The Great Houses in 'Game of Thrones' That Could Go Extinct

Maisie Williams in Game of Thrones season 6
Maisie Williams as Arya Stark in the "Game of Thrones" Season 6 premiere. The episode was illegally downloaded a million times after it aired. Macall B. Polay/HBO

Game of Thrones has become a bloodbath—especially for the Great Houses, the lordly families who rule the realm.

The show kills off characters left and right, sometimes even faster than the Song of Ice and Fire books do. And some of the great families of Westeros are in serious danger of dying out altogether. It’s already started happening. While House Stark has suffered some losses, other Great Houses are in far worse shape.

Which ones are likely to die out before Game of Thrones ends?

Great Houses That May Not Survive Game of Thrones

There are nine Great Houses in Westeros. When the show began, they were Stark, Arryn, Baratheon, Tully, Greyjoy, Lannister, Tyrell, Martell and Targaryen. As of Game of Thrones Season 6, Daenerys is the only surviving Targaryen and remains in exile. House Stark and House Tully have also been displaced, their lands taken away from them, but both Houses survive—at least for now.

A few Great Houses aren’t in much trouble. House Greyjoy of the Iron Islands is probably in the best shape. Lord Balon Greyjoy has two surviving children, Yara (his designated heir) and Theon, who won’t ever beget a family but still survives. Balon also has three brothers, so Greyjoy isn’t at any risk of going extinct.

House Tully of the Riverlands may have lost its lands, but Edmure Tully is still alive and married (although he’s a captive of House Frey). His uncle, Brynden the Blackfish, is also at large, but has no children. But it’s in House Frey’s interest to keep Edmure alive, so the House is safe for now.

Believe it or not, House Stark is not in dire trouble either. Although Robb is dead and Bran is probably never coming back to Westeros, both Sansa Stark and Rickon Stark are alive and on the run from their enemies. Arya is also safe and far away. The surviving Starks are all young, but either Sansa or Rickon could bring the House back to greatness. The Starks could yet rule again in Winterfell.

That’s three houses. All six of the others are in trouble—or already extinct.

House Lannister

House Lannister as a whole isn’t in that much trouble, but Tywin Lannister’s part of the family is. Jaime is a member of the Kingsguard and can’t have legitimate children, while Cersei’s children are—legally speaking—members of House Baratheon. Of course, two of Cersei’s children are already dead anyway, and a prophecy predicts King Tommen is next. His death would spell the beginning of the end of Tywin’s line, unless Tyrion has a legitimate child. And that doesn’t seem too likely, since he’s half a world away from Sansa Stark—who can’t stand him, but is still legally his wife. Other Lannisters like Kevan and Lancel would keep the family name from dying out altogether, but the main branch of the family is at serious risk of extinction.

House Tyrell

House Tyrell of Highgarden has a problem: Margaery Tyrell is married to King Tommen “Baratheon,” and her children will be Baratheons as well. Loras Tyrell, on the other hand, is gay. He has thus far declined to marry. In the books, their father Mace has two other children, but in the show, we’ve only seen Loras and Margaery—and that doesn’t bode well for the future of the House. Any children Margaery has with Tommen, which isn’t very likely in the first place, would be members of his House, not hers. For the House to continue, Loras will have to choose to marry. Not a very likely prospect.

House Arryn

House Arryn of the Vale is not in good shape. Jon Arryn had immense difficulty in having children, and most of the other members of the Arryn family died during Robert’s Rebellion. Jon Arryn’s young son Robin is not a very promising candidate to continue House Arryn. He’s a sickly and strange child, and the last living member of House Arryn, one of the oldest and purest Great Houses in Westeros. Even his mother is dead. There’s little reason to think Robin will even survive to adulthood, let alone get married and father an heir before the series ends.

House Targaryen

It’s no surprise that House Targaryen isn’t likely to survive for much longer. While Daenerys Targaryen has done many great and terrible deeds in Meereen, she is barren—she even confirmed it when the Dothraki captured her in the Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere. No other Targaryens survive, and the Targaryen family line will die with Daenerys—unless Jon Snow is secretly a Targaryen. But, based on what we actually know so far, House Targaryen is doomed.

A review of extinct houses: 

House Martell

Before the Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere, House Martell seemed quite secure in Dorne. Although the Red Viper Oberyn Martell died in battle in a vain attempt to clear Tyrion Lannister’s name, Prince Doran still ruled down south and was training his heir Trystane to succeed him. But in the Season 6 premiere, Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes murdered them both in a brutal coup, seizing power so they could better exact their revenge on the Lannisters for killing Oberyn. To do it, the Sand Snakes killed Oberyn’s own family—and House Martell went extinct.

House Baratheon

Most tragically of all, the ruling house of Westeros has become extinct—despite still having a king on the throne. King Tommen bears the name Baratheon, but he’s a Lannister bastard by blood and not truly a member of the House. The same was true for Joffrey and Myrcella, who are both dead as well. Robert Baratheon died in Season 1, and his youngest brother Renly died early in the War of the Five Kings. The House seemed secure until Game of Thrones Season 5, when Stannis sacrificed his own daughter to the gods. Shireen’s death, and Stannis’s defeat and death shortly after, spelled the end of his family’s House. House Baratheon is now extinct—and Tommen is destined to die as well, which will end the Great House even in name.

With the White Walkers advancing on Westeros, it’s a dangerous time to be a member of one of the Great Houses. They’re starting to drop like flies. And, considering the dire straits of their competition, maybe being a Stark doesn’t look so bad after all.