Who Will Die In The Battle Of Winterfell On 'Game Of Thrones' Season 8? Episode 2 Provided Closure For So Many Characters
The second episode of Game Of Thrones' final season was all about the calm before the storm, delivering a satisfying series of long-awaited reunions, reckonings, and resolutions. After the episode set up the emotional stakes of the impending conflict, fans are likely worried about who will die in the battle of Winterfell. With the Night King and his army of White Walkers and wights bearing down on the Stark castle, many of the show's fan-favorite characters are unlikely to make it out of next Sunday's showdown alive. But which ones?
It's understandable if fans start getting nervous once a character's arc reaches its conclusion: if a character has finally achieved their long-standing goal, what purpose do they serve to the narrative anymore? Especially with only four episodes to go and the largest battle in the show's history looming on the horizon, viewers should start preparing their goodbyes for anyone who got their happy ending in Episode 2, "A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms." That knowledge is what made those happy endings so bittersweet.
Based on what happened in that satisfying hour of television, here's whose odds of survival have gone up, whose have stayed roughly the same, and whose have gone way, way down.
1. UP: Daenerys Targaryen
Of the few un-resolved plot lines left dangling after Episode 2, the tension between Jon and Dany is definitely the biggest. The former King in the North chose the absolute worst time to tell his queen/lover/aunt the truth of his parentage, and the Mother of Dragons didn't take the news well. Surely neither of these two will die before this conflict is resolved.
2. UP: Jon Snow
Just like his adopted father, Ned — who put all his cards on the table with Cersei before he had a plan, leading directly to his own death — Jon put all his cards on the table with Daenerys, who was clearly troubled by the fact that he had a more direct claim to the Iron Throne than she does. While I don't think Jon will die in the battle, I think there's a good chance he will need help in a crucial moment and Dany will hesitate… only for Jon to survive and be aghast that she was willing to let him die in order to eliminate his threat to her rule.
3. UP: Samwell Tarly
Episode 2 clearly laid out the stakes of the war against the Night King. The show's Big Bad is looking not to just kill every man, woman, and child, but to eliminate all traces of humanity from the world, by erasing all memory that humanity ever existed. That makes Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven, and Sam, the historian, two of the most important people in Westeros right now, as gatekeepers of the continent's history and memory. While Bran is unlikely to survive the series, Sam will probably be the one to write the history of the Seven Kingdoms in the end, ensuring its memory will live on. Perhaps he'll title it A Song Of Ice And Fire?
4. UP: Tyrion Lannister
Understandably annoyed by Tyrion's recent lapses in judgment and streak of poor planning, Dany started the episode not caring whether her inept Hand lived or died. But after Jorah convinced Dany to forgive Tyrion, she agreed that he was too important to risk and demanded that her Hand stay off the battlefield. Smart move, because Tyrion probably still has a role to play in the final three episodes of the series.
5. UP: Varys
Varys was barely in Episode 2; would they really kill off such a long-standing character without giving him any resolution or at least one final satisfying moment? The Spider still has a reckoning ahead when it comes to his relationship with magic and Melisandre. Even though the Red Woman promised Varys he would die in Westeros, I don't think his journey ends at Winterfell.
6. EVEN: Arya Stark
On the one hand, Arya has completed a lot of her arcs over the past two episodes: she has finally reunited with her beloved half-brother (cousin) Jon, and she reconnected with her humanity by opening herself up to Gendry, after several seasons of being an emotionless robot. On that level, a tragic Arya death would make sense next episode. But that would also leave dangling one of the show's biggest unresolved plot threads: her kill list. Surely Arya has to make some more progress on that list before the series ends?
7. EVEN: Davos Seaworth
In Episode 2, Davos once again repeated his mantra that he's one of the only people in Westeros to have lived to a ripe old age. That's either a hint that his words are about to come back to bite him; or it's an indication that Davos will continue to be the unexpected survivor of the story. Hard to tell based on his actions in Episode 2, which involved him connecting with a little girl who reminded him of Shireen. Bringing that plot thread up again makes me think there's still a reckoning coming between Davos and the woman who burned Stannis' daughter alive?
8. EVEN: Gilly
If you believe the theory that the Night King is going to raise the dead Starks from their tombs, then no one hiding in the Winterfell crypts is going to be safe for long. On the one hand, killing Gilly would just be cruel. (And what would happen to little Sam if his mother fell?) On the other hand, surely someone in the crypts is going to die — and if Varys survives, then Gilly would be the next most impactful option. I'm 50-50 on her chances.
9. EVEN: Jaime Lannister
He earned a reprieve (if not forgiveness) for his murder of the Mad King, he was called out by Tyrion for his enabling of Cersei, he got closure from Bran, and he reconnected with Brienne, the one character who most brought out his goodness. These are all hints that Jaime could be up for the chopping block. Then again, surely he has to face off against Cersei one more time before the series is over? If he dies at Winterfell, he can't fulfill the valonqar prophecy, which has been a fan-favorite prophecy for years.
10. EVEN: Sandor Clegane
After briefly reuniting with Arya in the season premiere, the Hound got even more closure in Episode 2, when he got to admit to his former captor/protege that their experiences together had changed him for the better. "I fought for you," Sandor said to Arya, acknowledging that his desire to protect her was the first time he fought for anybody but himself. That would be a nice final moment for the Hound… if it weren't for the fact that Cleganebowl totally still needs to happen.
11. EVEN: Sansa Stark
As Sansa is pretty much the only Stark without superpowers — she isn't a resurrected heir to the throne or a shapeshifting ninja assassin or a creepy omniscient psychic — which, on paper, makes her the most disposable of the Starks. But Sansa's story has always been about survival, and I'm not sure that seeing her killed in the battle of Winterfell would be the most satisfying conclusion to her arc. (Then again, Thrones has never been too concerned with being satisfying…)
12. EVEN: Tormund Giantsbane
I've been convinced so many times that Tormund was about to die — during the Battle of the Bastards, at the Frozen Lake battle, as the Wall fell, when little zombie Ned Umber came to life and tried to stab him — only to be proved wrong, that at this point it feels like betting against the wildling is a fool's errand. Surely his luck is bound to run out at some point, and the Battle of Winterfell is as good a time as any. But I won't believe he's down for the count until his eyes turn blue(r).
13. DOWN: Beric Dondarrion
The writers made it a point to remind viewers in Episode 2 that the Lord of Light has brought Beric back from the dead multiple times for some grand purpose. What better time to fulfill that purpose than in a face-off against the Night King? And with Thoros of Myr dead and Melisandre still in Volantis, there will be no one to bring Beric back if he should fall this time.
14. DOWN: Bran Stark
Whenever characters in a TV show or movie lay out a meticulous plan, you know that plan is going to go awry in some way. So there's no way that Bran's plan to lure the Night King into the open by using himself as bait won't go horribly wrong for everyone. Bran's omniscience makes him almost too powerful; taking the character off the table before the actual endgame might be a smart move on the part of the writers. Plus, viewers never actually saw what Bran told Tyrion during their conversation; it's possible that the new Three-Eyed Raven imparted some crucial piece of information to Tyrion, making his own survival less important.
15. DOWN: Brienne of Tarth
Oh man, this one's going to hurt. Brienne got everything she always wanted, being knighted Ser Brienne of Tarth by Jaime Lannister in one of the most emotional scenes in the show's history. That's exactly the kind of scene that happens right before someone dies a tragic death, isn't it? It would almost be more surprising if Brienne didn't die at this point, honestly. Pour one out for the first female knight in the history of Westeros.
16. DOWN: Eddison Tollett
After a nice reunion between the three surviving members of the Night's Watch — Jon, Sam, and Edd — surely one of those characters, who swore their lives to guarding the realms of men, won't make it out of the battle alive. The new Lord Commander is obviously the most disposable.
17. DOWN: Gendry
By forging the essential dragonglass weapons and helping Arya reconnect with her humanity, Gendry fulfilled his remaining narrative purposes on the show in Episode 2. Unless the writers plan on giving Arya a happily-ever-after with the Baratheon bastard, then Gendry may have outlived his usefulness, making him a prime candidate for a heart-wrenching death, sadly.
18. DOWN: Grey Worm
Has Grey Worm never watched a horror movie?? Making plans for after the battle is won is basically like saying "I'll be right back" — it essentially dooms you on the spot. This couple is definitely not going on that romantic vacation to Naath. I hope Thrones doesn't lean into the overused fridging trope by killing off the woman in the relationship, which is why I think either Grey Worm or both of them will die, not just Missandei. Either way, Grey Worm is for sure a goner.
19. DOWN: Jorah Mormont
After coming face-to-face with the sole remaining member of his family (fierce little Lyanna Mormont) and receiving a Valyrian steel sword from Sam to replace the one he gave up when he fled into exile, Jorah's arc is pretty much complete. The only question is: will he die saving his beloved Khaleesi… or ensuring the survival of the family he dishonored by saving Lyanna?
20. DOWN: Missandei
While watching Missandei survive and react to her beloved Grey Worm's death would be tear-jerking, it would be even more wrenching to watch this star-crossed couple die in each other's arms. Missandei has slightly better odds of making it out of the battle than Grey Worm, but I'm still pretty worried about her. If you talk about wanting to revisit your homeland on the eve of battle, chances of living long enough to make that happen go down drastically.
21. DOWN: Podrick Payne
The fact that loyal squire Pod has survived as long as he has is already something of a miracle. While he's lovable and it would be sad to see him go, he's probably the least essential supporting character when it comes to the show's endgame. At this point, he probably exists just to evoke a heartbreaking reaction in other characters and the audience when he dies a noble death on the battlefield.
22. DOWN: Theon Greyjoy
As soon as Theon decided to return to Winterfell to atone for his sins against the Starks, rather than return to the Iron Island with Yara, it was clear that he was signing his own death warrant. Having volunteered to protect Bran against the Night King, surely Theon will receive his long sought-after absolution by dying while fighting for the boy he betrayed so horribly so long ago.
Of course, Game Of Thrones made a name for itself by subverting fan expectations, so it's probably safe to expect that some people we think will die will end up pulling through… and at least one person we think is safe will unexpectedly and tragically fall. Who will it be? Find out when the Battle of Winterfell is waged on Thrones on Sunday, April 28.