Arya Stark Understood Death, But Chose Life

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Arya Stark: The girl who lived.

For eight seasons, Arya was on a cruel and terrible journey, one that we thought would lead to her death. But instead of completing her kill list, she chose a new adventure. It might have left her mission unfulfilled, but it was the only way Arya was going to survive.

And really, that’s what she’s been doing all along.

From the beginning, Arya knew she wasn’t like other girls. Luckily, her father was Ned Stark, who let Arya pursue her own interests — even going so far as to hire her a “dancing master”, Syrio Forel, who taught her everything she needed to survive, fight... and one day, defeat the god of death.

When Ned Stark was beheaded by King Joffrey Baratheon, something changed in Arya. She dedicated her life to revenge, with her famous list of people to kill. Some, such as Walder Frey, she murdered herself. Others, such as the Hound and his brother, died differently. But every name on that list eventually met their end.

However, when it came to defeating her enemies, it wasn’t enough to just “stick them with the pointy end”. She had to learn the art of life, death and everything in between.

This is what separated Arya Stark from the rest. Her time with the Hound, the Brotherhood Without Banners and the Faceless Men taught her that death was another part of life. She didn’t hate death or fear it. She welcomed it.

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It’s why she was able to face down and defeat the Night King. It’s also why, when standing on the precipice of her own story’s end, she listened to the Hound when he told her killing Cersei would lead her down a path she’d never come back from (even if actress Maisie Williams wanted her to finish the list).

She understood death, didn’t fear it, but she ultimately chose life over revenge. In the end, Arya’s most important lesson was for herself.

“What do we say to the god of death?”

“Not today.”

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