[WARNING: The following contains spoilers from A Song of Ice and Fire, the books on which the Game of Thrones series is based and which contains events that have not yet occurred on the HBO series. Read at your own risk.]
On Game of Thrones, that High Valyrian phrase means "All men must die." And in some cases, men will die earlier than even fans of the books expect. At the Writers Guild of America West awards on Saturday, author George R.R. Martin promised that in the upcoming fifth season, "People are going to die who don't die in the books, so even the book readers will be unhappy. So everybody better be on their toes. [Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] are even bloodier than I am," according to Showbiz 411.
Seven hells, right? Well, before we get our tunics in a bunch prematurely and mourn our favorite characters, let's examine what this could mean. First of all, Martin has let Benioff and Weiss in on the end game for his book series, so these characters could very well be marked for death anyway. While that may be cold comfort, at least we hope that means that the TV series won't go completely rogue and kill off characters who are essential to A Song of Ice and Fire canon. Additionally, the show has already killed off characters who lived in the books — such as Daenerys' handmaiden Irri, her bloodrider Rakharo, Jojen Reed and Robb Stark's wife Talisa, aka Jeyne Westerling — without shaking up the major plot lines too much. Therefore, again, we hope this means these upcoming deaths won't be critical to the main story. With such a huge cast of characters, surely a handful are easily expendable. Plus: Who's to say that these aren't characters what we'll be glad to see die?
That said, there are characters whom we already expect to die this season because they've died in Book 4 and Book 5, both of which Season 5 will encompass. Those people include blind Maester Aemon of the Night's Watch, Grand Maester Pycelle, Kingsguard knight Arys Oakheart, the bard Dareon of the Night's Watch, the old High Septon, Quentyn Martell, Kevan Lannister and Rattleshirt the wilding. In addition, hundreds more will die across the Narrow Sea thanks to the revived gladiator fights, the plague of the bloody flux and Daenerys' hungry dragons.
Beyond those, who else could possibly die? We examine the chances of some of the characters below:
The safest five Never say never, but fan-favorite characters Tyrion Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen, Arya Stark, Bran Stark and Jon Snow will most likely stay among the living. Not only are they the most consistent point-of-view characters across the five books, but Martin himself had planned to follow their stories all the way through the series back when he had originally planned on a trilogy. Of course, we already know that Bran survives Season 5 simply because he's not in it. Therefore, he and his trusty sidekick Hodor will live to "Hodor!" another day.
The Starks and their allies Other than Arya and Bran, Ned Stark was also the father to Rickon and Sansa. Rickon has been out of sight, out of mind, and therefore we'd be OK with an off-screen death for the youngest wolf. He may have a future plot in which someone learns that he's still alive and tries to retrieve him, but as the show has taught us, many of these missions to find people never come to fruition. In contrast, Sansa Stark has come into her own, especially on the TV series in which she's actually outsmarted Littlefinger and now plots with him. With her upward trajectory, we don't see her dying anytime soon, even though we doubt that she's ultimately destined for the Iron Throne. As for Littlefinger, his scheming is just so brilliant that we'd hate to see him leave, but in the end, we believe his hubris and unseemly interest in Sansa will be his undoing.
The Lannisters and their allies On one hand, Cersei is a likely candidate for death, based upon how wretchedly she plays the game once she's in power as Queen Regent. She hasn't won any friends, and has in fact even alienated her own sweet twin Jaime. She wouldn't be missed too much. On the other hand (ha!), Jaime has been on a journey to redemption that we would hate to see interrupted by his demise. Then again, we were left with a cliff-hanger in the books about his possible rendezvous with a certain Lady Stoneheart, so he may not be long for this world. Their remaining offspring in twincest, Tommen and Myrcella, are currently pawns in the game. Tommen is technically king but since everyone and their dragons want the Iron Throne, he can't stay there for long. As for Myrcella, she could be expendable since her main story line involves Doran Martell's daughter, whom many believe has been cut from the TV series. In the books, Myrcella is injured in a botched attempt to escape, but perhaps instead of an ear, she could lose her life? Moving on to Tommen's wife, Margaery gets arrested, and with Loras grievously injured in battle, the Tyrells could easily be out of the picture. Finally, as for Tyrion's allies, Varys is still a big player having helped the Imp get to Braavos, but Tyrion's former mercenary Bronn doesn't have much going on for him in the books other than to annoy Cersei. Sadly, we could see Bronn leaving.
Across the Narrow Sea After Daenerys booted out Ser Jorah, he becomes entwined with Tyrion's story, but isn't really necessary for long. We could see him perishing perhaps in the gladiator pits with his love for Dany still unrequited. Speaking of matters of the heart, Dany's translator Missandei and the former Unsulleid Grey Worm have some sort of early flirtation going on. As we've been taught time and time again, romance does not play well on Game of Thrones, but we still hope that they survive to come to some understanding. Besides, the khaleesi needs some people she can trust by her side. Meanwhile, Samwell and Gilly have made it east, but since Maester Aemon is already supposed to die on the trip, and they have very precious cargo with them, we could also see them remaining alive.
The Night's Watch and others up north In the books, a bloody scheme makes it appear that Mance Rayder is burned alive but is in actuality swapped out for another wildling. Wouldn't it be insane if Game of Thrones deviated by actually killing Mance for real instead of following through with that undercover bard plot from the books? As for Tormund Giantsbane, we don't foresee him dying this season since he'll be instrumental in brokering peace between Jon Snow and the wildlings, in addition to helping out the freefolk in Hardhome. Meanwhile, Jon Snow's new ally Stannis Baratheon also survives reports of his death, as does his Hand, Davos Seaworth in the books. But while Stannis has future plots in which he plays the game and encounters other main characters, Davos gets sent on a mission that we don't feel is essential. Perhaps his faked death will also become real on the show.
Elsewhere in the Seven Kingdoms In the books, Brienne and Podrick fall victim to Lady Stoneheart, and Martin confirmed that they both barely survive being hanged when Brienne agrees to terms at the last possible second. Since there are no signs that Lady Stoneheart will ever make it on the show, the two may instead be captured by another band. It's possible that the scene would play out the same way, but Pod may not be saved in time (although we hope he will be!). In Dorne, we've already seen a picture of Ellaria Sand looking distraught, so she may be a candidate for death if her need to avenge Oberyn overrules sense. Similarly, Oberyn's bastard daughters, aka the Sand Snakes, could meet an untimely end since they have the same fiery temperament as their father. Finally, poor Theon Greyjoy's torture isn't at an end now that Ramsay Bolton (nee Snow) has been legitimized. Personally, we'd like him to die just to put him out of his misery, but his fate still seems to be entwined with the various claimants for the Iron Throne.
Share your best guesses on which characters could meet an untimely end on the show below. Who did we miss?
Game of Thrones Season 5 premieres on Sunday, April 12 at 9/8c on HBO.
TODAY'S VIDEO: Who has the best Game of Thrones hair?