On April 14, HBO will broadcast the first episode of Season 8, the final season of Game of Thrones. All dedicated, borderline-obsessed GOT fans will then have the chance to savor six new episodes that will wrap up the TV version of the story of the Targaryens, Lannisters, and Starks. (Don’t even get me started on when we might get the next installment of George R.R. Martin’s book series that launched the TV show, which has been the subject of almost as much speculation as the Mueller Report.)
I’m interested in seeing exactly how the story comes out, of course. (Hey, I sure hope the living somehow defeat the Night King and his Army of the Dead!) Mostly, though, I’m just curious about who is going to even survive until the story’s end. There are so many characters on the show it’s hard to remember and list all of them, as we realized when we were talking about the show with friends over the weekend. (Don’t forget Grey Worm, or Tormund Giantsbane, or Podrick Payne, or Eddison Tollett of the Night’s Watch!) And one thing has been clear about Game of Thrones from the beginning, whether you’re talking about the books or the TV show — even leading characters get knocked off with Grim Reaper-like regularity. And since it’s the last season, I’m guessing we can expect a real bloodbath, and maybe a colossal battle or two in which multiple characters that have gotten a lot of screen time get mowed down.
Because it’s clear that many characters are going to be stabbed, hacked, hung, immolated by dragons, poisoned, or have their throats deftly cut by Arya Stark, I find myself putting the characters into death-related categories. There are the characters that need to get killed to satisfy the bloodlust of the viewing audience (Cersei Lannister, Euron Greyjoy, the Mountain, and Qyburn, Cersei’s evil wizard/chemist/mad scientist), characters that you know are going to bite it at some point, but at least are likely to die in heroic fashion (Beric Dondarrion, Brienne of Tarth, Ser Jorah Mormont, Varys, Theon Greyjoy, and probably Gendry, King Robert’s hammer-wielding bastard son), and characters that you would be really angry to see get killed but you know deep in your heart that it could happen because the show likes to throw shockers at you (Tyrion Lannister and Arya Stark). There are characters that you don’t want to get killed but, if they must, you hope that they get some richly deserved revenge first (Asha Greyjoy and the Hound). But what about the Khaleesi? Jon Snow? Sansa Stark? Missandei? Ser Davos Seaworth, my favorite? Creepy white-eyed Bran?
One of the great things about Game of Thrones is its utter unpredictability, from the point Ned Stark got beheaded through the Red Wedding to the present. And we’ve got less than three weeks to go before we start finding out.