Game of Thrones Hope Chest: what romantic pairing are you rooting for?

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Game of Thrones has never been about giving readers or viewers what they most want. Its author and screenwriters prefer to build fan expectations, then overturn them for narrative impact — and sometimes for pure shock value. And yet we fans maintain hope that at least a few of the characters will reach a satisfying, well-deserved ending. That’s why there’s Game of Thrones Hope Chest, a new weekly poll where we put all our hopes together in one place. We aren’t asking what you think is going to happen on Game of Thrones, we’re asking: what do you most hope to see happen?

This week, we’re looking back at an episode filled with boat murder, alliance-building, secret messages, and callbacks to season one — and ignoring all of it in order to focus on the romantic sequence between Grey Worm and Missandei. It was an extremely rare case where Game of Thrones depicted sex as a consensual, pleasurable connection between people who actually like each other, as opposed to something transactional, violent, or both. (It was also a ridiculously rare case where the show’s non-white cast got a little screen time that wasn’t about violence or servitude. They didn’t even get interrupted by boat murder!)

So of course the cynics are sure the only reason they finally got together is to set up the big knife-twist when Grey Worm dies, possibly immediately, because this is Game of Thrones and we can’t have nice things, at least not for more than five minutes at a time. But human nature being what it is (which is to say, pretty close to animal nature), Game of Thrones fans have been theorizing about and rooting for specific romantic pairings between characters literally since the first book came out.

For instance, a very early but common fan theory was that an eventual romance between Jon Snow and Daenerys would be the real “ice and fire” of the series title, given their respective backgrounds, homelands, and affiliations. While Brienne of Tarth has never been a romantic, fans have been hoping to see her end up with one of the gruff warriors who’ve earned her respect. There was apparently a sizable subgroup of fans pulling for Sansa and Margaery to get together, after bonding over Joffrey’s awfulness, though season six of the show quashed that hope. Granted, half the cast may end up dead before it’s all over, and any relationship comforts are likely to be pretty fleeting. But still, Grey Worm and Missandei’s moment together should give anyone hope that Game of Thrones isn’t entirely devoid of tenderness.

And here’s a bonus poll:

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