Game of Thrones season 8 predictions: Who lives and who dies?

After almost two years, Game of Thrones is finally returning this weekend for its eighth and final season. In a little over six weeks, we'll know the resolution the show has been building toward for the past eight years, and only one thing is for sure: a lot of people are going to die. Here are our predictions on who is a goner and who has the best chances of making it to the credits in the final episode.

Obviously, since we're making predictions about who will survive the final season, there will be plenty of spoilers about the story so far throughout this article, so read at your own risk if you're not caught up. With that said...

Cersei is 100% dead

When we're talking about Game of Thrones, nothing is certain. This is the show that basically kicked off by killing its main character and then two seasons later killed off his wife and his son just because it's fun to make viewers and readers squirm. Expecting the primary antagonist to actually get what's coming to her is setting yourself up for disappointment. Usually.

Here's the thing about Cersei: almost everyone hates her. Her only friends are the ones she's paid to hang around, and going into to season 8, that list pretty much begins and ends with Euron Greyjoy. Jaime – the only person to stick by her side as she's spiraled into paranoia and alcoholism – ditched her at the end of season 7 to go fight the White Walkers with the Starks and Daenerys, people Cersei despises. The people of King's Landing hate her, and for that matter, most of Westeros has one reason or another to want her head on a pike.

Cersei is a miserable person who has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. While it's been Game of Thrones' modus operandi to let people like her live, Cersei is quickly becoming outgunned. She does claim to have the Golden Company of Essos – a mercenary organization – in her back pocket, but does she have the gold to keep them in the fight long enough to secure victory? Debt has been a constant problem for the crown, and though we know Cersei used the money she obtained from sacking Highgarden to pay off those debts, the Iron Bank of Essos is funding her campaign to secure the throne, which includes hiring the Golden Company. That, presumably, means the crown is still in debt, so what happens when the Iron Bank comes to collect a second time?

Even assuming that debt is a non-issue, she's still got a whole host of other problems. Not only does Daenerys have an army comprised of the Dothraki horde and the Unsullied – two groups of the best fighters in the world – but she's still got two dragons and she also has the North on her side. Sansa, Arya, and Jon aren't going to show Cersei any mercy after all she's done to their family, and Jaime said it himself in regards to going up against Dany during their last face-to-face meeting: "We don't have the numbers, we don't have the support of the other houses." Cersei seems to think that gold is enough to fix that, but if I were in her shoes, I'd certainly be anxious about finding out if that's true.

There are a million different ways Cersei could die during season 8. Maybe she's roasted by one of Dany's dragons. Maybe Arya wears the face of someone she trusts and assassinates her. Maybe Jaime kills her just like he did The Mad King to save the people of King's Landing. Maybe Tyrion finally gets his vengeance for a lifetime of torment. No one knows how it's going to end, but there's too much working against Cersei for her to make it out of the coming conflict with her head still on her shoulders.

Jaime is probably dead, but that’s a good thing

Then we come to the other Lannister twin – the one who started out just as despicable as his sister but has since turned into something of an antihero (or, at least, a sympathetic villain). Jaime's road to redemption has been a long one, and though he's been in step with his sister throughout most of the series, in later seasons he's tried to be more delicate in his approach to ruling Westeros. He even pledged his sword to fight alongside Dany and the Starks in the war with the White Walkers, and when Cersei revealed that the truce was a sham, he left her and rode north to Winterfell anyway. What a guy!

I'm not going to pretend that Jaime is suddenly this paragon of righteousness, but Game of Thrones has done a very good job of making us like a character who has done some reprehensible things. For that to mean anything, though, he'll have to make some kind of sacrifice in season 8. That might come in the form of killing his sister – the only person he's ever truly loved – when she inevitably takes that plunge into insanity, but it may also take the form of laying down his life for the good of the realm.

If Jaime goes north only to die fighting the White Walkers, not only would that be a heroic end to his redemption arc, but it may also be the perfect catalyst for Cersei to really take that final step into full-blown insanity. Jaime's death could turn her into The Mad Queen and make her truly dangerous in this final confrontation with Dany and the Starks. In that way, Jaime almost feels too important to leave alive – that may be a weird thing to read (trust me, it was a weird thing to write), but his death has the potential to be a very powerful moment in the larger Game of Thrones narrative.

Arya probably isn’t dead, and that’s a shame

Even though all the death and despair and unexpected twists may have led you to believe that no character in Game of Thrones is protected by plot armor, that isn't entirely true. Though it's true that Game of Thrones is more willing than most stories to kill off its primary characters in surprising fashion, there are some characters who have survived things that should have killed them. Arya Stark is one of those characters.

By my count, Arya should have died roughly 341 times throughout the first 7 seasons of Game of Thrones. She survives though, whether through sheer dumb luck or the sudden incompetence of the people trying to kill her. Granted, Arya is a much more capable fighter than she was in early seasons, but still, her plot armor is strong.

It's hard for me to believe that Arya will die just because so many people love her. If I'm right, that'll be a shame, because Arya getting a heroic, epic death would be the perfect end to her story that began with her wanting more than the life of a noble woman. I'm not nearly as confident in this particular prediction as I am with someone like Cersei's, and I'm definitely open to being surprised. In the end, though, I certainly won't complain if Arya does survive the season ahead, because I love her just as much as everyone else does.

Sansa might survive because her story demands it

Think of the Sansa Stark we were introduced to in the first episode of the series and contrast her with the Sansa we saw in the final episode of season 7. Perhaps more than anyone else, Sansa has changed dramatically over the course of the series, going from an innocent child to a victim of brutal violence to a pawn in a game she didn't quite understand and then finally to the one pulling the strings. Or, at least, to the one pulling some of the strings.

Again, I don't really expect Game of Thrones to follow typical narrative structure or consider the emotions and expectations of its viewers, but based on her arc, Sansa is probably safe from death in season 8. We've barely seen her flex her muscle in her position as the Lady of Winterfell, and with such a dramatic change over the course of the series, it would be anticlimactic to kill her off right when she's becoming a force to be reckoned with.

If D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are going to kill her off, I hope they at least give us the chance to see Sansa and Cersei meet face to face one last time. If we get that confrontation, Weiss and Benioff can kill off whoever they want – I'll be happy.

Daenerys is probably dead (and she has it coming)

I don't know if any of you have noticed this, but for someone who was thrust into Dothraki culture and had to lead masses of people with very little experience, Daenerys has done pretty well for herself. She always seems to be one step ahead of her enemies, and as a result, it feels like she's never really been in danger. Maybe there have been a few instances that got our hearts pumping as viewers, but none of us really thought that she'd actually bite the dust before getting the chance to set Westeros ablaze with her dragons, right?

That's precisely why she needs to die in season 8. Season 7 showed us that she isn't invincible, despite what those massive dragons may otherwise suggest. In a conflict between Daenerys and Cersei, most of us expect Daenerys to come out on top, which is why she probably has a big target painted on her back coming into this final season.

In truth, if Daenerys is going to die, it probably won't be in battle against Cersei and her armies. It isn't very hard to imagine a scenario where Daenerys sacrifices herself in the fight with the White Walkers to save others, because that's simply the kind of leader she is. She's the type who would see the destruction the White Walkers are capable of and decide to lay down her life – after all, what good is sitting in the Iron Throne if the only thing you'll rule over is a wasteland ravaged by the dead? Cersei might still find that appealing because, as she's said in the past, "power is power," but Dany doesn't really seem like that kind of leader.

Then again, there's always the possibility that Dany will make a shift toward despotism. We've already seen hints of this – specifically when she burned the Tarlys alive for refusing to bend the knee – and unhinged tyranny does seem to be something that runs in her family. If that's the path she winds up going down, then she'll need to be dealt with swiftly, just as her father was in the past. Either way, it isn't looking too good for our blonde-haired heroine.

Jon has a 50/50 chance of survival

If there's one Stark whose head is on the chopping block, it's probably Jon. With that said, I don't see him getting killed off because we already went through that once. It feels kind of lame to kill a character who has already died and been resurrected once while telling us "it's for real this time!"

Honestly, though, Jon's first dance with death is the only good reason Weiss and Benioff have to keep him alive. While it's very romantic to think that someone like Jon could go from being a (presumed) bastard son shunned by society to the one who sits atop the Iron Throne in the aftermath of all-out war, it's a little too predictable for Game of Thrones. It might just happen, though, if only because the showrunners don't want to kill him off a second time.

Who knows what’s going to happen to Bran?

As far as the final surviving Stark is concerned, I have no idea what's going to happen. The easy prediction is just to say that Bran will live because he's basically God at this point, but it's clear that Bran is going to have a big role to play in the confrontation with the White Walkers. It's also clear that Bran and the Night King are at least somewhat intertwined, and if you believe the internet, Bran may very well be the Night King thanks to some well-meaning time traveling gone wrong.

If that theory is correct (and the internet has been right about these things before), Bran will certainly need to die in order to stop the White Walkers. If it's wrong, there are still plenty of ways he could die – maybe the Night King comes and hunts him down in one of his visions, which would admittedly be pretty cool. Maybe Bran chooses to sacrifice himself in the battle with the White Walkers to secure a future only he knows is possible.

I'm leaning toward Bran surviving the final season, but that's really just a shot in the dark. The fact that he can know everything past, present, and future as the Three-Eyed Raven makes it tough to predict his fate, but expect him to be a crucial component in taking out the Night King and his legion of undead. Speaking of the Night King...

The Night King is dead… right?

Were Game of Thrones a typical fantasy story, the Night King's fate would already be decided. He'd put up a good fight and give our heroes a run for their money, but ultimately, good would prevail over evil and the Night King would be toast. Game of Thrones isn't your typical fantasy story, though, which leaves a possibility of a White Walker upset open.

Granted, the Night King is probably still going to die at some point during the season, but there's always a chance that the show will go full George R.R. Martin and have the White Walkers win the war for Westeros. I don't see that happening since Martin has said in the past that the ending to A Song of Ice and Fire will be a bittersweet one, which I take to mean that the living will win but we'll lose some of our favorite characters in the process, but still, you never know with this show.

Tyrion probably lives, but there are a lot of unknowns

Tyrion is arguably the main character of Game of Thrones, and despite the fact that he doesn't really have any combat ability at all, he does have a silver tongue that has gotten him out of a lot of problems in the past. Even when his way with words fails him, he has a lot of friends who can bail him out of trouble. Basically, Tyrion is really good at surviving, but that may not mean much with an army of invading White Walkers and a Queen who wants to see him dead.

It's hard to know where Tyrion's story will go in season eight. Will he stick with Daenerys until the end? If she takes a more tyrannical turn, will he abandon her? Will he be the one to finally put Cersei into the ground? In the books, the prophecy Cersei receives strongly suggests that her brother will be the one to kill her, but that could mean either Jaime or Tyrion. As viewers, it would be very satisfying to see Tyrion be the one to kill Cersei, but at the risk of sounding like a broken record, that might be a little too predictable.

Ultimately, it's hard to know what kind of twists Tyrion's story will take throughout the season, but I'll still put my money on him making it through.

Most of Game of Thrones’ supporting characters are probably dead

Game of Thrones has a lot of supporting characters, and we like many of them quite a bit. Whether it's The Hound, Davos Seaworth, Sam, or Tormund Giantsbane, fans have fallen in love with these characters throughout the series. It sure is a shame that most of them will probably be killed off in the final season.

I think most of us are heading into season 8 expecting a high body count, and one way for the showrunners to achieve that is to kill off most characters who aren't Starks, Targaryens, or Lannisters. Some of these character deaths are more obvious than others – the last time we saw Melisandre, for instance, she said that she will die in Westeros, as will Lord Varys.

Others, like Davos and Tormund, may die valiant deaths in the war with the White Walkers, while people like Brienne and Euron Greyjoy (who, like Cersei, is 100% dead) probably won't bite the bullet until the final confrontation for the Iron Throne. One thing is seemingly certain: By the time all of the fighting is done, most of these characters will be dead and that will be sad.

I will take this opportunity to make a couple specific predictions, though. I think that not only will The Hound kill his zombified brother in the long-awaited "Cleganebowl," but he'll also survive the season's many battles. I don't have a particular reason for believing that, aside from the fact that The Hound is one of the most awesome characters to ever grace the pages of any book or be featured in any TV show.

I also think that Theon Greyjoy will die at some point during the season, but his death will be a heroic one that stops (or at least delays) his uncle Euron, who's in league with Cersei. It's true that this might be a little too predictable for Game of Thrones, but Theon could certainly use a heroic moment after spending seasons as the mentally-broken Reek under Ramsay Bolton.

The Azor Ahai prophecy ruins all of these predictions, by the way

Most of these predictions are made under the assumption that none of these characters are actually Azor Ahai, who in a nutshell is a prophetic hero of legend who stops the White Walker invasion with his flaming sword. He did it once during the Long Night thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones take place, and rumor has it he'll do it again this time.

Here's the issue with Azor Ahai predictions: nearly everyone in the Game of Thrones cast fits the prophecy in one way or another. Some (Jon and Daenerys, for instance) fit the prophecy better than others, but regardless, the Game of Thrones fandom as it exists on the internet has predicted that pretty much every character is Azor Ahai at one point throughout the show's run.

Needless to say, if any of these characters turn out to be Azor Ahai, they're probably safe from death, at least until the White Walker threat has been ended. There's also the possibility that the Azor Ahai prophecy won't come into play at all during the final season, which would make references to it in previous seasons red herrings (along with dumping the only reason anyone had to listen to Melisandre at any point in the series down the drain). Personally, I like the idea that the prophecy ultimately meant and will amount to nothing, but I don't think the show will head in that direction.


The funny thing about publishing a prediction article like this one is that if Game of Thrones continues to do what it does best in breaking with fantasy tropes and subverting expectations, then all of my predictions will probably turn out wrong anyway. There are a lot of forces in play heading into the final season of Game of Thrones, so here's hoping we've got quite a few surprises in store. Game of Thrones season 8 premieres on HBO at 9 PM Eastern this Sunday, so while we wait for the 14th to roll around, head down to the comments section and share your predictions for the final season with us.