‘Game of Thrones’ season 8 is coming … eventually! Here’s everything we know

Rick Marshall
game of thrones season 8

Helen Sloan/HBO

Game of Thrones might well be the most iconic television series of all time. For years, fans of the HBO show have ravenously gobbled up every rumor, every piece of news, and every tidbit of information that’s leaked out regarding the future of Westeros’ (and Essos’) most prominent denizens.

With the conclusive season on its way (… eventually), fandom has just about reached a fever pitch, and we don’t expect it to subside anytime soon. We know that some of you like to avoid spoilers and head in “blind;” if that’s the case, you really should not be here. Turn back now! If you’re on the hunt for juicy spoiler nuggets, though, keep on readin’. Without further ado, we present a comprehensive collection of news and rumors for Game of Thrones‘ eighth and final season, but again: The night is dark and full of SPOILERS.

A long wait

HBO president of programming Casey Bloys hasn’t been willing to confirm whether season 8 would premiere in 2018 or 2019, but one of the show’s stars recently laid out a clearer timeline. While speaking to Variety, Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark) discussed the season’s progress and named a release year.

Game of Thrones comes out in 2019,” she said.

Turner made it clear that production still has a long way to go, initially joking that they’re only one-tenth of the way through shooting the six-episode final season. In actuality, they’ve made more progress than that. Production begin in October, and they have “six or seven months left,” according to the actress.

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Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner)

Season 8 will be filming into the summer, based on the information from Turner, and that is not the end of the important work that remains. Game of Thrones is famous for its special effects, meaning it will need a lengthy post-production period. (Those dragons have to be added somehow.) Even though it will take a long time, we expect to be grateful for the wait when we see it all come together.

A covert casting

Weeks after sharing a batch of casting notices for season 8, fan blog Watchers on the Wall is reporting that the role of Harry Strickland — leader of the Golden Company mercenaries — has been cast, with German actor Marc Rissmann tapped.

Fans will remember that Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek) departed King’s Landing on Cersei’s orders in the final episode of season 7, intending to meet with the Golden Company and escort them back to Westeros, thanks to a large donation from the Iron Bank. Those who read the books know Strickland as a portly coward who lucked into his command; we don’t have any clue how he’ll be portrayed on screen, but Rissmann is … um, neither portly nor cowardly looking.

Watchers’ source was Rissmann’s Spotlight CV and his agency, Hatch Talent. Interestingly, neither page now includes any information about Game of Thrones, which is unsurprising, given the massive effort put into preventing spoilers for HBO’s current crown jewel. Rissmann recently finished shooting for J.J. Abrams’ upcoming World War II horror story Overlord for Paramount.

A survivor from the Wall?

In the finale of season 7, the Night King made excellent use of his newly resurrected dragon, blasting down the easternmost segment of the Wall and allowing his undead army to march southward. Two prominent characters — Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion — happened to be on top of the Wall as the dragon attacked, leaving us in the dark as to their whereabouts (or whether they even survived).

We still have no idea about Beric, whose get-out-of-jail-free card disappeared when Thoros of Myr took an icy, permanent nap in the Beyond the Wall episode, but it does look like Tormund may have survived — if some sneakily-captured photographs are any indication. Fans noticed Kristofer Hivju, the actor who portrays Tormund, arriving in Belfast, Ireland, earlier this week (along with several other cast members, whose characters are definitely not dead yet) for a table read.

Some of the photos were quickly deleted from Instagram, but you can view the others in a tweet (see above). We don’t know what this means for Tormund — maybe all his “lines” are just White Walker grunts now — but at least it provides some hope for those anticipating a Tormund-Brienne… uh… union.

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Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie)

Steady hands

HBO is putting the final season of its most popular series into the hands of four prominent directors with close ties to the hit show.

The episodes that will make up Game of Thrones Season 8 will be directed by David Nutter, Miguel Sapochnik, and showrunners David Benioff and D.B Weiss, according to Mashable. Benioff and Weiss are expected to co-direct the series finale, but it’s unknown how many episodes — or which episodes — each director will handle.

All four directors have helmed earlier episodes of the series. Nutter has directed six episodes, including the infamous “The Rains of Castamere” episode (also known as the “Red Wedding” episode) and the season 3 and season 5 finales, while Sapochnik has directed four episodes, including “Hardhome,” “The Battle of the Bastards,” and the season 6 finale. In addition to serving as the showrunners on the series, Benioff and Weiss have each directed one episode of the show, with Benioff responsible for season 3’s “Walk of Punishment,” and Weiss directing season 4’s premiere, “Two Swords.”

A mysterious ending

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Jon Snow (Kit Harington)

HBO is hoping to keep fans guessing about the conclusion of Game of Thrones season 8 by filming multiple endings for the final story arc of the wildly successful show.

Casey Bloys, HBO’s president of programming, revealed the news regarding the multiple endings to The Morning Call, and indicated that even the show’s cast members won’t know which ending will be the real one until the episode airs.

“I know in Game of Thrones, the ending, they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that nobody really know what happens,” said Bloys. “You have to do that on a long show. Because when you’re shooting something, people know. So they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that there’s no real definitive answer until the end.”

Game of Thrones is far from the only show to make use of such a strategy. The popular prime-time soap opera Dallas famously filmed multiple versions of the conclusion to its “Who shot J.R.?” story arc in the 1980s, while more recent shows such as Breaking Bad and The Sopranos also filmed several different endings for their respective series-ending episodes.

Given that episodes from the last few seasons of Game of Thrones and other popular television series have also been leaked early by hackers, there’s reason for HBO to be concerned about the details of the show’s conclusion being revealed earlier than intended. Whether the multiple-ending strategy will actually be able to prevent story details from leaking in such a scenario remains to be seen.

Spinoff city, baby

Fortunately, the end of Game of Thrones isn’t expected to mean the end of shows set in the world of novelist George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. Multiple spinoff series are in various early stages of development for HBO, although it’s uncertain how many — if any — will go into production for the network.

There’s no official premiere date for season 8 of Game of Thrones at this point. Unconfirmed reports have indicated that a premiere in late 2018 or early 2019 is likely, and the final season is rumored to consist of just six episodes. Each of those episodes could be a feature-length chapter in the show’s concluding story arc, though, if one particularly well-circulated rumor is to believed.

Update: We’ve added Sophie Turner’s comments on the timeline for season 8.