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Yes, this article is dark and full of spoilers through Episode 5 of Season 8 of Game Of Thrones, so you’ve been warned.
Arya Stark, played by the inimitable Maisie Williams, has become the biggest hero on Game Of Thrones, a show chock full of heroes. Arya is also a stone-cold killer with a hit list that she has assembled over the years while she trained to kill. Arya Stark has two goals on the show, first to reunite with her family, and secondly, to assassinate everyone who has crossed her and her family and then found their way onto her list.
Arya’s list started way back in Season 2 while she was on the road north with Yoren, who had rescued her from King’s Landing after the beheading of her father, Ned Stark. On their trek, Arya told Yoren that when she lies down to sleep at night, she is consumed by the images of King Joffrey Baratheon, his mother Cersei Lannister, and the King’s executioner, Ilyn Payne.
Yoren told Arya the story of his brother, who was murdered when they were children, also revealing to Arya that he used to repeat the names of his brother’s killers every night before bed. With that, Arya Stark’s list was born. The list has grown (and shrunk) over the seasons but by the end of the penultimate episode of Season 8, everyone on the list was gone, but Arya did not get to take them all out.
In Episode 5 of Season 4, Arya recited the list while on the road with The Hound, “Joffrey, Cersei, Walder Frey, Meryn Trant, Tywin Lannister, The Red Woman, Beric Dondarion, Thoros Of Myr, Illyan Paine, The Mountain” then she paused as The Hound got annoyed with her, before ending the list by saying his name as she turned over to go to sleep. With that in mind, do you know who was actually on Arya Stark's kill list? We're willing to bet you don't say the names in repetition quite as often as the Stark girl does, so we've compiled a handy guide below.
The list starts with the people Arya Stark blames the most for the death of her father. At the top is King Joffrey Baratheon, who was played brilliantly by Jack Gleeson. The sadistic Joffrey was, of course, one of the biggest villains in the show. He terrorized Arya’s sister, Sansa Stark, and betrayed his promise to both Sansa and his own mother Cersei when he told his executioner Ilyn Payne to “bring me (Ned Stark’s) head.”
Arya’s rage towards Joffrey burns as deep as anything else in her life, but she did not get to be the one to kill him. Joffrey met his end during his own wedding to Margaery Tyrell when he was poisoned by Lady Olenna Tyrell and Lord Petyr Baelish. Arya was somewhere in the countryside with The Hound when the deed was done.
Walder Frey, portrayed by David Bradley, was the architect of the infamous Red Wedding which led to the deaths of both Arya’s mother Catelyn Stark and Arya’s brother Robb Stark. Along with Tywin Lannister, Walder Frey created a ruse to set up the ‘King In The North” and lure him into Frey’s castle, only to have him murdered by Lannister men.
Walder Frey was, by most everyone’s account, one of the most despicable characters on the show. His death at the end of Season 6 is one of the most satisfying moments in the Game of Thrones' history. That triumph is compounded during Season 7 when Arya wipes out the entire male line of House Frey all at once.
Meryn Trant, played by Ian Beattie, is a member of The Kingsguard and a loyal servant of King Joffrey in Game of Thrones. Throughout his time on the show, he performs a lot of terrible acts, but for Arya Stark, it is his attack on Syrio Forel as he tried to apprehend Ayra after Ned Stark’s arrest that stings the most. Syrio was Ayra’s sword fighting instructor, life mentor, and her only friend in King’s Landing. His death at the hands of Meryn Trant is what lights the spark under Arya Stark which eventually leads to the list.
Meryn Trant also becomes Arya’s first victim after she has trained with the Faceless Men when she runs into Trant in a brothel in Braavos. His brutal killing was the first real evidence of just how cutthroat Arya Stark had become. But it wouldn’t be the last.
Tywin Lannister, patriarch of the rich and powerful Lannister clan, portrayed by the absolutely brilliant Charles Dance, is the embodiment of all that is evil about the Lannister Family. He is unrelenting, uncompromising, and totally ruthless in quest for power in Westeros.
Arya had the opportunity to murder Tywin Lannister in Season 3 while she was his servant at Harrenhal, but she wasn’t quite ready yet; she had only just met the Faceless Man who would eventually teach her the skills she would have needed.
Instead of Arya getting to take Tywin out, it was actually his own son, Tyrion, who fired the arrows into him as he sat on the toilet, making for one of the most undignified exits on Game of Thrones, which was incredibly satisfying for many fans of the show.
Melisandre, also known as The Red Woman or The Red Witch, played by Carice van Houten, is one of the followers of the Lord Of Light. It’s a religion known for its roots in dark magic, of which she is a serious practitioner. In the beginning, she was also in the service of Stannis Baratheon.
In Season 3, Melisandre came across the Brotherhood Without Banners and works out a trade with them for Gendry, Robert Baratheon’s bastard son. We’ve all learned how important Gendry is to Ayra, and for this act The Red Witch lands herself on the list.
Eventually, Arya backs off her desire to kill The Red Woman. In the end, it was old age and the removal of a necklace that did Melisandre in.
Beric Dondarrion, played by Richard Dormer, is a member of the Brotherhood Without Banners who ended up on Arya’s list for the same trade that got Melisandre put on it.
Beric also ended up off the list, it seems, as upon Arya’s return to Winterfell in season 8, Beric is there and she doesn’t seem to hold the same grudge. She later joked to him about not wanting spend her last night on earth with him before the Battle Of Winterfell began. In the end, not only did Arya spare his life, he saved her during the battle, going out in a literal blaze of glory while protecting Arya and The Hound from a pack of wights inside Winterfell.
Thoros Of Myr
Like Beric, Thoros Of Myr, portrayed by the excellent Paul Kaye, was a member of the Brotherhood Of Banners and draws Arya Stark’s scorn for the same reasons are Beric and Melisandra. Arya never saw Thoros again, as he was killed north of The Wall after fighting wights, long before Arya made it back to Winterfell.
Polliver stole Arya’s sword, “Needle” early in Season 2 while she was on her way north with Yoren and they were attacked and taken as prisoners to Harrenhal. He, along with a unit of Lannister men, are the people Arya blames for her capture, the murder of Yoren, and the torturing of her friends, including Gendry at Harrenhal.
In Season 4, Arya and The Hound stumbled upon Polliver and other Lannister men in a tavern. After a brief conversation with The Hound, a brutal fight broke out and The Hound took on the whole crew. Eventually Arya grabbed Needle back and eliminated Polliver in an especially gruesome scene when Arya shoved Needle through Polliver’s throat. He was the first person scratched off Arya's list, and the moment was disturbingly satisfying to her.
Rorge holds the record for the shortest stay on Arya's list. He was one of the men that Yoren was taking to The Wall to join The Night's Watch in Season 2. He, along with Biter, is locked in a cage with Jaqen H'ghar of The Faceless Men when Rorge threated Arya after she refused to bring him beer. After they were attacked by Lannister men, Rorge, along with Biter and Jaqen H'ghar, join the Lannister army at Harrenhal, guarding Arya, Gendry, and the other prisoners.
Like Polliver, Arya and The Hound came across Rorge during their travels in Season 4. Arya and The Hound found Rorge and Biter ransacking a peasant's homestead. After The Hound broke Biter's neck, he turned his attention to Rorge. After Rorge told them that King Joffrey was dead, The Hound asked if Rorge was on Arya's list. She says he was not, but only because she didn't know his name. Like the idiot he was, he told her and Arya stabbed him through the heart, after thanking him of course.
Cersei Lannister (Baratheon)
Cersei Lannister, played by Lena Headey, was the biggest villain on the show and the last one left on Arya's list, unless you think Dany might be going insane. For Arya Stark, Cersei was #1 with a bullet on her Top 40 countdown of people to kill for most of the second half of the show's run.
Not only was Cersei Joffrey’s mother, but she was also the person most responsible for Ned Stark’s capture after the death of Cersei’s husband and Joffrey’s father, Robert Baratheon. Cersei and her allies set Ned Stark up, had him locked up, and eventually, executed. When we left off in Episode 4 of Season 8, Arya had joined up with The Hound again and they were headed towards King’s Landing with murder on their minds. They both made it to The Red Keep as the Battle For King's Landing began in Episode 5.
During the Battle For King's Landing, as dragon fire (and bells) rang down on King's Landing and The Red Keep, The Hound convinced Arya to turn around, to not become what he is, and she listened. In that moment, the humanity in Arya came out, and she escaped the castle with Cersei still alive. She wouldn't be for long though. After a brief reunion with her twin brother, Jaime Lannister, they find themselves trapped in the depths of the Keep as Dany's dragon fire turns the castle to rubble. Jaime and Cersei died in each other's arms, crushed by the stones.
The Mountain has been played by three different actors, but mostly and most recently strongman Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson has played this mountain of a character. He is one of only two people left on Arya Stark’s list that is also still alive (sort of) on Game Of Thrones. The Mountain is also the brother of The Hound. Or at least, he was. Even before he died after Cleganebowl, he was a zombie knight in servitude of Cersei Lannister. He didn't ever speak, he only looked menacing and killed people for Cersei, including one of the biggest characters on the show.
He is no longer on Arya’s list and he’s also no longer on another character's much shorter list – The Hound’s. Both Arya and The Hound arrived at King’s Landing just as the Battle For King's Landing began with the two remaining characters still on the list on their minds heading into the final few episodes of Game of Thrones. As Cersei and The Mountain, along with Qyburn, attempted to escape the destruction, they were met by The Hound and Cleganebowl was finally on!
After an epic struggle, with The Hound finding out just how hard it is to kill the undead, he finally ended the fight by taking both The Mountain and himself out in an epic tackle, falling hundreds of feet down into a blazing inferno. Considering The Hound's feelings about fire, the whole ending for both characters felt very full circle.
The Hound, played by the incredible Rory McCann, has gone from one of the most hated characters in the HBO drama to one of the most popular. He landed on Arya’s list on Game of Thrones for being King Joffrey’s “attack dog,” but eventually worked his way off the list after spending a lot of time with Arya on the road, as he looked for relatives of hers to trade for her. Eventually, he would be her savior of sorts when he convinces her to turn around instead of killing Cersei Lannister.
In Season 4, The Hound found himself in an epic sword fight with Brienne of Tarth, and Arya Stark leaves him for dead after she robs him. At that point, she might have crossed him off her list, but he lived, and by the beginning of Season 8 when Arya and The Hound encountered each other again, they seemed to have a mutual respect for each other.
As mentioned above, The Hound and The Mountain finally met in the Cleganebowl that fans have clambered for. And as mentioned, The Hound took out his brother after an epic battle. It wound up being one of the most satisfying moments of Season 8 and a truly heroic death for The Hound.
Ilyn Payne, King Joffrey’s executioner, is on Arya’s list for a pretty obvious reason. He is the one who swung the sword that removed Ned’s head. Ilyn Payne was a pretty minor character in the grand scheme of things, though a pivotable one, of course. He was played English singer/songwriter Wilko Johnson. Payne last appeared in the penultimate episode of Season 2 (“Blackwater”) and wasn’t seen again.
It wasn’t because he was forgotten about, or because he was taken out like so many other characters. Tragically, Wilko Johnson was diagnosed with cancer and left the show to get treatment. He was miraculously cured, but by then his character had been written out – they even stopped including him on Arya's list out of respect for Johnson’s life-threatening disease.
So the list, like most of King's Landing is dust. Every name has been scratched off (more or less) and for a brief moment, Arya's humanity came through when she chose to live over killing Cersei. But towards the end the of the episode, is it possible that another name was added to the list? Is Dany on the list now after her meltdown? You’ll have to tune into what is sure to be an incredible series finale of HBO’s Game Of Thrones to find out!
If you need a recap of everything else on the show, be sure to check out CinemaBlend’s own Sean O’Connell’s reaction videos to every single episode in the show’s history. They are totally epic!
Do You Think Arya Stark Will Kill Cersei?