Winter is upon us and between final season premieres and cast tell-alls, keeping hope alive that Game of Thrones will end in a way that satisfies die-hard fans has been tough. But maybe, just maybe, things would be easier if we knew what was coming if we had even the tiniest of clues as to who dies, who doesn’t, and who ends up on the Iron Throne.
The wait until the final season is dark and full of terrors but there’s nothing that warms the soul like fan theories and we’ve rounded up every tidbit the surviving cast members have given us to fuel those fires.
So join us as we break down, in excruciating detail, everything the Game of Thrones cast has teased about their characters in the final season before we speculate on what it all means.
Since the beginning of the series, Daenerys Targaryen has been positioned to rule Westeros. She’s got a laundry list of formidable titles – Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, etc – and the dragons to back her claim to the Iron Throne. But she has yet to discover that Jon Snow, the guy she’s shacking up with, also has a claim to that most coveted of seats and it looks like he’s not the only “Stark” making life difficult for Dany in the final season.
After a teaser gave us a glimpse of Dany’s icy reception at Winterfell, actress Emilia Clarke told Entertainment Weekly that meeting the Stark sisters is like a bit from Meet The Parents.
“I need to be like: ‘Can I braid your hair, Sansa? Little Arya, come over here, let’s play some cricket.’ So there’s that. And then, very, very quickly, it’s like: ‘Wait, is it just me, or do they hate me?'”
Clarke also revealed that Dany is in a “very fragile place” when she discovers Jon’s parentage, so theories of a possible pregnancy might also be true, but it’s clear Dany won’t be welcomed in the North and once her relationship with Jon is threatened, she might be on the defensive from more than just White Walkers.
Jon Snow has been another mainstay of Game of Thrones, a character that represents both Fire and Ice, the literal title of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy book series. The character already died once, so many fans are hoping he avoids that same fate in the final season, and with his mixed heritage, he seems the most likely candidate to sit on the Iron Throne. First, though, he’s got to defeat the Night King and come to grips with his family tree.
Kit Harington has admitted to crying twice while reading the script, and he’s teased that it “breaks boundaries” in the same way the show’s first season did. Of course, season one of Game of Thrones is famous for killing its main character rather abruptly, so that might herald bad news for Jon Snow, who’s taken his “father’s” place at Winterfell and in the North.
He’s also going to have to reckon with his true parentage this season, something that throws a wrench in his romance with Dany. Shippers hoping the two might be able to overlook their incestuous ties are going to be disappointed.
Harington affirmed that Jon is “not the kind of person who can [knowingly] jump in bed with a relative.” Which, yeah that makes sense.
Jon’s also going to have a thorny reunion with his favorite “sibling,” Arya. Harington told TV Insider that he and Sansa will have difficulties, but even more surprising, he and Arya will butt heads as well.
“They have led brutal lives since we last saw them together in the series premiere,” Harington says. “It’s changed them. Are they going to be what we want them to be?”
No character has undergone an evolution as surprising and, frankly, satisfying, as Sansa Stark. The newly-minted Lady of Winterfell went from wide-eyed waif to a woman who feeds her rapist to his own dogs. It’s the ultimate medieval glow-up so it makes sense that Sansa isn’t ready to hand over her hard-earned authority when Dany and Jon arrive in Winterfell.
“Sansa is threatened,” Sophie Turner told TV Insider. “She worked so hard to control the North and feels like Jon should be loyal. It’s frustrating to have Daenerys, who she feels is manipulating Jon, come in and take control.”
Sansa’s also got Cersei to worry about, but Turner has let slip two secrets from the set that might point to her ultimate survival by the end of the show. She revealed to the hosts of Good Morning America that she stole a very important prop from season eight, a scroll that plays a pivotal role in the final season, and she’s been carrying it in her wallet ever since. Could this scroll be the truth of Jon’s parentage or something more, like a prophecy yet to be revealed? (Martin loves those things after all.)
The other bit of info Turner gave Rolling Stone concerned a present showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss gave her: the storyboard of their favorite Sansa scene, which just so happened to be the final scene Sansa was in on the show. Turner cried of course, but she also hung that storyboard up on her wall and really, who would hang a piece of art commemorating their character’s death in their living room?
Speaking of evolutions, Arya Stark has always been a scrappy rebel, but over the years she’s grown into a full-blown assassin, training with Faceless Men, serving up Frey family pies, and slicing throats left and right. Out of every character left on the show, she might be the most quick-tempered, and therefore, a true wildcard for the final season.
Maisie Williams says Arya’s loyalty to Sansa is guaranteed, but that’s about all you’re safe to assume about her character.
“They’re over that mistrust now,” Williams has said. “Particularly moving into this new season, I think they both start to see a lot more of the challenges one another faces and I think for both of them, they have the utmost respect for each other.”
Both Turner and Williams have hinted fans might not be happy with how the show ends, particularly Arya fans.
“I think it doesn’t matter which way it went, it would just make yourself feel sad if you were negative about what happened to you,” Williams told news.com.au.
What’s worse than having your character killed off? Having them killed off before the finale. There’s sure to be a big battle between the living and the dead at Winterfell this season, and we know it won’t be in the show’s final episode. We also know, from teasers and trailers, that Arya will be involved, running scared through her family’s crypts covered in blood. Could that be how Arya dies? Defending her home from White Walkers? It’d be fitting since she’s gone from being a “Girl With No Name” to a newly-restored member of the Stark family.
Another interesting tidbit, Williams confirmed something Harington alluded to, which was that there are many similarities between season one and season eight of the show. So maybe an in-depth re-watch of that first season will clear things up?
Tyrion Lannister has always been a fan-favorite on Game of Thrones, and for good reason, He drinks wine, he knows things, and he’s always on the cusp of telling a truly great joke. But his punchline might not be too funny. After having a secret discussion with his sister Cersei last season that felt particularly suspect, and then watching from the shadows as Jon and Dany consummated their relationship, Tyrion’s fate feels very much up in the air.
“A lot of the time with Tyrion, it’s professional and personal. Obviously, he has feelings for Daenerys. He loves her — or thinks he does. He’s questioning that because he doesn’t have a good track record for falling in love,” Peter Dinklage told Entertainment Weekly. “There’s jealousy wrapped up in there. And he loves Jon Snow, too. He’s wondering how smart of a move [Jon and Dany getting romantically involved is], because passion and politics don’t mix well. He knows the two of them getting together could be very dangerous.”
Book readers know that a prophecy involving Dany suggest Tyrion may betray her, if he hasn’t already, in the final season. While Dany was held captive in The House of the Undying in Qarth, she was told she would be betrayed three times, Once for blood, once for gold, and once for love. That prophecy wasn’t spelled out in the show, but Dany still suffered those betrayals, first by being tricked by the witch who killed her unborn son (her blood), then by Ser Jorah, who betrayed her for gold from King Robert. The last betrayal left is one for love, which might point to Tyrion or Jon, but because Jon Snow doesn’t have that kind of manipulative track record, our money’s on Tyrion.
Dinklage also revealed Tyrion is still very much about his family, especially once Jaime Lannister joins the fight against the undead. “Tyrion trusts his brother. He loves him,” Dinklage has said. So if a choice between Jaimee and Dany were to arise, who knows which way he’d go.
Another warning sign when it comes to Tyrion’s fate is this comment Dinklage made to Vulture about the ending of the show and how satisfied he was with his arc in season eight:
“I think he was given a very good conclusion. No matter what that is — death can be a great way out.”
Jaime and Cersei Lannister
The twins have been inseparable since birth, but Jaime and Cersei Lannister find themselves at odds during the final season of Game of Thrones. Lena Headey has done a good job of keeping mum about her character’s storyline this season. She’s down in Kings Landing, counting on her betrothed’s promise of men from the Golden Company to help her wage war against whoever wins the battle up North. She might also be pregnant – or she could be lying about that – and she might meet her end at Arya’s hands, or her own brother’s. As always, Cersei is a difficult nut to crack.
Jaime, however, is more straightforward.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau says Jaime’s path in season eight is a very noble one.
“Even though he’s known as the most dishonorable man, he is a man of his word. The promise they made was very important, but it also was the right thing to do,” Coster-Waldau told TV Guide. He continued on to say that Tyrion is the only person Jaime trusts, aside from Brienne, which hints at a deeper schism between himself and his sister.
And because we’re being told to look to season one for clues as to how the show might end, there’s credence to the theory that Jaime will ultimately kill Cersei. Most of his season one arc concerned how he earned the name Kingslayer – be killed the Mad King to save Westeros. Perhaps he’ll be forced to do the same before the show ends, adding Queenslayer to his list of monikers.
Brienne of Tarth
Gwendoline Christie took a character who could’ve existed solely in the background of this already crowded show and elevated her to a beloved badass who bests The Hound and catches the eye of a ginger-haired Wildling named Tormund. Whether that ship sails in season eight is anyone’s guess but if you’re placing bets, best to not hope for a happily-ever-after for these two.
Christie told EW that we’ll be treated to more Brienne scenes than ever before this season but that comes at a cost.
The actress admitted that, when reading the script for this final season, she constantly expected to read her character’s death every couple of pages.
“I had to go for a very long walk,” Christie said. “A long walk and I did not stop. I had lots of questions. If there’s a character you care about and you feel like they go through some sort of hell you feel protective toward them.”
It sounds like Brienne is in for a rough time, and a romance with Tormund or Jaime would not fall into the “some sort of hell” category guys.
The Night King
The Night King might be responsible for some of our favorite characters’ deaths before the show ends, but the actor who plays him, Vladimir Furdik, is a true gift. Unlike the rest of the cast, Furdik doesn’t seem to have gone through the necessary media training of what not to say before the final season premieres.
In an interview with EW, Furdik let slip that the villain only has one thing on his mind: vengeance.
“He never wanted to be the Night King. I think he wants revenge,” Furdik said. And when it comes to that dish best served cold, he’s got a specific target in mind.
“People will see he has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is. There’s also that moment [in “Hardhome”] when Jon Snow was on the boat and the Night King looked at him and raised his arms — there’s a similar and even stronger moment between Jon and the Night King this time.”
It’s unlikely Jon Snow is the target Furdik is alluding to. The two have faced off numerous times already. More likely, it’s Bran, who’s been time-traveling for a few seasons now and has f*cked things up royally more than once. Perhaps Bran is the reason why the Night King exists? If so, the kid’s going to have to come out of his mellow high long enough to set things right.