Game of Thrones season 8 release date, episodes, spoilers, filming and everything you need to know
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 8 premiere date: When will it start?
It’s going to be another long wait, with official word coming from HBO that the eighth and final season will arrive in 2019. This was later narrowed down to “the first half of 2019” – which we suppose is slightly better.
And now, after narrowing it down even further to April, HBO has finally confirmed a premiere date of Sunday, April 14, 2019.
UK broadcaster Sky Atlantic has also confirmed that the final series will be simulcast on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV at 2am on Monday, April 15 alongside the US’s HBO airing. It will then air again at 9pm on Monday night in the UK.
It fits with the timeline that had previously been tipped by by Sansa actress Sophie Turner – with her on-screen sibling Maisie Williams later suggesting an April return date too. However, Williams later denied releasing that info, posting on Twitter that the quote was “completely false and taken from an interview I did years ago”.
HBO President Casey Bloys had previously promised a lengthy hiatus: “[David Benioff and Dan Weiss, showrunners] have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule 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.”
Bloys later acknowledged that Benioff and Weiss’s vision for their grand finale is far more “complicated” than prior years.
“Our production people are trying to figure out a timeline for the shoot and how much time the special effects take,” he said.
“The shooting is complicated enough — on different continents, with all the technical aspects — and the special effects are a whole other production period that we’re trying to figure out. That is a big factor in all of this.”
“The final season is taking a long time because it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Benioff said backstage at the 2018 Emmys.
“Even though it’s six episodes, it was nearly a full year in Belfast either prepping it or shooting it,” he continued. “It’s quite extraordinary what the crew and the actors created, and I think when people see it they’ll understand why it took so long.
Ser Jorah actor Iain Glen has also suggested that bringing the show’s sizeable cast together for the final outing also complicates matters: “We’re all starting to be in the same storylines and so they can’t [have two filming units] anymore. I think this last season will take much longer to shoot because they can only use one unit.”
Once final GoT episodes land on HBO in the US next year, 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 NowTVEntertainment Pass, which gives you access to the show (and loads of others) on all your devices.
Game of Thrones season 8 trailer: Is there any footage from the new episodes?
And yes, hidden away among several shots of Thrones season 7, at the 1:10 mark is one brand new clip featuring Jon Snow, Sansa Stark and a not-so warm embrace.
An official teaser trailer for the new series then dropped in December 2018, and while it still didn’t reveal a whole lot, it did give viewers a look at a dark twist on the show’s opening.
Fire and ice, anyone?
And now, we’ve got this release date trailer which shows Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) gathering in the crypt at Winterfell.
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!
Gendry actor Joe Dempsie revealed to Digital Spy that he’s been filming “a fair bit” for the final six episodes.
“I’ve done well out of it this year, for sure,” he said, before adding that fans shouldn’t assume his character survives till the end.
“As with all these things, we never shoot in chronological order – so you might have people coming in at the beginning and at the end, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they make it all the way through!”
Unsurprisingly, Pilou Asbæk has confirmed his return – hopefully to see horrid Euron Greyjoy get his comeuppance. “I got some great scenes next season,” he told Syfy Wire.
Asbæk later elaborated to Thrillist, describing his role in season eight as “small… but never… significant”. “Hopefully… I’ll do enough monkey business to make an impact.”
You’ll be happy to hear that Jon Snow’s loyal direwolf Ghost “has a fair amount of screen time in season eight” and has “some pretty cool things” to do.
The Night’s Watch will also resurface, according to actor Ben Crompton, who’ll reprise his role of Lord Commander Eddison ‘Edd’ Tollett one last time before his watch is ended for good.
Wilf Scolding played Rhaegar Targaryen – a.k.a. Jon Snow’s father – in the season seven finale and posted an image of himself outside the Europa Hotel in Belfast on Instagram. Could he be returning for more flashbacks / time-travel shenanigans?
Both Tom Wlaschiha and Vladimir Furdik have been spotted on location, meaning that fans could be seeing Jaqen H’ghar and the Night King in the final episodes. (One fan theory even suggests that the Night King will end up sitting on the Iron Throne, after the Red Keep set was turned an icy white.)
Even Mark Addy has been seen hanging with his former cast-mates in Ireland… is Robert Baratheon returning for flashbacks?
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‘. (Ellaria’s demise was implied more than shown, but Indira Varma has said she’s not returning.)
Mark Gatiss played Tycho Nestoris – an envoy from the Iron Bank of Braavos – in GoT‘s fourth, fifth and seventh seasons, but has insisted he’s not back for the eighth.
Thoros (Paul Kaye) also met his end in episode 6, ‘Beyond the Wall‘ – which probably means no more second chances for Beric Dondarrion in the GoT universe – while Benjen Stark (Joseph Mawle) is also very much dead.
Ellie Kendrick has also cast doubt on a return for Meera Reed – which probably discounts that fan theory about her being Jon Snow’s twin sister – and despite being pictured with GoT‘s showrunners, Jason Momoa has ruled out any sort of resurrection for his popular character Khal Drogo.
“Yeah… he’s not coming back,” Momoa told Digital Spy. “Nine years now, let him go.”
Tobias Menzies has suggested that he’s unlikely to reappear as Edmure Tully, which means that character is doomed to rot away in prison, we guess.
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. (Hivju has since been spotted in Belfast, which some fans have taken to mean that Tormund survives.)
“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.”
Not quite a ‘cast member’ but Rebecca Van Cleave, who was Lena Headey’s body double in season five’s famous walk of shame scene, returned for at least three daysof filming in Dublin. (Make of that what you will!)
straight-talking” and “Northern-accented” young girl, a tough young boy who “has to fight to make his way in the world”, a middle-aged mercenary (part of the Golden Company?) and a rough-and-ready sailor.
Marc Rissman (The Last Kingdom) confirmed via his Spotlight CV that he’d be playing Harry Strickland, leader of the Golden Company, in season 8, though the credit was later deleted. Whoops!
It’s also been revealed, thanks to her resumé, that Danielle Galligan will star in the final season as a character named Sarra – and the only Sarra we know from the books is Sarra Frey, so could House Frey be making an appearance and should Arya watch her back?
Casting notices have also gone out for a male soldier with an imposing presence and combat skills, a clean-shaven ‘grieving man’ and a young village girl role for an actress aged 18-25 who will have to be naked above the waist (classic Thrones).
Former EastEnders star Alice Nokes has also joined the cast for season eight playing a character named Willa, although we don’t know much about her character yet.
Behind the camera we also have a full list of season 8 directors – and, after sitting out season 7, Miguel Sapochnik (who helmed season 6’s breathtaking ‘Battle of the Bastards’ and season 5’s stunning ‘Hardhome’) will be back for multiple instalments.
David Nutter (‘The Rains of Castamere’) is also returning, while Benioff and Weiss will tackle the series finale themselves.
Game of Thrones season 8 episodes: How long will it run?
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.”
GETTY IMAGESDANNY MARTINDALE/WIREIMAGE
Given the 67 hours that were 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.
“Every single episode of the six you’ve got left in Season 8 is gonna be monumental,” Samwell Tarly actor John Bradley said. “I think you’re gonna get six ‘episode nines’ this year.”
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 would commence in September 2017, 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, while Cunningham (again) suggested that the cast will be filming “bigger” and “longer” episodes up until the summer of 2018.
By January of that year, Peter Dinklage confirmed the the cast were about halfway through filming the final season. “It’s the final season, and it’s a long one so we’re taking our time,” he added.
Emilia Clarke had wrapped filming by June, confirming the news in an Instagram post, with Maisie Williams following suit a short while later, including the hashtag “last woman standing” in her post – a hint at Arya’s survival?
Opening up about her final day on the set of Thrones, Maisie called the fan-favourite character’s ending ” beautiful”. “I ended on the perfect scene,” she added.
Shooting on all six of the final GoT episodes wrapped on Friday, July 6 – the end of an era!
There has been extensive talk about the length of each episode, with some hints suggesting that fans should expect them to be feature-length, spanning around 80 minutes each. Casey Bloys initially hinted that individual episodes might even run to two hours, though he later retracted those comments.
“We know we have six episodes – we are not sure whether they will run for 70 minutes or even 90 minutes,” Kit Harington clarified in January 2018. “The length will be a network decision.”
But it has now been confirmed that each season 8 episode will be “longer than 60 minutes”.
“They’re all feature-length episodes,” Iain Glen told Lorraine. “Six of them. [Like] six movies.”
During a Reddit AMA on Tuesday (November 13), Thrones director David Nutter finally revealed the news: “Season eight episodes will all I think be longer than 60 minutes. They’ll be dancing around the bigger numbers, I know that for sure”, describing the final chapter as “Spectacular, inspiring, satisfying.”
Nutter also explained why fans of the show have had to wait nearly two years for the final instalment to land: “Things take time my friends — they take a lot of time to create and GoT is the last place you’re going to find half baked work, so it’s all about making sure they fill the frame with as much capacity as possible and making it as real and right as possible.
“Small price to pay for the amazing quality that comes out of that show.”
There’s talk of each episode costing a whopping $15 million – up from reported figures for the previous season (which is said to have cost somewhere between $10-14 million per ep).
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.
Oh, and one last thing: once it’s over, it’s over, with HBO shooting down any hopes of a Game of Thrones revival a few years down the line. “That’s not happening,” network boss Casey Bloys told The Hollywood Reporter. “This story, A Song of Ice and Fire, is done.”
Game of Thrones ending: What will happen in the final episodes?
Here’s how the final season begins: the first episode will plenty of callbacks to the first ever episode of Game of Thrones, opening in Winterfell with the Starks awaiting a royal visitor. But instead of King Robert, it’s now Daenerys.
We are told that the confrontations between characters, some of whom have never met before, will be tense, e.g. Sansa expressing her displeasure at Jon Snow bending the knee.
Beyond that, it’s all so secret, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau has claimed the cast won’t even get scripts for the final episodes, but will be fed their lines through an earpiece.
We’re going to assume he was joking… though the cast have apparently been receiving digital-only scripts, which vanish after a certain amount of time – Mission: Impossible style!
“It’s tighter than the White House security!” joked Sophie Turner, revealing that the show’s cast were even given codenames on each day’s call sheet “so that no-one knew who was really going to be on set”.
The series itself was also given a fake title, to hoodwink any passers-by. And that codename?
“It was Face of Angels,” Turner revealed. “It’s a random one!”
Fake scenes were also shot on-location to fool paparazzi with long lenses, while a “drone killer” would shoot down any recording devices that flew over the set. Now that’s commitment to keeping a secret!
Confirming he’d shot bogus scenes to trick the press, director David Nutter said: “They went to the nth degree [to keep secrets], like they do on the show in general. They basically take it to the point where it’s like the Gestapo.”
Peter Dinklage reflected on reading the final scripts for the first time: “It was heartbreaking, and the end of an era.”
“It is going to be incredibly exciting and heartbreaking,” echoed Nathalie Emmanuel. “I feel like people will have their mind blown when they watch the final one.”
Leaked set photos have already hinted at a huge game-changer in this final season… *SPOILERS AHEAD*
Though HBO spent a whopping £1 million on the construction of a new castle in Belfast’s Titanic Quarter – which many assumed to be a large-scale reproduction of Winterfell – new shots from scene reveal that the Starks’ ancestral home will burn – and maybe even be destroyed. More bad news for House Stark…
We’ve had our theories on what it could mean here.
Some Game of Thrones fans assumed that Sophie Turner’s new tattoo – a direworld and the words “The pack survives” – confirmed that the remaining Starks would make it out of the show alive, but she later insisted that her body art had been misinterpreted.
“That would be terrible, if I got the ending tattooed on my body, just before the last season came out,” she said. “That would be so stupid.”
Along with the Winterfell skirmish, It looks as though a fiery clash is coming to King’s Landing too – will any of the show’s iconic locations be left standing by the end?
A return to the Dragonpit is also looking likely, with new images appearing to show filming resuming at the Roman ruins of Italica in Seville, Spain, where last year’s scenes were filmed.
As for where we left off… 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?”
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? (One thing’s for sure, he’ll be sporting some facial hair next season.)
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.”
Fans are also convinced that – despite previously being shown as unable to carry a child – Daenerys is pregnant with Jon’s baby after their tryst in season 7’s finale. Talk about complicated…
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, while Peter Dinklage has said of the Imp’s final fate: “It ends beautifully for my character, whether it be tragic or not.”
Dark times might lie ahead for Daenerys, though, who appears to be sporting a shorter hairstyle in season 8. “It f**ked me up,” Emilia Clarke said of shooting her last scenes. “Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavour in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is…”
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, with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau hinting that main characters could perish and be resurrected as White Walkers.
It later transpired that this was just the exterior filming, with shooting on the sequence continuing in-studio for several weeks after that. Yup, this “brutal” battle against the Army of the Dead took months to film!
It’ll apparently air as the third episode of the season. “There is a battle that the creators intended to be a historic moment in television,” revealed Night King actor Vladimír Furdík.
“Almost the full episode will be about the battle, it will take about one hour.”
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.
Sansa will apparently be facing “a new threat” this season (the White Walkers, or something else?), while John Bradley has promised that his character Sam and Bran will prove to be a “formidable” team.
“What I think links those two characters is that they’re both characters who are in possession of abilities and skills that nobody else has,” Bradley said. “Between them, they’re such a formidable team because, OK, they can’t fight between them, they don’t have much physical power between them, but both of their set of skills are so unique.”
Bradley – that old blabbermouth – has also suggested that we’ll see a whole lot more zipping back and forth across the Seven Kingdoms. “Each of the characters this year is placed in a completely alien environment at some point in the season that they’ve never been placed in before,” he said.
“The thrill is seeing how they react to it and how they respond… This season, I think, more than any other is stretching these characters.”
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…
“[Season eight] is about all of these disparate characters coming together to face a common enemy, dealing with their own past, and defining the person they want to be in the face of certain death,” said co-executive producer Bryan Cogman.
“It’s an incredibly emotional, haunting, bittersweet final season, and I think it honours very much what George set out to do – which is flipping this kind of story on its head.”
“At the end of the very last script, they read aloud, ‘End of Game of Thrones.’ As soon as they read that out, pretty much everyone burst into tears. There was a standing ovation for [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss]. We were all clapping and cheering. It was amazing.”
Isaac Hempstead Wright (Bran) has acknowledged that, while the series finale is unlikely to please everyone, “we’re all so confident in the way this story goes and the message it gives and how the whole story arc works.”
“People will scream and people will say, ‘That’s exactly what I wanted’, and some people will go, ‘Huh?’ – my mum, probably,” echoed Emilia Clarke.
Iain Glen has likewise suggested that the ending won’t “please everyone“, but called it “brilliant” and satisfying, while Nathalie Emmanuel played down concerns that wrapping up GoT in just six episodes would lead to a “rushed conclusion“.
“It will go over and above the fans’ expectations,” said the Missandei actress.
Joe Dempsie also warned fans that the end of Game of Thrones is not going to go the way they think: “It would be a bit of an anti-climax if a well popularised theory turned out to be the way it ended.”
Sophie Turner similarly described the show’s climax as “unpredictable“, saying, “It really is so unpredictable the way that it ends up. I’m very satisfied with that, and I think that the fans will be satisfied with that, too.”
“I read it, and.. I don’t think they could have done a better job,” teased Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, promising that “parts of [the final episode] were just completely shocking and surprising.”
Meanwhile, 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.”
Casey Bloys has hinted at GoT shooting “multiple versions” of the very final scenes, to prevent leaks, though Nikolaj Coster-Waldau later suggested this would be “really stupid” and hardly a cost effective move. “You’re not going to waste $100,000 a day to shoot something you’re not going to use – it’s not going to happen.”
“I heard this and I thought, ‘I don’t think we’ve got the budget to shoot lots of different endings,'” Maisie Williams later said in an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!.
But this was contradicted by Emilia Clarke, who suggested alternate endings were being filmed. “There’s lots of different endings that could happen; I think we’re doing all of them and we aren’t being told which is actually what’s going to happen.”
One things for certain: the final episodes will be a bit of a bloodbath, with the concluding eighth season being described as “carnage” by the cast. “It’s not like a fairytale happy ending by any means at all,” warned Hannah Murray (Gilly).
HBO’s senior vice president of drama Francesca Orsi even implied that all of the show’s characters would perish before the final curtain falls. “[The table read of the final episode] was a really powerful moment in our lives and our career,” she said. “None of the cast had received the scripts prior, and one by one they started to fall down to their deaths.”
In January 2018, some scripts purporting to be genuine extracts from season 8 were leaked online, which included MAJOR spoilers, including confirmation of at least one massive character death.
HBO is yet to comment on the leak, so it’s possible the scripts were fakes. Time will tell…
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 would finally “be out this year“, though he did add: “But hey, I thought the same thing last year.”
Yes, indeed – and 2017 came and went, with no new book on the shelves. “I do think you will have a Westeros book from me in 2018,” he later insisted. “Who knows, maybe two? A boy can dream.”
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.
In February 2018, Martin hinted that the book might not be out this year as he is busy working on his Fire & Blood series, a history of the Targaryen family, and he later confirmed that fans will be waiting till at least 2019. (He did at least skip visiting theGame of Thrones set during shooting for the final season in order to fully commit to writing.)
In November 2018, GRRM admitted that he was “struggling” to write his new novel. “The Winds of Winter is not so much a novel as a dozen novels,” Martin said. “Each with a different protagonist, each having a different cast of supporting players and antagonists and allies and lovers around them, and all of these weaving together in an extremely complex fashion.
“So it’s very, very challenging.”
It might take even longer for the final GoT novel, A Dream of Spring, to materialize, with Martin suggesting that, once Winds of Winter is complete, he might write another volume in the Fire & Blood series or more Dunk and Egg stories before starting work on ADoS.
If it ever does see the light of day, we do know that The Winds of Winter will feature a prominent role for Lady Stoneheart, the resurrected Catelyn Stark, who has not featured (to date) on the television series.
Game of Thrones spin-offs and prequels: Will there be a movie?
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.
GETTY IMAGESSTEVE SNOWDEN / STRINGER
GRRM later revealed that in fact five different shows were in development, all prequels, with no established characters, with the fifth and final project coming from GoT‘s co-executive producer Bryan Cogman.
(Martin also has his own idea for a spin-off, called Spear Carriers, which would be set during the events of Game of Thrones but follow the ‘regular folk’ of the Seven Kingdoms – HBO’s apparently not keen, though.)
In October 2017, HBO chairman Richard Plepler confirmed that no decision had been made on which pitch(es) would go to series. “I think we will find with this embarrassment of riches an exciting property for us to move forward with. We are looking at some things, I have read a couple of early bibles and I’m excited about what I’ve seen.”
But then, in June 2018, HBO announced that it had ordered Goldman’s pilot which the author has revealed does involve her signature humour and love of gore.
Here’s the official description for Goldman’s greenlit pilot: “Taking place thousands of years before the events of Game of Thrones, the series chronicles the world’s descent from the golden Age of Heroes into its darkest hour. And only one thing is for sure: from the horrifying secrets of Westeros’s history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East, to the Starks of legend … it’s not the story we think we know.”
Martin later revealed that while one of the other four spin-offs had “been shelved”, the other three “remain in active development” (though he didn’t specify which one had been ditched).
None of the spin-offs, by the way, chronicle Robert’s Rebellion – and an adaptation of Martin’s Dunk and Egg novellas has also been ruled out.
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There’ll be no returning characters from the parent show, either. “I think there’s going to be spin-offs, but I’m not going to be involved in any of it,” said Kit Harington, ruling out a cameo for Jon Snow.
Only one of these potential series was ever expected to ever make it to screen, and 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.”
With the final season of GoT not going out until 2019, this would presumably push any spin-off into 2020, at least.
“We are doing a pilot that Jane Goldman wrote,” Casey Bloys said in July 2018. “We’re just starting the search for a director… we have to cast it. We hope to be shooting sometime in the new year.”
The first casting announcement came in late October, with Naomi Watts confirmed to be playing a lead role in the spin-off.
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Incredibly, the Oscar nominee had never actually seen Game of Thrones when she signed up for the part. “I am late coming to it, I have to say,” she toldEntertainment Tonight. “I am bingeing it right now and studying. It’s very exciting.”
Watts will play “a socialite with a hidden secret” – and Casey Bloys has suggested that her character is just one of several “very strong female characters” appearing in the new pilot. “But it’s an ensemble, there are men and women,” he added. “Jane is a very good writer, we don’t want to limit her to writing female leads. There are a lot of very complicated leads in it.
Responding to the casting news, George RR Martin insisted that “a couple of other possible prequels” were still “in active development” and appeared to suggest that Goldman’s pilot is named The Long Night.
This hasn’t been officially confirmed by HBO – and Martin later clarified that “the Jane Goldman pilot is not (yet) titled THE LONG NIGHT. [That] is certainly the title I prefer, but for the moment the pilot is still officially UNTITLED.”
Poldark actor Josh Whitehouse will also appear in the pilot in a major role, though details of his character are being kept under wraps.
Rumour has it that actresses Denise Gough and Sheila Atim are also in talks to appear in the pilot, with Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright having been in early talks but later dropping out.
In September, casting calls went out for series regular roles in a “confidential untitled HBO project” that will begin shooting in February 2019 – thought to be Goldman’s spin-off.
The four characters included a black woman, age 24-32, codenamed “S”; a mixed race man, age 17-22, “A”; a white woman, age 17-25, “I”; and finally a black woman, age 16-23, “F”.
More casting calls for the spin-off, courtesy of Spotlight via Watchers on the Wall, were posted on October 24th. Here are the parts currently being cast:
- B3 (Male, 50 – 63 years old) SERIES REGULAR. Playing age 50s. Black actor.
- W (Male, 37 – 45 years old) Playing age late 30s-mid 40s. Caucasian actor.
- E (Male, 30 – 38 years old) SERIES REGULAR. Playing age 30s. Genuine Scandinavian, Germanic, or Eastern European.
- V2 (Male, 49 – 58 years old) SERIES REGULAR. Playing age 50s. Genuine Scandinavian, Germanic, or Eastern European.
- N (Female, 31 – 34 years old) SERIES REGULAR. Playing age early 30s. Caucasian actress.
- M3 (Female, 28 – 31 years old) SERIES REGULAR. Playing age late 20s. Caucasian actress.
Watchers on the Wall reported in mid-November that the search for an actor to play “A” was still ongoing, with another character – “S2”, a black woman somewhere between her forties and sixties – also now being cast.
The spin-off is also looking for a pair of twins, aged 23-29, to play twin sisters in their twenties, and someone to play ‘A2’, is a man in his seventies, with a “genuine Scandinavian, Eastern European or German actor” being sought.
As for who might direct The Long Night, JJ Abrams has said that while he’d “be honored” to be involved, he would rather watch as a fan, rather than work on it and “de-mystify the thing”.
George RR Martin has suggested that Westeros is “a very different place” in the spin-off. “There’s no King’s Landing. There’s no Iron Throne. There are no Targaryens, Valyria has hardly begun to rise yet with its dragons and the great empire that it built,” he said.
“We’re dealing with a different and older world and hopefully that will be part of the fun of the series.
“[Jane Goldman] is a tremendous talent. She flew into Santa Fe and we spent a week talking about her ideas. She’s going into territory that I haven’t explored very much in the books. I’ve hinted about them. But she’s a major writer, I love her work.”
There’s been talk too of a Game of Thrones movie, or series of films. And we’ll give you one guess who’s been doing most of the talking.
“It might need a feature to tie things up,” GRRM said back in March 2014. “Something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know…”
Benioff and Weiss have confirmed that they did consider wrapping up Thrones with a trilogy of big-screen releases, rather than six TV episodes – in order to secure a bigger budget. However, when HBO agreed to cough up the cash, they decided to play out the final end on television instead.
Game of Thrones season 7 finale: What happened in ‘The Dragon and the Wolf‘?
Just in case you need reminding: 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.