Princess Arya Stark is the third child and second daughter of Lord Eddard Starkand his wife, Lady Catelyn Stark. She is the heir of House Stark under the reign of her sister, Sansa, the Queen in the North, and heir to the Kingdom of the North.
After narrowly escaping the persecution of House Stark by House Lannister, Arya is trained as a Faceless Man at the House of Black and White in Braavos, and uses her new skills to avenge her family. Upon her return to Westeros, she exacts retribution for the Red Wedding by exterminating the Frey male line.
Returning to Winterfell, Arya initially finds herself at odds with her elder sister, Sansa. However, their tumultuous relationship is discovered to be the result of Petyr Baelish’s manipulation, and the two mend their sisterhood following his execution for his crimes against House Stark.
Arya then plays a significant role in the Great War, effectively ending the conflict through her killing of the Night King during the Battle of Winterfell. Afterwards, however, she rides south with Sandor Clegane, not intent on returning to Winterfell. They arrive at King’s Landing as it is being destroyed by Daenerys Targaryen, and Sandor convinces Arya to abandon her quest for vengeance and murder, leading Arya to instead try, though fail, to save the small folk. Arya joins with Sansa and Bran in saying farewell to Jon as he departs for the Nights Watch for assassinating Daenerys. Arya decides to leave Westeros and sail west to discover what lies westward, where the maps of the known world end.
Arya Stark is the youngest daughter and third child of Lady Catelyn and Lord Ned Stark.
Arya was born and raised at Winterfell. She has an older sister, Sansa, an older brother Robb, two younger brothers Bran and Rickon Stark, and a “bastard half-brother” Jon Snow.
Arya rejects the notion that she must become a lady and marry for influence and power. Instead, she believes that she can forge her own destiny. She is fascinated by warfare and training in the use of arms, and is bored by embroidery and other “lady-like” pursuits. She takes after her father and has a quarrelsome relationship with her sister Sansa, due to their contrasting interests and personalities. She is close to her “half-brother” Jon, who is also something of an outsider.
Arya is being taught how to sew by Septa Mordane, but finds the exercise tedious and difficult, in contrast to her sister Sansa, whose stitching is praised by Septa Mordane. She looks on enviously as her brothers Bran, Jon, and Robb practice archery in the courtyard with their father. She grabs a bow and annoys Bran by out-shooting him. Robb and Jon are impressed while Bran chases Arya as their family laughs at their antics.
On King Robert’s visit to Winterfell, Arya rushes out to see the arrival of his entourage. She is scolded when she finally joins the receiving line in the courtyard. Arya is overheard by Queen Cersei Lannister when she asks Sansa where the “Imp” is, a reference to Tyrion Lannister. Later that evening at the feast, she tests her mother’s patience by misbehaving and throwing food at her sister, Sansa, prompting Robb to send her to bed early. Robert names Arya’s father Eddard Stark as his Hand of the King, Joffrey is betrothed to Sansa, and Eddard decides to take his daughters with him to King’s Landing to experience the court. Before leaving, Arya receives a pet dire wolf, one of several pups found by her brothers outside the castle, and names her Nymeria, after a great warrior-queen of Essos. She also receives a sword as a gift from Jon. She names it Needle, as a play on words that she may now enjoy doing “needlework”.
While journeying south on the Kings road, she practices her swordplay with Mycah, the son of the butcher in the King’s retinue whom she befriends. When Sansa and her betrothed, Prince Joffrey Baratheon, spot them fighting, Joffrey intervenes. He accuses Mycah of pretending to be a knight and threatens him for striking Arya. Ignoring their protests, he cuts Mycah and threatens Arya when she attacks him to defend Mycah. As Joffrey menaces her with a sword, Nymeria savages Joffrey, injuring his arm, allowing Mycah to flee and Arya to throw Joffrey’s sword in the river. Arya runs away and drives Nymeria off with rocks so that she won’t be punished.
Arya is eventually found and questioned. Arya is truthful but Sansa lies about the incident, saying she didn’t see what happened, but generally supporting Joffrey. This infuriates Arya, who proceeds to strike her sister and call her a liar. Queen Cersei, as they do not have Arya’s wolf Nymeria, the one who actually bit Joffrey, spitefully requests that Sansa’s dire wolf Lady be executed instead. Despite the fact that she had just struck Sansa for lying to save her budding friendship with Joffrey, Arya quickly joins her sister in vehemently protesting against killing Lady. She even reaches out to touch Sansa in sympathy as she breaks down into tears upon seeing that the queen’s order will be carried out nonetheless. Meanwhile, Mycah is murdered by Joffrey’s bodyguard, the Hound.
After reaching King’s Landing, Arya argues incessantly with Sansa over the incident, to her father’s despair. Eddard tries to make Arya understand that Sansa could not contradict her future husband. Arya is disgusted that Eddard thinks such an excuse is acceptable and questions why he would betroth Sansa to someone like Joffrey. Eddard discovers Needle when he comes to Arya’s room to talk to her while she is practicing. When he realises she is serious about learning, he hires Syrio Forel, a master sword-fighter who was formerly the First Sword of Braavos, to train Arya in the art of combat. Eddard is bemused to find that Syrio’s training regime includes having Arya balance on her tiptoes for hours at a time and chasing cats around their new residence in the Red Keep to learn agility. Arya and her father discuss how Bran cannot be a knight now that he is paralysed below the waist, but he can be lord of a holdfast, or sit on the King’s council. When Arya asks if she can as well, Eddard laughs and says that someday she will marry a powerful lord and have children who can be lords or even king and rule the land. Arya replies that is not her destiny: “That’s not me”.
Arya watches the Hand’s tournament along with Septa Mordane and Sansa. She asks Little finger how he got his nickname, to his amusement. Arya later resumes her cat-chasing training exercise and finds her way into the dungeons under the Red Keep, where she sees the dragon skulls that used to decorate the Great Hall of the Iron Throne.
She overhears Varys and Illyrio Mopatis plotting about the likelihood of future war between the Starks and Lannisters and the possible timing of Khal Drogo bringing his army across the Narrow Sea with the Targaryen exiles. Following them, Arya finds a passage out of the castle and then must confront and threaten the castle guards in order to get back in. Her father is angry, as he has had people looking for her. She tries to tell him about the conspirators she overheard, but cannot identify them and has forgotten most of the details, other than “the wolf and the lion” (the Starks and Lannisters) fighting each other. Eddard introduces her as his daughter to Yoren, a recruiter for the Night’s Watch. Disheveled and unclean, Arya is at first mistaken by him as a boy, to her annoyance.
Arya is distracted from her training exercises by news of Jory’s death and her father’s injury while fighting Jaime Lannister. Syrio teaches her how to ignore her troubles to focus on fighting. Later, Eddard Stark brings his daughters together to tell them he is sending them back to Winterfell. Sansa and Arya are both upset. Arya does not want to leave Syrio’s training. Sansa is incensed, feeling that losing a dancing instructor is nothing compared to breaking her betrothal to Joffrey. Lord Eddard says not to worry, he will choose another man for her to marry, one strong and gentle and brave. Sansa says she doesn’t want someone like that; she wants Joffrey (to Arya’s amusement). She wants to have his blonde babies, like Joffrey her “golden-haired lion”. After the interjection “Seven hells”, Arya asserts that he will be a stag like his father. Sansa replies that Joffrey is nothing like Robert. This prompts Eddard’s sudden realisation that Joffrey is not Robert’s son and thus not the heir to the throne.
Eddard confronts Cersei, who admits that her children were fathered by her brother, Jaime Lannister. However, before Eddard can inform Robert, the King is mortally wounded by a boar while hunting and dies shortly afterwards. Cersei and Joffrey have Eddard arrested and send guards to take Arya into custody while she is training with Syrio. He realises that Eddard would not send Lannister men for his daughter, and instructs Arya to flee while he faces down the guards himself. Armed only with a wooden sword, he disarms several of them and holds off one of the Kings guard, Ser Meryn Trant. Syrio’s fate after that is unknown. Arya goes first to the stable, where the men who were to take her and Sansa out of King’s Landing were waiting with the baggage. The men have been killed, but she finds her sword, Needle, where she hid it in the bottom of her luggage. She is discovered by a stable boy who tries to stop her. As he comes at her, she raises her sword, and he is impaled and dies. Horrified, Arya runs away to find her way out of the castle. As a result of subsequent events, war breaks out between the forces of House Lannister and the forces loyal to House Stark, now under the leadership of Robb.
Arya lives on the streets of King’s Landing, catching wild birds to feed herself. While trying to bargain for something to eat at a baker’s stand, Arya notices crowds of people running to the city’s centre. She discovers that they are assembling to witness the trial of the Hand of the King. Dropping the pigeon she holds, Arya runs to the crowded square, and, to get a better view and see her father, she climbs on the pedestal of a statue of former Targaryen king Baelor (for whom the Sept is named). Eddard is brought out and pulled through the crowd. He spots Arya, and then, as he is taken past Yoren, the Night’s Watch recruiter, he manages to signal in Arya’s direction saying “Baelor”, hoping that Yoren can find Arya and take her to safety. As previously agreed with Joffrey and Cersei, Eddard confesses to treason, but instead of granting mercy, Joffrey reneges and orders his execution. Arya dashes forward, drawing her sword in an attempt to save her father. Yoren manages to grab her. Holding Arya against his chest, he tells her not to look. Before he is executed, Eddard looks to the statue of Baelor and sees that Arya is gone. Arya looks up at the sky. Upon seeing the frightened birds taking flight from the cheer of the crowd, Arya knows that her father is dead.
Yoren cuts her hair to make her look more like a boy and vows to get her to the Wall to reunite with Jon. She will pose as a fresh recruit for the Night’s Watch. He tells her not to trust the others, as they could turn her in for a reward or possibly rape her, or both. When Arya joins the group, she is bullied by two boys, Hot Pie and Lommy Green hands, but she defends herself and scares them off with Needle. Gendry, another recruit, also steps up to defend her. The entire group departs King’s Landing, facing a journey of hundreds of miles through a war zone in order to get to the Wall.
Arya travels north on the Kings road with Yoren, posing as one of his Night’s Watch recruits. She is drawn to one of the prisoners in the wagon, Jaqen H’ghar. Since he is a murderer from the black cells of the dungeons, where the worst criminals are kept in King’s Landing, he will stay locked up in the cage until they reach the Wall. He asks for water, but the other two murderers, Rorge and Biter, threaten her, so she does not get it for him. She forms a bond with former blacksmith’s apprentice Gendry who sees through her disguise. When gold cloaks arrive from King’s Landing with a warrant for one of the recruits, Arya fears that they are looking for her, but it is actually Gendry (who is unaware of his status as a royal bastard of Robert Baratheon). Yoren intimidates them into leaving empty-handed. Arya confesses her identity to Gendry after he reveals being questioned by her father before leaving the capital.
Arya asks for Yoren’s advice on living with the tragedies she has suffered, and he tells her the story of how thoughts of revenge resulted in his committing murder and having to join the Night’s Watch. He became obsessed with Willem, the man who killed his brother, and recited his name over and over at night before he slept. Then when Willem returned to Yoren’s village, Yoren killed him and had to flee his village. Losing his life and future, he had to take the black. Arya doesn’t understand the point of the story: Yoren was trying to tell her not to be obsessed by thoughts of revenge as it will consume her, but Arya heard that she should chant the names of her enemies each night before she slept, almost like a prayer, until the day she can get revenge. The Gold Cloaks return, having enlisted the support of Ser Amory Lorch and Lannister men. Yoren dies heroically defending Gendry, but the recruits are overcome by the group. During the skirmish, a fire starts near the cage where Jaqen and his companions are being held. Arya saves them by risking the flames to give them an ax to help them get out. Polliver steals Needle from Arya. Arya convinces Ser Amory that he has killed Gendry because another recruit died while he was carrying Gendry’s bull’s head helm.
Ser Amory takes his captives to Harrenhal. Each day one of the prisoners is chosen by Ser Gregor Clegane to be systematically and brutally tortured by the Tickler. Arya begins a nightly recitation of the names of her enemies, adding the Mountain and Polliver to her list. Lord Tywin Lannister returns to the castle and halts the ordeal, shortly before Gendry is going to be killed. He criticises Gregor for wasting manpower. He immediately realises that Arya is a girl posing as a boy. She claims that it made it safer to travel. Tywin commends her intelligence and makes her his cupbearer.
Tywin hosts a war council, and Arya serves food and drink. She moves to pour wine, but Tywin stops her, demanding water. He questions her origin, realising that she is a northerner. He rejects Arya’s first lie that she is from the Riverlands, but her second lie withstands his scrutiny. Upon being questioned about the northerners’ opinions of her brother, Robb Stark, she repeats rumours that he has a supernatural link to his dire wolf and that he is invulnerable. Tywin asks if she believes this and she replies, “No, My Lord, anyone can be killed”. She leaves to fetch water and encounters Jaqen, now a Lannister man-at-arms. Jaqen says that because she saved his life, and those of his two fellow prisoners, he owes her three deaths and offers to kill three people of her choosing. She first targets the Tickler. He is soon found dead in the courtyard. Arya notices Jaqen on the walkway above and he smiles and holds a single finger to his face to signify his responsibility.
Arya is afraid of being recognised when Petyr Baelish visits Lord Tywin, but he says nothing. Tywin catches her reading a letter detailing his troop movements and questions where she learned to read. She distracts him by asking about his own childhood and steals the letter. She is caught carrying it by Ser Amory. She manages to escape him and names him as her next victim to Jaqen. Jaqen kills him before he is able to expose the theft. Tywin believes that he was the intended victim and begins a brutal investigation, ordering the deaths of dozens of his own men. He tasks Ser Gregor with rooting out the Brotherhood Without Banners, believing that they are responsible for the assassination. Tywin talks to Arya about the importance of legacy and the destruction of Harrenhal in the Wars of Conquest. His suspicions are heightened by her own knowledge of history.
Tywin decides to leave Harrenhal to drive Robb’s armies from the Wester lands. He names Gregor castellan and leaves Arya to serve him. Arya seeks out Jaqen, intending to name Tywin as her last target to protect Robb, but is unable to find him in time. When he returns from patrol she asks him to help her escape and he refuses, saying that it was not part of their arrangement. She gives Jaqen his own name in response, refusing to take it back unless he helps her. Jaqen kills several guards that night, allowing Arya to walk out of the castle with Gendry and Hot Pie.
As the trio begin their trek into the Riverlands, they are surprised by Jaqen, who seems to appear from nowhere. Arya approaches him alone and asks how he killed those men, expressing her desire to learn his assassination skills. He offers to take Arya to Braavos (home city of her “dancing” instructor Syrio Forel) to train with the Faceless Men. She declines, telling him that she needs to find her family first, including Sansa. Jaqen gives Arya a single coin, explaining that should she change her mind, she only needs to give the coin to any man from Braavos and recite the High Valyrian words “Valar Morghulis.” Jaqen changes his face to that of another man and bids a stunned Arya farewell.
Arya, Hot Pie, and Gendry continue traveling to Riverrun. They are eventually captured by the Brotherhood Without Banners, who mistake them for war refugees. They are taken to a local inn where they are fed. Just as they are about to leave, Sandor Clegane is brought in as a captive. Despite trying to stay out of his sight, Clegane spots Arya and reveals her true identity.
Hot Pie stays behind to work at the inn while Gendry and Arya are taken to the Commander of the Brotherhood at their hideout in the Riverlands. When Clegane is brought before Lord Beric, she accuses him of the murder of Mycah. During the trial by combat ordered by Beric, Arya heartily calls out for Clegane’s death, but ultimately the Hound overpowers and kills Dondarrion, who is then resurrected by the Red Priest Thoros of Myr. As the victor, the Hound is declared innocent and released, much to Arya’s disgust.
Later, Arya questions Gendry for repairing Dondarrion’s armor and tries to get him to come with her and fight for her brother. Gendry says he’s tired of serving lords and wishes to fight to protect the small folk and join the Brotherhood, in which all members are equal, comparing them to a family. Arya, sadly, chokes out she could be his family. Gendry gently points out that if he goes with her they’d never be family: he’d still be a commoner and Arya would be “m’lady”.
As Thoros lays by a fire, Arya whispers her death list prayer. Thoros reveals they will take her to Riverrun to her family, in exchange for a reward for their cause. Arya points out she is being ransomed. Thoros admits it, and that Beric would like to return her to her family without any ransom out of respect for the memory of her father, but they need the gold. Beric joins them and points out he understands she is angry with him for releasing the Hound. Arya asks why he would release a man who nearly killed him, only for Dondarrion and Thoros to reveal Beric was actually killed but was resurrected by the Lord of Light, showing her the lethal injuries he’s sustained at the hands of Lannister soldiers, including Gregor Clegane. Arya asks Thoros if he could resurrect a man without a head. Both men understand she’s talking about her father and tell her they are not sure it would be possible. Beric then reveals that with each time he’s been resurrected he’s been losing memories and adds that Ned Stark was a good man whom he admired, but he wouldn’t wish his life upon Ned. Arya answers that she would, for he would at least be alive.
Anguy trains Arya with a bow. Arya spots someone behind her target, which is revealed to be Melisandre and a small group of Stannis Baratheon’s men. Melisandre says the Brotherhood has someone the Lord of Light needs, and soon after has her men take Gendry into her custody. Arya protests, particularly when she sees that Melisandre has given the Brotherhood two heavy sacks of gold in exchange. She confronts the red priestess, calling her a witch. Melisandre ignores the barb and looks into Arya’s eyes. She sees many other eyes, of many other colours – eyes that Arya will shut forever. Before leaving, she tells Arya that they will meet again.
Later at the hideout, Arya is disillusioned with the Brotherhood for selling Gendry, and rejects Dondarrion’s argument that it was the will of the one true god, revealing the only one true god she believes in is Death. When Dondarrion decides to postpone delivering Arya to Riverrun to raid a group of Lannister soldiers for their armour and weapons, Arya angrily calls them out on their hypocrisy and runs away, hoping the Lannister soldiers will kill them all. She evades the Brotherhood but before she gets too far, she is kidnapped by Sandor Clegane, who was lying in wait for her.
Some time later, now a captive of the Hound, Arya picks up a rock and stands over the Hound planning to strike. She thinks he is sound asleep, but he opens his eyes and tells her she has one chance to hit him and kill him, because if she fails, he will break her hands. Later she sits on the horse with him sullen and refusing food he offers her. Sandor points out that for all she hates him, Arya could have been taken captive by far worse. He tells her the story of Sansa and how he rescued her from the mob, men who were going to rape her in every way then slit her throat and leaving her to die. Arya says he’s lying, but Sandor says, “Ask your sister, if you ever see her again”. They continue onward across the meadows and arrive at a river, which Arya initially thinks is the Blackwater. Rather confused with her lack of understanding, he tells her it is the Red Fork of the Trident. Arya had believed the Hound was taking her back to King’s Landing, but he reveals that he is in fact taking her to the Twins, intending to get a reward by ransoming her back to her family. The marriage of her uncle is imminent, and both her brother and her mother will be there at the Twins. He tells her ruefully that if she was not so busy trying to bash his skull in, they might make it in time for the wedding. Arya hides a smile, as the Hound spurs the horse to a gallop.
On the way to the Twins, Arya and Sandor come across a hog farmer, who is also going to the Twins for the wedding, but his wagon is damaged. Sandor lifts the wagon, the hog farmer repairs it, then Sandor punches him and knocks him unconscious. Sandor draws a dagger to kill the hog farmer, but Arya begs him not to, and he relents. The hog farmer wakes up, and Arya knocks him out again with another blow to the head.
They arrive in the area of the Twins, and Arya nervously gazes toward the Stark camp. Sandor tells Arya that she is visibly afraid that something may happen to ruin her reunion with her family. Arya tells Sandor that he was visibly afraid of Beric Dondarrion’s flaming sword, and that she knows what Sandor’s brother did to him when they were children. Sandor taunts Arya about the execution of her father, then Arya tells Sandor one day she will stab him through his eye and out the back of his skull.
Arya and Sandor arrive at the gates of the Twins, in disguise as a hog farmer and his daughter. Sandor tells a Frey guard they have salt pork for the wedding feast, but the guard tells them the feast is over and orders them to leave. Arya then runs away from Sandor and hides near a table of Stark soldiers. Suddenly, soldiers come out of the castle and murder the Stark men. Arya hears Grey Wind howling inside a wooden cage, but four crossbowmen come out of the castle and murder the direwolf before she can release him. After the crossbowmen leave, Arya attempts to enter the castle, but is stopped by Sandor, who says that it is too late to do anything. Arya struggles to get into the castle anyway, so Sandor knocks her unconscious and carries her away, realising that any attempt to intervene at this point would be suicide.
Sandor mounts his horse with her, and picks up a Frey banner for their safety as he tries to slip away through the chaos. They both witness Frey and Bolton soldiers parading her brother’s mutilated corpse, with the head of Grey Wind attached to her brother’s body. Arya and Sandor then flee the castle on horseback while the Stark army is massacred during the Red Wedding.
While riding to destinations unknown, Arya and Sandor come across a group of four Frey soldiers eating at a campfire. They are mocking the death of Arya’s mother, while one of the soldiers describes the process of sewing Grey Wind’s head onto Robb Stark’s dead body. Arya then dismounts from Sandor’s horse and slowly walks up behind the soldier. He turns around and asks her what she wants, and she says she wants to keep warm and is hungry. The soldiers rudely tell her to go away, then she says she has money, and shows them the Braavosi coin given to her by Jaqen H’ghar. She purposely drops the coin, and when the soldier bends down to pick it up, she repeatedly stabs him in the back of the neck with a knife. The other three men draw their weapons, but Sandor appears and kills all three with ease. Sandor asks Arya how she got a knife, and she says she took it from him. Sandor asks if that the first man she has ever killed, and Arya confirms, “the first man” (not counting the stableboy in King’s Landing). As Sandor helps himself to the soldiers’ dinner, Arya picks up the coin with her bloodied fingers and whispers, “Valar Morghulis.”
The Hound has now decided to take Arya to Lysa Arryn, her aunt, in the Eyrie, where he can sell her. Arya is displeased with this arrangement and wishes for a horse so that she can stay a distance away from the Hound during the rest of their journey. The Hound argues that he doesn’t want her out of his sight and giving her a horse would provide her with the chance to escape.
They stop near a tavern and Arya suggests that they attack the Lannister soldiers there. She recognises one of them as Polliver, the one who callously stabbed Lommy through the neck with her own sword, Needle. She sees Needle, still tucked into Polliver’s belt and is determined to retrieve it. When Arya and the Hound are in the tavern, Polliver looks over suspiciously. Arya is worried because she thinks that Polliver recognises her, but it is the Hound that he recognises. The Hound and Polliver’s conversation eventually turns hostile which leads into a brawl in the tavern. The Hound kills most of the men, and Arya puts a sword through one who the Hound had knocked to the floor.
Polliver attempts to sneak up behind the Hound, but Arya slashes Polliver in the back of the leg with a longsword and takes Needle. She repeats what Polliver said to Lommy before he killed him, but Polliver doesn’t understand what she is talking about until she says “Fine little blade. Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.” As Polliver realises who she is, Arya sticks Needle into his throat, and he dies the same way Lommy died, making Polliver the first person she killed from her list. When they leave, The Hound allows Arya to take one of the Lannister horses.
Arya and the Hound stop to water their horses. Arya thinks that they are lost and asks him what he plans to do after he takes her to the Eyrie. He says he might join the Second Sons. A farmer and his daughter appear and ask them what they are doing on his lands. Arya makes up a story about the Hound being a soldier for House Tully, which luckily gets them access to his home and food. The next morning, Arya wakes up to a scream. The Hound has beaten the farmer and taken his silver. Arya is furious, telling him he is the “worst shit in the seven kingdoms”. He ignores the insult and tells her that the farmer and his daughter will not survive this upcoming winter anyway.
Arya recites her list by a campfire as the Hound tries to sleep. After a while, he tells her to be quiet. Arya says she can’t go to sleep without saying all of the names. Irritated, the Hound asks her if she is going to name every person in Westeros, to which she replies, “Only the ones I’m going to kill”. He calmly replies that hate is good as a motivation as any to keep a person going. He makes a note that if they would come across his brother, both of them would cross one name from their death lists. Arya asks the Hound what he would do if the Mountain was at their camp, and he responds he would tell his brother to shut up and let him sleep, implying that Arya asks too many questions. He tells Arya to finish her death list. She finally says she only has one name left remaining which, to his surprise, is his.
The next day, Arya is practicing her water dancing beside a river. Sandor, predictably, makes fun of her for prancing around. When Arya tells him that she learned her fighting style from Syrio Forel, whom she believes was killed by Ser Meryn Trant, he openly mocks the Braavosi for being defeated by such a worthless fighter. Eventually, he lets her have a go at him, for her dead friend Mycah whom he killed, but Needle won’t even pierce his armour. He backhands her and, with Needle pointed at her throat, Sandor reminds her that Syrio Forel is dead, and her techniques are best learned from people who are still alive, like the people on her list.
Arya and Sandor encounter a dying man in a ransacked village. Sandor gives the man a gift of mercy by stabbing him in the heart. Moments later, Sandor is ambushed by Biter who bites him on the neck. He snaps Biter’s neck and drops him dead in the dirt. Rorge appears, revealing that there is a price on the Hound’s head, which he and others want to collect. He is instantly recognised by Arya as one of the prisoners in Yoren’s group who threatened her repeatedly. The Hound asks if Rorge is on Arya’s list, but she denies it as she doesn’t know his name. Sandor asks Rorge for his name and after he says it, Arya thanks him and promptly stabs him in the heart with Needle. Sandor cynically comments that she’s learning.
Afterwards, Sandor clumsily addresses his wounds from Biter. Arya suggests burning to cauterise the wound, but is rebuffed by Sandor because of his fear of fire. Sandor confirms the story of his facial scars from burns inflicted by Gregor’s wrath and how his father covered up the truth, making him feel alone. Arya offers to clean and stitch him up, and Sandor allows her to do so.
As Arya and Sandor make their way to the Eyrie, Arya laments that she doesn’t feel any satisfaction over Joffrey’s death (which they learned of from Rorge), expressing disappointment in the fact that she was neither able to be present during his murder or be the one to kill him. Once they reach the Bloody Gate, Ser Donnel Waynwood informs them that Lysa Arryn had passed away just three days prior, prompting Arya to burst into a fit of laughter over their continuing bad luck as Sandor stands dumbfounded over his attempts to collect a ransom being foiled yet again.
When Arya and Sandor leave the Eyrie, they encounter Brienne of Tarth and Podrick Payne. At first, Brienne does not know she’s speaking to Arya Stark, whom she swore to her mother Catelyn to find and protect. When Pod tells her that the man with Arya is Sandor Clegane, she realizes it’s Arya and begs her to come with her. The Hound doesn’t trust Brienne, as she is carrying Oath keeper, a gift from Jaime Lannister, which is gilded with a lion’s head hilt, making him thinks she’s working for the Lannisters. Brienne and Sandor fight, each of them believing they should be the one to watch over Arya.
Brienne wins after beating Sandor with a rock and knocking him down a small cliff. Arya, rather than going with Brienne and Pod, hides from them until they leave. She then goes down the cliff to find the gravely injured Sandor, who begs her to kill him. When Sandor believes she won’t do it, he tries to goad her into doing it, telling her that it is another name to strike off her list, he killed the butcher’s boy when he begged him for mercy, and he should have raped Sansa when he had the chance. Instead, Arya takes his money and leaves him to die.
While traveling on her horse, Arya comes across a ship preparing to leave port. Arya first asks the captain to take her to the Wall, her intent being to meet up with her brother, Jon Snow. When the captain, Ternesio Terys, tells her that he is in fact going home to the Free City of Braavos, Arya shows him the iron coin which Jaqen H’ghar had given her. As Terys looks in awe, she tells him “valar morghulis”. He promptly nods his head and replies “valar dohaeris”, offering her a cabin aboard the Titan’s Daughter. Arya is then shown sailing away on the ship, headed to Braavos.
After a long sea voyage, Arya arrives at Braavos. Arya is awestruck by the Titan, which, according to the captain, would wake and protect the city whenever Braavos stood in danger in the old times. Arya replies it’s just a statue. Just then, the Titan lets out a loud blast announcing their arrival, startling her, but she convinces herself that she is not afraid. Terys rows Arya to the House of Black and White, where he claims she may find Jaqen, and Arya thanks him for bringing her this far. Arya lingers outside waiting for admittance, but is rejected by an elder man despite showing the coin Jaqen H’ghar had given her and mentioning their prior association.
Arya waits outside the House for days, endlessly reciting the names of the people she wants to kill, but eventually tosses away her coin and wanders off into the streets of Braavos. While hunting for pigeons in the city, Arya encounters several boys who intend to take Needle from her. Although she is more than willing to kill them, the boys scatter when the man from the House of Black and White appears again behind her. After following him back to the House, Arya demands to know his identity, and he returns to her the coin she had thrown in the water. His face morphs into the visage Arya had known him as — that of Jaqen H’ghar. However, he insists he’s not Jaqen H’ghar, but “no one”, as all Faceless Men are, and he tells Arya she must learn to be “no one” as well.
As Arya cleans the main sanctuary of the the House of Black and White, she watches the man who looks like Jaqen H’ghar assist another man in drinking from the temple’s well. When the man leaves to pray, Arya tells Jaqen that she wants to learn. He recites the phrase “Valar Dohaeris”, meaning “all men must serve”, and accuses Arya of only wanting to serve herself. When Arya looks back at the praying man, she sees that he has died and two men take his body away, ignoring Arya when she asks what they are doing with the body.
Later, Arya is accosted in her room by the Waif, who repeatedly asks her who she is, hitting her when she gives the expected response of “no one.” Eventually, Jaqen arrives and demands the Waif to stop. He notices that Arya was about to attack the Waif with Needle and points out that Arya cannot be no one, as she is still wearing Arya Stark’s clothes, is in possession of Arya Stark’s silver, and was about to attack the Waif using Arya Stark’s sword. In order to meet the order’s initiation requirements, Arya throws her old clothing and silver into the lagoon. Too attached to Needle, however, she is unable to discard it and hides it among a few rocks nearby. Later, as Arya is sweeping the floor, Jaqen escorts Arya to an inner chamber where she is to help the Waif in stripping and washing corpses. The Waif doesn’t respond when Arya asks what happens to the bodies after they are cleaned.
Arya finishes cleaning a corpse which is then taken away by two men. Arya wants to know what happens to the bodies she cleans, but the Waif tells her that she will know when the time is right. Arya demands to play the game of faces. The Waif tells her that she has already tried playing the game but failed. She asks Arya who she is, to which Arya replies that she is no one. When the Waif is about to walk away, Arya asks her who she is. The Waif tells Arya a story about how she was the only daughter of a widowed Lord, who remarried, producing another daughter. Her stepmother, in order to secure her own daughter’s future, tried to poison her. The Waif found out about this and sought out the help of the Faceless Men to exact her revenge. The Waif then asks Arya whether she believed the story. When Arya doesn’t respond, embarrassed that she bought the Waif’s story, the Waif tells her to get back to work, hinting that to pass the game of faces, Arya must be able to lie convincingly.
Later, when Arya is asleep, Jaqen H’ghar comes to test Arya again. This time, when he asks Arya who she is, Arya tells him how she came to join the Faceless Men, trying to slip in a few lies into the story. However, Jaqen is able to tell when Arya is lying and hits her whenever she does. Before he leaves, he tells her that she is lying not only to him, but to herself as well when she says she hates the Hound. A grieving father brings his sick daughter to the House of Black and White, wanting to end her suffering.
Arya tells the girl a false story about how she was sick too, but her father brought her here and when she drank from the temple’s well, she was healed, persuading the girl to drink the poisoned water from the well. The girl dies, and Arya, having proven that she can lie, is brought to the Hall of Faces by Jaqen. All the faces had been taken from the corpses that the acolytes wash in the temple. He then asks Arya if she is ready to give up who she is to become “no one”. After a moment of silence, he then states that she is not ready to become “no one” , but that she is ready to become “someone else”.
Arya’s first assignment is to pose as a shellfish merchant to study a target known as “the Thin Man”. Before the assassination is carried out, Arya is distracted by the sight of a name on her list: Meryn Trant. She sees him dock and follows him as he guards Mace Tyrell on his way to the Iron Bank. That night, Arya follows Trant and several guards to a brothel. She is chased out by the owner, but not before she learns that Trant prefers sex with very young girls. She reports her failure to kill the Thin Man to Jaqen (not mentioning why she failed) and promises to try again tomorrow.
Trant is given three girls the next night, whom he beats for his amusement. The first two are left whimpering from his beatings, but not the third. Trant dismisses the first two and continues to hit the third girl, to no effect, so he punches her in the gut. Crumpled on the floor, the girl removes her face and reveals herself as Arya.
She quickly stabs him in the eyes and several times in the chest, but her blade is too short and has little effect. She teases him about how he was the first name on her list and how the Many-Faced God has denied her of others, but how he has delivered Trant to her. She asks him if he remembers Syrio Forel, who he presumably killed in King’s Landing. She assumes he doesn’t. Arya then asks if he knows who she is, though Trant is in too much pain and shock to understand what is happening. She reveals herself as Arya Stark, and slits his throat.
Arya returns to the House of Black and White to put the face she used back on the wall. She is caught by Jaqen and the Waif. They are displeased that Arya has defied the Many-Faced God by killing someone who was not hers to kill. The Waif restrains Arya and Jaqen pulls out a vial of poison saying, “Only death can pay for life”. Just before Arya thinks she is about to be poisoned, Jaqen drinks it himself and dies. The Waif questions Arya’s grief for her friend, only to shock Arya by revealing herself to be Jaqen. Confused, Arya repeatedly removes multiple faces from “Jaqen’s” body, until she sees her own face. Arya’s eyes fill over with white as she is rendered blind as punishment.
Now blind, Arya poses as a beggar as part of her training. After overhearing two passing citizens discussing Meryn’s murder, she is approached by the Waif, remarking on her blindness. Tossed a stick, she fights and loses another sparring match against the Waif. Unimpressed, the Waif leaves Arya, promising to return the following day.
The next day, the Waif returns and asks Arya who she is. When Arya answers “no one,” the Waif brushes this off and promptly beats her in another sparring match. Arya angrily lashes out after the Waif leaves, but is stopped by Jaqen, who repeatedly asks her to say her name. After Arya tells him “a girl has no name” each time, an impressed Jaqen allows her to return to the House of Black and White.
Multiple stick fights between Arya and the Waif ensue. At the same time, Arya learns to cope with her blindness while telling the Waif her story and list of targets. With Arya finally holding her own, Jaqen gives her a cup from the well in the House of Black and White and tells her if she truly is no one, she has nothing to fear. She drinks the water and regains her sight.
Arya is tasked to kill an actress named Lady Crane, though Jaqen warns she has been given a second chance and won’t get a third. She views the first portion of the play The Bloody Hand, in which Lady Crane portrays Cersei. Afterwards, Arya notices that another actress, Bianca, is jealous of Lady Crane, and deduces that it was she who hired the Faceless Men to kill Lady Crane.
After watching the remainder of the play on a different occasion, Arya walks backstage and poisons her Lady Crane’s rum. On the way back, Lady Crane notices her, and the two briefly converse about the play. Speaking from experience, Arya suggests that the Cersei character’s response to the death of her son would not only be grief — it should also include anger. After asking Arya if she likes pretending to be others, Crane tries to express Arya’s opinion to the rest of the troupe, but is quickly shut down. She goes to drink the beverage Arya poisoned, but Arya slaps it from her hands before she can drink it, blaming Bianca.
Unbeknownst to Arya, The Waif had been following her and discovers that Arya has failed to kill the actress. The Waif proceeds to report Arya’s failure to Jaqen, who grants her wish to let her kill Arya but that she must not let her suffer. Meanwhile, Arya retrieves Needle from its hiding place and prepares to defend herself, presumably abandoning the goal of becoming a Faceless assassin and knowing her failure has made her a target.
Afterwards, Arya secures passage back to Westeros by bribing a Westeros trader. However, she is attacked and repeatedly stabbed in the stomach by the Waif, and only barely escapes by jumping into the river. She is left stumbling through the streets of Braavos, critically wounded and extremely paranoid.
Seeking refuge, Arya finds her way to Lady Crane, collapsing from her injuries behind the theatre troupe stage. Lady Crane takes her to her living quarters, where she treats Arya’s wounds and gives her a new set of clothing. Arya reluctantly accepts a dosage of milk of the poppy to help ease her pain, and soon after falls asleep in Lady Crane’s bed. When she wakes up, she finds her dead in the next room, murdered by the Waif. Jumping off the balcony and into the streets of Braavos, Arya manages to escape, though she is pursued by the Waif. After scurrying the back-alleys of the city, Arya finds herself in the Braavos market. However, the Waif continues to pursue her, forcing her to jump into the commotion of the crowd. Subsequently, Arya’s stitches become undone.
Leaving a trail of blood in her wake, Arya lures the Waif to the hideout in which she has hidden Needle. The Waif then asks her if she would like to die on her knees, or on her feet – in response, Arya pulls Needle out from its hiding place and confronts her attacker, starting by putting out the only light in the room. In the ensuing fight, Arya manages to best the Waif due to her proficiency with fighting in blindness, a skill which was ironically taught and trained by the Waif. She kills her adversary and then removes her face, which she brings back to the Hall of Faces.
Aware that Jaqen sent the Waif to kill her, Arya points Needle at him in an accusatory manner, though Jaqen claims that she has finally truly become “no one”, indicating the completion of her training as a Faceless Man. In reply, Arya reaffirms that she will never be “no one” and is and will always be Arya Stark of Winterfell. Lowering her sword, she then leaves the House of Black and White and Jaqen for good, making the ultimate decision to return to Westeros, her home.
Upon arriving in Westeros, Arya travels to the Twins where she disguises herself as a serving girl. After Jaime Lannister and his soldiers depart for King’s Landing, Arya manages to kill both “Lame” Lothar Frey and “Black” Walder Rivers, who were responsible for the deaths of Talisa Maegyr and her mother Catelyn Stark, respectively. She then proceeds to dismember their bodies and bake them into a pie, which she serves to Lord Walder Frey as the two are alone in the dining hall, still wearing the face of a serving girl. After she reveals her true identity, she slits Walder’s throat and watches with amusement as he dies.
After killing Lord Walder, Arya uses his face to impersonate him and hold a feast in honour of all of his sons. She gives a rousing speech, “reminiscing” over House Frey’s victories, before offering her audience a toast of poisoned wine. As Walder’s many sons drink from their chalices, Arya refuses to let any of the women partake, aware of their innocence. She then elicits cheers from the many Frey sons upon the mention of the infamous Red Wedding, though then goes on to subtly mock them by reminding them of how they butchered a pregnant woman, cut the throat of a mother of five, and slaughtered the Starks after inviting them into their home. As the Frey sons begin to cough up blood from the poison, Arya watches with satisfaction as they all die before removing her mask and revealing herself. Before leaving, she asks Walder’s wife, Kitty Frey, to tell anyone that might ask what happened that “the north remembers”, and remarks that winter has come for House Frey.
After departing from the Twins, Arya comes across a small convoy of Lannister soldiers, one of which gains her attention with a sweet song. Arya agrees, upon request, to join them at their fire, and accepts their offerings of food and drink, though cautiously. She engages in some small talk with them, including the destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor, all the while keeping her eye on their swords, and states that she is heading for King’s Landing. After she admits that she is planning on killing Queen Cersei, they laugh, unaware that this is her true intention.
Arya later visits the Inn at the Crossroads where she overhears some patrons discussing the recent arrival of Daenerys Targaryen and her dragons. She is reunited with Hot Pie, who brings her several pies which she eagerly consumes. He reminds her of the destruction of the Sept of Baelor at the hands of Queen Cersei and informs her of his own encounter with Brienne. She offers to pay for her meal when she has finished, but Hot Pie refuses her coin as a friendly gesture. Upon learning that her half-brother Jon Snow has taken back Winterfell from the Boltons and become the King in the North, Arya decides to finally head home after leaving the inn, instead of heading to King’s Landing.
On her way to Winterfell, Arya makes a small campfire in the woods. As she warms herself by the fire, she is suddenly ambushed by a large pack of wild wolves, which startles her horse. Surrounded, Arya pulls out Needle to defend herself, though the wolves do not attack, and Arya finds herself face to face with a now fully grown Nymeria, much to her astonishment. She pleads for her Dire wolf to come with her to Winterfell, but Nymeria instead retreats with her pack back into the woods. Arya realises that Nymeria is no longer the same and that she has also changed herself since they last saw each other. Softly, and with a small smile, she murmurs, “That’s not you”, echoing what she said to her father years ago when he suggested that someday she would marry a powerful lord.
Arya Stark finally returns to Winterfell. She rides up to the gates and dismounts, but the guards don’t believe her when she says she is in fact Arya Stark, convinced that Arya has been dead for years. Arya asks that they send word to Maester Luwin and Rodrik Cassel, who can prove her identity (not knowing they are both dead). The guards brush her off, telling Arya there is nobody by those names at Winterfell. Arya asks for Jon, but they say he actually just left Winterfell, so Arya asks who is in charge of Winterfell. The guards respond, “Lady Stark,” who Arya realises is her sister. They try to brush her aside, but she dodges them with her assassin’s reflexes, and insists that one way or another she’s getting in. She explains to them that if she is Arya, they’ll be in a lot of trouble for stopping her, and if she isn’t, she won’t last long in Winterfell anyway. Mildly concerned, they agree to at least let her in the courtyard, but insist that she stay put while they send for Sansa so they can disprove her identity. As soon as they take their eyes off her, however, she slips away. The two guards go to inform Sansa and try to wave the incident aside as just some impostor, but she instantly realises it must be Arya, and knows where she has gone.
Sansa finds Arya where she expected, in the crypts looking over their father’s grave. They are happy to see each other, but so much has happened to both of them in the past few years that they are at first awkward, unsure of what to say. Arya asks if she has to call Sansa “Lady Stark” now, to which Sansa firmly insists “Yes” – and then laughs. They smile and hug, though still a bit unsure. Arya notes that Jon left her in charge and smiles when Sansa says that she hopes Jon will be back soon – he will be so happy to see Arya, remembering how happy Jon was to see her when they were reunited, and the pair were never that close (unlike Jon and Arya). The sisters then look sadly on their father’s grave statue. Arya says it doesn’t really look like him. Sansa acknowledges that everyone who really knew his face is dead. Arya points out that they’re not.
Arya then asks if Sansa really killed Joffrey. Sansa explains she actually didn’t, though she wished she had. Arya remarks that he was always at the top of her “list”. This confuses Sansa, and Arya explains that she’d been keeping a list of everyone she was going to kill – at which they both laugh. Finally Sansa asks how Arya got back, but she only says her road wasn’t a pleasant one. Sansa says hers wasn’t either. They hug again, earnestly and warmly. Sansa then informs Arya that Bran is home too. Arya is elated, but her smile fades when Sansa does not mention Rickon, realising that Rickon is dead.
Sansa brings Arya to Bran in the gods wood, where he is lost in thought by the Weirwood heart tree. Arya is saddened to see him still paralysed. Still somewhat detached even at the sight of Arya, he says he isn’t surprised she’s alive because he saw her at the Crossroads. Arya is confused, and Sansa explains that Bran is having “visions” now. Bran says he thought Arya was going to King’s Landing, and when Sansa asks why she would head there of all places, he again startles them both by saying it’s because Cersei is on her list of names (which he can’t possibly be aware of through normal means). Sansa asks who else is on her list, but she says most of them besides Cersei are actually dead already. They then remark on the Valyrian steel dagger in his lap, and he explains that Little finger gave it to him, thinking he’d want it. Despite it being such a horrible keepsake that nearly killed him and indirectly set off a chain of events leading to his parents’ deaths, he is still listless and disinterested in it. Arya is confused as to why a common cutthroat would have a rare, priceless blade of Valyrian steel. Bran matter-of-factly says that someone very wealthy wanted him dead, and gave it to the assassin. Bran says that doesn’t matter, because he doesn’t even want it. Instead, Bran hands it to Arya and says she can have it – because it’s “wasted on a cripple”. The three true born Stark children, finally reunited, proceed back to Winterfell’s castle courtyard, with Arya pushing Bran in his wheelchair.
Some time later, Brienne is going through a vigorous sword practice session with Podrick, knocking him down when he overextends himself. Impressed, Arya interrupts and says she’d like to spar with Brienne – the woman who beat the Hound in combat. Sansa and Little finger watch on silently from the walkway above. Brienne goes easy on her at first, but then Arya completely outmanoeuvres Brienne using the Water Dance training she received from Syrio Forel, augmented by her training with the Faceless Men. Arya achieves many openings that would be a killing blow if she wanted them to be. Surprised that such a young girl is so skilled, Brienne stops holding back, leading to a gruelling sparring session. Brienne actually manages to knock Needle out of Arya’s hand but she simply switches to the Valyrian steel dagger she had in her belt. Arya uses her speed and agility to compensate for Brienne’s strength and size to overwhelm her – until Brienne actually manages to bring her brute strength to bear on a fast moving target by landing a kick on Arya’s chest that sends her sprawling. Brienne stops for a moment as Arya lies motionless, shocked at what she has done to a noblewoman. However, Arya swings her legs around and jumps up, causing Brienne to grin in relief. Ultimately, they reach a stalemate, with each of them holding a blade at the others’ throat. Arya takes her leave of Brienne, both mutually impressed, as Sansa looks down baffled at how her sister reached such a deadly skill level. Arya then looks up at the battlements, where Petyr watched her duel with Brienne, giving him an untrustworthy stare until he walks away.
Arya later watches in the great hall as Sansa addresses Lords Glover and Royce over their concerns with Jon’s absence. Glover says that perhaps they should have chosen Sansa instead due to his feeling that the King in the North should stay in the North while Royce says that the Vale came to Sansa’s aid during the Battle for Winterfell. In response, Sansa kindly dismisses their notions, once again pledging her loyalty to Jon. In their late mother and father’s chambers, Arya confronts Sansa about her apparent inaction towards Glover and Royce, claiming that she should have taken their heads for defying Jon’s rule. Sansa reminds her sister that this would likely lose the support of both House Glover and the Vale and that they need to work together in order to survive. Arya is adamant that they should have been executed. Suspicious of Sansa and her relationship with Little finger, Arya begins to spy on him, following him to Sansa’s bedchambers where he hides a rolled parchment inside of her mattress. Arya, unaware that the letter, written by Sansa after their father’s imprisonment in the Red Keep in which she pledges her loyalty to Joffrey and the crown and urges Robb to submit to his rule, has been planted on purpose by Baelish in order to manipulate her, falls for his scheme and reads the letter, growing suspicious of her sister as she is also unaware that Sansa was coerced into writing the letter by Cersei. From the shadows, Little finger watches with satisfaction as Arya leaves the room.
Arya and Sansa’s relationship continues to grow increasingly strained following Arya’s discovery of her sister’s “incriminating” letter. Watching over the castle courtyard from the balcony, Arya reminisces about how their father used to watch her and her brothers train in the very same spot, bitterly claiming that Sansa wouldn’t remember due to the fact that she was usually inside the castle knitting with her fellow ladies. She then tells Sansa how on one particularly day, after their brothers had finished training with Ser Rodrik, she wandered into the vacant courtyard and began practicing her archery with Bran’s discarded bow as their father watched from above.
Arya then resentfully states that he was killed by the Lannisters with Sansa’s help, reading her letter to her aloud. Sansa insists that she was forced to write it and, being a naïve child that she was at the time, was led to believe that she was saving her family. However, Arya is adamant to point out that had she been in Sansa’s position, she would have died before betraying her family, calling her stupid for believing in the Lannisters’ lies. Arya reveals that she, like Sansa, was present during their father’s execution and that she saw the whole thing from the statue of Baelor. Arya surmises that Sansa is afraid she will show the letter to the northern lords, thus losing their respect. Taking advantage of the tension between the two sisters, Little finger later suggests to Sansa that she use Lady Brienne to protect her from Arya.
In her bedchamber, Arya finds Sansa looking through her bag, which is full of her faces from Braavos. Confronting her sister, Arya toys with Sansa, insisting that they play the “game of faces”, hoping to catch her in a lie and expose her disloyalty to Jon. Sansa, unwilling to play, instead insists that Arya explain the nature of her faces. Arya reveals that with the faces, she can be whomever she wants to be. Grasping her Valyrian steel catspaw dagger, she approaches her sister in a somewhat threatening manner, wondering aloud what it might feel like to wear pretty silk dresses and be the Lady of Winterfell should she take Sansa’s face. Arya then hands her the dagger and promptly heads out the door, leaving her sister visibly disturbed.
Arya is summoned to the Great Hall for a meeting with her sister and sees Bran and Sansa seated at the head of the great table, with Little finger smirking in the crowd. Sansa proceeds to list a series of crimes against House Stark… and directs them to Baelish, not Arya. Arya watches with satisfaction as Sansa and Bran turn the tables on Little finger and finally call him into account for his crimes, with Arya herself reminding Petyr that her new Valyrian steel dagger originally belonged to him. When Baelish’s attempts to manipulate the situation turn to pleading, Arya moves in and slits his throat with his own dagger at Sansa’s direction. Later, Arya and Sansa discuss their pasts, Arya saying that she couldn’t have survived what Sansa survived. Sansa says she thinks Arya could have, Arya being the strongest person she knows. They then discuss the execution and the survival of their House, finally reaching an accord to play to each other’s strengths – like the wolves of their sigil, they will survive as a pack.
Arya stands among the residents of the winter town as they watch Jon, Daenerys, and their combined forces march through the town. She notices Gendry among the entourage, but he doesn’t appear to notice her. When Drogon and Rhaegal fly overhead, roaring, Arya is the only person among the crowd who doesn’t appear startled or frightened; on the contrary, she is visibly fascinated by the dragons. She is not present in Winterfell’s courtyard when Jon and Daenerys arrive before the Stark entourage, and Sansa replies that she is “lurking somewhere” when Jon inquires about her.
She later sneaks up on him in the gods wood; when he asks how she could move so stealthily, she asks how he survived a knife through the heart, to which Jon replies that he didn’t. After a moment’s hesitation, the two run into each other’s arms. Jon notices that Arya still has Needle and asks if she’s ever used it, she coyly replies “once or twice”. Jon shows her his sword Long claw, which Arya is impressed by but comments it would be too heavy for her to wield. The two talk about Sansa, Arya calling her the smartest person she knows, and indicates that she will use her weapons to defend Sansa before she will defend Daenerys.
Arya later visits Winterfell’s forges and comes upon Gendry presenting the Hound with a custom-made axe of dragon glass, which the latter is not especially impressed with. She tells him to stop insulting Gendry’s work and the two lock eyes. Before he leaves, the Hound gives Arya a back-handed compliment; calling her a “cold little bitch”, but saying that’s probably why she’s still alive.
Alone, Arya and Gendry exchange banter recalling their past time together and she asks him to craft a special weapon for her. Although skeptical, Gendry agrees. Arya shows him her dagger of Valyrian steel, and he playfully replies that he always knew she was just another highborn girl. Before leaving, Arya cheekily shoots back that Gendry doesn’t know any other highborn girls.
With the news that the army of the dead has taken Last Hearth and is advancing towards Winterfell, the inhabitants of the castle increase the speed of their preparations. Arya returns to the forges and asks Gendry if her weapon is ready, but he is still crafting her design. Annoyed, she tells him to prioritise it, before asking him what fighting the wights were like. Unsatisfied with his brief and distracted descriptions, she keeps pushing until Gendry sums up their likeness in one word: “Death”, and says that whatever bravery and fighting skill she has, the wights are like nothing she’s ever faced. Unperturbed, Arya casually picks up three dragon glass daggers and throws them, one after another, into a wooden beam over Gendry’s shoulder, landing them in a tight formation. While doing so, she explains her familiarity with death and her excitement of what is to come, and Gendry stands, mesmerised at her deadpan surety and confidence.
While practicing her archery, Arya receives her weapon from Gendry: a quarterstaff mounted with dragon glass blades. When she asks what happened between Gendry and Melisandre, he tells her of the Leech Ritual. She probes him further, forcing him to admit his parentage as Robert’s bastard, and asks if he was a virgin before the ritual. Gendry claims that he was not intimate with Melisandre, but admits that he has before slept with three girls.
Arya, due to her ability to distinguish truth and lies (via her mastery of the “Game of Faces”), ends the topic, and states that since the two of them are likely to die soon, she wants to know the feeling of physical love before she does. She kisses him forcefully on the lips, after which Gendry shows some slight resistance, but he finally gives into the overwhelming sense of attraction, though he is briefly startled by the scars on her rib cage. Gendry sleeps soundly after their liaison, whilst Arya lies awake, awaiting the arrival of the White Walkers.
As the battle commences, Arya is stationed on the walls overlooking the battlefield alongside Sansa. After the wights easily defeat the initial charge of Dothraki screamers and begin to overwhelm the living beyond the trench, Arya tells Sansa to go to the crypts and hands her a dragon glass dagger. Sansa says she doesn’t know how to use it, and Arya simply says “stick ’em with the pointy end. Arya shoots flaming arrows at the wights as the army retreats into the Winterfell, narrowly saving the Hound as well. As Daenerys couldn’t light the trench as planned, due to being caught in a blizzard conjured by the White Walkers, Ser Davos orders the archers to light the trench and Arya shoots into it as well, however the arrows arrow doused as soon as the hit the trench and are unable to light it. Melisandre manages to light the trench, giving the living some moment of reprieve, which when the Night King commands some of the wights to go into some parts of the trench, smothering the flames and allowing the rest to cross.
Arya participates in the fighting on the ramparts with the dragon glass weapon Gendry made for her. She skilfully kills off many wights, much to Davos’s surprise, but is nearly surrounded and narrowly escapes. However, she looses her weapon in the process and sustains a head injury after being knocked into a doorway by a wight. Disoriented and bleeding from the gash at the side of her head, Arya feels a newfound fear for the wights. Arya escapes through a window into the castle, as she traverses through the corridors, she takes a dead soldier’s dragon glass dagger.
Making her way from the library, he takes a brief moment to catch her breath before she realises that wights have entered the room. She carefully hides from them, between the bookshelves and underneath a table. Arya then throws a book into an area of the room away from the exit, distracting the wights and giving her an opening to escape. She quietly dispatches a wight on the way and closes the door behind her. Her relief is short-lived, as more wights broke into the corridor through another door and alert the ones in the library of her presence, proceeding to chase her.
Beric and the Hound have entered the castle to find and rescue Arya. She appears when a wight tackles her through a door, breaking it off its hinges, and prepares to kill her when she’s pinned underneath him. Beric throws his flaming sword into it and helps her to her feet. More wights come through the doorway and Beric is stabbed in the leg whilst the Hound fights more wights. As the three try to escape the corridor, Arya watches as Beric runs in front of her to pin a wight to a wall and gets stabbed by more wights. Arya picks up a dragon glass hatchet and kills the wights hurting him, but the Hound picks her up and leaves Beric as more wights swarm in.
The two make it into the great hall, which is littered with dead bodies, and Beric makes it too but succumbs to his wounds shortly afterwards. Melisandre appears, saying that Beric had fulfilled his purpose. Arya states that she remembers her and that the red priestess said they would meet again. She recounts what Melisandre said to her; that she would shut many eyes forever.
Melisandre confirms this, reminding the colours of the eyes, including blue – those of the army of the dead. At this, Arya goes through a realisation. As wights try and fail to enter through the door, Melisandre asks “what do we say to the God of Death?” and Arya replies “not today”, reminding her further of her training under Syrio Forel and her abilities gained from her time as an acolyte of the Faceless Men. They share one last look before Arya leaves her and the Hound. The Night King arrives to the gods wood after his army cleared the path for him, and prepares to kill Bran after killing Theon. However, Arya slips past his forces and launches a surprise rear attack with her Valyrian steel dagger.
Though he reacts swiftly enough to whip around and catch her by the neck and arm, Arya drops her dagger from the arm he is restraining, catches it in her free hand and plunges it into his heart, causing the Night King to shatter into icy shards. With his death, the White Walkers shatter as well, and the horde of wights, including Viserion, drop dead as the magic animating them died with the Night King and his lieutenants, bringing an end to the White Walkers, wights and the Long Night.
Arya is present when the bodies of those who fell during the Battle of Winterfell are set to be cremated. After Jon finishes his eulogy, she is handed a torch and goes to burn the pyre where Beric was laid. In the subsequent celebrations, Arya chooses not to participate, not entirely welcoming as being hailed as the “Hero of Winterfell”. Gendry later seeks her out and finds her practicing her archery, narrowly avoiding getting hit by one upon doing so. He tells Arya that Daenerys legitimised him and he’s now the new Lord of Storm’s End. Gendry also kneels, and confesses to Arya that he loves her, and wants to marry her and have her become the Lady of Storm’s End.
Arya, at a loss for words, reciprocates this by kissing him but declines the proposal. She says that any woman would be lucky to marry him, saying “that’s not [her]”, words she said to her father years earlier. Arya continues to practice her archery and Gendry is left heartbroken.
Later, Arya attends the discussions regarding Daenerys resuming her conquest of Westeros. While Daenerys asserts that King’s Landing must be taken as soon as possible, Sansa counters that their men are exhausted from fighting the White Walkers and need rest, to which Arya silently agrees.
Jon reaffirms his loyalty to Daenerys’s cause and states that the North will march to King’s Landing, much to his sisters’ displeasure. As the meeting’s adjourned, Arya blocks Jon before he could leave the room and all the siblings all go down to the gods wood to talk. Arya and Sansa express their distrust towards Daenerys, though Arya at least concedes that Jon did the right thing as they needed Daenerys’s dragons and her army. As his sisters continue to press on the issue, with Arya reminding him that the four of them are the last of the Starks, Jon ultimately decides to tell them the truth of his heritage and has Bran tell them.
As Sandor leaves Winterfell, he hears the sound of another horse approaching him and sees Arya. Arya moves to ride alongside Sandor, who inquires why she was leaving. Arya vaguely hints her intentions and Sandor likewise does. It becomes clear to both of them that they intend to seek their long-awaited respective revenges on Cersei and the Mountain, whilst having no intentions to return to Winterfell. The two proceed to ride towards King’s Landing, reminiscent of when they were together years before. The two arrive at the camp of the Northern army the night before battle is set to begin. They are initially stopped by the Night Guard, but are allowed to continue when she states that killing Cersei may prevent a siege.
Arya bluntly informs the guard that she came to kill Cersei, and it doesn’t take much persuasion from the Hound for the guard to allow them to pass. The two enter King’s Landing and manage to infiltrate the Red Keep amid the crowd of refugees scrambling inside. As the buildings of the Red Keep start to collapse all around them, Arya is still determined to carry out her revenge on Cersei. However, Sandor witnessing the destruction being wrought by Drogon dissuades her, displaying surprisingly tender emotion and discouraging her from ending up like him (beaten down by the world and driven by nothing the desire for vengeance). She thanks him and bids a final goodbye before fleeing.
Arya tries to flee the city but is trapped in by the mass of scared people fleeing the dragon’s flames. She tries to rescue the inhabitants but is knocked unconscious, unable to help anyone. Regaining her consciousness after the Battle of Kings Landing is over, she witnesses the city in ruins and leaves on a horseback, shell-shocked by Daenerys’s massacre.
She later reunites with Jon and warns him against his loyalty to Daenerys because of his bloodline and Sansa’s refusal to bend the knee to her in the future. She also witnesses Daenerys’ speech to the Dothraki and Unsullied. Weeks after Daenerys is assassinated, she takes part in the trial of Tyrion Lannister. When Yara Greyjoy agrees with the idea of Unsullied doing whatever they want with Jon, Arya threatens to kill her. Davos Seaworthy however manages to defuse the situation. Tyrion then suggests that the lords of Westeros choose their new king or queen and recommends Bran, to which Arya assents though withholds her vote as Sansa declares the North’s independence at the meeting.
After Bran exiles Jon into the Night’s Watch to prevent a war with the Unsullied, the Stark siblings bid him a final farewell on the docks of King’s Landing. Arya informs them all that she has decided to sail to the west of Westeros, where no one has ever gone before, fulfilling her promise to Lady Crane. When Jon asks if she has Needle with her, she assures him that she does. She later captains a ship flying the Stark sigil, and departs into uncharted waters.
Arya is a fiercely independent woman who is unconstrained by social expectations like gender roles, courtly virtues, class distinctions, and the expectations of her parents and siblings. A tomboy, she never aspired to be a “proper lady” as her older sister Sansa did. Before the series of events that shatter her innocence and destroy her support system, Arya is full of life, and she makes others smile just by virtue of her spirited indifference to rules.
Once she begins the journey to King’s Landing, however, she endures a constant stream of loss and trauma. As she watches her pet, sword instructor, friends, and family members taken from her one by one, she becomes increasingly detached towards murder and death. This is only exacerbated when she is captured by the Hound and is exposed to his fatalistic worldview as they traverse the war-ravaged Riverlands, though the two develop a mutual reliance and almost grudging respect for each other. When she witnesses and learns of the betrayal and murder of her family at the Red Wedding, she becomes colder and her urge to seek revenge on those who have wronged her and her family increases.
While she is initially horrified when she accidentally stabs the stableboy in King’s Landing during the betrayal of her father and his men, by the time she and the Hound have fled the massacre at the Twins, she is able to kill without remorse and has accepted Syrio’s belief that the only true god is Death. Following Yoren’s advice to her before he died, she has taken to listing off the names of each person she intends to kill each night before she sleeps.
Arya can be a rather cold-blooded and slightly sadistic person at times, especially while confronting and killing those who are on her death list. Though she was initially apathetic but satisfied with killing Meryn Trant and Polliver, she did not attempt to hide her glee over slitting Walder Frey’s throat, or the pleasure of seeing his family dying from poisoned wine she gave them. While she certainly possesses compassion and kindness, her time with The Hound and the Faceless Men have taught her to be ruthless to those who have wronged her and her family and has shown to be willing to use psychological mind games to worsen her enemies fate before killing them. This is shown when she repeated every word Polliver said to Lommy before killing him in the same exact way with Needle; gouged the eyes of Ser Meryn before stabbing him repeatedly and butchering Lord Walder’s sons before serving their corpses to their father inside of a pie.
That being said, Arya is not completely blinded by hate. After learning that her family has retaken Winterfell, she ultimately chooses reuniting with her loved ones over vengeance against her enemies (at least for the time being).
Arya seems to prefer staying out of politics. During a war meeting, planning for the Battle of King’s Landing, Arya was clearly distrustful of Daenerys when she wanted northern troops to fight immediately. However, she did not actively speak out against her, preferring to let Sansa speak on her behalf. Later, instead of taking any action involving the truth about Jon’s true parentage, she instead rides with the Hound to King’s Landing to kill Cersei. Later, during the council meeting to elect the next monarch Arya withholds her vote for Bran since Sansa declares the North an independent kingdom and only speaks to threaten Yara when she suggests letting the unsullied keep Jon. All of this speaks to her preferring to let Sansa speak for her family on political matters and for her to focus on confronting threats to her family, friends, and herself in a more direct matter, outside of politics.