Now that Game of Thrones is officially over, fans have been looking back at the series’ eight-season run to find any indication as to how things turned out as they did. Some viewers have been disappointed with character arcs, others have been immensely satisfied that what they thought about certain characters turned out to be true.
We went back to rewatch season 1 and see if any of the outcomes were set up from the beginning. Sure enough, plenty of them were. Here are seven events and character arcs that were clearly seeded in the first season, if you paid enough attention to notice.
Dany burns it down
This is perhaps the most obvious example, and yet also the easiest to miss. Season 1 ended with Daenerys Targaryen emerging from the fire naked with her three hatched dragons, officially deeming her the Mother of Dragons. But lighting a funeral pyre to get rid of Khal Drogo’s body, burning the witch alive who failed to cure him, and walking into the fire herself all suggested she might have had a few screws loose, and was destined to become the Mad Queen. Let’s not forgot what she let happen to her brother Viserys when he threatened her growing sense of power. She may not have been the one who poured molten gold on her brother’s head, but she nods in agreement as he begs for his life, and refuses to look away when Jorah tries to convince her to do so. These incidents were the first examples of how far Dany was willing to go to earn her spot on the throne. While the later seasons seemed to suggest a turn to a magnanimous and just queen, when you look back, there was little doubt as to her fate.
Theon saves Bran
It might have seemed insignificant at the time, but in the show’s sixth episode, Bran Stark is attacked by wildlings while out testing his new saddle. Robb Stark and Theon Grejoy come to his rescue, and it’s Theon who drives an arrow through the back of the wildling holding a knife to Bran’s throat, just as Robb lays down his sword to ask for mercy. Interestingly, right before these events, Robb and Theon have an exchange that foreshadows Theon’s betrayal. “It’s your duty to represent your house when your father can’t,” Theon urges. “And it’s not your duty because it’s not your house,” Robb retorts, just before they realize Bran is missing. It all comes full circle when, in the final season, Theon pledges his allegiance once again to the Starks after betraying them for his father, then redeems himself by protecting Bran from the Night King in his courageous last stand.
Tyrion the politician
At first, Tyrion Lannister appears to be a wild and free-spirited character who loves a good drink and the company of women. But through the first season, we see that there’s far more than meets the eye to the spoiled, rich man — he has tremendous insight and political savvy. One of the most telling instances is in the fourth episode when Tyrion presents a design for saddle modifications for Bran that would allow the boy, who no longer has the use of his legs, to ride again. It earns him points with northerners and demonstrates that while he might not be a great swordsman, he has value nonetheless. Throughout season 1, he continually proves his intellect and insight. While others are none the wiser, he is immediately suspicious of his siblings when he sees their reactions to the news that Bran will live. He reveals to Jon Snow that he likes to read because it “keeps his wits sharp,” and coaches Jon on gaining acceptance at the Wall by suggesting he help train the other recruits instead of embarrassing them. He bargains with his jailer for release from a terrifying sky cell in the Eyrie, then hires Bronn to serve as his, well, brawn. It’s evident that his mental prowess will be used to serve a higher purpose, and that is exactly where he ends up.
Jaime’s Cersei problem
Throughout the middle seasons, we see Jaime Lannister broadening, leading us to believe he’s been reformed. But if you pay close attention to the events in the first season (hello, he pushed Bran out a window!), he was always going to be drawn to Cersei’s hateful nature. No matter how terrible she is, he dutifully and loyally runs to her side, warning her of any potential troubles. Perhaps the most telling words were when, while in captivity and confronted by Catelyn Stark about why he did what he did, Jaime tells her that he “knows no gods.” Those, and the words “the things we do for love” that come back to haunt him when reacquainted with Bran, show that Jaime was always going to risk everything to be by Cersei’s side in the end.
From the moment he opened his mouth, it was obvious that Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish was up to no good and would eventually meet a devastating fate. His initial dirty deed in season 1, betraying Ned Stark when he tries to get Stannis Baratheon appointed king, and his often cryptic and passive-aggressive conversations with Lord Varys, made it easy to believe that this backstab would be only the first in many more betrayals and manipulations to come. Littlefinger got what he deserved in the end. And when you live by betrayal, you’re likely to die by it.
Sansa’s ascent to power
Desperately wanting to be queen, Sansa Stark was willing to put up with the despicable Joffrey Baratheon to achieve her childhood dream. But she seethes when Joffrey has her father killed, then visibly dies a little inside when he forces her to look at the decapitated head on a pike. When Joffrey continues on, threatening Robb, saying he’ll present her with her brother’s head next, Sansa bravely challenges him, declaring through gritted teeth “or maybe he’ll give me yours.” The young girl was forever changed at that moment, even if she didn’t yet realize it. The one-time glimmer in her eye about who and what she was destined to be started to fade. While Sansa eventually got her wish to be queen, it was not in the way she had initially envisioned. But after the events she endured in season 1 (and beyond), it was never going to be easy.
Arya heads west
Arya Stark never desired to be a lady and wanted to follow her own path, right from the beginning when she abandons sewing for swordplay. Jon gives her a sword she names Needle, and Ned sets her up with lessons to learn how to use it, making it all but definite that the sword would be plunged into a body or two (or many) throughout the series. Arya taking down the Night King might have been a surprise, but her decision to head west of Westeros and explore uncharted territory was foreshadowed right from the beginning when she escaped the Red Keep and set on a journey to nowhere. It’s worth noting that in season 6, Arya asks Lady Crane what’s beyond the map. When told it might be the edge of the world, she expresses interest in finding out for herself.
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