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Warning: MAJOR SPOILERS ahead for Episode 3 of Game of Thrones Season 8. Seriously, if you haven’t caught the episode yet and don’t want to know who died, check out some of our spoiler-free articles until you have the chance to tune in. Otherwise, proceed!
If there’s one episode that Game of Thrones fans have been simultaneously dreading and dying to see, it’s the Battle of Winterfell that promised to pit the forces of the living against the Night King’s army of the dead. Considering that the “forces of the living” included almost every single notable character and the Night King’s army of the dead likely included giants and creatures on top of people -- not to mention Viserion -- the conflict was always bound to be the biggest and deadliest in the series to date.
Even before news broke that the battle was filmed over 55 straight nights of miserable shoots and Winterfell was likely to at least partly burn, the showdown between the living and the dead was going to be epic and deadly. Well, the episode finally aired, and we finally know the characters who survived the battle of the dead and who bit the dust. (Or snow, as the case may be.)
Prepare yourself for some devastation and read on for our rundown of the characters who died in Episode 3’s Battle of Winterfell, in order that they fell.
Dolorous Edd, we barely knew ye. The last true man of the Night's Watch who never broke his vows was the first major casualty of The Great War against the Night King's forces, but at least he died well. He was part of the army in the field against the first wave of wights, and it was pure chaos on every side. Sam was on the ground and moments away from certain death when his brother from the Night's Watch came in with the save. Alas, in saving Sam, Edd was too distracted to save his own life. Edd is dead.
Everybody's favorite adolescent Northern lady was in the thick of the battle, looking fierce and badass in her armor as she refused to hide in the crypts with the children and non-fighters. Sadly, this is Game of Thrones, and the badass fierce kids don't have plot armor. Struggling to hold the gate with her people from Bear Island, her efforts were thwarted thanks to a wight giant. He knocked her down hard enough that she wasn't getting up, then picked her up and squeezed her to death. Luckily, Lyanna had one more trick up her sleeve: the giant picked her up to its eye level, and she was able to stab it in the face and take it down.
Beric Dondarrion died yet again, and finally for the last time. He teamed up with the Hound for the Battle of Winterfell, and he too started out in the field. He survived the initial onslaught and had to try and get the terrified Hound into the fight once behind the walls. The Hound was petrified... until they both saw Arya fleeing for her life, and that was enough to get them both into action. They found Arya -- bloody, woozy, and wounded -- in the halls of Winterfell, and Beric gave his life in saving hers. He may have made some questionable choices, but he died well.
If one character in Game of Thrones got a true redemption arc and earned it, that character would have to be Theon Greyjoy. Known in earlier seasons for his treachery and overall bad judgment when he took Winterfell and killed two innocent boys in the Stark boys' place, he suffered tremendously at the hands of Ramsay Bolton, but recovered himself enough to help Sansa escape. A couple of seasons later, and Theon joined the rest of the good guys at Winterfell for the last stand against the dead, and his promise to defend Bran the way he didn't in years earlier saved Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven. He wound up stabbed through the belly and killed, but he has the (admittedly, somewhat dubious) honor of being killed by the Night King himself.
Yes, the Night King fell, and not in a way many of us could have precisely anticipated. Arya was the one to kill him. She seemed all but beaten when she and the Hound were stuck hiding from wights with the returned Melisandre, but Melisandre reminded her of the words Syrio Forel taught her so long ago, about what we say to the god of death: "Not today." So, Arya managed to find her way into the godswood just in time and ran at the Night King. He grabbed her and seemed certain to kill her, stopping her hand before she stabbed him in the face with her Valyrian steel dagger. Our Arya is too well-trained for that, though; she dropped the dagger into her other hand and stabbed him the way. The Night King is dead.
Ser Jorah Mormont died as he would have wanted to: in defense of his queen and khaleesi. Dany was on the ground after Drogon was swarmed by wights, and he had to take off to shake them off. He wasn't able to come back for Dany, but Jorah found her and saved her before she could be killed by the undead. Dany pitched in when she got her hands on a dragonglass blade. Alas, Ser Jorah had fought his last battle. He lasted long enough for the Night King to fall and for him to know that he'd saved his beloved queen. He died well, having redeemed himself, and Dany's reaction was heartbreakingly genuine. Of course, House Mormont is now in ruins, but that's hardly the point at the moment.
It was bold of Melisandre to turn up at Winterfell when there were a number of people present who had reason to want her dead, including Ser Davos, who vowed to kill Melisandre if she returned because of what she did to Shireen. Well, she didn't ride in Helms Deep-style, but she did light the Dothraki weapons on fire to give them a fighting chance against the wight army, and it's not her fault they were massacred anyway. She was instrumental in lighting the fire trench, and her words were what made Arya realize that it was up to her to kill the blue-eyed Night King. She did promise Ser Davos that there would be no need to execute her, as she'd be dead by dawn. She held true to that prediction; shortly before dawn broke, Melisandre exited Winterfell and removed her amulet, wasting away and finally dying for good.
Not all deaths have to be of major characters to nonetheless be hugely impactful. Viserion perished along with all the other wights after the Night King was killed, and no matter how you feel about the dragons, you have to admit that undead Viserion blasting his icy breath everywhere and wreaking havoc looked pretty cool. Honestly, he almost looked cooler after Rhaegal ripped a few holes through his throat. R.I.P. this time, Viserion.
The Dothraki were the first force to be annihilated in Episode 3, but their deaths were not in vain. After Melisandre used her magic to light their arakhs on fire for their charge against the dead army, they raced fearlessly into the darkness of the dead. The fiery weapons looked incredible; the way the fires were all extinguished as the Dothraki was terrifying to viewers and the folks watching from afar, and it definitely set the tone.
The Unsullied lost a number of their ranks as well, although Grey Worm survived, against many expectations. They fought bravely and defended the soldiers on the field as they fled back to the walls of Winterfell, and the death toll would be far higher if not for their efforts.
Finally, let's give out a shout-out the the non-fighters and children who sought refuge down in the crypt for the battle. As many predicted, the dead Starks rose from their tombs when the Night King took a moment to resurrect all the dead who had fallen. Did it make a ton of sense that long-dead and decomposed bodies were able to break out of their stone tombs and wreak havoc? Not really. Still, it looked cool, and for that, the crypt victims did not die in vain.
A lot of people did die in the Battle of Winterfell, but there were some survivors than many fans likely expected to die. Sure, characters like Theon and Ser Jorah were always probably going to die. Characters like Brienne, Gendry, and Grey Worm, though? I think fans must have spent the last week praying to the old gods, the new gods, and making sacrifices to the Lord of Light to guarantee those characters made it through.
There are still big questions about the battle, and we can only hope that Game of Thrones has enough time left in the remaining three episodes to answer at least some of them. The actual game of thrones of Game of Thrones has yet to be resolved. The end of Episode 2 saw Daenerys learn that Jon is actually Aegon Targaryen, giving him a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne under the Targaryen line of succession.
In fact, Jon has a better claim than Dany in the Targaryen line, but few viewers are probably surprised that she didn’t mention that. Jon never seemed to want the Iron Throne, and I don’t see that changing unless Dany really does go full Mad Queen Daenerys, and even then I suspect he might be just self-aware enough to realize that neither he nor any of the other potential claimants would actually be a good solo ruler.
My prediction that nobody will sit the Iron Throne and a democracy will be established isn’t so wild at this point, is it?
Of course, there’s still Cersei and her 20,000 Golden Company soldiers. She may have underestimated Euron Greyjoy, and surely the story of her pregnancy isn’t finished yet. There are undoubtedly still more deaths to come before the series comes to an end; hopefully the remaining episodes won’t be quite as much of bloodbaths as the Battle of Winterfell. My heart can only take so much.
Honestly, the only bad thing about the Battle of Winterfell being over and finally answering the question of who would perish in the climactic battle against the dead is that we now have to start worrying about the characters that were already extremely likely to survive Winterfell. Jon and Dany’s survival odds, for example, just went way down.
The final three episodes of Game of Thrones will air the next three Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO. Be sure to weigh in on who you’ll miss the most after their heartbreaking, epic, and/or terrifying deaths in the Battle of Winterfell.