Game of Thrones season 8 - release date, and all you need to know

Game of Thrones season 8 - coming in 2019

It’s finally coming to an end. After dozens of episodes, hundreds of deaths and one or two eyeballs being gouged out (it still makes us wince), Game of Thrones season 8 is where we say goodbye to all things Westeros… until the prequels, that is. Even so, there’s plenty to pore over before the show returns sometimes in 2019, from casting rumours, to a few people getting a bit too snappy-happy around Game of Thrones sets. While there’s been nothing official in the way of trailers or teasers (SHAME!), there’s the next best thing: speculation, speculation, speculation.

So, if you want the skinny before the White Walkers freeze our (already) cold hearts this time next year, feel free to unleash your inner-maester and trawl through every little bit of Game of Thrones season 8 info we could find. There might just be a hidden clue buried within…

Game of Thrones season 8 release date - when can I watch it?

Bad news, everyone - it isn’t coming until 2019 - very likely spring. Yeah, that’s about 12 months away. Production began on Game of Thrones season 8, with filming starting in October/ November 2017. Don't expect production to wrap until about December 2018, such is the scale of the project. For season 7, the cast and crew were still shooting in February and March 2017, which pushed back the final air date until July (having previously been March for all previous seasons). If Game of Thrones wraps in late 2018… that’ll probably push to spring 2019. In a statement on the official Game of Thrones site it says: "The epic fantasy series Game of Thrones will return for its six-episode, eighth and final season in 2019."

Spring is a timeslot HBO likes, and this year Westworld S2 is filling it. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO head of programming, Casey Bloys said: “The shooting is complicated enough — on different continents, with all the technical aspects — and the special effects are a whole other production period that we're trying to figure out. That is a big factor in all of this.”

It’s worth noting that HBO’s big budget shows like Game of Thrones and Westworld are taking longer to make, which is - on the plus side - really raising the quality bar when it comes to production values. Whatever happens, though, season 8 will not be rushed. Bloys is super-clear on that front. “They have to do the best show they can do,” he explains. “With bigger shows like Westworld or Game of Thrones, sometimes if you want the big show and the big scope, it takes longer.”

Game of Thrones season 8 trailers and posters - when can I see them?

Look, production has only just started, so there are no trailers for Game of Thrones season 8 just yet. When can you realistically expect one? San Diego Comic Con, which takes place in July, will likely be where the first footage drops. And it’ll be a super-short teaser, if we get one at all. The first official trailer likely won't land until the end of 2018 or the start of 2019. We'll probably get something during the Superbowl on February 3, 2019, which is when we had a great new trailer for Westworld S2 this year.

As for the posters? Does anyone really care about posters for TV shows any more? Expect them to slowly release during 2019, showcasing the themes of season 8 prominently. Remember the Faces posters for season 6 and the Fire and Ice posters for season 7? They each played on key themes for those seasons.

Game of Thrones season 8 episodes - how many are there, and who will direct?

We know for sure that there will be six episodes in Game of Thrones season 8, which means the run will be even shorter than S7. Given the compressed feel of the last season, that doesn’t feel like a good thing. However, that’s what HBO is going with, and you can almost guarantee that each episode will be in excess of an hour in runtime - if not fully feature-length. It’d make sense. Apparently season 8 has been given a budget of roughly $100 million, which breaks down as $15 million per episode, which a little wiggle room at the end.

Miguel Sapochnik and his crew will be back to direct two episodes in season 8 (we know they're episodes 3 and 5). He’s the guy who was responsible for Hardhome in season 5, and final episode The Winds of Winter in season 6 (which won an Emmy), so that's good. He posted this snap on Instagram, which let us know it's happening.

Elsewhere David Nutter (Winter is Coming, The Rains of Castermere) is back to do episodes 1, 2, and 4. Finally, showrunners DB Weiss and David Benioff are going to direct the final episode, number 6

Perhaps predictably, we know that the final season will be very action-heavy. One battle sequence has taken 55 straight nights to film - more than double that of the previous biggest fight (Battle of the Bastards, which took 25 days). That sounds fairly epic. According to a note to the cast and crew from Jonathan Quinlan, AD on season 8, it was filmed over three different locations, for 11 weeks, and "You'll never see anything like it". Sounds a lot like the final, final battle between humanity and the White Walkers, and it's interesting how it takes place at night. Here's a direct link to the Tweet in which this info appears.

Game of Thrones season 8 characters - who will live and who will die?

Ok, this one is a bit of speculation, so take all this with a huge pinch of salt. Especially as Game of Thrones showrunners have already stated that they’ll be filming fake endings to fool the leakers and theorists. The cast knows what's going on, as do some of the most prestigious alumni. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Sophie Turner (who plays Sansa) explained what happened during the readthrough of the final episode. "We had the readthrough a while ago and at the end of it, we were all on our feet, applauding and crying," she says. Meanwhile Jason Momoa, who plays Kahl Drogo in season 1 commented: "It’s going to be unbelievable. It’s going to fuck up a lot of people." Good-o.

What else do we know? Let’s start with a couple of new characters, shall we? It’s a bit thin at the moment, but casting notes have been leaked , and we know there will be “straight-talking Northern-accented girl, someone remarkable for her dauntlessness and integrity” and a ‘boy’ of about 8-12 years, from a poor background. This suggests a flashback sequence, likely showing off two of the main players as kids. The girl could well be Lyanna Stark, as we learn more about her childhood relationship with Ned. The boy from the poor background, who is ‘fighting to make his way in the world’ (according to the notes)? Sounds like Bronn, or could even be someone like Littlefinger. It’s even possible that - if the two casting calls are related - we might be seeing the childhood romance between Littlefinger and Cait Stark, although why we’d see that is… very unclear.

We also hear that actress Danielle Galligan will be playing a character called Sarra, and that she has wrapped filming in Belfast, where some of Thrones' scenes are shot. Digging into the books, we know of a Sarra Frey, so it seems like she's the most likely person Galligan will be portraying. The role she plays is unclear, but Galligan is trained in small arms combat, so she's probably going to be fighting (like everyone else).

Recently, Wilf Scolding - who plays young Rhaegar Targaryen in the flashback scenes from season 7 - Instagrammed a pic of himself outside a hotel in Belfast (where much of Thrones is filmed), with the caption: "Rhaegar's in town?! More flashbacks! #GameOfThrones". The fact that there are more flashbacks detailing Jon and Dany's family history should come as no surprise to anyone, but it does tell us that their story will be further explained in season 8. 

So, who will die? Pilou Asbaek - who plays Euron Greyjoy - has already admitted that he knows his character will die, so that’s going to happen in season 8 for sure. Not a huge surprise, given that he’s a baddie now tangential to the main plot. The show has also foreshadowed the death of Melisandre, who admits in season 7 that she must return to Westeros to die. She also says that Varys is foretold to die in Westeros too. Perhaps the pair will go out together in a blaze of flames and never-told secrets. And while we’re on the subject of prophecies… there’s still the one about Cersei becoming Queen, losing her three children, and being killed by her little brother. It’s the Valonqar prophecy, as told by Maggie the Witch at the start of season 5. So, will Jaime kill Cersei? Will it be Tyrion? Or is the ‘little brother’ part a bit more twisty? Either way, as Cersei is pregnant with child number four… it seems her time is up, right?

At the end of season 7 it seemed like Tormund and Beric had been killed when the Night King melted a section of the Wall to let his army through. Are they really gone? Seems unlikely, given that both are firm fan favourites.

Game of Thrones season 8 leak - is it going to happen?

Yes. In fact, a handful of pages from something purporting to be the script for Game of Thrones season 8 have already appeared online. You can read them via this link (not direct - so you can make a more informed decision about spoilers). To have that leak ahead of time, and for there to be spoilers online will be… unacceptable for both HBO, the cast and crew, and all the fans. The problem is that $15 million per episode budget means a LOT of people are going to be involved, and they’re all potential sources of leaks. As we mentioned above, however, HBO will be filming and scripting multiple endings to befuddle the leakers, so hopefully this one is a red herring.

What will those endings be? Well Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (who plays Jaime Lannister) reckons that the ending is already online, somewhere. He also adds: “Of course, nobody really wants to know.” Not until the proper time, Nikolaj, certainly.

Game of Thrones season 8 predictions and theories - what will happen?

This is the big one, isn’t it? Everyone will have a theory about how Game of Thrones will end - who will sit on the Iron Throne? Who will end up with who? Does it even matter? You can check out our main Theories article in the link that appears half way down this page. Only a handful of people actually know what’s going to happen, however, so here’s what a bunch of editors from team GR+ think:

"I think Daenerys will be sat on the Iron Throne by the end of Game of Thrones season 8, but that doesn’t mean everyone will get a happy ending. Jon and Dany will discover their ‘family connection’ and after some toing and froing decide it’s not that big of a deal (if it’s good enough for the Lannisters, right?), but before they can get hitched, Jon sacrifices himself to stop the Night King and his army and dies for real this time. Dany lays siege to King’s Landing and as her forces (including Jaime who just wants to find Cersei and get her out) pour into the city, Cersei goes into labour and ultimately dies in child birth (killed by her children’s “little brother”) with Jaime finding her just too late. Sansa becomes Queen in the North, Bran goes back north of (what’s left of) The Wall to be a tree, and Arya goes off on her own spin-off adventures. Then... Dany finds out she’s pregnant. BOOM. The end." Lauren O’Callaghan, Entertainment Editor 

"Jaime will sacrifice himself to save Dany - protecting the Targaryen monarch and completing his character arc"

Game of Thrones ending theory

"Game of Thrones has built its reputation on being unpredictable, and not having fairytale endings, however, I think viewer satisfaction demands some concessions for the show finale. Daenerys and Jon will defeat the White Walkers, after a pitched dragon battle and the death of so many major characters and ALL the dragons. Jon will die in battle, and Dany will rule the Seven Kingdoms with Tyrion at her side. Jaime will sacrifice himself to save Dany - protecting the Targaryen monarch and completing his character arc. Will that mean killing Cersei who intends to betray Dany? It’d be wonderfully poetic. The Hound and The Mountain will fight to the death, and Brienne will intervene and save The Hound at the end. Sansa will rule the North, with Arya at her side. Sam will end up writing ‘A Song of Fire and Ice’ as a chronicle of the events - essentially making him George RR Martin." Andy Hartup, Executive Editor

"The repeal of the Iron Throne, basically. Thematically, it’s the only thing that makes sense. From the start, GoT has been about a progressive younger generation rejecting the factional, inward-looking, self-destructive ways of their precursors in order to deal with the real bigger picture. The chase for the Throne is the ultimate symbol of The Old Ways, and the chair has only damaged anyone who has held or pursued it. Dany et al will realise the only way to win is to not play and, having dealt with the Walkers, abolish the Westerosi hierarchy as is. Oh, and Jaime will totally kill Cersei, and then probably go AWOL, rebooting his life in anonymity and leaving the Lannister name to Tyrion." Dave Houghton, Senior Writer.

"First off, Jon and his damned hero complex will mean he valiantly sacrifices himself in the fight against the Night King, leaving Dany to take the throne. Cersei won’t be in her way for long, as she’ll miscarry her child and the loss will push her into full-blown tyranny. Jaime will be sent by the alliance fighting the White Walkers to bargain with her, but he’ll end up tragically killing her as, let’s face it, it’s probably the only way to stop her. Arya’ll become Sansa’s bodyguard as the Lady of Winterfell begins to become a political powerhouse, and who will rule as Queen of the North when Dany takes the throne. And they all lived happily ever after. Kinda." Zoe Delahunty-Light, Social Editor 

"The death of Jaime at Cersei’s hand. Jon sacrificing himself for Dany. I see victory at serious cost."

Game of Thrones ending theory

"Here’s the thing about Game of Thrones. It’s all been about death until now. Every episode has been a guessing game of who’s going to cark it next, and, spoilers, that doesn’t match up with a happily ever after. It just can’t. At best, I’m expecting a bittersweet conclusion. The death of Jaime at Cersei’s hand. Jon sacrificing himself for Dany. I see victory at serious cost. There will be a new queen and a new future but this Westeros conclusion has to hurt. For a new era of the seven kingdoms to start, Game of Thrones ending is going to have to break your heart. And, oh yeah, at least one more of the dragons has to die." Louise Blain, PlayStation Channel Editor  

"Obviously the big finale will be a huge, everyone vs the White Walkers battle. Probably with, a) a budget to make small countries cry, and b) tenuously levering cameos to mop up any characters that have been lost among previous seven seasons. The other almost definite thing will be a lot of people will die. So many people. I’d wager that they all get deaths befitting their lives, as well. Theon will likely go down fighting, redeeming a life of cowardice. Cersei will either get stabbed by Jaime, or torn to pieces by wights, making firm eye contact with Arya and Sansa who could help but, you know, don't want to. And so on. The only really big question no one can answer right now is Jaime Lannister - forget Jon Snow and Daenerys, his fate will be the big moment of the final season." Leon Hurley, Xbox Channel Editor

Game of Thrones season 8 locations - where will it be set?

Showrunners D. B. Weiss and David Benioff specifically asked for one of Game of Thrones season 7’s most striking locations – Cersei’s map room in King’s Landing – to be an exterior location, according to the DVD commentary. “I can’t tell you why,” teases visual effects producer Steve Kullback (via Winter is Coming). Hmm.

Our best guess? Something big goes down there during the final six episodes. Be it a nice bit of symbolism (Cersei’s bloody body being draped over the map of Westeros would be an ironic touch) or an all-out battle, it’s sure that the lavish set is going to be part of something exciting.

The exact plans for the map room were that it needed to be outside, and for whomever was down below to see above and out into the sky. The plot thickens… could Cersei spy a dragon swooping over King’s Landing from her map room? It sure seems likely given what we now know about the secrets of the map room’s production. Either way, King’s Landing is pretty much confirmed to be a major part of Game of Thrones’ endgame – and this only adds to the anticipation.

Game of Thrones catch-up - where can I see seasons 1-7?

There are several ways of doing this. If you're based in the US, you can sign up for HBO Now and stream all episodes of Game of Thrones - yes, all of them - for $14.99 per month. You can cancel at any time AND you get one month free, so if you clear your schedule you might just be able to see all 7 seasons and pay nothing. That's 67 episodes of Game of Thrones, though...

You can also add HBO to your TV package, and most providers offer 1-3 months free viewing. However, getting out of that contract after you've signed up isn't always possible, so it'll likely cost you in repeated bills. You might be better off buying the season 1-7 box set from Amazon, which is currently on sale at $109.74.

If you're in the UK, it's all on the iTunes and Google Play stores, but you're looking at £24 per season, which is very steep. Your best bet is snagging the Game of Thrones season 1-7 box set on Amazon, for a whopping £78.99.

Now TV and Sky Atlantic are doing recaps of Game of Thrones in the UK, but you have to play by their schedule, and it costs a fair amount to subscribe to them.