The Stark family has undeniably been through a LOT since Season 1 of Game of Thrones.
And unless you've been locked in the crypt of Winterfell, it should be painfully obvious that Sansa Stark has grown so much since we were first introduced to her character.
But now that she's been reunited with her living family members — Jon, Bran, and Arya — some people seem to be under the impression that Sansa is still the slightly bratty Stark sibling we met at the beginning of the series.
Some have compared her to Jon Snow, whose shadow she lives under because people believe he's a better leader than she is; Bran, who has visions; and Arya, who is an exceptionally skilled fighter.
People have said that they think Sansa is jealous of her siblings.
And that she "plays the victim."
Some joked that she acts like the one sibling who never got an "awesome" job after college.
Or that she somehow doesn't measure up to the other Stark kids.
That she hasn't "leveled up" like the others.
And some just don't seem to like Sansa, period.
But hear me out: Sansa is great, and her transformation into maturity is just as powerful as the rest of her living siblings'.
Let's go back to the beginning, when Sansa was present for the execution of her father, Ned Stark. This marked a definite change in her disposition.
Joffrey ordered Sansa to stare at her father's head as it sat on a spike — and just moments after she witnessed his brutal execution, Joffrey was already talking about killing her brother, Robb Stark. "After I raise my armies and kill your traitor brother, I'm going to give you his head as well," Joffrey said in Season 1's "Fire and Blood." Sansa replied, "Or maybe he'll give me yours."
Right then, she was already demonstrating a different Sansa than we'd seen before — someone who wasn't afraid to speak up, even in the face of evil.
Not only was she subjected to emotional abuse from Joffrey, but she had to endure physical abuse as well.
Tyrion Lannister, the master of scheming himself, even endorsed Sansa's strategy skills in the Season 2 episode "Garden of Bones."
Right after Tyrion rescues Sansa from Joffrey, who was abusing her because he was upset about Robb Stark, Sansa saves face by at least pretending to remain loyal to the unhinged king. She's playing chess and Tyrion notices.
Sansa also remained smarter than Joffrey, like in Season 2's "The North Remembers," when she saves Ser Dontos after Joffrey attempts to make him drink a barrel of alcohol as punishment for showing up drunk for a tournament on the king's nameday.
Sansa saving the man's life was important because he later saved hers when Joffrey died in Season 4. Ser Dontos helped her escape through the streets of King's Landing to a nearby boat. Though he's later killed because Littlefinger gives the word that he's nothing but a drunk, Ser Dontos's good deed toward Sansa is a reminder that even in this terrible world where people are killed without a second thought, showing mercy and forming allies can go a long way.
Not to mention, Sansa survived the horrors of being married to Ramsay Bolton, who somehow managed to be even worse than Joffrey.
And remember how she finally thwarted the completely deranged Ramsay? She contacted Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale, who effectively took out Bolton's crew and helped the Starks regain control of Winterfell.
And currently, in Season 7 of GoT, Sansa is doing even more to showcase how adept she is at leading and managing Winterfell in Jon's absence.
She's making sure that there will be enough food for the people of the North (should everyone have to flock to Winterfell for the long winter ahead), assigning responsibilities, and making sure their army has the proper attire. All the while, Sansa is grappling with her family's reunion and how much life has changed for the Stark children since they last saw each other.
The list of things Sansa has overcome in the face of adversity could probably circle the globe.
Sure, she may not be able to fight like Arya and Jon or possess clairvoyant abilities like Bran. But she's a thoughtful and smart leader who didn't flounder under the weight of the hardships life dealt her, and that says a ~lot~ about her character and strength.
In conclusion, put some respect on Sansa's name. 🐺
Michael Blackmon is an entertainment reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Michael Blackmon at email@example.com.
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