I've been thinking about this, in conjunction with what I said earlier about A Show not always being entirely sure what it wanted to be - I'm reaching the conclusion that Bran's story typifies that point perfectly, really. Because...if you were to show someone the very first and last episodes of this season, with Little Bran running around being adorable in the beginning, climbing places he shouldn't and witnessing things he shouldn't and getting shoved out of high windows for it, and then Grown Up Bran in his wheelchair being made King...well, that unspoiled someone would probably assume that the eight seasons in between showed Bran's journey from Point A to Point B. But they didn't. Bran's elevation came entirely from left field, and doesn't feel like the outcome that was intended all along. It feels more like the spare part getting the chair because all the other options had been accidentally ruled out along the way - the story told over the seasons simply doesn't support the eventual outcome, and it is hard to avoid the implication that that's because the outcome wasn't actually planned.
All the other main characters I think ended up in a more or less logical place that makes sense in terms of their progression and storyline throughout. I keep remembering conversations we had years ago, trying to figure out which characters we thought were endgame, and I think we pretty much had them all pegged. Jon, Dany, Sansa, Arya, Bran, Tyrion - they were the characters we expected to make it to the end, and they did (by which I mean, Dany made it to the final episode, if not the final credits), and I think four out of the six could easily have ended up on the throne and it would have felt a fitting conclusion to their story, and I like that the stories told for them allowed for a variety of possible outcomes.
So, for instance, Dany's downfall was foreshadowed throughout, even if it wasn't smoothly executed in the end, but if her story had ended with her heeding the guidance of her advisors, tempering her violent urges, and ending up on the Iron Throne unchallenged, no one would have argued against that ending, it would have felt entirely supported by what had gone before. Sansa becoming Queen in the North is a fitting end to her story, she has been advocating for an independent North for years, while the Northern characters in general had been bucking for independence for longer still - but again, if she had been put forward as Queen of all Westeros, that too would have felt like an earned and justified outcome, supported by her development along the way and in line with her early ambitions. Jon spent the entire show failing upward in a series of dramatic promotions, so if he'd ended up on the throne, it would have been entirely in keeping with his story - yet at the same time, his character has always been strongly rooted in the North and with the freedom associated with the Wildlings, so it is also entirely fitting that he ended up leaving Westeros proper to live beyond the Wall. And I absolutely believe that in the unwritten future he will be named King-Beyond-The-Wall! And then Tyrion - ending the show as Hand of the King is almost a perfect outcome for him, yet he too could easily have been named King and it would feel supported by his journey to that point, learning responsibility and good government along the way. All these characters have had strong journeys, which built toward more than one possible outcome, and that has been a strength of the show.
But Bran? Bran's journey has always felt like an afterthought, in many ways - like he was pursuing this path because the source material said he must, rather than because any clear development or outcome was ever foreseen for him and built toward. The mythology behind his development into the Three-eyed Raven has never been fully developed and remains murky at best, a mere plot device that ultimately served only the purpose of luring the Night King into a trap. There has never been anything in his journey that built toward his becoming king, it was a twist that came entirely from left field and feels largely as if it came about because once the ultimate outcome of everyone else's journey was decided, there was no one else left to be king, so it fell on Bran almost by default - as if the entire resolution to this epic, sprawling tale was ultimately made up on the fly. And that's poor storytelling, which brings me back to my point about A Show not knowing what it really wanted to be, or perhaps not really being sure whose story it was ultimately telling.
I think you are right, ginge, when you say that for all its epic scope and sprawling cast, this was ultimately the story of the Starks, who more or less bookend the whole thing. It's just a shame that the one who ended up on the throne wasn't given the same development as the others, in order to support his final destination. We could argue that this wasn't really Bran's story, that at the end of the day who ended up on the throne wasn't really important as long as the more 'important' characters got their strong ending - in which case A Show shouldn't have emphasised the chase for the Iron Throne quite so much. Either this was the game of thrones or it wasn't!
There are other examples - Arya learning how to shapeshift is another classic example. It was a major part of her character journey, but was then abandoned and never mentioned again. In a properly constructed story, you'd expect such a major piece of character development to be relevant in the denouement - it wasn't, which again gives the impression that a lot of this stuff was just made up along the way, rather than being properly planned with an overall destination in mind. This season has been a season of two halves - the battle against the Night King and the battle for the Iron Throne, and those two stories almost feel like they belong in two different shows. Again, A Show wasn't entirely sure what it wanted to be - an epic fantasy or a political drama.
So, yeah, I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that A Show has never been entirely sure what it wanted to be, and that uncertainty has left its mark along the way.