Almost anyone who has watched Game of Thrones has strong opinions on the characters that have not lightened much as the seasons go on. As a huge fan of the books (not so much the show, but that's irrelevant) I can say that my (almost) all time favorite character is Sansa Stark. Shocking? Why?
Sansa Stark is a character that is repeatedly imprisoned and exchanged for the benefit of men. She is repeatedly beaten and threatened by her king husband, sold off to Tyrion Lannister for her claim to Winterfell, kidnapped by the pedophile, Littlefinger, and in the worst twist in the show's history, given to another psychopath to be raped and tortured.
Sansa Stark is a strong character. Through all of this, she learns from the people who have abused her. She uses the only kind of weapon she has to survive; her intelligence. She understands her place and role in all of these situations and acts the role accordingly. She does not physically fight back because she is realistic. She is not a warrior and can only do this in order to survive and see her family again. It is the same exact thing every other member of the Stark family is doing. Not only this, but Sansa is constantly observing and learning from her tormentors. She learns how to lie, to manipulate and how to ultimately play the game. She is a smart girl and a character that most everyone can relate to, whether they want to or not. How many of the audience members judging her for not fighting, would fight in her place? It's an impossible battle and Sansa knows that.
But Sansa was a whiny brat at the beginning of the series, therefore I can hate her forever no matter how much she's changed!
Personally, I don't see the logic. She gets a lot of flak for being a spoiled brat in season 1, but need I remind you she was a twelve-year-old girl who had never left her Winterfell castle before. Yes, she was naive and ignorant. How worldly and wise were you at twelve? She trusted Joffrey and Cersei because she didn't know them and they were nice to her. We as the audience could easily see how twisted and awful they were because we were shown things that Sansa wasn't. They were manipulating her and she was unaware.
Another huge reason I have seen for people not liking Sansa is that she isn't like Arya. Why does our opinion of one female character have to come down to the lovableness of another? It's extremely sexist and unnecessary. Sansa is a girly character who loves fairytales and nights and flowers. Arya is a tomboy who rejects everything associated with being a female in Westeros. She embraces more masculine things and is therefore seen as more worthy than Sansa is. While this comparison may be subconscious, it is deep-rooted sexism at its core.
I would honestly fight a dragon for Sansa Stark and have been defending her to casual show watchers for years. With the mess that the show has become, pretty much the only thing I care about is Sansa and her rightful place as Queen in the North.