The series finale of Game of Thrones may have destroyed the Iron Throne itself, but that didn’t mean that the position of Westerosi monarch was left vacant—instead, it went to the unlikeliest of candidates in Bran Stark. The coronation of King Bran the Broken definitely qualifies as a plot twist of the most shocking variety, that doesn’t mean that some fans didn’t see it coming—and there are plenty of instances of foreshadowing throughout the series that back up their assertions.
It may never be known how much of Game of Thrones’ final season is made up of real plot points from George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and how much is the imagination of showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff. Whatever the truth may be, the naming of Bran Stark as king still fits within the series’ established themes—and there have been enough hints and clues laid along the way to definitively state that this particular aspect of the conclusion wasn’t just a last-minute addition.
It is as of yet unknown—and may always remain so—whether Bran Stark will end up the King of Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire, but there’s foreshadowing to be found in the pages of George RR Martin’s novels, too. In the final chapter of the series’ second book, Bran muses on the destruction of Winterfell—and provides a reference to his own future kingly title.
The stone is strong, Bran told himself, the roots of the trees go deep, and under the ground the Kings of Winter sit their thrones. So long as those remained, Winterfell remained. It was not dead, just broken. Like me, he thought. I'm not dead either.
Speaking of roots, this could be the genesis of “Bran the Broken”—and evidence that Martin also intends to go down the path of seating Bran on the throne when his series concludes.
Genetically speaking, the people of the North are practically their own species when compared with the other people of Westeros. Northern families like the Starks can trace their lineage back to the First Men who populated Westeros, making them entirely separate from the Andal heritage of the other houses. As such, Bran Stark is not related through blood to any previous king or queen of the Seven Kingdoms—whether they be Targaryen, Baratheon, or Lannister.
Thanks to his all-seeing abilities, however, Bran has been there to witness the trials and tribulations of all those past monarchs. He was there when King Aerys went mad, and when King Robert drank, and when Queen Cersei blew up the Sept of Baelor. Through his powers, Bran would have even been able to watch as Aegon the Conqueror united the Seven Kingdoms. The point is that Bran has borne witness to the reign of every single monarch in the history of Westeros—and as such, he’s the intellectual heir to all who came before him.
An important and ongoing theme of Game of Thrones—and in particular the storyline of Daenerys Targaryen—is that of “breaking the wheel.” While many fans speculated about the arrival of some form of democracy in Westeros by the end of the series, realistically speaking universal suffrage was never in the cards for the Seven Kingdoms.
Samwell Tarly’s suggestion of a democratic Westeros—and how poorly it is received—lampshades just how harsh a transition such a political shift would represent for the continent. The workaround that Tyrion Lannister devises—in which a council of important individuals selects each successive monarch—makes for a reasonable stopgap on the way to a representative government, but avoids being too anachronistic. Bran’s inability to sire children also makes him the perfect first candidate for this highly-experimental new form of governance.
Misinformation has long plagued the reigns of even the greatest rulers in Westerosi history. Aerys Targaryen was driven mad by rumors of “Southron ambitions.” Robert Baratheon didn’t realize he was being cuckolded by his own brother-in-law. Joffrey died as the result of a deep state conspiracy.
As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran Stark can see everything in the past and present—and, quite possibly, the future. There would be no possibility of secretly plotting against Bran the Broken, or providing him with disinformation. No enemy will attack Westeros without Bran seeing it coming, and no commoner on the continent will suffer without his knowing about it. Bran’s psychic powers may have detached him from humanity—but they will also allow him to be a perfect king.