For years, Game of Thrones has been building toward the final confrontation with the Night King, but most fans were expecting that Jon Snow (Kit Harington) would be the one to deliver the fatal blow. That's why it was such a welcome surprise when Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) came flying in out of nowhere to stab her Valyrian steel dagger straight into his chest.
Game of Thrones has always been good at upending expectations and leaving us guessing, but it's also famous for hiding clues about major reveals long before the twists are confirmed. David Benioff said that he and D.B. Weiss have known for about three years that Arya would be the one to kill the Night King in the end, so they've had plenty of time to drop hints along the way. Here's a complete list of every time Game of Thrones hinted that Arya would be the one to kill the Night King.
"How did you sneak up on me?" In the Season 8 premiere, Jon is standing in front of the Weirwood tree (in the same exact spot the Night King would later die), when he suddenly turns around to find Arya standing silently behind him. He asks her how she snuck up on him, unwittingly calling out the same tactic she would use to sneak up on the Night King to kill him.
"Brown eyes, blue eyes, and green eyes." When Melisandre (Carice van Houten) first met Arya in Season 3, she prophesied that there was a darkness in the young girl which she would use to shut "brown eyes, blue eyes, and green eyes" forever. She left Arya after that with the promise that they would meet again, which they did at the Battle of Winterfell. That's when Melisandre reminded Arya of that prophesy, prompting her to realize that the "blue eyes" part of it meant she was fated to kill the Night King. That's why Arya left the castle to find her foe at the Weirwood tree.
The Lord of Light giving a vision to the Hound (Rory McCann). Over the course of the series, the Hound regularly mocked religion and those who believed in the will of the gods. Then, the Lord of Light gave him a vision in the flames, which led him to commit to the cause against the Night King and the dead. That vision always seemed incredibly odd, since typically only servants of the Lord of Light received them, not random sellswords. Now we know that vision is what ended up making sure the Hound was at Winterfell to help save Arya's life during the battle, ensuring she'd be able to kill the Night King.
Beric Dondarrion's (Richard Dormer) many lives. Similarly, the Lord of Light brought Beric Dondarrion back to life six times, and he always believed it was for a purpose. That purpose happened to be saving Arya from wights and getting her to safety. Once he did that, Beric died his seventh and final death.
The catspaw dagger. While the Valyrian steel dagger doesn't have an official name like most Game of Thrones weapons, it's commonly referred to as the catspaw dagger since the assassin first hired to kill Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) with it was called the catspaw assassin. Catspaw is a term typically meaning "one used to serve the purpose of another" or "tool." Catspaw can also be meant to convey "the dupe of another." The name of the dagger itself has always been foretelling this last minute twist, and that Arya would be the tool used in Jon's epic battle with the Night King.
Bran giving Arya the dagger. The dagger's name isn't the only clue associated with it. Right after Bran revealed to Arya that he has supernatural vision and "sees quite a lot now," he handed the catspaw dagger to her, telling his sister that it was wasted on a cripple. Most fans took that scene at face value, but knowing what we know now, it seems absurd that Bran would give her the dagger for any other reason than he foresaw how she would use it.
Arya training with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie). Perhaps the best foreshadowing of Arya's major kill came when she sparred with Brienne of Tarth in Season 7. In training sequence, Arya lost Needle and must fight with her brand new dagger. The young fighter cleverly tossed the dagger from one hand to the other, allowing her to surprise Brienne when she put the blade to her throat. The Night King made the same mistake, grabbing the hand Arya held the dagger in, leaving her other hand free to catch it and stab him.
Jaqen H'ghar's (Tom Wlaschiha) final smile. When Arya decided to leave Braavos and the House of Black and White, she told Jaqen H'ghar, "A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I am going home." Instead of being outraged that she was abandoning him and the God of Death, Jaqen H'ghar smiled as she left. There have been many theories that Jaqen was, in fact, the God of Death (or at least that he had the power of foresight, seeing as he was practically omniscient), so his smile at her departure could be proof that he always knew what her fate would be, and he was simply there to train her to be ready for it.
The Night King's origin story. This one doesn't exactly foretell Arya's part in the scenario, but the show did foreshadow where and how the Night King would die. Before he led the army of the dead, the Night King was a mortal man who was transformed after the Children of the Forest tied him to a Weirwood tree and stabbed him with dragonglass during a ritual that gave him his powers. That's why it's no surprise that his death occurred standing before a Weirwood tree with his chest pierced by dragonglass.
Game of Thrones airs Sundays at 9/8c on HBO.
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