Game of Thrones season 7: Giant spiders and dead heroes joining the Whitewalkers? Here's everything we know

UPDATE: April 27, 2017 - Giant ice-spiders teased, along with the return of an old flame

Game of Thrones season 7 is only a few months away, and the leaks and teasers keep coming. According to a Reddit thread, created by fans trawling the latest batch of images, there could be a cool tease hiding in the picture of Sam and Gilly reading books in Old Town (see below). It's all about the passage Gilly is reading, which makes reference to a hero from 'the oldest of ages' and to R'hllor, the Lord of Light. We know from the actual book that the same passage makes reference to the Others riding giant spiders to war. It's a bit of a stretch, but teases often are.

It neatly ties in with the return of Melissandre, who has been Tweeting images of the transformation to her old form. We previously thought she'd be out for season 7 (back for 8) as Carice Van Houten gave birth to her first child in late August 2016. It seems the Fire Priestess could well return, and may be linked to a scrap against icy spiders ridden by Whitewalkers. It's a chilling thought.

Finally, Kristian Nairn, who played Hodor (sniff) until season 6 has been teasing The Belfast Telegraph. When asked if Hodor would return as a zombie, he said that he wouldn't like that as a fan, but as an actor he'd really like to try and play the role. He follows up by saying: "I'm just going to say no, but I might be lying. I can't give anything away. I have let things slip before by accident, and I've learnt the hard way." It seems unlikely, and it'd be strangely crass of the showrunners to bring back such a beloved character in zombie form, but Nairn isn't ruling it out.

Fast Facts:

  • Game of Thrones season 7 release date: July 19, 2017
  • Directors: Alan Taylor, Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod, Matt Shakman
  • Cast: Alfie Allen, John Bradley, Gwendoline Christie, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Nathalie Emmanuel, Aidan Gillen, Iain Glen, Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Isaac Hempstead-Wright, Conleth Hill, Rory McCain, Sophie Turner
  • Writers: TBA

Game of Thrones season 7 - everything you need to know

Game of Thrones season 7 is due on July 16, 2017 in the US, July 17 in the UK. We've had our first teaser trailer, first poster, and more leaked set photos, rogue social media posts, and interview quotes than you can shake a Valyrian steel sword at. The end of GoT season 6 changed so much. Cersei sits on the Iron Throne, but the relationship with her brother is crumbling; Daenerys is on her way to Westeros with three massive dragons (which are apparently the size of airliners now) and a formidable army; and Jon Snow has been declared King of the North. And he's a Targaryen, by the way. It's a lot to take in, and the possibilities for where the show goes next will make your head spin. So we’ve compiled everything we know about Game of Thrones season 7 so far, and we’ll keep updating it as more is revealed so make sure you check back. And if you need it, here's a refresher for season 6...

Game of Thrones season 7 release date is July 16, 2017 - get it in your viewing diary!

HBO has finally revealed that July 16 is the date for the first episode of Game of Thrones season 7. This is in the US. It'll hit the UK the day after, on July 17 - airing on Sky Atlantic and Now TV. Whether it'll be available immediately after the US airing or at a pre-scheduled time later in the day is uncertain. Perhaps the UK date simply refers to the fact that it's past midnight by the time Game of Thrones airs in the US, so it's inevitably 'the next day'.

What's more, there's a first teaser trailer, which you can watch right here.

Game of Thrones season 7 episodes will be limited to seven

Winter isn’t the only thing that makes time shorter. Game of Thrones is only going to have seven episodes for season 7. Benioff and Weiss said they’re looking to do about 13 total episodes for the rest of the show, because that’s the total story they have left to tell. In addition, fewer episodes means bigger potential budgets. Given that Battle of the Bastards cost $10-million, we could be seeing even higher price hikes once winter actually arrives. We already know that season 7 contains a battle that will be bigger than the one between the Bastards in S6, making it the largest ever. Although the same number of extras have been called in (500), there are more horses (an extra 70)... so it seems likely the Dothraki are involved.

Of course, it’s way too early to know what the episodes are going to be called. After all, the season 6 finale was named after the book that isn’t even out yet. We do, however, know which of the season 7 directors will be handling each episode. Let's take a quick look:

  • Episode 1: Jeremy Podeswa
  • Episode 2: Mark Mylod
  • Episode 3: Mark Mylod
  • Episode 4: Matt Shakman
  • Episode 5: Matt Shakman
  • Episode 6: Alan Taylor
  • Episode 7: Jeremy Podeswa

What can we tell from this? Not all that much. Jeremy Podeswa did the two opening episodes from season 6, so is a steady hand to take us into S7. Mark Mylod handled 'No-One' and 'The Broken Man' from season 6, which are both great character episodes. Matt Shakman is a newcomer to Thrones, and has worked extensively in all kinds of TV, directing episodes of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Mad Men, Fargo, and um, Ugly Betty. Alan Taylor has worked on plenty of GoT episodes from seasons 1 and 2, and since then has directed Thor: The Dark World and Terminator Genisys. Um, moving swiftly on, then... Jeremy Podeswa returns for the season finale.

Game of Thrones season 7 trailer contains a handful of secrets

HBO has released a teaser trailer for Game of Thrones 7. In it, the three main 'rulers' of Westeros are shown walking to their various seats of power. Cersei strolls onto the Iron Throne in King's Landing, and you see Lannister lions adorning the windows as she strides past. Danerys walks to the Targaryen family seat of Dragonstone, and sits on the throne there. We know there have been scenes filmed at the Dragonstone location in Ireland, so this suggests Dany is heading to her family home before conquering the rest of the kingdom. It's a good place to plan an attack from, as Dragonstone has the Chamber of the Painted Table - a grand 3D map of Westeros that Stannis used to plan his assault at Blackwater Bay.

Finally, Jon Snow (also a Targaryen, but now King in the North), sits at his meagre throne in Winterfell. Not much to read into this one, other than the fact it makes him a main player in the final acts of Thrones.

At the end of the trailer Cersei exhales and frost forms on her breath. It morphs into an eye, and when the camera zooms out we see it's the eye of the Night King, leader of the White Walkers. He's the unofficial 'fourth player', a contender for 'ruler of Westeros', but with a much darker motive than the other three. That means he's headed to the Wall, along with his undead army. And one hell of a fight is coming. One things for certain - mighty Houses will fall in season 7, as was implied by the first teaser known as the 'Sigil teaser', which you can watch below.

Game of Thrones season 7 plot spoilers lie ahead

Ever since season 7 started filming there has been a deluge of spoilers coming from the various locations. We've rounded them up here, so if you don't want to know what happens, then just scroll straight past, ok? You've been warned...

We assume that Jon Snow will meet Daenerys at some point, thanks to a leaked set photo of Kit Harrington shooting a scene with Emilia Clarke. They appear to be filming a scene and not just hanging out, but there are rumors that S7's showrunners are deliberately throwing some red herrings into the filming schedule to avoid potential spoilers leaks like this. Seems far-fetched, but Thrones has always delighted in the old bait-and-switch, so this could well extend to the filming process. However, this meeting between Jon and Dany is backed up by other set-photos (leaked, obvs) that show Jon confronting Theon when Daenerys' fleet lands in Westeros...

Who else is meeting up? Looks like Davos and Tyrion are getting reacquainted in S7 too. That could be awkward, given how Tyrion burned up several of Davos' sons with wildfire at the Battle of the Blackwater. 

Meanwhile leaked pics show Pilou Asbaek - aka Euron Greyjoy - arriving in King's Landing. He seems to have formed an alliance with Cersei, and his 'gift' for her is both Yara Greyjoy and Ellaria Sand as prisoners.

More speculation suggests that Jorah Mormont may have cured himself of Greyscale. Good for him. This leaked set story shows him totally free of any signs of the disease, although it could just be added in post-production. Still, we like Jorah, so we're rooting for him.

Read more on Game of Thrones season 7

Elsewhere, one fan site is reporting that Sansa is definitely not pregnant with Ramsay's child - one of the hottest theories still around after season 6. Instead, Sophie Turner - who plays Sansa - has been talking about her relationship with Jon Snow and her aspirations to become Queen of the North. "I think she probably would like to be Queen of the North on her own," says Turner, "or again she probably just wants Jon to listen to her. If Jon had listened to her in the beginning then she would be very happy collaborating with him, so it’s just a bit frustrating."

Sam and Gilly have been spotted filming a few scenes while wearing warm clothing, so it's likely they're heading back up north to reunite with Jon (and put Tarly family sword, Heartsbane, to good use).

Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, has hinted that his character is looking for redemption in season 7. And we also know that Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson - who plays The Mountain - has been speaking about the Cleganebowl theory, which says he and his brother Sandor 'The Hound' Clegane will eventually meet and fight to the death. He says: "There’s a lot of expectation from the fans to see that happen – obviously I cannot comment on that… you’re just going to have to see what’s gonna happen!" Colossal tease. Literally.

We know that a new character from the books is appearing in season 7, albeit briefly. Alys Karstark will be played by Megan Parkinson, and is set to appear in at least one episode of the new season. She's a key part of Jon Snow's final weeks as Lord Commander of the Night's Watch in the books, but was skipped in season 5 of the TV show. Many speculate she's a love interest for Snow but... that seems unlikely given that she's only slated for a single episode, and that she has appeared so late in the day. More likely she becomes a key ally in Jon's fight for the realm.

Rumor has it that Arya's direwolf, Nymeria, will return for season 7. If you remember, she's separated from her wolf and its fate is never explained (although, in the books we know she has a psychic connect to Nymeria). Aside from Ghost she's the only remaining direwolf in the Stark family, so her return could be quite... emotional. Everyone loves a massive dog, right? This rumor comes courtesy of the fact Instinct Animals for Film - a company that supplies animals for filming (duh) - Tweeted out some pics of its wolves with the line 'ready to work' and the hashtag #winteriscoming. Seems pretty likely that Nymeria is back, especially now Arya has returned to the mainland.

There's also rumor that Grey Worm and Missandei will share some kind of sex scene. No really, even despite his lack of equipment. Sure, it might not be actual sex, but surely the lack of genitals mean Grey Worm simply isn't interested. Or is he?

Oh, and if you want to read the entire summarised plot of S7 - yes, really, it's strong, strong stuff - then it's all right here. By my god: the spoilers!

Game of Thrones season 7 locations are cold, colder, and coldest

HBO has confirmed several of the locations for season 7 of Game of Thrones, and it’s going to get real chilly for our Westerosi. 

Northern Ireland, per the usual, is the hub for season 7, with pre-production already underway. We even spotted Iain Glen and Gwendoline Christie en route to Belfast last month, going over the script for the next season. And if Maisie Williams’ tweets are anything to go on, it was some pretty fantastic in-flight reading material. 

We’ve also learned about several locations in Spain, including the cities of Seville, Cáceres, Almodóvar del Río, Santiponce, Zumaia, and Bermeo. Several of the cities have beaches and cliff-sides that would be perfect spots for Dany’s army to land. However, the coolest Spanish stop would have to be Almodóvar del Río, because it’s got a gorgeous castle that fans are speculating will be turned into Highgarden. We do, however, know that filming has begun at Italica, a site of Roman ruins in Spain. Many are speculating that this location will be the Dragonpit in King's Landing, where the Targaryens used to train their dragons... Has Dany made it to King's Landing already?

Leaked set photos from a couple of Spanish castles show off new locations, meaning that we could be visiting somewhere like Highgarden or Casterly Rock in season 7. The hot money is on Casterly Rock, as Lannister banners have been seen flying from the set.

Meanwhile, leaked photos have shown an interesting mix of characters supposedly filming scenes in Northern Ireland. Joseph Mawle, who plays Benjen Stark, has been spotted with (the actors who play) Jorah Mormont and Tormund Giantsbane. It all suggests a big battle against the Whitewalkers, but... if Benjen is involved that leaves two distinct possibilities about where these scenes take place. Benjen isn't allowed to go south of The Wall - the magic weaved into the structure is designed to prevent undead from breaching it - so it suggests a battle north of The Wall. However - and this is a huge one - we know that Bran will break these spells if he crosses The Wall, because he was touched by the Night King. So... does this mean Benjen, Tormund, and Jorah all unite to face the Whitewalkers as they break through Castle Black and into the North? Maybe so.

Finally, Kit Harrington has been extensively photographed (by fans) while filming scenes in Iceland. Hot rumors suggest it's a battle between Snow's forces and the Whitewalkers, but it's the King in the North's allies that interest us most. Harrington has been spotted with the actors who play Thoros of Myr and Gendry (remember him? The bastard son of Robert Baratheon), suggesting they're assisting in some way. We also know The Hound is with Thoros and The Brotherhood Without Banners so... is he joining forces with Jon Snow too?

Game of Thrones season 7 poster is a vision of fire and ice

Game of Thrones has often used its posters as a way to clue us in about what’s going on with the next season (and throw a few red herrings too). Season 6 gave us the wall of faces, hinting at Jon Snow’s return from the grave, while season 5 awed and amazed with a shot of Tyrion face-to-face with Drogo. And of course, we can’t forget the signature shot of Ned Stark on the Iron Throne from season 1. 

The poster for season 7 features an image of fire and ice. And that's about it. The implication here - as in the teaser trailer - is a showdown between Danaerys' dragons and the White Walkers. There's a hashtag, which you can use with all your excited Tweets.

Game of Thrones season 7 cast brings back the gang, plus a new “warrior”

The gang’s all here for season 7 of Game of Thrones. Several actors have already been seen en route to Belfast, including Gwendoline Christie and Iain Glen. We got a hint that (maybe) Jason Momoa would be reprising his role as Khal Drogo, after Momoa shared a picture of him with Benioff and Weiss in Northern Ireland, where the show is being filmed.

Randyll Tarly - Sam's father - is definitely back in season 7, along with his son Dickon, who has had a change of actor. Tom Hopper (from Merlin and Black Sails) is the new Dickon. We also know that the Tarly army will fight alongside the Lannisters in season 7, thanks to leaked set pics, and that during this battle Jaime Lannister will be using Widow's Wail, the sword fashioned for his son Joffrey.

We’re also seeing a bunch of new roles being cast for next season. Most of them appear to be one-off characters, like a priest, a young lord and a “lovely lady” (because of course we need more naked women on this show). However, HBO is currently looking for a “top-end actor” between 35 and 45 to play a warrior who will have a “considerable” amount of dialogue. No confirmation yet, but rumors are circulating that this could be Rhaegar Targaryen, and we’ll see some cool flashbacks as we find out more about Jon Snow’s past. Better get dreaming, Bran.

Watchers On The Wall is reporting that Brendan Cowell has been spotted on set, and will be playing new character Harrag the Ironborn. He's likely to be travelling with Euron Greyjoy, who is rumored to be teaming up with Cersei for a pitched battle against Daenerys' forces. Oh my... it's all heating up.

Weirdly, Walder Frey actor David Bradley has been filming scenes for S7 but... don't expect a return of his character. It's likely Arya will be using his face to infiltrate her next assassination target.

It seems a bunch of actors are clamouring to get in on the Game of Thrones action, though. A recent article revealed the weird bribes sent to the show's casting directors, including Kit-Kats, personalized playing cards, and... a life-sized Storm Trooper. Yes. Ed Sheeran will be making a brief appearance in the show, and we can only hope he sees fire and is dispatched swiftly while defending the castle on the hill. Sorry.

Here's a full breakdown of what's up with every surviving Game of Thrones character.

Game of Thrones season 7 predictions - the sensible ones hint at Jon Snow discovering his roots

Winter has come to Game of Thrones, but it’s nowhere close to arriving in A Song of Ice and Fire, so we’re pretty much on our own here. The show could take us anywhere, but there are clues as to what we can predict will happen next season. Here is a full list of Game of Thrones S7 predictions, but if you want the short version... here are a handful of choice cuts.

The biggest prediction is that Jon Snow will find out who his real parents are by the end of the season. We know that Bran is heading to The Wall, and we can only expect that his first stop will be his childhood home of Winterfell (assuming he knows it’s a safe location by that time). Bran knows that Jon needs the truth about his lineage, especially as a way to rally Westeros against the White Walkers. 

Also, Daenerys is definitely going to land in Westeros by the end of the season. She's very likely to hook up with Jon Snow, and the pair may well end up in King's Landing before all is done. But the biggest question of all: will they get together? We'd bet good money on a romance blossoming by the end of S7.

Game of Thrones season 7 ending may have been leaked. Eeek!

A piece of concept art doing the rounds on Reddit appears to show a scene from the season finale, with several characters meeting at a new location that... well, it gives plenty of details away. Massive spoilers below.

The art shows Bronn, Tyrion (reunited at last!) and Jon Snow standing at the entrance to the Dragonpit, a location in King's Landing where the Targaryens used to keep their dragons. We'll leave you to work out what's happening, but this could mean any number of things. Tyrion is the Hand of the Queen, so it's likely Daenerys is around... somewhere. She does have dragons after all. Why Jon Snow is in King's Landing is anyone's guess, but it seems likely the North has brought the fight to Cersei and her allies in the South. Bronn's presence is unusual but not unexpected - we know Dorne has allied against the Lannisters, and we're willing to bet Bronn's attraction to a certain Sand Snake means that he's fighting on that side of the war. It's all speculation, however, and this is just concept art, so may not represent an actual scene in season 7.

The ending to season 7 is going to be an emotional one for sure. Liam Cunningham, who plays Ser Davos, says: "we know we’re coming to an end, and what we’ve been filming in season 7 – without giving anything away – things are coming to a head… it can be, occasionally, a little odd on set". We already expected a big finale for season 7, but it seems the actors are feeling it on set. Adding to this Jacob Anderson, who plays Greyworm, says that "I think… you can feel things are coming to a close. It’s all getting a bit much. The show’s kind of like a pressure cooker… it’s just absolute chaos."

Game of Thrones recap will get you caught up just in time

We might have a few more months until Game of Thrones season 7 hits our screens, but you can guarantee that by the time it does, we'll need a refresher on where everyone in Westeros is and what they're up to. Now, you could just watch season 1-6 again (who would blame you?), but you'd actually need to start now to get done in time... Game of Thrones is a lot like the Golden Gate Bridge in that way. So instead, let us help you out with our season recaps. 

Game of Thrones season 7 spoilers can be easily avoided

There are plenty of us who don’t want Twitter, Facebook, or the virtual water cooler that is Internet 2017 to ruin the next season of Game of Thrones for us. Luckily, there are ways to avoid spoilers, if you’re willing to put a little time in. Here’s a list of ways to mute and filter Game of Thrones out of your social media sites like Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. If you’re wanting something more specific, GameofSpoils is a Chrome extension that will automatically block out all mentions of Game of Thrones. If you want an extension you can also use for The Walking Dead, there’s also Unspoiler, which will put a solid red bar over every mention of something you don’t want to see, like Game of Thrones. After all, the night is dark and full of spoilers.

Game of Thrones season 7's story is going to get a lot worse before it gets better

George R.R. Martin can’t save us now. Game of Thrones is well past the books, and now that the white raven has arrived, winter is officially upon us. Most of the cast and crew have been pretty tight-lipped about what to expect in season 7. Before he read the script, though, Kit Harington told The Hollywood Reporter that the show is going to get a lot darker over the course of the next season. 

"I think it's going to get very bleak before if there is a happy ending. If there's any sort of win or heroic moment for Jon and everyone else, I think it's going to get very dark before it gets better. I think what we might see this season is those White Walkers and that Army of the Dead really come into force. So that's going to be exciting to see. I don't know what it means. I think with the whole ‘winter is finally here’ business, it means everyone is going to have a really bad time," Harington said.

Maisie Williams has also chimed in on Twitter, and she’s telling us to buckle up.

Williams has also been chatting to BBC Radio 1 recently, and she says that even the cast don't know what's going to happen in season 7. "I make educated guesses and we try and get answers and bits of information from the writers, but they keep it close to their chest.” She has, however, got a good idea of what happens in the finale and is already hyping that up. "It’s so exciting… it's just a great finale, it makes me excited for the series after."

Game of Thrones season 7 could be longer than S8 (although maybe not...)

You all know that there are two seasons of Game of Thrones left, right? Game of Thrones Season 7 is due in July 2017, but HBO has already set a date for the filming of GoT8. Expect that to start in September, and expect it to be six episodes long (likely with a feature-length opener AND finale). What does that tell us? Well, it certainly implies that 7 and 8 will feel like one long season, with a big break half way through. That's no surprise - it's all about tying up plot threads and resolving character journeys now. Oh, and great big battles too. What we know for sure is that there are only 13 episodes of Game of Thrones left in total, which is a sobering thought. Speaking to NME, Liam Cunningham - who plays Ser Davos - says: "That’s seven episodes and then we start [filming] again in September and there’s a final six." This also implies we'll see Davos in S8, so don't expect his demise in season 7...

However, although Cunningham seems to know what he's talking about, HBO Programming President Casey Bloys suggested this may not be the case, if the show can't be wrapped up in such a short time. "“[Benioff and Weiss] are still figuring out the shape of the season, what they want to do… I’ll take as many as they want to do. If they give me eight, I’ll want 10.”

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