Game of Thrones is a show chock-full-o-complicated characters. Some are irredeemably evil, like King Joffrey. Some are irredeemably evil, but contain a depth that makes us love to hate them, like Tywin or Cersei. Others are so morally complex and screwed up that you love them despite some pretty huge, glaring flaws. There are very few characters, however, that have the ability to inspire uncomplicated, unequivocal fan love: Arya Stark is one of them.
I will level with you: Arya is not my favorite (#TeamJaime). In fact, she's not even my favorite Stark child (#TeamSansa). Yet even I cannot deny her awesomeness. From Maisie Williams' impeccable performance to the character's insane journey around the world that takes her from lord's daughter shape-shifting assassin, Arya is just one of those girls you can't help but root for. Something tells me she still has an important role to play in the fate of the realm. (In my dream scenario, she ultimately serves Daenerys Targaryen as her newly appointed Mistress of Whispers when they both get back to Westeros, but that's another post for another day... Yeah, I'm a nerd so I've given these things an embarrassing amount of thought).
It is for all these reasons that I hereby decree that I am adopting Ayra Stark as my imaginary daughter. Everyone congratulate me, because she's basically the best daughter a mother could hope for. (No offense to my actual daughter: You're pretty great too, sweetie, but call me when you defeat your first foe in combat.) Here's why:
She's Cute As A Button
OK, elephant in the room here. This is not really important, but it doesn't hurt, right? Just look at this darling! Don't you just want to squeeze her 'til one of you pops in a burst of confetti?
Our girl has been through some serious sh*t, you guys. She watched her father beheaded. She came face to face with the Mountain that Rides, an 8-foot-tall sociopath sworn to murder her family and kept her cool. She escaped scores of Lannister guards on multiple occasions. She lived in the woods on a diet of grubs. And through it all she rarely cried or wavered in her determination to make it through everything thrown at her.
Even prior to her "dance lessons" with Braavosi sword master Syrio Forel, Arya showed an aptitude for martial arts, outshooting her brothers with a bow and arrow and knowing how to handle her sword, Needle.
If I were in Arya's shoes, I wouldn't have made it out of the gates of King's Landing when the Lannisters first came for me and my family. I probably wouldn't have made it out of the Red Keep. But she's evaded her enemies, or infiltrated them undercover (going as far as being Tywin Lannister's personal page), or dispatched them. Her cleverness and grit have taken her far.
Arya knows Winter Is Coming, y'all. Do you? (She is also, according to the books, very good at math. A fact; Do with it what you will.)
Arya has always been a toughie. But before she had to focus pretty exclusively on survival, she was a spunky, lively kid who was always getting into mischief, much to the dismay of her governess, Septa Mordane (RIP, Septa). It was adorable. Nowadays, I believe that spirit is still inside her, but now it usually takes the form of a well-timed sarcastic quip...which is also pretty much everything I want in a daughter.
She's A Badass
WHACK! TAKE THAT JOFFREY, YOU BASTARD! YOU LITERAL BASTARD! ARYA WILL EFFING END YOU! (Well, actually, Sansa's necklace gets you, but the point is YOU DONE GOT GOT!)
But for real: Is there a single thing Arya does that isn't badass?
She's Down To Earth
Arya may be of noble birth, but that doesn't get the way of her interacting with or even befriending those "beneath" her. Starting with her half-brother, the bastard Jon Snow, with whom she has a special bond, to Mycha, a peasant boy she befriends (and vows to avenge), to all the other "baseborn" folk she encounters on her travels. Arya doesn't have a snobby bone in her body.
She's All "F*ck Your Gender Norms!"
Oh, what's that? Ladies aren't allowed to be intellectually curious or adventurous or athletic? Pfffffft. OK. Arya will take note of that. Then she'll throw that note up in the air, shoot an arrow through it, then slash it up with her sword before it hits the ground. Then she will look up at you, scowl and say, "Valar morghulis, bitch!" And I'll clap and say, "That's my baby!"
She Looks Up To Strong Women
Arya is always pleased to learn about women who forge their own path. In fact, she named her direwolf after Nymeria, the Rhoynish queen who conquered the southern kingdom of Dorne, establishing a basically egalitarian paradise nestled in the deserts of Westeros. Speaking of which...
She Comes With A Direwolf
Nymeriaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! I know we haven't seen you since season one, but I know you're out there somewhere, leading an enormous wolf pack. OMG, new fan theory: Nymeria is going to be the one to sit on the Iron Throne at the end of the series.
She's A Warg
AKA, she can basically astral project into her wolf (or a cat or whatever). That's...pretty terrifyingly awesome, right? Who wouldn't want a kid with a literal superpower?
She Might Bring Gendry Over To Dinner
Oh hey, Gendry, how you doin'?