Game of Thrones season 8: Everything we know – from release date and cast to plot spoilers
Just a few months left until we get to watch everybody die!
Jon Snow and Daenerys speak at the Dragonpit in the season 7 finale (Photo: HBO)
There are just six episodes left of Game of Thrones . Ever. That’s it. Gone. Donezo. We’ve known this for some time, but as the final season creeps ever closer it’s really starting to sink in.
Ahead of the final season we have a lot of questions . Will Jaime really kill Cersei? Will Jon Snow ride a dragon? And is he Azor Ahai reborn? Or is that Daenerys? Or someone else entirely?
We’re going to have to wait for the answers. HBO have kept details tightly under wraps this time around – they’re desperate to avoid spoilers after the entirety of season 7 was leaked online ahead of release.
But several interesting nuggets of news have been made public – some by HBO themselves, some by the cast, and some by eagle-eyed fans on the lookout any GoT -related stories they can find in this long wait for season 8.
Here’s everything we know so far about the release date, cast, plot, and what key figures have had to say about the show’s last hurrah. Some spoilers!
Arya and Sansa Stark at Winterfell (Photo: HBO)
When will season 8 air?
The first episode will officially air on Sunday 4 April 2019 , HBO has announced.
That means Game of Thrones is returning to its usual spring time slot, after being delayed until July for season 7.
As always, the episodes will air at 2am on Sky Atlantic in the UK, meaning we can watch live with fans in the US. A repeat will then show on the same channel at 9pm on the Monday.
If HBO airs the six episodes every Sunday without breaks, that puts the long-awaited finale on 19 May . Mark your calendars, everyone.
Is there a trailer?
There are a few teasers so far, although they include the sum total of roughly seven seconds of footage from season 8 proper.
On 6 January HBO released a trailer for all its big shows coming back this year, from Game of Thrones to True Detective and Big Little Lies .
During that medley we got to see Sansa Stark welcoming Daenerys to her home in the North. “Winterfell is yours, your grace,” Sansa tells Dany, suggesting she has accepted the Mother of Dragons and Jon Snow’s new beau as her queen.
Sansa’s words are a call back to the very first episode of the show, when her father Ned Stark uttered the same phrase to his good friend Robert Baratheon, who travelled to Winterfell to name him Hand of the King.
Another teaser released late on 13 January to announce the official start date includes almost two minutes of brand new footage, though none of it will be seen in season 8.
The clip shows Jon, Sansa and Arya walking through the crypt of Winterfell, past the statues of the dead Stark relatives.
First, we see Jon walk past Lyanna, his mother (although Jon doesn’t know that yet), and we hear Lyanna’s voice say: “You have to protect him.”
This is what Lyanna tells her brother, Ned, when she hands Jon over to him on her deathbed.
Next Sansa walks past her mother, Catelyn, and Catelyn’s voice says: “All this horror that’s come to my family, it’s all because I couldn’t love a motherless child.”
Catelyn says this to Robb’s wife Talisa back in season 3, referring to Jon, who she believes is her husband’s bastard son, rather than her nephew and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
We see Jon stop in front of the statue of Ned, and we hear words Sean Bean’s character spoke back in season 1. “You are a Stark,” he tells Jon. “You might not have my name, but you have my blood.”
All of this points to Jon’s true parentage – that he is the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark – being a huge storyline in the final season. Not that we’d every have expected otherwise.
Jon joins Sansa and Arya at the end of the crypt, where they are met by their own statues. Suddenly their torches go out, and the tunnel is overcome by frost. Jon and Arya draw their swords as a thick, icy fog draws towards them, and then it cuts to black.
The first teaser, released back in August, included roughly two seconds of new footage.
It shows Jon Snow hugging a steely-eyed Sansa at Winterfell, and is cut among scenes from season seven including Daenerys and Drogon torching Lannister soldiers and Cersei and Jon facing off in the Dragonpit at King’s Landing.
More revealing trailers will come in the coming months, but Game of Thrones traditionally likes to keep its promo material very vague, and sometimes makes it deliberately misleading to try and throw fans off the scent of key storylines.
In the season 7 trailer, fans were made to fear for Jon Snow (again) when footage of him riding out Beyond the Wall alone was accompanied with voiceover of Sansa saying, “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives”. In the end, we discovered Sansa was actually quoting her father while speaking to Arya, and Jon ended the season safe and sound (well, as safe as you can be when you’re heading North to take on a White Walker army).
Who’s joining the cast?
Being the last season, don’t expect to see too many new characters strolling in next spring – the last six episodes will focus on the ones we’ve come to know and love (and hate) over the last seven years.
The biggest piece of casting news – and the only named character cast for season 8 publicly so far – is German actor Marc Rissmann taking on the role of Harry Strickland.
Marc Rissmann in Into the Badlands, a show which he appeared in for one episode (Photo: Big Kid Pictures)
In the books, Strickland is the leader of the Golden Company, the army of mercenaries from Essos which Euron Greyjoy sails off to bring back for Cersei at the end of season 7.
A number of smaller, unnamed roles have also been cast, which you can read about here .
One person who won’t be appearing in the final season is Mark Gatiss – who plays head of the Iron Bank Tycho Nestoris. He’s confirmed his time on the show is over.
What do we know about the plot?
As we said before, plot details are being held very close to HBO’s chest, which is definitely for the best, but there are a few things we know.
No big spoilers are out in the open yet, but we’ll still put a spoiler level ahead of each piece of information, so you can skip parts if you want to go into season 8 completely in the dark.
Spoiler level: very mild
Peter Dinklage spoke to Entertainment Weekly about how Tyrion’s relationship with Daenerys will develop in season 8, admitting his character does have feelings for his queen.
Jon Snow and Daenerys slept together in the final episode of season 7 (Photo: HBO)
“It’s complicated,” he said. “A lot of the time with Tyrion, it’s professional and personal. Obviously, he has feelings for Daenerys. He loves her – or thinks he does. She’s awe-inspiring. He’s questioning that because he doesn’t have a good track record for falling in love. There’s jealousy wrapped up in there.
“He loves Jon Snow, too. They’re the two people he has the most in common with, in a way – they’re both outsiders in their own families who have refused to follow the path their family has taken, and hopefully for the better.
“He’s wondering how smart of a move [Jon and Daenerys getting together is], because passion and politics don’t mix well. He knows the two of them getting together could be very dangerous.”
Spoiler level: very mild
In August HBO released the script for the final episode of season 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf” which all but confirmed what we already heavily suspected – Tormund and Beric survived the Wall crashing down at the hands of the Night King’s new undead dragon.
The script says the pair “run for their lives and disappear from view”, meaning we’re 99.9 per cent certain to be seeing them again. Praise the gods – it wouldn’t be fair to lose Tormund yet.
It was confirmed way back in April that cast and crew spent an incredible 55 nights filming a single battle on set in Northern Ireland.
The location means the battle takes place in the North – more specifically at Winterfell – and the most likely cause would be the Night King’s army waging war on Jon Snow and co. on their march down Westeros.
To put this battle scene in perspective, the Battle of the Bastards took 25 days to film – less than half the time. This should be the show’s biggest battle by a distance.
In a thank you note to the crew sent after wrapping, assistant director Jonathan Quinlan wrote: “When tens of millions of people around the world watch this episode a year from now, they won’t know hard you worked.
“They’ll just understand they’re watching something that’s never been done before.”
Season 6’s Battle of the Bastards will be eclipsed in season 8 (Photo: HBO)
Spoiler level: medium
Not only will season 8 feature Game of Thrones ‘ biggest ever battle, it’ll also feature its second biggest!
This one will be at King’s Landing, and hints at a fair bit of destruction. Fan site A Red Priestess uploaded videos to its Twitter account of some of the set on fire.
It’s estimated around 600 extras were used for this battle, which could again be a result of the White Walkers laying waste to the living. How much of Westeros will actually be left when this is all said and done?
Spoiler level: medium-high
A lawsuit between Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime, and his former agent, has revealed that the Danish actor is only down to appear in four of the six episodes in the final season.
This doesn’t mean he’s going to die in episode four, though – a couple of episodes may just skip his storyline.
What are the cast saying about it?
Unsurprisingly, everyone who’s ever had even the vaguest association with the show is being asked about in constantly in interviews. Here are some of the highlights.
Kit Harington (Jon Snow) on expectation for the ending: “I don’t think everyone’s going to be happy. You can’t please everyone.” A series that’s spanned “eight or nine years will be incredibly difficult to end.” – MTV News
Sophie Turner (Sansa) on how much death is coming: “What can you know… this season is bloodier than ever. It’s full of betrayal, full of war, full of danger. That’s all I can say without giving too much away.” – Just Jared
Gendry made a long-awaited return to the show in season 7 (Photo: HBO)
Joe Dempsie (Gendry) on the duo he most wants to see meet up: “Definitely the Hound and the Mountain. They’re either saving it for something epic, or it will be one of those things they won’t be able to fit in, but I’d really love to see it.” – Watchers on the Wall
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime) on filming all together again: “Almost all of the season was shot in or around Belfast. So for the first time in all these years, the whole cast was, more or less, in town together the whole time. It was just a lot of fun to hang out and spend time together and appreciate what we’ve experienced and how lucky we are to be a part of this show.” – Huffington Post
Natalie Dormer (Margaery) on whether ex-cast members know the ending: “I know A to B. I know what B is, but I don’t know how they get B. But I do know B.” – The Hollywood Reporter