None Of Your Favorite 'GoT' Characters Would Have Gotten Where They Are If It Wasn't For Brienne
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD.
Since her debut in Season 2 of Game of Thrones, Brienne of Tarth has been considered a side character at best. But over the course of the series, she won viewers' hearts and became an unambiguous fan favorite. Brienne’s role as a figure of female empowerment—and one of the best swordfighters in all of Westeros—have been widely acknowledged, but less-discussed is the central role she’s played in the series’ plot.
Brienne has been around for some of the most pivotal moments in recent Westerosi history, including the Dragonpit summit and the Battle of Winterfell, but her impact on the overall plot of A Song of Ice and Fire run much deeper than that. Brienne hasn’t just interacted with most of the characters left standing for the final season of Game of Thrones—she’s directly responsible for many of them still being alive.
- 193 VOTES
With the possible exception of Podrick Payne, no character in Game of Thrones has had their arc more directly affected by Brienne than Jaime Lannister. First and foremost, Jaime wouldn’t be around without Brienne to suggest that Catelyn Stark free him from captivity before the Karstarks could enact vigilante justice upon him—or to ferry him back to King’s Landing and protect him from peril.
Beyond his continued existence, however, Jaime also owes his redemptive arc almost entirely to Brienne. His time spent on the road with her changes him—and his decision to put himself in harm’s way to rescue her from the bear pit is the first truly good act he commits in the series. Their infamous shared bath scene marks the first time that Jaime ever got to talk to someone about his kingslaying incident, and thus she’s the first to recognize him for the hero he is. From there on out, Jaime does his best to live up to Brienne’s example—and she’s a large part of the reason why he comes to Winterfell to fight in the Battle for the Dawn.
- 259 VOTES
Without Brienne of Tarth, Theon Greyjoy might still be alive today—but he’d be a lot worse off. It is Brienne who steps in to save Theon and Sansa Stark from the pursuit of Bolton soldiers after their dramatic escape from Winterfell—and the rescue comes just moments after Theon offers to sacrifice himself so that Sansa can flee.
If Theon had have been captured in that moment, he would have been returned to Winterfell for more torture at the hands of Ramsay Bolton. Though they part ways shortly thereafter, Brienne’s intervention allows Theon to continue on his path to redemption—leading to his own rescue of his sister Yara and his eventual self-sacrifice at the Battle of Winterfell.
Brienne of Tarth swears an oath to Catelyn Stark to find her daughters and protect them from harm—and Brienne continues to uphold that oath long after Catelyn’s gruesome death. After Sansa and Theon Greyjoy escape the captivity of Ramsay Bolton in Winterfell, it is Brienne who saves them from pursuing soldiers—and thus prevents them from returning to a fate worse than death.
After the rescue, Brienne takes Sansa to Castle Black so that she can reunite with Jon Snow—and that puts Sansa on the path to eventually becoming the Lady of Winterfell. Once there, it is the protective presence of Brienne that prevents Petyr Baelish from scheming so openly—and thus allows Sansa to eventually escape his manipulative influence.
- 473 VOTES
Brienne Basically Created Podrick
Podrick Payne doesn’t just owe his current role in the Game of Thrones plot to Brienne—there’s a real good chance he wouldn’t even be alive without her. Following the exile of his previous lord, Tyrion Lannister, Podrick joins Brienne as her impromptu squire—and she begins to begrudgingly tutor him in the ways of the sword.
Pod has been attached to Brienne’s hip ever since. He’s accompanied her on her search for the Starks, to the siege of Riverrun, and eventually to the Battle of Winterfell. Along the way, he’s found himself in a number of armed confrontations—and it’s unlikely that he would have survived any of those encounters without Brienne’s patient instruction. More than that, Brienne took an aimless youth lost in the world and gave him a purpose in life.
- 566 VOTES
Brienne of Tarth doesn’t just save Sansa Stark from Ramsay Bolton—she also provides her with enough protection and support to return to a position of power in the North. In doing so, Brienne reunites Sansa with her brother/cousin Jon Snow—and Jon should be very thankful that she did.
Without Sansa there to summon Littlefinger and the Vale army, Jon would have almost certainly died at the Battle of the Bastards. If that had happened, the entire subsequent history of Westeros would have been altered—and the Night King would probably be sitting on the Iron Throne by now. Plus, Daenerys Targaryen would be awfully lonely.
- 663 VOTES
Brienne of Tarth makes a direct, physical, and rather violent impact on the character arc of Sandor Clegane. The man known as the Hound is on an aimless path—half-dedicated to protecting Arya Stark—when Brienne encounters him and beats him nearly to death. This experience leads to Sandor seeking refuge with a religious community and having a spiritual rebirth of sorts.
After recovering amid his new community—and then violently avenging their deaths—Clegane joins with the remnants of the Brotherhood Without Banners and accompanies them on their Northern journey. He travels beyond The Wall, attends the summit at the Dragonpit, and fights in the Battle of Winterfell—and none of it would have been possible if Brienne hadn’t nearly killed him first.