Game of Thrones RECAPPED: Here's a Quick Primer On All Seven Seasons of GOT
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
April 11, 2019
As if you didn't already know, the smash HBO hit, Game of Thrones returns this Sunday (April 14) and it's not underselling it to say that people are excited to see it return.
When I was asked by my boss if I could write up a quick primer on all seven seasons, I was thrilled to have an excuse to binge-watch my way through the show before the season eight premiere on Sunday (not that I needed any additional motivation naturally).
One note before we begin: Needless to say, when recapping all seven seasons of a show, heavy spoilers are necessary. Obviously we know nothing (Jon Snow) about what awaits our heroes and villains in season eight, so, I'm writing this primarily for people who are excited about the show coming back, but don't quite remember who Tommen Lannister was and why he was important. This article is also good for those people who want to show off how knowledgeable they can be at the watch party they're going to on Sunday.
I've divided up each season in a few sections. How it relates to the books, important characters to know, locations and those who die along the way. Generally, I'm mentioning characters when their arc becomes important in that season.
I can't stress enough that this is a spoiler-filled article for the first seven seasons.
Where to begin? Oh yes, the beginning.
A brief history of Westeros:
Twenty years ago, Robert Baratheon, Ned Stark and Jon Arryn joined forces in a rebellion against House Targaryen and the mad King Aerys Targaryn. We find out why they do so in later seasons, but for now, their reasons are unimportant. Essentially, Robert Baratheon won, the Mad King Aeryn Targaryen was killed by his own King's Guard, Jaime "Kingslayer" Lannister, and Baratheon claimed the Iron Throne for himself. Peace returned to the Seven Kingdoms and everyone went home happily(ish) ever after.
Season one begins with winter on the horizon (seasons can last for several years at a time in Westeros), and Jon Arryn, who was appointed 'The Hand to the King,' dying under mysterious circumstances.
Here's what happens next:
Season One - A Game of Thrones
How it relates to the books: A mostly faithful adaptation of the first book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic, A Game of Thrones.
Important Characters to Know
- Eddard 'Ned' Stark (Sean Bean): Warden of the North and Hand to the King. As the head of House Stark, he is the father to Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran and Rickon. He also claims a bastard son, Jon Snow, and Theon Greyjoy as his ward. A dedicated husband and loyal friend, he is considered one of Robert Baratheon's best assets.
- Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy): The 17th ruler of the Seven Kingdoms, Robert won the throne twenty years ago after he rebelled against the Mad King.
- Cersei Baratheon, née Lannister (Lena Headey): Married to Robert Baratheon to solidify an alliance between Houses Baratheon and Lannister. She is the twin sister to Jaime and older sister to Tyrion. She has three children, Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen.
- Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau): Known as the 'Kingslayer," Jaime is the eldest son of Tywin Lannister and a member of the King's Guard. He's also involved in an incestous relationship with his twin sister Cersei, which produced three bastard children.
- Joffrey Lannister (Jack Gleeson): The product of incest between Jaime and Cersei Lannister, Joffrey is presumably the first-born son to King Baratheon and the heir to the Iron Throne as his true birth remains a secret for much of season one.
- Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage): The youngest Lannister, Tyrion, a dwarf, is best known for his wit, intelligence and unrivaled ability to drink.
- Prince Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd): Son to the Mad King and younger brother to Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, Viserys is one of two surviving members of House Targaryen. He intends on reclaiming the Iron Throne from the 'usurpers' by any means necessary.
- Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke): The younger sister to Viserys Targaryen and daughter to Aerys Targaryen. Daenerys was sold into marriage with Khal Drogo by Viserys in exchange for three dragon eggs and Khal Drogo's army to reconquer Westeros.
- Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa): The leader of a massive Dothraki horde, Khal Drogo is a legendary warrior and has never been defeated in battle. After marrying Daenerys, he promises to restore her to the Iron Throne.
- Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen): A lord exiled from Westeros after he participated in the slave trade, Mormont swears fealty to Daenerys Targaryen and assists her in her transition to leadership as a khaleesi of the Dothraki. In the early season, Jorah also acts as a spy for Varys, sending information about Daenerys back to King's Landing.
- Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen): Littlefinger is the 'Master of Coin' for the Seven Kingdoms under King Robert Baratheon and his son Joffrey. A skilled manipulator, he owns several brothels in King's Landing that he uses to find out information about his rivals.
- Varys (Conleth Hill): A eunuch, sometimes referred to as the Spider, is the Master of Whisperers (spies) on the King's Small Council. Varys is known for his network of spies and ability to manipulate people into positions favorable to his goals.
- Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou): A master swordfighter from Braavos, he trains Arya in the basics of swordplay and life.
- The Hound (Rory McCann) & The Mountain (played by Conan Stevens in Season 1): These two brothers never really got along. Both men are considered among the best warriors in Westeros, as The Hound's superior sword skills and the Mountain's unbelievable physical abilities make them formidable foes on the battlefield. The brothers don't like each other all that much - the Mountain once pushed the Hound's head into the fire after the Hound played with one of his toys. The Hound is the King's Guard to Joffrey Lannister.
- Jon Snow (Kit Harrington): Ned Stark's bastard son, he takes the 'Black' and signs up as a member of the Night's Watch, a group sworn to protect the Wall from the Free Folk and White Walkers. His true parentage is a mystery we learn more about as the seasons go on.
- Samwell Tarly (John Bradley): Better known as Sam, he becomes Jon Snow's best friend while they train for the Night's Watch together. Sam is the eldest son of Lord Randyll Tarly. He was forced to join the Night's Watch after his father threatened to kill him. He's kind, intelligent, well-educated and insightful.
- The Night's Watch: A military order that holds and guards the enormous Ice Wall against threats from the north and separates the northern border of the Seven Kingdoms and the lands beyond.
- The Wildlings: They don't kneel. That's all you really need to know. They're portrayed as a barbarian culture, but the Wildlings are defined by the independence and refusal to take part in the political machinations of Westeros. They live hand to mouth north of The Wall, with occasional raiding parties south.
- The White Walkers: The big bad of Game of Thrones. They've fallen into rumor and legend over the 1,000s of years since their last appearance south of the wall, but the threat has returned. We won't know much about these bad guys for a few more seasons, but along the way we get tiny clues on their origin.
Eddard 'Ned' Stark is named the chief adviser (or 'Hand to the King' to King Robert Baratheon. As Robert's 'Hand', Stark is charged with the day-to-day duties of running the Seven Kingdoms while Robert concentrates on 'drinking, whoring, and fighting.'
While Robert and his court are visiting Winterfell, Ned's son Bran Stark sees Cersei Lannister and her twin brother Jaime having sex. Jaime throws Bran off the tower, crippling him for life.
Ned Stark and two of his children Arya and Sansa, move to King's Landing, the capitol of the Seven Kingdoms. While living in King's Landing, Ned discovers that all of Robert's offspring are the products of incest between Cersei and Jaime. Including the next heir to the throne, Prince Joffrey. After Robert Baratheon is mortally injured on a hunting trip, Joffrey is named King of the Seven Kingdoms, but Ned refuses to recognize him as the rightful heir, sending word to Stannis Baratheon, Robert's brother.
Joffrey learns of Ned's actions and orders that he be executed in front of his daughter Sansa.
In the North, Jon Snow has 'taken the black' and joined the Night's Watch where they defend the Wall, an impenetrable barrier, from hostile tribes known as Wildlings or Free Folk. There, Snow has his first encounter with a Wight, an undead soldier of the White Walkers.
Meanwhile, on another continent across the Narrow Sea, Viserys Targaryen negotiates an alliance with Khal Drogo, the Khalassar of a Dothraki horde, by marrying off his sister Daenerys to Khal Drogo. In exchange, Viserys expects Drogo to use his Dothraki horde to restore him to the Iron Throne. However, after Drogo and Daenryes fall in love, they tire of Viserys' demands and the Khal kills him. Khal Drogo himself is later killed after he gets in a fight with one of his men who disobeyed orders. After placing Drogo on a funeral pyre and lighting it, Daenerys hatches three dragons, who she names for her family.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Jon Arryn: Poisoned by Lysa Arryn at the behest of Littlefinger.
- Viseryrs Targaryen: Killed by Khal Drogo after molten gold was poured over his head.
- Robert Baratheon: Drank too much on a hunting trip and got killed by a boar (I always wondered what happened to that boar. Did the King's Guard slay it? Did they eat it? Mount it? These are the questions I have).
- Syrio Forel: The master sword-fighter is killed by Lannister City Watch members while giving Arya time to escape.
- Eddard 'Ned' Stark: Executed by Ilyn Payne at the behest of King Joffrey Baratheon.
- Khal Drogo: Smothered by Daenerys after a wound he got during a fight became severely infected.
Season Two - A Clash of Kings
How it relates to the books: This season is a direct match to the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings. Martin expands Westeros with new characters, exotic lands and the beginning of the War of the Five Kings.
Important characters to know:
- Robb Stark (Richard Madden): Ned Stark's eldest son. He takes up arms against the Lannisters after Joffrey executed his father in season one and is named the 'King in the North' by his fellow bannermen.
- Catelyn Stark nee Tully (Michelle Fairley): Wife of Ned Stark. She is a devoted mother to her five children and is fiercely protective of their safety.
- Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner): Betrothed to Joffrey Lannister, Sansa is abused and toyed with by Joffrey while she lives in King's Landing.
- Arya Stark (Maisie Williams): The third child and second daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark, Arya is not the typical 'Lady' and enjoys activities like swordfighting, archery and horseback riding. She was able to narrowly escape King's Landing after her father was executed and is currently on the King's Road heading back to Winterfell.
- Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie): A warrior of House Tarth and the only daughter of Lord Selwyn Tarth, she is sworn to Catelyn Stark and promises to return Arya and Sansa safely to Winterfell.
- Bronn (Jerome Flynn): Ser Bronn of Blackwater is a skilled mercenary who sells his sword to the highest bidder, which usually means Tyrion Lannister. He stands in for Tyrion during his Trial by Combat at the Vale and assists with the defense of King's Landing against Stannis Baratheon's invasion.
- Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen): Ward of Ned Stark. Raised by the Starks in Winterfell, Theon was an insurance policy for Ned against the Greyjoy's after they took up against against the Starks during Robert's Rebellion.
- Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane): One of the Five Kings vying for the Iron Throne. He is Robert's younger brother and older brother of Renly Baratheon. He believes the Iron Throne belongs to him because King Joffrey is a bastard who should have no rights to the crown.
- Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony): The youngest of three brothers, Renly is married to Margaery Tyrell, who married him for an alliance between their two houses.
- Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer): Originally married to Renly Baratheon, Margaery is eventually betrothed to King Joffrey after Renly is killed.
- Melisandre (Carice van Houten): Also known as the Red Woman, Melisandre is a Red Priestess for the Lord of Light. She is a close adviser to Stannis Baratheon and assists him in his attempt to take the Iron Throne with her magic and blood sacrifices.
- Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion: Daenerys' three dragons, who she named for her brothers and late husband. They're tiny for now, but they grow into formidable creatures by season seven.
- Gendry (Joe Dempsie): The bastard son of Robert Baratheon, he has a strong claim to the throne and is targeted by the Lannisters.
- Jaqen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha): One of the mysterious 'Faceless Men' from Braavos, a feared order of assassins who can change their appearance at will. Arya Stark saves him and three companions from certain death while escaping an attack from the Lannister army. He offers to train Arya if she goes with him.
- Yoren (Francis Magee): A recruiter for the Night's Watch, he helps Arya a escape the Lannisters in King's Landing.
The War of the Five Kings begins as Robb Stark, Ned's eldest son, declares war against the Lannisters, calling his bannerman in the north to unite against them. Jaime Lannister is captured by Stark, but he is later freed by Catelyn Stark in an attempt to ransom her daughters, Sansa and Arya.
In King's Landing Sansa is still betrothed to Joffrey, who appears to take a lot of joy in torturing her. Arya was able to escape King's Landing with some help from a man named Yoren, who knew her father and is traveling north with some new recruits for the Night's Watch.
Ned's ward, Theon Greyjoy is sent by Robb Stark to his home in the Iron Islands to try and recruit his family to fight for the Starks in their war against the Lannisters. However, Theon sides with his father, and decides to go to war against the Starks as revenge for him being kidnapped and held by Ned Stark so long ago. Theon sails north to Winterfell where he quickly takes it. Bran and Rickon Stark are briefly captured, but they manage to escape Theon before he can execute them.
Stannis and Renly Baratheon, the brothers of the now-deceased King Robert Baratheon, are fighting amongst themselves for the Iron Throne. Both men are claiming it as their own. Stannis, with the support of Melisandre, a mysterious Red Priestess of the Lord of Light, assassinates his younger brother using Melisandre's magic.
After she was captured by a Lannister army, Arya is taken to Harrenhal where she works as Tywin Lannister's steward/cupbearer after she impresses him with her wit and intelligence. Her true identity is nearly revealed, and she has to ask the assassin from Braavos, Jaqen H'ghar, for help to escape Harrenhal. Because he owes her for saving his life and that of two other men, he is obligated to help her.
Stannis then takes his army to Kings Landing, where the defense of the city is led by Tyrion Lannister, the acting 'Hand of the King'. The invasion by Stannis fails after Tywin Lannister arrives with his army in time to defend the city.
North of the Wall, Jon Snow is separated from the rest of his companions and he's able to gain the trust of the Wildlings after he kills a legendary Night's Watch ranger. Other members of the Night's Watch see the White Walkers and their army of the dead for the first time as they come under attack.
Daenerys, facing her own challenges in Essos, she and her khalasar are take refuge in Qarth, where some of the merchants attempt to steal her dragons. They fail, and Daenerys leaves the city with her growing army.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Renly Baratheon: Missandre's weird baby shadow creature that 'looked' like Stannis, sneaks into Renly's tent and assassinates him in front of Brienne of Tarth and Catelyn Stark
- The High Septon: Killed in a riot.
- Alton Lannister: Killed by his cousin, Jaime Lannister, while trying to escape.
- Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Doreah: Locked in the vault by Daenerys after a failed attempt to steal her dragons.
- Yoren: Killed by Lannister men who were searching for Gendry, Robert Baratheon's bastard son.
Season Three - Steel and Snow
How it relates to the books: This season covers the first half of A Storm of Swords, the third book in the series.
Important characters to know:
- Talisa Stark (Oona Chaplin): Talisa worked as a healer on the battlefields of the Westerlands, where she met Robb Stark. Robb, originally betrothed to one of Walder Frey's daughters in exchange for a bridge his army needed to cross, broke his word to the Freys after falling in love with Talisa.
- Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham): The Onion Knight, Davos is a reformed smuggler and a close adviser to Stannis Baratheon. An agnostic who doesn't quite buy into the Lord of Light, but shows a polite interest in the religion anyway for the sake of his king, Stannis Baratheon.
- Ygritte (Rose Leslie): Ygritte was introduced in Season Two, but her character comes into focus in season three. She falls in love with Jon Snow, and he falls in love with her. They sleep together, and build a relationship together (and in real life too!). After the Wildlines make it south of the Wall Jon escapes the Wildlings and returns to Winterfell to warn the Night's Watch about Mance Raydar's attack.
- Shae (Sibel Kekilli): A prostitute who began a relationship with Tyrion Lannister, she goes to King's Landing with Tyrion as his mistress against Tywin Lannister's wishes. Shae works as a handmaiden to Sansa Stark, acting as a confidant for her during Joffrey's abuse.
- Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance): The head of the Lannister family, Tywin is the father to Cersei, Jaime and Tyrion. He is widely considered the true ruler in King's Landing.
- Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton): Lord of the Dreadfort, he initially allies himself with the Starks in the War of Five Kings, however, Roose betrays Robb, and slays him at the Red Wedding.
- Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon): Roose Bolton's bastard son, Ramsay Snow is a cruel, but clever man who uses torture to force Theon Grayjoy into loyal submission.
- Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster): A greenseer who brought Bran and Rickon Stark north of the Wall to find the Three-Eyed Raven. He believes Bran to be critical in the oncoming war against the White Walkers.
- Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick): She accompanies her brother, helping to guide Bran and Rickon Stark north of the wall in their quest to find the Three-Eyed Raven.
- Hodor (Kristian Nairn): A servant for House Stark, Hodor is only able to say one word "Hodor", though he is able to understand everyone else around him. The gentle giant carries Bran around after the young Stark becomes crippled and assists the Stark children as they go north of the Wall.
- Craster: A Free Folk chieftain who lives north of the Wall with his wives and daughters.
- Gilly (Hannah Murray): A former Wildling, she's the daughter (and wife, yuck) of Craster. Samwell Tarly helps her escape from Craster after she gives birth to a baby boy that was meant to be sacrificed to the White Walkers.
- Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson): One of the Unsullied warriors freed by Daenerys Targaryen. He is the chosen commander of the Unsullied and is considered one of their best warriors. He serves as one of the main advisers to Daenerys after she frees the Unsullied in Astapor.
- Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel): A former slave, she was freed by Daenerys the Unsullied army helped her overthrow the Masters of Astapor. She speaks several languages and acts as an interpreter and herald for Daenerys.
- The Unsullied: A group of elite warrior-eunuchs who are bred and trained on Astapor, a major city in Slaver's Bay. Daenerys frees them after negotiating with the Masters in Astapor, agreeing to trade one dragon for the army.
- Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney): The former head of the City Watch in King's Landing, he renounces his position after he's replaced by King Joffrey and goes into exile, where he finds Daenerys Targaryen to assist her rise to the Iron Throne.
- Mance Raydar (Ciaran Hinds): The leader of the Free Folk, known as the 'King Beyond the Wall,' he commands the Wildling army and is bringing the free folk south to safety away from the White Walkers. A former ranger with the Night's Watch, Raydar renounced his allegiance to them and decided to live north of the wall to bring dozens of of Free Folk tribes together.
- Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan): Daughter of Balon Greyjoy, she's a skilled sailer and fierce warrior who commands her own longship. She is also the older sister to Theon Greyjoy. She also claimed the throne of the Iron Islands after Balon was killed.
- Walder Frey (David Bradley): Lord of the Crossing and Riverrun. He has over one hundred descendants and rules the Twins and its surrounding lands. Walder Frey initially joins Robb Stark in the War of the Five Kings, but betrays House Stark after Robb marries Talisa instead of his daughter.
After Robb Stark broke his vow to Walder Frey that he would marry one of his daughters in exchange for his army to cross a river, the King in the North attempts to make peace with the Freys by offering his cousin to Frey's daughter for marriage instead of his own hand. Unbeknownst to the Starks, Walder Frey has already formed a new alliance with the Lannisters. Robb, his wife, his unborn child and his mother, Catelyn Stark are all massacred at the 'Red Wedding.' The Kastarks and House Bolton (both Houses that formerly supported House Stark in the War of the Five Kings), also betray Robb Stark.
Lord Roose Bolton is appointed the new Warden of the North and awarded Winterfell by Tywin Lannister as a reward for his treachery.
The Bolton army comes to claim Winterfell, which his still being held by Theon Greyjoy. Theon is is captured and subjected to torture and imprisonment by Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton's bastard son. Theon is broken by the torture and becomes unquestionably loyal to Ramsay Snow, even refusing rescue from his sister at one point.
Stannis Baratheon sails for King's Landing in an attempt to sack the capital and take it from the Lannisters. However, Tyrion Lannister uses wildfire to destroy many of Stannis' invading ships and Tywin Lannister appears at the last minute with the Lannister army to defeat the rest, saving King's Landing.
Arya and her fellow escapee, Gendry and Hot Pie, make their way to Riverrun, where she hopes to be reunited with her mother's relatives. After being captured by the Brotherhood of the Banners, Arya is taken to an inn where The Hound spots her, and reveals her true identity. After the Hound successfully defends himself in Trial by Combat, he takes Arya after she runs away from the Brotherhood in disgust after they turned Gendry over to Stannis Baratheon. The Hound promises to take Arya to her relatives in The Twins where he expects to receive a large reward for returning her. Unfortunately, they arrive just in time for the Red Wedding. The Hound flees with Arya, knowing if they stayed, they'd face certain death.
Joffrey breaks his betrothal to Sansa Stark, instead proposing marriage to the now-widowed Margaery Tyrell, solififying the alliance between the Lannisters and House Tyrell. That gives King Joffrey the largest army in Westeros, making his victory all but assured in the War of Five Kings. Several months later, Jaime returns to King's Landing, now missing his right hand after it was cut off by Roose Bolton's men.
Jon Snow joins the Wildlings in their mission to get south of the Wall for their attack on Winterfell, but after they summit the Wall, Jon betrays the Wildlings and escapes, betraying his new Wildling lover, Ygritte.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Richard Karstark: Executed by Robb Stark. This leads the Kastarks to abandon their alliance with Robb Stark.
- Talisa Stark: Killed by Lorthar Frey at the Red Wedding, but we can blame Walder Frey for all of them really.
- Robb Stark: Killed by Roose Bolton at the Red Wedding.
- Catelyn Stark: Killed by Walder Rivers at the Red Wedding.
Season Four - Blood and Gold
How it relates to the books: This season takes us through the second half of A Storm of Swords, and adds a few chapters from A Dance with Dragons as well.
Important characters to know:
- Olenna Martell (Dianna Rigg): Grandmother to Margeary Tyrell, she is the elderly matriarch of House Tyrell and is experienced in court politics, and intrigue. Her weapons are wit and sarcasm, which earned her the nickname the Queen of Thorns.
- Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal): The Red Viper of Dorne and younger brother to Doran Martell, Oberyn travels to King's Landing with Elia to take his place on the King's Small Council.
- Poderick Payne (Daniel Portman): Originally assigned to Tyrion Lannister as his squire, Poderick entered Brienne of Tarth's service after Tyrion was accused of murdering Joffrey. Podrick travels around the countryside with Brienne as she searches Westeros for Arya and Sansa Stark.
- Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju): Tormund has appeared a few times already over the last few seasons, but season four is where the character comes into his own. Tormund once loyal to Mance Raydar who he believed would shepherd them through the 'Long Night', now believes that Jon Snow is the prince who was promised after Raydar was executed by Stannis Baratheon.
- Tommen Baratheon (Dean-Charles Chapman): The younger brother to King Joffrey, he is elevated to the Iron Throne after Joffrey is murdered at his own wedding feast.
As the War of the Five Kings winds down, King Joffrey is celebrating his wedding to Margaery Tyrell when he is poisoned at his wedding feast. Tyrion is accused of Joffrey's murder by Cersei and Tywin. Seeing no other way to prove his innocence, Tyrion demands a Trial by Combat. Oberyn Martell, who is seeking vengeance against the Mountain for raping and killing his sister, agrees to stand for Tyrion. The vicious fight results in the death of Oberyn. That means the Gods found Tyrion guilty and is scheduled to be executed the next day.
Jaime and Varys work together to help smuggle Tyrion out of King's Landing, but before Tyrion leaves, he discovers that Shae, the woman he had fallen in love with, was having an affair with his father Tywin. Tyrion confronts his father, killing him with a crossbow while his father is on the privy.
Sansa Stark escapes King's Landing during the confusion around Joffrey's death thanks to some help from Littlefinger. Sansa is taken to the Vale, which is ruled by her aunt, Lysa Arryn. Littlefinger marries Lysa, but soon murders her after she threatens to expose him as the man responsible for her husband, Jon Arryn's death.
After failing to reunite Arya with her family at The Twins, The Hound decides to take his charge to her aunt, Lysa Arryn, in the Eyrie, still hoping to claim his reward. Along the way, they learn Lysa was dead (after Littlefinger pushed her through the Moon door). After leaving the Eyrie, they encounter Brienne of Tarth and Poderick Payne. Brienne and The Hound fight, after he suspects Brienne is actually working for the Lannisters. Brienne is triumphant, very nearly killing the Hound. Arya finds The Hound severely beaten and decides to walk away, not kill him and instead just leave him for dead. Arya reaches a port where she meets a sailor bound for Braavos and books passage using the coin Jaquen H'ghar gave her last season.
Jon Snow and the Night's Watch successfully defend Castle Black against Mance Raydar's army of Wildlings, who severely outnumber them. They're only able to claim victory once Stannis Baratheon and his army arrives to rescue them.
Bran, now able to 'warg' (or telepathically link) into animals is convinced to travel north by Jojen Reed, a fellow 'Greenseer' who can see the past and present in his dreams. Bran is convinced to travel north of the Wall to find the Three-Eyed Raven who can help him expand his powers.
In Essos, Daenerys goes to war against the Masters after she takes control of Meereen and abolishes slavery. Her army of Unsullied After learning her trusted advisor Jorah Mormont was once spying on her for Robert Baratheon, she exiles him, banishing him from her sight.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Joffrey Baratheon: Poisoned by Olenna Tyrell at his own wedding feast. That makes it clear that if you get any kind of invite to see someone get married in Westeros, you politely decline and send a $50 gift card to Swords, Shields, and Beyond.
- Lysa Arryn: Littlefinger threw her through the moon door after she threatened to expose his role in Jon Arryn's death.
- Oberyn Martell: Killed by the Mountain while standing for Tyrion Lannister in his Trial by Combat against the Hound's brother.
- Ygritte: Killed by Olly. Jon Snow gets one last chance with Ygritte holding her while she dies in his arms.
- Shae: After Tyrion Lannister discovered Shea sleeping with his father, he chokes her to death using a golden chain necklace he gave her.
- Tywin Lannister: Killed by Tyrion Lannister after he called Shae a whore one too many times.
Season Five - A Feast For Crows & A Dance with Dragons
How it relates to the books: A combination of A Feast For Crows, A Dance with Dragons and other new material from the showrunners.
New and important characters to know:
- Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma): The lover of Prince Oberyn Martell, she and the Sand Snakes vow revenge against the Lannisters for their part in Oberyn's death.
- Sand Snakes: The Sand Snakes are the eight bastard daughters of Oberyn Martell and Ellaria Sand. Loyal to House Martell, they join their mother in her quest to take revenge on the Lannisters for the death of their father Oberyn at the hands of the Mountain.
- Myrcella Baratheon (Nell Tiger Free): Like her siblings, she was thought to be the only daughter to Robert and Cersei, but she was another product of incest between Jaime and Cersei. Myrcella was sent to to Dorne in season 2 by Tyrion Lannister in an attempt to shore up an alliance between House Martell and House Lannister by marrying her off to Trystane Martell.
- Olly (Brenock O'Connor): An orphan boy whose parents were killed by the Wildlings in their attack south of the Wall. He joins the Night's Watch and works as Jon Snow's personal steward.
- Tommen Barantheon: Joffrey's younger brother, he is next in line for the throne after Joffrey was poisoned at the wedding feast.
- The High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce): The leader of a fanatic religious order that arises within the Faith of the Seven. He is encouraged by Cersei Lannister to reestablish the Faith Militant as part of her attempt to consolidate power over Margaery Tyrell.
- The Sparrows/Faith Militant: A fanatic religious order that is a part of the Faith of the Seven, the group was formed after the common people in Westeros suffered during the War of the Five Kings.
- Jaquen H'ghar (Tom Wlaschiha): We've seen Jaquen H'ghar a few times already, but this season is when he agrees to train training Arya to join the guild of assassins known as the Faceless Men.
After Joffrey's premature death at their wedding feast, Queen Magaery Tyrell re-marries the new king, Joffrey's younger brother, Tommen Baratheon. Cersei Lannister encourages the High Sparrow to reestablish the Faith Militant. Cersei uses the Faith of the Seven to manipulate her son King Tommen, and uses them as allies against the Tyrells.
Jaime and Bronn travel to Dorne to retrieve Myrcella Baratheon, but after he is able to rescue her, Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes poison Myrcella as revenge for Oberyn's death.
Meanwhile, Sansa Stark is promised to Ramsay Bolton, who was legitimized after his victory over the Greyjoys at Winterfell.
Stannis Baratheon marches south on Winterfell, intent on defeating Ramsay Bolton, but his men are unable to overcome the Bolton army and they are soundly defeated. Stannis is executed by Brienne of Tarth, who happens to find him alive on the battlefield.
Jon Snow, the newly elected commander of the Night's Watch, goes against his men's wishes and enters into an alliance with the Free Folk. Unfortunately, that alliance cost Jon his life, after the Black Brothers band together and stab Jon in a coup.
Arya Stark arrives in Braavos where she links up with Jaqen H'ghar and to train with the Faceless Men, a guild of assassins. Jaqen H'ghar agrees to train her after she demonstrates to him how committed she is to becoming one of them.
Tyrion and Varys make it to Essos where he meets with Daenerys and becomes one of her closest advisers. But she learns that running a kingdom is far more complicated than conquering one. As Daenerys' dragon grow larger, they are now too large to control, and she is forced to lock up two of them after Drogon burns a child to death. Violence by the slavers seeking to retake Meereen increases and Daenerys is forced to flee Meereen on Drogon's back.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Mance Rayder: After he was sentenced to burn alive by Stannis Baratheon, Rayder was mercy killed by Jon Snow before the fire took him.
- Master Aemon Targaryen: Died of natural causes, revealing to Samwell Tarly that he was Aerys Targaryen's brother.
- White Walker: Killed by Jon Snow during the attack on Hardhome and the first time we realize Valerian Steel is an effective counter-measure against the White Walkers.
- Shrine Baratheon: Burned alive as a sacrifice to the Lord of Light by Melisandre. Her mother, Selyse Baratheon would go on to kill herself after the sacrifice.
- Stannis Baratheon: Brienne of Tarth slays the Lord of Dragonstone, ending his quest for the Iron Throne once and for all.
- Myrcella Barathon: Poisoned by Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes in revenge for Prince Oberyn's death at the hands of The Mountain.
- Jon Snow: Yep. Killed by the Black Brothers at the end of season five after a coup. Weird how he's still doing interviews for the show, isn't it?
Season Six - A Feast For Crows & A Dance with Dragons
How it relates to the books: This is another combination of A Feast For Crows, A Dance with Dragons and new material from the showrunners. Most of the story was taken from The Winds of Winter.
Important characters to know:
- Ser Kevan Lannister (Ian Gelder): The younger brother to Tywin Lannister who opposes Cersei's attempts to seize power. He's appointed the Hand to King Tommen.
- Qyburn (Anton Lesser): An unethical former Master who was thrown out of the order, he has allied himself with Cersei who elevates him to the King's Small Council as the Master of Whisperers.
- The Waif (Faye Marsay): An acolyte of the Faceless Men who serves in the House of Black and White in Braavos. She continually attempts to undercut Arya before she can join the guild.
- The Three-Eyed Raven (Max von Sydow): The last greenseer in Westeros, he lives with the Children of the Forest Beyond the Wall and posses the ability to see into the past, present and future. He trains Bran to use the greensight magic for the upcoming fight against the Night King.
- Sons of the Harpy: An underground insurgency group that opposes Daenerys in Meereen.
Jon Snow is revived by Melisandre and he leaves the Night's Watch after overseeing the execution of the Black Brothers who betrayed him. He is reunited with Sansa Stark and battles Ramsay Bolton in the Battle of the Bastards. Thanks to a last minute assist from the Knights of the Vale and Littlefinger, Jon is triumphant in the battle, and is crowned the 'King in the North' as Robb Stark's former bannermen flock to him.
Bran trains with the Three-Eyed Raven but their group is attacked by a group of White Walkers after accidentally gives their location away to the Night King. The Three-Eyed Raven is killed, and Bran is forced to assume his position. The youngest Stark child now possesses the ability to see the past, present and future, and he realizes that Jon is actually the son of Lyanna Star and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen.
Cersei Lannister consolidates her power in King's Landing after she kills the High Sparrow, Margaery, Loras, and several others using Wildfire buried under the Great Sept of Baylor. Her son, King Tommen, kills himself after witnessing what his mother did and Cersei is crowned Queen of the Iron Throne.
Euron Greyjoy, long thought to be dead, returns to the Iron Islands and kills his brother and Theon's father, Balon Greyjoy. Theon and his sister escape the Iron Islands, sailing for Essos, bringing their ships along as a gift to Daenerys Targaryen. Daenerys accepts their help and sails for Westeros where she allies herself with Ellaria Sand, who has seized control of Dorne, and Olenna Tyrell.
Arya completes her training with the Faceless Men and leaves Braavos after killing the Waif. Once she returns to Westeros, Arya takes her revenge on Walder Frey and his family for slaughtering her brother, mother and sister-in-law at the Red Wedding.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Doran Martell: Killed by Ellaria Sand after he refused to take action against the Lannisters.
- Trystane Martell: Killed by Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes in retaliation for his father's inaction against the Lannisters.
- Roose Bolton: Killed by Ramsay Bolton. After making Ramsay a legitimate son, Roose produces a true-blood heir with his new wife Walda Frey, threatening Ramsay's plans.
- Walda Bolton and her son: Killed by Ramsay Bolton. He fed her and her newborn child to his dogs in an act of cruelty and attempt to consolidate his power.
- Balon Greyjoy: Killed by Euron Greyjoy, his younger brother who feels like he can be a better fighter for the Iron Islands.
- Olly: Executed by Jon Stark for his part in the coup.
- Allister Thorne: Executed by Jon Stark for his part in the coup.
- Othell Yarwyck: Executed by Jon Stark for his part in the coup.
- Bowen Marsh: Executed by Jon Stark for his part in the coup.
- Three Eyed Raven: Killed by the Night King.
- Hodor: Hold the door Hodor! He was torn apart by the Night King's wights while giving Bran enough time to escape.
- The Waif: Arya Stark gets her revenge and becomes one of the Faceless Men after she takes The Waif down.
- Rickon Stark: All he had to do was zig-zag, but Ramsay Bolton killed him during the Battle of the Bastards.
- Ramsay Bolton: He was eaten alive by his own dogs, but, really, the credit should go to Sansa Stark who was able to take her revenge on him.
- High Sparrow: Killed by Wildfire planted by Cersei when the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed.
- Margaery Tyrell: Killed by Wildfire planted by Cersei when the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed.
- Loras Tyrell: Killed by Wildfire planted by Cersei when the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed.
- Mace Tyrell: Killed by Wildfire planted by Cersei when the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed.
- Kevan Lannister: Killed by Wildfire planted by Cersei when the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed.
- Tommen Baratheon: King Tommen commits suicide by throwing himself out the window after he watches the Great Sept was destroyed.
- Walter Rivers: Killed by Arya Stark as revenge for the Red Wedding.
- Lothar Frey: Killed by Arya Stark as revenge for the Red Wedding.
- Walder Frey: Killed by Arya Stark as revenge for the Red Wedding.
Season Seven - North of the Wall
How it relates to the books: We're "north of the wall" so to speak when it comes to story at this point in the TV series. Only George R.R. Martin and showrunners David Benioff & D. B. Weiss knew how season seven would unfold. Because we're still waiting on George R.R. Martin's last novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, the only clues we have to the end of the story come to us through the HBO TV show. Martin and the showrunners have both said events portrayed in the show may not be reflected the same way in the last book when it's eventually released.
Important characters to know:
- Ebrose (Jim Broadbant): An Archmaester of the Citadel, where the Order of the Masters train new recruits, like Samwell Tarly.
- Randall Tarly (James Faulkner): Father of Samwell Tarly, head of House Tarly. He sides with the Lannisters in the War of the Five Kings, but pays with his life after he refuses to bend the knee to Daenerys after she wins the battle.
- Dickon Tarly (Tom Hopper): Younger brother to Samwell Tarly. He joins his father in refusing to bend the knee to Daenerys and is also burned to death by her dragon.
- Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding): We meet Prince Rhaegar Targaryen while Bran is flashing back to Robert's Rebellion.
- Lyenna Stark (Aisling Franciosi): Sister to Ned Stark, she marries Rhaegar Targaryen in a secret ceremony that prompted Robert's Rebellion.
After defeating the Sons of the Harpy in Meereen once and for all, Daenerys turns her attention to Westeros. The Mother of Dragons travels across the Narrow Sea with her Unsullied and Dothraki Warriors intent on reclaiming the Iron Throne from the Lannisters.
Jon, desperate to defeat the Night King and the White Walkers, sets his mind to gathering enough allies to stand against the Undead Army as well as finding a good source of dragonglass, which as we've learned over the last few seasons, that's the only way a White Walker can be killed.
Samwell Tarly, who was dispatched to the Citadel with Gilly and her newborn baby, studies with the Masters in an attempt to learn everything he can about the White Walkers and how to defeat them. Along the way, he meets Ser Jorah Moremont, and cures him of Greyscale, an infection of the skin.
Jon Snow travels to Dragonstone after being summoned by Daenerys to bend the knee. Snow doesn't really care about titles or the War for the Iron Throne and does his best to convince Daenerys the real threat is coming from the north, and is not Cersei Lannister or her allies. Daenerys decides to allow Jon to mine as much Dragonglass as needed and is convinced the White Walkers exist once they find petroglyphs depicting the White Walkers left by the First Men. They decide the only way to convince Cersei Lannister there's a major threat to Westeros (and it's not each other), Jon and a raiding party consisting of Jorah Moremont, Tormund Giantsbane, and members of the Brotherhood Without Banners must go north of the wall to capture a wight, and bring it back to King's Landing to prove the White Walkers exist.
Unfortunately, the raiding party is surrounded by the undead army and finds themselves trapped beyond the Wall. Gendry is sent back to Eastwatch to get word to Daenerys, who flies north with her dragons to rescue them. During the battle, one of the Dragons, Viserion is killed by the Night King.
As the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran learns that Lyanna Stark was not kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen, but rather, they ran off together to elope in a secret ceremony. In another vision, Bran learns that marriage produced a child named Jon, who was taken in by Ned Stark. That means, Jon Snow's real name is Aegon Targaryen, making him the true heir to the Iron Throne.
Daenerys, who has no idea Jon is actually her nephew by blood, sneaks into Jon's cabin where they consummate their feelings for one another while traveling back to Dragonstone.
At Winterfell, Littlefinger attempts to turn the Stark children against one another, but Sansa and Arya are able to see through his machinations and have him executed for his part in Jon Arryn and Ned Stark's death.
The Night King, having resurrected Viserion, takes his dragon to Eastwatch where he uses its fire to melt a large portion of the Wall, allowing the White Walkers and their army continue their march south.
And Now Their Watch Is Ended:
- Randall Tarly: Burned alive by Daenerys Targaryen after he refused to bend the knee to her.
- Dickon Tarly: Burned alive by Daenerys Targaryen after he joined his father in refusing to bend the knee to her.
- Benjen Stark: Killed by White Walkers while helping Jon Snow escape.
- Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish: Arya Stark gets the kill here after she slits his throat in Winterfell with the knife he gave her.
- Ellaria Sand: We don't see her die, but Cersei was pretty adamant that she would suffer while locked in a dungeon under King's Landing.
- Sand Snakes: The daughter who didn't die during Euron's attack on Greyborn's fleet, was poisoned by Cersei Lannister in front of her mother in King's Landing.
- Viserion: Killed by the Night King. The dragon was resurrected using magic and becomes a part of the army of undead marching south on Westeros.
That's it. That's all seven seasons more or less. Now you don't have to watch 70+ hours of TV to get ready for the premiere this weekend.
On Sunday, our watch begins.
Photos: HBO, Getty Images