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Can love survive the Battle of Winterfell on Game of Thrones?

Contributed by
Apr 26, 2019

Love is a battlefield on Game of Thrones, quite literally in some cases, as plenty of blood has been shed due to matters of the heart. Wars have started, schemes implemented and houses broken as a result of infatuations. A lust for power isn’t the only thing that's fueled bloody campaigns.

The Night King and his army do not share the same desires — sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a Night Queen — but this end-of-the-world predicament is having an impact on current relationships, causing some to make some bold moves. But before checking in on the hook-ups, long-term unions and soon-to-be breakups of the final season, here is a brief look back at the doomed pairings, which suggests that love is hard to maintain in a world this violent.  

Robb Stark lost his life because he followed his heart and not his head. Littlefinger betrayed Ned in part because it helped with his overall scheme, but also because of his decades-old desire for Ned’s wife, Catelyn. Catelyn’s sister's love for Littlefinger meant she was easily manipulated into poisoning her husband, which essentially kickstarted the whole mess.

Robb Stark at the Red Wedding in Game of Thrones

Credit: HBO

Finding love in a hopeless place isn’t hard, but surviving is, and the tattered remains of so many of these doomed unions are all that remain. It is fitting that Jon Snow learns the truth about his parents in the presence of stone memorials to the man he thought was his father, a man who almost ruined his marriage in order to never betray his sister’s dying plea. This revelation has huge implications, not only for Jon’s legacy but also the romance he has just begun. No one wants to find out they have been accidentally banging their aunt. Jon took an oath of celibacy when he joined the Night’s Watch, an oath he broke when he fell for wildling Ygritte. This romance ended with an arrow through the heart (though off screen this couple has fared better).

Death has been the great relationship ruiner in Westeros and beyond. “What is dead may never die” except nothing says “this is over” like someone having their head cut off. Ned and Catelyn got over Ned’s “betrayal” even if Catelyn could never think of Jon with anything but contempt. Loras lost his great love to a smoke demon, his sister lost both husbands — one by poison, the other suicide — before the Tyrell siblings died in Cersei’s Great Sept of Baelor explosion. Not that you can describe either of Margaery’s marriages as great love affairs; strategic moves in the bedroom are just as viable as on the battlefield in Game of Thrones. Cersei knows this all too well; her one true love and father to her children happens to be her brother, Jaime. She married the king, gave birth to “his” heirs and now she sits on the throne.

game of thrones season3 rose leslie kit harington

Credit: HBO

Not all weddings on Game of Thrones end in a bloodbath. There are plenty of other avenues for violence. Sansa has been married twice, neither to a man she desired. Tyrion did not make her go through with the bedding ceremony, while Ramsay had other ideas. It was believed that Lyanna Stark had been kidnapped and raped, but the truth as revealed by Bran revealed a very different story. Before she was accidentally sleeping with her nephew, Daenerys’ great love was Khal Drogo, followed by a relationship with Daario, one which was more desire and appreciation than an eternal bond — she did leave him in Meereen after all. They could do with his fighting skills right about now.

So how are the chances of romance fairing before the Battle of Winterfell? Obviously, this is predicated on who will survive, which considering the threat level, it doesn’t bode well for many.  

Daenerys and Jon Snow, Game of Thrones trailer

Credit: HBO

Jon and Daenerys

After starting the season putting on a united front, riding to Winterfell looking like king and queen, I think it is safe to say it has reached the “it’s complicated” status change for Jon and Daenerys. Jon found out the truth about his parentage, so spent most of the second episode exiting a room in the opposite direction to the woman he now knows is his aunt. Before Daenerys could track him down she had a quick chat with his sister (really his cousin) about her love for Jon, Daenerys noted she has only been in love once before (sorry, Daario). But this sentiment is not long for the world when Jon told Dany the truth. She’s not skeezed out by the whole incest thing, nope. Her concern is he is now the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Jon is saved by the horn announcing the Night King’s arrival; in retrospect, this was probably not the best time to drop that bombshell.

Game of Thrones

Credit: HBO 

Grey Worm and Missandei

Nothing spells out "doomed" quite like making nice plans for when all of this fighting is over. If that didn’t have me convinced Grey Worm is not long for this world, then that goodbye smooch underscored the point. However, Grey Worm is not an unseasoned fighter, even if the cold weather is something he needs to get used to. He has come back from battle time and time again, plus his relationship with Missandei is this show’s sweetest love story. Hopefully, they will get that beach vacation they deserve.

Game of Thrones

Credit: HBO 

Arya and Gendry

A girl is horny and wants to have sex before she dies. The end of the world is one reason to lose your virginity and the HBO Twitter account made sure everyone knows Arya was 18 — Maisie Williams is 22 — before she hooked up with Gendry. And after all the crap she has been through (not to mention all the sexual violence that has been featured on this show), it was refreshing to see Arya get some, particularly in a way that put her in control. Light flirtation over weapons turned to something more as Arya took command. And who can blame her with the deep V proportions of Gendry’s chest-baring shirt? This is one ship I am very much on board with, so hopefully, when Arya sees this particular face of death she will live to tell the tale. You too, Gendry.

Game of Thrones Season 8 Cersei wide shot

Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Cersei and Euron

Cersei is queen, but she still doesn’t get to be with who her heart desires. That person happens to be her brother, but even without the whole incest of it all, Jaime has left to fight for humanity. Meanwhile, Cersei has to sleep with the “I bought you a drink so now you owe me” guy back in King’s Landing. This was not what she signed up for.

Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones

Credit: HBO

Sansa and Tyrion

Are they still technically married? Sansa and Tyrion never consummated their union, so an annulment should be easy to come by. She has since wed another, but thankfully he got eaten by his own dogs. Her crush on Joffrey did not end well, and she also took a fancy to Loras, but death would not be the only barrier here. Tyrion doesn't have a better story. He murdered the woman he loved and now doesn't care for whoring around. Sansa deserves the very best and right now the options are extremely limited, and perhaps she doesn't need a man at all. Maybe if she hears Pod’s singing voice, though. 

Courtesy of HBO

Credit: HBO

Sam and Gilly

I’m still mad at Sam for not giving Gilly any credit for finding the vital Jon parentage info, but Sam has done a lot in the past to make up for that oversight. He has saved Gilly’s life on a number of occasions and he will definitely lay down his own to protect her and Little Sam. As they attempt to sleep before the big battle, as Pod sings his sad song, flashes of families in steerage in Titanic pop into my mind — and we all know how that ended. The Winterfell crypt is full of the dead, so probably not as safe as they keep making it out to be.


Credit: HBO 

Brienne, Jaime, and Tormund

This love triangle (or rather quadrangle if you include Cersei) is incredibly messy. The bond between Jaime and Brienne is deeper than love; they have both been the other's salvation at one point or another. Meanwhile, Tormund is just very attracted to Brienne and who can blame him. He took a fancy as soon as he laid eyes upon her, but so far this has not been reciprocated. Thankfully, Tormund has not been overly persistent, even if he did try and show off his masculinity by revealing the origin of his nickname in the most recent episode.

Will love be defeated at the Battle of Winterfell? 

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