THE FOLLOWING CONTAINS MAJOR AND MINOR SPOILERS FOR ALL BOOKS IN A Song of Ice and Fire and ALL FOUR SEASONS ON GAME OF THRONES
Editor’s note: in what seems like a morbid, but fitting image, Flicker user Adam Rifkin posted the below image. Aka every death that has happened in series thus far. That’s a lot of post-it’s, George R. R. Martin. I’m not making any judgments, I’m just saying that you have killed an awful lot of characters in the 4000+ plus pages of your series. But today we’re not here to discuss the books, but rather how the television series will veer from the page and who they will kill off.
With just one week before the premiere of Game of Thrones season five, guest writer Scott Douglass’s timely piece continues with more bodies, predictions, and, oddly, one potential ressurection.
Dolorous Edd / Ser Alliser Thorne
If there’s one thing Season 4 of Game Of Thrones proved, it’s that the Men of the Night’s Watch make good cannon fodder. Both Grenn and Pyp got cut down despite still being alive in the books, but most of us were still too haunted by Oberyn’s screams at the end of the previous episode to even notice! From the books we know kindly and wise old Maester Aemon will end his watch this season, and that Janos Slynt will receive his thoroughly well-earned death at Lord Commander Snow’s hands (a scene that I can only hope is identical to the book version), but with Jon’s story looking likely to lead him to Hardhome in person, the resulting HBO action will probably be chewing up a few more Crows. Ser Alliser could definitely go, but I’m leaning towards the likable Edd meeting his end, especially if the Bastard Letter and the Watch’s mutiny against Jon do actually happen this season. An ally like Edd being present might complicate that scene.
Likelihood: At Serious Risk
Something needs to happen in Brienne of Tarth’s storyline this season, and that something is Lady Stoneheart. No, I don’t believe her absence from Season 4’s finale means she won’t happen in the show altogether – introducing the Brotherhood Without Banners just to leave her out makes very little sense – but even if she doesn’t appear, they need some drama for Brienne and her loyal but ineffective squire, and whatever that ends up being, Podrick could find himself cut down in it. Likable though he may be he is definitely expendable. But given how little we have seen or know about Brienne’s path this season – at least the show’s version of it – it could go either way.
Things weren’t sounding too good for the Knight of Flowers the last time we heard about him in Martin’s novels; Ser Loras was grievously wounded in his mad dash to retake Dragonstone, and it is unclear whether he will survive. Things are probably going to get bad for the show version of Loras as well, but probably not the same way. An adaptation of the taking of Dragonstone would surprise me, as I’d imagine it would affect the show’s pacing. Rather, it is far more likely that he remains in King’s Landing, and with the Faith Militant being introduced this season, I could easily see his bedroom preferences getting him in hot water and serve as an early example of the new faction’s hideous brand of persecution. However it pans out, you can bet the show will probably be providing poor Loras with a less ambiguous, more permanent fate.
Likelihood: As Good As Dead
Okay, chances are, even if you think Jon is really dead at the end of A Dance with Dragons, you probably don’t think he’s going to stay dead. But no matter what state you believe him to be in at the end of his last chapter, the question is, will they get to that scene? And it’s hard to say. On one hand, you couldn’t pull a cliffhanger like that without people hearing inevitable production details (like whatever Kit Harrington’s involvement in the show next year is) that could weaken the drama of that climax. On the other hand, if they did it, it would probably be the most shocking ending of a season that the show has ever had, and part of me thinks that the lure of that is just too good for them to resist. So right now I think there’s a good chance it happens. We won’t know until the finale, but if it’s called “Bastard” or “For the Watch,” get ready.
Likelihood: At Serious Risk
With how A Dance with Dragons ends for Stannis, it’s a real head-scratcher wondering what the end of this season has in store for him. No matter what way it goes, his fate in the show will say – indirectly or otherwise – a lot about whether or not he is actually dead in the books. The Battle on the Ice hasn’t even been shown in the books yet, but given how much Game Of Thrones loves late season conflicts and battle episodes, it may make its premiere on TV this season. But if the Bastard Letter happens, what does that mean for Stannis? It may be that, like in the books, his fate is left ambiguous; we last see Stannis alive, then Jon gets the letter and reads it (I expect it will be similar to when Balon Greyjoy got his own letter from Ramsay in Season 3). But even an ending like that would seem to hint that he still lives. If he’s truly dead in the books, we could see it happen this season – which would amount to a significant spoiler. Ultimately I think Stannis is alive but how much I like him and despise the Boltons definitely factors into that. So it could happen, but I would be surprised, not to mention thoroughly crushed – which definitely means there’s a chance it happens.
Likelihood: Remote But Conceivable
This is one that would totally throw us readers, because there is no precedent for this major character’s imminent death discernible in the books so far. Yet all the same, as unlikely as it may seem, there is a possibility that this season will be our last to see Petyr Baelish talk out of the side of his mouth. The epilogue of the fifth book – the death of Pycelle and Kevan Lannister at the hands of Varys and his little birds – is thrilling but will probably seem less so to TV viewers; as repugnant as Pycelle is, he is largely irrelevant to the plot at large, and Kevan has barely been in the show. What if the showrunners were looking to add more “oomph” to this scene? The show has highlighted and developed the feuding dynamic between Littlefinger and Varys quite a bit, and if Baelish returns to King’s Landing by the end of this season, it stands to reason he could be on the receiving end of Varys’ monologue and crossbow. It would be a great culmination of their warring wills and an absolute stunner for us book readers. However, much like with Stannis, how his role is handled depends a lot on how important a part he has to play in the books from here on out.
Likelihood: Remote But Conceivable