'Game of Thrones': Season 6 Winners and Losers

'Game of Thrones' Season 6 Finale 11 - Publicity - H 2016

[Warning: This story contains spoilers for the entire sixth season of HBO's Game of Thrones.]

The wildfire has cooled, and the winds have ceased, for now at least. Game of Thrones season six came and went, filled with thunderous violence, gut-punching twists, ugly victories and beautiful defeats. As the first season of the show to operate mostly free from author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire source material, nearly every episode came equipped with zigs and zags designed to blindside show-only and book-reading viewers alike — sadly not enough zigs and zags in "Battle of the Bastards," for one poor soul

With season six now in the rearview mirror, here's a look back on the latest year of Game of Thrones, acknowledging those who emerged triumphant, and those who lost in terrible fashion.

1. Winners: House Stark

 Jon Snow survived the brutal "Battle of the Bastards," becoming King in the North on the other side. Sansa Stark carved her own way forward, free of Ramsay Bolton forever, now that she's fed him to his own dogs. Bran Stark gained the powers of the Three-Eyed Raven, his gifts boasting enormous importance in the wars to come. Arya Stark's Faceless training ended, bringing her back to Westeros with new lethal tricks up her sleeve. All told, with Starks back in Winterfell, and others on their way, season six was truly a time for wolves.

2. Losers: House Bolton

Beginning with Roose's sudden departure and ending with Ramsay's gruesome demise, the traitorous Northerners are now completely off the board, their family flayed from history. Not a moment too soon.

3. Winners: House Targaryen

The dragons are victors on multiple fronts, beginning most obviously with Daenerys beating back the Masters, regaining control over Slaver's Bay (or the Bay of Dragons, as it's now known), and finally sailing for Westeros. But in a surprise final twist, a secret Targaryen was revealed: Jon Snow, the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, putting him in a unique position for the story's end game.

4. Losers: House Lannister

Yes, Cersei torched her enemies in a spectacular display of fireworks, but at what cost? Her last living son committed suicide in the wake of her awful actions, leaving the broken Cersei to rule upon the throne. What's more, Cersei's fiery fury only fanned the flames of her rivalries against Dorne and Highgarden, as Ellaria Sand and Olenna Tyrell threw their lots in behind Daenerys Targaryen. Beyond Cersei, both Jaime and Tyrion were left with little to do in the season, spinning their wheels as the story sped past them; not the best year for the Lannister brothers.

5. Winner: Hodor

In death, Bran's bodyguard became immortal. For several seasons, the word "Hodor" was virtually synonymous with Game of Thrones. Now, it splits into three equally legendary words: "hold the door." The gentle giant's time-bending beginnings and end stand out as one of the most devastating moments of the entire series, let alone the season — a sacrifice Thrones fans won't soon forget. Rest in peace, Wylis.

6. Losers: The Children of the Forest

Not only because their entire race was wiped from existence in the blink of an eye, thanks to Bran's decision to trip down the raven hole without supervision. (Bit of a loser move, Bran, if we're being honest; not that Isaac Hempstead Wright hasn't given the character enough flack over this.) What's worse, it turns out the Children are also the creators of the White Walkers, using magic to turn humans into ice monsters during an ancient war. Without these actions, the Seven Kingdoms would not be at such great risk today; not great, forest kids.

7. Winners: The Clegane Brothers

Anyone who calls Ser Robert Strong a loser does so at their own peril. Just ask the Faith Militant who stepped up to Cersei's armored guardian, and lost his head for his "bravery." Then there's Sandor, miraculously alive despite his ruthless beating at the end of season four. After a time of peace, the erstwhile Hound is back in the Game, and it's only a matter of time before he scales the Mountain. (Yes, that Clegane Bowl is happening. The hype is real.)

8. Losers: The Slain Brothers

Looking at you, Faith Militant warriors, the brotherhood of warrior monks foolish enough to contend with Gregor Clegane and his master, Cersei. Also looking at the rogue members of the Brotherhood Without Banners, who crossed the wrong dog in Sandor Clegane. Then there's the Night's Watch mutineers, the Brothers in Black who killed Jon Snow, and paid for their crimes with their lives. Finally, there's the youngest Stark brother Rickon, and the late Joffrey's younger brother Tommen, two tragic casualties of wars they weren't even fighting. 

9. Winners: Lyanna

Two Northerners, two Lyannas, too fantastic. Whether talking about Jon Snow's secret mother, or the 10-year-old Lady of Bear Islands, you can't go wrong in praising characters named Lyanna in season six. Both Lyanna Stark and Lyanna Mormont stand out as two of the show's most notable figures this year, for plot purposes and unexpected entertainment value, respectively. 

10. Loser: No One

And yet, also a winner: Arya Stark abandoned the House of Black and White and cast aside her time as "no one," meaning a great loss for the Faceless Men. (An especially great loss for The Waif, who lost her face and life by picking a battle with the wrong Stark.) At the expense of "no one," Game of Thrones viewers have gained the deadliest version of someone yet: Arya, back in Westeros, ready to cross out the rest of the names on her list. Watch your back, Cersei Lannister.

Watch the video for the season six finale's highlights:

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