Game of Thrones is brimming with characters that are just as rich and interesting as the historically-inspired fantasy worlds they reside in. Yet, few can match the inspirational and intriguing Arya Stark. A fiery Northern girl, faceless assassin, and lone-wolf fighter, Arya has endured countless trials and tribulations during her odyssey which spans 8 seasons, and the length of both Westeros and Essos.
While she evolves into a ruthless, deadly assassin, she also retains a cunning, charming quality, and has provided some of the show’s deepest, most enduring quotes.
Updated on January 7th, 2022 by Hilary Elizabeth: Arya was undeniably one of the best characters in Game of Thrones, and she left an enormous impression on fans. She was lucky to be the star of some of the most memorable moments in the show, and she has so many great lines that it’s difficult to narrow down the very best of the best.
“I’m Not A Lady. I Never Have Been. That’s Not Me.”
Arya establishes early on in season 1 to Ned and others that she doesn’t want to be a “lady” in the way Westeros society expects her to be. Her turbulent character arc manages to come full-circle when Gendry asks Arya to marry him so the two can rule the Stormlands together.
Arya reestablishes her independent nature and fighter’s spirit by turning Gendry down and informing him that merely existing as the lady to some Lord isn’t in her character, nor does it fit into her aspirations. It’s a powerful line of dialogue, and largely solidifies Arya’s unique sensibilities of non-conformity.
The Nightly Prayer
“I Can’t Sleep Until I Say The Names.”
As Arya and the Hound set camp and ready for some sleep, Arya begins to repeat the names of a seemingly random list of people as if it were a laundry list of important tasks to complete, or a math equation to recall.
Though, most who have followed the events of season 1 will be privy to the fact that these aren’t just randomly spouted names, but rather the people that have destroyed her family and loved ones. This random litany of names is actually Arya’s list of people to kill. It shows just how determined Arya is to get her vengeance, and presents a crystal-clear, singular focus for her character.
Killing The King
“I was angry when I heard someone else had done it. However long my list got, he was always first.”
Arya was hardly the only one who fantasized about killing Joffrey, but realistically speaking, he was probably lucky that Olenna Tyrell gave him what he would call “a clean death.”
Arya certainly wouldn’t have gotten it over with quickly if she had the opportunity to kill Joffrey, and if by some miracle he actually survived to the point where Arya returned to Westeros, then Arya’s slaughter of Walder and the rest of House Frey likely would have looked like child’s play in comparison to her destruction of Joff.
“Stick Them With The Pointy End.”
Arya is partly an embodiment of her father and brother Jon Snow – a fighter with the wolf-spirit of a Stark through and through. This quote stands as one of those enduring, ongoing quotes that Arya speaks which reminds viewers of her relationship with these Starks.
It was Jon who presented her with the sword she wields, Needle, and gives her this simple instruction in jest. She then tells it to her father, Ned, as a validation when confronted about the dangers of using the sword, and she later says it to Sansa during the Battle of Winterfell. Despite its simplicity, this is a charming call-back line that ties Arya to her family and reinforces her fighting nature.
A New Face
“With The Faces, I Can Choose. I Can Become Someone Else.”
During a particularly tense scene that (wrongly) hints of Arya and Sansa’s relationship developing a schism, the fiery Stark girl justifies her practice in the guild of the Faceless Men. She even establishes that she can become Sansa if she wanted to, which leads the viewer to question if she would actually do this. After all, Arya has undergone a somewhat dark transformation and has made a name for herself as a renegade assassin.
Alas, this turns out to be a misdirection, but it does provide a hint of sibling rivalry between Arya and Sansa. It also further illustrates the significance of the Faceless Men as a way to grant her the desire to separate and be someone else.
The North Remembers
“When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”
In the later seasons of Game of Thrones, every viewer was aware of just what an enormous threat that Arya Stark really was. But she proved her mettle and then some when she returned to Westeros and immediately destroyed House Frey. Frankly, even Cersei would be impressed by the swiftness with which Arya manages to dispatch her enemies.
And even though Arya ultimately chose life over death, she at least got to live out her revenge fantasies for a little while before confronting her philosophical and moral crisis.
Learning The Hard Way
“A Bruise Is A Lesson… And Each Lesson Makes Us Better.”
In much the same way that the Stark girl quotes lines spoken by her family, she also shows her inspiration and devotion to Syrio Forel by speaking this line, a variant of “every hurt is a lesson, and every lesson makes us better.”
The bruise analogy certainly fits Arya’s dark, tragic history, along with her philosophy of overcoming hardships and becoming stronger through adversity. Arya definitely learned through trials by fire, and it made her into one of the most powerful characters in the series.
Faces Of Death
“I Know Death. He’s Got Many Faces. I Look Forward To Seeing This One.”
While Arya has little exposure to the White Walkers, even by the opening of the final season, she makes it clear to Gendry that she’s not exactly phased by an army of the undead. She’s had close encounters with death, violence, and has herself slain many at this point, so what’s to fear about some ice zombies?
This is a clever quote that reinforces Arya’s strength, though it also serves as some foreshadowing for the otherwise surprising ending to “The Long Night” episode of season 8. In it, Arya leaps from the shadows and takes out the Night King, catching him off guard as he zeroes in on Bran. It seems her embracing of death has turned her into quite the effective assassin, even managing to kill a manifestation of death itself.
“Nothing Isn’t Better Or Worse Than Anything. Nothing Is Just Nothing.”
Arya learns the mantra of “wiping the slate clean” and existing as “no one” when being initiated into the Faceless Men. This philosophical food for thought is certainly a representation of her character and place in the world during the middle of Game of Thrones.
Stripped of just about everything and everyone she loves, Arya faces little choice but to lose her own identity. After being trained and occasionally put through the wringer by Jaqen H’ghar and other Faceless Men, she’s is finally able to claim to be “no one” with sincerity. It’s this training in stealth, evasion, and emotional disassociation that allows her to develop further as a character and accomplish her goals of revenge. When asked who taught her to fight during a sparring match with Brienne, she cleverly answers, “no one.” No one, indeed.
A Stark At Heart
“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell. And I’m going home.”
The Faceless Men are a group of assassins that can literally transform themselves into other people with their changing faces, and a huge part of their ethos revolves around becoming “no one.”
And although Arya became an excellent fighter and seemingly did her best to leave Arya Stark behind, she could never isolate herself from who she really was, and it doesn’t seem like she truly wanted to. After surviving Jaqen’s gauntlet, Arya reclaimed her own identity and made it her mission to return to Winterfell.
“The Last Thing You’re Going To See Is A Stark Smiling Down At You As You Die.”
There aren’t many feel-good moments in Game of Thrones that measure up to this bout of vengeance by Arya, especially after the grim events of previous seasons. After many episodes of anticipation building up to Arya’s sworn revenge of Walder Frey, fans finally see her swift plot come to fruition.
This is an impactful line that displays Arya’s cunning as well as her relentlessness of exacting her own brand of vigilante justice. It’s a powerful moment for her character and yet another reminder that, despite her innocent appearance, Arya is not to be messed with. It also acts as a satisfying payoff of the trials and tribulations of learning the ways of the Faceless Men, as she was able to disguise herself to get to Walder, and then become Walder himself.
What’s West Of Westeros
“It’s Where All The Maps Stop. That’s Where I’m Going.”
This heartfelt scene near the end of the Game of Thrones finale sees the remaining Stark children parting ways. For Arya, this means getting far away from the tragic losses and misery to which she has borne witness to. This doesn’t mean Essos, but to a distant land never before alluded and apparently not known. She’s going “west of Westeros,” but beyond this, her destination is not revealed.
This illustrates that Arya doesn’t strive for the destination, but the journey itself, as well as to “escape” or become liberated. Arya is set to venture on her own, like the lone wolf she is. It’s a bittersweet ending for her, but one that feels fitting.
Choosing Her Path
“The world doesn’t just let girls decide what they’re going to be. But I can, now.”
From the very start of the series, one of Arya’s greatest and most valid frustrations is that her life was set out before her without her having much of a say in it. And the same can be said of almost all women in Westeros, as they have very narrow options in terms of what the world is willing to let them do.
But by the time Arya sailed westward, she had claimed the right to choose her own life regardless of what anyone else wanted.
When The Wolves Come, Yield
“Leave One Wolf Alive And The Sheep Are Never Safe.”
One of Arya’s few quotes that actually surpasses the impact of her last line to Walder is when she addresses the Frey men disguised as Walder.
While season 7 as a whole received a tepid response from fans, it started off with a bang when “Walder Frey” addresses his men discussing the slaughtering of the Red Wedding bluntly. Viewers soon discover this is not Frey, but actually Arya, as the men holding goblets of wine suddenly keel over and die. The already powerful scene then closes out with this memorable line. It’s a neat little Stark-themed allegory that adds the exclamation point to a pivotal scene in Game of Thrones.
What Do We Say To The God Of Death?
Arya’s journey throughout Game of Thrones was largely about her simply fighting for survival, and one of the overarching themes of her story was clearly death versus life.
Arya was responsible for many assassinations in the series, but when it came to squaring off against the God of Death, Arya’s reply was always, “not today”. Syrio Forel started Arya on her path towards becoming a warrior, but little did he know that his wise words may have helped her save the world.
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