In Depth

Game of Thrones death toll reaches 150,966

A new video claims to show the demise of every living being in the show - but have some deaths slipped under the radar?

Game of Thrones: Will Khal Drogo return in season seven?

25 August

Jason Momoa has sent the internet into a frenzy with an Instagram post showing him and Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss in Belfast, with fans speculating that he could be returning to the hit show.

"Cheeeeehhoooooooooo. Guinness in Ireland. Drinking mothers milk With my brothers... Dan and David," the 37-year-old actor wrote alongside the photo. "Love ya GOT greatest show on earth ALOHA DROGO."

Despite the frenzy, Time says: "It seems more likely that Momoa is visiting Ireland mainly to tour the Guinness Brewery in Dublin, as he has posted several pictures of himself doing just that since his GoT reunion."

Game of Thrones season 7: Arya hints at what's to come

24 August

Games of Thrones star Maisie Williams has set fans' pulses racing with a number of tweets about the next series.

The actress, who plays Arya Stark in the HBO hit, took to Twitter to explain her emotional reaction upon reading the scripts for the new episodes.

Williams is "no stranger to the show's plot twists", says ScreenRant. "From the execution of Arya's father, Ned, in season one, to the notorious Red Wedding, the show is famous for its brutal character deaths. Williams must intimately understand some of these deaths herself, since Arya became a murderous vigilante after her father's death."

One person who hasn't read the scripts yet, or so he says, is Kit Harington, who plays Jon Snow. Nevertheless, he thinks things are "going to get very bleak" in season seven.

"It's important to stress at this point that I haven't had any scripts, so this is all guesswork for me" he told Hollywood Reporter. "I think it's going to get very bleak before, if there is a happy ending. If there's any sort of win or heroic moment for Jon and everyone else, I think it's going to get very dark before it gets better.

"I think what we might see this season is those White Walkers and that army of the dead really come into force. So that's going to be exciting to see. I don't know what it means. I think with the whole 'winter is finally here' business; it means everyone is going to have a really bad time."

Which all makes for an anxious few months' wait for fans - with season seven not expected to begin airing until the summer of 2017, there's plenty of time for speculation.

Game of Thrones: How Sophie Turner wants Sansa Stark to die

18 August

Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner has revealed how she would like HBO's hit series to end.

"A long, slow episode-lasting death, where it’s just one long scene of my death and no one else," the actress, who plays Sansa Stark, told Varsity.

Considering the show is infamous for killing off its main characters, it may not be a bad shout, says the magazine.

In the wide-ranging interview, Turner also explained how the cast have taken the news that the series will conclude after its eighth series.

"We kinda always knew it would be seven or eight seasons," she said. "It’s really sad. It’s really uncomfortable to think about my life without Game of Thrones. Not only has it been like a family - going to see a family every summer - but it’s also been a safety net."

Turner also isn’t sure about her own path post-Game of Thrones, saying: "When I finish this, I don't actually know what’s going to happen. I might slip into a deep, deep depression because I won’t know what to do with myself."

On a slightly cheerier note the actress did say that she had read the scripts for the new season and that she was pleased with the way her character developed, although she kept quiet on specifics.

"I actually don't know because of the way last season left off. There are so many options,” she teased, when asked to spill the beans. "She could run with Littlefinger and become a villain and sadistic. Or she could also team up with her brother Jon."

"Of course, one of these scenarios feels far more characteristic of the emboldened Stark," notes Time magazine.

Game of Thrones: Five theories for the third 'holy s*** moment'

17 August

Game of Thrones fans can look forward to at least one more major twist in the series.

The television show has overtaken author George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books and looks likely to diverge even more in the final two seasons, which showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are already planning.

Martin did, however, sit down with the two men a few years ago to share what they describe as his "three holy s*** moments".

We have now seen two of the three: Stannis Baratheon sacrificing his daughter Shireen and the true meaning behind Hodor's name. So what might the third be?

Benioff has said only that it is "from the very end". Here are five fan theories:

Samwell Tarly will end magic

Jon Snow's best pal Sam has now reached the Citadel, where he hopes to train as a maester and find a way to stop the White Walkers. One fan on Reddit suggests he might discover a way to "end magic". This would stop the White Walkers and their wights, but also kill Daenerys's dragons, take away Bran's powers and send Jon back to the dead. Martin has warned the ending will be "bittersweet", so it is certainly possible there will be some serious sacrifices.

A dragon under Winterfell

It has long been rumoured that a dragon might be living deep within the crypts of the Stark castle. Winterfell is built over hot springs, which appear only in other places associated with dragons. If Jon Snow is indeed a Targaryen, there might be a dragon waiting for him in the North.

Bran is the Night King

The Hodor storyline opened up a whole new dimension in Game of Thrones, making it possible for Bran to exist both in the present and the past, even influencing his surroundings in history. This has sparked several theories, including the idea that he turned King Aerys II Targaryen mad and that he is in fact Bran the Builder who constructed The Wall.

An even more "holy s***" theory is that Bran might be the Night King, the leader of the White Walkers who has existed since the age of the First Men. Old Nan, an elderly servant at Winterfell, used to tell Bran the story of the Night King, insisting he was originally a Stark. In the book, it is said Old Nan had lived so long "that all the Brandon Starks had become one person in her head". Or perhaps she knew more than she let on.

Jorah Mormont is Azor Ahai

The followers of R'hllor believe Azor Ahai, a legendary hero who wielded a burning sword, will return to help defeat the White Walkers. Stannis Baratheon, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen have all been proclaimed as Azor at one time or another, but some fans think it is in fact Jorah Mormont. Azor Ahai sacrificed his wife to strengthen the steel of his blade, leading some to believe Jorah might kill his one true love, Daenerys.

Benjen Stark is a traitor

Years after Benjen Stark disappeared beyond the Wall, he returned in season six, albeit half dead. He arrived just in the nick of time to save his nephew, Bran, from the wights, but was looking a little blue.

He explained he had been stabbed with a White Walker's sword, left to die and turn into a wight - a reanimated corpse. However, the Children of the Forest stopped the process by stabbing him in the heart with dragonglass and now he appears to be living a sort of half-life in the forest.

While he clearly helped Bran escape, fans are wondering if he has a more sinister motive. The theory is that he is actually working for the White Walkers and wants Bran to cross the Wall so they can all follow – after the Night King marked Bran's arm, he was able to bypass magical protection to reach him at the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, so could potentially bypass the magic of the Wall if Bran is on the other side.

Some have pointed out that Benjen claims he was working with the Children of the Forest and the Three-Eyed Raven, but that they conveniently never mentioned this to Bran the whole time he was there.

Game of Thrones: Twelve craziest theories for series seven

9 August

The finale to Game of Thrones season six was an emotional rollercoaster full of high-profile deaths, the confirmation of at least one fan theory about Jon Snow, the welcome return of the bad Cersei Lannister and vengeful Arya Stark and the advance of Daenerys Targaryen's fleet towards King's Landing.

As shell-shocked fans recover from the slew of dramatic events in The Winds of Winter, theories have already started to emerge about what will happen in season seven. Here are some of the best and oddest:

 

Cersei will become the Mad Queen

 

Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, told Entertainment Weekly that her character would be very unlikely to have a long, happy reign. "Not a chance in hell," she said. "It's a moment of punctuation in the madness."

 

Series creators David Benioff and DB Weiss say there is more reason than ever to fear Cersei now her children are dead. "While [she] has certainly done a lot of horrible things in her life and she could be a very cruel person, the one thing that was redemptive about her was she genuinely loved her children," says Weiss. "Now they're all gone... Who is she without her children? The answer is something you'll find out next season." Will Cersei take King Aerys's crown as the next mad monarch?

 

Jaime will kill Cersei

 

As George RR Martin's new book is yet to be published, it all remains speculation, but fans are pointing to clues gleaned from previous episodes to support this theory. With the untimely departure of Tommen, the prophecy that Cersei's children would all die has now come true. But Maggy the Frog also predicted that Cersei will be killed by a "little brother". Does this mean Cersei's own sibling or any old one? Other popular theories suggest Tyrion Lannister or Arya Stark will kill Cersei, but many believe there would be something poetic about Jaime seeing off his own twin and lover.

 

Arya will become Lady Stoneheart

 

In the books, Catelyn Stark is resurrected by a Red Priest after the Red Wedding, but unlike Jon's more successful comeback, Catelyn's sees her transformed into an eerie vengeful creature who joins the Band of Brothers with the sole mission of destroying the Freys. Creepy Catelyn did not make her mooted appearance in season six of the television show, which has led some to believe Arya will take on the Stoneheart role in season seven.

 

Bran will bring the White Walkers to Westeros

 

Bran Stark's flashbacks were at the centre of season six's key reveals, explaining the heart-breaking truth about Hodor and hinting at the real parentage of Jon Snow. Hopefully there will be more to come in season seven. Actor Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran, doesn't know what's in store but predicts there will be a Stark reunion where he tells Jon about his true family.

 

"I don't know how Bran's going to break it to Jon," he told Hollywood Reporter. "He hasn't seen him in years. 'Hey, yeah, by the way, I'm a tree wizard now and dad's not your father.' I think Jon will go, 'You've been spending way too much time in the cave, mate.'"

 

A Stark reunion on the south side of the Wall might not be such a joyful occasion as it sounds. During one vision in season six, Bran was grabbed on the arm by the Night's King, an act that allowed the fearsome leader to bypass the magic of the Three-Eyed Raven's weirwood tree. Now Bran has been marked by the White Walkers, could they also bypass the magic of the Wall and follow him into Westeros?

Sansa will marry Littlefinger after all

Ever since the late Ramsay Bolton told Sansa she would never be free of him, fans have speculated that Sansa might be pregnant with his child, which would undermine her brother Jon and the Starks. The theory goes that she will try to conceal the truth by marrying Littlefinger and pass the baby off as his. Whether or not this angle comes to pass, it's also true that Sansa's connection with Littlefinger saved the day in the Battle of the Bastards. So far, however, she has rejected his proposal.

 

Melisandre will be back, in some form

 

It seems a little ungrateful of Jon to send the Red Priestess away after she resurrected him. But she seems unlikely to seek revenge, given that she believes he is the prophesied saviour Azor Ahai (the Lord of Light's chosen one). Still, her magic could have come in handy for the new embattled King of the North.

 

Her departure has also left many wondering who Melisandre really is. We know she's a lot older than she appears, so if she can make herself look young, maybe she can transform herself in other ways. In the books, Melisandre reveals to Jon that she's used a type of magic called "glamouring" in order to disguise a man as a different person. Will we see her come back in some other form - and will she be a force for good or bad?

 

Varys is a merman

 

Certainly one of the strangest Game of Thrones theories doing the rounds is that Varys is a merman. Such creatures do exist in the Song of Ice and Fire universe and are known as "merlings". In the books, Varys's smile is described as peculiar and "slimey", and when Tyrion threatens to throw Varys in the sea, he replies: "You might be disappointed in the result." Some viewers were also surprised at the speed with which Varys travelled the long distance from Meereen to Dorne in season six. Might he have swam with the help of a hidden fishtail?

 

A key part of the theory is that he is helping Dany so her dragons will fight the White Walkers with fire in the north, melting the ice so that the merlings can flourish – with only Littlefinger and the Eyrie left above water. "That's right," says Dan Casey, senior editor at Nerdist. "The entire saga of Game of Thrones could be an elaborate 'mer-scheme' to expand their territory."

 

Greyscale will be used as a biological weapon

 

In season six, Daenerys Targaryen sent Jorah Mormont off to find the cure for greyscale, a disease that deadens the skin and eventually turns sufferers into "stone men". Jorah caught it when he was attacked by a horde of stone men while sailing through the ruins of Old Valyria with Tyrion Lannister.

 

Donna Dickens at Hitflix suggests the disease might ultimately be used as a "biological weapon of mass destruction". She likens the stone men to the wights, the reanimated corpses created by the White Walkers north of the wall. Might there be a war of the zombies to come, with Jorah unleashing his new brotherhood upon the wights to save Daenerys and Westeros?

 

Despite Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and DB Weiss mercilessly cutting much of George RR Martin's written material to fit the television show, surely there would not have been such a focus on greyscale if it didn't have an "unexpectedly large role to play in the endgame", says Jefferson Grubbs at Bustle.

 

But Jorah might be saved by a familiar face

 

Jorah's greyscale fate may well be sealed, but a savvy viewer on Reddit has come up with a way the old love-struck puppy could still prevent the onset of Westeros's most troublesome ailment.

 

"There is only ONE person in the entire series who has mentioned/hinted/showed they know about ANYTHING regarding the treatment/provention of Greyscale. This person is actually treating someone who is about to travel past Old Valyria where Stone Men and Greyscale thrive. This person is speaking with Jorah during this scene. And that person is Quaithe," wrote user HouseHeisenb3rg. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"98043","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

 

Viewers may not remember the name Quaithe, but they will almost certainly remember the face. Sporting a rather fetching balaclava made of coins, the character made a couple of appearances during season two, where she "predicted the future and told Jorah that yes, she knew he loved Daenerys, and she knew where her dragons were", reports the Daily Telegraph.

 

TV Guide adds: "Since Quaithe's face is almost completely covered by her mask, it's even possible she has Greyscale herself."

 

But the significance of the balaclava may be that its hexagonal pattern is nearly identical to the necklaces worn by Red Priestesses. In the books, Quaithe even implies that she is capable of shadow magic, so could she prevent Jorah's greyscale?

 

Anagrams hint at what's to come

 

The internet is home to many a Game of Thrones anagram quiz, but could the letters of the show's places and characters hint at the future of Westeros? The words "incest" can be drawn from Cersei Lannister, who is in love with her brother; "boar" from Robert Baratheon, who was fatally wounded by a wild boar, and "latrine" from Tywin Lannister, who was killed on the toilet. Meera Reed can be scrambled into "a redeemer", Oberyn Martell into "manly rebel" and Ramsay Bolton into "abnormal toys". 

 

Meanwhile, the word "northern" can be taken from the letters of Iron Throne and "Mag the Frog" from Game of Thrones. Might a Stark end up on the throne after Maggie the Frog's prediction comes true and Queen Cersei is killed by her brother?

 

It should be noted, however, that there are thousands of other possible anagrams from the GoT universe that prove difficult to link to the plot - unless Daenerys Targaryen turns out to be a "Dreary Granny Tease".

 

Daenerys will sacrifice herself

 

There have already been several sacrifices in Game of Thrones: Hodor sacrificed himself to save Bran Stark; Shireen Baratheon was sacrificed to the Lord of Light by Melisandre in the mistaken belief that it would help her father, and Drogo's horse was sacrificed in a bid to save his life using blood magic.

 

Writing in The Guardian, one fan believes Daenerys will follow suit after helping to defeat the White Walkers with her dragons and establishing Jon Snow as the legitimate successor to the Iron Throne.

 

"It would be a good way of keeping her as a vaguely messianic figure and give her a glorious, fiery departure," says Gloria from Lancashire, "much like how this story seems to be the last hurrah for magic."

 

One compelling reason Daenerys won't survive is that it seems too predictable for George RR Martin to put her on the throne. While Dany can stroll naked from a fire unburnt, she is not immortal - whereas Jon Snow has literally been brought back from death.

 

Sam Tarly holds key to the ending

 

In a finale filled with gruesome murder, a wildfire massacre and dragons descending on Westeros - a scene in which Sam Tarly was overawed by the Citadel's library seemed remarkably tame. Sam wants to train as a maester to help Jon Snow defeat the White Walkers, but could it be that the library scene held more clues than viewers first thought.

 

Some fans have pointed out that a chandelier-like orb in the library bears a striking resemblance to that in the opening credits. It is said to be an astrolabe, which is used in real-life by astronomers, navigators and astrologers to solve problems relating to time and the position of the sun and stars in the sky.

 

This has prompted many theories, one being that Sam will be able to predict when "winter", in the form of the White Walkers, is coming to help Jon defeat them. Another ambitious theory is that the entire history of Game of Thrones will be rewound using the astrolabe to repeat itself. Others suggest it will be Sam himself who writes A Song of Wind and Fire for future generations to learn about that period of history.

 

HBO hasn't yet confirmed the season seven air date, but it looks likely to be in the spring of 2017.

 

Game of Thrones: Who will rule Westeros when show ends?

8 August

With the news that Game of Thrones will end with season eight, speculation is beginning over who will rule when the much-loved franchise reaches its crescendo.

Last week, Entertainment Weekly asked HBO's new programming president, Casey Bloys, if he planned to adhere to the "oft-stated desire" by showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss to end the fantasy hit after eight series.

"Yes, they have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do," he said.

If he could convince them to press on, he "would take 10 more seasons", added Bloys, but HBO would "take their lead" on how to produce the "best version of the show".

Sky Bet has leapt on the news and opened a book on which character will rule Westeros as the saga ends. The ever-popular Daenerys Targaryen is hot favourite, with her combination of ruthlessness and morality earning her tight odds of 7/4.

Bran Stark and his sister, Arya, are second and third in the pecking order, with odds of 8/1 and 10/1 respectively, and therefore both worth considering if you fancy a fantasy flutter.

Should you feel like throwing caution to the wind and opting for a rank outsider, you could drop a few gold dragons on Ser Pounce, the pet cat owned by King Tommen Baratheon (500-1) or Podrick Payne (200-1).

The winner will be whichever character rules the seven kingdoms of Westeros as head of state from the Iron Throne at the end of the televisual saga. If there is more than one ruler at the end then dead heat rules apply.

However, in a plot twist worthy of the narrative of the fantasy series itself, it has emerged that season eight might not be the end after all. It turns out there might be a spin-off or even further seasons of the main show itself.

Just as Game of Thrones fans came to terms with a fixed ending for their favourite epic, HBO said Bloys's comments didn't necessarily mean the show will only run for eight seasons.

"Casey did confirm season eight, but didn't really say for sure that's the end," a spokesperson told Buzzfeed.

And even if season eight is the end of Game of Thrones proper, a spin-off project is possible in the future. "It's something I'm not opposed to, but it has to make sense creatively," said Bloys. "I'm open to it. The guys aren't opposed to it, but there's no concrete plans."

Narratively, it would make sense that, having put someone on the Iron Throne at the end of season eight, the programme-makers would give viewers the chance to see how his, her or its reign pans out. So don't start grieving yet, GoT fans.

Perhaps the speculation will be resolved when news of an "extension" to the Game of Thrones "universe" is announced at a concert next week.

The Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience, which has been promoted with the strapline "Music is coming", will take place in Los Angeles on Monday.

It will include live music, a Q&A with series composer Ramin Djawadi and a host of other titbits.

Other promised features reported by iO9 include a "selection of fan-favorite pieces from the popular Hall of Faces interactive exhibit, including the Iron Throne, the Melisandre’s Flame holographic experience, Arya Stark’s sword Needle, and costumes from Season 6".

All of this is enough to thrill any devoted fan of the Westeros fantasy saga. However, perhaps most attention will focus on another feature. Organisers say the daytime event, to be held at the Hollywood Palladium, will also include "exciting new details surrounding an extension to the Game of Thrones universe".

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