The Game of Thrones series finale has finally arrived, and given us all the answer to the question fans have been asking for eight years: Who will wind up on the Iron Throne? The answer was pretty unexpected for most fans, but in retrospect, the show seems to have been building up to that ending since it began. Spoiler alert: This post contains spoilers from the series finale of Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne." For anyone still reeling from Bran Stark becoming Westeros' new ruler, here are some clues Bran was going to become king on Game of Thrones that will help make that ending make some more sense.
Although Bran Stark has been M.I.A. in Westeros for the bulk of Game of Thrones — having spent a large chunk of the series above the Wall — he ended up becoming the king of the realm after Daenerys Targaryen's sudden death. Thanks largely to a stirring speech from Tyrion Lannister about the importance of stories, Westeros' council of leaders unanimously elected Bran to become the new king, and Bran's response indicated that he had actually seen this moment coming for a while now.
Although Bran may have already known about his coronation, many fans did not see his kingship coming. There were some pretty major clues pointing to Bran sitting on the Iron Throne (or... well... whatever they replace the Iron Throne with) throughout the show to this point.
1. Tyrion's realizations this season
The most recent hints about Bran's eventual ascent to king of Westeros come from Tyrion Lannister's scenes in the show's final season. After the Battle of Winterfell, Tyrion came to the realization that Bran should be the Lord of Winterfell, but Bran said he did not want a position of power. The next episode, Varys advises Tyrion that the best person for the throne would be someone who does not want it.
Although they were speaking about Jon Snow at the time, it now seems clear that the scene was meant to be a reference to Bran Stark, who had just professed to Tyrion that he did not want a position of power one episode earlier. This could have been the main moment that planted the seeds of nominated Bran for king in Tyrion's head.
2. Bran's introduction in the book and show
But the clues about Bran's importance go back way further than just this final season. Bran is the very first narrator at the beginning of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, and we are first introduced to the world of Westeros through his eyes. Similarly, Game of Thrones opened with a scene focused on Bran, as his older brothers teach him archery and then he is forced to watch as his father Ned Stark executes a Night's Watch deserter. Bran is also the first Stark to pick up one of the direwolf pups, and the person to protest that the pups not be killed. It was clear from the very beginning that Bran would be central to the entire series.
3. Jaime's push
Bran's rise to power gives a whole new meaning to Jaime Lannister pushing him out a window leaving him crippled in the first season. Bran's injury at the hands of the Lannister mirrors Westeros' suffering under Lannister rule, but just as the rest of the show's main characters become stronger and prepared to rise up to save Westeros, so too did Bran Stark gain the powers of the Three-Eyed Raven, connecting him to Westeros' past, present, and future in a way that nobody else is.
4. Tyrion's sadle
Bran and Tyrion have met before the new king made the only surviving Lannister his Hand in the series finale. Their most prominent prior interaction was in the Season 1 episode "Cripples, Bastards and Broken Things," in which Tyrion fashions a saddle for Bran so he may ride a horse despite his broken legs. Looking back, this scene seems to be symbolic foreshadowing: Bran is held up high by Tyrion, who provides the seat that he needs.
5. The connection to Bran the Builder
Of course, there is also a bit of potential foreshadowing that goes deep into the Game of Thrones lore. Once elected king, Bran earns the nickname of Bran the Broken, which is a close callback to the ancient Westerosi hero Bran the Builder, the legendary House of Stark founder responsible for building the Wall to keep the White Walkers at bay. A lot of fan theories guessed that Bran would wind up being the opposite of his ancestor by breaking the wall, but it turns out, the name he received actually refers to the act of violence the begat so much more war throughout the run of the show.