×

What to Know Before the Final Season of ‘Game of Thrones’

Who will sit on the Iron Throne? Is Daenerys pregnant? Will Arya cross names off her kill list? “Game of Thrones” will answer these questions and tie up loose ends as the series’ final episodes wrap up the nearly eight-year story. Find out everything you need to know ahead of the final premiere below.

When are the episodes?

Last month, HBO confirmed the dates and run times of the final six episodes, but conveniently left out the titles. Most of the episodes will be longer than one hour, a milestone typically held by the most epic episodes and season finales. At 82 minutes, the third episode of season 8 will be the series’ longest ever. Take it from former HBO CEO Richard Plepler, “They’re like six movies.”

Season 8, Episode 1
Debut date: Sunday, April 14, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)
Estimated running time: 0:54

Season 8, Episode 2
Debut date: Sunday, April 21, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)
Estimated running time: 0:58

Season 8, Episode 3
Debut date: Sunday, April 28, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)
Estimated running time: 1:22

Season 8, Episode 4
Debut date: Sunday, May 5, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)
Estimated running time: 1:18

Season 8, Episode 5
Debut date: Sunday, May 12, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)
Estimated running time: 1:20

Season 8, Episode 6
Debut date: Sunday, May 19, at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT)
Estimated running time: 1:20

What’s going to happen?

As shown in several trailers and some early images, the series has saved some of the biggest reunions and battles for the final season. Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen (the lovers, but also nephew and aunt, as Bran Stark revealed) appear to return to Winterfell to fight the Night King’s army of white walkers marching south from beyond the now-destroyed Wall. Along with a shaky alliance with Cersei Lannister and her forces at King’s Landing, Daenerys will use her two remaining dragons and army of Unsullied soldiers and Dothraki warriors to attempt to defeat the undead. Jon will finally reunite with Bran and Arya Stark in Winterfell for the first time since Season 1, and Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark should also come face-to-face for the first time since they both escaped from King’s Landing.

One episode this season will feature the longest battle sequence ever filmed, beating the 40-minute siege of Helm’s Deep in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.” Fans assume the record-breaker will be the Battle of Winterfell, and shooting the episode took 11 weeks and more than 750 cast and crew members. Co-creators Dan Benioff and D.B. Weiss wrote the episode, and Miguel Sapochnik, the mastermind behind “Battle of the Bastards” and “Hardhome,” directed it.

Composer Ramin Djawadi told Variety the show’s score “definitely gets intense and more epic than ever” and “this season will have new material that we haven’t heard before, but lots of the existing themes will also return.” Djawadi, who has composed all 67 episodes, revealed he came up with the iconic title sequence melody while driving home from his initial screening of the show. This season will have the biggest musical ensemble yet: a 60-piece orchestra, 40-voice mixed chorus and 12-voice children’s choir.

Is this the end of “Game of Thrones”?

All men must die, but the “Game of Thrones” franchise will not. HBO has already ordered a prequel series set thousands of years before the main storyline to explore the origins of the white walkers, the mysteries of Essos and the Stark family. Headlined by Naomi Watts, the cast also includes Josh Whitehouse, Miranda Richardson, Naomi Ackle, Denise Gough, Jamie Campbell Bower and Sheila Atim. Jane Goldman will serve as showrunner and co-created the series with “A Song of Ice and Fire” author George R.R. Martin, and SJ Clarkson will direct the pilot and executive produce.

Four other prequel series are in various stages of development. To see what they probably won’t look like, you can watch the SNL sketch from Kit Harington’s episode.

HBO will give a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the final season with “Game of Thrones: The Last Watch,” a two-hour feature documentary premiering on May 26, a week after the finale.

What’s happened off-screen?

Kit Harington revealed in the Variety cover story that he had to go to therapy while filming the show to deal with the worldwide fame. He also married his former on-air love interest Rose Leslie, who played Ygritte, and Sophie Turner married Joe Jonas of House Jonas Brothers.

Surprising many fans, Daenerys Targaryen herself, Emilia Clarke, spoke out about undergoing two surgeries for life-threatening brain aneurysms in the early “Thrones” days. Diana Rigg, who played Lady Olenna of House Tyrell, won the Variety Icon Award at Canneseries in early April.

HBO’s EVP and head of marketing Chris Spadaccini said the company wasn’t too thrilled when President Donald Trump revealed a poster saying “Sanctions are Coming.” “We didn’t want to pick a fight with the president,” he said at Variety’s Entertainment Marketing Summit, but the “Thrones” Twitter accounted subtweeted with, “How do you say trademark misuse in Dothraki?”

In some approved brand extensions, Anheuser-Busch partnered with the fantasy series in a Super Bowl ad featuring the Bud Knight and some familiar dragons. MGM Resorts in Las Vegas also teamed up to use the show’s soundtrack and visuals in a “visual symphony” in the iconic Fountains of Bellagio. Columbia Records will release an album, titled “For the Throne,” a collection of music inspired by the show, featuring The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Mumford & Sons, Ty Dolla Sign, Ellie Goulding, Chloe x Halle, SZA, Maren Morris, the Lumineers, the late Lil Peep and others.

More TV

  • Riverdale -- "Chapter Thirty-Three: Shadow of

    'Riverdale' Airs Luke Perry's Final Scene

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear The Reaper,” the April 24 episode of “Riverdale.” “Riverdale” has aired late actor Luke Perry’s final scene as Andrews patriarch Fred. In “Chapter Fifty-Four: Fear the Reaper,” the 19th episode of the third season of “Riverdale,” Archie (KJ Apa) was worried about [...]

  • "We Turn Up This Music Louder

    TV Review: 'The Red Line'

    For all that broadcast TV’s power has attenuated in recent years, what they choose to put on still means something — and, from a certain point of view, something more than the choices made by prestige outlets. After all, the reach of broadcasters is without parallel. They’re simply in that many more homes than prestige [...]

  • Grey's Anatomy Season 15

    Broadcast Bubble Shows 2019: What's Coming Back, What’s Not

    While many broadcast shows have already been picked up for next season, plenty of favorites are still waiting to learn their fates. Given that the broadcasters are currently evaluating this year’s crop of comedy and drama pilots, some current shows will unfortunately have to shuffle off to that great network in the sky, where they [...]

  • Elizabeth Olsen Wanda Vision

    Elizabeth Olsen Says Disney+ Series 'WandaVision' Is Set in 1950s

    “Avengers: Endgame” star Elizabeth Olsen tells Variety that “WandaVision,” the forthcoming Disney+ series about her superhero character, Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, will be set in the 1950s. “There’s quite a few other comic books that we’re pulling from and it’s going to be Wanda and the Vision, and I think at the Disney+ launch chat, they [...]

  • CBS HEADQUARTERS

    CBS Chiefs: Former Exec's Claim Network 'Has a White Problem' Is 'Disheartening,' 'Painful'

    Susan Zirinsky, president of CBS News, and Kelly Kahl, president of CBS Entertainment, sent emails to staff Tuesday expressing concern over claims made in an essay published in Variety in which CBS veteran Whitney Davis detailed racist discrimination and sexual harassment she witnessed and was subjected to at the network. In response, Zirinsky said Davis’ [...]

  • BBC Studios Making Prince Charles Series

    BBC Studios Making Prince Charles Series for ITV

    ITV has greenlit a BBC Studios-produced series about Prince Charles, the heir to the British throne. “Inside the Duchy” (working title) will follow the Prince of Wales over two one-hour episodes to mark his 50th year as the holder of the title of Duke of Cornwall. The producers said the series will give an unprecedented [...]

  • Catch-22 Episode 101

    TV News Roundup: Hulu Releases Trailer for George Clooney's 'Catch-22' (Watch)

    In today’s roundup, Hulu releases the official trailer for George Clooney’s “Catch-22,” and Disney Channel announces its “Andi Mack” series will end after season 3. DATES Gabriel Iglesias will star as a high school history teacher in the Netflix multicam comedy “Mr. Iglesias,” launching on June 21. The comedian teaches gifted, but misfit students and helps them [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content