Why Doesn't Jon Snow Rule Westeros at the End of 'Game of Thrones'?

Jon Snow doesn't become the king at the end of Game of Thrones in spite having the strongest claim to rule. Here's why Jon decides to take the black instead of ruling Westeros.

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Who wins the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones?Why does Jon Snow not get the throne?What does Jon Snow do instead of becoming king?

This post contains spoilers for Game of Thrones' series finale.

In the Game of Thrones finale, Jon Snow has to make the toughest choice of his sad, sad life and kill his aunt/inexplicable love interest, Daenerys Targaryen after she goes full Mad Queen on everyone and torches King's Landing, killing hundreds of innocent civilians in the process. Since Jon already had the stronger claim to rule Westeros, you might assume this means that he steps into the role of King of the Seven Kingdoms, but you would be wrong. Here's why Jon Snow is not the King of Westeros at the end of Game of Thrones

Who wins the Iron Throne in Game of Thrones?

By elected vote, Bran Stark (now known as Bran the Broken) is now King of the Iron Throne. The North, thanks to Sansa, will remain an independent kingdom. Tyrion explained that in order to fully break the wheel, rulers must not originate from blood but from merit. So Jon's blood doesn't matter in this new method of selection. Since Bran likely won't take a wife or have kids, this makes this new process of democratic selection easier.

Why does Jon Snow not get the throne?

He has the royal lineage, but he had betrayed his queen (being a king or a queenslayer is considered bad, even by the standards of this murdery show) so he could neither be set free nor killed, lest a war start over either option. Sending a criminal to the Night's Watch is often given as an alternative instead of being killed.

What does Jon Snow do instead of becoming king?

He has to take the black (again) at the Wall—never marry, never have kids, and never see his family again (unless they come visit, as he explains to Arya). It's a bit of a bummer, especially since he's the last Targaryen, but it makes sense. No consequence goes unpunished. Also, now he finally got to have that reunion and belly rub with Ghost that he didn't get when he first said goodbye to his furry buddy! And hang out with Tormund, of course and go out beyond the wall with the Wildlings—which is the last we last see of him on the show. So maybe he's defying his orders and starting a new life in the North...

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Kayleigh Roberts
Weekend Editor

Kayleigh Roberts is a freelance writer and editor with more than 10 years of professional experience. Her byline has appeared in Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, The Atlantic, Allure, Entertainment Weekly, MTV, Bustle, Refinery29, Girls’ Life Magazine, Just Jared, and Tiger Beat, among other publications. She's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.