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If only the Westerosi people knew from the beginning how easily a king could be chosen, maybe there wouldn't have been eight seasons of backstabbing, war, intrigue, existential battles for the fate of humanity, and massacres. But that wouldn't have made for a very interesting TV show. Instead, Game of Thrones saved peace for its final episode, when members of the Great Council got together and decided Bran Stark (aka Bran the Broken) should be king.
Several of the council members' faces were easily recognizable, while others have never appeared before on the show. Still others looked vaguely familiar, but you'd be forgiven for forgetting who everyone was, what with all the dragonfire and undead armies taking up so much space this season. Here's what you need to know about all the unfamiliar characters at the council, which doubles as Tyrion Lannister's ersatz trial.
Oh, Edmure Tully, did you really think you would seize the moment and become king of the six or seven kingdoms? Apparently the answer is yes, because poor, oblivious Edmure stands up and touts his record as a statesman and experienced warrior, and so on and so forth before Sansa finally shuts him up by telling him to sit down.
The name "Tully" might ring a bell because the late Catelyn Stark was a Tully; Edmure is her younger brother. He's spent most of the show imprisoned or serving the schemes of more powerful leaders, which makes it all the more awkward that he thinks he can be in charge of the whole shebang now. It was Edmure who was supposed to be the groom at the Red Wedding to bail out Robb Stark from his off-script marriage, but the Tully wound up as a prisoner of the Freys; Edmure who bungled firing the flaming arrow at his father's funeral; Edmure who serves as the bait to lure out the Blackfish when the Freys lay siege to Riverrun.
In short, he's more suited for sitting his ass down than trying to play king.
Who is this surly looking man who we've definitely seen many times in the series but never can quite place him? That's Lord Yohn Royce, aka "Bronze Yohn" (???), Lord of Runestone located in the Vale, and diligent meeting attender. He's been loyal to the Arryns and the Starks, one of Ned's old buddies from when he served as a ward to Jon Arryn in his more youthful days. The first time we see Yohn Royce is in the tribunal after the suspicious death of Lysa Arryn, where he calls out Littlefinger for being a snakey, evil dude with a tendency to play kiss-ass with the Lannisters, a hatchet that never gets fully buried. Notably, he's by little Robin Arryn's side as he weans off the breastmilk (approximately age 8) and starts sucking massively at shooting an arrow straight. Royce also played a central role in taking out Ramsay Bolton's army. He shows up again in Season 7 at the council that Jon calls to figure out a plan to take out the impeding threat of the White Walkers, and in Season 8 when he brings Dany, whom is he wary of, to Winterfell. As the seat of an ancient noble house of Westeros, it makes sense that he'd be at yet another meeting to decide who will be the next king, and since he's been loyal to both Sansa Stark and Robin, it's fitting that he's watching the two youngsters step up.
No longer is he milk boy -- he's milk man. While we abjectly refuse to officially call his look a "glow-up," Robin Arryn, the only son of Jon and Lysa Arryn, is indeed older, sporting a clean-looking middle part and some nice clothes. He's also much less temperamental, presumably due to years off the breastmilk. Formerly the freaky little boy who wanted to see bad men "fly," i.e. pushed through a giant hole to their death, has since become Lord of the Eyrie, sole ruler of the Vale, after taking a tour of his own lands and learning how to hold a sword properly under the supervision of Yohn Royce. Back in Season 6, he even made the decision to send his troops to help out his cousin Sansa against the Boltons. Presenting that one stand as a wholesale personality change, Robin Arryn is accompanied by Royce to the council of the last Great Houses of Westeros to accept his other cousin, Bran, as the new king.
Hey, remember the Greyjoys? Theon and Uncle Euron are long gone, which leaves Yara in control of the Iron Islands and serving as a representative for the Ironborn. She's among those who are pissed at Jon Snow, because as she notes, Dany actually did liberate a lot of people. Seems like everyone forgot that pretty quickly and decided to focus on the negatives, like "massacres of innocent civilians" and "bloodlust." She too is shot down, though her opinion ultimately helps decide Jon's fate.
The unnamed newbies
Not everyone you saw at the council has appeared on the show before. There's the Prince of Dorne, who's been teased for a while after the Dorne storyline petered out (he's the one with the gold robes next to Yara). On Yara's other side is a random northerner, and to Yohn Royce's left there's an old guy who kicks off the laughter when Samwell Tarly tries to invent democracy. To Gendry's right sits yet another random lord who also happens to support Bran. Then there's the dude sitting next to Edmure -- what's his deal?
Since it's the series finale, one thing's for certain: We'll never know.