9:00am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': 7 Times the Good Guys Won
For every Red Wedding and Hardhome massacre on Game of Thrones, there's an equal and opposite moment of happiness and elation reverberating throughout the Seven Kingdoms — or not.
Really, the bad times far outweigh the good when it comes to Thrones, with villains crushing heroes underfoot more often than not. It's a world where Lannisters flourish and Starks succumb to the might of power, beheaded and betrayed at virtually every turn.
But looking through the terror-filled darkness of night, there's the occasional glimpse of light. Here are seven times the characters fans love actually eked out victory in the face of adversity.
1. The Stark days of war
The Red Wedding will forever be remembered as the night Robb Stark and his Northern Army lost the war for the crown, but their bitter end doesn't negate their many victories in earlier seasons of Thrones. For much of the fight, Robb and his fellows were giving the Lannisters seven hells and more, even capturing Jaime Lannister and keeping him prisoner for the better part of a year at one point.
2. Daenerys conquers Slaver's Bay
While fans impatiently wait for Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen to make landfall on Westeros, the Khaleesi's campaign across Essos remains a cause for celebration. Sure, things are bleak in Meereen at the moment, but it takes nothing away from Dany's surprising ability to break the chains of slavery — especially when she and her dragons freed the Unsullied at Astapor.
3. Bran Stark reaches his goal
He survived falling from the towers of Winterfell. He survived Theon Greyjoy's treachery, and the destruction of his home. He made it past the Wall, he lived through imprisonment at Craster's Keep, and not even a small battalion of skeletal nightmare creatures could end his journey. Through all these struggles, Bran persevered, and finally met the Three-Eyed Raven after four seasons of questing. Wherever he goes from here, the first phase of his mission is accomplished.
4. Arya leaves Westeros
Forget the fact that her work at the House of Black and White has left her heartless and sightless. In the moment that Arya turned her back on the Seven Kingdoms and set sail for Braavos at the end of season four, five words must have been flowing through her head: "Anywhere is better than here." It was a sign that the Starks, and others wronged by the crown, could find new lives if they fought and pushed hard enough — a momentary glimmer of hope in an otherwise bleak finale.
5. The king is dead
Is it wrong to delight in the death of Joffrey Baratheon? If so, then who would want to be right? Although it was difficult to lose someone as venomous as the wicked boy king of Westeros, his death was a masterfully constructed scene, and a spectacular comeuppance for the years of nastiness he inflicted upon his underlings and enemies.
6. The king's hand is dead, too
Charles Dance's cruel and calculating Tywin Lannister was the brains behind the throne for four full seasons, so to say his death at the hands of his son Tyrion was seismic almost doesn't do it justice. It marked an enormous power shift in Westeros, and served as symbolic justice for the Stark army he massacred in the unpalatable Red Wedding.
7. Snow on the Wall
Before the daggers in the dark, Jon Snow was making tremendous strides as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. He won that election away from Alliser Thorne, for one thing. He worked toward a historic peace with the wildlings, even if others in his ranks disagreed with the choice. He defended the Wall and kept the realms of men safe, often at the cost of his own happiness. They were dark victories, but victories all the same — and when, not if, he returns from the grave, expect more notches in the win column. It is known.
Game of Thrones returns on April 24.