11:45am PT by Josh Wigler
'Game of Thrones': 20 Key Quotes From the Series Finale
"Dark wings, dark words." It's one of the great quotes from HBO's Game of Thrones, signaling the dark omens baked into the words that ride on the backs of ravens, sprung from the minds of the sprawling cast: Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and so many others.
Throughout the final season, The Hollywood Reporter's Westeros beat reporter Josh Wigler (that's me!) rounded up some of the most important lines of dialogue featured in each week's episode of Thrones, offering context and divining clues about the hidden meaning in a weekly column: Dark Words.
For the final edition of Dark Words, all eyes are on "The Iron Throne," the series finale both written and directed by creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss. Despite one major death and one major breath of dragon fire, Game of Thrones closed out less with action and more with a focus on what worked so well throughout the series: conversational chess matches between the sprawling castmembers. Normally, Dark Words centers on 15 key quotes from a given episode; as we close out the series of columns and the series itself, our focus expands to 20 key quotes — which still leaves some choice cuts on the floor. Ahead, here's the best of the best:
1. "I'll find you later."
The first spoken words of "The Iron Throne," uttered by Tyrion Lannister as he walks through the King's Landing carnage. Beyond the scope of the story, one can interpret the finale's first line of dialogue as speaking directly to the jaded Game of Thrones viewer, who may find themselves coming around on the ending later down the line.
2. "Will you break the wheel with me?"
The final words uttered by Daenerys Targaryen in her speech to her army, spoken in High Valyrian. The words are important, of course, but the bigger deal is the tone and the ferocity of Dany's speech, underscored by Ramin Djawadi's haunting theme, "Master of War."
3. "I freed my brother, and you slaughtered a city."
It's Tyrion's response to Daenerys' first words to him after conquering King's Landing: "You freed your brother. You committed treason." His comeback is better, punctuated by the removal of the Hand of the Queen pin he wore so proudly for two seasons.
4. "Now Varys' ashes can tell my ashes, 'See? I told you!'"
Tyrion also states: "He was right, I was wrong," talking about Varys' choice to betray Daenerys. Does it make up for selling out his best friend to a vengeful Dragon Queen? Not quite. But it's an admission of guilt, at the very least.
5. "You think our house words are stamped on our bodies when we're born, and that's who we are?"
Jon Snow pushes back against Tyrion, who tries to explain Daenerys' actions by assigning the lion's share of guilt to her Targaryen roots. In his counterargument, Jon presents one of the central theses of Game of Thrones — that people can be more than just what they were born into.
6. "She believes her destiny is to build a better world for everyone. If you believed that — if you truly believed it — wouldn't you kill whoever stood between you and paradise?"
The conversational volley continues, as Tyrion presents the compelling argument to Jon about why Dany has become so dangerous. "Wouldn't you kill whoever stood between you and paradise" should go down as one of Dinklage's best line deliveries, if not for the fact that it will take some time before the masses look back on the Game of Thrones finale fondly, should such an occasion ever come to pass.
7. "Love is the death of duty."
Another Jon Snow gem, this time quoting a long gone speaker: Maester Aemon (Peter Vaughan). Who knew this wise Targaryen in relative self-imposed exile would end up being so inspirational to another Targaryen on the verge of self-imposed exile?
8. "What do 1,000 swords look like in the mind of a little girl who can't count to 20?"
Daenerys' first words upon taking the Iron Throne, offered with the lightness of someone who definitely did not just murder thousands and thousands of innocent individuals — or, at the very least, someone who does not feel all that guilty about it.
9. "The world we need is a world of mercy."
Both Daenerys and Jon Snow want the same thing for the world of ice and fire; they disagree about how to get there. Dany argues that "the world we need won't be built by men loyal to the world we have," and in that spirit, the eventual decision to leave the selection of a new king to the lords and ladies of Westeros decisively flies in the face of what she wanted.
10. "We break the wheel together."
The final words of Daenerys Targaryen, uttered moments before receiving a dagger to the heart and a swift death. In hindsight, we should have seen it coming; not only does it partly fulfill the Azhor Ahai prophecies, but it also helps explain why the show kept drawing Dany's attention to Jon Snow's own wound to the heart.
11. "Uncle, please sit."
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) dresses down uncle Edmure (Tobias Menzies), a highly unlikely person to receive one minute of screen time in the finale, let alone for the sake of a gag. His pitch to lead as the new king stands out as one of the brightest spots in a very bleak final season.
12. "Maybe the decision about what's best for everyone should be left to… well, everyone."
Samwell Tarly (John Bradley) pitches democracy to the lords and ladies of Westeros. He's soundly laughed at in turn. "Maybe we should give the dogs a vote as well," laughs Bronze Yohn Royce, which is honestly the better quote and it would rank on this list except for the fact that Bronze Yohn is terrible and if we're going to give credit to anyone from the Vale, it's going to be Tormund Giantsbane's fellow noted milk enthusiast Robin Arryn.
13. "There's nothing more powerful in the world than a good story."
Tyrion Lannister puts this theory out into the world mere moments before suggesting Bran the Broken as the new ruler of the realm. His idea is a compelling one, but his candidate? A little less compelling, based on the split reaction within the fandom to Bran's ascension.
14. "Why do you think I came all this way?"
Bran suggests he's long known he was on the path to becoming King, which has fueled some borderline ridiculous theories that the Three-Eyed Raven was an active agent of evil who schemed and plotted his way into the heart of Westeros. It's not what happened, but it's sure to drive some fun fan fiction in the years to come.
15. "I'm not sure I get a vote, but aye."
The Onion Knight Davos Seaworth sits at the great council and casts a vote for Bran as King, even though he's not exactly sure he's supposed to be voting. It's the best line of the episode, full stop.
16. "Ask me again in 10 years."
Jon doesn't know if he did the right thing by killing Daenerys. Neither does Tyrion. Do the creators of Game of Thrones know whether it was right or wrong? Maybe in ten years, all of these people will have the answer. The legacy of Thrones, both in the universe of the show and outside of it, will remain one that remains in question for at least the next several years, if not a full decade and beyond.
17. "What's west of Westeros?"
Arya Stark first posited this question in season six. In the end, it's a question that stayed with her, one that propels her ending. Will we see a sequel series with Arya exploring the unknown world of ice and fire? HBO programming president Casey Bloys suggests we won't, but ultimately, who knows? There's a long time between now and never — plenty of time to explore what's west of Westeros.
18. "He died protecting his queen."
Technically, not spoken dialogue, but Brienne's penmanship delivers the final word on Jaime Lannister all the same. Even though the Kingslayer died one episode earlier, his complicated legacy lives on in the form of the White Book, one that paints a picture of a man that's much more three-dimensional than how the man would have painted himself.
19. "I once brought a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel."
The series' penultimate piece of dialogue continues a joke Tyrion uttered a couple of times across Game of Thrones. We will never know the punchline. It adds to an idea John Bradley spoke about, that he and the other actors involved in the final small council scene wanted to leave the audience with lingering curiosity, a desire to want to stay in Westeros forever — a desire that will ultimately go unfulfilled.
20. "The Queen in the North!"
Robb was the king, then it was Jon. It's only fitting the best ruler of the Stark children ends the series with the same uproarious cheering at her back. Bran the Broken may rule the realm, but Sansa Stark is the Queen in the North. Long may she reign.
Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for more final season coverage.