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The war for the Iron Throne is about to take on a more urgent and violent tone than ever before, what with the HBO series racing toward the finish line (harsh reminder: only 13 episodes left to go), and with three of the show’s most important figures stepping into the leadership roles: Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and the aforementioned Cersei, whose two brothers Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) fulfill key supporting roles in the Lannister and Targaryen armies, respectively.
Here’s the good news: We don’t have to worry about any one of those characters losing their lives in the season ahead. Famous last words, sure, but can you imagine stepping into the final season of Game of Thrones without those aforementioned foundational characters still in place? We’ll happily eat all the crow-stuffed pies if we’re wrong. Instead, our death watch focuses on some other fan favorites who might be headed for an rendezvous with The Stranger. Folks like …
The Sand Snakes
House Martell hates nothing more than House Lannister. The only possible exception: Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Good news for Dorne, then: Both the Lannisters and the Mountain are finally within their sites. But who has money on Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) or the Sand Snakes winning the fight against their bitter enemies, especially given what’s happened to the other Martells who have met the Mountain? Everyone’s hyped for “The Cleganebowl,” but maybe it’s worth placing bets on “The Mountain and the Viper: Round 2.”
All series long, Theon (Alfie Allen) has been reckoning with his heritage as an Iron Islander. That conflict could reach its final destination in season seven, as all three remaining Greyjoys — Theon, Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Euron (Pilou Asbaek) — are on a collision course with one another. Rumors suggest a great naval battle for season seven, and the odds of at least one Greyjoy going down with the ship are too high to ignore.
Bronn (Jerome Flynn)
Could the sarcastic soldier of fortune finally find his way into a corner he can’t fight his way out of? He’s certainly caught in an interesting place heading into season seven, what with his competing loyalty and working relationships with both Lannister brothers. Would his death be enough to lead Tyrion and Jaime to peace with one another? It’s a sentimental notion that Bronn would mock endlessly, but it could very well help get the estranged siblings back on the same page.
Maester Qyburn (Anton Lesser)
If you’re looking for someone on Cersei’s side of the aisle to die this season, well, there aren’t many people to choose from. The Mad Queen and her brother/lover look likely to survive until the final year of the show, and the Mountain isn’t done until he meets his own brother on the battlefield. (It is known.) That leaves us with Qyburn, the gifted necromancer who brought Robert Strong into the world. Killed by his own creation, perhaps? It would be an appropriate end to this veritable Frankenstein reboot.
Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen)
Even if he somehow comes across the cure for greyscale in his travels, Jorah’s fate feels predestined: laying down his life in service of his Khaleesi. It’s just a matter of when. Perhaps his fate will take him north toward the Night’s Watch, honoring his father in the war against the White Walkers. If that happens, and if Jorah and Dany are both in the North at the same time, it’s a good time to start worrying for the Bear Islander.
Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), Dolorous Edd (Ben Crompton) and Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham)
Someone on the front lines of the White Walker war is going down for the count this season, but who? At the risk of putting something terrible into the universe, it’s a good bet that one of Jon Snow’s closest allies won’t make it out of the fight alive. There are arguments to be made for losing Tormund, Edd and Davos, all of whom are deeply invested and entrenched in the Northern conflict — hopefully not all of them, but very likely at least one.
Melisandre (Carice van Houten)
The Red Priestess of Asshai won’t die until she meets the Great War head on, but after that? She’s up for grabs. In trailers for the season, Melisandre is seen outside of Dragonstone, the same place Team Targaryen is setting up shop. If she convinces Dany to go north, and if she joins with her, then the ancient Red Woman might finally reach the end of the line.
Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) and Podrick Payne (Daniel Portman)
Fair warning, book spoilers ahead: Brienne and Podrick are involved in a cliffhanger at the end of A Feast For Crows, the fourth novel in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, in which they’re hanged by a zombified Catelyn Stark. (Long story, partly explained here.) Brienne says a word that may or may not get them free from the noose, but as of yet, even book readers aren’t sure of the full outcome. Don’t expect a season seven appearance from “Lady Stoneheart,” but it’s still on the table that Brienne and Pod could meet some version of their Feast For Crow fates.
The Brotherhood Without Banners
They were last seen traveling north to take on the White Walkers. We know they’re going to reach their destination, thanks to an epic shot in the trailer of Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) bringing his blazing sword into battle alongside Jon Snow. The Lightning Lord has died six times before. Is a seventh death in the cards for season seven? And what about Thoros of Myr (Paul Kaye), his faithful friend and healer? Both men might be in trouble, but their newest companion, Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann), should be safe … at least long enough to battle it out with his brother, which we’re expecting to see as a final season showdown.
Jon Snow’s most faithful companion is the last of the original direwolves still on the show, though many signs are pointing toward a Nymeria return this year. That said, the track record for the Stark siblings’ pet sidekicks has been less than stellar: Lady killed in the second episode of the series, Greywind beheaded at the Red Wedding, Shaggydog similarly beheaded albeit off-screen, and Summer becoming zombie chow during one of the most traumatic sequences in Game of Thrones history. Will Ghost join his fallen brothers and sister? Hate to say it, but it’s trending in that direction.
Yes, again, and here’s our Valyrian-foil hat theory on how it’s going to go down.
Game of Thrones returns Sunday at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO. Who do you think will die this season? Leave your predictions in the comments, and keep following THR.com/GameOfThrones for theories, news, interviews and more.