In Brief

Game of Thrones season 8: who will die and who will survive?

Researchers calculate the survival odds for the characters ahead of final series

The remaining Game of Thrones characters were preparing for death in the second episode of the final season this week.

Warring houses overcame their rivalries and gathered at Winterfell to fight the White Walkers. But, as Arya Stark declared, “We’re probably going to die soon.”

So who will go first and who might survive to sit on the Iron Throne?

Scientists have been busy calculating exactly that. Academics from Macquarie University in Sydney watched all 67 episodes from the first seven seasons and studied the deaths of the 186 main characters killed.

By recording the sociodemographic factors, time on the show before death and the circumstances of demise, they created predictors of mortality for the remaining cast.

Their research, published in the journal Injury Epidemiology, found that characters who have switched allegiances are 65% more likely to survive than those who remained loyal to their house.

More than half of the main characters (56%) had died by the end of the seventh season, and the survival time on screen for individual characters varied dramatically, ranging from 11 seconds to more than 57 hours.

Only two died from natural causes: Maester Aemon and Old Nan. The majority of deaths were caused by injury (mainly wounds to the head and neck), as well as poisoning and burns.

Tyrion Lannister is cited as the best example of a character who survived by switching allegiances from House Lannister to House Targaryen.

But the research “does not bode well” for Daenerys Targaryen, who has been loyal to her house throughout, says the Daily Mail.

Other deciding factors affecting survival odds included gender, status and prominence in the show. Women were around a fifth less likely to die than men, and “lowborn” characters were 28% more likely to die than those who are “highborn”. This would give Cersei Lannister and Sansa Stark higher odds of survival.

“There are not that many characters that fit that this description,” said the paper’s co-author Dr Reidar Lystad, an injury epidemiologist at the university’s Australian Institute of Health Innovation. “Being female and being highborn are actually independent factors. But, together, they obviously have a greater effect.”

He added: “I guess this isn’t uncommon if you look at the real world. Females have much lower mortality rates.”

So which of the three main contenders for the Iron Throne will make it to the end of the final series alive?

Daenerys Targaryen

Long seen as the favourite to end up on the Iron Throne, Daenerys is now within touching distance of her life-long dream. However, anyone who has watched Game of Thrones will know this is when a character is most vulnerable, meaning her frontrunner position could prove a curse as much as a blessing.

From dying in childbirth to becoming the Night Queen, Ranker has listed the top theories about her possible fate.

That said, “the version of Thrones that ends with Cersei Lannister’s regime still intact is pretty hard to see; the one in which Dany wins the day and ushers in a new dawn over the Seven Kingdoms, much easier indeed,” says The Hollywood Reporter.

“Positioning Dany as the second coming of Azor Ahai would also support her rise to power as part of the show’s greater themes of female empowerment,” writes Austen Goslin for Polygon.

“True, an ending to her story that allowed her to choose how the world would be saved would fit her noble suffering and eternal commitment to justice, but so would letting her make Jon the sacrifice so that she could rule Westeros as she has always intended to.”

Jon Snow

Jon Snow has already come back from the dead once and survived numerous other close shaves over the course of the series, so death at the hands the White Walkers may not mean the final end for the King of the North.

“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” says Den of Geek, “but every time a Stark heads south, it always ends in calamity”.

His attention has always been focused to the north and defeating the Night King. To this end most fans predict, given the choice between sacrificing himself to save the living and battling it out for control of Westeros, he will opt for the former.

Cersei Lannister

While all the surviving characters have had to fight for their place at the top table, none has shown more resilience or ruthless determination than Cersei.

Like Dany, she is one of the few characters still loyal to their house to have survived, which could count against her if the Macquarie University analysis is anything to go by.

“Cersei certainly lives life on the edge, and she will almost certainly die before the end of the series if Westeros is to see a peaceful future,” says Ranker, suggesting it could be her own brother Jaime to be the one that ends up killing her.

Most fan forums agree that Cersei remaining on the Iron Throne would mark an anti-climax to the series, yet it would be typical of the creators to finish the show with a dose of reality, after eight seasons of fantasy.

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