Out of all the possible ways Game of Thrones could have ended, we never quite expected Brandon Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) — yes, Bran — to sit on the Iron Throne (well, kind of) when all was said and done. Nevertheless, after Jon (Kit Harington) killed Daenerys' (Emilia Clarke) to keep the Seven Kingdoms safe from her "mission of liberation," Tyrion urged the lords and ladies of Westeros to select Bran to rule as king.
From a storytelling standpoint, it certainly isn't the most cinematic ending for the epic fantasy drama, considering the time and effort put into Jon and Daenerys' heroic storylines. From the jump, the show developed both Jon and Daenerys' identities as benevolent leaders with the right wisdom, temperament, and virtue to rule Westeros and bring peace and prosperity to the realm. Their journeys juxtaposed nicely with Cersei's (Lena Headey) equally intense devolution into a merciless tyrant, who would bring the realm nothing but death and chaos and therefore had to be defeated at whatever cost. Narratively speaking, any of these three winding up the throne would have felt like an ending we'd earned after 73 episodes. Conversely, Bran swooping in at the last minute to win a trophy he wasn't even competing for might feel like a last-minute stunt aimed at shocking viewers. Realistically, however, Bran actually is the most sensible option for the job.
If you look back at all the rulers we've ever seen in Westeros, they all share one major fault. They're ordinary men and women, and ordinary men and women are prone to making mistakes. That extremely human quality, unfortunately, made them weak rulers and led to their downfalls:
-Aerys Targaryen, mad as he was, saw enemies and betrayal around every corner; his paranoia drove him to murder fathers in front of their sons and burn innocent people to death, which eventually led to a bloody rebellion.
-Rhaegar (Wilf Scolding) wanted Lyanna (Aisling Franciosi) and taking what he couldn't have started a conflict that threw the realm into war.
-Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) was more interested in sex and hunting than ruling.
-Robb Stark (Richard Madden) chose to marry the woman he loved over a woman that would help him win the war.
-Joffrey (Jack Gleeson)? He needs no explanation; a kid more interested in torturing people for his personal delight than being king was destined to lose the throne sooner rather than later.
The list goes on and on, making it more than clear that the reason Westeros finds itself in turmoil, more often than not, is because people in power too often put their own desires above the needs of their people. The consistent fatal flaw in rulers of Westeros is selfishness.
Ironically enough, that's what makes Bran such a perfect candidate to be Protector of the Realm.
Earlier this season, Bran told Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) that a side effect, as it were, of his new identity as the Three-Eyed Raven meant he didn't "want" anymore. This revelation was in response to Tyrion's suggestion that he would eventually rule Winterfell as the last trueborn son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean). Tyrion was surprised to see that Bran didn't want the title or the power that came along with it because, well, men want things. Three-Eyed Ravens don't. That was the first seed planted in our minds that Bran might be the best person to rule. He may be a creepy lurker kid now, but his inability to have his own desires, let alone indulge them, means that he won't make the same fatal mistakes as the kings that came before him.
When you put him up next to Jon and Daenerys, that selfless quality seems even more important. Dany broke bad in the penultimate episode, committing genocide, and it was clear that her goal to win the Iron Throne consumed her; the Mother of Dragons' desire to liberate the masses and unite them under her rule clouded her judgment and made her incapable of seeing she had become part of the wheel she wanted to break. For Jon, his honor meant more to him than anything else, so much that he risked losing Cersei's support to keep his pledge to Dany. When push came to shove, Jon managed to do what was best for the realm by killing Dany, but he couldn't really live with himself, much less rule, after what he'd done.
Bran's ability to dissociate from the world around him makes him less huggable, to be sure, but it also makes him an objective and fair leader, which is something Westeros desperately needs after the chaos and bloodshed of A Song of Ice and Fire.
Perhaps even more importantly, Bran has access to everything that has ever happened in the world of men and everything that will ever happen. (Fun trick!) We're not even going to start on why having a king who can see the future is beneficial, but having a king who can see and experience the past? That's maybe the best reason of all to make Bran Protector of the Realm. As the saying goes, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." Bran doesn't just have the ability to learn history — something that is fallible considering there's also a reason we say, "History is written by the victors" — he has the ability to experience it. That means he mostly lives in the past, according to Bran, but it also gives him wisdom that no other man or woman on earth can match. And as the cantankerous but diabolical Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) reminded us in Season 4, wisdom is the most important quality in a king.
Bran might not have been the popular choice to rule Westeros, but at least we can be sure that among all the possible candidates, he was the one most likely to bring peace and prosperity to the realm after years of fire and blood.
Game of Thrones' final episode airs on Sunday at 9/8c on HBO.