How Ranker Won The Battle Of Winterfell

Updated April 30, 2019

Game Of Thrones is famous for bringing some of our favorite television characters from over the last eight years to life, but it’s likely even more famous for killing them a few seasons later. All too aware of the show’s incredibly high body count, die hard GoT fans steeled themselves for both excitement and tears when the living and the dead finally squared off at Winterfell. The question facing viewers was not if some characters would die, but who and how many.

With so many important people from the Game of Thrones universe in one place fighting a remarkably dangerous battle, and given the show’s clear willingness to kill off its most important characters, guessing who would survive the night and who wouldn’t was no easy task. And yet, Ranker’s readers did a pretty excellent job of doing exactly that.

Article ImageAsked to vote up the characters they felt were most likely to die in episode three of the show’s final season, readers’ top three choices all fell during the battle against the Night King, as well as their sixth, eighth, and ninth choices. With almost 60,000 votes on 27 different characters over the course of just one week, nailing those top three — all of whom have been around since Season 2 at the latest — is a pretty fantastic demonstration of just how good the wisdom of the crowd can be.

What (And Who) Went Down

Theon Greyjoy has been a central character in the series since the very beginning, and his story has probably had more ups and downs than any other character’s. After betraying his friends and adopted family, surviving captivity and castration, and finally, redeeming himself through his final stand at Winterfell, readers surmised that Theon’s story arc was all wrapped up — never a good sign in George R.R. Martin’s universe.

Similarly, Beric Dondarrion’s story seemed (finally) ready to come to a close. Beric can no longer rely on his friend Thoros to resurrect him, as Thoros died at the end of the previous season. As a character with newfound vulnerability and a need for redemption similar to Theon’s, readers were right to bet on Beric biting the dust. Ranker readers also correctly predicted the death of Dolorous Edd, though that calculation was probably based more on the fact that he’s one of the more expendable characters among a roster of fan favorites like Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister than anything else.

But similar reasoning led to two big missteps in our readers’ rankings. Many people noted that Brienne of Tarth’s storyline had pretty much resolved itself after she was knighted in the previous week’s episode, leading Ranker readers to vote her up to number four. And readers also seemed to think that Grey Worm, who commands the Unsullied and was fighting at the front lines of the battle, was very likely to become a casualty. Neither of these guesses, educated though they were, ended up coming to fruition.

Still, our readers proved themselves by making some pretty risky bets. They were bold enough to guess that the writers would kill off a character as young and beloved by fans as Lady Mormont, who ended up at number eight on the list. They also correctly guessed that Jorah Mormont, Khaleesi’s former hand (and Lady Mormont’s first cousin), would meet his end defending the queen he vowed to protect with his life.

Strength In Numbers

How did our readers predict the battle’s outcome this accurately? Ranker tends to attract people who are passionate fans looking to voice their strongest opinions, something the most popular TV show in the world has no shortage of. Bloggers, reviewers, and other pop culture talking heads all offer their own unique perspectives, but when it comes to using your deep knowledge of the show to predict future outcomes, it turns out that it’s hard to compete with thousands of GoT devotees.

This outcome definitively confirms that our readers really know their stuff, but more than that, it confirms something we at Ranker have always believed: the opinion of a million fans is always going to outweigh the opinion of one person.

When people seek recommendations on the internet, they’re not looking to sort through dozens of 1,000-word reviews. They’re looking for a quick and easy way of finding out the consensus among people who care — just look at the popularity of reviews on Amazon, Yelp, and Rotten Tomatoes if you don’t believe us. And people aren’t just doing this because it’s faster than sitting through a lengthy YouTube vlog post. They’re doing it because, statistically speaking, the crowd is going to offer a more measured, balanced perspective than a single opinionated writer.

Alright, that about does it for our little victory lap. Like all the soldiers who remain after successfully defending the North from the Night King, we don’t have much time to celebrate before moving onto the next big battle. Keep checking Ranker for more Game Of Thrones theories and rankings — and remember to keep voting so we can keep turning out amazingly accurate predictions!