One thing I personally love about Game of Thrones is the number of badass women it has — women who have been through hell on earth and come out swinging. I’m talking about Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Olenna Tyrell, and Sansa Stark. That’s right, Sansa of House Stark, eldest daughter of Ned and Catelyn and current lady of Winterfell. Look, I get it. Every character has haters for various reasons, and they feel completely justified for it. That’s totally fine, but if you hate Sansa Stark because of her past characterization, you’re wrong and I’m here to tell you exactly why.
Let’s Clear Up 1 Thing For You Sansa Haters
We first meet Sansa when she’s a preteen girl — not just any preteen girl, but one that has been raised as the eldest daughter of a great House and had her head filled with pretty songs and romantic stories. She’s naive, lost in dreams of perfect princes, and undeniably spoiled. Basically, she’s every little girl who had the fortune to live a sheltered, idealistic life with no real concerns aside from being a proper lady. She’s just as bratty as one would expect, much like her younger sister, fan favorite Arya, although yes, in a different way. So why all the hate? Simply because Sansa’s seen as the “soft” female character, one of the most classically feminine characters on the show. She likes “girlie” things, she faints, and she cries a lot. But these reasons are incredibly superficial and sexist; as if Sansa’s femininity is a weakness and because she’s not fierce in the same way that Cersei, Dany, or even Arya are, she’s not as strong as they are. This brings me to my first reason that Sansa Stark is a badass queen.
She’s Been Through Hell and Back, but She’s Survived
After her father’s beheading, Sansa’s life spins all the way out of control. She’s entirely alone, with her family being killed off one after the other, and she’s being put through her own hell at the hands of the ruling family. Everywhere she turns is another person just waiting to use her as a pawn in their little game. Through all of this, Sansa does not back down. She plays the part of a lady and uses her grace and courtesy as her armor to stay alive in court. There’s a reason Tyrion said, “Lady Stark, you may survive us yet.” He knows that her abilities to adapt and keep her cards close to her chest are skills vital to surviving in Kings Landing, and he respects her for learning how the game is played. Though Sansa does tend to trust the wrong people (looking at you, Petyr the Creeper), she survives everything they throw at her, whether it be her insane Aunt Lysa, Ramsay, or Petyr himself. She comes out stronger, smarter, and more determined than before. She is not the same little girl whom Cersei called “little dove.”
People Continue to Be Terrible, but She Only Wrecks Those Who Deserve It
Despite everything that’s happened to her, Sansa has managed to keep her compassionate nature. Sansa is sweet to Tommen during her time in Kings Landing, even though he’s part of the family that tortures her, probably because she recognizes a kindred spirit in the little boy. She risks the ire of Joffrey and Cersei to save Sir Dontas’s life, and during the Battle of the Blackwater, she is the one who calms the people of Kings Landing despite being terrified herself. At the Eyrie in the Vale of Arryn, she shows affection to Little Robin even though he’s every babysitter’s worst nightmare. Some may say she’s lost that kindness by the premiere of season seven, after she argues with Jon about what to do with the land of Houses Umber and Karstark. However, an important distinction to make is that Sansa isn’t advocating for the execution of anyone. She is wisely saying that it might not be smart to allow highly vital pieces of land to be controlled by people they don’t know they can really trust who may hold grudges against them. Also, one of them is literally a child. Not everyone is Lyanna Mormont!
She Is Her Mother’s Daughter and Not Here For Your Macho BS
After Jon is crowned King in the North in season six, we all knew there would be some tension between him and Sansa, especially because he has a habit of not listening to her advice. In the premiere of season seven, we see this trend continue and that Sansa is definitely not about that life. She does not gave a damn if Jon is king — if she has questions, she’s going to ask them. Though it makes things way more awkward having the two of them argue in front of all Northern houses, it shows Sansa’s refusal to stay silent on matters when she might have before. No longer will this lady sit by, passively playing the games of Kings Landing; she is in the North and will express her opinion when she sees fit. Let’s also not forget that Sansa is one of the few to admit the important truth that people tend to ignore with two of the best lines of the episode, “You have to be smarter than father; you need to be smarter than Robb. I love them, I miss them, but they made stupid mistakes and lost their heads because of it.” As one of the direct victims of their stupid mistakes, Sansa knows exactly what she’s talking about.
Home Is Where Her Heart Is and She’ll Fight Anyone For It
As she gets older and has more agency, Sansa’s fight for survival changes. She’s not fighting for the Iron Throne like Dany or Cersei; instead she’s fighting to save her home and keep it. Everything she’s done has been to get back to Winterfell, the last place she truly felt safe. She repeatedly teams up with Petyr, getting wiser to his games each time, convinces Jon to gather an army to battle the Boltons, and wins the battle by securing reinforcements from the Vale, knowing Ramsay would provoke Jon into being foolish. In the last three seasons, Sansa has become a warrior of her own, with her wits and words rather than weapons.
Game Recognizes Game
Sansa hates Cersei Lannister. The woman tortures her, degrades her, ridicules her family name, and is currently hunting her down for a crime she didn’t commit. But as Sansa says in the season seven premiere, she learned a great deal from Cersei. That doesn’t mean she admires her (side-eye for that comment, Jon). It means that, considering the circumstances, Cersei had a great deal to do with the woman Sansa is now. She helped open her eyes to the truth of what being a woman in Westeros is like and led the charge that ripped away Sansa’s naivete before she fled. Sansa learned the rules of the game from Cersei, and it will stay with her for the rest of her life. Cersei’s harsh lessons taught her about a different kind of power, one that proper ladies wield stealthily.
She May Look Like a Tully, but She’s All Stark
Sansa Stark is here to slay. Though raised by her mother to be every inch the proper lady, Sansa has the ability to be ice cold when she wants to be. Whether she’s slapping little Robin across the face for getting out of control, taunting Ramsay about his bastard status, or letting Petyr know he can slide right the hell out of her DMs because she has no time for it, Sansa proves that being a lady doesn’t mean she’s afraid to put anyone in their place. I know you remember when Joffrey has her dragged out to look at the severed head of her father, boasting about how he would gift her with Robb’s head as well, and Sansa replies, giving him the coldest side-eye ever, “Or maybe he’ll give me yours.” Don’t play with this she-wolf!