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: Seven big questions after Battle of the Bastards

22 June

The Battle of the Bastards was every bit the epic, no-holds-barred spectacle Game of Thrones fans had been waiting for. But an avoidable death, Jon Snow's leadership skills and Sansa Stark's machinations were just some of the developments that had viewers and commentators talking.

Here are six questions the episode raised:

Why didn't Rickon zigzag?!

Everyone had exactly the same thought about Rickon Stark, says Kasia Delgado in the Radio Times. When sadist Ramsay Bolton told him he could go to his brother across the battlefield, as long as he dodged the arrows, why didn't he zigzag?

"The WHOLE of the internet was yelling zigzag," says Delgado, pointing to Twitter users pleading with Rickon to "duck and weave", "stutter step", "cut left" or just "do something".

But Rickon didn't and instead ran straight in front of Ramsay's arrows and we knew his time was up. Surely, it would all have been avoidable if he'd had an ounce of battle-smarts. 

Would Jon Snow make a good leader?

Jon is handsome and brave, but "not the sharpest sword in the weapons locker", says Maureen Ryan at Variety, adding: "Jon Snow should never rule anything, ever." He means well, but he's a nitwit, she adds, falling for Ramsay's sadistic schemes and allowing himself to be baited.

Jon has the same faults as Ned Stark, continues Ryan: "He fights with honour against opponents who are all too willing to use that predictable morality against him."

A leader needs to be able to see the big picture and Jon isn't ready for the national stage, she concludes.

Who was the best man (or woman) in a tight spot? 

When the going got tough, was it the wildling giant Wun Wun, rest his soul, who made the ultimate sacrifice or Sansa who pulled off the big save?

"Wun Wun was a definite star of the battle," says Andrew Prokop at Vox. His strength and power heroically helped Jon's army breach the walls of Winterfell, but because nothing is easy in Game of Thrones, he took an arrow in the face and fell to his death.

Just as all appeared lost, Sansa's secret reinforcements arrived in the shape of Littlefinger's Knights of the Vale. "Surprise allies galloping over the hill has been a cliche since the heyday of the Western," says Ed Power in the Daily Telegraph. "Yet you couldn't help cheering."

Why didn't Sansa reveal her plans to Jon?

Earlier this season, we saw Sansa send a letter to someone most of us assumed was Littlefinger. So why didn't Sansa mention this to Jon during their heated discussion the night before the battle? "Did she want Jon to fall into Ramsay's trap so that she could emerge the victor?" asks Thrillist, which wonders if Sansa is "breaking bad".

Perhaps Sansa just wasn't sure Littlefinger would turn up. Or does the increasingly complex character have a bigger game in her sights?

Will Daenerys and Yara hook up?

The latest episode teased a potentially exciting new power couple: Daenerys Targaryen and Yara Greyjoy. Yara and her brother Theon have sailed to Meereen to pledge their ships to the Mother of Dragons in return for the Iron Islands if she can retake King's Landing.

When Yara warned Daenerys that her uncle was on his way to make an even better offer, but with the proviso of marriage, the two women quipped about joining forces in more ways than one. "I imagine your offer is free of any marriage demands?" Daenerys asks. To which Yara replies: "I never demand, but I'm up for anything really." [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"96462","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]

Who will take Ramsay's place?

In the first few seasons of Game of Thrones, it seemed that nobody could be more evil than King Joffrey. He cut out tongues, forced Sansa Stark to look at her father's decapitated head and tortured prostitutes, before he finally got his comeuppance and was poisoned to death. But soon Ramsay Bolton emerged as an even more sinister bully, hunting women to death for his amusement, raping Sansa and feeding his own baby brother to the dogs. He faced his reckoning this week, but surely Game of Thrones cannot go without an arch-villain for long. Euron Greyjoy and Walder Frey are in the running.

Will Davos avenge Shireen's death?

Long ago, Davos struck up an unlikely friendship with the little Princess Shireen Baratheon and gave her a hand-carved stag. In this week's episode, while taking a pre-battle walk, he discovered Shireen's toy in a pile of wood, which means he's probably figured out Melisandre's role in Shireen's terrible burning at the stake back in season five.

While the realisation didn't appear to shake Davos' resolve to support Jon Snow, will he make Melisandre pay for the little girl's death?

Queen Margaery will kill the High Sparrow

Margaery has been quietly scheming all season, pretending she has been brainwashed by the Faith Militant. In the finale, it appears that her brother, Ser Loras, will finally go to trial, with an image from the episode showing him kneeling before the High Sparrow. Shannon Carlin at Bustle thinks this might be the perfect time for Margaery to kill the High Sparrow and save her brother and King's Landing from his control. There is the question of how her husband, King Tommen, would react, adds Carlin, but it would certainly be "sweet justice for her and her family".

Game of Thrones is all about climate change

One theory that has been put forward by fans is that the White Walkers, an inhuman destructive force that can change the weather and poses a threat to the human race, actually represent climate change. The houses of Westeros are too busy fighting each other to come together and overcome the threat - and some even deny it exists. In the meantime, the world's poorest people, the wildlings, suffer while the experts, the Knight's Watch, stand on the sidelines.

"People love yelling at the characters on the show for ignoring the zombie threat in the North," says Zack Beauchamp at Vox. "But if our zombies are climate change and we are not doing nearly enough to prevent catastrophic global warming, who should you really be annoyed with?"

Game of Thrones season six: Who will die in the Battle of the Bastards?

16 June

Warning: Contains spoilers for the season six of Game of Thrones up to and including episode 8

As the long-awaited Game of Thrones showdown draws near, new photos give fans a taste of what's to come and fuel speculation about who will live and who will die.

The images, released by HBO on Wednesday, reveal moments from the next episode The Battle of the Bastards – that is to say, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) and newly resurrected Jon Snow (Kit Harrington), who are set to go head-to-head in the extended 60-minutes instalment.

Fans up to now have seen Snow gathering allies against his dastardly rival and the battle between promises to be epic."It's definitely the biggest [action sequence yet]," writer-producer Bryan Cogman told Entertainment Weekly, earlier this year. "We've always wanted to get to a place – story-wise and budget-wise and time-wise and resource-wise – where we would be able to do a proper battle, with one army on one side, one army on another side."

HBO is maintaining as much mystery as possible about the episode and have only released the briefest of synopses: "Terms of surrender are rejected and accepted."

As for the photos, they don't show any actual battle scenes, more like the moments just before the fight. We see a brooding Snow mounted on his horse and then alongside Sansa (Sophie Turner). We also see him standing, sword at the ready, as he faces a wall of horses.

It also appears that Snow has the giant Wun Wun on his side and Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) makes an appearance, screaming as he rushes at the enemy. Meanwhile, Davos (Liam Cunningham) is pictured looking poised and purposeful, if a little forlorn, on horseback.

Ramsay appears in a single shot and appears disturbingly calm before the battle.

Exactly who will die is still very much up in the air, says Megan McCluskey in Time. "While many hope that the sadistic Ramsay meets his (horrible) end, it seems probable that at least a few of the good guys won't make it out of the fray."

Betting odds place the Stark family direwolf Ghost at a 50 per cent chance of death, she adds, giant Wun Wun at 30 per cent and Davos at 60 per cent. Meanwhile, poor old Tormund has a 90 per cent chance of dying.

Rebecca Hawkes in the Daily Telegraph says she is rooting for a Bolton triumph. "Ramsay is playful, with a great sense of humour – and he's fold of animals," she says.

But most fans, she admits, expect Snow to ultimately win out, leaving him free to face the far more dangerous White Walkers.

Hawkes's hot tip is that arch-schemer Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) will eventually "save the day". Sansa has asked him for help in episode seven - but if he does turn up, he'll be expecting a reward.

Episode 9 airs Monday 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

Game of Thrones season six: Seven questions after No One

15 June

Warning! Spoilers up to season six, episode eight.

Episode eight of Game of Thrones, No One, defied expectations for an action-packed instalment and went heavy on the melancholy. But was it also playing with fans?

Here are five questions it raised:

Is Arya free of the Faceless Men?

No one believed Arya was really going to die by assassination, but was she being set up all along by Jaqen H'ghar to bump off the Waif? The young assassin was told she had passed her final exam and was now officially "No One" - but why did Jaqen smile when Arya told him she was heading back to Westeros? Has the House of Black and White really finished with her?

Why was the Blackfish killed off? And was he gay?

Having fled the Red Wedding in season three, Sansa's great-uncle Brynden "Blackfish" Tully hasn't distinguished himself as a brave warrior - until now, when he held off various Lannister men at the siege of Riverrun and allowed Brienne to escape.

In the George RR Martin novels, the Blackfish isn't at the celebration and manages to escape Riverrun, so why did the TV series kill him off? Clive Russell, the actor who plays him, told Vulture: "My concern is to get Brienne out. By the time I do, the soldiers are upon me. But I'm also refusing to run. It's very much him dying honourably, fighting an enemy, which is what part of him felt he should have done at the Red Wedding."

The Vulture interview also raises the fan theory that the Blackfish was gay. "That's a perfectly valid thing to say," answered Russell. "Who knows, though? It's a nice possibility."

What is Varys up to in Westeros?

Before leaving Meereen on a secret mission, Varys told Tyrion: "We need friends in Westeros and we need ships." Could he be heading to see Yara and Theon Greyjoy, who have both in the form of their stolen fleet? It seems likely that Varys is off to broker terms with the young rebels, but will he be able to get to them before their vengeful uncle?

When will Brienne and Jaime get together?

Brienne of Tarth was finally, if briefly, reunited with Jaime Lannister and the chemistry between the two was obvious. Their scenes were full of intense, lingering looks and a meaningful wave goodbye, as Jaime spotted Brienne escaping from Riverrun back to Winterfell. Added to that, Jaime refused Brienne's offer to return his prized sword back, saying: "It's yours. It'll always be yours." Surely these two are overdue to pair off?

Did Game of Thrones mess with fans over the Lady Stoneheart plot?

Fans of Martin's books have been waiting for Beric Dondarrion to sacrifice his life in order to resurrect Catelyn Stark, whose body was found washed up the Brotherhood Without Banners. Once brought back to life and consumed by vengeance, she becomes Lady Stoneheart and joins the brotherhood to roam the Riverlands, hanging anyone connected to the Lannisters and the Freys. Eager readers had their hopes raised when Bran saw Catelyn's death in one of his visions, but they were dashed in the latest episode, The Brotherhood have an awkward conversation with The Hound as he urinates in the river and the Lady Stoneheart plot seems to be washed away in the process.

What is Cersei plotting?

The future was looking dark for Cersei Lannister after her son, King Tommen, outlawed trial by combat, ruining her only defence against the Faith Militant. But former maester Qyburn subsequently brought her good news, albeit a complete mystery to the viewer. He whispered to the Queen Mother that his "birds" - the children he bribes to eavesdrop - had found something, to which she asked: "Is it a rumour, or something much more?" Qyburn replied: "More, much more." Many fans think they were talking about the discovery of Wildfire beneath King's Landing. Cersei has previously made threats to burn cities to the ground to protect her family and a vision from Bran Stark earlier in the season suggests Wildfire might make a comeback.

Will Tommen die?

Many a Westeros king stronger and wilier than Tommen have been knocked off the Iron Throne - and the naive young Lannister has plenty of would-be usurpers willing to take his place, leading fans to wonder how he might be killed off. Will Cersei accidentally kill her only surviving son, bearing out the prophecy that all her children will die?

Battle of the Bastards, the ninth and penultimate episode of Game of Thrones season six, airs Monday at 2am and 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

Game of Thrones season six: When will the big battles begin?

10 June

Game of Thrones season six set a ratings record for its debut episode and has boasted some of the show's most moving moments – but viewers are starting to wonder when the real action will begin.

The last couple of episodes have been building up the tension, with the Starks readying to battle the Boltons and the Lannisters struggling to regain their power.

Arya Stark trained as an assassin for six episodes only to decide she wanted to leave the Faceless Men last week, while Jon Snow is walking around like he was never dead and Daenerys Targaryen is still stuck on the wrong side of the Narrow Sea.

"There has been much chatter of late about the last episode being a little boring, even repetitive, particularly in the storyline of Daenerys," says the Sydney Morning Herald

This week's episode did not feature Dany, notes the paper: "But it did drag on a fair bit with Jaime trying to get the Blackfish to vacate Riverrun in scenes that were almost a carbon copy, set-wise, of Monty Python's Search for the Holy Grail."

Game of Thrones has become a "shadow of its shocking best and bordering on boring", says Jim Shelley at the Daily Mail. He argues that too many storylines are ending in anti-climax, with too many "grumpy fathers and curmudgeonly rulers we don't really care about".

Nevertheless, The Independent is confident the titles of the final three episodes hint at a "terrifying, grim new future" for the people of Westeros.

Episode eight, No One, looks set to move Arya's storyline along as the Lannisters finally retaliate against the Faith Militant. In the trailer for next week's instalment, Cersei Lannister looks very pleased with herself as members of the Faith Militant take a beating.[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"content_original","fid":"96027","attributes":{"class":"media-image"}}]]After The Hound's return last week, some fans also hope to see Cersei take on his brother The Mountain in an almighty trial by combat. Episode nine, Battle of Bastards, is likely to feature the climactic battle between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton. Producers David Benioff and DB Weiss have hinted that season six will include the biggest fight of the entire show to date and this is expected to be it.

Game of Thrones fans have been fantasising about the many ways Ramsay might die. The self-declared Lord of Winterfell has raped and hunted women for sport, cut off Theon Greyjoy's body parts, stabbed his own father and fed his half-brother and step-mother to his hounds.

One of Ramsay's most controversial scenes came in season five, when he raped Sansa Stark on their wedding night in front of Theon, which is why many viewers hope he dies at the hands of the eldest Stark sister. Theon will also be seeking revenge, although for the moment he appears to be helping his sister try to retake the Iron Islands.

Eagle-eyed fans believe they have deciphered the mysterious letter sent by Sansa in last week's episode – and they say she was asking Littlefinger for help in the upcoming battle. Littlefinger has a lot to atone for after handing Sansa over to the Boltons, making him another contender to slay Ramsay.

The finale, on 27 June, is named after George RR Martin's unfinished book, The Winds of Winter. After years of build-up, will the White Walkers finally charge The Wall?

Although season six's closing episode will be extended to 69 minutes from the usual 50-60, it's unlikely to be enough for a whole-scale battle. Plus, there are still seasons seven and eight to go, although rumour has it that these will have just seven episodes, rather than the usual ten.

"Forget your Mad Kings and your Faceless Assassins and your Stone Men – the White Walkers are the largest threat the Seven Kingdoms has ever faced," says Scott Meslow at GQ Magazine.

"If humankind is going to have any chance at staving them off, it'll take more than just a united North; it'll take a united Westeros (and, I suspect, three dragons)."

Game of Thrones: Winners and losers in The Broken Man

6 June

Warning: Story contains some spoilers up to season six, episode seven

The seventh episode of this season of Game of Thrones, The Broken Man, slowed the pace down, offering viewers a chance to take stock of the many story developments and the show's winners and losers before things hurtle to their dramatic conclusion.

Winners

Old favourites: Until recently, the Hound Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), was presumed dead after being beaten within an inch of his life by Brienne of Tarth at the end of season four. But the much-missed character has made his return and appears in good health, although he also keeps to himself. When a holy man asks the jaded warrior what has kept him alive, he says "hate" - but is he on the path to salvation?

Conversion: Margaery is either also on the path to salvation or she's a good chess player. Queen Margaery is seen devoutly reading from the holy texts, but is her heart in it? The High Sparrow seems a little unsure of her conversion and wonders why the queen is avoiding her wifely duties with Tommen to produce an heir for the new holy monarchy. He also reminds Margaery that her grandmother, Lady Olenna, the Queen of Thorns, is a sinner who must be converted. But when Margaery gives her gran a meaningful stare, and places something in her hand, we have to wonder what she's really up to.

Lyanna Mormont: Children don't get the upper hand often on Thrones, but Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey) of Bear Island might be an exception. As Jon and Sansa try to raise an army, the tough-talking ten-year-old puts them in their place with the line "enough small talk". Eventually, she is persuaded to help, but she is not going out of her way and offers them just 62 men.

Losers

Jon and Sansa's recruitment drive: The Starks are trying to rally the troops to save the frozen north and kick Ramsay out of Winterfell, but they're finding it harder than they thought. They have the Wildings on side and have convinced the reluctant Lady Mormont to give them some men. But others are not so keen to join. Will they have to turn to Littlefinger for help?

The Lannisters: They spent a long time on top, but now the Lannisters seem to have run out of friends. When Cersei (Lena Headey) visits Lady Olenna, looking for an ally, she's told: "You've lost," and urged to leave King's Landing. Meanwhile, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Cersei's brother and lover, is trying to parley with Brynden "Blackfish" Tully, who has retaken his family's castle, Riverrun. But Blackfish isn't in a parleying mood – has the Lannister's influence lost its edge?

Arya: The youngest Stark sister (Maisie Williams) is eager to leave Braavos for Westeros, but things look bad for the young warrior when the Waif, disguised as an old woman, tries to stab her. It seems unlikely that one of Thrones's best-loved characters is about to die, but as she tumbles over the side of a bridge and into a river, she could certainly do with a friend.

Brother Ray: Ian McShane's charismatic Brother Ray has less than ten minutes' screen time and he makes the most of it. His faith, but lack of dogmatism, seems to have convinced the Hound to be a better man. However, his own fate seems to be less promising.

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