No, she’s not part of George R.R. Martin’s famous “big five” that everyone talks about, but Sansa Stark is still one of the most important players in the Game of Thrones.
Whenever people bring up the “big five”, I always get a little offended for Sansa, Jaime, and Cersei – all of whom are original characters from the beginning with major storylines. But for now, we’re going to focus on the de facto Queen in the North herself, Sansa Stark.
Sansa Stark’s storyline starts off with a traditional “the grass is greener on the other side” theme. Except, not only is the grass not greener on the other side, the grass is also trying to kill you and your entire family.
Sansa’s whole character arc revolves around realizing how much she took for granted during her childhood. In Season 1, she’s elated to finally be leaving Winterfell and wisked away to the beautiful capital city of King’s Landing. After finally reuniting with Jon Snow, who was her least favorite sibling growing up, she laments that they “should’ve never left Winterfell” and that she wishes she could go back in time and scream “don’t leave”. It’s significant that this revelation is spoken to Jon, the brother she didn’t appreciate and a character who was also eager to leave home and make something of himself.
Her character comes full circle in Season 6, when her sole goal is to take down Ramsay Bolton and reclaim Winterfell. She begins the series by rebuking and shedding her wolf skin and ends with embracing and cherishing it. In many ways, and despite her resemblance of Catelyn of House Tully, Sansa has the most Stark-focused narrative in the family. The core of Sansa Stark’s character arc revolves around her relationship to her home and heritage – whether she’s mourning her dead family, returning to a Bolton-ruled Winterfell, or overthrowing the Boltons and reclaiming Winterfell.
The other Stark children have narratives that focus on different aspects of the plot: Arya and her assassin training, Jon and the Night’s Watch, Bran and the Three Eyed Raven. But Sansa’s story has always been about leaving and come back home, rejecting and reclaiming her family name. Arya’s story is also about identity, but in a very different way.
So in honor of Sansa Stark and her narrative, here are five are her most amazing moments that truly define her as a key character in the Game of Thrones.
1. She almost kills Joffrey
Let’s not forget that Sansa Stark almost pushed Joffrey off that wall after he made her look at her dead father’s head. If the Hound hadn’t been there, I’m convinced she would’ve done it. This is the first scene that really starts to show Sansa’s growth and her change in character.
2. “I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home, and you can’t frighten me.”
This is a much subtler moment for her, but it’s a strong moment too. This is one of those scenes that really defines her character arc. It also parallels Arya, who has a similar identity storyline, when she proclaims that she’s “Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.”
3. Sansa saves Little Finger
This is the first scene where we really see Sansa come into her own and start to play the game.
4. Sansa kills Little Finger
Honestly, everything about this scene is satisfying. The Starks all teaming up with their skillsets to take down one of the biggest, most conniving players.
It’s Arya who executes him, but Sansa is the one who orchestrates it all. They don’t show her figuring out what he’s doing, but it’s clear from the dialogue that she was the one to uncover the game he was playing with her and Arya.
5. Battle of the Bastards
Yes, Jon Snow also had a hand in winning that battle, but he would’ve lost if Sansa and the Vale hadn’t shown up. And the Vale wouldn’t have come if it wasn’t for Sansa. She wrote to them, yes. But I don’t think they would’ve come if Jon had written. They came for Sansa.
She really uses her relationship with Little Finger, and his desperation to make amends, to her advantage here. It’s definitely a last resort, power move… but a calculated one as well.