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.
Brienne of Tarth doesn’t formally meet Arya Stark until Season 7 of Game of Thrones—but she has a major impact on her storyline long before then. Brienne spends much of her own character arc searching for Arya after pledging to protect her, and when she finds her in the company of the Hound, she battles him to the death for Arya’s freedom.
Arya isn’t keen on travelling with Brienne at the time, so she bails from the scene before the fight concludes—but Brienne’s defeat of Sandor Clegane still frees her up to begin journeying on her own. Shortly after leaving the Hound behind, Arya catches a boat to Essos and begins her training as a faceless assassin—training without which she never would have been able to slay the Night King. Speaking of which, Arya ends up killing the Night King with a clever dagger maneuver that she’d practiced before—in a sparring match with Brienne.
19210Is this all because of Brienne?
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.
15710Is this all because of Brienne?
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.
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By Killing Stannis, Brienne Allowed Davos To Follow His Sensibilities Instead Of His Oaths
For the last few seasons of Game of Thrones, Davos Seaworth has acted as an unofficial Hand of the King in the North. Wherever Jon Snow has gone, Davos has followed—but his loyalties might still lie elsewhere if not for Brienne of Tarth.
By killing Stannis, Brienne effectively made Davos a free agent able to follow his sensibilities instead of his oaths. Without Davos, it’s doubtful that Jon’s rallying of forces for the Battle of Winterfell—or his wooing of Daenerys Targaryen—would have been as successful. The Onion Knight might not be happy that Brienne slayed his king, but the rest of Westeros certainly is.
14329Is this all because of Brienne?