Season 7 of Game of Thrones was intense from start to finish, with major characters coming together for the very first time after many years far apart. With the Great War between the people of Westeros and the White Walkers looming, the squabbling for the Iron Throne never felt less important than throughout the seventh season. Alliances were made, bonds were broken, and a lot of people died to set up the upcoming eighth and final season of the series.
Season 7 ended all the way back in August 2017, so fans have had plenty of time to think about what's to come. Read on for our breakdown of what we definitely know so far about the final season of Game of Thrones!
HBO took its sweet time in releasing the first (and possibly only, considering the showrunners' views on trailers) trailer for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. The footage raised more questions than delivered answers, but it points toward a truly epic batch of episodes to wrap up the series. Take a look:
What's going to happen? No fan can say for sure at this point. Is it going to be a wild and exciting ride? Absolutely. The countdown has begun! It's difficult to guess how much of the footage is from the first episode and how much is from later, but I have to doubt that HBO would release footage from too far into the season. We'll find out soon enough.
When Will Game Of Thrones Season 8 Premiere?
The wait for Season 8 has been far too long for many fans. Spanning more than a year, the hiatus following the killer cliffhanger, bombshell reveal, and incestuous hookup is finally coming to an end in the not-too-distant future. The first episode of Season 8, which begins with an event years in the making, will air Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. The premiere will be the shortest episode of Season 8, according to the official run times released by HBO, but it will be a relief after the show was off the air for more than a year and a half.
Why Is It Ending?
Fans of the book series on which Game of Thrones is based were probably not surprised to learn that the show would come to an end after eight seasons, but others might have been taken aback that HBO is willing to end the series that is arguably the biggest thing on TV from the past decade. Showrunner David Benioff has revealed that he and co-showrunner Dan Weiss pitched Game of Thrones as one giant story from the beginning rather than as an ongoing series. The show has been building to a conclusion from the very beginning. The finale made Kit Harington cry more than once, and plenty of characters will probably have bitten the dust by then.
How Many Episodes Are Left?
Season 7 was the shortest season of Game of Thrones to date, clocking in at only seven episodes compared to the usual 10. Well, Season 8 will be even shorter. The final season will run for only six episodes, which means that an awful lot of action will have to be packed into each. The good news is that almost all of the episodes of Season 8 will go above the one-hour mark. From Episode 3 all the way to the end, installments will run for at least 1:18.
Can We Expect Any More Spoilers?
HBO has kept a tight lid on spoilers for Season 8, even employing a drone killer to prevent aerial shots from leaking. Of course, epic battle sequences are on too grand of scale to be kept entirely secret, and the final weeks ahead of the premiere will likely see more spoilers hit the web. Furthermore, HBO programming president Casey Bloys has revealed that Thrones will be filming multiple endings in case of leaks, so we may not need to worry about the grand finale getting spoiled. Hopefully HBO won't have to deal with any more leaks and hacks during Season 8.
Who Will Be Back?
All the major cast members whose characters survived the end of Season 7 will be back: Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Maisie Williams, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, John Bradley, Conleth Hill, Liam Cunningham, and Gwendoline Christie.
Expect Alfie Allen back as Theon, Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei, Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm, Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont, Hannah Murray as Gilly, Rory McCann as The Hound, Carice van Houten as Melisandre, Jerome Flynn as Bronn, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Gregor Clegane, Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne, and Rupert Vansittart as Yohn Royce.
Joe Dempsie is in the mix as Gendry, who finally stopped rowing in order to go for a run, and hopefully fans will finally get that Gendry/Arya reunion. The trailer confirmed the survival of two characters whose fates were uncertain as of the end of Season 7: Beric Dondarrion and Tormund. So, Richard Dormer and Kristofer Hivju will be back as well! A guy who looks an awful lot like Dolorous Edd of the Night's Watch appears as well, so let's assume that Ben Crompton is back as well. Oh, and then there's the Night King, played by Vladimir Furdik.
If the leaked cast list for the Season 8 premiere is accurate, we can also say that Gemma Whelson is back as Yara Greyjoy, Tobias Menzies is back as Edmure Tully, Lino Facioli as Robin Arryn, and Bella Ramsey as the spitfire not-hated-at-all Lyanna Mormont, among others. A bunch of new characters were cast. Wilf Scolding could be back as Rhaegar Targaryen, unless his post from Belfast is a huge coincidence! If Scolding is back as Rhaegar, the odds are good that Aisling Franciosi will be back as Lyanna Stark.
Alas, the cat actor playing Ser Pounce will not be around. Tommen's pet cat is no longer among the living. Then again, neither is Khal Drogo, and that hasn't stopped speculation that Jason Momoa will be back! Meera Reed may be out, if Ellie Kenrick didn't get some good news since revealing that she hadn't gotten the call for Season 8.
What Is Season 8's Big Battle?
Game of Thrones traditionally features one huge battle episode each season, with Season 6's "Battle of the Bastards" setting the gold standard for a truly cinematic fight sequence on the small screen. The specifics about the Season 8 battle episode haven't been unveiled just yet, although the episode will reportedly be action from start to finish, with "Battle of the Bastards" director Miguel Sapochnik back at the helm.
Assistant director Jonathan Quinlan illuminated the sheer magnitude of the episode with a social media post that described "55 straight nights" of filming, involving "the cold, the snow, the rain, the mud, the sheep shit" in "sub-freezing temperatures." Now, ahead are a few spoilers, so skip to the next entry if you don't want any info about the where of the battle!
The big Season 8 battle is going down at Winterfell, and locals reported the set going up in flames during filming. It appears that Winterfell will burn -- or at least partly burn -- in Season 8. Is my theory that Dany deliberately roasts Winterfell after it is overrun by White Walkers going to come true? End spoilers.
Will Dany's Vision Ever Come True?
Remember way back in Season 2, when Dany entered the House of the Undying in Qarth to try and find her dragons? Well, during her visit, she had a series of visions, including one of King's Landing. In that particular vision, winter has definitely come to the Red Keep, as she finds the Great Hall destroyed and devoid of life. The ceiling is plainly ruined, as snow has fallen throughout the room.
This seemed like a prophetic vision back in Season 2, but the show is about to premiere Season 8, and Dany still hasn't gone as far south as King's Landing. That said, reports circulated that the Great Hall set on the show was going to be destroyed. Wouldn't it make sense for the set to be destroyed in order to rebuild it into the desolate place Dany saw in her vision? We can't say for sure at this point, but the odds aren't terrible.
Where We Left Off: The Lannisters
There aren't too many Lannisters left as of the end of Season 7, with only Cersei, Jaime, and Tyrion still kicking around the Seven Kingdoms. Tyrion has been Team Dany for the last several seasons, and he spent most of Season 7 functioning -- or at least attempting to function -- as Hand of the Queen. It's thanks to his inside knowledge of King's Landing and his sister's brand of crazy that Dany and Co. were able to appeal for a temporary truce in the war for the Iron Throne.
Tyrion did learn that Cersei is pregnant in the Season 7 finale, which could impact his decisions in Season 8. He has no love for his sister, but he did love his niece and nephew (yes, I'm ignoring Joffrey here), and he loves Jaime. He may not want to endanger the bun in the oven. (For any who doubted that Cersei really is pregnant, her claim was confirmed.)
Jaime was firmly Team Cersei for most of Season 7, as the reveal of her pregnancy pretty much guaranteed his loyalty. It was only the arrival of the wight and news of the forthcoming Great War that got Jaime to abandon Cersei and join Dany to battle the White Walkers. He might come to his senses when surrounded by the likes of Brienne and Tyrion rather than manipulated by Cersei.
As for Cersei... well, it took convincing, but she finally agreed to Dany's proposal for a temporary truce to battle the White Walkers. At least, she pretended to agree. While Dany and her forces march north, Cersei has sent Euron Greyjoy to retrieve the Golden Company mercenaries to attack her enemies from behind. Cersei is still very much Team Cersei, and she's going to be bad news in Season 8.
Where We Left Off: The Starks
For the first time in years, more than two Stark kids were together at the same time without one being immediately killed off. (Way to not serpentine, Rickon!) That said, Bran was not exactly the boy he once was, as his transformation into the Three-Eyed Raven seemed to involve the loss of a lot of his personality. He came through for his sisters in the finale when he used his abilities to give evidence of Littlefinger's guilt, but his primary function seems to be exposition, as he was the one to finally definitively prove that Jon is indeed the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark.
Sansa has really come into her own as the Lady of Winterfell, running the North while Jon was off with Dany at Dragonstone. While some of her moves were... questionable and she was influenced by Littlefinger throughout the season, she ultimately revealed that she's a lot smarter than Littlefinger gave her credit for. Rather than turning on Arya in the finale, she finally forced Littlefinger to face all of his transgressions throughout the series, and she ordered his execution, which was swiftly carried out by Arya with Littlefinger's own dagger. She is now the unquestionable Lady of Winterfell.
For her part, Arya was happy to return to Winterfell in Season 7, but she didn't leave her past as no one behind. Her kill list still seems to be in effect, and she wasn't exactly hiding her fighting abilities, as her fantastic sparring session (featuring an epic move by Maisie Williams herself) with Brienne was out in the open. She was led to believe that Sansa was a traitor due to Littlefinger, and she totally creeped out her sister when Sansa discovered one of her faces. Luckily, the sisters banded together by the end of the season, and they're a united front going into Season 8.
Where We Left Off: The Targaryens
For the first time since Viserys' death in the first season, we can officially count more than one Targaryen on the series. The Season 7 finale definitively confirmed that Jon Snow is no bastard of the North. Instead, thanks to the marriage of Rhaegar and Lyanna, he's a legitimate Targaryen whose birth name was Aegon.
Despite an antagonistic relationship with Dany early on in Season 7, he came to regard her as his queen, and he's given up his claim as King in the North to join Team Dany. As the one person who has been taking the threat of the White Walkers seriously from almost the very beginning, he now has allies who actually believe him, which bodes well. Also, he hooked up with Dany in the finale, which he's probably going to feel pretty great about... until he finds out that they're related. Then again, he is a Targaryen by birth. Maybe he'll come around to the whole incest thing.
Dany came a long way in Season 7. She didn't put much faith in Jon's claims about the White Walkers until she saw them for herself (and lost one of her dragons in the process). She changed her priorities from destroying Cersei's forces and roasting her enemies alive to leading the fight against the army of the dead. With her two remaining dragons and her armies of Unsullied and Dothraki, she represents the Seven Kingdoms' best hope for surviving the winter.
The show revealed her belief that she can't have kids in Season 7, which means that Season 8 will likely either see her discovering that she's pregnant courtesy of her hookup with her nephew or she'll name a successor to the Iron Throne, who would probably be her nephew. Mirri Maz Duur was a witch about to be burned alive by Dany when she apparently made her prophecy about Dany never having kids, so Dany may discover that she's not quite as barren as she believed. We'll have to wait and see.
Where We Left Off: The Great War
The Great War began in earnest in the final episodes of Season 7. It was beginning to feel like the White Walkers would never actually lead their army of the dead into the Seven Kingdoms, but the Night King finally got the means to mount his attack when he shot one of Dany's dragons out of the sky. The Night King was able to reanimate Viserion and use the undead dragon to blast down a section of the Wall at Eastwatch, opening the way into the Seven Kingdoms. The army of the dead now has a way to move south, which is very bad news for the people of the North. They were already facing a harsh winter with a potential shortage of food; now the White Walkers and their wights are on the move.
What Wild Cards Are Left?
One key player on Game of Thrones who is not yet accounted for is none other than the red priestess Melisandre. She returned to Volantis in Season 7, telling Varys that she would be back because it's her destiny to die in Westeros. One theory suggests that Melisandre could return with an army of slave soldiers from the temple of the Lord of Light in Volantis. She may still have a part to play with the inevitable Azor Ahai reveal as well.
Jaime Lannister is a bit of a wild card. His loyalties are being pulled in two different directions, as common sense tells him that Cersei is making a mistake, but he does genuinely love her. If the pressure gets to him in Season 8, he could very well snap and fulfill the valonqar prophecy about Cersei's death. Then again, he could just give up on Cersei forever and hang out with Brienne. Stranger things have happened.
Theon Greyjoy is still in the mix. He left Dany and Co. in the Season 7 finale to go after Yara, who had been captured by their uncle Euron. Given that Euron is apparently working to ferry the Golden Company to Westeros for Cersei, Theon could be instrumental in revealing to Dany and Jon that Cersei has plans of her own. If he manages to rescue Yara, their odds of success are even better.
How Will Game Of Thrones Continue?
Game of Thrones will be done after the Season 8 finale, but that won't necessarily be the end of Westeros for fans. A prequel is actively in the works at HBO, and a bunch of actors have already been cast. Unsurprisingly, not a ton of details are available about the characters, but it's enough to know that the prequel is in development, right?
The A Song of Ice and Fire book saga is technically still ongoing as well, although it's beginning to feel like George R.R. Martin will never finish Winds of Winter. Martin has said that there "may be important discrepancies" between what goes down on the show and what goes down in Winds of Winter, so viewers won't necessarily know how the story will end in the books!
Tune in to HBO on Sunday, April 14 at 9 p.m. ET for the first episode of the last season of Game of Thrones. If you're still in the market for other viewing options, check out our midseason TV premiere schedule.