[Warning: The following contains spoilers for the series finale episode of Game of Thrones.]
Game of Thrones pulled a fast one on viewers in its series finale, electing Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) to be king — on the now nonexistent Iron Throne — rather than crowning Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) or Jon (Kit Harington). Whether you loved or hated that twist, there is actually evidence that Game of Thrones was always headed here.
Over the course of eight seasons, fans have kept an eagle eye out for any and all clues that would foreshadow who would sit on the Iron Throne when the series finally wrapped up. While most of the clues tended to favor Jon and Daenerys — and even Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) — there were some that foretold Bran's fate as King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm.
Here are all the moments the show foreshadowed who would really win the Game of Thrones.
Bran is the first major character we meet. In both the books and the show, Bran is the first major character introduced to the audience. The novels, which focus on a different character every chapter, begin with a chapter from Bran's point of view. In the series, after the cold open with the White Walker massacre, we opened on Bran's archery practice with his brothers. In most forms of fiction, the first character you meet is either the protagonist or someone deeply important to the endgame of the story, so it's telling that both the novels and the series open with Bran Stark.
The deserter execution. In the first ever episode of Game of Thrones, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) takes Bran to witness his first execution when Ned's soldiers apprehend a Night's Watch deserter. Ned passes the death sentence "in the name of Robert of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm." As Ned is saying, "King of the Andals and the First Men," the camera cuts to a shot of Bran, with Jon Snow behind him. Many thought this clue was hinting at Jon's royal heritage, but it turns out it was hinting that Bran would become king all along.
Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) pushed him out of the window. Jaime Lannister was rarely called Jaime in Game of Thrones because most people took to calling him by his infamous moniker, Kingslayer. Looking back, is it any surprise that the first person we saw Jaime attempt to kill was Bran, by pushing him out of the window in the pilot?
Bran refused the title of Lord of Winterfell. At the time, Bran refusing to be the Lord of Winterfell when Sansa all but offered it to him seemed like a sure bet that he wouldn't take on any titles because of his status as the Three-Eyed Raven. Give Bran's powers of foresight, however, it was more likely that he knew all along he'd be chosen to be king, which is why he ended up refusing his family claim.
Varys (Conleth Hill) and Tyrion's conversation about betraying Dany. When Tyrion told Varys of Jon's true parentage, they got into a heated discussion about whether to unseat Dany as Queen and pick Jon as their king. Varys made the point that they should consider whether the person who would make the best ruler might be someone who doesn't want to rule. On a less serious note, Tyrion also said he didn't "think a c--k is a true qualification" for rulers, and Bran's inability to father children actually turned out to be part of the reason Tyrion thought he'd be a good choice for king. It turns out they were both right.