Game of Thrones Season 8: Who will die in the Battle of Winterfell?

People are going to die in Game of Thrones next week. There’s absolutely no question about it. Hyped as the longest battle sequence ever committed to film/tv, the third episode – probably titled “The Long Night” – will undoubtedly be a milestone in television history as it deals with the direct result of the fearsome Army of the Dead invading Winterfell.

During this week’s exceptional pre-war “A Night of the Seven Kingdoms”, certain story arcs that have spanned seasons approached full circles, many goodbyes and reflections were had, and substantial plot movements were made. Brienne became a knight – in what was one of the episode’s most emotionally satisfying scenes – Arya lost her virginity to Gendry, Sam gifted Heartsbane to Jorah, Theon swore to protect Bran, and Jon worked up the courage to tell Aunty Dany the truth. You can read our full review of the episode by clicking HERE

Writer Bryan Cogman knew we would soon be mourning characters we’ve followed and obsessed over for the better part of a decade, so he gave us a few glorious moments to hold on too. Now it’s on showrunners David Benioff & D. B. Weiss – who will pen each episode from now on until the finale – to crush our feelings, and director Miguel Sapochnik to make sure we feel the sting.

Notably, Sapochnik is the GoT go-to when it comes to meaty and memorable actions scenes. He helmed not only “Hardhome” and “Battle of the Bastards” – for which he won numerous awards – but also “The Winds of Winter”, the season six finale in which Cersei destroyed the Great Sept with wildfire. He’ll be in the director’s seat for this Winterfell invasion, and also for this season’s penultimate episode. So yeah, expect visceral carnage and eye-popping, beautifully choreographed fights in varying scales.

So knowing that the impending action will be intense, who exactly will die when the White Walkers clash with Team Winterfell? I’ve gone through all the named characters who are present (and some that could be) and weighed up their chances of dying. Speculation is fun.

Maester Wolkan

Chance of dying: 90%

Aside from tend to ravens and build Bran a new wheelchair, Wolkan hasn’t really done anything notable in the series apart from witnessing Ramsay kill his own father and lie the other Northern houses about it. He exists purely because Winterfell needs a maester, and hasn’t had one since Luwin died back in Season 2.

He’ll definitely be down in the crypts, which is most certainly not the safest place to be. My bet is on him meeting his end in a swarm of wights in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment.

Qhono

Chance of dying: 50%

Qhono is hard to pick apart from the rest of the Dothraki, who are now just a nameless and faceless horde who last served their purpose when Daenerys attacked the Lannister army on the Roseroad. Sure, he is the only notable horselord – barely – to be given an actual identity, but he is largely expendable to the plot.

If he dies, it’ll be early on in the battlefield, and it’ll happen fast. I could go either way on this one so let’s just say 50/50.

The Hound

Chance of dying: 10%

If the writers don’t give us #Cleganebowl (The Hound versus The Mountain) then they will have left a giant mark on the entire show by the end. I don’t think they want that for their legacy, and I don’t think they’ll be stupid enough to kill The Hound before he gets to close his circle, by either killing, or getting killed by, his undead brother.

He ain’t dying. Not in this episode.

Ser Davos

Chance of dying: 50%

The best publicist in Westeros and giver of onion soup hasn’t had a lot to do since Jon and Dany got together. He’s pretty much blended with the Dany brain trust and has become as present as Varys.

Although, he did break our hearts when he saw Shireen in that little northern girl last week, and that might be a hint from the writers that his emotional ties have come full circle. Will he die saving that girl? He might. I hope he doesn’t.

Gendry

Chance of dying: 45%

Gendry being the bastard son of Robert Baratheon hasn’t really done much but earn him a couple of leeches courtesy of Melisandre. Him being a talented blacksmith, who learned from Valyrian Steel veteran Tobho Mott, has been far more relevant seeing as Gendry’s role has now been reworking all the dragonglass into weapons to use in this war. But is that really all his story amounts to?

I don’t think taking Arya’s virginity is Gendry’s full-circle moment, so I’m going to lean towards him surviving the battle. Perhaps the show still has to make good on King Robert’s season 1 line about joining his house with House Stark, which would mean Gendry needs to survive to at least marry Arya at some point before the finale.

Arya

Chance of dying: 20%

Arya is George R.R. Martin’s wife’s favourite character. She ain’t dying. Plus, as mentioned above, it’s possible she ends up marrying Gendry before the show is over. That and she’s become such an absolute badass that it’d be criminal to kill her off before the very end. Plus, asserting her sexuality last episode, which was an essential showcase for her evolution, is nowhere near her full-circle moment.

She will undoubtedly run into trouble this episode, but I think Nymeria will save her at the last minute.

Grey Worm

Chance of dying: 85%

Out of all the characters at Winterfell, it seems most obvious that Grey Worm will meet his end in this battle. The dutiful and loyal soldier will be on the frontlines when the fearless Unsullied (do they all have dragonglass spears now?) clash with the White Walkers, so he’ll be in the very thick of danger.

His romance with Missandei has endearing enough, and their scene together in this recent episode has strong hints of a final goodbye. He was promising Missandei that he’ll take her back to her homeland (good luck, they have a weird butterfly disease that kills outsiders in Naath according to the books) and protect her, which is such a TV trope that it’s almost too on-the-nose for a show like this.

One has to wonder, will it be the other way around? Of course we won’t really have time in the series to deal with it but what if Missandei is the one to die, after which Grey Worm sticks to his promise and truly asserts his freedom by leaving the Unsullied and taking his beloved’s remains to Naath. That’d be poetic. George RR Martin loves poetic. He’d be proud.

It’d be easier to just kill him.

Missandei

Chance of dying: 50%

See above. The showrunners might pull a little twist in that “Grey Worm is definitely gonna die” path and kill Missandei instead. Or kill them both – it is GoT after all.

Her death would be a big loss for Dany, and it may be one of the notable ones from the crypts. Because those crypts are definitely not safe, and at least some characters down there will need to die in order to make that “twist” have impact.

Daenerys

Chance of dying: 10%

If she dies, a few of the other characters on this list are safe. Her death would be the big twist the episode will lean on, but I really don’t see it happening. If she is to meet her end, it will either be at the hands of Jorah/Aegon after going full Mad Queen (and maybe trying to burn Sansa) or Euron Greyjoy (hey, he needs to be as bad as his book version after all, and the show needs him to do something really despicable for that to happen).

My bets are on her surviving this invasion.

Melisandre

Chance of dying: 50%

We know that The Red Woman is going to return at some point. Will it be during the battle? She prophesised that she will die in Westeros somehow, and returning to maybe turn the tide before being killed by the Night King would fit that. But then again, if she returns and is killed in the same episode it might be seen as a waste. Perhaps she’ll die in King’s Landing instead.

Jon Snow/Aegon Targaryen

Chance of dying: 5%

“I’m the true heir to the iron throne” doesn’t really have any impact if you’re just going to die the next episode, does it? Jon will survive this battle, and if he does die it will be in the finale. Him and Dany still have to deal with this revelation, and I don’t see them wasting time on it while the White Walkers attack.

Samwell Tarly

Chance of dying: 20%

Sam told Jon his real identity and he gave Jorah Heartsbane. He’s done two fairly significant things since so far this season, but seeing as he is basically George R.R Martin’s vessel, it’s unlikely the god of the Game of Thrones universe will have him dying to a bunch of White Walkers.

He was shown during Podrick’s song, which is ominous, but there is still so much potential in his story – plus Bradley has been MVP this season. I just don’t see him falling, unless it’s to his knees over Gilly’s corpse 🙁

Jorah Mormont

Chance of dying: 50%

This is one of the hardest to call in this list. Jorah, one of the show’s best characters, will have his full-circle moment as a function of his loyalty to Dany. And unless they share a pivotal scene in this episode, he won’t be dying. While he did have a moment with his Queen in “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms”, when he convinced Dany to forgive Tyrion, it didn’t feel like it had any finality to it. He won’t die until he shares that “final goodbye” scene with her.

Plus, there are strong theories out there that Jorah actually might be one of the most important characters in the end game. Yep, people think he could be Azor Ahai on account of Sam giving him Heartsbane to wield. In which case, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be meeting his end here.

On the other hand, he was one of the few characters shown during Podrick’s foreboding rendition of Jenny’s Song, which could be foreshadowing his death (along with the other males shown: Theon, Gendry, Sam, and Grey Worm).

Lyanna Mormont

Chance of dying: 70%

Discussions on Lyanna Mormont’s character may be reduced to cringe-worthy, infantile baby-noises and “YAS KWEEEENS” in the media, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s been House Stark’s most trustworthy loyalist since Jon returned home. Her role as a showcase for how age is treated in Westeros shouldn’t be understated, but beyond that she doesn’t serve any purpose to the end game.

All the Stark loyalists involved have only been so to lead up to this moment, and as we saw in the premiere with little Lord Umber – and many times before it – GoT is fine with killing off children, often in confronting scenes. It’s true to this messed up world George R.R. Martin created, so no matter how many lowbrow outlets bow down and declare her “THE GREATEST CHARACTER EVAHHH OMG SPIRIT ANIMAL VIBEZ YO YO YO”, little Lyanna Mormont is definitely on the chopping block.

She won’t listen to Jorah. She’ll fight, and she’ll die.

Tormund Giantsbane

Chance of dying: 75%

Unless there’s some hidden stash of giant’s milk somewhere, Tormund will have met his match with the horde of wights. He almost died in “Beyond the Wall”, before The Hound saved him, and his fairly slow movements won’t help in another fight against even more of those terrifyingly quick underlings.

There is the argument that the show needs to push Tormund and Brienne together before either die, but thankfully memes don’t write scripts, and there will be no fan service if the showrunner’s want to maintain the brutality of this impending battle.

He’s served his purpose. He’ll die a hero, and it will be very sad.

Ser Brienne of Tarth

Chance of dying: 80%

The newly knighted Ser Brienne was one of the most obvious full-circles this past episode. Her story wrapped up beautifully, after sitting on the sidelines muttering about protecting Sansa for pretty much an entire season.

The trailer has her leading a section of the army into the battle, which means she’ll be in the thick of the fight right alongside Jaime Lannister. Either she’ll die saving Jaime, or vice versa. And Jaime is much less likely to die, seeing as his end-game lies with Cersei.

One of the show’s absolute best relationships tied up in a sad blood-soaked bow is so Game of Thrones.

Jaime Lannister

Chance of dying: 40%

As above. Jaime’s end-game is with his sister, and there’s still that “little brother” theory that needs to come into play at some point. But it could go either way; Jaime’s redemption arc is almost over, and his come full circle with Bran. Perhaps he’ll die protecting Bran after Theon bites the dust?

Bran Stark

Chance of dying: 50%

This one’s hard. Bran’s story most certainly ends with the Night King somehow, but will it be so immediate as the first major NK battle? I think it highly unlikely. Though, Bran will be the anchor for whatever mind-blowing, global-headline-worthy twist the showrunners have planned.

Sansa Stark

Chance of dying: 60%

This would be a truly heartbreaking death wouldn’t it? Sansa has come so far, and has grown into one of the show’s greatest characters. It’s likely she could be the one falling victim to this cruel show’s machinations as the Night King claims another Stark victim. It would be appropriately tragic, which would be appropriately Game of Thrones.

Although, her full-circle should involve Cersei in some way. As a stark (heh) comparison to Arya, Sansa has learned from and absorbed some of the greatest minds of Westeros (Tyrion, Cersei, Littlefinger), so it would be criminal to not have the current Queen of the Seven Kingdoms see how high this little dove can fly.

Theon Greyjoy

Chance of dying: 99%

This one will hurt. Theon has been given the show’s best redemption arc (sorry Jaime), and Alfie Allen has been absolutely brilliant at being broken down completely only to slowly rise back up into a confident, determined warrior ready to die for his mistakes. His arc is done: he rescued Yara, he had an emotional reunion with Sansa, and he wants to go out protecting Bran. Besides, his final scene with Yara had a “last goodbye” vibe to it. You did good, Theon.

He’ll die in the Godswood protecting Bran, but hopefully not before he has a heart-to-heart with the little lord he once betrayed.

Beric Dondarrion

Chance of dying: 99%

The Lord of Light kept bringing Beric back for a reason but with no Thoros, Beric is on his very last life. I have a feeling he’ll score a major win that’ll turn the tide of battle (maybe he’ll kill a wight giant), only to die shortly after.

Beric will be fighting alongside The Hound as well, and the story ain’t done with Sandor Clegane (unless the writers decide to be cunts).

Dolorous Ed

Chance of dying: 90%

How will Ed react when confronted with thousands upon thousands of blue eyes?

The Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch doesn’t really get too much to do, and he’s never commanded the emotional weight of Pyp or Grenn – Ed just kind of came out of nowhere in the show – so chances are high that he’ll be meeting his end.

The Wall is down, what purpose does he serve in the story now? At least one of the three notable Night’s Watch survivors will be calling it quits after the White Walker invasion, and since it definitely won’t be Jon, and is unlikely to be Sam, it will be poor Ed.

Ghost

Chance of dying: 20%

The goodest boy in Westeros made his triumphant, and weirdly unceremonial, return during The Night’s Watch reunion in this past episode. It’s hard to say whether he’ll actually die though. At least one direwolf should survive until the end, and since it’s either him or Nymeria, and I think Nymeria will die, my bets are on Ghost not biting the bullet.

Nymeria

Chance of dying: 70%

Nymeria is off being queen of the direwolves in the woods near Winterfell, but it’s almost a given that she’ll come into play again before the season is over. Now will be a good a time as any, as she returns with her pack to perhaps turn the tide against the wights for Arya (who is most definitely seen running scared in the trailer – albeit in the crypts).

The question is will she die? Other than be a last minute saviour for Arya I really don’t see what purpose Nymeria will serve going forward. However, it would be cool if she survives and then Arya rides her to Winterfell with a Direwolf army at her back. CGI budget goes to the dragons first, though, so that’s definitely not happening.

Rhaegal

Chance of dying: 20%

Rhaegal’s story does not finish with riding Jon to a waterfall so the writers can give all the Married at First Sight fans their cheesy lowbrow YAAAS moment. It’s possible one of the two remaining (live) dragons will be dying this episode, but I actually think it would be Drogon, leaving Rhaegal as the dragon with the closest connection to Jon.

Drogon

Chance of dying: 30%

See above. Drogon’s death would be the symbolic lowering of Dany’s position in the overall story. Sure, she’ll still have Rhaegal, but the dragon named for Jon’s father has taken on more meaning now that we know who is really heir to the throne.

If Drogon does die, it will be in a fight with undead Viscerion.

Viscerion

Chance of dying: 10%

Will Night King lose his undead pet so soon? Sure, Viscerion’s main purpose was to melt The Wall with his blue fire, but losing him would make the Night King seem like not so big a threat anymore. It won’t happen, although it would be cool to see a trebuchet of dragonglass bring the beast down. Or Drogon killing his younger sibling in an epic battle that will most definitely mean no CGI budget allocated to poor old Ghost.

Night King

Chance of dying: 10%

Dude won’t even be at Winterfell. We’re yet to see that shot of the single dragon flying over Kingslanding, and it’s almost a given that he’ll be the rider. The popular theory of the moment is that the Night King is going to take undead Viserion straight to Kings Landing while his goons take care of the north.

But there’s a problem with that.

Bran may already know the outcome of the battle (“how do you know there is an after”), so why would he have the plan to wait for the Night King in the Godswood if he doesn’t expect the Night King to be there in the first place? Perhaps that’s too logical for this show – plotholes are damn near unavoidable in a condensed fantasy epic like this one – and the above theory is true. Or maybe he doesn’t know at all – he did say visions come to him in fragments after all.

Either way, the Night King is not going to die.

Gilly

Chance of dying: 70%

Gilly will play a similar role in the crypts as Sansa played at Maegor’s Holdfast in “Blackwater”. She’ll keep all the nameless women and children calm. As for when shit hits the fan, it’s likely that she’ll die protecting her son, which is “the one that got away” to the Night King. Sam will be devastated, and it’ll truly be a heartwrenching twist given how great John Bradley has been these past few seasons.

Little Sam

Chance of dying: 10%

Gilly’s son is a bit of an interesting one. Remember the first White Walker that Sam killed? He was very obviously coming specifically for the baby, and I highly doubt that undead foot soldier was acting on his own. The Night King wanted Little Sam, and maybe he still does. As mentioned above, he is “the one that got away”, and his important to the WW might be what gets Gilly killed.

I don’t see him dying if Gilly does. And he’ll be raised solely by his adoptive father afterwards. Appropriately soul-destroying.

Alys Karstark

Chance of dying: 90%

Well they killed poor Ned Umber, so it’s not entirely impossible the writers will wipe another Northern house from the map with the death of young Alys Karstark. She has only had like one line in the entire series, but her role has been significant nonetheless, seeing as the Karstarks have had a spotted history with loyalty over the years. I’m going to go with dead here, whether it’s in the crypts or not.

Yohn Royce

Chance of dying: 90%

Ol’ Bronze Yohn is always in the background at Winterfell, and the stern loyalist is constantly being interrupted. That’s about the most we have gotten from Yohn in the past few seasons, with the most significant screen time to date for him being threatened by Littlefinger via idiot Robin Arryn.

Many of the Stark bannermen will die in this war, and since Yohn is easily the most recognisable, I’m betting that he dies quite early on in battle.

Tyrion Lannister

Chance of dying: 20%

Tyrion’s story is far from over. There are rumours that he’ll be playing a very surprising role in the coming episodes, and his full-circle moment in the story will involve Cersei in some way. He won’t be dying this episode, unless the writers want to make him the big “shock” death.

Podrick Payne

Chance of dying: 85%

Well we finally know his “secret” (why the sex workers refused payment from him in King’s Landing). Most of us assumed it was because he has a huge dick, and while that still may be true, I think the writers wanted us to conclude that he sang magnificently for them. He also has turned into a bit of a fighter, as we saw in the most recent episode and has served Brienne well.

His story arc is pretty much done.

That sadly means that it’s very likely Podrick will be meeting his end in the White Walker battle, and he’ll likely go down saving either Tyrion or Brienne in his final moments.

Varys

Chance of dying: 30%

Now that Littlefinger is gone (unless that was a Faceless Man that Arya killed), Varys is the craftiest dude in the entire Game of Thrones universe. Though he hasn’t really been given much to do aside from augmenting team Dany with House Martell’s (or, inexplicably, Ellaria Sand’s) army.

But does that mean his arc has wrapped? Is Varys now an expendable spider now? He is no longer the “master of whisperers” in Kings Landing, and we know he will die eventually given The Red Woman’s prophecy, but it’s hard to imagine his final purpose in Game of Thrones being a verbal punching bag for Tyrion’s wit (or lack thereof – The Imp was given some truly stupid lines in “Winterfell”).

He won’t die. He’ll be in the crypt, but my bet is on him escaping the impending doom somehow.

All images: HBO / Helen Sloan.

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Chris Singh

Chris Singh is the Deputy Editor of the AU review, an obsessive hip hop nerd, a whisky drinker, and a lover of all things travel. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter with @chrisdsingh.