This week’s episode of Game of Thrones is set to be a bloody affair, with our brave heroes facing off against the Night King’s army in a feature-length clash that’s expected to leave more than a few well-loved characters dead and buried (or burned, hopefully).
Let’s get real – we’re not going to see the deaths of characters like Jon, Daenerys, Tyrion or Jaime at this stage (what an anti-climax that would be), but there are plenty of actors who’ve been in the series for years who may be bowing out at this point as Thrones heads towards its own endgame (sorry, it’s a big pop cultural weekend).
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With that in mind, we’ve rounded up the most likely casualties from the Battle for Winterfell, and just why we think the White Walkers may have an ice spear with their names on it based on the clues the series has been giving us so far.
Don’t talk about your retirement plans, Grey Worm! That’s “character-death-foreshadowing” 101!
Yes, after chatting with Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel) about how he’s just about ready to kick in the soldiering and go to the beaches of Naath with her, we don’t have high hopes for the Unsullied’s leader. Sadness is coming.
Look, we all love Bella Ramsey’s Lady Lyanna – which is probably why Game of Thrones is going to give her a horrible death in episode three.
While we don’t know much about what’s coming after the Battle for Winterfell, it does seem clear that one way or another the action will move away from the North a bit, making Lyanna’s current role as default voice of the stroppy Northern Lords a bit redundant.
The show needs to streamline its cast for the final episodes, and it’s hard to see where Lyanna fits in past this episode. Plus, House Mormont’s motto – Here We Stand – is just too perfect a last line for her to deliver after refusing to retreat in the face of danger, possibly alongside her cousin Ser Jorah (though it doesn't feel QUITE right for Jorah to go just yet).
Yes, she’s a fan-favourite character but at the moment she’s surplus to requirements. And that popularity will make it all the sadder if she does end up joining the army of the dead just like little Lord Umber in episode one…
Kristopher Hivju has transformed Tormund from the intimidating warrior of his first appearances into the wonderfully weird figure he is now, and had some great moments in A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms to remind us just how much we enjoy his presence.
So yes, brutally killing off Tormund wouldn’t feel too out-of-nowhere for a show as sadistic as Thrones, especially now that we’ve learned his “origin story” (giant’s milk!) and seen him emotionally reunite with Jon.
Like Lyanna, it’s also hard to see how Tormund could continue to be a part of the story going forward – and if you need more concrete evidence, well, we couldn’t help but notice that in behind-the-scenes videos, all of Hivju’s interviews were only conducted on the Winterfell set, while others (including Kit Harington) appeared to be filmed from King’s Landing. A sign that he wasn’t hanging around once the story moved somewhere else?
Podrick is a redshirt if ever we’ve seen one – and only partly because his squire’s uniform is literally red.
While not a major character, Pod had some sweet moments in the most recent episode (singing his song beautifully, showing off his new fighting skills), and as a fairly minor background figure it seems more than likely that he’d be the sort of character the showrunners would kill off to tug on the heartstrings while also focusing the story.
Plus, like Hivju, Daniel Portman has only been filmed doing interviews on the Winterfell set…
Edd didn’t have a lot to do last series – as actor Ben Crompton noted to us on the Thrones premiere red carpet, he basically opened a door then disappeared – but his status as a friend and sworn brother to both Jon and Sam definitely puts him in danger during series eight's first big battle, especially after the trio’s warm reunion in episode two.
The final death of the Night’s Watch, as represented by Edd, would be a suitable turn for the show as it enters its last episodes, so don’t be too surprised to see Lord Commander Tollett dying in Sam’s arms the third and final time he faces off with White Walkers.
Ser Brienne of Tarth
We almost hate to write this down, but… after achieving her greatest life goal in the previous episode WHICH WAS NAMED AFTER HER, is anyone else feeling a bit worried for Brienne?
Where does Brienne’s character arc go from here? Can we deny that it would feel like the character had a full journey if she did die at Winterfell? It’d be terribly sad, yes, but of all the relatively major characters it feels like it makes the most narrative sense for Brienne to fight and die for the honour of her friends.
Bit of a left-field choice, but think about it. Theon has already redeemed himself to his sister, and what better way to make up for his other treacherous actions than by fighting and dying for the family he betrayed so badly all those years ago?
Theon himself notes how appropriate it is for his Ironborn to protect Bran after previously taking Winterfell from him, and the former Reek dying in the process – perhaps after another conversation with Bran about their shared history – could be a good way to cap off his character arc.
Plus, and no offence, but we doubt Theon and his bros will be much of a last line of defence against the Night King. Not saying he won't try his best!
Look, Beric’s had a good run. Richard Dormer’s oft-resurrected Lord of Light stan is in a rare group of characters who have actually lived a lot longer in the TV show than they do in George RR Martin's books (it’s just him and Balon Greyjoy, really), and now that his sidekick Thoros is gone he feels like a character that could fairly easily be pruned from the ensemble.
Not that his final moments will necessarily be without consequence, however. In the books, Beric dies by breathing his borrowed life into the deceased Catelyn Stark, and while we’re not expecting that here, it COULD be that Beric will similarly trade lives with somebody else during the battle.
At the moment our money’s on the Hound given the pair’s connection, plus the fact that the fire-averse Sandor Clegane would be a deliciously ironic champion for the Lord of Light.
Apparently it’s very expensive to put direwolves on TV, which is why Jon Snow’s faithful companion has been largely offscreen for the last few years.
However, in episode two Ghost popped up in the background of a scene for a little cameo, the first time we’ve seen him in years (since 2016, to be exact) – and now we can’t help but feel this was just to remind audiences he was there before killing him off.
After all, the last time a direwolf fought the wights it didn’t go too well (poor Summer was torn apart in that cave in season six), and in shots of the battle from the main trailer we spotted what looked like Ghost’s legs joining Jon into a mad dash into battle (possibly to the friendly old crypts).
If Game of Thrones reintroduced Ghost JUST to have him live up to his name, we’ll be annoyed – but we won’t necessarily be surprised.
Plus…a few other candidates
Look, it’s obviously difficult to predict exactly who’ll die based on episode two alone. While Davos and Varys don’t feel like they’ve had enough to do this year before being killed off, it’s possible earlier parts of episode three will effectively build up to their exits through more scenes and conversations we’ve not yet witnessed.
Similarly, characters who felt like they had a big “moment” in episode two – Brienne, mainly – might not be as large a part of the narrative this time around, making their deaths far from certain.
And of course, there’s also the possibility that we’ve overestimated the importance of some characters. Sure, Gendry was brought back after years away and is the last person with Baratheon blood. But does he have a big role to play, or was he just a stepping stone for Arya’s storyline? And what if Sam DOESN’T have to be the one to write the history of this whole conflict once the war is over?
All we do know for sure, really, is that whatever happens in Game of Thrones season eight, episode three, it won’t be a bloodless victory for either side. Time to light a few candles for your faves, and get ready for some Red Wedding-level tears.
Game of Thrones continues on Sky Atlantic on Mondays at 2am and 9pm