From the moment of Ned's beheading, Game of Thrones has worked hard to convince the audience no one is safe. In truth, fans have always known certain characters would not be dying anytime soon though. There was just no way the show was going to randomly off Daenerys, Arya, or Jon Snow (hence the 1,001 think pieces about why Jon wouldn't stay dead after the Season 5 finale). With just two seasons left, suddenly no Game of Thrones character is truly safe anymore — and that truth is going to have a major impact on how you watch the show.
Now that the series has not only surpassed the books it is based on, but is actively moving toward the ultimate endgame, characters you once thought were untouchable may face the god of death. The shortened Seasons 7 and 8 are designed to bring all of the disparate stories together in order for the characters to fight off their common enemy. With fewer episodes comes a need to streamline the plot, and dispatch characters who simply aren't part of the final tale.
Expect characters who are not absolutely essential to the series' grand finale to start meeting the pointy end of the sword at an alarming rate. Once the minor characters you love are sacrificed on the battlefield with the White Walkers or at the hands of Queen Cersei, you can bet showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will come for your beloved favorites next. At long last, the untouchables are in just as much jeopardy as Joffrey, Robb, and poor Myrcella always were.
As weird as it may sound, this new development is worth getting excited over. While I don't relish the thought of seeing Sansa or Tyrion meet an untimely end, I am eager to see what the final episodes of this political fantasy series are going to bring. The final two seasons are going to maneuver all of the characters into place so their journeys intertwine, and honestly, that is the ultimate payoff for all the time fans have invested in the show.
I expect alliances to be forged, new ships to be launched, and, sadly, for heroic sacrifices to be made. Game of Thrones simply wouldn't be Game of Thrones if the end of the series didn't lead to tragic losses for the good guys. Characters like the Starks have already lost so much, but I fully anticipate them to lose even more before the people of Westeros finally get a queen or king they can count on.
Likewise, if Daenerys doesn't suffer major setbacks upon arriving in Westeros it simply wouldn't feel true to the heart of the story. Winter has always heralded the coming of dark times in this world, and winter is finally here. Whatever lies ahead for the Lannister siblings, the Starks, Daenerys, and their allies is going to hurt.
Embrace the fact that Game of Thrones is about to serve up some major pain and heartache. Once the final battle is fought and the dust settles, all of the twists and turns that brought the characters to that point should feel well-earned. Someone will surely live to tell the tale — whether it's the remaining Starks, Tyrion, or Daenerys, finally on her throne, you know it is going to be epic. And it is going to break your heart, but isn't that why you love Game of Thrones?
Even when the characters are stuck in the dark of winter, you know spring will bring at least some of them a small measure of happiness.