In April, we can finally look forward to the last instalment of Game of Thrones. It’s been a long time coming—almost two years since the last season, and nine years since the first episode premiered in 2011—but the epic conclusion will be worth it.
Here’s everything you need to know about season 8 of the biggest show of the year.
When is it coming back?
We don’t have an exact date yet, but Game of Thrones will return April 2019. HBO announced the news with a short summary montage of the series that covers many of the biggest events in the show’s history:
Is there a trailer?
Not yet. The only footage so far is this tiny scene from an HBO 2019 preview montage that first aired in January. The sneak peek shows Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) arriving at Winterfell with Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington). Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) greets her stiffly, saying “Winterfell is yours, your grace,” as Brienne of Tarth grimly looks on.
Here’s a preview photo of the season, from a November 2018 Entertainment Weekly cover.
What will it be about?
There has been very little information so far about the plot of season 8. We can surmise that it will finally reveal who will finally sit atop the Iron Throne (if it isn’t destroyed by the Night King’s army first).
We can also guess that the season will deal with the revelation that Daenerys and Jon are related; she’s his aunt, as we discovered after they finally slept together in the ending throes of season 7. Creator D.B. Weiss told TV Insider that this issue will definitely cause drama: “From a dramatic standpoint, it makes things interesting…because the story is no longer about who Jon’s parents are. It’s about what happens when Jon finds out.” Kit Harington, who plays Jon, doesn’t think it’ll be easy on him: “Jon is someone who plays by the book. He cannot lie…. Finding out about Dany would be very hard for him.” As for Emilia Clarke, who plays the dragon queen, she wonders whether Dany could actually handle it: “Daenerys’s lifelong dream has been to avenge her family and claim her rightful seat on the Iron Throne,” she said. “She truly loves Jon. Were she to find out about his title, it would cut deep.”
The season, according to Entertainment Weekly, will open “at Winterfell with an episode that contains plenty of callbacks to the show’s pilot. Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army. What follows is a thrilling and tense intermingling of characters—some of whom have never previously met, many who have messy histories—as they all prepare to face the inevitable invasion of the Army of the Dead.” One specific nugget of drama will be Sansa’s discovery of Jon’s new allegiance; as we know from the first sneak peek, Sansa and Daenerys finally meet.
As for the eventual clash between the humans and the Army of the Dead, it’s “expected to be the most sustained action sequence ever made for television or film.”
How many episodes will there be?
There’s no official word on how long the season or each episode will be, but actor Iain Glen told Daily Express that there was a “read-through of six feature-length episodes” that contained “monumental set pieces.” HBO chief Richard Plepler seemed to confirm this in a comment to Variety: “It’s a spectacle. The guys have done six movies. The reaction I had while watching them was, ‘I’m watching a movie.’”
The season took 10 months to film and cost over $15 million per episode, according to Entertainment Weekly.
Who will be in the season?
Few were left standing at the end of season 7, but we can expect to see Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark, Tyrion Lannister, Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Brienne of Tarth, Ser Jorah Mormont, Grey Worm, Missandei, Ser Davos Seaworth, Theon Greyjoy, Samwell Tarly, and Bronn. (We hope we’ll see Tormund…but we’re not sure if he survived the great attack at the Wall.) Of course, the Night King and his giant army of the dead will be there, too.
An Entertainment Weekly reporter wrote, though, that there were “characters in the finale that I did not expect.”
New actors have reportedly been cast for the season, including Marc Rissman as army commander Harry Strickland, Danielle Galligan as Sarra Frey, Emer McDaid (role to be confirmed), and Alice Nokes as “Willa.”
What have the cast said about the season?
Given the high level of secrecy about the season generally (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, has said the actors have in some cases been fed their lines through earpieces instead of getting scripts), it’s not surprising that the actors have kept details to themselves. But some have spoken about the experience of discovering what happens and filming the final season.
Sophie Turner revealed that at a table read of the final episode, “everyone burst into tears.” She told Entertainment Weekly that “afterwards I felt numb, and I had to take a walk for hours.”
Kit Harington cried the first time he read the ending. He told GQ Australia that filming the season was intense: “Everyone was broken at the end. I don’t know if we were crying because we were sad it was ending or if we were crying because it was so fucking tiring. We were sleep deprived. It was like it was designed to make you think, Right, I’m fucking sick of this.”
Emilia Clarke commented: “Everything feels more intense. I had a scene with someone and I turned to him and said, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to do this ever again,’ and that brings tears to my eyes.”
Lena Headey reported that “there was a great sense of grief. It’s a huge sense of loss, like we’ll never have anything like this again.”
Maisie Williams (Arya Stark) told The Guardian: “I ended on the perfect scene”—which, by the way, doesn’t necessarily mean this was Arya’s final scene, or even one that will end up in the season—“I was alone—shocker! Arya’s always bloody alone. But I was alone and I had watched a lot of other people wrap. I knew the drill, I had seen the tears and heard the speeches.”
Can I believe any spoilers I hear?
Apparently HBO shot fake scenes to send spoiler-seeking fans on the wrong path. So if you see any set photos or hear any rumors floating around the internet, they might be true…or they might not be.
What will I do after the season is over?
Don’t fret—there’s a prequel coming in 2020, set 8,000 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Titled The Long Night, the series will air on HBO and star Naomi Watts. Here’s everything you need to know about it.