What does the Arya Stark white horse scene mean in Game of Thrones? Here's why it was so symbolic

13 May 2019, 11:16 | Updated: 13 May 2019, 11:34

Emma Clarke

By Emma Clarke

What does Arya's white horse mean in Game of Thrones? If you've not seen season 8, episode 5, look away now.

Despite all the signals, those who feared Daenerys Targaryen had turned into the Mad Queen were ignored - and even killed - for questioning their queen (RIP, Varys).

But in the latest episode of Game of Thrones, Dany proved she was no different from the other tyrants before her - in fact, she may be worse - as she rained fire over the whole of King's Landing, even after Cersei caved and rang the bells in surrender. Daenerys left a trail of destruction behind her, as she burnt the city to a crisp and killed not only Lannister soldiers, but also thousands of innocent people and children.

Bearing witness to the unbridled bloodshed and war crimes Dany committed, Arya Stark was left horrified by the brutal scenes that played out before her - and she's seen a lot in her short lifetime. At the end of the episode, Arya is seen alone in the destroyed streets of King's Landing before she spots a lone white horse...but what does it mean? Fans have a very worrying theory.

What does the white horse mean in Game of Thrones?

Arya Stark rode out of King's Landing on a white horse - so what does it mean?
Arya Stark rode out of King's Landing on a white horse - so what does it mean? Picture: HBO

While Arya may have travelled to King's Landing with The Hound to kill Cersei, she was convinced by her friend to let it be and focus her efforts elsewhere. The Hound then lost his life as he battled against his older brother, The Mountain, whom he had hated with a passion for all his life.

Before Arya can leave King's Landing, however, she has to dodge Dany's flames and crumbling buildings, and tries to save innocent civilians as she makes a run for it.

There were several times where it looked pretty dodgy for Arya, as she fell to the floor amidst the rubble, but each time she managed to get back up, determined to get out of King's Landing alive.

Finally, we see Arya surrounded by a sea of dead bodies, with only a white horse standing before her. Ashes from the burnt buildings and flesh fall down on her like confetti, as she mounts the horse and gallops through the ruin, away from the scene.

While at first glance it may appear Arya escaped alive, others fear the young Stark is actually dead.

Why? Well, the figure of the pale horse is a Biblical reference, synonymous with death. In the book of Revelation, there's a tale of the 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', which is described by John of Patmos in the last book of the New Testament. The story goes that a scroll was written in God's right hand and was sealed with seven seals.

Jesus then opens the first four seven seals, which summons riders of four horses: one white, one red, one black and one on a pale horse. Each of the horses symbolise Conquest, War, Famine and Death. The tale is an apocalyptic vision that foreshadows the Last Judgement.

Could Arya kill Daenerys after what she just witnessed?
Could Arya kill Daenerys after what she just witnessed? Picture: HBO

So is Arya Stark really dead?

While we wouldn't put it past showmakers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, it really wasn't clear if that was the way they intended us to read the final scene in episode 5. In fact, as we see Arya in the teaser trailer for the last ever episode, our money's on her being alive.

Some viewers are still determined Melisandre's prophecy about Arya in episode 2 will come true, and that if it doesn't apply to Cersei (as we saw), it may apply to Daenerys. That makes sense, as not only does Daenerys have green eyes, Arya has also now witnessed firsthand what a psychopath Dany has become. It's quite plausible that she'd want to prevent Daenerys from killing anymore innocents.

The white horse was clearly for more than aesthetics, however, so it is also possible the pale horse is foreshadowing an apocalyptic conclusion in the season 8 finale.