Game of Thrones Season 8 marks the end of a journey that began many, many years ago. Decades for the original fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. And as Game Of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss near their endgame, we’ve decided to offer our best educated guesses about who’ll live and who’ll die in the final season.
Just remember, valar morghulis.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington)
Aye, we begin this article by recognising that our beloved King in the North will join the last Stark to hold such a title in the crypts beneath Winterfell. This is not an easy prediction, as Jon Snow has grown into the type of high-fantasy hero we can all root for… which is why he’s doomed. George R.R. Martin’s fiction is predicated on the grim reality that life doesn’t work out like it does in the storybooks and songs. Aragorn might have married the love of his life and ruled on high at the end of Lord Of The Rings, but it is for that very reason that Jon Snow never will.
The happy ending is of course for Jon Snow to marry his Aunt Daenerys and bring peace to the realm by uniting the North and Southron lords, fire and ice. But every time a Stark heads south, it always ends in calamity. Jon’s real name might be Aegon Targaryen, but he is a Stark through-and-through (just ask his brothers in black who stuck him at the Wall). His place is in the North, hence why his story could never be a happy one as King of the Seven Kingdoms alongside his lady love. Jorah Mormont might’ve foreshadowed that Jon Snow will have children and grandchildren in season seven, but Beric Dondarrion in the same episode reminded Jon that they’re on borrowed time. As men who’ve cheated death, the happiness of the world is not theirs to partake in. After Jon Snow’s job is done at stopping the White Walkers, the God of Death will have his due, and the crows will feast.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
Yet I do not believe a song even as sorrowful as this one prescribed to Ice and Fire will end in complete despair. There must be hope for the future, and that destiny will manifest is the visage of the monarch most equipped to rule. Everything Daenerys Targaryen and her legion of titles has endured over the past seven seasons has prepared her to be the rare thing: a Just Queen. As a woman who has earned hard-won wisdom alongside her battlefield victories in Essos, she has risen from the bottom to the top while seeing the price associated with that and every alleged triumph.
She alone will be able to unite what’s left of Westeros after this is over in some semblance of order. I also think she is the only woman equipped to see the bigger picture. She promised to break the wheel, and if she does not have human children (or even if she does by a father who, like Rhagear Targaryen, will not know his final offspring), she may realise the future is best built not on kings and queens but some rudimentary form of democracy. Tyrion Lannister hinted as much to her in season seven when asking her to think of the Kingsmoot on the Iron Islands and the way the Wall selects new Lord Commanders. She will instigate Westeros’ own renaissance by forming some type of parlimentary system and rule without a husband, like Elizabeth, at least when the final credits end. After all, she is in part inspired by Henry VII, the Tudor King who ended the Hundreds Years war, and whose granddaughter Elizabeth ushered in Britain’s Golden Age.
Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
How can she not? Sansa Stark has suffered perhaps more than any character and has come out stronger on the other side. She also wears power much more comfortably than her half-brother/cousin Jon Snow. After Jon has fallen, there must be a Stark in Winterfell, and neither Arya or Bran appear equipped or interested in running their childhood home. As Arya says, the title of Lady of Winterfell suits Sansa. Similar to Daenerys, Sansa’s long and cruel road has prepared her for not only surviving but thriving in this unforgiving land, turning her from naive girl to perhaps an overly cynical but cunning young woman. She outmanoeuvred Petyr Baelish, and she will ensure that her family and whatever is left of Winterfell lives on to the next generation.
She would also make an excellent Warden of the North.
Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)
George R.R. Martin has admitted that his wife told him if he ever killed off Arya Stark, she would divorce him. We believe him too, because we’d be just as mad as she is. Arya Stark, alongside Tyrion Lannister, might be the best protagonist in the whole series and she deserves better than death or feudal gender-norms servitude.
For that reason, we suspect after the wars are over, she’ll do what she intended to do back in season six while on the run from the House of Black and White: She’ll charter a ship, now with Stark money and influence, and sail west into that great horizon. Like a Westerosi Christopher Columbus, she’ll seek an undiscovered country. In our head-canon, they might even name whatever she finds as Aryica or Aryiana… In any event, her destiny is not to be the lady of a castle or mother to strapping sons. That’s not her. She will follow the beat of her own drum after she knows Sansa and Winterfell is safe and will return one day as a conquering hero, we’re sure. The God of Death inevitably will have business with her, but as she’ll tell him in her own time during season eight, that business is not today.
Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright)
Bran Stark is just coming into his own as the new Three-Eyed Raven. His arc will not be complete until he uses his warging superpowers to complete a few things: prove that Jon Snow is really half-Targaryen to all the world, warg into icy Viserion to stop him from completely totally decimating Winterfell, and fight in the great final battle. Bran is pretty safe since he is destined to replace the Three-Eyed Raven as the old man in the Heart Tree.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)
In my dream scenario, Tyrion lives on past this story and becomes the equivalent of Daenerys’ first prime minister. But in my heart of hearts, I don’t foresee Tyrion Lannister getting his happily ever after, which is power and respect for his capabilities. Indeed, he has gotten both in recent seasons and has handled them poorly much to Dany’s chagrin. This might be in part due to him being more suited as a peacetime Hand of the Queen as opposed to a wartime one, or it could be simply a result of pulling his punches when his adversaries are related by blood. Either way, this consistent failing will likely prove fatal in the final several episodes of Game Of Thrones when the true enemy moves from being an ice king with actual frost in his veins to an ice queen with figuratively chilled arteries.
He seems destined to make a mistake that, much like his historic counterpart in Richard III, will result in his being unjustly branded a total monster by history after an ignominious end. This death, perhaps even more so than a second one experienced by Jon Snow, will be the one to truly break audiences like a skull against the Mountain’s hands.
Varys (Conleth Hill)
Part of me would like to imagine the delight of Varys surviving to serve Daenerys as the nigh eternal Master of Whispers. He survived the fall of her father, and the fact that he plotted against her while beholden to the man who usurped her family, and has now persevered past her suspicion too. However, the Red Woman said they were both destined to die in this foreign land, and I believed her. Sooner rather than later.
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
Brienne of Tarth is that mythical thing completely alien to Westeros: a perfect knight. She remains ever true to her oaths and her loyalties, and she has completed the seeming impossible by seeing Sansa and Arya both safely returned to Winterfell. She also will survive the onslaught of the ice zombies to come, because Sansa will need strong and trustworthy women to defend Winterfell when spring finally blooms. I do not expect that Brienne will have the romantic happily ever after that so many fans dream for her, yet she will live on, which is something to be happy about.
Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman)
Nothing better happen to Podrick. Nothing!
Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey)
Lady Lyanna Mormont… die? On Game Of Thrones?! Pfft, it’s more likely she’ll be on the Iron Throne by the finale than she will be in the ground. And she’ll do it all with only her Fightin’ 62 too!
Ser Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham)
The grounds of Winterfell will be littered with beloved characters’ corpses after the third episode. And there is then yet another more mysterious battle to come in the fifth episode. Ser Davos Seaworth does not seem likely to survive both as a man more prepared for life at sea than with a sword in his hand. His demise would also be a perfect one to ratchet up dread in audiences.
Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju)
Like Davos, Tormund has gone about as far as his arc needs. Lest there is a great romance between him and Brienne we’ve yet to see (unlikely), his journey has been about making peace with the Northerners south of the Wall and giving Jon Snow a reason to trust and fight with the wildlings. What few wildlings are left after Hardhome have found a resassuring Stark-king as their ally.
I suspect Tormund will make it to the fifth episode when the wars turn our focus from the North to the south. There is also the likelihood he will fortuitously avoid most of the conflict at Winterfell in the third episode, and it would be a sight for a wildling to experience the scale and decadence of King’s Landing. I just don’t suspect he’ll leave there.
Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer)
As Beric told Jon Snow in season seven, this world is not for them, men who’ve cheated death. Plus, there’s the fact he’s already dead, dead (and for good) in the books. Seems like a sure body for Benioff and Weiss to build foundations upon.
The Hound (Rory McCann)
The Hound is a man who longs for a good death with the corpses of a hundred enemies, preferably desecrated, around him. He’ll get it too, although those corspes may be very much alive. As a man who despises fire, he’ll be in a precarious situation when fire is his best defense against an Army of the Dead. Still, he is about as useful in a world of peace as a battle hammer. Whatever world comes next will not be his to make, and the emotional trauma of seeing the Hound dying on the side of a hill again, this time for real while young Arya watches on, is too emotionally-wrenching not to exploit.
Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)
Ser Jorah is ready to die a happy man. Just last season, he sacrificed a lifetime of pain to defeat Greyscale and return to Daenerys’ services. A hug from the queen he once coveted will have to suffice for all his longing, and now he is committed in her protection to the bitter end. And it will be very bitter since the Game of Thrones season eight trailer shows Jorah on horesback leading the first wave of defenses against the White Walkers. His death is unlikely to be a pleasant one. Not that he’d have it any other way at this point.
Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel)
If my speculations are robbing Daenerys of her new love and her most trusted adviser, then surely in this scenario at least her other closest confidante and bestie has to live… right?!
Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson)
On the other hand, there will still be tragedy to go around. Grey Worm, like old Ser Jorah, appears to be leading the defenses of Winterfell during the battle against the dead. I don’t like his odds.
Samwell Tarly (John Bradley)
Samwell Tarly must live if for no other reason than to show up all those old maesters at Oldtown by writing the definitive history of their era: A Game Of Thrones. See what they set up there? Plus, he’s likely to be pardoned from his vows and made Lord of Horn Hill now that his brother and father are dust in the wind.
Gilly (Hannah Murray)
Why would they kill off Gilly? That would just be too cruel. She’ll make a lovely lady of Horn Hill!
Gendry (Joe Dempsie)
Not only will Gendry live, but the lad shall thrive, dammit! He will carry on the Baratheon name after Daenerys or Jon grants him full rights, and as he takes over Storm’s End with a hammer in his hand while the ghost of ol’ Bobby Baratheon will be laughing, gregariously, somewhere out there in the ether.
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen)
It’s really the only way to redeem himself at this point, no? He’s betrayed the Starks, a fact which Jon Snow indicated in season seven will never be truly forgiven, and he failed the only person besides maybe Sansa who cares if he lives or dies, his sister Yara. Saving her Yara will be Theon’s last act and penance for a promising life squandered.
Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan)
Theon is lost, and lest the Greyjoy line is too, Yara will live on to again bend the knee to Daenerys and salvage the reputation of her wretched family.
Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk)
You really think he is walking out of season eight as anything but a corpse?
Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton)
Now that we know the White Walkers elected to head south via Eastwatch-by-the-sea as opposed to Castle Black, I suspect Dolorous Edd is fairly safe. He and the Night’s Watch will probably prove crucial as a last minute savior during the Battle for the Dawn at Winterfell, and when the smoke clears someone we care about needs to be leading the Watchers on the Wall. Dolorous is the only one left, and he didn’t survive the Battle for the Wall to be taken out by a bloody wight!
Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick)
Not only will she live, but she’ll rather uncerimoniously not be included in season eight, which is odd as I suspect she has a much bigger role to play in the books where her father is alive and well, and can prove that Jon Snow is really Rhaegar and Lyanna’s son.
Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)
Jaime Lannister’s fate appears destined to be a tragic one. The fact he rides North alone suggests how precarious his place has become in the world. In his desire to finally live up to his early optimism and ideals, he has rid himself of the love of a sister who also holds the power of his home and lands. Now he will fight the good fight, but far away from anyone who might care if he lives or dies in that fight, except for Brienne.
Shippers will hope that can be enough for both of them, but I believe like all the Lannisters, Jaime is on a one-way road to perdition. Whether he has a hand in Cersei’s death or not, I suspect both will exit the world around the same time, just as how they entered it.
Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
The Many-Faced God of Death has long been due a life from the Red Keep, and in season eight he will collect. Indeed, Cersei Lannister has appeared doomed for many seasons now. In the last season alone, it felt like Benioff and Weiss had to bend logic for her to survive as long as she could with her enemies to the south in Highgarden and Dorne strangely and suddenly having no defenses. However, she has the full weight of the North and conquering Dragon Queen against her, as well as an Army of the Dead about to ravage southward. She has also proven to be a poor monarch, gaining her crown by blowing up thousands of her subjects. She seems as destined for a bloody end, just like the last Mad King to rule the Seven Kingdoms.
So the question isn’t so much if she will meet her demise in season eight, but how. Cersei has always feared that her undoing would be Tyrion Lannister, because Maggy the Frog, a witch she visited as a girl, suggested she’d be strangled by her “valonqar” (Valyrian for little brother). However, Jaime is also younger than her, if only by several minutes. Like many fans, I suspect her death could be at the hands of her lover who will duplicate his act of mercy for King’s Landing when he killed Aerys II, save that in this instance he’d follow the ruler to the other side in suicide. He would, after all, be murdering the mother of his children.
Other scenarios include that her fear of a younger queen having been misplaced on Margaery, as the real menace she faces came from the east in the form of Queen Daenerys. There is also the amusing idea of her being fed to the White Walkers like any who deny natural forces beyond their control. There really are many satisfying ways for Cersei to meet her fate, ergo it’ll probably be a surprising and unexpectedly depressing one, in keeping with the monkey’s paw-styled storytelling of George R.R. Martin. No matter how it happens though, one thing is clear: Cersei Lannister must die.
Ser Bronn of the Blackwater (Jerome Flynn)
Like any good cockroach, Bronn will outlive us all.
Ser Gregor Clegane (Hafþor Julius Bjornsson)
Prediction: Dies (Again?)
Does this really count since he kind of already died the long way sometime near the beginning of season five? Yes, the Red Viper made sure even if he did not win their duel—though he technically didn’t lose until he decided to showboat—that the Mountain would not walk away from his injuries. Nevertheless, Clegane rose again from the seeming dead as a Franken-Mountain Monster. My guess is that he will kill many, many, many of Cersei’s enemies before they finally put him back in the ground for good.
Qyburn (Anton Lesser)
Whoever is left alive when this is all over will not want this madman around. His fate is tied to Cersei’s, and well…
Edmure Tully (Tobias Menzies)
Assuming we even see him again in season eight, this poor and anemic lord will live on. Someone must carry on as patron lord of the riverlands, and for better or worse they’re stuck with Edmure since all the other Tullys (and blessedly the Freys) are dead. We could see Sansa or Jon putting in a good word for him so that some form of the old world carries over into the new one.
Melisandre (Carice van Houten)
How easy it would be to forget her. But oh, yes, Melisandre still has a role to play in this tale. I’m of two minds about Melisandre’s fate. She could be left until season eight like so many others. After all, she’s survived everything else for more decades (or centuries) than any of us previously realised! But I’m taken back to Melisandre’s nightmarish visions of Arya. She knows Arya may come to punch her ticket one day. And the Stark girl more than likely will. Ser Davos also has it out for the red witch, so should their paths converge in the latter half of the season (and they will), Melisandre’s fate will likely be as cold as the fiery one she inflicted on poor, sweet Shireen.
Drogon and Rhaegal
For there to be peace, dragons must leave this world again. Just as the majestic beasts that gave the Targaryens unchecked power 300 years ago eventually faded away, Drogon and Rhaegal will quite probably die in this season, leaving Westeros once more a land ruled by men instead of magic. These also might be the most painful deaths to watch if losing Viserion was any indication.
The Night King
There are those out there who speculate the show will end with the Night King ascending to his rightful place on the Iron Throne, at which point there will finally be peace. It’s a darkly humorous idea, but too ugly and mean-spirited, even for George R.R. Martin. With that said, I do not believe this icy lord can truly be destroyed. Like all acts of nature, he can be endured, survived, even thwarted, but one day he’ll be back. It may not be for another 8,000 years, but he’ll retreat to the Land of Always Winter… and descend again. Someone better start working on repairing that wall now.
Game Of Thrones season 8 starts on HBO in the US on Sunday the 14th of April and on Sky Atlantic here in the UK on Monday the 15th of April.