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Game Of Thrones throwback: the most dramatic deaths in each season

Winter is finally here and it will be a long and bitter one as fans of the hit fantasy series Game Of Thrones might have to wait until 2019 before the eighth and final season airs (Season 7 ended last Sunday).

All will be revealed over six episodes as viewers find out who will claim the Iron Throne, the ultimate prize over which spells have been cast, alliances have been forged and broken, and blood, lots and lots of it, spilled.

There should also be spectacular action galore as the army of the undead, led by the Night King, makes its way south and does battle against the forces headed by king of the North Jon Snow and mother of dragons Daenerys Targaryen.

Until then, The Sunday Times takes a look back at seasons past and a speculative peek at the future.


Most dramatic deaths

SEASON 1

Ned Stark

The patriarch of Winterfell was played by English actor Sean Bean, arguably the biggest star in the cast at that point. His death by decapitation signalled that no one was safe from the chopping block on the show.

SEASON 2

Renly Baratheon

Not so much for the "who" as for the "how". He is killed by a shadowy creature birthed by Red Priestess Melisandre after she sleeps with Renly's brother Stannis. They are both younger brothers of King Robert and hence have some kind of claim to the Iron Throne after Robert's death.

SEASON 3

Catelyn, Robb and Talisa Stark

Take your pick as to whose death left you reeling most.

Was it the Stark matriarch's as she realises to her horror that the wedding banquet is a deathtrap?

Or that of Robb, the handsome hero played by Richard Madden who had handily cemented his heartthrob status? Or his pregnant wife Talisa's as she was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach?

Fans who had already read the book recorded the reactions of those watching it on screen for the first time as they recoiled, yelled and covered their eyes in disbelief.

SEASON 4

Joffrey Baratheon

If the Season 3 deaths left fans devastated, the slow and agonising death of sadistic King Joffrey left them cheering. He turned an unnatural shade of purple and blood streamed from his nose after he was poisoned at his wedding to Margaery Tyrell.

SEASON 5

Jon Snow

With Robb Stark's untimely demise, the title of series heartthrob passed to Kit Harington's Jon Snow, the supposed bastard child of Ned Stark. Of course, he is unceremoniously stabbed to death by mutineers of the Night's Watch. But it was the worst-kept secret in television that Jon would be brought back to life the following season.

SEASON 6

Hodor

With the epic Battle of the Bastards between Jon Snow and Ramsay Bolton and the latter's subsequent death by dogs and then Cersei Lannister blowing up the Sept of Baelor along with half a dozen key characters, followed by her son Tommen's suicide, there is an embarrassment of riches to choose from.

The most moving death, though, has to be that of Hodor's, dedicated protector of the crippled Bran Stark. Viewers finally learn why he can only say the word "Hodor".

SEASON 7

Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish

Aidan Gillen has the most fabulous smirk as Littlefinger, the sneaky fellow pulling strings and pushing buttons in the background.

This time, we watched it die on his face as his attempt to sow discord between sisters Sansa and Arya Stark ended with his trial and death.


Best pairings

Arya Stark and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane

She is on the run from killers and ends up on the road with one who is highly skilled and always angry. Arya is initially The Hound's captive and he plans to have her ransomed to her brother Robb.

But when she witnesses the massacre of her family by Walder Frey, he carries her to safety after knocking her unconscious. She does leave him to die in Season 4 though, just when it seemed that they might be starting to get along.

Brienne of Tarth and Tormund Giantsbane

Wildling Tormund's fervent attraction to the physically imposing Brienne not only offers both comic relief (she has only contempt for him), but it has also inspired some of the best repartee on the show.

Tormund: "I see the way she looks at me."

The Hound: "How does she look at you? Like she wants to carve you up and eat your liver?"

Tormund: "You do know her."

Tyrion Lannister and Bronn

Smart and self-deprecating Tyrion and the mercenary Bronn have had some great conversations together. Typically, they revolve around gold, alcohol, women and appendages and are largely unprintable in a family newspaper.

They reunite in Season 7 with Tyrion acknowledging, "It's good to see you again", after Bronn details how he is looking out for himself, as usual.


Burning questions for Season 8

• What will Jaime Lannister do? The limits of his love for his sister/queen Cersei have finally been breached, after she orders for him to be killed. Will he march north and wage war against the White Walkers in open defiance or will she have him killed before that?

• What happens when a living dragon clashes with a living-dead Viserion who now spews blue flames?

• Have we seen the last of the direwolves (each of the Stark children, including Jon, were given a pup back in Season 1) or will there be a reappearance or two - in the camp of the Night King as reanimated corpses?

• Will Cleganebowl finally happen? Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane pushed his younger brother, The Hound, into a brazier when they were children and left him with hideous face scars. Fans have speculated about a grudge match between the two for a long time. The Mountain is now a zombie-like killing machine devoted to Cersei and when the brothers meet in Season 7, The Hound says menacingly: "You know who's coming for you. You've always known."

• Will the Children of the Forest re-emerge to play a key role in the war between the living and the dead? After all, they were responsible for creating the White Walkers in the first place. We also know that they stopped Benjen Stark from turning into a wight after he was attacked by them, by stabbing him in the heart with a piece of dragonglass.

• What will happen to Jon Snow and Daenerys' passionate affair once they find out that she is his aunt? Season 7 finally reveals that Jon is no bastard at all but the legitimate son of Daenerys' older brother Rhaegar and Ned Stark's sister Lyanna. His birth name is Aegon Targaryen and he is the heir to the Iron Throne.

• The show keeps saying that Daenerys cannot get pregnant - her dragons are her babies - so that means she will definitely get knocked up with Jon's progeny. Isn't that right?

• Will Tormund survive the attack on the Wall by the Night King's army? So he can have babies with Brienne who are "great big monsters" who would "conquer the world", as he says to The Hound? Pretty please?

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 03, 2017, with the headline 'Capture the throne'. Print Edition | Subscribe