If Tyrion Doesn't Die, Who Will 'Game of Thrones' Kill During The Notoriously Bloody Ninth Episode?

Last week on Game of Thrones, Tyrion gaped open-mouthed in horror — along with all of us watching from home — as Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane gouged out the eyes of Oberyn "The Red Viper" Martell... and then crushed his head into a bloody pulp. It was a viscerally repulsive moment, but it was also a very important one: with Tyrion's champion dead, that means he's been found guilty of murdering King Joffrey in the eyes of both gods and men. And since we're heading into the season's ninth episode — traditionally a very bloody hour — we're very concerned about the Game of Thrones' Imp's fate.

Then again, Tyrion Lannister is as close to a protagonist that Game Of Thrones has since poor Eddard Stark lost his head. Would they really kill him off? Okay yes, they totally would. But will they? Those of us who have read the books know that — in the source material, at least — Tyrion escapes his death sentence with the help of Lord Varys and disappears into exile across the Narrow Sea. So unless showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss depart pretty drastically from the books (which admittedly they're doing with more frequency), then Peter Dinklage should shouldn't start looking for a new job just yet.

If Tyrion isn't the next major Thrones fatality, then who is? We have some idea of who's about to bite it, thanks to George R.R. Martin's books, but there is still the possibility that Benioff & Weiss will surprise us all by changing things up.

Ygritte

In the books: When the Wildlings finally attack The Wall, Ygritte is sadly one of the casualties of the ensuing battle. Jon finds her mortally wounded by an arrow (maybe his own?) and holds her as she dies. Her last words are appropriate: "You know nothing, Jon Snow."

Then again... Maybe we really do know nothing. With it now looking fairly certain that the final two books in the Song Of Ice And Fire series will not be finished in time for the show, the end of this season could be when Benioff & Weiss decide to strike out on their own (even if Martin did tell them how he wants the books to end). They could set up the fifth season as their first wholly original one by making major changes in the final two episodes. Would these changes be enough to spare Ygritte from her fate? Unlikely, but not impossible.

Shae

In the books: After Varys sets Tyrion free, The Imp pays a visit to his father's bedchamber... and finds Shae naked in Lord Tywin's bed. Enraged by her betrayal both in the courtroom and the bedroom, Tyrion strangles his former lover to death with her necklace.

Then again... The show made a much bigger deal out of Tyrion and Shae's relationship than the book ever did, making it very clear that there was at least some semblance of real love between them — whereas in the book, it becomes clear that she was only ever in it for the money. This change will make it harder for the show to justify our beloved Tyrion killing the woman he loves in cold blood. Will the writers skirt the issue by keeping her alive instead?

Tywin Lannister

In the books: After murdering Shae, Tyrion finds his father on the chamberpot. The two engage in a rather tense conversation, and Tyrion ends it by shooting his father in the stomach with a crossbow. The elder Lannister bleeds out on the toilet, an ironic end for such a proud man.

Then again... With Joffrey dead, Tywin is the reigning king of villainy on the show. It's so much fun to watch him manipulate people and work his calculated master plan into fruition. With Tywin gone, the only real villains left will be crazy Cersei and the crazy Boltons. We can't only have crazy evil people — we also need the kind of cool, level-headed evil that only Tywin has seemed to master. Hey, Benioff & Weiss: Will you consider letting Tywin live? Pretty please?

Balon Greyjoy

In the books: Remember when Melisandre did a spell by putting three leeches on Gendry and then burning them? Each of the leeches was a proxy for one of the three pretenders for the crown: Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, and Balon Greyjoy. Well, two out of three are dead, so it's only a matter of time before the crotchety ruler of the Iron Islands bites it too.

Then again... In the source material, he actually dies before Joffrey, blown off a bridge in his castle by a sudden strong wind. We can't help but wonder when Benioff & Weiss are finally gonna kill him off... Unless they have other plans for Balon?

Sandor "The Hound" Clegane

In the books: The Hound is wounded during the fight in the inn that we saw in the Season 4 premiere. Though the show delayed his injury until he was attacked by Biter, the result should be the same: the wound gets infected, Arya denies The Hound the mercy of a quick death, and leaves him to perish under a tree. Later, Brienne meets a monk who says he found the dead Hound and buried him.

Then again... It's a popular theory among book readers that he isn't actually dead... just "The Hound" part of his personality, and that Sandor lives on as a novice at the monastery. While it's a nice thought, George R.R. Martin has never explicitly confirmed the final fate of the younger Clegane, so Benioff & Weiss are free to choose whichever path they want. Will they kill him off? Or leave the possibility open for a triumphant return?

If the showrunners really want to surprise us, they'll kill off someone who's still alive in the books. Let's consider a few options:

Jon Snow

In the books: Not only does Jon make it out of the Wildling attack alive, but Sam is able to talk his fellow Watchers into electing Jon as their new Lord Commander. How crazy would it be, then, to see Benioff & Weiss pull a fast one on us and kill him off in the battle this weekend?

Then again... Jon has some pretty important stuff to do in the fifth book, A Dance With Dragons. And there's that whole prophecy nonsense, which some people theorize points to Jon. And the business with his mother's true identity, which has yet to be revealed. Plus, killing him now is kinda unnecessary, since it would just be hastening the inevitable.

Daenerys Targaryen

In the books: It's no secret that Dany's storyline isn't among ASOIAF fans' favorites. Once she reaches Meereen in A Storm Of Swords, she puts up camp... and then stays there for what feels like a hundred years, killing time until her dragons are big enough to ride across the Narrow Sea. She's still in Meereen as of the end of A Dance With Dragons. Killing Dany now — perhaps by her own increasingly untamed dragons? — would certainly send shockwaves through GoT viewers and would be an effective way to signal that the show is starting to mark its own path.

Then again... Oh, come on. Like the Mother Of Dragons is going anywhere anytime soon. The entire saga is leading up to her efforts to retake her family's throne. If Benioff & Weiss are going to do anything to change Dany's story, hopefully it would be to send her to Westeros sooner, rather than kill her off.

Podrick Payne

In the books: The last we see of Pod in A Feast For Crows, Tyrion's former squire is being hanged from a tree by blood-thirsty Lannister enemies. George R.R. Martin has stated that Pod survives this encounter, but as The Winds Of Winter has yet to be published, the author could always change his mind. We know that the books and show alike delight in killing off characters right at the height of their popularity — just look at what happened to Oberyn. And this season, Pod transitioned from sometimes-funny background player to a full-fledged fan-favorite (and unexpected heartthrob). Does that mean it's time for him to meet a bloody and painful death?

Then again... Look at that face. How could you kill something so adorable?

Ser Pounce

In the books: When Sansa's direwolf Lady was executed at the end of the series' second episode, fans were outraged at the cruel death of an innocent animal. (Little did the show's nascent fans know that would be far from the most upsetting death to occur on the show.) What better way to shock and rile the masses than by offing Tommen's cat, an instant favorite after his debut performance five episodes ago? We can totally imagine Tywin killing Tommen's beloved pet to teach him a lesson in like heartlessness or something.

Then again... There would probably be rioting in the streets if Ser Pounce met a bloody end. Benioff & Weiss would honestly probably be safer killing Tyrion than our favorite furry friend.

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