Game of Thrones: who are the contenders for the Iron Throne?

As we get our teeth into Game of Thrones' fifth season, it's time to reflect on who might make it to the Iron Throne and how they might get there...

Ah, the Iron Throne. With all the characters, storylines, dragons and wild and wonderful new territories popping up in Game of Thrones season five, it’s easy to forget the reason we are all here: to fight – to win or die – for the Iron Throne.


Back in the day, I’d have bet the contents of the bank of Braavos that Robb Stark would one day park his behind on the seat of swords, but the Red Wedding put a bloody and abrupt end to all that. Renly Baratheon, Oberyn Martell, Khal Drogo, even poor ol’ Ned – any of them could have put up a good fight, but it wasn’t to be.

Now, as season five gets into full swing, it’s time to regroup and reevaluate who might end up on the Iron Throne when this bloody, boob-filled game comes to an end.

NB I swear by the old Gods and the new that I haven’t read the books so this is all spoiler-free speculation.

PS Please don’t laugh at me if most/all of these characters die in next week’s episode.

Sansa Stark

With the eldest Stark girl poised to marry the abhorrent Ramsay Bolton, it looks as if Sansa – sassy now, not simpering – could be about find herself in a rather powerful position. Kitted out with dyed hair and dark, gothic clothing, Sansa is no longer a girl to be messed with – she’s finally playing the Game of Thrones.

We all know the North remembers, and with a little sly manipulation, Sansa Stark, reinstated Lady of Winterfell, could be Queen of It in no time. With her father’s remaining banner-men behind her, she’s a mere hop, skip and a jump from taking Kings Landing from the dwindling Lannisters.

Jon Snow

As of last week, Jon Snow is in his very own position of authority, after being voted Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Now we’re not suggesting this makes him capable of taking the Iron Throne for himself (he seems to be stubbornly sticking it out at The Wall) but – BUT – he’s surely a genuine contender. Jon’s mysterious mother has long been a source of speculation. And we know her identity must be important – it’s the question author George RR Martin tested HBO’s showrunners with before giving them his blessing to make the series. Surely there’s royal blood brooding in those veins?

Daenerys Targaryen

She’s a direct descendant of King Aerys II Targaryen, the Mad King, she’s the Mother of Dragons and she believes herself to be the true ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. She’s powerful, poised and tries above all to be a fair leader. We’ve been rooting for her since the beginning.

To get to the Iron Throne all Daenerys needs to do is establish peace in Meereen, raise an effective army, find loads of boats, come up with a plan, re-tame her unruly dragons, cross the Narrow Sea and fight Tommen’s forces. We’d love to see her get there, but with showrunners maintaining Thrones will only run to seven seasons, we’re not entirely convinced she’s got time…


We’re left a little unsure of Petyr Baelish’s motivations behind the killing of Lysa Arryn and the marrying off of Sansa. If he’s willing to hand over S Stark to the Boltons it must be because he wants to get his own little fingers on the crown? We’re not sure how, but wily Littlefinger manages to make his way around most of Westeros unscathed. We predict that, like a cockroach, he’ll be there to the bitter end.


The younger brother of the late Robert Baratheon, Stannis has a true claim on Westeros’s crown. He’s already tried – and spectacularly failed – to take King’s Landing from the Lannisters at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, and now he’s camped out at The Wall plotting to take the North and attack the crown from above. We’re not overly convinced he has the charisma to charm the North, or to rule over Westeros. But then he does have Melisandre on his side. Surely at some point she’ll just give birth to some more murderous shadows who can slay his remaining opposition?

Sand Snakes

The Sand Snakes: the eight, ruthless and violent bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell. While we’re all paying attention to Daenerys and her dragons, they could easily slither into Westeros unseen, silently off the Lannsiters and take the Iron Throne for themselves. We’re not sure they are all capable of sharing it, but a quick spell of hand-to-hand combat could easily reveal Westeros’s next queen…


Gendry might be missing at sea – presumed drowned if anyone knew/cared about his whereabouts – but we’re not so convinced. Robert Baratheon’s last remaining bastard has a genuine claim on the throne, and we’d love to see him get there. Perhaps he’ll eventually wash up in Braavos, team up with Arya again and the pair of them will avenge those who did them wrong, spark a revolution and end up ruling Westeros side-by-side, with Sansa supporting them in the North.

I quite like that version.


Game of Thrones continues on Mondays at 2:00am and 9:00pm on Sky Atlantic 

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