Arm yourselves with tissues, Game of Thrones fans, because the Night King's White Walkers have finally arrived to put the winter in Winterfell, which means many deaths are imminent. We've been bracing for some big losses for months now, but no matter how much we try to prepare ourselves, there are a few characters we simply cannot bear the thought of losing.
As we get ready for the icy battle ahead, here's who we're rooting for to survive the long winter on Game of Thrones.
The Lady of Bear Island is the epitome of the North; she's loud, proud, and able to command a crowd. The fact that she's so little has never stopped her from stepping up to say and do what she feels is right, and what she lacks in physical strength, she makes up for in her mighty moral compass. She has refused to join the other children hiding in the crypts -- in fact, she pledged to arm and train "every man, woman, boy, and girl" of her modest house, like the can-do boss that she is.
Without her ferocious interjections and refusal to be persuaded by pithy small talk, how could the Northern families ever hope to settle their squabbles? Plus, let's face it. She's adorable, and seeing her die would be the biggest gut wallop this side of Shireen Baratheon. Please don't take her and these epic stare-down skills away from us, Game of Thrones. - Amanda Bell
Look, we all know Jaime is going to die before the series is over. It's just a fact. But that doesn't mean that his death won't cause me to weep enough tears to make the Trident overflow. Throughout the series, Jaime has evolved from one of the most despicable characters to one of the most lovable, giving us the best character arc of any single figure in the show and coming to embody the moral struggle that drives the entire series. He's a man who desires to do the right thing in a world where the line between good and evil is often elusive (and a man with a very good beard), and screw everyone who continues to misunderstand my personal moon and stars.
Jaime's been on his redemption journey for a few seasons already, and it's long been predicted that it will culminate in him killing his sister, Cersei (Lena Headey), likely sacrificing himself in the process. I've managed to come to terms with Jaime's inevitable demise, but what I wouldn't be able to handle is if he dies before fulfilling Maggy's prophecy and killing Cersei with his golden hand, so he'd better manage to survive long enough to dole out some serious justice on the vindictive queen. And if he does have to fall on the battlefield in Sunday's episode, the showrunners better at least let him die in the arms of Brienne (Gwendoline Christie), fulfilling his own wish to one day die in the arms of a woman he loves. At least give me that small comfort if you must take my Jaime from me now. - Sadie Gennis
Like Kelly Rowland, Davos Seaworth is a survivor. The Onion Knight said it last week -- he's survived both the Battle of the Blackwater and the Battle of the Bastards despite lacking combat ability. But he has the intelligence that comes from perception and experience. He's seen and done it all, and retained a sense of humor throughout. And that makes him correct more often than most other characters.
He's always been one of the show's most decent characters. He submitted to having his fingertips cut off because it seemed to him like a fair punishment for his crimes as a smuggler, you know? If humanity survives the fight with the Night King's army, they're going to need people like Davos. He knows about forgiveness -- he doesn't hold it against Tyrion Lannister ( Peter Dinklage) that Tyrion gave the order that killed his son during Blackwater -- and compassion -- he loved poor, doomed Shireen Baratheon dearly -- and sets a good example for how things can be. Plus, he's got to get home to his wife! He's been away from home for like a decade now! - Liam Mathews
Samwell Tarly, best friend of Jon Snow, a lover of ladies, thief of Heartsbane, one-time maester apprentice, curer of Jorah's greyscale, dad to little Sam, the first one to kill a White Walker, and currently racking up a big fine for his overdue library books just might be the person Westeros needs and deserves to live until the very end of the series.
When you think about it, Sam has seen and done a lot more than many other characters on the show, in terms of both fighting and learning. It also appears that Game of Thrones is gearing up for someone else to assume the mantle of record keeper (after Bran has [probably] died, and beyond), and Sam seems poised to take on the position. Someone's going to need to be able to write down and pass on the stories about the War of the Five Kings and The Great War, and that's Sam's job. He's got to live until the very end of the series because his importance to Westeros goes beyond the final episode of the show. While he's never going to end up on the Iron Throne, his shared knowledge will be his greater legacy. Think about how one day, some kid's going to be stealing Sam's books from the library for fun. - Rachel Paige
If by some stroke of luck (or fan service) the Night King doesn't wipe out the living and set off the next Ice Age, and Jon and Dany manage to work through their issues and rule Westeros together as fair and merciful monarchs, I would be heartbroken if Varys isn't alive to see it. After all, it's Lord Varys (and that "Lord" moniker is a courtesy only, because the Master of Whisperers holds no land nor title) who helped set Daenerys' conquest in motion, quietly manipulating the most powerful people in King's Landing. Varys came from nothing, was sold as a slave, was castrated and abandoned, and through cunning and intelligence put himself in a position to influence the Iron Throne. But while the big names from the great houses forge and break allegiances and alliances in a generations-long power struggle, Varys' single loyalty is to the realm -- "the people who suffer under despots and prosper under just rule," as he explains to Daenerys.
It's unlikely that someone like Varys, who wields secrets far better than swords, will survive the storm the Night King is bringing to Westeros. But I can't help but hope that what Varys tells Tyrion in Season 2 holds true to the end: "The storms come and go, the big fish eat the little fish, and I keep on paddling." - Noelene Clark
If Jaime Lannister dies, it will break me into a million little pieces and I will become dust in the wind as if Thanos snapped me out of existence. But I've also accepted that Jaime will probably die while killing Cersei (which is how it should be), so I'd like to actually shine a line on another person whose wellbeing is completely tied to my own happiness: Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen).
Honestly, I don't know when I became so heavily invested in Jorah's ongoing existence, but sometime over the course of Game of Thrones' eight seasons, it definitely happened. Now, as we stare down the biggest battle in the show's history, I'd throw my own body down to protect that man. Sure, his loyalty to Daenerys is infuriating sometimes. I just want to yell at him and tell him he should not put his wellbeing over hers and that she isn't always right, and he should stop being so blinded by her luscious hair or whatever, but I know he won't listen to me. And that's why I love Jorah: He's loyal to a fault. And OK, I definitely don't hate looking at him either. - Kaitlin Thomas
There's a saying from old Valyria that goes:
Once came a day, where fire filled the sky,
And I prayed aloud, "I wish the best for Hot Pie."
OK, that's not true; Valyria went up in flames thousands of years before the events on Game of Thrones, but the sentiment is real. Despite his bullish beginnings, Hot Pie won over the hearts of millions in his four seasons (plus that pivotal Season 7 cameo) to such an extent that the idea of killing him off would not only destroy me, but bring sadness to whoever is left to take the Iron Throne. GoT loves its redemptive character arcs, and outside of Jaime Lannister, is there one better than Hot Pie? Going from a juvenile delinquent to Night's Watch recruit, to prisoner, to apprentice baker, to LEAD BAKER AT THE INN?! Well, we don't totally know about that last part, but it's safe to extrapolate considering Ben Hawkey, the actor who portrays our rotund hero, launched a pop-up bakery based on the popularity of his character.
Like Hot Pie said to Arya as she departed for Winterfell, he's a survivor. He cheated death again and again in Seasons 1-4, despite the odds being stacked against him. If GoT went out of its way to kill him off in the final season, even after he imparted the baking wisdom of "browning the butter before making the dough," then viewers (myself included) will experience devastation to the highest degree. A multitude of fan theories about Hot Pie's importance to Westeros have popped up across the internet, and it's because there are so many reasons to love him. - Tony Maccio
It's nearly impossible to find anyone in Westeros or the surrounding kingdoms who hasn't wavered in moral integrity or been prone to bad judgement because they've fallen in love and aren't thinking with the right organs (definitely looking at you Robb Stark and Jon Snow). The exception to that rule is Brienne, who has been out there just trying her best since she first showed up on the scene.
She's been tested and tried, but through it all Brienne has made all of her decisions based on what she thinks is right and just. She is the best that Westeros has to offer and deserves -- more than anyone else -- to see another long summer. Yes, it seems that her being knighted in last weekend's emotional episode essentially marked her for death in the upcoming battle, because we can't have nice things on this show, but that doesn't change the fact that if anyone deserves to live through this it's her. To hell with everyone, the only one worth bending the knee for is Ser Brienne of Tarth. I hope you see the other side and get to chillax with your best friend Jaime, girl. - Megan Vick
Most Game of Thrones fans look back on Sansa's early years of the show with disdain for her naiveté, selfishness, and fragility, but all I've ever really seen Sansa as is a girl in way over her head. Her weaknesses were what made me fall in love and that love has persisted through all eight seasons of Game of Thrones, which she's somehow managed to survive despite the trials and tribulations of Westeros.
It may have taken her a lot longer than most fans would have liked, but she eventually did learn, grow, and start playing the game. And guess what? She now plays it better than just about anyone else on the board. Her story arc over the last few seasons has clearly been positioning her to take the place as the Lady of Winterfell and Warden of the North -- possibly even Queen in the North, whose name is Stark -- so I'm not terribly worried that the show will rip that away from her and kill her off in the final season. Still, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Sansa because when Westeros comes out the other side of this mess, it's going to need a strong ruler who knows what they're doing, and that's clearly Sansa Stark. - Lindsay MacDonald
Now, dear readers, we'd love to find out from you who you think will survive the Game of Thrones. Weigh in with the poll below and let us know which of our favorites should be safe from elimination and which of these people are definitely done for.