I just want to get this out of the way: I don’t hate Bran Stark. He’s an extremely important character in the “Game of Thrones” universe, and Isaac Hempstead-Wright has done a fine job portraying the character over the last seven seasons.
But after assuming the mantle of the Three-Eyed Raven, and gaining the power of Westerosi tree gods to see everything that’s ever happened and is happening, Bran has become less a character and more a writers’ tool. With a blank stare and deadpan delivery, he informs characters of distant events for the sake of quickly moving the plot along. Or he witnesses important expository flashbacks that flesh out the larger narrative.
And it’s fine. How else would we have known that the Children of the Forest created the Night King by shoving a dragonglass dagger into his heart? Who else could’ve uncovered all of Littlefinger’s many crimes and told Sansa and Arya about them?
But is Bran all that compelling? Is he precocious? Heroic? Conflicted? Empathetic? Not so much. He’s essentially a supercomputer.
To arrive at this result, CenturyLink analyzed Google Trends search data on a state-by-state basis, meaning Nebraskans apparently searched for Bran Stark more than any other “Thrones” character over the past five years. But, as we’ve seen before, this is not a foolproof way of determining a state’s favorite anything.
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Given the uncertainty, we’ve compiled a list of alternative favorite characters that are more in line with our sturdy Midwestern sensibilities.
» Brienne of Tarth: Brienne is honest, faithful and a bona fide warrior. Her commitment to upholding her oaths, first to Catelyn Stark, now to her daughters, is one of the show’s most consistent plot points. She would be a fine pick for Nebraska.
» Jon Snow: The King in the North always strives to do the right thing, however painful the outcome. He hails from the North, which is basically the Nebraska of Westeros. He’s a little dour at times, but you would be too if it was up to you and your aunt/girlfriend to save the world.
» Khal Drogo: Literally tore out a dude’s tongue. Remains a fan favorite six seasons after being killed off. Respect.
» Sansa Stark: Though not the most physically powerful of the main cast, Sansa gets points for her cunning and steely resolve. She’s survived brutal hardships without succumbing to despair and has matured into a strong, nuanced character in her own right.
» Olenna Tyrell: The Queen of Thorns had some of the best one-liners in the show. Her world-weary barbs endeared her to audiences while infuriating some of the show’s most disliked villains. And when her machinations finally caught up to her, she had the last word.
» The Sand Snakes: Lol no.
» Hodor: Hodor Hodor. Hodor Hodor, Hodor Hodor Hodor. Hodor Hodor Hodor! Hodor Hodor; Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor. Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor Hodor.
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Preparing for the ultimate battle with the White Walkers, the King in the North is sailing home to Winterfell with his aunt-girlfriend Daenerys, unaware that he’s the actual Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne.
After skillfully arranging the death of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, Sansa is serving as the Lady of Winterfell.
Arya, deadly as ever, is back in Winterfell with her remaining siblings. After slicing open Littlefinger’s throat, she still has several names remaining on her hit list.
The youngest living Stark and the show’s most useful plot device, Bran just learned his supposed half-brother Jon is really Aegon Targaryen, the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
The reigning queen of the Seven Kingdoms revealed to her brother and on-again, off-again boyfriend Jaime that she was lying when she told Jon and Daenerys she would send her forces north with them. She also may or may not be pregnant.
Disgusted with his sister, Jaime abandoned King’s Landing and is currently riding to Winterfell alone.
After a tense (and notably off-screen) exchange with his sister Cersei, Tyrion thinks he managed to persuade the queen to commit to fighting in the North. He looks concerned as he watches Jon enter Daenerys’ bedchambers. (Us too, man.)
The Dragon Queen is committed to fighting the White Walkers with her new beau, Jon Snow. Unclear how she’ll feel once she finds out Jon is a) her nephew and b) has a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne.
Yara and Theon Greyjoy
After an assault on the Targaryen naval forces, Yara is being held captive by her uncle Euron. On a journey of redemption, Theon proved his strength in a bout of fisticuffs and convinced the remaining ironborn on Dragonstone to agree to rescue Yara.
After convincing Daenerys to meet with Jon Snow, the Red Woman tells Varys that she plans to leave Westeros. But, she tells him, she will return one last time: “I have to die in this strange country. Just like you.”
Jorah survived his bout with greyscale and returned to Daenerys’ service. He’s heading north with her and Jon’s entourage.
Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
Still dead-ish at King’s Landing, doing Cersei’s bidding.
Recently arrived in Winterfell (with a cache of stolen books from the Citadel) with Gilly and Little Sam, Sam revealed the full truth of Jon’s parentage to Bran.
Gilly and Little Sam
Chillin’ (lol) at Winterfell with Sam and Little Sam, also at Winterfell. Sam is still pretty much the only way to measure how much time has passed in this series.
Serving as Daenerys’ spy master; headed north with the rest.
Brienne of Tarth
After Sansa dispatched her to King’s Landing to represent her in the meeting with Cersei, Brienne pleaded with Jaime to convince his sister to fight in the North.
Serving as an adviser to Jon; headed north.
Allied to the Lannisters, who made him a knight, Bronn had a sort-of-charming reunion with his pal Tyrion when the latter arrived at King’s Landing.
Forever a squire, Podrick accompanied Brienne to King’s Landing for the meeting with Cersei. He left with Bronn before the talks began.
Manning the Wall with Beric Dondarrion, Tormund narrowly escaped the White Walkers’ dragon-borne attack on Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. He is presumably still smitten with Brienne.
Commander of the Unsullied. Sailing north with Daenerys’ forces. Loving Missandei.
Interpreter for Daenerys. Northward bound. Loving Grey Worm.
Presumably the last of House Baratheon, the bastard son to the long-departed King Robert is loyal to Jon and Daenerys and committed to bashing in some White Walker skulls with his hammer.
“All men must die” — except Beric Dondarrion, apparently, who narrowly escaped a seventh death after the the Night King blasted the Wall with his new undead dragon.
Westeros’ own Jack Sparrow is sailing for Essos to retrieve the Golden Company, an army of mercenary soldiers, for Cersei, who plans to use them to fight whoever remains standing after the fight in the North.
Serving as Cersei’s Hand of the Queen. Creeping around the Red Keep. Presumably excited about the looming army of the undead.
Still alive, apparently! After delivering Bran to Winterfell, she left for home to prepare for the White Walkers’ invasion.
In Essos, keeping the peace in Meereen in Daenerys’ stead.
The Lady of Bear Island has made it clear that she intends to fight the undead threat: “I don’t plan on knitting by the fire while men fight for me.”
Please don’t kill off the direwolves.