Game Of Thrones: a finale that celebrates single people and singleness

25th May 2019


As of Tuesday morning, 21 May – less than 30 hours after it aired – 1.35 million people had signed a digital petition asking for the Games Of Thrones final series to be rewritten. By the time you read this, the number will undoubtedly have risen.

The petition’s author said: “David Benioff and DB Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (ie the books) to fall back on.”

Well, I agree there were many flaws in the last series, which I won’t dwell on in detail. But I also thought there was much to appreciate. They did get much of it right. However, one thing that few people have remarked on is that, unlike most epics of this nature, there was no tie up with a wedding. Almost all the surviving protagonists are single, with no hint of wedding bells on the horizon.

Based on the books of George RR Martin, it’s believed that some of the inspiration for Game Of Thrones came from the Wars of the Roses. That story ended both historically and in Shakespeare with the uniting marriage of Henry Tudor, a Lancastrian, and Elizabeth of York, and the founding of a new dynasty bringing (supposedly) peace. At the end of The Lord Of The Rings, Aragorn weds Arwen. In the Star Wars franchise, Han Solo weds Princess Leia. The happy ending is marriage and rebirth.

All Game Of Thrones survivors are single

Some of us thought that perhaps Jon Snow from the North would marry Daenerys Targaryen, but he ends up killing her, sacrificing his love to save the world from her madness. There were a couple of other potential pairings, but none happened. 

Jon Snow departs alone for the Watch; Arya sets sail solo, having rejected marriage to travel the world; Sansa, who did desperately want to marry as a young girl, is crowned triumphantly but alone as Queen of the North, after some terrible luck with men. Her brother Bran, who can’t walk and will never bear sons, is crowned King of the Six Kingdoms.

Tyrion, everybody’s favourite dwarf – who has had relationships but is now single – gets to run everything as Hand of the King, and at the head of a Council where most of the people are single. Brienne, the tall female warrior who has a very brief but lost love, is there – we were much more moved by the scene of Jaime Lannister knighting her before the Battle of Winterfell than by their subsequent brief night together.   

Davos and Bronn – two wonderful characters with rich and chequered pasts – also sit on the final Council. Only Samwell we know has a family (although I wasn’t sure Maesters were allowed that).

And that is the big and rather effective idea. The bigger, larger-than-life characters are mainly gone, with the supporting but strong and much-loved characters moving to centre stage and patiently putting the world back together around a table. 

What shone through were their characters, their sense of values, their loyalty and staying power, and their ability to survive solo in a mad and dangerous world, and to come through to the other side. 

Game Of Thrones has come in for great criticism for its violence, for explicit sex scenes, and for some rather crazy moments and occasional bad writing. But millions who have followed it for nine years (myself included) have been entranced by its imagination, its creativity, and the sheer force, variety and credibility of so many of its characters, the dilemmas they face and their mistakes.   

I think it’s a cause for praise that so many single characters survive and are rewarded not by matrimony but by adventure, responsibility and the bonds of lasting respect and friendship. That is rare.

Maybe I should start an alternative petition on Change.org, congratulating the writers for their achievement.

Jackie Elton, 25 May 2019