Queen Sansa Stark is the eldest daughter of Lord Eddard Stark and his wife, Lady Catelyn, sister of Robb, Arya, Bran, and Rickon Stark, and “half-sister” of Jon Snow.
Sansa becomes well versed in politics and court intrigue under the tutelage of Cersei Lannister, Margaery Tyrell and Petyr Baelish, suffering but learning from her traumatic experiences as a hostage of House Lannister in King’s Landing and House Bolton at Winterfell. Alongside Jon, Sansa takes back Winterfell from House Bolton at the Battle of the Bastards, becoming the new Lady of Winterfell. After the Battle of King’s Landing, she declares the North an independent kingdom and is crowned Queen in the North.
Sansa Stark is the eldest daughter and second child of Lady Catelyn and Lord Eddard Stark, the warden of the North. Sansa was born and raised at Winterfell. She has an older brother, Robb, two younger brothers, Bran and Rickon, a younger sister, Arya, and a “bastard half-brother” Jon Snow, with whom she had a distant relationship due to her mother’s influence (which, like her mother, Sansa later regretted). Sansa enjoys proper “lady-like” pursuits and is good at sewing, embroidering, poetry, singing, dancing, literature, etiquette, history, and music. When she was young she dreamed of being a queen like Cersei Lannister, and that just like in the epic songs she would meet her knight in shining armour. She has inherited her mother’s Tully colouring, and Lady Catelyn thought Sansa will be even more beautiful than she was when she was younger. She is often seen in contrast with her sister Arya, who has neither her looks nor her accomplishments in feminine activities and comportment.
Sansa is given praise by Septa Mordane after exceeding in her sewing abilities, in contrast to her sister Arya, who finds this tedious and difficult.
When her brothers find an orphaned litter of dire wolf pups, Sansa adopts the gentlest one and names her Lady. King Robert Baratheon visits Winterfell to offer Sansa’s father the position of Hand of the King. Robert also offers to betroth his son Joffrey to Sansa. Sansa, who is very taken with the handsome young prince, thinks this is a splendid notion. She longs for the excitement of the capital and begs her parents to agree to the match until they do so. Eddard takes the office of Hand and decides to take his daughters with him to the capital.
At the Crossroads Inn beside the Kings road, Joffrey offers to walk Sansa along the riverbank after the disquieting experience of meeting Ser Ilyn Payne, the king’s headsman. They find Arya practicing her swordsmanship with Mycah, a butcher’s son, and Joffrey starts to hurt him for acting above his station and striking a girl of noble blood. Arya strikes Joffrey, and when the prince threatens her with his sword, Arya’s dire wolf, Nymeria, intervenes and bites Joffrey’s arm. Arya and Mycah flee and Joffrey cries before snapping at Sansa to get him help. Sansa is taken before King Robert and his retainers and asked to corroborate Joffrey’s claim, that he was the victim of an unprovoked attack. Arya tells her to tell the truth, but to Arya’s fury, Sansa is worried about upsetting her betrothal with Joffrey, so she says that it happened too fast for her to know. Queen Cersei orders that Arya’s dire wolf Nymeria be executed for harming Joffrey, but when the dire wolf cannot be found, she suggests that Sansa’s own dire wolf Lady be substituted for Nymeria. Sansa and Arya are horrified Lady will be killed and protest. Eddard, furious with Robert for agreeing to this, carries out the execution himself, to Sansa’s anguish.
Arriving in Kings Landing, Sansa’s enmity towards Arya and her father continues. Eddard fails to mollify Sansa by buying her a doll as she hasn’t played with dolls for years. Eddard explains to Arya that Sansa could not defy Joffrey or go against his version of events if Sansa wished to maintain his goodwill in marriage.
Septa Mordane shows Sansa the throne room of the Red Keep as part of a history lesson, Sansa realises that her grandfather and uncle were killed there by the Mad King. Sansa is fearful that she will not be able to give Joffrey sons, only daughters like her friend Jeyne Poole’s mother, but Mordane doesn’t think this likely. At the Hand’s tournament, Sansa witnesses Ser Gregor Clegane killing Ser Hugh of the Vale during a joust. Little finger tells Sansa about how Gregor burned the face of his brother, Sandor, when they were very young. Sandor is Joffrey’s bodyguard and Little finger advises against repeating the story to Sandor.
Sansa is given a flower by Ser Loras Tyrell, the famous Knight of the Flowers, before his tilt with Ser Gregor Clegane. He gives the flower to Sansa, but he is looking at Lord Renly who is sitting behind her. She witnesses him defeating Gregor, and Gregor’s subsequent furious attack on him, which is halted only by the intervention of Sandor. She joins the small folk in applauding Sandor’s actions.
Sansa and Septa Mordane are embroidering, and Sansa speaks very rudely to her. Joffrey visits Sansa and gives her a present, a pendant identical to that of Cersei. He also apologises for the incident on the Kings road and kisses her, winning back her favour, as well as expressing his fondness towards their marriage and Sansa’s future as Queen. Unbeknownst to Sansa, this was done at the suggestion of Cersei, who had recently informed Joffrey that the North must be kept under their control through his marriage to Sansa. Sansa is later told by her father that he is sending her and Arya back to Winterfell, and her betrothal to Joffrey is to be broken. Sansa refuses to accept this. She tells them that she loves Joffrey, she will be his queen and give him beautiful blonde-haired children. Sansa says Joffrey will be a great king and a golden lion. When Arya points out that Joffrey isn’t a lion, but a stag like his father, King Robert, Sansa angrily says Joffrey is nothing like Robert. This inadvertently leads Eddard to realise that Joffrey and his siblings are not King Robert’s true children. Eddard tells Sansa and Arya that they are returning to Winterfell, over Sansa’s furious protests.
King Robert dies following a hunting accident and Eddard attempts to reveal the truth about Joffrey to prevent him taking the throne. Eddard is betrayed by Little finger, his guards are killed and he is arrested. Eddard’s retinue at the Red Keep is slaughtered by Lannister guardsmen led by Sandor. Mordane moves to confront the Lannister soldiers while telling Sansa to lock herself in their rooms. Sansa is taken into custody by Sandor and brought to Cersei.
She pleads for her father’s cause, insisting that a mistake has been made, and proclaims her own loyalty. Cersei says that she will believe Sansa is loyal on the condition that Sansa writes to Robb, asking him to bend the knee and swear fealty to Joffrey. The letter is unsuccessful and instead, Robb raises an army and marches south to relieve the River lands from the Lannister armies. Sansa again pleads for mercy and for her father’s life, this time in front of the entire court, and Joffrey agrees to give Eddard mercy if he admits his wrongdoing and acknowledges Joffrey as the true king. Sansa says that she is sure he will.
At his trial, Eddard Stark acknowledges his “crimes” and swears loyalty to King Joffrey Baratheon. To Sansa’s utter shock and horror, Joffrey nevertheless orders Eddard’s execution. Distraught, Sansa is screaming and forcibly restrained. Despite her increasingly hysterical pleas for mercy for her father, Ser Ilyn Payne nonetheless carries out the execution with the Starks’ own family great sword, Ice, prompting Sansa to faint in horror.
Days later, Sansa is in court and watches as Joffrey orders the removal of the tongue of the singer Marillion, who has written a song unfavourable to the royal family. Joffrey then takes Sansa to the traitor’s walkway, where the severed heads of executed criminals are mounted on spikes along the castle walls. He draws Sansa’s attention to the severed heads of her father and Septa Mordane and forces her to look at them.
Sansa refuses to give Joffrey the satisfaction of seeing her upset and shows no emotional response. Joffrey tells her that executing Eddard was showing mercy, as he gave him a quick death, and he suggests that he will mount her brother Robb’s head on the wall after defeating him. Sansa retorts that maybe Robb will take Joffrey’s head instead. Furious, Joffrey has Ser Meryn Trant of the Kings guard strike her. Joffrey tells Sansa that they are still to be married. Sansa contemplates pushing Joffrey off the walkway but is discreetly stopped by Sandor. After Joffrey and Meryn leave, Sandor gives her a cloth to attend to her cut lip and tells her that she will be needing it again.
Sansa remains a captive of Queen Regent Cersei Lannister in King’s Landing. She has learned to feign loyalty to King Joffrey Baratheon to avoid further abuse from him. She attends Joffrey’s name day tournament and convinces him to spare Ser Dontos Hollard when he attends drunk.
Sansa is forced to sit through the Lannisters discussing killing her brother Robb Stark over dinner. She vents her frustration on her new handmaid Shae. When Robb wins a crushing victory at the Battle of Oxcross, Joffrey responds by having Sansa stripped and beaten in front of the court. Tyrion Lannister intervenes and offers to end her engagement to Joffrey, but she retains her facade of loyalty, impressing the Imp.
Sansa attends the departure of Princess Myrcella Baratheon for Dorne. She stands up to Joffrey when he mocks his brother Tommen for crying. As the royal party returns to the Red Keep, Joffrey is struck by excrement thrown by the angry crowd. Joffrey causes a citywide riot by demanding that his guards kill all of the small folk present. In the chaos, Sansa is separated from the rest of the group and as she tries to flee to safety, is pursued by a group of men who nearly rape her. She is rescued by Sandor Clegane, just as Tyrion is in the process of browbeating Joffrey for losing her in the first place. Shae treats her injuries and Sansa confides she thought the rioters were going to kill her, observing how they hated her and wonders why they would hate a stranger so much. Shae replies it is because Sansa has more than they will ever have, that her horse eats better than their children. Sansa says she would have given them food if she had it and she too hates Joffrey more than anyone. Shae warns her not to say such things and to trust no-one.
Sansa has a nightmare that she is being stabbed by her attackers from the riots. She wakes up to find her mattress bloodied by the onset of her first period. Shae tries to help Sansa conceal the evidence as it means she is ready to bear Joffrey’s children. The Hound catches them and (reluctantly) informs the Queen. Cersei gives Sansa advice on motherhood, reassuring her that even if she never loves Joffrey, she will love her children with him. However, Cersei tells Sansa not to love anybody except for her children, “The more people you love, the weaker you are.”
Stannis Baratheon sails his fleet into the bay outside King’s Landing, triggering the Battle of the Blackwater. Sansa is summoned to the throne room to say goodbye to Joffrey. He forces her to kiss his new sword and she subtly undermines his bravado. She then takes refuge in Maegor’s Holdfast with Shae where Cersei is hosting the women of the court there. Cersei mocks Sansa’s faith and reveals Ser Ilyn Payne is present to kill them all if the walls are breached. She drunkenly advises Sansa to use her sexuality as a weapon. Eventually, Cersei storms out, believing the battle lost. Sansa attempts to keep the morale of the women up with prayers and singing.
Later, Shae tells Sansa to return to her chambers and bar her door to keep her safe should Stannis breach the keep. Sansa finds Sandor waiting for her inside. He tells her that he is going north and offers to take her with him. She is reluctant to leave the potential safety of being rescued by Stannis but he warns her that all men are killers. Stannis’s force is ultimately defeated by a host of House Lannister and House Tyrell reinforcements led by Tywin Lannister.
Sansa attends court as Joffrey doles out rewards. Tywin is named Saviour of the City and Hand of the King, Petyr Baelish is made Lord of Harrenhal and Loras Tyrell is allowed to name a favour from the king. He asks Joffrey to marry his sister Margaery. Joffrey asks Margaery if this is what she wants while Cersei looks at Sansa deviously.
Joffrey says that he would be honoured to return Margaery’s love, but regrets that he is promised to Sansa. Cersei suggests Joffrey set Sansa aside because of her family’s treachery. Joffrey accepts the betrothal. Joffrey states that he will adore her from this until his last day – the same endearment he once offered Sansa. Sansa turns away, feigning sadness but allowing herself laughter once she has privacy.
Her revelry is halted by Petyr consoling her; she pretends to be upset. Petyr crushes her hopes of freedom and warns her that her situation has worsened, as she will no longer have the token protection of becoming Joffrey’s queen but will remain his captive. Petyr tells her that she reminds him of her mother and vows to help her return home. Sansa is reluctant to trust him and maintains her facade.
Sansa and Shae sit on the docks watching ships arrive and depart. Sansa wants to play a game making up stories about where the ships are headed, but Shae, in typical fashion, is uninterested. Sansa tells Shae that she enjoys the game because the truth is either “terrible or boring.” Baelish arrives and tells Sansa of a new role that he has taken which will allow him to leave King’s Landing, and offers to smuggle her out of the city. She is hesitant about the idea.
Sansa discusses the possibility of Little finger being in love with her, but Shae warns her that Baelish is manipulative and men usually want “one thing” from young ladies. Margaery and her grandmother Olenna Tyrell invite her to lunch in the gardens, where they ask her about Joffrey, after being escorted by her chambers by Loras Tyrell. Sansa is initially too fearful to speak the truth, but eventually breaks down, her eyes blazing, and angrily recounts how Joffrey had said he would show her father mercy, only to behead him in front of her, and how he then took her up to the wall and forced her to look at her father’s head on a spike. Sansa nervously attempts to backtrack, but Olenna tells her that they will never betray her confidence. Sansa admits that Joffrey is a “monster”.
While the daughter and sister of traitors, Sansa is a very valuable hostage. If Robb Stark dies, she becomes “the key to the North” as the Lady of Winterfell, greatly increasing the power of whichever house she marries into. To prevent Little finger from gaining power, Varys suggests to Olenna that a Tyrell marry Sansa.
While she prays at the Red Keeps’s gods wood under guard, Margaery comes and talks to her, telling her that they should see High garden, the Tyrell home, together. Sansa replies that Cersei would never allow her to leave King’s Landing. Margaery tells her that she could be wife to Loras Tyrell, Margaery’s brother, and this idea pleases Sansa.
In the castle gardens, Sansa and Margaery watch Margaery’s brother Loras spar with his squire. Sansa confidently remarks on his fighting ability, and inquires when she and Loras will wed, as per the Tyrell plot to keep her out of the hands of Baelish and/or the Lannisters. Margaery replies that she will “plant the seed” of the idea after she and Joffrey are married. Sansa is skeptical Joffrey will let her go but Margaery is confident he will do it to please her, once she is his wife. However, Loras begins a sexual relationship with his squire, whom he tells of his engagement. Olyvar then passes that information on to his employer: Little finger. A short time later, Little finger meets with Sansa, offering her a place on his ship that will take him from the capital to the Vale of Arryn. Sansa practices lying for a change, and tells him that they should wait until after Joffrey’s wedding, primarily because she fears for his safety if the plan fails. A master manipulator, Little finger is clearly suspicious of her motives, but doesn’t press the matter for the moment. Instead, he says he is touched by her concern for his safety, and insists that she call him “Petyr.”
The plan to wed Sansa to Loras fails when Cersei grows increasingly suspicious of the Tyrells and learns of the proposed marriage between Loras and Sansa through Petyr Baelish. This news prompts Tywin Lannister to arrange for Cersei to marry Loras and Tyrion to marry Sansa in order to curb the ambitions of House Tyrell and to bind two of the other great houses of the Seven Kingdoms closer to the Lannisters.
Still unaware of this plan, Loras and Sansa spend more time together in the following weeks, though Sansa is far more enthusiastic about their impending marriage than he is. Loras admits he’s always wanted a big wedding with many guests, fancy food, and a good tournament, though he only seems to remember that there will be a bride when Sansa gives him an expectant look. One subject where they do find common ground is their shared hatred of King’s Landing, with Loras declaring the capital to be “the most terrible place there is.”
Tyrion decides he might as well dash Sansa’s hopes sooner rather than later. He goes to Sansa’s chamber and asks for a private word, but Sansa declines to dismiss Shae. Tyrion gives Shae a carefully coded apology for not telling her in private before breaking the news to Sansa. As she watches Little finger’s ship depart for the Vale of Arryn, Sansa is devastated to realise that both of her chances to leave King’s Landing have gone, and she has no choice but to marry into the family that killed her father and is keeping her hostage.
Margaery consoles her that Tyrion might be able to make her happy, given his skill as a lover. She concedes that there are worse Lannisters she could be wed to. Margaery informs Sansa of the variety of a woman’s sexual interests, which baffles Sansa, asking if her mother taught her these things. Playing on Sansa’s innocence, Margaery replies “Yes, sweet girl, my mother taught me”.
Tyrion speaks with Sansa before their wedding at the Great Sept of Baelor though he knows the girl is not thrilled at the prospect of marrying him. Tyrion promises Sansa that he will not mistreat her, and Sansa agrees there are worse Lannisters she could be wed to.
The ceremony is a grim affair; Joffrey smugly escorts Sansa to the altar in place of her father and petulantly removes the stool upon which Tyrion was to stand on to cloak Sansa in Lannister colours as part of the ceremony, eliciting snickers from the congregation (though the scowl of Lord Tywin quickly silences them). Tyrion in the face of humiliation asks Sansa to kneel and he places the cloak around her shoulders. The new High Septon begins the ceremony. Later as man and wife they have their reception dinner, which also proves a grim and miserable affair.
Tyrion then spends the wedding feast becoming steadily drunker, annoying Sansa, who asks if he will pardon her from their table, which he does. Against Cersei’s ineffectual protests, Joffrey follows Sansa and taunts her that she finally found a way to marry a Lannister and soon she will have a Lannister baby. Joffrey ponders that it doesn’t really matter which Lannister gets her pregnant and asks if she would like it if he would pay her a visit later when his uncle passes out. Although Sansa doesn’t answer him, Joffrey sees that she is not enthused by the prospect but he brushes it off and says Ser Meryn and Ser Boros will hold her down.
Joffrey then claps his hands and declares it is time for the bedding ceremony, which visibly horrifies Sansa. Tyrion says there will be no bedding ceremony but Joffrey brushes him off, prompting Tyrion to loudly slam a dagger into a table and threaten his nephew with castration if he doesn’t stop. Joffrey seethes with outrage but Tywin defuses the situation by telling Joffrey that his uncle is clearly quite drunk. Taking the hint, Tyrion plays along and takes a visibly relieved Sansa out of the room before Joffrey can take it any further.
Tyrion realises how unhappy Sansa is with him and their marriage, and reassures her that they will not consummate it unless she wants to, even if that means never. The morning after the wedding, Shae is pleased to see that Sansa’s bedsheets are unstained as it means that Sansa remains a virgin. Sansa and her new husband actually get along rather well, sharing jokes and a common enemy in Joffrey. However, their cordial relationship suffers a crushing blow when Sansa receives news of the death of her mother and brother at the Red Wedding, an event orchestrated by Tyrion’s father.
Sansa remains despondent over the deaths of her mother and brother. Despite encouragement from Shae and Tyrion, she refuses to eat, even declining her favourite lemon cakes. She tells Tyrion that she lies awake all night thinking of how Catelyn and Robb died, how Robb’s body was desecrated, and how Catelyn’s body was dumped into the river. Sansa excuses herself from the table, saying she is going to the gods wood and reveals that she no longer prays; she is seeking solitude. While in the gods wood, Sansa is watched by Jaime Lannister and Brienne, and later finds herself being followed by someone.
Her pursuer corners her, revealing himself to be Dontos Hollard, whose life she had saved earlier. Dontos expresses his gratitude to Sansa for speaking on his behalf while no one else would and offers her a necklace that had once belonged to his mother, saying it is the last heirloom of House Hollard. Sansa turns it down at first, not wanting to take something with such sentimental value but after urging from Dontos says she will wear it with pride.
Sansa attends a breakfast held before the wedding of Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell. There, Joffrey is presented with a gift from Tywin Lannister; the second sword re-forged from Ice, the recently-destroyed ancestral sword of House Stark and which had been used spitefully to kill her father. Sansa shoots the sword a grim look of understanding when this occurs, and is shocked when the sword is turned on Tyrion’s gift to Joffrey, a copy of The Lives of Four Kings. Joffrey names his new weapon Widow’s Wail, commenting that he will be reminded of Ned Stark’s beheading each time he uses it. Sansa looks on in obvious grief.
At the end of the wedding itself, Sansa comments bitterly that “we have a new queen.” Tyrion encourages her to look on the bright side: at least she isn’t Queen. Later, at the wedding feast, Olenna walks up to Sansa to offer her condolences over the Red Wedding and invites her to visit High garden sometime when things settle down. During the exchange, Olenna toys with Sansa’s hair and Hollard’s necklace in a grandmotherly fashion.
Meanwhile, Joffrey amuses himself with a farcical “reenactment” of the War of the Five Kings, with each king being played by a dwarf. The dwarf playing Robb Stark wears a wolf’s head that is eventually knocked off by the dwarf playing Joffrey. Sansa again looks on in grief. When Tyrion makes a veiled reference to his nephew’s cowardice during the Battle of Blackwater, a furious Joffrey pours wine over his uncle’s head and orders him to be his cupbearer to humiliate him further. Joffrey drops his goblet on purpose and then kicks it under the table when Tyrion tries to pick it up. Sansa, seemingly feeling pity for Tyrion, picks up the goblet and hands it to him.
At Sansa’s behest, she and Tyrion try to leave, but Joffrey calls them back and demands Tyrion bring him the cup again. Tyrion grudgingly obliges but unbeknownst to everyone, Olenna had slipped some poison into Joffrey’s cup, a poison Olenna pilfered from inside a stone on the necklace Sansa was wearing. Later, as Joffrey lies dying from being poisoned, Dontos Hollard approaches Sansa and encourages her to leave in order to save her life, a suggestion Sansa takes to heart.
After the events of the Purple wedding, Sansa and Dontos make a quick escape and get on a boat, leaving the city. Dontos takes Sansa to a ship which turns out to belong to Petyr Baelish. Baelish has Dontos killed to guarantee his silence and destroys the necklace Sansa was wearing. Sansa screams and asks why he killed Dontos. Baelish simply states that Dontos was working solely for money and that now, she is safe.
Petyr visits Sansa in her cabin and Sansa deduces that he was involved in Joffrey’s death. After he tries to deny it, he simply ends up telling her everything about the wedding. Sansa is confused because of everything that the Lannisters have done for him and tells him that she doesn’t believe that he would risk his life just to confuse the Lannisters. In response, Baelish states that he would risk anything to get what he wants. She asks him what he wants and he vaguely says “everything”.
Sansa and Petyr are walking towards the Bloody Gate and Petyr educates Sansa on the Eyrie and its defences. Sansa uses the disguise as Petyr’s niece so no one knows who she is. When they enter the main hall, Sansa greets her aunt Lysa as Alayne, but Lysa interrupts her saying that she already knows who she is. However, Sansa cannot call Lysa ‘Aunt’ in front of anyone apart from Lysa, Petyr, and Sansa’s cousin Robin, Lysa’s son. Despite this, a joyful Robin offers Sansa a tour of the rest of the Eyrie.
Later that night, an annoyed Sansa can’t sleep due to Lysa’s constant screaming from consummating her marriage to Petyr. The next day, Lysa brings Sansa lemon cakes and tells her that Petyr brought three crates from the capital for Sansa. She tells Sansa a story about Catelyn when she was young, getting fat off how much sweet food she had, which makes Sansa feel self-conscious. She stops, but Lysa tells her to carry on. Lysa abruptly turns antagonistic, accusing her of having sex with Petyr. Sansa panics and tries to assure Lysa that she is a virgin. Lysa disregards this, grabbing her hand and squeezing hard. Sansa starts crying while saying that all Petyr says that she is a stupid little girl, with stupid dreams, who never learns and is a terrible liar. Lysa puts on a polite face again and assures her that it is all alright and after Tyrion is executed she can marry her cousin Robin. Sansa is not sure what to make of this.
After settling into the Eyrie, albeit with discomfort, Sansa wanders into the courtyards alone, as the snow falls around the Vale. The snow, reminding her of home, prompts her to build a snow castle resembling Winterfell. She has a short-lived friendly conversation with Robin before she snaps at him for ruining her snow castle. This results in a heated confrontation between the cousins, which ends in Robin running back inside, crying after Sansa slaps him. Petyr presents himself shortly afterward, and Sansa questions him as to why he really had Joffrey killed. She allows herself to smile slightly when he claims that he did it for Catelyn, the only woman he ever loved. Sansa is shocked when he kisses her on the lips, which Lysa witnesses. She summons Sansa to the High Hall, where she sits over the open Moon Door. Sansa begins to grow concerned when Lysa comments on how far the drop is to the ground. Lysa, enraged over Petyr’s interest in Sansa, threatens to have her killed and nearly manages to push her out of the Moon Door to her death before Petyr intervenes. Sansa watches as he tells Lysa that he only ever loved Catelyn, before pushing her to her death.
Sansa, as “Alayne”, is called to testify before Lord Yohn Royce, Lady Anya Waynwood, and Ser Vance Corbray before Baelish can get to her, much to his chagrin. Sansa quickly reveals her true identity and relates the tale of her captivity and flight from King’s Landing. She then proceeds to truthfully tell of Lysa’s mental instability, jealousy, and death, changing only a few small details (she kissed Little finger on the cheek and Lysa threw herself through the Moon Door). Sansa breaks down in tears and the lords are convinced, but while none of them are looking, she gives Little finger a stony, almost triumphant gaze; this indicates she is finally playing the ruthless game of thrones.
Later, Baelish visits Sansa and asks why she lied on his behalf. Sansa explains that she has no idea what Royce and Waynwood would want from her if Little finger were eliminated, but she knows exactly what he wants. Later on, as Little finger and Robin prepare to depart on a tour of the Vale, Sansa accompanies them, appearing with noticeably darker reddish brown hair and garbed in a feathered black dress with a plunging neckline.
Sansa, still under the alias Alayne, attends a sword jousting session for Lord Robin at Runestone, along with Little finger and Yohn Royce, visibly unimpressed with Robin’s sub-par skills at swordsmanship. Sansa notices that Little finger receives a raven message. Soon after, they leave Robin in the care of Lord Royce, for further training. On the carriage ride, Sansa questions Petyr as to why they are heading west when Lord Royce was told they would be traveling to the Fingers, unsure of his source of distrust. Petyr promises her that they are going somewhere far away, where Sansa will be safe from Queen Cersei.
On their journey, Sansa and Baelish stop for lunch at an inn, where she tries ale for the first time. Sansa can’t see what all the fuss is about, although the entire episode is designed to catch Little finger off-guard so she can ask about the raven-message he received back at Runestone. Baelish doesn’t answer the question beyond indicating that the old saying “dark wings, dark words” doesn’t apply in this instance. Shortly thereafter, Brienne of Tarth appears unexpectedly and declares herself for Sansa. Baelish doubts that Sansa would want a sworn shield who let both of her previous masters die, even when Brienne reveals the true, somewhat unbelievable circumstances of Renly’s death. Sansa seems inclined to agree with Little finger, pointing out that Brienne was present at Joffrey’s wedding, to which the warrior replies that neither of them wanted to be there. Sansa rejects Brienne’s offer of service and watches as she quickly defeats the guards and escapes.
Sansa and Baelish eventually arrive at the ruins of Moat Cailin, where Sansa learns that they are actually returning to Winterfell and Baelish’s plan is to have her marry Ramsay Bolton, the recently legitimised son of Roose Bolton, the current Warden of the North. Sansa is initially reluctant to marry into yet another family that betrayed hers, but Baelish pacifies her by claiming it will be an opportunity for her to avenge her family.
They arrive at Winterfell, where Baelish introduces Sansa to the Boltons. Roose and Ramsay greet Sansa politely, and after a tense moment during which she is repulsed merely by looking at Roose, Sansa greets them with courtesy, while Myranda, Ramsay’s secret mistress, eyes Sansa with jealousy. She is later brought back to her old room by a servant, who welcomes her home and tells her that “the North remembers.” While walking through Winterfell’s courtyard, Sansa unknowingly passes Theon Greyjoy, who had been her father’s ward she and her siblings grew up with at Winterfell. Theon hides his face from her as she passes.
Settling into life at Winterfell, Sansa visits the Stark family crypts, re-lighting the votive candles and cleaning up the offerings left by visitors prior to Winterfell’s fall. Little finger finds her regarding the statue of her long-dead aunt Lyanna Stark. Little finger, with minimal commentary, tells Sansa of the events at the tourney at Harrenhal, where Rhaegar unhorsed Ser Barristan Selmy, passed by his wife, and gave Lyanna a crown of flowers blue as frost, all to the shock of the crowd. He then tells Sansa that he’s been recalled to King’s Landing and that keeping Cersei waiting much longer would be unwise. Little finger explains parts of his master plan to Sansa: Stannis Baratheon will inevitably take the North, and when he does, he will need a Stark at Winterfell. Little finger is certain Stannis will declare Sansa the Wardeness of the North. Even if Stannis fails, Ramsay is already betrothed to Sansa, and thus Sansa, who has learned to manipulate from the very best, can take control of House Bolton from within.
Sansa’s maid brings a message to her. Consoling Sansa that she still has allies in the North, she tells Sansa to light a candle in the highest window of the Broken Tower if she’s ever in trouble. As Sansa wanders around the castle, she runs into Myranda. Myranda puts on a friendly façade, talking to Sansa about her mother’s demise. To help Sansa “remember” how things used to be while her family was still living in Winterfell, Myranda leads Sansa down to the kennels. In the kennels, Sansa finds Reek, formerly Theon Greyjoy, asleep in one of the cages. Awoken by Sansa’s arrival, he just shakes his head when Sansa calls him Theon. He warns her that she shouldn’t be down there. Seeing Reek in such a pitiable condition, Sansa angrily storms away.
At dinner, Ramsay is initially well-behaved, toasting his wedding to Sansa, but is soon back to his old self as he forces Reek to apologise to Sansa for murdering Bran and Rickon. With much difficulty, Reek finally mutters an apology. Ramsay suggests that Reek be the one to give Sansa away at the wedding since he is the closest thing Sansa has to kin; Roose accepts this suggestion. Roose and Walda announce Walda’s pregnancy, upsetting Ramsay, which in turn delights Sansa.
On the night of her wedding, Myranda draws a bath for Sansa, during which she advises Sansa not to bore Ramsay, and tells her about the fates of Violet, Tansy, and a third unseen girl named Kyra, examples of girls who Ramsay murdered for sport. When Myranda mentions that both she and Ramsay killed Tansy by hunting her, Sansa becomes angry, asking Myranda how long she has been in love with Ramsay and if she really expected Ramsay to marry her. She coolly tells Myranda that she is a Stark of Winterfell and will not be intimidated so easily by her, and dismisses her to finish her bath herself, though she is visibly shaken by Myranda’s story.
Later, when Theon comes to fetch Sansa for the wedding, she refuses to hold Theon’s arm. Theon pleads for her to do so, revealing that Ramsay will punish him if she doesn’t. Sansa coldly asks if he thinks she cares what Ramsay does to him, and strides past him. Reek then gives Sansa away to Ramsay, and they wed in front of the Gods wood, in a ceremony officiated by Roose and attended by many Northern lords. Sansa hesitantly takes Ramsay as her husband, her eyes down, unable to look him in the eye.
After returning to the bedroom, Ramsay first interrogates Sansa about her virginity and her marriage to Tyrion Lannister, then orders her to take her clothes off. Reek turns to leave but Ramsay tells him he must stay, taunting him “you grew up with her as a girl, now watch her become a woman.” Annoyed by Sansa’s hesitancy, Ramsay angrily rips open the back of her dress and pushes her face-down over the side of the bed. As he unbuckles his clothes, Sansa obediently remains still but begins crying softly. Reek is visibly distraught and begins silently crying himself, as Ramsay proceeds to rape her, and forcibly consummate their marriage.
Over the next few days, Ramsay continues to rape Sansa every night, leaving bruises on her arms and body. She effectively becomes a prisoner of the Boltons, who keep her locked in her bedchamber. Reek brings her breakfast, and when she realises he is there, she tries to talk to him and get him to help her. However, Reek reminds Sansa that she is Ramsay’s wife now and merely tells her to do what he says or else he will hurt her. Sansa protests that Ramsay hurts her every night and finds it hard to believe that it could possibly get any worse but Reek warns her that it can. Sansa asks Reek what Ramsay did to break him to such an extent but when he tries to flee, Sansa grabs him by the wrist and angrily reminds him that he betrayed her family, making him apologise profusely. She tells Reek that he can still redeem himself by lighting a candle in the broken tower in order to signal the Starks’ allies she was told about. Though Sansa addresses him as Theon throughout this conversation, Reek keeps repeating his name is Reek, forcing Sansa to grab him by the face and look him directly in the eye. She insists that his name is Theon Greyjoy, the only surviving son of Balon Greyjoy, and this initially seems to get through to Theon for a time.
During a walk on the battlements, Ramsay gloats that one day he will be the Warden of the North, with Sansa as his Wardeness. Sansa counters by telling him his position is still threatened by Roose and Walda’s unborn son since this child will be true born while Ramsay is not, as Ramsay is bastard-born and was legitimised by King Tommen Baratheon, who Sansa asserts is another bastard.
Sansa learns that her half-brother Jon Snow has recently been elected Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch when Ramsay tells her that even bastards can rise high in the world, citing Jon’s rise in the Night’s Watch to Lord Commander. As they descend into the courtyard, Sansa pockets a corkscrew while Ramsay reveals that Reek reported the candle to him, and Ramsay responded by flaying Sansa’s elderly maid. He forces Sansa to view her maid’s corpse. She is then ordered back to her chambers.
Sansa remains angry at Theon for his betrayal, as well his role in Bran and Rickon’s murder. When Theon enters her chambers again to bring her latest meal, she demands an answer for his latest betrayal and coldly expresses approval when he tells her about the torture Ramsay put him through. Theon shamefully admits he deserved it as he did terrible things, specifically killing “those boys”. Enraged by his reference seemingly to her brothers as “those boys” rather than Bran and Rickon, Sansa vehemently demands to know why they should be dead while he still breathes the air, forcing Theon to finally admit that they were not Bran and Rickon but two farm boys. Stunned by this admission, her anger towards Theon cools. However, when she asks if he knows where they might have gone to, he breaks down and leaves the room, fearful of what Ramsay will do if and when he finds out what he just told her. However, Sansa appears to be left with a sense of renewed hope by the revelation that she has more surviving family left.
Sansa attempts to escape during the battle between the Boltons and Stannis Baratheon by picking the lock on her door with the corkscrew and lighting the candle in the tower. However, Brienne and Podrick don’t see the candle due to being distracted by Stannis’s army. In the process of trying to escape, Sansa runs into Myranda and Theon, with the former aiming a bow at her. Myranda says that she has come to escort Sansa back to her chambers, and Theon initially begs Sansa to go with her. Though Sansa is visibly frightened, she stands her ground and refuses to go with Myranda, saying, “If I’m going to die, let it happen while there’s still some of me left.”
A bemused Myranda briefly lowers her arrow and admits Ramsay needs her alive in order to secure his hold on the North. But Myranda adds Ramsay doesn’t need Sansa in one piece to do that, just the “parts” that he needs to produce his heir. Myranda maliciously nocks her arrow again and prepares to at least maim Sansa with it. Before she can release it, however, Theon grabs Myranda, making her fire and miss, and throws her off the battlement, killing her instantly on impact. Theon and Sansa then escape Winterfell by jumping off the side of Winterfell’s walls, hoping to survive the long fall by landing in the deep snow.
After escaping from Winterfell, Sansa and Theon flee into the Wolfs wood, with the Bolton forces in hot pursuit. They cross a stream and briefly take shelter under an uprooted tree, where Theon hugs Sansa to keep her warm. Shortly after, however, they are found by the Bolton men and hounds. Theon urges Sansa to flee to the safety of her half-brother Jon Snow at Castle Black. but Sansa refuses to leave Theon behind to the Boltons. Brienne and Podrick appear just in time and fight off the soldiers, killing them all. Brienne once again offers her service to Sansa, who this time readily accepts, reciting her vows.
On the way to Castle Black, Brienne reveals to Sansa how she briefly met Arya near the Bloody Gate. Sansa is delighted to hear that her sister is still alive and well. Theon decides to part with the group and head to the Iron Islands. Sansa implores Theon to come with them as Jon will protect them from Ramsay but Theon refuses, fearing Jon will have him executed as Theon betrayed Robb, beheaded their master-at-arms Ser Rodrik, and killed those two boys. Sansa promises Theon she will tell Jon the truth about Bran and Rickon being alive, that Theon didn’t kill them, and wants him to join the Night’s Watch so all his crimes can be forgiven. Theon responds he still killed two farm boys and reminds Sansa of his crimes against House Stark, for which Jon will never forgive him. He reveals he does not want to be forgiven as he can never make up for his crimes against Sansa and Jon’s family. When Sansa realises that Theon cannot be convinced to come with them, she bids him farewell, and the two share a tender hug.
Sansa, Brienne, and Podrick arrive soon at Castle Black where they find Jon. At first, both “siblings” are too stunned to even speak when they see each other, but quickly share a loving embrace after their long and tragic separation. As Jon offers Sansa food, they reminisce about their happy childhood and how they both regret ever leaving Winterfell. Sansa apologises to Jon for her dismissive treatment of him while growing up, to which Jon responds that she there is nothing to apologise for. When they resolve to stick together, Sansa says the only place they can go now is home. She then asks him to help her reclaim their home from the Boltons. However, Jon tells her that he is tired of fighting, that he had done nothing but fight since he left home, and that he was killed for it. Although Sansa appears to accept his choice, she tells him that she will reclaim Winterfell and the North, with or without his help.
As Sansa and Jon share a meal with Eddison Tollett, Tormund Giantsbane, Podrick, and Brienne, a messenger arrives from Winterfell with a letter from Ramsay. In the letter, Ramsay states that he has their brother prisoner at Winterfell and if Sansa is not returned, he will slaughter every Wildling under Jon’s protection, let his men rape Sansa, and feed Jon and Rickon to his dogs. Ramsay signs the letter ‘Lord of Winterfell and Warden of the North,’ prompting Sansa to reveal Ramsay killed his father.
When Tormund asks Sansa how many Ramsay has in his army and Sansa recalls 5,000, Jon asks Tormund how many he has who are able to fight. Tormund replies that they have only 2,000 men and women in shape to fight, not enough to match Ramsay’s five thousand. Sansa tells Jon that the houses of the North will unite behind him as the son of the last true Warden of the North and they need to go back to Winterfell to save it and their brother. Jon agrees to take Ramsay down so they save Rickon and take back their home.
Later, Sansa receives a letter from Petyr asking to meet in Mole’s Town. Accompanied by Brienne, they meet in a ruined house, and Sansa angrily tells Baelish the details of her wedding night, asking if he knew the truth about Ramsay all along. Instead, Baelish changes the subject, informing Sansa he has rallied the Knights of the Vale to help her, along with news that her great-uncle Brynden has recaptured Riverrun. Sansa takes an alliance with the Blackfish into consideration, but refuses help from Baelish, warning him never to speak to her again. She says she has an army. Petyr responds it’s her brother’s army and adds, “Half-brother.”
At a war meeting at Castle Black, Sansa and Jon discuss which of the Northern houses they can rely on to support them. As the Karstarks and Umbers have already sided with House Bolton, Ser Davos suggests asking House Manderly. When Jon decides to rally the two dozen houses still loyal to the Starks, Sansa informs him they can add House Tully to the list, but lies about how she acquired the information. After the meeting, Sansa plans to send Brienne to Riverrun, as the Boltons could intercept any raven sent there. Brienne is worried about leaving her and while Brienne feels Jon is trustworthy, she is dubious about the other men. Sansa assures Brienne that Jon will keep her safe, he is her brother and she trusts him. Brienne counters by asking Sansa why she lied to Jon about meeting with Baelish. Before riding south, Sansa gives Jon a new cloak she had made for him styled after their father’s.
Sansa and Jon arrive at Bear Island and are summoned before Lyanna Mormont. Jon asks for the assistance of House Mormont in the upcoming battle for Winterfell to help them save their brother, as House Mormont has pledged themselves to House Stark. However, Lyanna tells him that he is a Snow and Sansa is a Bolton. Sansa says that she did what she had to do, but she didn’t want it. When Sansa attempts to flatter Lyanna and Jon explains how he served under Lyanna’s uncle Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, Lyanna wants them to get to the point. Ser Davos steps in and manages to convince Lyanna to pledge her allegiance, telling of the coming threat of the White Walkers, however, a mere sixty-two men are contributed.
Sansa and Jon later travel to Deep wood Motte, to ask for the assistance of House Glover. They receive a frosty reception from Robett Glover, who has just reclaimed Deep wood Motte from the Iron born. When Jon fails to bring him around. Sansa tells Robett that the Glovers are pledged to House Stark, and sworn to fight when called upon. Robett responds he pledged to House Stark and fought for Robb Stark but it cost the Glovers their home and many lives, due to Robb’s lack of stability following his marriage to Talisa Maegyr. Sansa and Jon are only able to recruit a few Northern houses and only gain a few hundred men. Jon says they should strike Winterfell immediately before the coming storm and before Ramsay can gather more men. Sansa says they don’t have enough men and wants to go to Castle Cerwyn to try and persuade Lord Cerwyn, however, Jon reflects on their lack of time. When Jon refuses to change his mind, Sansa writes a letter to an unknown party (but does not tell Jon) for reinforcements.
Sansa and Jon meet with Ramsay Bolton on the day before battle. Ramsay tries to taunt Sansa, but she remains stoic. She asks Ramsay how do they know if he truly has their younger brother Rickon. Smalljon answers her question by throwing the decapitated head of Rickon’s direwolf Shaggy dog into their view. As Ramsay proceeds to tell the Starks what to do if they want to save Rickon, Sansa cuts him off by telling him that he is going to die the next day and rides off.
After a meeting where Jon discusses battle plans with Tormund and Davos, Sansa admonishes Jon for attacking with too few men, saying that they need a larger force. Jon agrees they don’t have enough men but responds this is the largest army they could possibly gather, saying they have pleaded with every house who would have them and the Blackfish can’t help. Sansa warns Jon that Ramsay won’t fall into Jon’s trap, Ramsay is the one who lays traps, and Ramsay has been playing with people all his life. Jon responds he has faced worse than Ramsay Bolton, to which she replies, “You don’t know him!” When Jon asks how do they get Rickon back, Sansa tells him will never get him back alive. Jon refuses to give up on their brother and Sansa tells Jon that Ramsay wants him to make a mistake. Jon asks Sansa what he should do differently but Sansa responds she doesn’t know about battles and implores her brother not to do what Ramsay wants him to do. When they finish arguing, Sansa tells Jon that if Ramsay wins, she will die before she goes back to him. Jon vows to protect Sansa, to which she cynically replies that no one can keep anyone safe.
Sansa is not present during the premise of the “Battle of the Bastards”, in which Rickon is killed by Ramsay. As the battle is nearing an end and all hope seems lost, a distant horn is heard sounding in the distance. Sansa and Petyr Baelish (to whom Sansa had sent the raven) arrive with the Knights of the Vale to help Jon and his army reclaim Winterfell. The Vale forces run down the advancing Bolton forces.
After Winterfell is breached, Sansa enters the Winterfell courtyard and witnesses Jon defeat Ramsay in single combat, though Jon momentarily goes into a wild frenzy and begins to pummel Ramsay, he spares Ramsay out of respect for Sansa. With the Stark banners hanging in Winterfell once more, Sansa sees Rickon’s dead body, concluding to ask Jon where Ramsay is. Sansa confronts a bloodied and bound Ramsay in the kennels. He tries to goad her by telling her how she will never be rid of him because he is “part of [her] now”. Although Sansa does not deny his implication that she herself will always remember him, she calmly retorts that his house is about to become extinct and that all memory of Ramsay to the rest of the world will soon disappear, just before an ominous growl from one of his hounds reveals his impending doom. Ramsay responds that his dogs are loyal to him, but Sansa reminds her husband that he revealed he had been starving his dogs for seven days. The dogs approach Ramsay and he desperately attempts to order them to heel but after a brief moment of hesitation, one of the hounds bites him. As they begin to tear Ramsay apart while he screams, Sansa walks away with a small smile.
With Winterfell firmly under Stark control, Sansa joins Jon on the ramparts as he watches an exiled Melisandre heading south. He tells her that he is having the Lord’s chambers prepared for her. Although she protests that he should have it, Jon refuses, telling his sister he is not a Stark. Sansa tells Jon that he is a Stark to her, but he still refuses, telling Sansa that she deserves it as the Lady of Winterfell and because the Knights of the Vale came because of her, resulting in their victory. Jon asks her about Little finger and whether they can trust him, to which she insists that they cannot. Sansa apologises for not telling him about the Knights of the Vale. While he understands why she didn’t tell him about Baelish, Jon insists that they have to trust each other completely now that they have so many enemies. He kisses her on the forehead and when he turns to leave, Sansa calls him back. She smiles as she tells Jon that a white raven arrived from the Citadel, announcing the arrival of winter as their father had always predicted. Jon returns her smile.
Sansa is later found by Little finger in the Gods wood. She tells him about how she had prayed in it every day as a little girl, always dreaming of being somewhere else. She then asks what he truly wants, and he tells her what his ultimate ambition is: himself sitting on the Iron Throne with Sansa at his side. He tries to kiss her but she rebukes him. As she walks away, he tells her that although he had officially aligned House Arryn with House Stark, reprisals would come from King’s Landing. Sansa reminds Little finger he’s declared for other houses before and this did not stop him from switching sides to ensure his own interests. Before she leaves, Little finger once again reminds her of Jon’s illegitimate birth.
With the Stark victory, the remaining Northern lords joined by the Vale Lords arrive at Winterfell to discuss the new situation in the North. Some, such as Lord Yohn Royce, object to the wildling’s presence, but Tormund responds they were invited. The lords of both the North and the Vale claim that they need to return to their homes before the winter hits but Jon warns them that the war is not over – the true enemy “won’t wait out the storm. He brings the storm.” At this point, Lyanna Mormont stands up and chastises the assembled Northmen for refusing House Stark’s call in their greatest hour of need.
Lyanna proclaims House Mormont remembers and says, “The North remembers. We know no king but the King in the North whose name is Stark.” She says that she doesn’t care if Jon is a bastard son because he has Ned Stark’s blood in his veins. With that, she acclaims Jon as the King in the North, as his “brother” Robb had been before him. Lyanna’s speech is followed by a similar declaration from both Lord Wyman Manderly of White Harbour and Lord Glover of Deepwood Motte. The assembled Lords of the North and the Vale acclaim Jon Snow as the King in the North. Jon looks at Sansa, and she smiles back at him, but her smile fades when she glances at Little finger (the only other person not cheering), who gives her an unimpressed and knowing look.
Jon organises the North’s defence against the White Walkers. He asks Tormund and his people to man the Wall at Eastwatch-by-the-Sea and Tormund agrees. When the issue of the lands and strongholds belonging to the Umbers and Karstarks arises, Sansa says these castles and lands should be given to new families who fought with House Stark against the Boltons. Jon disagrees, stating that the children of Houses Umber and Karstark cannot be held accountable for the past mistakes of their fathers and elder siblings and the children of these houses will retain their family lands and castles. Sansa disputes Jon’s decision in front of Jon’s banner men. Ned Umber and Alys Karstark pledge fealty to House Stark.
In private, Jon tells Sansa that though she is his sister and can question his decisions, her publicly doing so in front of the Northern lords and ladies undermines his authority with them. Sansa tells Jon he is a good ruler but implores him not to repeat the past mistakes of Ned and Robb. After receiving a message from Cersei demanding that Jon bend the knee, Sansa warns Jon not to underestimate the new queen and recommends dealing with her before confronting the Night King. Sansa also remarks that she learned a lot from Cersei during her time at King’s Landing.
She is later approached by Little finger to see if she is truly “safe” and “happy”. Sansa confirms her safety in Winterfell, but Baelish continues to question her in regards to her happiness. Just as he is about to speak again, Sansa dismisses him. Brienne arrives and asks her why Petyr is still at Winterfell. Sansa explains that without his help, Winterfell would still be under Bolton control, and assures Brienne that she already knows what Little finger really wants.
Sansa, Jon, and Davos review a message from Tyrion Lannister in which Tyrion asks for Jon to meet with Daenerys Targaryen on Dragon stone. Sansa questions the letter’s legitimacy, worried that it was forged to lure Jon into a trap. Fortunately, he confirms the letter is genuine after reading a familiar line from his first meeting with Tyrion. Jon asks Sansa for her opinion. Sansa responds that Tyrion was not like the other Lannisters and he was kind to her. She still affirms that leaving for Dragon stone could possibly put her half-brother in danger, despite Tyrion’s letter saying that Daenerys’s faction only wishes to forge an alliance against Cersei, albeit also detailing the military forces that Daenerys has at her disposal. After examining the letter for himself, Davos says that three dragons would prove indispensable in their battle against the White Walkers.
At the following meeting with Jon’s banner men, despite Samwell Tarly’s letter confirming a large supply of dragon glass on Dragon stone, Sansa maintains her opposition to Daenerys’s request after hearing Jon’s intent of accepting the invite to the island. She reminds Jon that their grandfather was also invited to see the Mad King at the cost of his own life. Sansa says Daenerys is in Westeros to reclaim the Seven Kingdoms and believes this mission is too great a risk for her brother to take. Jon considers Sansa’s suspicions a possibility and knows it is a risk but believes Tyrion is a good man.
He asserts that forging a treaty with Daenerys is an opportunity they can’t afford to miss due to the threat of the Walkers, and therefore a risk that he, as King, must take for the sake of saving the North as they need the dragon glass, dragon fire, and weapons to defend themselves against the White Walkers. Sansa, as well as Jon’s banner men, disagree with his decision. Sansa tries to convince Jon to stay by telling him to send an emissary to Dragon stone in his place, but Jon insists that he meet Daenerys monarch-to-monarch. He does not want to leave the North but is the only one there who has experienced the army of the dead, knows how bad their odds are, and he will never stop fighting for the North’s survival. Jon gives Sansa control of the North while he is gone and Sansa accepts the responsibility. As Jon leaves, they bid each other farewell.
With Jon at Dragon stone, Sansa and Petyr Baelish learn from Maester Wolkan that they have about 4,000 bushels of wheat. Sansa realises that they don’t have enough food for the coming winter. She advocates building granaries to stockpile for a famine. Sansa orders Yohn Royce to see that the armour made for their armies are outfitted with leather to keep warm. While walking, Baelish and Sansa talk about the threat of Cersei. Petyr urges her to fight every battle and to look for threats in every corner.
They are interrupted by a guard who tells Sansa that she has received a visitor, who turns out to be her younger brother Bran, accompanied by Meera Reed. Following a tearful reunion, the two siblings retreat to the Gods wood where Sansa tells Bran how she wishes Jon was there with them at Winterfell. Bran agrees, noting that he needs to speak to Jon. When Sansa points out that Bran is the rightful Lord of Winterfell since he is the last remaining true born son of Ned Stark, Bran refuses the position, stating that he is the three-eyed raven and thus can’t be any sort of lord. Sansa remains as the Lady of Winterfell. Sansa is utterly confused with this prospect, leading Bran reveals he has visions, trying to explain the previous three-eyed raven’s teachings, although this just makes Sansa even more baffled at Bran. Almost eerily and without emotion, Bran demonstrates his newly-acquired power to a skeptical Sansa by describing the night of her horrific marriage to Ramsay. This startles Sansa, who quickly excuses herself and she walks away in shock and tears.
Two guards inform Sansa that someone claiming to be her sister Arya is trying to gain access to Winterfell. They brush the girl off as an impostor, revealing she asked for Luwin and Rodrik Cassel. Sansa 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 Ned’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.
The reunited 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 they’re not. Arya tells Sansa that everyone says Sansa 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 Arya only says her road wasn’t a pleasant one. Sansa says her own road wasn’t either. They hug again, earnestly and warmly. Sansa then informs Arya that Bran is home too.
Sansa brings Arya to Bran in the Gods wood, where he is lost in thought by the Weirwood heart tree. Arya hugs Bran, who remains somewhat detached even at the sight of Arya. Bran says he isn’t surprised Arya is 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 Arya would head there of all places, he again startles them both by revealing Cersei is on Arya’s list of names. Sansa asks Arya who else is on her list. Arya responds that most of these people, aside from Cersei, are dead already.
Sansa and Arya remark on the Valyrian steel dagger in Bran’s lap, and Bran explains that Little finger gave it to him. 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. Sansa is mistrustful of Little finger and explains Little finger would never give anyone anything unless he was expecting something in return. Bran says that doesn’t matter because he doesn’t want it. Instead, Bran hands the blade to Arya and says she can have it because he feels it’s “wasted on a cripple”. Sansa looks down. Sansa, Bran, and Arya – three of the remaining Stark children – proceed back to Winterfell’s castle courtyard together, with Arya pushing Bran in his wheelchair.
Sometime later, Sansa and Little finger watch on silently from the walkway above as Arya and Brienne. Brienne goes easy on her at first, but then Arya completely out manoeuvres Brienne using the Water Dance training she received from Syrio Forel, augmented by her training with the Faceless Men. 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.
Later, in the Winterfell throne room, Sansa oversees a meeting of the Northern lords. Complaining that the King in the North should stay in the North, Lord Robett Glover and Lord Yohn Royce of The Vale propose that she take power in the absence of her half-brother Jon Snow. However, Sansa insists Jon Snow is their true ruler who is doing what he believes is right for their people and that she is merely his regent. Following the meeting, Sansa confides her frustration in the Northern lords with Arya. Arya thinks that she should not let the lords get away with insulting her and suggests assassinating them. Sansa disagrees with Arya’s idea to kill the troublesome lords, preferring a more diplomatic approach so as not to lose their support. Arya tells Sansa to admit that she is harbouring thoughts of permanently ruling Winterfell if Jon doesn’t return. Disturbed and disheartened by Arya’s suspicions of her, Sansa tells Arya that she has “work to do.”
Later, Arya presents the letter that Sansa had written to their late brother Robb Stark urging him to come and bend the knee to King Joffrey Baratheon. Sansa replies that the Queen Mother Cersei Lannister forced her to do it under duress. Arya counters that she was not tortured and that she saw Sansa at Ned’s execution; Sansa retorts that Arya did nothing to stop their father’s execution either. Arya chastises Sansa for betraying their family but Sansa responds that they have only returned to Winterfell because of her, while Arya travelled the world in pursuit of her own agenda. Sansa adds that their half-brother Jon Snow was saved from defeat when Petyr Baelish and the Knights of the Vale came to their rescue and insists Arya would not have survived the torments she endured at the hands of Joffrey and Ramsay.
Sansa demands to know where Arya found the letter and chides her younger sister that Cersei would be pleased to see them fighting, but Arya is still bitter towards Sansa. She realises that while Jon would understand the difficult circumstances Sansa was under when she wrote the letter, Sansa is afraid the Northern lords will discover it and turn on her, including Lyanna Mormont. Arya adds that Lyanna is younger than Sansa was when she wrote this letter but argues Lyanna wouldn’t agree with Sansa’s defence that she was a child at the time. While recognising that Sansa wrote the letter out of fear, a bitter Arya says that she prefers to embrace anger over fear.
Later, Sansa asks Petyr Baelish about where Arya got the letter from, unaware that Baelish orchestrated the entire incident. Sansa tells Petyr that she is commanding 20,000 men who answer to Jon but not to her. Petyr tells Sansa that the men will trust her because she can rule. Sansa does not trust the loyalty of the Northern lords, citing their history of switching sides. She counters that the discovery of the letter will turn her liege lords and men against her. Sansa confides in Petyr about her strained relations with Arya. Petyr suggests that Sansa talk with Brienne of Tarth because she has sworn to protect both of Lady Catelyn Stark’s daughters from harm. Trusting Baelish, Sansa accepts his advice.
The following morning, Maester Wolkan informs Sansa that they have received a letter from Queen Cersei. Sansa meets with Brienne, who advises her not to leave Winterfell. Instead, Sansa decides to send Brienne as her representative since she could reason with Jaime Lannister. Brienne warns that it is too dangerous for her to leave Sansa alone at Winterfell with Petyr. Sansa insists that her guards and men are loyal to her but Brienne warns that Petyr might be bribing them behind her back. Brienne offers to leave her squire Podrick Payne, whose swordsmanship has improved, but Sansa insists that she can take care of herself.
Sansa enters Arya’s quarters and opens a leather case containing several “faces”, including the late Walder Frey’s face. Arya catches her sister pilfering through her personal effects. When Sansa tells Arya that her men are loyal to her, Arya mockingly retorts that they are not here. Arya tells Sansa that she obtained the faces from the Faceless Men of Braavos and admits she spent time training to be a Faceless Man. She forces Sansa to play the lying game and begins by asking if she thinks that Jon is the rightful King. Sansa demands that Arya tell her what the “faces” are.
Arya replies that when they were young they always aspired to be other people. Sansa wanted to be a queen while Arya herself wanted to be a knight. In the end, neither of them got what they wanted. Arya says that the faces allow her to become someone else and toys with the idea of assuming Sansa’s face and status. Arya approaches Sansa with her dagger and muses at the prospect of becoming the Lady of Winterfell. However, Arya relents and leaves a disturbed Sansa alone with the dagger.
Sansa and Petyr discuss Jon’s decision to bend the knee to Daenerys. Sansa feels betrayed by Jon, and Petyr suggests that Sansa would make a better ruler than Jon. Sansa tells Petyr that Arya would turn against her if she tried to usurp Jon’s power, and Petyr goads her, planting the idea that Arya wants to kill Sansa and take her place as Lady of Winterfell.
However, still unsure of Petyr’s intentions, Sansa visits Bran. From this, she learns of his Green sight powers, in which he proves Petyr’s ultimate guilt in the War of the Five Kings. This proves everything Petyr has done to gain power: his murder of Jon Arryn, his attempt to kill Bran, his betrayal of Ned and his attempt to turn Arya and Sansa against each other.
Sansa sits with Bran when Arya is brought into the Great Hall. Petyr watches as Sansa reads the charges of murder and treason, before Sansa addresses Petyr directly, revealing that the trial is actually for him. She accuses Petyr of murdering Lysa Arryn, convincing her to poison her husband Jon Arryn and send a letter to the Starks blaming the Lannister for the crime, and conspiring with Cersei and Joffrey to imprison and execute Eddard Stark.
Petyr denies the charges, but Bran reveals that he has seen Petyr’s betrayal in his visions. Sansa is unfazed by Petyr’s begging and thanks him for all his lessons, promising she will never forget them. Arya then slits Petyr’s throat, and Sansa watches as he dies.
On the battlements, Sansa confides in Arya that she believed Petyr really did love her, and Arya assures her that she did the right thing. Arya concedes that she couldn’t have survived what Sansa survived, but Sansa disagrees, claiming that Arya is the strongest person she knows. Arya and Sansa remember their father’s words about looking out for one another, and each confides how much they miss him.
Sansa stands on Winterfell’s ramparts as the combined Stark and Targaryen forces march towards the castle, and stares in cautious awe as Drogon and Rhaegal fly overhead. She greets Jon as he arrives in the courtyard, and mentions that Arya is “lurking somewhere” when Jon notices her absence. He introduces her to Daenerys as the Lady of Winterfell, and the two women exchange a civil but tense greeting.
Later, in the castle’s great hall, Sansa sits at the high table along with Jon, Daenerys, and Tyrion. Tyrion tries to calm those present who are displeased at Jon bending the knee to Daenerys; he says that they have assembled the largest army ever seen, but Sansa cooly undercuts him by asking how she is supposed to feed an army that size, as well as two full-grown dragons. When she sarcastically asks what dragons even eat, Daenerys replies, “Whatever they want.”
Sansa later converses with Tyrion privately for the first time since they last saw each other at Joffrey’s wedding; Tyrion calls the wedding “a miserable affair”, though Sansa sardonically remarks, “It had its moments.” She also calls Tyrion out for believing that Cersei will honour the pledge to send the Lannister forces north. She is disappointed in Tyrion, saying she used to think Tyrion was the cleverest man she ever met.
Sansa shows Jon the message that Robett Glover will be remaining in Deep wood Mott with his troops, as he never pledged to fight for a Targaryen. She expresses her disapproval of Jon giving up his crown to Daenerys. Jon replies titles don’t matter in the face of the Night King and the army of the dead and they don’t stand a chance against them without Daenerys’s help. Although Sansa assures Jon that her faith in his judgement has not wavered, she bluntly asks him if he truly bent the knee to save the North, or because he loved Daenerys.
When Jaime Lannister arrives at Winterfell, Sansa – now clad in armour – is once again seated at the high table with Jon and Daenerys. The two women harshly berate the King slayer for his past actions and question whether his loyalty to their cause is genuine. Only when Brienne of Tarth vouches for Jaime does Sansa trust him, and Daenerys allows his sword to be returned to him.
Later, Daenerys speaks privately with Sansa, addressing some of the thorny political issues involved in their alliance. She also openly confesses her love for Jon, waving aside Sansa’s concern that Jon is being manipulated- if anything Daenerys claims that she came to love him. Although a greater understanding appears to develop between the two women, Sansa remains firm in her conviction that the Northerners will never truly accept an outsider as their ruler again, and bluntly asks Daenerys what her plans for the North are once the dead have been defeated.
The awkward moment is interrupted by Maester Wolkan announcing the arrival of Theon Greyjoy and his men. In the great hall, Theon kneels to Daenerys and asks Sansa’s permission to stand with the Starks against the army of the dead, at which Sansa strides forward and embraces him. The two are later seen having a meal in the courtyard while awaiting the call to arms.
When the army of the dead and the army of Winterfell finally face each other across the battlefield, Sansa and Arya observe from the castle walls. When the initial charge of Dothraki screamers is easily repelled and the wights advance, Arya orders Sansa to go down into the crypts and hands her a dragon glass dagger. Sansa says she doesn’t know how to use it, and Arya repeats the words that Jon said when he gave Arya Needle: “Stick ’em with the pointy end.” Down in the crypts, Tyrion is restless about not being able to help, but Sansa firmly reminds him that they are all down there for a reason; they won’t be any help on the battlefield, and doing nothing is the most heroic – if the most difficult – thing they can do.
Impressed by her logic, Tyrion sardonically remarks that they should have stayed married. Sansa humorously acknowledges that he was the best relationship she ever had, but his loyalties to Daenaery’s would mean that they could never remain together, which is taken as an offence to Daenerys by Missandei. As the army of the dead breaches Winterfell’s walls, the Night King reanimates all that have fallen in the battle so far, and his spell extends to the many Stark bodies housed in Winterfell’s crypts. In the crypts, the living scramble to escape and Sansa ends up hiding behind a large stone casket with Tyrion. The two look desperately into each other’s eyes, and Sansa pulls out the dragon glass dagger given to her by Arya.
An unspoken understanding passes between her and Tyrion, who tearfully kisses her hand as if in farewell. Before she can act, however, Arya manages to slay the Night King in the gods wood, causing the entire army and the remaining White Walkers to shatter and collapse. Sansa and the other survivors make their way out of the crypt to survey what remains.
The survivors of the battle later gather in front of Winterfell’s walls to light the funeral pyres of all who gave their lives in defence of the living. Sansa tearfully places a pin bearing the House Stark dire wolf onto Theon’s body before lighting his pyre herself. During the celebration feast that follows, she makes her way to the table where the Hound is seated.
The two discuss the many trials they’ve suffered since their last meeting, and Clegane reminds Sansa that she could have been spared many horrors if she’d left with him when he offered. While not downplaying her own tragedies, Sansa coolly responds that without those horrors, she would still be the “little bird” Cersei thought her to be – ignorant of the cruelty of the world and unable to fend for herself.
Sansa later attends a war council in preparation for the continued war against Cersei. She advises giving the armies time to rest before engaging in a new conflict, only to cause a tense moment with Daenerys who insists on attacking Cersei as soon as possible, cooly telling Sansa that it’s time for the North to reciprocate. Along with Arya and Bran, Sansa then meets with Jon in the gods wood. Jon is angry at his sisters for their treatment of Daenerys, explaining they’d all be dead without her. Sansa protests that Arya is the one who killed the Night King and Jon points out Daenerys’s armies gave their lives to defend against the Army of the Dead. Sansa acknowledges this but doesn’t think it’s reason enough to automatically submit to Daenerys but Jon says he pledged the North to Daenerys. Arya tells Jon she respects his decision, it was the right thing to do, but it’s also right for herself and Sansa to distrust his Queen. Jon wants them to get to know Daenerys but Arya doesn’t want to either, Daenerys isn’t one of them. Jon tells her they won’t make many allies if they’re only friends with the people she grew up with. Arya is fine with this because all she needs is their family, the four of them. Jon tells them he’s not a Stark but Sansa and Arya both insist he is Ned’s son and their brother. Pained, Jon reveals he needs to tell them something and swears them to secrecy. Sansa balks but Jon asks her to do it because they’re family. When both sisters swear, Jon asks Bran to reveal his true parentage: the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, and the subsequent heir to the Iron Throne.
Later, Tyrion finds a shaken Sansa looking at Daenerys’s dragons in the sky. She asks why Tyrion would choose to follow Daenerys. Tyrion replies that Daenerys loves Sansa’s brother but Sansa says it doesn’t mean she’ll be a good queen. Tyrion notes Sansa’s dislike of Daenerys but says that a good relationship between the North and the capital has been beneficial. Sansa doesn’t think this will be a problem since Jon is Warden of the North and he loves the Queen. Tyrion realises something is wrong and asks Sansa to look at him. He urges her to find common ground with Daenerys as Jon won’t be spending much time in the North from now on. Sansa wonders what Tyrion is worried about as Daenerys seems to have everything she needs. When Tyrion urges Sansa not to provoke Daenerys, Sansa realises he’s afraid of her. She anxiously tells Tyrion she doesn’t want Jon going south, the men in her family never do well there. Tyrion agrees but quips that Jon once told him he’s not a Stark. This rattles Sansa, prompting Tyrion to ask if she’s alright. He tries to convince her of Daenerys but Sansa is not receptive. As Tyrion leaves, Sansa has a change of heart and goes against her promise to Jon, telling Tyrion that there is somebody better for the Iron Throne.
Sansa later receives word of the ambush on the Targaryen fleet in which Rhaegal was killed while Missandei is captured. She tells Jaime that she wanted to see his sister executed but that it will likely not happen due to this setback.
After the Battle of King’s Landing, Sansa journeys to King’s Landing where she takes command of the northern forces and stations them outside of King’s Landing. She does this to ensure the safety of herself and the other lords and ladies inside Kings’s Landing since she attends great council several weeks after the Daenerys’s assassination by Jon, in the dragon pit of King’s Landing. While Bran is elected as King of the Andals, the Rhoynar, and the First Men, Sansa holds to her convictions and requests the North becoming an independent realm once more, to which Bran agrees. Jon is sentenced to rejoin the Night’s Watch, and Arya intends to sail west of the Sunset Sea. After saying her goodbyes to her siblings, Sansa returns to Winterfell and is crowned Queen in the North.
When she lived at Winterfell with her family, Sansa grew up as the eldest daughter of a Great House, trying to emulate her mother’s example of a “proper lady” from the southern courts. Sansa’s devotion to the traditional, refined “feminine virtues” caused friction between her and her blunt, tomboyish younger sister Arya, with whom she had a sibling rivalry. As a little girl, Sansa naively believed in the tales and epic romances in which every princess gets her honourable knight in shining armour to sweep her off her feet. Sansa was infatuated with the traditional romances about mythical figures like Jonquil, and historical figures like Duncan Targaryen. Her greatest goal in life was to be married to a heroic and handsome prince, sitting around with other noblewomen eating lemon cakes while gossiping about the goings-on at court.
Sansa’s innocent, childhood infatuation with the ideals of princesses and knights made her tragically susceptible to the manipulations of the Lannisters. She held the blind belief that all queens and princes are kind and truthful, as if inherently a result of their titles, when Cersei just happened to be a woman who married a king to secure a marriage alliance, and Joffrey just happened to be her son. Without real cause, she blindly loved Joffrey with all her heart and trusted and admired Cersei, only for them to repay her love and trust by beheading her father before her very eyes.
Afterwards, Sansa has a harrowing experience as a prisoner of the Lannisters, a plaything for the psychopathic Joffrey to have publicly beaten by his guards for petty amusement. Her shock at the death of her father was only later deepened at the news of how her mother and brother Robb were horrifically killed at the Red Wedding and their corpses desecrated. She was visibly elated upon hearing that Arya, Bran, and Rickon were actually still alive, and though she took mostly after her mother and had a somewhat distant relationship with Jon, she loved him all the same. She was surprised to hear that Jon had become Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and Jon was the first person she turns to for shelter after escaping Winterfell, aware that he would protect her from Ramsay.
Sansa subsequently escapes King’s Landing to the Vale with Little finger, and her experiences have clearly changed her personality. She had to learn from painful experience how to lie to survive at Joffrey’s court, saying one thing but meaning another and manipulating people to her own ends as best she could. No longer under constant control by Joffrey and Cersei’s guards, she is in her own way beginning to mature into her own power and influence as a political force.
The numerous tragedies she has suffered, and the crimes against herself and her family, have also darkened her personality turning her more ruthless, though not quite cruel. This shows when she refuses to take Theon’s arm when he comes to escort her to the Gods wood to marry Ramsay and coldly asks if he thinks she cares what Ramsay will do to him if she doesn’t. She also later expresses approval of what Ramsay did to Theon, now Reek, and declares she would do the same. Once reclaiming Winterfell, Sansa feeds her abusive husband, Ramsay to his own hounds, even smiling as it happened.
However, despite all the suffering that she has been through, Sansa appears to have retained a certain degree of compassion that is also demonstrated in her multiple attempts at reaching out to Theon after Theon admits that he did not kill Bran and Rickon and they are alive. After Theon helps her escape from Winterfell, Sansa once again sees Theon as a surrogate brother and promises she will not let Jon execute him when Theon fears Jon will have him killed for his crimes. Sansa also becomes more compassionate and a loyal sister to Jon and apologises for being “awful” when they were children. When she faces Myranda for the last time prior to her escape from Winterfell, Sansa was about to allow the psychopathic girl to shoot her so that she could die with as much of herself as was remaining. She has also become significantly more brave, courageous and is developing nerves of iron.
Sansa’s sufferings have made her stronger and more mature, but also more war-like. Caring less for the traditional feminine virtues she used to praise as a child, Sansa moves against Ramsay in order to take back Winterfell and the North, and outright rejects his conditions for saving her brother Rickon, knowing full well he would never keep his word and instead tells him that he will die the next day. Her experiences with the Lannisters have enabled her to watch in grim satisfaction as Ramsay is torn apart and eaten by his own hounds. This contrasts her visible horror in Season 1 upon seeing the violence when she first arrived in King’s Landing, where she is distressed at Gregor Clegane’s violence against Ser Hugh and Loras Tyrell and faints when her father is abruptly beheaded in front of her. Sansa is also effective as Lady of Winterfell and Jon’s regent, devoting her efforts to maintaining order and preparing the North for winter, for which she earns the respect of many Vale and Northern lords.
Due to the harrowing experiences of the Stark children, Sansa experiences a development in the relationships with her surviving siblings when they are reunited. Though she and Jon were the least close of the Stark children, they love one another as siblings and their relationship as brother and sister becomes stronger when they are reunited. While Sansa will argue with Jon, she speaks to him as an equal, wants to see him safe, and Turner observes Sansa’s relationship with Jon has restored Sansa’s faith in men. While Jon remains a protective older brother to Sansa and likewise wants her safe, he also recognises Sansa’s intelligence and her adeptness as a leader, placing the North in her charge as his regent. Sansa and Arya did not get along as children and though they love each other, experience a rocky start after their reunion in Season 7 due to their experiences. Nonetheless, they come to recognise new strengths in one another: Arya’s skills as a combatant and Sansa’s abilities as Lady of Winterfell. By the end of Season 7, their relationship grows stronger and they develop a new closeness as sisters. Sansa is relieved and happy to be reunited with Bran but is unsettled by the changes he has undergone as a result of becoming the Three-Eyed Raven. Regardless, she asks for Bran’s help in using his powers to look into Little finger’s past and upon learning the truth, decide to put Little finger on trial to answer for his crimes.