? What about the bit players you may overlook just because because they’re not an obviously integral piece of the main story?
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As we steel ourselves for the final episodes of Game of Thrones, we thought it’d be worthwhile to remind you of some low-key power players who either have the position or a special power that could make them indispensable to the goals of Jon, Dany, and the rest of the lead charaters.
Let’s take a look at five of those power players who have been hiding right under your nose this whole time and could end up playing a major role in Game of Thrones Season 8.
5. Samwell Tarly
Sam doesn’t exactly radiate power or dominance, bless his heart, but he’s trying! Sam possesses a deep intelligence and curiosity that has, over the course of Game of Thrones, taken him from Castle Black to the Citadel to Winterfell and on that journey, allowed him to befriend the future king and learn the biggest secret about that future king’s history. The groundwork for Sam’s potential as a maester of major importance has been laid and we wouldn’t be surprised if his knowledge and access to Westerosi history made him an even more valuable asset as Jon and Daenerys plan their attacks against the Night King and Cersei.
Oh, Melisandre. The Red Woman is somehow always causing problems and never really quite sure how to fix them, something that bit her in the butt in Season 7 and led to her fleeing Westeros.
At the beginning of Season 8, Melisandre is in Volantis, in Essos, and we’re not entirely sure what she is up to these days. However, we know she says she’s destined to die in Westeros, which means she could return in Season 8 with a weapon or troops that could give Jon and Daenerys an advantage in battle. Or, she could return to Westeros and channel her magic into something powerful, affecting and able to turn the tide.
Melisandre once said it was her duty to unite fire and ice, meaning Daenerys and Jon, but what if it is also her duty to wield those elements or at the very least, influence them into doing something greater than they ever thought possible?
3. Bran Stark
Sure, we’re all having a good time joking about Bran being the Three-Eyed Raven and seeing literally everything that is going on at all times. But while you’re busy discounting Bran because he likes to chill out in courtyards and wait for old friends, he’s busy keeping tabs on the unfolding events.
A plethora of theories have come to the forefront about Bran and his role in Season 8. We’ve known that Bran’s abilities as the Three-Eyed Raven made him important to the story and important in keeping the story moving. We’ve also known that he and the Night King now have some semi-ominous bond that keeps them connected, ostensibly allowing them to track one another and see the world through each other’s eyes. This direct link to the Night King alone makes Bran a powerful person.
But, what makes him even more worthy of tracking is his ability to not just travel to any point in time, but maybe even influence the past. Bran can also warg into the minds of other creature’s (and Hodor’s) mind. If that doesn’t make him a low-key power player, we don’t know what does.
2. Tyrion Lannister
The question over whether Tyrion is a Targaryen has long been in the mix on Game of Thrones. Although there is no blatant familial ties between Tyrion and the Targaryens, the question about Tyrion’s true parentage has often been questioned on the show, either explicitly or implicitly. Tywin Lannister heavily implied that he isn’t sure if he is actually Tyrion’s father (but maybe that was just meant as an insult), and in an interesting twist, the mothers of Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys all died in childbirth.
Oh, and Tyrion also memorably was able to approach and touch a dragon in Season 6, something that only those with Targaryen blood are supposed to be able to do.
Tyrion’s become an integral ally to Daenerys, who named him Hand to the Queen. However, any revelations about possible connections to the Targaryen house could make him even more important and integral to Daenerys’ well-being and to the future of her reign. It’s hard to believe Tyrion would make a play for the throne if he was actually a Targaryen, but maybe Daenerys would stop questioning his loyalties every time he questioned he pushed back against her worst impulses and instead start listening to his logical, sound advice.
1. Gendry (Baratheon)
It’s always been easy to overlook Gendry. Relegated to supporting character status and pushed out to see in a rowboat for seasons at a time, it’s hard to imagine a world where the bastard son of Robert Baratheon could actually be a secret power player.
But that’s exactly what Gendry is. It hasn’t been mentioned on Game of Thrones yet, but George R.R. Martin’s books make it known that the Baratheon house began as a Targaryen house of sorts. Way back in Westeros history, during the time known as Aegon’s Conquest, Orys Baratheon was not just Aegon the Conqueror’s best friend and field commander, he was also Aegon’s half-brother. While it’s commonly accepted that Aegon and Orys are related, Orys was also a bastard, which means having Targaryen blood isn’t the only thing that runs through the Baratheon line.
Gendry having Targaryen blood means he is way more important than just being a badass smith who can create intricate dragonglass weapons for Jon and Daenerys’s armies. That bloodline could allow Gendry to ride dragons and assert even more of a claim to the throne than he had before as Robert’s bastard son. It doesn’t seem like Gendry would necessarily try to take over the throne but given the fact that he and Jon got on like a house on wildfire in Season 7, maybe Gendry will become an advisor to Jon if he ends up sitting on the Iron Throne. Heck, Jon needs all the family he can get at this point.
Game of Thrones Season 8 airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO.