It’s been over a year since the seventh season of HBO’s Game of Thrones concluded, leaving fans in a lurch after a rousing cliffhanger ending. Now, the show is finally set to return, with multiple narrative threads still hanging in the balance.
Unfortunately, HBO hasn’t said much about what to expect in the show’s final season. In fact, the secrecy around the show has never been higher so as not to spoil what will surely be one of television’s biggest events in history.
We do know a few production details about Game of Thrones Season 8, like the fact that it will only consist of six episodes. And, like the previous season, the upcoming episodes will feature content that goes beyond George R.R. Martin’s books.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, there’s a lot to look forward to. If you’re a Game of Thrones newbie, then you’re in for a real treat. I almost envy folks who are just now taking an interest in the show, because they haven’t had to wait an agonizing amount of time for the show to return.
Here’s everything we know about Game of Thrones Season 8.
Game of Thrones Season 8 debuts on April 14
This one is easy. After months and months of playing it coy, HBO finally revealed that Game of Thrones Season 8 will debut on Sunday, April 14. Fans can expect the show’s final episode to air on Sunday, May 19.
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) January 14, 2019
Here’s the first (brief) footage
HBO has yet to release a proper trailer for the show. For now, fans have a short teaser and some photos to check out.
It’ll consist of 6 episodes
The past few seasons have gotten shorter and shorter, and season 8 will be the series’ shortest yet. As in, “only six episodes” short. Which sucks!
There’s still so much story left and hearing that there are six more episodes means Game of Thrones will be over before we know it. However, there is some good news…
Those episodes will be long
Although HBO will only release six episodes, the episodes will be very long. We’re talking the length of a feature film. Some episodes will be as short as 70 minutes while others will be over an hour and a half. So, even with a shortened season, fans will still get plenty of action and story beats before the final episode is over.
The short summary
I don’t blame you if you don’t want to watch the previous seven seasons of Game of Thrones, as there’s a lot of content to watch. Binging all of those episodes would be a feat only elite athletes and committed couch potatoes could endure.
If you are starting fresh with season 8, you only need to know a few things. Basically, the show has been building toward a big war between the Night King and his undead army and the rest of the world. In the meantime, there’s also been a war for the Iron Throne, with various dynasties creating alliances to take control.
Currently, Cersei Lannister rules the Iron Throne. Daenarys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), otherwise known as Mother of Dragons, believes herself to be the rightful heir to that throne. However, Jon Snow is secretly the true heir, further complicating matters.
Jon will finally learn true parentage
The audience knowns Jon Snow’s dirty secret, but he doesn’t. And when he finally does learn who his real parents are, it’s going to be very awkward now that he’s becoming romantically involved with Daenerys.
Back in season 7, we finally learned that Jon wasn’t the bastard child of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), but the son of Ned’s sister Lyanna Stark (Aisling Franciosi) and Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding).
Complicating matters is the fact that Rhaegar married Lyanna in secret, which not only means Jon isn’t a bastard, but that he’s the true heir to the Iron Throne. A few characters in Game of Thrones know Jon’s true parentage, and it’s only a matter of time before he finds out.
Now the question becomes: What will Jon Snow do once he finds out who he really is? The initial shock will no doubt give way to tension between him and Daenerys (his aunt and current girlfriend), who believes that she is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Who is alive?
There are still dozens and dozens of people alive, but audiences really only need to know about half of them, because they’re more crucial to the overarching war against the undead.
For all intents and purposes, there are three “teams” right now consisting of rulers, warriors, brothers, sisters, and everything in between.
Here are ten characters who will be very important in season 8:
- Jon Snow (Kit Harington)
- Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke)
- Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)
- Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)
- Arya Stark (Maisie Williams)
- Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham)
- Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)
- Samwell Tarly (John Bradley)
- Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey)
- Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)
Season 8 will feature the biggest battle ever
Game of Thrones has been slowly building to the Great War, which means fans can expect a pretty fantastic battle to unfold when it finally happens. Apparently, season 8’s epic clash will make the Battle of the Bastards look tame by comparison.
Imagine season 8’s battle like the one between the Avengers and Thanos, which was teased for several years before blowing the minds of viewers across the world. The Night King and his undead army have been marching toward Winterfell for several seasons now, and we’ll finally see the living fight the dead.
For context, season six’s Battle of the Bastards took an astonishing 25 days to film, and we all know how that turned out. HBO set a high bar with that battle, but we have confidence the show will leap that bar once the Night King arrives with his zombie dragon.
Get ready for the Cleganebowl
Another battle we’re looking forward to seeing will be between brothers Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Fans already got a brief taste of this battle during season seven’s finale, when The Hound had a stare down with his brother during the Dragonpit meeting in King’s landing.
While we have no confirmation a battle between the two brothers will take place, there’s a good chance HBO will grant the wish of fans everywhere. The Mountain has tormented his brother—he burned The Hound’s face when they were kids—and it’s finally time for The Hound to get his revenge.
That being said, would revenge be a satisfying conclusion to The Hound’s arc? He has gone from deranged warrior to more contemplative protector. The Mountain, meanwhile, isn’t even technically a person anymore after being turned into a Frankenstein-like monster.
Cersei will (probably) die, but how?
This is a big one. It’s all but confirmed that Cersei will die in the final season. As the series’ most despised character, she definitely has it coming. But how she’ll die is the question everyone wants answered.
One of the more popular theories believes that it will be Jaime who is Cersei’s downfall. If you’re a longtime Game of Thrones fan, hearing that Jaime might kill Cersei is shocking, but it also makes a lot of sense considering everything that’s happened over the past few seasons.
In the show, a witch actually told a young Cersei that she would be killed by the “volanqar,” which roughly translates to little brother in High Valyrian. As it turns out, Jaime is Cersei’s little brother.
When the show started, Cersei and Jaime were inseparable. But now that Cersei has turned into the Mad Queen, Jaime might have no choice but to be the one who finally takes her down.