[Spoiler warning for everything, both the show 'A Game of Thrones' and the books.]
Arya: She’s everyone’s favorite character, which means she’s likely doomed. It’s possible the Faceless Men training completely strips her of her prayer list of people to kill, turning the character into something we don’t recognize or particularly like very much. It might be ironic if Arya is hired to kill Alayne Stone, and she goes through with it even after discovering Alayne’s identity, just because of how coldblooded she has become. Kin slaying is a theme in this story, and we’ve yet to see any Starks kill each other.
If Arya leaves the Faceless Men with their training and her own vendetta intact, she makes her way back to Westeros to start crossing off names. One of those people on her list (likely Cersei) manages to get the audience on their side, ala Jaime, …right before Arya kills him/her.
Stark reunion: the wolf children all together again? Don’t hold your breath. Too predictable and cliché.
Dany: Or “Khaleesi” as show watchers call her… which annoys the crap out of me because it’s a title, not a name. That would be like naming your child or pet “Queen” after Cersei.
Anyways, Dany, another audience favorite, is similarly ill-fated. Due to the trend of subverting audience expectations and tropes of traditional western story-telling, it’s likely Dany never takes the throne in a blaze of glorious dragon-fire, if for no other reason than because that’s what everyone is expecting. It’s too easy, too obvious. Characters in this series are denied their goals due to their own follies. Dany won’t gain the thrown due to the mess she’s making in Slaver’s Bay. There are a lot of factions coming for her head. It’s likely one of them will eventually succeed. Perhaps eaten by a dragon ala Rhaenyra Targaryen?
|By taking the Throne, Danaerys destroys it.|
Like the Stark dire wolves Lady and Grey Wind, expect one or more of her dragons to be slain, likely before they even get paired with a rider. Another dragon just plain goes feral and Dany never gets it back, like some of the dragons in The Princess and the Queen. Since Quentyn released the other two, someone may steal one. When we see the dragons being ridden in the Winter war, not all of the dragon riders will be at Dany’s consent. Also, if the dragons are kept chained up in a dungeon, they’ll grow sickly and die, which is how the Targaryens lost the dragons in the first place after the smallfolk grew fearful and hateful of them.
She may go to Westeros and help in a possible battle against the Others, but once she sees how Westeros is full of terribleness she returns to Essos, leaving the Seven Kingdoms to their own folly. She realizes Targaryens don’t belong in Westeros and she left Essos in a big mess. She conquers that continent instead in a parallel of Aegon the Conquerer, establishing a New Valyria.
Let’s say she does try to take the Iron Throne. Stannis and Mel kill her with a shadow baby. Sorry.
Sansa: Despite being infamously hated by fans, Sansa grows to become a powerful woman. She is what she was trained to be, a lady, and she wields that in a way Cersei only dreamt of. Watching Littlefinger play the Game is the cap on her training. She may foil Petyr’s plans and perhaps even regain Winterfell… but if her character goes through an arc like this expect something bad to happen to her.
If not, if she continues to be a annoyingly naïve and just a pawn of other Players, then I hope Arya finds out that Sansa told Cersei what Ned was planning, and then Arya kills her for it. Insert needlework pun here.
Rickon: (…He’s Bran’s younger brother. Yeah, him.)
Davos arrives on Skagos to find the youngest Stark eaten by cannibals in a prologue chapter. Sorry, his end befits the amount of attention and gravitas the story paid to him so far.
If not killed, he just grows into a savage, being more wolf than boy, and he is only ever spoken of in hushed rumors about the Wolf-Man of the North that steals livestock in the night. Any misguided attempt at seating him in Winterfell is ends in death for everyone involved, possibly destroying Winterfell again in the process.
Jon Snow: He fights valiantly against the Others in the Winter war. Jon may never discover his true parentage, but he tries to play the Game of Thrones either way, either for the throne or just the North, backed by those who know about Robb’s decree. This leads to his death or exilement as a result of his failure.
Jon may have been set up to be a hero against the wights, but this series subverts tropes. He will likely go down in a really awful way, proportional to how much the audience likes him.
If he’s already dead from the end of the fifth book, Melisandre resurrects him, ala Thoros/Beric. He’s never the same though, and the audience quickly loses interest after all the POV chapters at the Wall shift to Sam and zombie-Jon is only ever mentioned second or third-hand. Or he’s just dead at the end of the fifth book. The end.
Stannis: Melisandre has seen him become king in her visions, so Stannis actually wins the Iron Throne after his part in defeating the Others, but only for a brief period. He is quickly murdered for a variety of possible reasons: he has few allies, no charisma, and an unbending code which makes the small council and other players immediately begin plotting against him upon his coronation. He was not Azor Ahai after all.
Stannis is never a POV character, it’s usually Davos. If one takes Robb’s history as a template: that Catelyn was the reader’s in to what was going on in Robb’s camp, and Robb died but Cat was the one to be brought back… then one possibility is that Stannis is doomed and Davos lives just long enough to watch.
Melisandre: The Red Woman is ironically burned for being a witch, and Davos escapes to Essos after Stannis’ fall. If Shireen isn’t burned by Mel, she escapes with Davos.
OR: Stannis reluctantly kneels to Dany, which tears a rift between the Red Woman and Stannis. Mel bursts into a murderous rage and Stannis doesn’t hesitate to kill her, or Davos finally does it.
Who is Azor Ahai then? Is it Dany or Jon? It’s nobody. Like many other religious things in the story, this is just another myth and is only confirmed through interpretation of fans rationalizing and pleading. We never got a straight answer for the Red Comet. Quaithe’s “Perfumed Seneschal” could’ve been a number of persons or things that have already occurred in the books, or is yet to come. These types of things are left up to the audience to decide for themselves which interpretation they like best.
Ramsay Snow does a lot more crappy things before eventually being murdered like Joffrey. Possibly by Theon. Roose gives no F***s.
Petyr Baelish rules the Vale and the Riverlands already before The Winds of Winter even starts. If he marries Sansa then he’s got the North too. Looks like he’s on his own path to conquer the seven kingdoms without ever drawing a sword or raising an army. Get used to the idea of him being King and Warden of everything. In this series sometimes villains win. Especially the one playing the long and silent game.
Bran Stark goes full Vader. Melisandre already called him the champion of the Great Other, and eating Jojen in the weirwood paste is a bit of a character turn. It’ll be a long path there, but the audience will turn against Bran in the inverse way like they grew to like Jaime. Expect more warging into humans and many “the ends justify the means” arguments towards using the wights towards various goals, e.g. Coldhands.
|Expect Tyrion to go full Walter White.|
Tyrion: I was hoping he would discover his father was really King Aerys II. The Targ blood would let him ride one of Dany’s dragons and be awesome. But the notion of Tyrion flying on a dragon is too fantastical for the setting, and a bit silly. The killer of this theory is Quaithe’s warning not to trust the lion. Sorry Tyrion, keep searching for Tysha, nothing to see here. By the end of the story Tyrion will be totally dark.
I REALLY hope he doesn’t end up with Penny romantically. The notion that dwarfs are suitable only for other dwarfs is total bull. That’s like telling me that I can only date tall people (I’m 6’3”), which is ludicrous right? He probably kills Penny for a petty reason.
Cersei: too hated by fans to die easily, but too foolish to continue to play the Game. If not executed when Robert Strong/Qyborg loses the trial by combat, she tries one last unwise plot against the Tyrells which leads to her being, exiled, or sent to a the septhood.
She thinks the Valonqar is Tyrion, but Jaime would be a more emotional choice for her killer.
Benjen Stark comes back in the final chapter, “Hey guys, did I miss anything?”
Samwell Tarlly runs afoul of the Maester conspiracy against magic and dragons. Oldtown misadventures ensue, running from the familiar Faceless Man.
Due to his analogous characteristics with Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings, he likely ends up being the only character to have a happy ending, and writes a volume of books called “A Song of Ice and Fire”.
Conclusions: Each main character will have a resolution, though unexpected and likely sad, much like where each character ended in A Storm of Swords. But the overall story won’t be restful. The Seven Kingdoms will always be at war. It’s been that way for thousands of years, three dragons and the audience’s lofty hopes won’t change that. The Others/Wight Walkers will be stopped (hell, they might not even make it past the Wall), but they’ll return again in a few winters.
Before you rage at me: I acknowledge most or all of these things won’t happen. It’s just fun to make predictions because we all love to shout “YES! I KNEW IT! CALLED THAT!” when we’re right. I wrote this in a confident tone to make you, as one of the fans, prepared (or resigned) for the awful and unpredictable resolutions that this story imposes on us and our favorite characters. I want Dany to take the throne as much as the next person, but events like the Red Wedding should remind you of Ramsay Bolton’s words:
If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.