With the Season 5 premiere of Game of Thrones upon us, I find myself thinking about the series and how it’s a phenomenon of supporting characters, houses, and allegiances. I’m a big fan of the series and I’ve read all of the books by George R.R. Martin and seen all the episodes.
One of the great things about this series is the diverse and massive cast of characters. There’s bound to be someone for every audience member to find themselves relating to or rooting to win (or at least not tragically dying).
In that vein, I present to you: 5 reasons you should support Stannis Baratheon, the One True King of Westeros, for the Iron Throne.
To make this as accessible as possible, I will primarily discuss events in the show and refrain from posting any spoilers from the books.
1. He Is Legally the King
If you believe, as I do, that it was legal for Robert Baratheon, Stannis’ older brother, to rebel against King Aerys II Targaryen in the War of the Usurper, then Stannis is legally the rightful king after Robert’s passing.
After Robert died in the first season, his eldest son, Joffrey, ascended to the throne. However, Joffrey, and both his siblings, Tommen (who is currently king) and Myrcella, are bastard children because their parents are Cersei, the Queen, and her twin brother, Jaime. In Westeros, bastard children are not allowed to inherit any sort of title by law. In fact, they should not even be named Baratheon.
Therefore, the line of succession goes to the next oldest and legal male in the Baratheon line – Stannis. By law, we should all be bending the knee to the Lord of Dragonstone, which brings me to my next point.
2. Responsibility and Duty
If Joffrey truly was the legal son of Robert and Cersei, Stannis would have supported him as king, just as he did his older brother Robert.
However, Stannis unearthed the truth between Jaime, Cersei, and their three children. He then realized he was next in line for the throne. When Stannis begins his campaign for the throne after Robert has died, he’s not doing it out of greed or glory, but rather responsibility and duty. This is legally his responsibility now.
As he tells Davos: “It is not a question of wanting. The throne is mine, as Robert’s heir. That is law. After me, it must pass to my daughter, unless Selyse should finally give me a son. I am king. Wants do not enter into it. I have a duty to my daughter. To the realm. Even to Robert. He loved me but little, I know, yet he was my brother.”
Stannis is not a beloved figure, neither in Westeros nor by fans. And frankly? He doesn’t really mind. He doesn’t need a lavish lifestyle like Robert had, nor does he require all the pomp and circumstance that surrounded his younger brother Renly.
He isn’t a martyr or hero; he’s doing this because the responsibility has fallen on his shoulders and he will carry that until his dying breath.
3. Fair and Just
There are kings and leaders that are cruel and uncaring, who only reward those who beg and suck up to them. Stannis is not one of those kings.
When he held Storm’s End during Robert’s Rebellion, he did so stubbornly and bravely. Yet the only reason he and everyone there survived is because of Davos, the smuggler who had a cargo of onions. He provided the food to a starving population at Storm’s End.
Stannis took Davos into his service, but also determined that Davos be punished for his crimes of smuggling. Davos accepted, provided that it was Stannis himself who doled out the punishment. Stannis did.
This is a short, but very telling, story about the middle Baratheon brother. First, he takes a commoner into his service, disregarding class and circumstance. He rewards Davos for showing him and his people kindness and generosity. However he also realizes that Davos’ good deed does not erase his crimes as a smuggler.
The punishment he delivers to Davos is cutting off the first joint from each finger of Davos’s left hand. It is an apt punishment to take away the fingers that were used to steal. Then, as if I needed more reason to admire Stannis, he had the bravery and respect to execute the punishment himself.
People start out on equal footing for Stannis — it is your loyalty and work ethic and the deeds you commit that matter to Stannis. If you are honest and do what is right, by King and Country, regardless of social standing, that is what matters.
This is why Renly was murdered. He should have been loyal to his older brother who was next in line for the throne. By campaigning for the throne himself, regardless of Renly’s beliefs on the kind of king Stannis would make, he became a traitor. It didn’t matter that he was Stannis’ brother.
Indeed, Varys once said about Stannis: “There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man.”
4. Battle of the Blackwater
In the second season, we saw one of the most massive battles in the series yet. While Stannis’ army suffered a hard defeat in the Battle of the Blackwater, the fight they put up is noteworthy. He suffered the same defeat in the books but the television series really showcaseed Stannis as a leader in battle which is the point I want to make.
His men had to literally pull him screaming from the battle when it was clear they were losing. Other than the fact that Stannis doesn’t give up, Stannis was right there fighting beside his men. Of course they needed to protect him as their King, but he did not stand in the back.
Some may say this is an admirable but poor decision because if your King dies, where does that leave you? But this shows how Stannis thinks — if these men are fighting for him, risking their lives for him, what right does he have not to do the same? This is his battle too.
He is fierce and relentless. As Tywin Lannister said: “This is Stannis Baratheon. The man will fight to the bitter end and then some.”
5. The Wall
“Few of the birds that Maester Aemon had sent off had returned as yet. One reached Stannis, though. One found Dragonstone, and a king who still cared.” – Samwell Tarly, A Storm of Swords
It’s clear to anyone who watches the show or reads the books that the Wall is not a fun place to be right now. Attacked by Wildlings and dealing with White Walkers, the Wall is in a precarious position, especially as it is something that protects Westeros.
When the Night’s Watch reached out for aid, only one person responded: Stannis Baratheon.
As we saw at the end of Season 4, Stannis and his army arrived at the Wall and Castle Black in order to help the Night’s Watch. He realized that the Wall being attacked, and possibly falling, would be disastrous for Westeros. As rightful king, he has a duty to protect his realm. He was the only person who cared when Castle Black reached out and who realized the importance of protecting the Wall.
He is the only person currently campaigning for the Iron Throne who actually cares for his kingdom.
So there we have it – my case for why Stannis Baratheon is the rightful king of Westeros. I might not change anyone’s ideas or impressions of him, but if I at least get any of you to consider understanding why I bend my knee to him, I will have done my job.
Westeros is a hard world, and so is navigating Game of Thrones. You will be heartbroken and betrayed at any moment’s notice. It is good to find someone you believe in. With that thought, stick with Azor Ahai reborn, the King of Dragonstone and the Wall, Stannis Baratheon, and fight with him until the bitter end.
What do you think? Will you campaign for Stannis Baratheon to take the Iron Throne, or is there someone you think worthier than he? Share your thoughts in the comments!