A Girl has no Chill – The Many Adventures of Arya Stark


As we enter the ten-week run-up to Game of Thrones season 7, there comes a time to reflect on the characters we know and love — or in some cases, hate. How have these characters’ lives changed since they first appeared on our screens? What lessons have they learned? Most importantly, which character’s story has the greatest potential for comedy? These are the hard questions that haunt a small portion of our waking moments, and so we invite you to sit back, relax, and enjoy a super-serious* recap of one character’s journey, every week.

Last week, we visited with Jaime Lannister, former Kingsguard, current leader of the Lannister army and all-time champion of pained, longing glances. This week, we turn to a far less sentimental sword-bearer, the teeny, tenacious, terrifying Arya Stark.


Name: Arya Stark

Occupation: Princess (via Jon), Assassin, Former Faceless Man, Serial Killer

Nicknames: Arry, Mercy, Lanna, Wolf Girl (by the Hound), No One, Murder She Baked

Current Status: Alive

Kingdom: The North

Relationship Status: Saving herself for Gendry

Significant Other: See above

Likely Catchphrase: “My name is Arya Stark. You betrayed my family. Prepare to die.”

Unlikely Catchphrase: “I’ll let you off with a warning this time.”


Mother: Catelyn Stark (deceased)

Father: Eddard Stark (deceased)

Siblings: Robb Stark (deceased), Sansa Stark, Brandon Stark, Rickon Stark (deceased)

Aunts/Uncles:  Brandon Stark (deceased), Lyanna Stark (deceased), Benjen Stark (half-baked), Edmure Tully, Lysa Tully (deceased)

Cousins: Jon Snow, Robin Arryn, Unnamed boy by Edmure Tully

Nieces/Nephews: Unborn niece or nephew by Robb and Talisa Stark (killed at the Red Wedding)

Grandparents: Rickard Stark (deceased), Lyarra Stark (deceased), Hoster Tully (deceased) and Minisa Tully (deceased)

Children: None

Pets: Direwolf, Nymeria (currently MIA)

Known Associates

Current Allies: Jon Snow, Sansa Stark, Brandon Stark, Gendry, Hot Pie, Brienne of Tarth (once they meet again, if they meet again)

Current Enemies: Cersei Lannister, Ilyn Payne, the Mountain, Melisandre, the entire Brotherhood without Banners, that guy who cut ahead of her at Starbucks that one time, and quite possibly Petyr Baelish

It’s Complicated: The Hound, Jaqen H’ghar

Personal kill list: Joffrey Baratheon’s self-esteem, that interfering stable boy, unnamed Frey soldier, Polliver, one of Polliver’s mates, Rorge, the sickly girl (mercy-killing), Ser Meryn Trant, the Waif, Black Walder and Lothar Frey, Lord Walder Frey

Character Stats

Preferred Weapon: A thin, one-handed sword named Needle

Notable achievements:

  • Escaped the Red Keep/King’s Landing as a mere child despite being searched for by countless Gold Cloaks
  • Saved Gendry from being killed by the Gold Cloaks using only her wits
  • Wrangled a snazzy job as Tywin Lannister’s cup-bearer by cross-dressing
  • Manipulated Jaqen H’ghar into killing a dozen guards and escaped Harrenhal
  • Killed several other men including Polliver and Rorge
  • Killed Ser Meryn Trant of Tommen Baratheon’s Kingsguard
  • Successfully completed her Faceless Man training
  • Killed a Faceless Man who had been sent specifically to assassinate her and escaped (I’m really starting to see a pattern here) the strict order of the House of Black and White
  • Infiltrated Walder Frey’s castle before killing him and two of his sons

Special Abilities:

  • Escaping, apparently
  • General murder
  • Specialized murder
  • Calling you on your bullshit
  • Brows on fleek
  • Accomplished water dancer
  • Trained in hand-to-hand combat
  • A psychoanalyst’s dream
  • Can fight while completely blind
  • Surviving fatal stab wounds to the abdomen
  • Face-changing
  • She could take you


Season 1

Arya Stark began her journey as an exuberant tomboy who spent her time running with scissors and emasculating her younger brother whenever he failed at archery. Although she was close to all of her male siblings, she was closest of all to her bastard half-brother, Jon Snow. In fact, Jon and Arya were so close that when her father, Ned, was named Hand of the King and elected to take Arya with him to the capitol, Jon came to her room with a special gift for her. “It’s a deadly weapon that you haven’t been trained to use,” he said, presenting his tiny sister with a freshly-forged sword. “This is awesome!” Arya cried, and threw her arms around Jon’s neck. “Never become a parent.”

Arya named her sword Needle and set off to King’s Landing with her dad and her sister, Sansa. During their trip, Arya was playing with her friend Mycah when Sansa and her new beau, Joffrey, happened upon them. Joffrey was so well-practiced in the art of playground bullying that he had neglected to develop any other skills, and sliced Mycah’s face open to make himself feel like the big prince on campus. Arya and her direwolf, Nymeria, intervened, and Joffrey had his ass handed to him. “Arya, you’re spoiling everything!” screamed Sansa, who was apparently witnessing this fight in an alternate dimension.

Somewhere in America, Solange Knowles took copious notes, just in case.

Arya ran away and ordered Nymeria to flee before she was found by the king’s men. She was taken before the king and queen, and Sansa was brought in to account for the fight. Reluctant to scribble over numerous artistic renderings of ‘Sansa Luvs Joff 4ever xoxo‘ in her textbooks, Sansa pretended to have no memory of the incident, so Arya beat the crap out of her. Two episodes in and she’s won more fights than any of the adult males. Right on.

Arya settled uneasily in King’s Landing, furious with her sister and full of hatred for the prince. She spent her time angrily stabbing tables as practice for her planned maiming of Joffrey. Desperate to quell her violent urges, Ned hired a Braavosi water dancer to teach her how to use a sword. If you’re wondering why everyone found it so easy to believe that Jon Snow was his kid, this is why. This right here.

Robert Baratheon died, and soon afterwards, Ned was arrested for a treason he didn’t commit. Terrified, Arya hurriedly escaped the Red Keep. As she rummaged through her things to find Needle, a plucky stable boy arrived to take her to Cersei. “This is my moment,” sang the stable boy. “My one perfect mom— nope, I’m dying.” Arya chilled in the streets of King’s Landing for a few days until she discovered that Ned had been brought to the Great Sept of Baelor for a public execution.

Before Arya could rush to her father’s defense, she was detained by Yoren, a mate of her father’s who was in King’s Landing to recruit men for the Night’s Watch. “You should have expected this from Sean Bean. I’m your father now, kid,” Yoren growled. “Let’s take you for a haircut. That’s what parents do, right?”

Aggregated Surrogate Dad Count: 1

Season 2

Yoren promised to take Arya back to Winterfell, so she joined the Night’s Watch recruits on the road to Castle Black, where she met a sexy blacksmith named Gendry. “You might not have boobs yet, but I’ve still noticed them,” said Gendry to Arya, who was pretending to be a boy named Arry. Arya shared her real identity with Gendry and sealed their friendship by pushing him into the dirt, where the seeds of their inevitable romance were sown. Fight me if you disagree, because I’m getting a Needle replica for Christmas this year. I’ll take anybody on.

The late Robert Baratheon was Gendry’s father, but that episode of The Maury Povich Show had never aired in Fleabottom, so Gendry didn’t have a clue about it. Joffrey Baratheon did, and it wasn’t long before Lannister soldiers attacked their camp in an effort to find and kill him. Arya spent the attack saving lives, including that of the mysterious Jaqen H’ghar, who was trapped inside a burning cage but somehow still had time to gaze pensively at her as she ran away. She tried to escape but was caught by a man named Polliver who had a head like a magic 8-ball. He took Needle away and skewered a boy named Lommy through the neck with it, inadvertently sparing Gendry’s life because Lommy had stolen his identity right before he died. I would too, if my name was Lommy.

At Harrenhal, the Lannister forces amused themselves by killing a new captive every day. I guess nobody in the castle had Yahtzee. This carried on until Tywin Lannister turned up and gave them a lecture on the economic potential of slavery. “Is there anyone here who isn’t an illiterate swine?” said Tywin, then noticed Arya in her men’s department leisure wear. “You’ll do,” he said. “I’m in need of a personal bartender, and I can’t trust any of these fools to fix me a dry martini.”

Tywin hired Arya to pour his drinks because being super wealthy gives you the right to obscene laziness. He proceeded to be a better, friendlier and more emotionally open father to her than he ever had been to his own three children. It wasn’t long before he came to realize that she was a highborn northern girl, but he did not, at any point, sit and wonder if perhaps she was the missing Stark girl whose physical description matched her entirely. Was she slipping sedatives into his martinis? I mean, seriously, Tywin, who switched your damn brain off?

Meanwhile, Jaqen H’ghar had ceased in his pensive staring for long enough to escape the flaming cage and get a job as a Lannister soldier. To repay Arya for saving his life, he casually offered to murder three people of her choosing. That is hardcore, man. Who makes that offer to a child? How many other options did he scroll through before settling on that? Wasn’t he hugged enough by his parents?

Anyway, Arya must have been sneaking Tywin’s sedatives for an after-work buzz, because she didn’t think to ask Jaqen to murder Tywin and end the war. Once he had killed two people of her choosing, she asked him to help her escape Harrenhal. Jaqen refused, so she told him to go and die. “Oh no,” said Jaqen. “Simply refusing to kill myself on the whim of a preteen is not something I can do for some reason that I can’t explain. Now you have placed me in an impossible position.”

In exchange for his life, Jaqen killed a bunch of guards, leaving the way clear for Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie to leave the castle. He then posed dramatically on the side of a mountain for a few hours until she came walking by, and invited her to join him in Braavos. “You’ve got a bunch of people you want to kill, and I can make that happen,” he BLATANTLY LIED. Arya turned him down because have you seen Gendry? Girl wanted to stick around for more of that body.

Aggregated Surrogate Dad Count: 2

Season 3

Arya, Gendry and Hot Pie were found on the road by the Brotherhood Without Banners, an order of men who dedicated themselves to fighting injustice by singing, getting drunk and making self-righteous proclamations – kind of like a medieval Tumblr. Seeing that two out of three of Arya’s gang were children, the Brotherhood brought them to a pub with lax policies on underage drinking, along with a kidnapped Sandor Clegane, who gave up Arya’s identity immediately.

Thoros of Myr, one of the Brotherhood’s ringleaders, decided to ransom Arya to her mother and brother. “That’s kidnapping,” said Arya. “This kidnapping is a morally sound one. We’re the good guys,” said Thoros. “Explain how a kidnapping is morally sound,” Arya demanded. Thoros put a bag on her head to shut her up.

Hot Pie having gotten a job as a soux chef, the Brotherhood took Arya and Gendry to their secret clubhouse. It was there she met Beric Dondarrion, Thoros’ common-law husband. Arya told the Brotherhood that the Hound had killed Mycah, so he was forced into a trial by combat against Beric to prove his innocence. He won, but Thoros brought Beric back to life, which is pretty unique as party tricks go. It was revealed that Beric had been resurrected six times, but as a result had become all distorted and patched together, like the Weasley family’s house.

Gendry broke the news to Arya that he had decided to stay with the Brotherhood as a smith. “You can’t, I have boobs now!” she protested, but Gendry rejected her because he was tired of feeling like his life was in danger. The next day, the Brotherhood sold Gendry to Melisandre, who had come to endanger his life. It was clear that Gendry had chosen the wrong squad. Embarrassing for him.

“Why are you letting her take my boyfriend away?” Arya demanded of Thoros. “Because,” Thoros patiently explained. “The actress who plays you isn’t legal yet, so we have to take him away before your relationship strays into Littlefinger territory.” Infuriated, Arya went after the Red Woman, determined to fight for her man, but was startled when Melisandre told her that she was going to become a serial killer when she grew up. Why haven’t the FBI hired Melisandre yet? She would literally halve their workload.

Later, while Arya pined for Gendry, Thoros and Beric decided to go after a Lannister raiding party instead of taking Arya to Riverrun. “As a matter of fact,” they said in unison. “We’ve been looking into adopting a daughter.” Arya turned tail and ran before they could contact their attorney, and was immediately captured by the Hound.

As it turned out, ol’ Sandor had taken a leaf out of Beric’s book and announced that he was taking Arya to the Twins for Edmure Tully’s wedding, in the hopes that he could ransom her to her mother. Unfortunately, they turned up late and missed all of the best parts of the event, including the traditional post-reception massacre. Sad.

Aggregated Surrogate Dad Count: 4

Season 4

With Arya’s mother and eldest brother now dead, the Hound decided to ransom her to her aunt, Lysa Arryn. As they traveled towards the Eyrie, Arya and the Hound happened across an inn, where the magic 8-ball-headed Polliver was enjoying some downtime with his pals. It didn’t take long before a fight broke out over the Hound’s repeated demands for chicken, and Arya wasted no time in retrieving her sword from its unworthy owner. “Do you have any chance of survival?” she said to Polliver before driving Needle directly into his neck. “Outlook not so good.”

Sandor had never been a parent before and wasn’t down with teenage trends — he had not watched one CW drama in his entire life, nor did he know how to twerk. Fortunately, he and Arya were able to bond over a common interest: murder. Less fortunately, Arya particularly wanted to murder the Hound. Eager to dissuade her, he tutored her in the art of stabbing people through the heart. I’m beginning to see a real pattern in the men Arya hangs out with.

Arya and Sandor arrived at the Eyrie. “I’ve got a Stark daughter here for delivery,” the Hound told the guard at the Bloody Gate. “Sorry, pal, but Lady Arryn’s too dead to sign for it,” the guard responded. “I guess I could tell Lord Baelish that you’ve turned up with a child that half the country has been looking for, and that seems like important information he’d want to know,” he continued, before doing nothing about it.

On their way back from the Eyrie, Arya bumped into Brienne of Tarth, who soon recognized that Arya was the presumed-dead daughter of Catelyn Stark, to whom Brienne had sworn an oath. “I can be your new mommy,” Brienne began, but was interrupted by the Hound. “You better lawyer up. I’ve been raising this child alone for months, and suddenly you show up demanding access when you haven’t sent her so much as a birthday card? Not on my goddamn watch.” Thus began the most intense custody battle of all time. Imagine Kramer vs. Kramer, but Dustin Hoffman has a chunk of his face bitten off, and you’re not even close.

Brienne won the fight, but Arya had decided upon a legal emancipation, and was nowhere to be found. Once Brienne ran off to find her, she went to check on the Hound, who looked likely to die. Sandor begged her for the mercy of a quick death, but Arya found that she no longer wanted to murder him. Out of the kindness of her gentle heart, she stole all of his money and left him alone to succumb to his many injuries at an agonizingly slow pace.

Aggregated Surrogate Dad Count: 5

Season 5

Arya took a ship to Braavos, where she was adopted by Jaqen H’ghar and his bitter, attention-starved wife, the Waif. “I’m your father now,” said Jaqen. “And as your father, my first action will be to rename you.” “What’s my new name?” said Arya. “You don’t have one,” Jaqen coldly replied. “Now throw all of your things into the river and shed every vestige of your identity.”

“Cool,” said Arya, and toddled off to divest herself of her earthly possessions, except for her beloved Needle, which she hid beneath some rocks. “This seems like a nurturing environment for a child,” she mused.

Jaqen employed Arya as an intern in his family assassination business and Arya got to do all kinds of awesome assassin things, like sweeping floors and giving sponge baths to bloated corpses. She eventually graduated to selling seafood, and was instructed to keep an eye on a skinny bookie who made a living swindling widows out of their inheritance. She did such a good job at spying that Papa Jaqen gave her some poison and told her to slip it into the bookie’s dinner. “She’s growing up so fast,” he said to himself, smiling proudly as his little girl skipped away to end another man’s life. “I’m a natural at this parenting thing.”

Despite her best intentions, Arya was distracted from her task by the appearance of Meryn Trant, a Westerosi Kingsguard who killed her favorite teacher. She stalked him to the brothel where he was beating young girls and treated him to the most creative, extra, jazz-hands murder in the history of the entire show. After his death, she returned to the House of Black and White to replace the face she had stolen to assist her in her plan, but was confronted by Papa Jaqen and her bitchy stepmother, the Waif.

“You are so grounded, missy,” said Jaqen. “And I’m taking away your favorite toy.” Arya prepared to surrender her smartphone, but her new parents straight-up blinded her for her insubordination. As she fell to her knees and screamed in terror, Jaqen refused to reconsider his punishment. “Good luck playing Angry Birds with no eyes,” he said.

Aggregated Surrogate Dad Count: 6

Season 6

Blind and broken, Arya was reduced to begging on the streets of Braavos. Her stepmother came by on occasion to make sure she was eating her greens, and to beat her senseless. Nobody ever thought to intervene, which is truly reflective of modern society, except if it were really modern society people would be filming her beatings on their phones and posting the footage on social media, whilst still not doing anything to help.

Eventually, Papa Jaqen took Arya back into the House of Black and White and she resumed her training, which mostly consisted of sniffing powders and having her ass handed to her by the Waif. When she got good enough to hand some of that ass back, Jaqen returned her eyesight. “Since you’ve been such a good girl, I’ve got a reward for you,” he said, and treated her to a trip to the theater. Grateful to finally take a break from physical and emotional torture, Arya excitedly took herself to the play, but found to her dismay that it was a dramatic re-enactment of her father’s tragic death.

In the House of Black and White, Jaqen chuckled to himself. “What an excellent prank,” he said.

Jaqen gave Arya an assignment to murder Lady Crane, the talented actress who played Cersei in the play, but as Lady Crane had never murdered, maimed, tortured, raped, stole from, betrayed, insulted or harmed a member of her family in any way, she and Arya became besties instead. Overjoyed, the Waif went to Jaqen to ask permission to kill Arya for her defection. “When she’s dead,” she said to Jaqen, while desperation oozed out of her pores. “Will you notice me again? Will you love me? Can we go away for the weekend? We never go out anymore.”

After warning Lady Crane that her life was in danger, Arya swiftly arranged passage back to Westeros, and was taking a stroll around the city when the old beggar woman from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves happened upon her and stabbed her right into her gut. The old woman removed her face to reveal that she was the evil stepmother from… well, she was Arya’s evil stepmother. “You stabbed me? What kind of Disney movie is this?” cried Arya, and jumped into the river. “And to think, I’d been looking out for poisoned apples the whole time.”

Arya went to Lady Crane, who patched up her wounds, gave her sustenance and considered adopting her. Infuriated by Lady Crane’s commitment to raising children with kindness, rather than brutal violence, the Waif turned up and killed her. She then chased Arya through the streets until she was cornered in a dark alcove, but Arya had an ace up her sleeve. “Once I’ve settled my beef with this candle,” she warned the Waif, her sword at the ready. “I’m moving on to you.” RIP candle. We will never forget your sacrifice.

Back at the House of Black and White, Jaqen was taking a stroll when he noticed that vandals had broken in and dripped blood all over his nice, clean floors. He followed the bloodly trail to find Arya, along with the mangled remains of the Waif’s snide face. “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m leaving this dump to find gainful employment at a place that has a worker’s union and reasonable disciplinary procedures.” Jaqen was so delighted that he no longer had to initiate the divorce process that he had no issue with this.

Arya returned to Westeros, where she got a job as a serving girl in Walder Frey’s household and took a keen interest in baking. “This is a full-bodied gravy,” said Walder, as he tucked into her latest creation. Famous last words.

Aggregated Surrogate Dad Count: 6

Surrogate Moms Out Of Nowhere: 1

*not serious at all

Next: Lena Headey and Peter Dinklage discuss Cersei and Tyrion’s season 7 journeys

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