It shouldn’t come as much surprise that one of Game of Thrones's most indelible moments is the so-called Red Wedding: a marriage that became a massacre. The Seven Kingdoms are not exactly a land where romantic relationships thrive. Since its inception, the series has seen the demise of Ned and then Catelyn Stark, the patriarch and matriarch of Winterfell; of their son, Robb Stark, and his pregnant wife, Talisa; of Oberyn Martell, paramour of Ellaria Sand (the series’ most sexually voracious and adventurous couple); of Shae, at the hands of her lover Tyrion Lannister; of the wildling Ygritte, the first to discover what Jon Snow really does know; of Daenerys Targaryen’s first husband Khal Drogo; and even, perversely, of the sadistic Ramsay Bolton and Myranda, the kennel master’s daughter, who enjoyed the casual pastime of hunting humans together.
The series’ queer characters, already scant, have gotten on even worse, if that's possible. (Vulture went so far as to declare the series has “a gay problem.") As if illustrating their point, the fan site Watchers on the Wall published a post, for Valentine’s Day, with the apt title “All Men Must Fall In Love.”) Renly Baratheon is murdered by a shadow monster that Melisandre birthed after sex with Stannis Baratheon—loaded imagery if we’ve ever seen it. Several seasons later, Loras Tyrell, Renly’s one-time lover and the brother of Margaery Tyrell, is sentenced to death for his sexuality. After she’s kidnapped (mid-makeout with Yara Greyjoy, we’ll note), Ellaria watches helplessly as her daughter dies from Cersei’s poison kiss.
It’s bleak. Yet, in spite of it all, Game of Thrones is still really, really horny. Sometimes, it’s even just a little bit romantic. (Didn’t you hear, Jaime and Cersei Lannister are expecting?) There are seeds of optimism sown throughout: Sansa Stark escapes not one but two abusive relationships and is now basically running Winterfell; Samwell Tarly and Gilly (and Little Sam) are still going strong; and, of course, there’s Missandei and Greyworm, Game of Thrones’s most beautiful couple. So here are all the couples we’re shipping through the winter, which is finally here.
Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand
They were, after all, so rudely interrupted by Euron Greyjoy.
Gendry Baratheon and Arya Stark
This one’s the prevailing Reddit theory, and a rumor that Joe Dempsie, who plays Gendry, has done little to quell over the past year. “He’d love to see Arya again,” Dempsie told HBO in late 2017, just as his character returned to the show. “I wouldn’t say he’s pining, because you have to toughen up." But, yeah, there's something there. He’ll probably make Arya a new sword, just for zombie-slaying, as an initial overture. Hot Pie can officiate the wedding.
Tormund Giantsbane and Brienne of Tarth
Brienne of Tarth's romantic inclinations have been the subject of much speculation—and though others have envisioned her with Jaime Lannister or Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, this is clearly the only right option. We all deserve someone who looks at us the way the wildling Tormund Giantsbane looks at Brienne of Tarth.
Ser Bronn, a castle, and a wife.
His desires are really not so complicated, and yet they keep getting foiled.
Daenerys Targaryen and literally anyone but her nephew.
Daenerys has not fared so well in love. First, she was married off to Khal Drogo, of the Dothraki, who abused her before they sort of started to get each other. He died. Then, there was her ex Daario Naharis, who was a total enabler. Jorah Mormont has sought after her for years, but there’s no way that’s happening. And now, she’s unwittingly doing incest with her nephew, Jon Snow. We ship Daenerys, and catching a break.
Jorah Mormont and someone who’s not Daenerys.
See above. Consensual relationships only, people.
The Seven Kingdoms need approximately 100 percent more dragon eggs.
Greyworm and Missandei
Naturally, the closest thing Game of Thrones has to a storybook romance at this juncture feels imperiled, given the fates of other, previous star-crossed lovers.
Samwell Tarly and Gilly
As long as he starts crediting her for her ideas.
Cersei Lannister and Euron Greyjoy
Just imagine the wedding looks. Plus, their kids would be about 100 percent less likely to be Joffrey-like monsters. Diversifying the genetic pool can do that.