KEEP SCROLLING FOR NEWS ON SEASON 8 RELEASE DATE, EPISODES, SPOILERS, FILMING AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
He’s kind of joking, but kind of not.
Starring in arguably the biggest TV show in the world right now must be a whirlwind, dream-job experience, right?
Well, yes – but there are also aspects of being in Game of Thrones that Samwell Tarly actor John Bradley isn’t too fond of.
“There are some really beautiful costumes on Game of Thrones,” Bradley told Shortlist. “Mine isn’t one of them.”
Aside from a padded tunic and a cloak “fashioned from an Ikea rug”, Bradley also has to deal with constantly ripping trousers, and likens the whole aesthetic to “walking around in a fur wardrobe”.
Sounds comfy, huh? We can’t say we blame him for having the following sentiment toward his Samwell costume: “When the show’s over, I’m going to ceremonially burn that cloak.”
Adding to Bradley’s list of gripes is the fact that “any bit of the show where the landscape looks inhospitable, there’s been a good chance I’ll be popping up.
“I remember huddling with Kit Harington and a couple of other actors in Belfast in season 1, swearing I couldn’t think of anywhere I could go where I’d be colder or more exposed to the elements,” he recalled.
“A few days later, an email with ‘ICELAND’ at the top popped into my inbox and I realised I’d spoken too soon.”
Bradley also hates having to keep secrets – not ideal when starring in one of the most secretive shows on TV at the moment – and he’s sad he’s missed out on actually getting to watch this huge cultural phenomenon.
“The way people talk about the show, it always makes me feel like I’ve missed out,” he said. “I love those big TV moments, those parts of Breaking Bad and The Wire that leave you speechless.
“Anyone who’s been involved in the show missed out on that experience.”
We won’t be taking Bradley’s complaints too seriously, though, as he’s still getting paid to roam around Westeros. We’d take that trade-off.
READ ON FOR SEASON 8 RELEASE DATE, EPISODES, SPOILERS, FILMING AND EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW
Our final voyage to Westeros begins.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season eight. Obvs.
Game of Thrones is an absolute pop-culture phenomenon, so it’s hard – not to mention heart-breaking – trying to imagine the television landscape without it.
Nevertheless, we’ll soon be faced with that cold, hard reality – the last ever season of HBO’s fantasy epic is coming. Feel unprepared? Here’s everything you need to know about the end of the saga, from cast to plot spoilers to air dates.
Game of Thrones season 7 finale: What happened in ‘The Dragon and the Wolf’?
Littlefinger was killed by the Stark sisters as they entrapped him in a public defence of his crimes. Bran acted as chief witness, Sansa was the judge and Arya the executioner, as she cut his throat open with the Valyrian steel knife.
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen consummated their relationship. However, Jon’s status as a legitimate Targaryen was also confirmed – confirming not only that Dany is his aunt, but also that he has a better claim to the Iron Throne than she does.
The White Walkers finally made it into Eastwatch, with The Night King riding Daenerys’s reanimated dragon Viserion, using the beast’s blue flames to obliterate the Wall.
Game of Thrones season 8 release date: When will it air?
It’s looking like we could be in for another long wait, with the eighth and final season possibly delayed until 2019.
“[David Benioff and Dan Weiss, showrunners] have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule,” HBO President Casey Bloys said. “We’ll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing.”
“We honestly don’t know yet [when the final episodes will air],” Benioff admitted. “There’s been a lot of back and forth about air dates. That’s a long way off from being settled.”
Whenever the final GoT episodes land on HBO in the US, you can expect Sky Atlantic to simulcast the final season in the UK. (Though, if you can’t stomach the thought of staying up that late, there’s always the repeat viewing later in the day at the more manageable time of 9pm to look forward to. You can also watch it on demand any time after 2am.)
If you don’t want to stump up for the full Sky package, you can try a NowTV Entertainment Pass, which gives you access to the show (and loads of others) on all your devices.
Game of Thrones season 8 cast: Who’s in it?
Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), Lena Headey (Cersei), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime) are all optioned for an eighth run of episodes in June 2016 – for a reported $1.1million (£885,000) per episode!
Beyond that, we’ve definitely seen the last of Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand, as well as Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell, with both characters meeting a grisly fate in season 7, episode 3, ‘The Queen’s Justice’.
Thoros (Paul Kaye) also met his end in episode 6, ‘Beyond the Wall’ – which means no more second chances in the GoT universe!
And, in what counts as the show’s biggest casualty for a while, Petyr Baelish (Aiden Gillen) finally got what was coming to him in season 7’s finale – so no more Littlefinger in season 8 (unless Arya takes up his appearance, of course).
The fates of Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) and Beric (Richard Dormer) are also up in the air, after both were caught up in the devastation wrought by the Night King at the wall.
“The thing is, with so few characters left, [the viewers] should get used to and get ready for… Thrones returning to form and killing its main characters quickly,” Kit Harington has said.
“They’re going to go, and they’re going to go fast, and I think that the payoff of our characters not being in great peril this year will be that, next year, it’s going to be a bloodbath.”
Game of Thrones season 8 episodes: How long will it run?
HBO officially renewed its smash-hit series for a seventh year on April 21, 2016 – with HBO’s then-president of programming Michael Lombardo later indicating that Game of Thrones would end after eight seasons.
“David and Dan are feeling there’s probably two more years after season six, that’s what we’re looking at right now,” he said in January.
In June, Benioff and Weiss appeared to confirm that the show would wrap up with two shorter seasons.
“It’s two more seasons we’re talking about,” Benioff said. “From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70-75 hours, and that’s what we’ll end up with. Call it 73 for now.”
Given the 67 hours that will have been covered by the close of season 7, that leaves us with just 6 remaining – and in March 2017, we finally had it 100% totally officially confirmed that the eighth and final season will span just six weeks.
It’s believed that GoT story editor Dave Hill (‘Home’, ‘Son of the Harpy’) will write the season 8 premiere, while producer Bryan Cogman will pen the second (having previously written 10 episodes, including 2015’s controversial ‘Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken’).
Benioff and Weiss will then divide up the remaining four episodes – including, of course, the grand finale.
“There’s probably a world where we could have milked this thing for another eight seasons, and that would have been very lucrative for all of us,” acknowledged Cogman. “But [Benioff and Weiss] really wanted to go out on a good high point.”
(Ser Davos actor Liam Cunningham suggested that filming on the final season will commence in September, while Sophie Turner also let slip in February 2017 that she’d be back filming on Thrones later in the year.)
Jaime actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau later revealed that he’d be back shooting from October 2017.
There’s even been talk that all six of the final GoT episodes will be feature-length, spanning around 80 minutes each. Casey Bloys has hinted that individual episodes might even run to two hours. Now that’s epic!
Fewer episodes doesn’t necessarily mean less of your favourite characters, either. “You kill a couple dozen characters, the people who are left by default need to carry more dramatic weight,” Weiss explained.
Game of Thrones ending: What will happen in the final episodes?
Cersei’s call for a truce between herself, Jon and Daenerys was so convincing that even Jaime fell for it. But it was all a ruse – instead, she’s going to let her rivals deal with the undead threat, while she teams up with Euron and the Golden Company to finish off whoever survives.
“The thing that gave Cersei humanity was her kids,” Lena Headey said back in 2016. “They’re gone now.”
Of course, Cersei now claims to be carrying Jaime’s child – so, presuming she’s telling the truth, could this prove to be her salvation? And will it come too late?
With Jaime finally leaving his sister’s / lover’s side at the close of season 7, could the Queenslayer fan theory be about to come true? “I heard that theory, and it absolutely makes sense,” Coster-Waldau said. “Maybe it’s too neat, but who knows?”
He later suggested that Jaime might not even be “capable” of killing Cersei after all that’s gone between them.
For her part, Headey isn’t expecting her character to find redemption any time soon, while Coster-Waldau has hinted at things getting even “more complex” between the siblings / lovers.
Fans, meanwhile, have speculated that Cersei might meet her end at Jon Snow’s hand – or that The Hound might (indirectly) be responsible for her downfall. Whatever happens, even Headey is convinced that her character is “f**ked” and doomed to die before the series is over.
Will Jaime turn to the dark side, or the light? Or is Jaime secretly mankind’s saviour, the Prince that was Promised, as some fans have theorised?
If things are looking bad for Cersei, they’re not exactly peachy for Daenerys, either. One dragon down, she might have to face off against Jon next season – they’ve become lovers, but we suspect their relationship will sour once Jon’s true heritage is revealed.
“It complicates everything on a political level, and on a personal level,” Benioff has said. “and it just takes everything that could have been so neat and kind of perfect for Jon and Dany, and it really muddies the waters.”
Plus, has Tyrion betrayed his Queen, by facilitating Cersei’s lie about aiding the battle against the dead? Fans think that might be the case.
Fans have also been speculating that the Cleganebowl – a face-off between The Hound and his now zombified brother The Mountain – will finally come to pass.
“I did notice a lot of people were talking about the Cleganebowl – people were waiting for me and my brother to fight,” Gregor Clegane actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson told us.
“There’s a lot of expectation from the fans to see that happen – obviously I cannot comment on that… you’re just going to have to see what’s gonna happen!”
The Mountain and The Hound did come together briefly in season 7’s finale, with Sandor telling his brother, “You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
Of course, after they brought down the Wall, a final clash with the White Walkers is sure to be on the cards… with Liam Cunningham hinting that “a lot” of characters will come together to battle a common threat.
“The progress of the show with the White Walkers and all that stuff, it’s pretty obvious nobody’s going to be able to take this force on on their own,” he said.
“So when we’ve had all these, for all these seasons, disparate stories come from disparate ends of Westeros, it has been – and it’s been signalled from the end of [the sixth] season – that there’s a lot of people and situations going to be coming together.”
Producer Bryan Cogman went on to tease: “There are White Walkers and dragons and once they start to come together the story has to go where it goes.”
“For a long time we’ve been talking about ‘the wars to come’ – well, that war is pretty much here,” Benioff said.
We’re expecting more than a few casualties… and speaking of the deceased, don’t expect (SPOILERS!) Lady Stoneheart to make an appearance on GoT any time soon.
Though Catelyn Stark was resurrected in Martin’s novels, she’s yet to resurface on the TV show and director Mark Mylod has insisted he’s had “not had one discussion” about the character in the GoT writers’ room.
As for the how the series as a whole will draw to a close? “We know what the end is, and we’re barrelling towards it,” Benioff and Weiss said of what’s sure to be the most highly scrutinised series finale since Lost.
The tight-lipped pair haven’t given any clue as to what that ending might entail – though George RR Martin has hinted at a “bittersweet ending” for his A Song of Ice and Fire books, which serves as the (increasingly loose) inspiration for Game of Thrones.
GRRM has also shared a significant twist – or “holy shit moment” – with Benioff and Weiss, which won’t make it to the screen till “the very end” of the show.
There are certainly a number of prophecies yet to be fulfilled, as well as plot threads still lingering, which fans will be expecting to be resolved in GoT’s last six episodes.
There’s the identity of the Prince that was Promised, Jon discovering he’s really Aegon Targaryen, Cersei meeting her end at the hands of the the “valonqar” (high Valyrian for “little brother”), the aforementioned Cleganebowl and much more…
It doesn’t sound as though the cast have been let in on any secrets, though – Kit Harington, for example, has no idea how Game of Thrones will end. Yes, Jon Snow literally knows nothing.
“Everyone’s been wondering how it’s going to end, and what’s going to happen right from the get-go, and theorising about it,” he said. “It’s really exciting to me not knowing, genuinely having no idea where it’s going to end, what they’ve got in their heads, and being the first to find out.”
“No one knows anything,” echoed Emilia Clarke. “No one is told anything. It’s all crazy. It’s a secret from the cast. We can’t be trusted. They pretty much have told us so.”
Meanwhile, Samwell Tarly actor John Bradley told us that the very final Game of Thrones episode could change our entire perception of the series.
“Because we don’t know how it ends – we don’t know who wins or who loses – we’ve got no idea what kind of story we’re telling,” he suggested. “We don’t know if it’s an indictment of how bad people can triumph if good men do nothing, or a redemptive story about good triumphing over evil.”
But even if he’s not sure what kind of tale is being told, Bradley is convinced that Samwell will make it to the end of it: “If he’s still around at this stage, you do suspect that there is gonna be a point to keeping him around.”
Our money’s on the final episodes being a bit of a bloodbath, with the concluding eighth season being described as “carnage” by the cast.
Game of Thrones books: What’s going on with ‘The Winds of Winter’?
“I have days where I make lots of progress, I have days where I make next to no progress,” Martin told Digital Spy back in 2014, discussing his long-awaited next book The Winds of Winter.
The sixth novel in his fantasy saga, Winds has been in the works for several years now – before even the first episode of Game of Thrones had aired on HBO.
In January 2016, having missed a series of deadlines, Martin confirmed that the book wouldn’t be published before the launch of season six of the TV series.
GRRM suggested in January 2017 that the book will finally “be out this year”, though he did add: “But hey, I thought the same thing last year.”
And while HBO’s season six – which consisted of mostly original material – was relatively optimistic by GoT standards, Martin’s warned that his book could be decidedly less buoyant.
“I’ve been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming,” he noted. “Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world. So this is not going to be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters [are] in very dark places.”
He gave us another update in July, hinting that his Winds will “be different [to the TV show] in some ways, but will [run] parallel… in others”.
“At this point, there are probably a dozen characters who are dead on the show but alive in the books, so it would be impossible for the two to remain the same,” Martin said.
Game of Thrones spin-offs and prequels: Will there be a movie?
George RR Martin, ever the optimist, was bullish about the prospect of a GoT sequel, prequel and/or spin-off when questioned on the matter in April 2016.
“There is certainly no lack of material,” he said. “There are eight million stories in Westeros as well… and even more in Essos and the lands beyond. A whole world full of stories, waiting to be told… if indeed HBO is interested.”
Just don’t expect either Kit Harington or Emilia Clarke to feature. Representatives for Harington have denied that the actor has been approached to star in a spin-off, while Clarke insisted that “other spin-offs… might be more intriguing” than a Daenerys series.
“I have no doubt there’ll be prequels and sequels and who knows what else,” Clarke said. “But I am doing one more season. And then that’ll be it.”
“I think that makes a lot of sense, to start with a new set of characters,” Harington agreed. “There’s so much scope for this story that’s been going for thousands of years. I’m happy to step away from Jon Snow.”
Benioff and Weiss have also insisted that they wouldn’t be involved in any such project. “At a certain point, especially if it’s a serialised story, it falls apart and loses its heat and its momentum – because there’s a carrying capacity even a world the size of ours has,” Weiss said.
“When you reach that carrying capacity and you try to push it further, people start to wonder when this is going to be over and hope that it will be over soon so they can move onto the next thing. That’s not what we ever wanted.”
“I’m sure there will be other series set in Westeros,” Benioff clarified at the 2016 Emmys. “But for us, this is it.”
The pair reiterated their position in March 2017, with Benioff saying that he and Weiss are resisting the “urge to keep doing it.”
“I think HBO might well do [a spin-off] and I’m looking forward to watching it. [But] I think it’s better for them to get new blood in with new visions.”
Bloys outlined HBO’s official stance on a spin-off in September 2016, saying that while “there are so many properties and areas to go” into, they’d have to find “the right writer” to replace Benioff and Weiss.
“There are things that sound interesting,” he said. “But at this point, we have no writers assigned or anything like that.”
Two months later, Bloys would confirm that “preliminary” talks are “ongoing” about a possible GoT prequel series, comments echoed by HBO’s CEO Richard Plepler in December 2016.
“It certainly has not escaped Casey and myself that there might be some brand extension that would be exciting. It certainly has not escaped the producers.
“Right now we’re focused on finishing the series with the kind of energy and excitement that everyone has come to expect. We’re going to do that while at the same time parallel processing very embryonic stages of other possibilities.”
At this stage, a GoT prequel is looking more likely than, say, a Tyrion spin-off. Bloys again: “A prequel feels like it has less pressure on it. [Author George RR Martin’s history of Westeros] gives you areas in which to say to a writer, ‘If you were going to do this, then go flesh it out’, and we’ll see what comes back.”
In May 2017, news broke that HBO was officially developing at least four – yes, FOUR – different spin-offs, with four different writers: Kong: Skull Island’s Max Borenstein, Kingsman: The Secret Service’s Jane Goldman, L.A. Confidential’s Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland and Westworld’s Carly Wray.
GRRM later suggested that in fact five different shows are in development: all prequels, with no established characters. None of them, by the way, chronicle Robert’s Rebellion – and an adaptation of Martin’s Dunk and Egg novellas has also been ruled out.
Martin reiterated this in June 2017, revealing that “five successor shows are moving forward at various rates of speed” – though Bloys would insist a month later that HBO only has “a deal for four spinoffs right now with four writers”.
Only one of the spin-offs is expected to ever make it to screen, and even then not for a long time, with Bloys explaining that each of the projects is at an “embryonic” stage as of June 2017.
In late July 2017, Bloys gave another update, saying that the spin-offs won’t air until at least a year after the series ends.
“The number-one priority in all of this is the final season of Game of Thrones,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to do anything with a spin-off or anything that detracts or distracts from that. That [final Game of Thrones] season will happen and my guess is it would be at least a year before you saw anything else.
“What I don’t want is the attention to be drawn from the final season, which I think is going to be epic and amazing, and somehow have the distraction of a new Game of Thrones airing right after that. It’s best to separate it and that’s what we’ll do.”
Bloys added that the jury is still out on whether Game of Thrones will end next year as originally planned or be pushed into 2019 — the latter being a scenario that would presumably push any spin-off into 2020, at least.
There’s been talk too of a Game of Thrones movie. And we’ll give you one guess who’s been doing most of the talking.
“It might need a feature to tie things up,” George RR Martin said back in March 2014. “Something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know…”