Game of Thrones finale: Four potential endings no one would see coming

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones up until and including Episode 5, Season 8.

Today, the biggest TV show of our time comes to an end. After eight seasons over eight years, the series finale of Game of Thrones will air at 1pm NZ time on Monday.

It's all been building up to this: arcs will be resolved, characters will face the consequences of their actions and maybe Peter Dinklage will finally nail a convincing English accent.

Theories have abounded about what the final episode could hold. But there are a few possibilities no one would see coming.

1: Ned's back!


Many point to the execution of Ned Stark in the penultimate episode of Season 1 as the moment GoT proved it was a different kind of TV show. Killing off the main character with no warning was a bold move from the showrunners, and Ned's death proved the catalyst for many of the events of the following seasons.

But what if he never actually died?

We never saw the moment Ned's head left his body, which may have been a tasteful artistic choice - or it could have been a bluff. At the last moment, Ned was dragged through a secret trapdoor as Ser Ilyn Payne brought his sword down on the neck of a mannequin with tousled hair and a scruffy beard.

The moment before the cunning switcheroo.
The moment before the cunning switcheroo. Photo credit: HBO

The Stark patriarch was then put in the Westeros witness protection programme, given the new name 'Ted' and has spent the last several years living in blissful isolation in a village in Dorne. But when Ted hears what happened to King's Landing - and receives rumours his own beloved daughter was among those wandering helplessly in the ash - he bolts back to claim the Iron Throne for himself.

Maybe he'll pose as that unnamed new Dornish prince who's been mentioned a few times, or maybe he'll reveal his true identity. Either way, winter is coming back - and he'll be royally pissed about what's happened to the rest of his family in the meantime.

2: White Walker's return


The ice zombies from beyond the Wall were introduced in the very first episode of GoT, and the threat they posed gradually built up until they destroyed the Wall and marched into Westeros at the end of Season 7. The human characters would have to put aside their political squabbles and unite as one if they were to have the slightest chance of surviving this great existential danger.

And then all the White Walkers were defeated in Episode 3. Satisfying though it was to watch Arya turn the Night King into shaved ice, it was an oddly simple end to what had been the overarching threat for the duration of the entire show.

But what if one White Walker survived? What if they've spent the last three episodes trudging to King's Landing to avenge their fallen brethren? What if, just as Jon/Daenerys/Sansa/a dragon/Gilly sits down triumphantly on the melted remains of the Iron Throne, a blue-eyed figure emerges from the rubble of the Red Keep and kills the newly-appointed human ruler?

Surely the White Walkers aren't as easily beaten as the Battle of Winterfell suggested - that would just be bad writing!

3: Dany's evil twin


Daenerys Targaryen is a fan favourite due to her rags-to-riches story arc, her determination to end slavery and her enviably intricate hairstyles.

So it was somewhat shocking to see her ignore the cries of surrender from innocent people and burn King's Landing to the ground for no reason in Episode 5. This is surely the end of the road for Dany: there's no coming back from such a monstrous crime against humanity. wasn't Dany who killed thousands of citizens, but her evil identical twin. Episode 6 could reveal the real Dany has spent the last several seasons chained up in whatever cave she locked her dragons in at the end of Season 4. In her place has been an unknown fourth Targaryen sibling with the same excellent hair but an insatiable desire for mass murder.

Someone who is definitely not Daenerys makes a terrible decision.
Someone who is definitely not Daenerys makes a terrible decision. Photo credit: HBO

The finale will reveal it was all a big mistake: evil Dany will be executed/imprisoned/sentenced to community service rebuilding the Wall, and the real Mother of Dragons will be free to rule the Seven Kingdoms as the fair and loving queen we all know and love. #girlpower!

4: It was all a dream


The go-to twist ending for any high school creative writing assignment, revealing that the entire plot took place in a character's imagination would be the greatest possible GoT ending for the sheer amount of mind-ruining rage it would cause.

Imagine: Bran wakes up in a cold sweat, a young be-fringed boy with the full use of his legs again. Catelyn Stark rushes into her son's bedroom to comfort him while Ned smiles from the doorway. Outside the window we see Robb and Theon in the Winterfell courtyard teaching Rickon how to run in a zigzag should he ever need to, while six direwolves can be seen sleeping in one big happy alive pile.

"Mother, Father, I had the strangest dream," Bran says.

"Hush Bran, you're safe now," Catelyn says. "We're all safe."

"There must always be a Stark in Winterfell - and here we all are!" Ned quips. Everyone laughs, the frame freezes and the credits roll.

There would be riots in the streets. The markets would crash. The Queen would have to abdicate. It would be anarchy, and there's no TV show that could bring about the downfall of civilisation quite like Game of Thrones.