Why Arya Stark Was Always Going to Be the Game of Thrones Savior

The creators of HBO's hit fantasy drama explain the shocking ending to the show's biggest battle

By Chris Harnick Apr 29, 2019 1:34 PMTags
Game of Thrones, Episode 8, Season 3, AryaHBO

It was always going to be Arya Stark. Warning, spoilers follow for the third episode of Game of Thrones' final season!

In "The Long Night," the assembled forces at Winterfell, a who's who of Game of Thrones characters, took on the Night King and his army of dead. And it was Maisie Williams' Arya Stark who ended things. Yep, Arya saved the day.

"For, god, I think it's probably three years now, we've known that it was going to be Arya who delivers that fatal blow," co-creator David Benioff explained in the video below.

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"She seemed like the best candidate provided we weren't thinking about her in that moment," co-creator D.B. Weiss said. "One of the great things about having this many people you care about in a sequence together is that it can kind of pull people's attention and focus to people they care about a lot, like Jon, like Dany, like Theon and Bran, not to mention Tyrion and Sansa in the crypt. So you're going all over the place with people you who you're desperately worried for, and hopefully you forget about the fact that Arya Stark ran out of that castle with the battle drums playing, going towards some purpose, and we don't know what until it happens."

"We hoped to kind of avoid the expected. Jon Snow has always been the hero, the one who's been the savior, but it just didn't seem right to us, for this moment," Benioff said.

The duo knew it had to be Valyrian steel, and the exact spot where the child of the forest put the dragonglass blade to create the Night King, so he became "uncreated by the Valyrian steel," Benioff said.

"It was so unbelievably exciting," Williams told EW. "But I immediately thought that everybody would hate it; that Arya doesn't deserve it. The hardest thing is in any series is when you build up a villain that's so impossible to defeat and then you defeat them. It has to be intelligently done because otherwise people are like, ‘Well, [the villain] couldn't have been that bad when some 100-pound girl comes in and stabs him.' You gotta make it cool. And then I told my boyfriend and he was like, ‘Mmm, should be Jon though really, shouldn't it?'"

But it wasn't Jon. It was always going to be Arya, Melisandre saw that in her eyes way back in season three.

The epic battle was the culmination of, well, pretty much everything. The White Walkers were first introduced in the series premiere. Fast forward to the third episode of the final season and all the Night King's plans came to a head. Well, almost.

In the video above, Benioff and co-creator D.B. Weiss explain the thinking going into the big deaths in the episode, including Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) and Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), and why the plans of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) weren't going to work out.

"At the end of it, it's a victory for the living, but at great cost, because some of our favorite characters fall along the way," Benioff said.
Watch the full video above.

Game of Thrones airs Sundays, 9 p.m. on HBO.

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