Season seven of Game of Thrones, short as it is, has been surprisingly light on major deaths. Sure, there have been people who have died, but nothing on the level that we’ve come to expect from a show that, last year, had us deeply mourning the death of Hodor. So chances are this Sunday’s finale will have at last one big death coming—and based on where the show seems to be heading and some clues from the book, we have some guesses.
Let me start by saying that, interestingly, while George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones have acquired the reputation of killing off characters in shocking ways, the books have only ever permanently killed off one major point-of-view character: Ned Stark. (Note for TV-only fans: A Song of Ice and Fire’s chapters are from the point of view of certain characters. A few minor characters have point-of-view chapters, but the vast majority of the chapters come from Eddard Stark, Catelyn Stark [dead in the show, but undead in the books], Daenerys, Tyrion, Jon Snow, Bran, Sansa, Arya, Theon, Davos, Jaime, Cersei, Samwell Tarly, and Brienne of Tarth.) Jon’s life, in the books, is still currently hanging a bit in the balance, but we all know he’s not dead.
In the TV show, there’s no real way to convey which characters are POV or not, so deaths for TV-only viewers are actually more shocking since they don’t know which characters are vital for storytelling. While the show’s already broken with this pattern in keeping Catelyn Stark off the board and in the afterlife, there would be some parallelism with Ned’s first season death in not killing off another major POV character until the final book, which might hint that we won’t see one of the aforementioned characters die until the final season and not this Sunday.
One—or even both—of these two is going die. One of them should have died during the battle with the Army of the Dead. The army, with its new dragon, is definitely headed for the Wall in this finale, where Beric and Tormund stayed behind. Beric’s death is almost a certainty—killing Thoros in the last episode was basically a reminder that Beric was continually brought back to life by Thoros. Without him, Beric can’t be resurrected and his next death with be his final one.
Tormund might make it a little bit longer, but what says things are serious more than one death? Two. Two deaths.
If Littlefinger doesn’t die in the finale, then story structure has lost all meaning. The only reason for the interminable storyline about Arya and Sansa manipulating each other is to bring them together in the end over the corpse of Littlefinger. More importantly, Littlefinger’s relevance to the actual story has petered out—he’s basically just Sansa’s shoulder demon now. He’s not a major point-of-view character in the books and, in the show, they’ve been ramping up to comeuppance for him.
The only thing holding Littlefinger back from death is if part of this set-up is if Arya is the one who kills Littlefinger and she dies in the process. The show has been setting Arya up as incredibly irrational and sociopathic, and her reconciliation with her sister could come either by killing Littlefinger or dying in the attempt. But Arya’s such an important POV character, it’s hard to see her death coming next week.
It’s Cleganebowl time, everyone! The Hound is headed south with the wight the team captured and we know the Mountain is hanging out behind Cersei, all undead and having not done much at all this season. This is the chance for Cleganebowl to finally come true and pay off all the work that’s been done to get these two in the same place at the same time. Plus, we still haven’t seen the shot of the Hound drawing his sword that was in the trailer—but the background sure looks like the place everyone’s meeting that we saw in the promo for the season finale.
If Cleganebowl finally, to the cheers of fans everywhere, happens, then Gregor absolutely dies (again) and robs Cersei of some of her protection. Whether Sandor dies too is a bit more up in the air, he’s “good” now and the show might be holding out for one more reunion between him and Arya.
While Cersei is a major POV character in the books, her death at some point seems all but assured. Young Cersei got a fortune from Maggy the Frog which stated that she would marry the king, have three children, and “Gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds.” In the books—but not the show—Maggy added, “And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you.”
Valonqar is High Valyrian for little brother, which Cersei assumes means Tyrion, for obvious reasons (mainly that they hate each other). But many fans believe that Jaime, her twin born seconds after her, will kill her as she gets more bitter, vindictive, and blinding by hate, forcing Jaime to murder a Mad Queen much as he killed the Mad King Aerys Targaryen to save the populace of King’s Landing from his plan to destroy the city rather than lose the throne. Now, the TV show has clearly omitted this part of the prophecy, meaning TV Cersei could be killed by anyone or anything, but there’s still a lot of narrative power in the idea of Jaime being compelled to kill her for the greater good. And the show has built up the growing distance between Jaime and Cersei enough that this seems more and more likely.
If nothing else, Cersei claimed to be pregnant earlier this season and having a fourth child would invalidate the part of Maggy’s prophecy the show did use. That kind of puts a ticking clock on killing the queen in accordance with the prophecy, which kind of hints at her dying sooner rather than later. The real question is: will her death come this season or next? The thing in favor of it being this week is that killing Cersei clears the way for next season to have everybody focus on the fight with the White Walkers.
Jaime’s also a big POV character and he’s had something of a redemption arc that could lead to him being spared. But if he ends up killing Cersei and his unborn child, it’s even odds if he decides to continue on or not.
We haven’t seen much of Varys other than to see him counseling Tyrion that he has to reign in Dany. But one big scene we have seen him in is when Melisandre went packing and she told him that she had “to die in this strange country. Just like you.” Varys urging Tyrion to act and Tyrion’s non-answer to Dany’s question about whether or not he was planning a trap for his sister could very well mean that Varys and Tyrion are working together on a contingency plan. And Varys’ plans have included poison in the past.
Varys could be caught, or just get caught in the crossfire and die. While there is rampant fan speculation that Varys and Littlefinger still have a “game” to finish, the show seems to have abandoned that for a while now.
Gendry does have to die. This show shakes out with only one real claimant to the throne, and the endgame is so not Gendry. That said, it’s unlikely he dies before seeing Arya one last time.
If there is one thing we have learned from this show, it’s that Jon Snow’s plot armor is the thickest around and nothing, nothing, will kill him. At least not for long.