WARNING: FULL SPOILERS THROUGH THE FOURTH EPISODE OF GAME OF THRONES SEASON 8, “THE LAST OF THE STARKS,” BELOW.
Not only did Arya Stark duck out on all the revelry following the North’s defeat of the Night King, where she surely would have been honored as the hero of the whole damn thing for being the one to vanquish him (she still got a toast from Daenerys at least!) but she checked out of Winterfell entirely following Jon’s big news that he was, in fact, Aegon Targaryen.
Was it the shocking revelation that helped motivate her to go or was her plan always to leave everyone behind and finally get back to her list?
Back at the top of Season 7, Arya was on her way to the Red Keep, dead set on killing Queen Cersei. Once she heard Jon was alive, and that Winterfell could once again be her home, she about-faced and went north, reuniting with her remaining family and giving up on her iconic kill list. But how long was that going to last? Could she really leave those final names uncrossed?
In Winterfell, she experienced it all. She was reunited with her siblings, lost her virginity to Gendry, faced down the army of the dead, and saved the day (literally) when she stabbed the Night King with a Valyrian dagger. When she survived the ordeal and was offered a seemingly happy future, as the wife of Lord Gendry Baratheon of the Stormlands, Arya reasserted that she could never truly live like that. “It’s not me,” she said, echoing back to Seasons 1 and 7.
Now she and the Hound are back on the road together, heading to King’s Landing for some good old fashioned revenge. Let’s look at Arya’s famous list and why it would be a shame if she didn’t check off a couple of lingering boxes.
HOW THE LIST BEGAN
When Arya had to flee King’s Landing in Season 1, she was aided by a Night’s Watch recruiter named Yoren, who disguised her as a boy and wagoned her out of the city. Later on, she asked Yoren about possible coping mechanisms for all the horrors she’d seen and he brought up a man he’d killed. Yoren had once become so obsessed with revenge that he’d recite this person’s name every night. Ever since then, Arya’s recited names to herself before bed, names of people she’s wanted to kill. And the list grew pretty long, though now there’s less than a handful remaining.
WHO’S LEFT ON THE LIST
This one also happens to intersect with the Hound’s list as well, though the Hounds’s list contains only one name, as it happens: The Mountain, the Hound’s massive brother, who put his face in a roaring fire when they were kids because the Hound had played with one of his older brother’s toys. Arya’s reasons for naming the Mountain have to do with the behemoth’s role in the Harrenhal torture scene but regardless, he’s the most formidable physical adversary on her revenge map.
“The Mountain is the Hound’s kill,” writes KillRoy231 on Fandom’s Game of Thrones community section, and while The Hound got all up in the Mountain’s face in the Season 7 finale, promising him that he’d still be the one to kill him, it’s probably going to take a tag team effort to bring this monster down. Especially since he’s no longer really…himself. Qyburn brought him back from the brink of death and now he’s more or less a purple-faced zombie. It’s unlikely either the Hound or Arya will consider this alone to be “punishment enough.”
Cersei, with all her walls, guards, crossbows, wildfire, and poison is definitely the Big Kahuna of targets for anyone, not just Arya. Cersei is so well protected, and so well informed about her enemies’ weaknesses, that she’s all but untouchable. It’ll likely take some notable Faceless Men skills to get close to her.
“Arya could kill Payne and become him so she can kill Cersei while the Hound takes on the Mountain,” writes Dave chaves.
But how much is Cersei able to see what’s coming ahead of time? And how distracted will Arya and The Hound be by Cersei’s shadow, the Mountain? Ned Stark must be avenged, but can Arya be the one to do it?
When we polled the Fandom Game of Thrones community to ask who Arya was most likely to personally kill from those left on her list, Cersei ‘won’ the most votes in a big way, with 61% at the time we published this story.
Despite it being an uphill battle, fans would love for Arya, even after killing the Night King, to also off Cersei.
Yes, the very person she’s currently riding into hell with was one of her List Originals. Sandor Clegane, AKA the Hound, and Joffrey were the first dastardly drips to truly enrage her, with Joffrey’s cowardly sniveling and evil demeanor leading to the Hound killing Arya’s friend, Mycah, at Joffrey’s orders.
We assume the Hound’s no longer on her list because the two have bonded since then — and she even came to his aid in the midst of the Battle of Winterfell with a well-placed arrow — but in all fairness she did “kill” him back in Season 4 when she refused to save him when he appeared to be mortally injured after fighting Brienne of Tarth. So that was probably good enough for her.
Though if he gets terribly hurt — say, taking out his brother — maybe she’ll truly kill him, though this time out of mercy.
The man who swung the sword that beheaded Ned Stark, executioner Ilyn Payne, was one of Arya’s top targets for a while, though over time, he vanished from actively being mentioned among those on the list. On the show, we can speculate if perhaps Arya came to consider him to be a pawn unworthy of her time. In real life, unfortunately, the actor who played Payne, Wilko Johnson, developed pancreatic cancer. Since then, Johnson has thankfully recovered and remained cancer free, but he still hasn’t reappeared on the series so far.
Payne was last mentioned in Season 4, during Tyrion’s trial, but now, years later, his status is unknown. There’s no stated reason why he shouldn’t still be on Arya’s list though, so, for the sake of her final journey south, let’s say he is.
WHO’S CROSSED OFF ON THE LIST
One of the first names on Arya’s list was Meryn Trant, who was initially just your average King’s Landing a-hole knight who helped Cersei kill off House Stark members and allies in Season 1 – including, presumably, Arya’s “dancing” instructor, Syrio Forel.
Arya finally got this vile wretch, in a rather memorable way, when she saw him lurking around Braavos while she was training at the House of Black and White. She disguised herself as a prostitute — Meryn, it turned out, also liked disturbingly young girls and would beat them — and ended him with stabs to the eyes and a slice of the neck. She never thought she’d see anyone on her list so far from Westeros, but once she did her impulse to cross a name off her list was so great that she disobeyed her assassin-in-training orders to do it.
When we asked Fandom’s Game of Thrones Community for their favorite kill from Arya’s list, AnnGiiBee wrote, “Meryn Trant. Poetic justice is her bloody signature.”
Polliver was the first creep on Arya’s list who she took care of herself. As revenge for killing her friend Lommy, using her own sword Needle, Arya and The Hound trounced Polliver’s group at a tavern and she stabbed him with Needle, repeating the same words he’d said to Lommy when he murdered him: “Fine little blade. Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.”
Let’s be fair: Joffrey was on most everyone’s kill list. Naturally, he was on Arya’s not only for Mycah but for ordering the execution of her father, Ned Stark, after Cersei had promised Ned could take the black and join the Night’s Watch.
Joffrey notably got his painful comeuppance, but not at Arya’s hand. We assume she’ll accept it all the same. As do many fans.
“I literally cried of happiness when Joffrey died,” wrote Mooselion.
Another top Lannister family member to die in King’s Landing, through reasons other than Arya, was Tywin Lannister. If Tyrion hadn’t done the job for her, we’re sure Arya would have made a run at him eventually for the infamous Red Wedding massacre he plotted out with Roose Bolton.
Melisandre, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr
These three got put on the list after Beric, Thoros, and their fellow Brotherhood Without Banners members wouldn’t escort Arya back to her family and then made matters much worse by allowing Melisandre to take her friend Gendry in exchange for gold because the Red Woman wanted his blood for a magic ritual. It all seemed rather cold and cruel, and Arya, seeing another friend get taken away, cursed them all with a spot on the list. Since then, cooler heads prevailed and they eventually seemed to drop out of her revenge plans.
Of course, in the end, they all wound up dead anyhow. The Lord of Light, and Arya’s list, works in mysterious ways.
This one comes with an asterisk, as Rorge never officially was added to Arya’s list because she never knew his name and wasn’t partial to reciting things like “that ugly and awful brute who threatened to rape me.” In Season 4, when Arya and The Hound came across Rorge and Biter — who were part of the prisoner transport that also carried Jaqen H’ghar in Season 2 — Arya remarked that Rorge never made her list because she couldn’t identify him. Seconds after Rorge (stupidly) told her his name, she stabbed him with Needle.
Ahhhh, here is the most satisfying crossing out of them all so far, and by far the stand out among Fandom’s Game of Thrones community when asked to name their favorite.
“The Freys 100%” – Tennisgirl567
“Freys was so fire” – Mars Blackmon
“Definitely Freys, that’s when she truly leaves the Faceless Man and it shows how she’s learnt all these different skills and put them to action” – Fujoshi.Chopper
“I’m at a tie with Ser Meryn Trant and House Frey (minus the females) both awful, both satisfying deaths it’s really difficult to choose.” – QueenReign
Yes, not only did Arya taunt and then kill the wickedly warped Walder Frey, but she had previously killed his two sons, who also had a harrowing hand in the Red Wedding, and baked their bodies into a pie that Walder unknowingly began to eat before she revealed the truth and ended him.
Afterwards, as an encore, she poisoned the entirety of the remaining male Frey line. An entire House effectively destroyed, thanks to Arya and the skills she learned as a Faceless Man.
HOW THE BOOKS DIFFER
As with most things on Game of Thrones, there are some differences regarding Arya’s kill list when it comes to the source material from the books and the TV series version, including some names the TV show left out.
Arya did actually kill off knight Amory Lorch on TV, in a way, because she named him to die when Jaqen H’ghar said she could point out three lives for him to take, but he never was on the list. In the books, he did make the list for killing Yoren in A Clash of Kings, though on the show she had him iced, in the nick of time, because he’d caught her stealing a confidential letter and was going to report it to Tywin.
“This doesn’t really count as being on Arya’s list,” writes AlmostAllice, “but I loved the way she named Jaqen H’ghar and got him to do all that killing for her. She was young back then so it shows the brains behind the killing machine.”
Another evil bastard from A Clash of Kings who died on TV thanks to Arya, via some Jaqen H’ghar off-screen murdering. But the Tickler never made it to Arya’s TV show list. He probably would have, eventually, given how gleefully he tortured people in Harrenhal and how much Arya disapproved of that.
Raff the Sweetling
Raff was an extra goon in the books, and the one who personally killed Lommy. On TV, he was merged with Polliver. On the page, Polliver was only on Arya’s list for stealing Needle.
Chiswyck, Weese, and Dunsen
All cut from TV and all of whom abused or angered Arya in some form in A Clash of Kings. Chyswick boasted about rape, Dunsen stole Gendry’s helmet, and Weese abused Arya when she was trapped as a servent in Harrenhal.
Also, it’s worth mentioning that Arya’s “List” was more of a list on TV. In the books, it was treated as a bedtime prayer in which she’d say the names of people she wanted dead and ended it with “Valar Morghulis.” Like all children should.