When you play the game of thrones you win or you die, but let's be honest — you're probably gonna die. Game of Thrones has been a remarkably unsentimental show ever since its first season, when Eddard Stark was beheaded. To date, there have been at least 97 major character deaths over the past seven seasons, ranging from the massacre at the Red Wedding to the death (and reanimation) of Jon Snow to the Night King slaying the dragon Viserion last season.
In the final season, one thing is for sure: A lot of characters are going to die. Maybe all of them! Here are my best guesses for who'll be meeting the Many-Faced God before the season is over.
Who is definitely going to die
Death is the enemy. The enemy always wins, but we still need to fight. -Beric Dondarrion
Bran is technically the Lord of Winterfell, a title he rejects. But while I could see him passing over being Warden of the North to do whatever three-eyed ravens do in peacetime, it probably won't be that simple for Ned Stark's only surviving son. He's particularly vulnerable, bound to a wheelchair, and his protector, Meera Reed, has returned home. Bran's death would sadly be a fitting conclusion for his character: As Meera declared tearfully in season seven, the real Bran died back in the cave north of the Wall.
Bronn of Blackwater
Whenever characters speak about their own deaths in Game of Thrones, you ought to listen. On the one hand, you might get a clue into how they're going to die (as is the case with Jaime). On the other, you might get a bittersweet wish that is almost certainly not going to happen (see Tyrion's hope to decease "with a belly full of wine and a maiden's mouth around my c---"). The sellsword Bronn's quaint hope to retire with a lady and a castle seems just that — too quaint. As cunning as Bronn has been to survive this long as a Lannister mercenary, I think his nine lives are about to run out.
Cersei's death was predicted in a prophesy by Maggy the Frog, the witch who also foretold the deaths of Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. In the books, Maggy additionally tells Cersei that "when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you." Valonqar is the High Valyrian word for "little brother," leading to much speculation that Tyrion will be the one to put an end to his sister's life. It's a compelling theory, particularly as we've already seen Tyrion murder someone close to him via strangulation, but I think that's too neat a solution for Game of Thrones. I'd put my money on Cersei being killed by her twin Jaime, who, it is said, was born a few minutes after her. On the other hand, the Frog's prophecy isn't part of the television show, leaving Cersei's death possibly in the hands of Arya Stark, who has repeatedly vowed to kill the queen. Either way, Cersei dies by the end of the show.
All eight seasons of Game of Thrones have been working toward Daenerys Targaryen assuming the Iron Throne — a throne we now know she isn't entitled to. I think Daenerys winning everything is too convenient a conclusion; how unsatisfying would it be for Game of Thrones to follow through with what we've been led to believe is going to happen since season one? If Daenerys doesn't win the Iron Throne, it is for one of three reasons: She loses to Cersei or the White Walkers (maybe, but anticlimactic); she agrees her nephew, Jon Snow, is the rightful heir and supports his claim (Jon would have to live — see below); or she's dead. I am inclined toward the last option. It'd be a shocking and brutal twist for her to die, but I still don't think Daenerys is going to so easily move into the Red Keep.
King of the Iron Islands Euron Greyjoy is comically, one-dimensionally evil. There is no reason I can think of that he would survive, short of the Night King winning. Euron will almost definitely be snuffed out, ideally at the hands of his nephew, Theon Greyjoy.
Gregor Clegane/The Mountain
If Cersei is going to die, as I expect, then her towering bodyguard, the Mountain, will almost certainly need to die too. But who will do it? The sound bet is on the Mountain's brother, Sandor "the Hound" Clegane, particularly after that uncomfortable encounter in season seven. Plus it was the Mountain who famously burned the Hound's face over a fire when they were children. The Hound has good reason to want the Mountain dead.
Game of Thrones loves to tear happy couples apart with death, and I think the end might indeed be nigh for Grey Worm, the commander of the Unsullied and lover of Daenerys' maid Missandei. While this might be a bit of an easy guess — Grey Worm is a soldier in a war against the dead — I think there could be more to his demise than just a sword through the gut. Perhaps he will be the first beloved character we see turned into a wight.
I've been completely suckered by the Jaime Lannister redemption arc, so it pains me to predict he will also be a casualty of the Game of Thrones writers' room. That being said, I don't see him having a future in Westeros. Even if Jaime turns on his sister (and unborn child), as the end of season seven suggested, I can't imagine one twin lasting long without the other — as Cersei once said, "We shared a womb, came into this world together. We belong together." More likely, Jaime will be killed in the process: He's said that he hopes to die in the arms of the woman he loves — a theory that has led many fans to believe we will see that happen, with the woman he loves turning out to be the woman knight, Brienne.
The rightful heir to the Iron Throne, Jon Snow has already been brought back from the dead by the "red priestess" Melisandre and the Lord of Light. The question is going to be, for what purpose? For the character arc of Jon Snow, née Aegon Targaryen, to be realized, we'll need to see him achieve that purpose — I'd assume it's killing the Night King — and die again. Snow's death will be particularly bittersweet, because a part of him knows he should be dead, as he tells Melisandre before the Battle of the Bastards. I think we will see him fall after some pyrrhic heroism.
After he survived Greyscale at the command of Daenerys, it pains me to think Jorah Mormont's death will be included in season eight. Unfortunately, I just don't see room for him with Daenerys and Jon Snow now an item. Even predicting Jon Snow's death, I think it is likelier for Daenerys to end up with Tyrion, if she stays alive at all. Jorah is a complication, then, and will probably die to sacrifice himself for Daenerys in a scene that will make me bawl.
The Night King
As much as I can respect the nihilism behind theories that the Night King is going to storm Westeros, kill everyone, and take the Iron Throne, I have to go with a "no" on that prediction. Accepting that the living will win, then, the only way the Night King can be stopped is with his death (this would neatly take care of his whole army, too). There have been quite a few hints about who will do the deed based on which characters have a Valyrian-steel sword: Brienne of Tarth, Jaime Lannister, Jon Snow, and Sam Tarly. Arya was also gifted a dragonglass dagger by Bran in season seven. Of those five, I'd guess Jon Snow or Sam is the likeliest to slay the Night King.
As she is departing for Essos, Melisandre tells the eunuch and former spymaster Lord Varys that she will return to Westeros one last time. "I have to die in this strange country, just like you," she informs the Spider ominously. While Melisandre has famously botched a prophecy before by believing Stannis Baratheon to be the prince who was promised, I happen to believe her here. I think we will see Melisandre return at a key moment that results in her death.
If Cersei dies, so too will the mad scientist at her side, Qyburn. I would guess the former maester will do some damage before he goes, though.
Theon has had one of the most tragic character arcs of anyone in Game of Thrones, and somehow I don't see him waltzing off with a happy ending. Season seven left off with Theon being forgiven by Jon Snow and heading out to save his sister from the clutches of Euron Greyjoy. Because Theon's redemption has been such a long time coming, I think there is a good chance we'll see him complete this mission, but likely at the cost of his life.
See Melisandre. Lord Varys has been told he will die in Westeros by Melisandre, and I'm inclined to take her word for it.
Who might die
What is dead may never die. -Drowned God prayer
My best argument for why Arya Stark won't die in season eight is that she has just too many people to kill. While Arya could potentially die at the end of her streak of vengeance — it would be fitting, I suppose, for her to be claimed in the end by the Many-Faced God — I tend to believe she won't. Actress Maisie Williams, who plays Arya, pretended to drop a spoiler about her character dying on the Tonight Show, only to reveal it to be a (very convincing) April Fool's joke — one that would only be a good April Fool's joke if her character actually doesn't die. Maybe that's reading too much into it, but I do think Arya Stark is going to be one of the final season's biggest heroes.
Brienne of Tarth
Brienne has sworn to protect Sansa and Arya, a task that I expect is about to get very difficult. While on the one hand it would be a noble end for Brienne to fall in battle as a sacrifice for one or both of Catelyn Stark's daughters, I think we will see her live at least long enough to cradle Jaime Lannister when he dies.
Daenerys' handmaiden and translator Missandei typically stays out of situations where she might die. But if my predictions about Daenerys come true, it would be hard to imagine Missandei standing idly by. I could also see Missandei being killed by a character like Cersei, the Mountain, or Euron, to emphasize that they are very evil because she is very good. Missandei could also escape danger by staying safe at Dragonstone (a theory fans seem to support — 68 percent of participants in the "Pool of Dragons" predict she will live).
Sandor Clegane/The Hound
The Hound has a very particular purpose to serve in season eight: killing his brother, the Mountain. What will be interesting is what happens to him next. Arya Stark doesn't know the Hound survived, and his name was on her list; will she try to kill him again? Or once more show him her version of mercy?
Sansa has endured too much to be brutally disposed of in the eighth season — though perhaps I am getting too sentimental. Everyone is on the chopping block, but still I'm inclined to think that Sansa Stark will survive the long winter to become the Lady of Winterfell; as Littlefinger admired, she's already so good at it. Sansa grapples with plenty of her own demons, but she is the kind of tough-yet-fair ruler that the northerners could respect. If she survives, she will be an honorable successor to her parents.
Ask me on any given day, and I'll flip-flop on the ultimate fate of Tyrion Lannister. He's been one of the most interesting characters to watch evolve over the past seven seasons, and he's going to have a few major moments this season, including likely reunions with Jaime and Cersei. As Daenerys' loyal adviser, Tyrion has shown his frustration with the Dragon Queen when she's succumbed to her worst impulses (burning people) and has proven to be a more instinctively-inclined ruler than anyone else on the show. His fate will likely have much to do with Daenerys' outcome.
Who probably won't die
There is only one thing we say to Death: "not today." -Syrio Forel
It seems pretty silly to me to think that Gendry vanished (and survived) all those seasons since we first met him in season one only to be knocked off in season eight. That's part of what convinces me that Gendry will live long enough to have his heritage — as Robert Baratheon's bastard son, and Ned Stark's choice for the throne — become a complication for a Dragon Queen and her nephew/lover. While Gendry was never developed enough as a character to be a convincing choice for the Iron Throne, I do think he will somehow manage to stay alive until the credits roll at the end of the season.
Game of Thrones may have killed all the characters I love, and be on pace to kill many more, but I refuse to believe Gilly, Sam's girlfriend and the mother of Little Sam, will also get the ax.
We might not see Hot Pie, Arya's baker friend, again in season eight, but we do know that like Arya, he is "a survivor." Unlike Ser Pounce (RIP), Hot Pie is a case where, if we don't see him again, it's safe to assume he's at an inn somewhere happily rolling dough. He might even resurface to get together with his friend, "Arry," who he blurts is pretty in season seven.
The oldest trope in the fantasy genre is the unsuspecting hero, the one who doesn't necessarily wear armor, who is dismissed by his peers, and whose strength lies in his booksmarts. Sam Tarley fits the bill: The lovable member of the Night's Watch has already served Jon Snow in enormously important ways, such as by telling him about the store of dragonglass beneath Dragonstone. Sam is also one of the few characters to wield a sword of Valyrian steel, suggesting he has a major heroic moment coming up in season eight. I just can't see Game of Thrones killing him off in the process and leaving Gilly and Little Sam alone.
Podrick is overdue for his big heroic moment. The clumsy squire to Brienne of Tarth has been making progress in his swordsmanship, but it would be just too cruel to see him easily bested in a duel with a wight. I think Podrick will pull through whatever trials are to come and be knighted — the heartwarming fate he deserves.