Game of Thrones season eight will air on Sunday, April 14 in the US on HBO and Monday, April 15 in the UK on Sky Atlantic. This will be the final season, and we will learn the fate of the warring Seven Kingdoms of Westeros – and who will finally take the Iron Throne. Below is a quick – if there ever could be – recap of Game Of Thrones seasons one to seven ahead of the new series beginning.
Warning: This article contains major spoilers for Game of Thrones
An ancient order who guard the Wall to the North of Westeros – The Knight’s Watch – discover a supernatural creature, previously thought to be mythical, known as a White Walker, in the forest.
Elsewhere, Ned Stark (played by Sean Bean) is the Warden of the North and leaves his home in Winterfell with daughters Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) to become Hand of the King for King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) after the sudden death of Jon Arryn, the previous Hand of the King.
The family of Robert’s wife, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), are allegedly responsible for the death of the previous Hand of the King.
In a visit from the Lannister’s to the North, Ned’s son Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is climbing in the grounds and sees Cersei in bed with her brother Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who then throws him from a tower window – leaving Bran paralysed.
Game of Thrones: Ned Stark is asked to become the Hand of the King after a mysterious death
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) travels with Ned’s b*stard son Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) to discover more about the White Walker incident reported by the Night’s Watch. Jon decides to become a brother of the Night’s Watch and stays on with the order.
Tyrion is arrested at the request of Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), who believes him responsible for Bran’s fall, triggering a trial by combat to secure his release.
Tyrion is imprisoned in the Vale under the watchful eye of Catelyn’s sister Lysa Arryn (Kate Dickie) and requests Bronn (Jerome Flynn) fight for him in the trial. Born subsequently defeats Lysa’s chosen champion.
Robert is fatally injured in a suspicious hunting accident prompting Ned to be named Protector of the Realm until Cersei’s vicious son Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) comes of age.
Ned, however, decides to give Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane), the king’s estranged brother, the position in his stead. Ned is betrayed by Lord Petyr Baelish known as Littlefinger (Aidan Gillan) and decapitated on Joffrey’s command.
Sansa Stark is seized by the Lannisters, but Arya manages to escape after witnessing her father’s execution.
In retaliation, Ned’s son Robb (Richard Madden) is named King of Winterfell and gathers the armies of the North against the Lannisters.
Across the Narrow Sea, Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo (Jason Mamoa) marries Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).
She believes herself the true heir to the Iron Throne and plots an assault on Westeros, but her husband Drogo is killed after being cursed. Daenerys avenges him and hatches three dragon eggs presented to her as a wedding gift.
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Game of Thrones: Stark family tree – How each of the Starks are related
Tyrion becomes Hand of the King in the hope of controlling Joffrey and curbing his vicious ways while Stannis is entranced by the witch Melisandre (Carice van Houten) and publicly claims the throne stating Joffrey’s illegitimacy – as Jaime is his real father.
Robb’s armies travel southward with Jaime Lannister as their prisoner of war. Robb sends Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) to ask for an alliance with his father, Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide). However, Theon betrays Robb and reunites with his family on the Iron Islands – seizing Winterfell. Bran is forced to escape to the wilderness.
Robb also asks Catelyn to meet Renly Baratheon (Gethin Anthony), Stannis’ younger brother who also has a claim to the Iron Throne. Catelyn suggests the brothers join forces but when Renly refuses, he is slain by an evil spirit conjured by Melisandre.
After Renly’s death, Catelyn and Renly’s bodyguard Brienne of Tarth (Gwendolyn Christie) are accused of murder and have to escape. Joining with Robb once more, the women plot to have Jaime returned to King’s Landing to try and exchange him for the captured Sansa.
Game of Thrones: Jon falls in love with Wildling Ygritte beyond the Wall
At the Wall, Jon Snow discovers proof of infant sacrifices and leaves the Night’s Watch to join the Wildlings.
Arya is caught by Lannister soldiers, confined at the castle of Harrenhal and made to work as a servant by patriarch Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) who thinks her to be a boy. She flees with help from Jaqen H’ghar (Thomas Wlaschiha), a Faceless Man of Essos.
Stannis strives to attack King’s Landing by boat, but his armies are consumed by wildfire after Tyrion plays a clever trick.
Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys travels to Qarth, where she hopes to get support for her invasion of Westeros. This does not go as planned and she is captured in the House of the Undying, along with her dragons. However, she eventually escapes and destroys the city.
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Tywin removes Tyrion from his position as Hand of the King and insists he marry Sansa, whilst Joffrey is engaged to Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), in the aim to secure an alliance between the Lannisters and Tyrells.
Jon Snow is still beyond the Wall and meets Wildling leader Mance Rayder (Ciaran Hinds) and learns a battle is to come with the White Walkers. Jon also falls in love with Wildling Ygritte (Rose Leslie).
Robb goes against his previous promise to marry Lord Walder Frey’s (David Bradley) daughter Roslin, instead choosing to wed Talisa (Oona Chaplin). This backfires, as at Roslin’s wedding to another man, Robb, Catelyn and pregnant Talisa are brutally slain – in a plot conceived by the Lannisters and the Freys in a bloody slaughter which became known as the Red Wedding.
Arya witnesses the deaths of her mother and brother and flees with Sandor Clegane – known as The Hound – (Rory McCann). Roose Bolton is rewarded for his role in the slaughter of the Robb, Catelyn and Talisa and bestowed the title of Warden of the North.
During this, Bran Stark has learnt he can project his consciousness into the body of a direwolf, Brienne and Jamie continue to travel southward and Daenerys demonstrates the power of her dragons and gains an army of 8,000 specialist warriors known as the Unsullied.
Game of Thrones: Tyrion is forced to marry Sansa Stark by his father
At his wedding to Margaery, Joffrey is killed after drinking from a chalice of poisoned wine.
Sansa is taken from Kings Landing by Littlefinger, finding solace at the home of her aunt Lysa Arryn at the Vale. However, Lysa has lost all sense and attempts to push Sansa through the Moon Door – but Sansa is saved by Littlefinger who throws Lysa through the trap door to the cliffs below.
Brienne and Jamie – minus a hand – finally reach Kings Landing only to learn that Sansa has escaped, and Brienne takes on the task of finding her.
Devastated at the loss of her son Joffrey, Cersei casts blame on Tyrion and another trial by combat is held. Tyrion’s champion, Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), is defeated by Gregor Clegane – known as the Mountain – and Tyrion finds himself imprisoned.
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Game of Thrones: Joffrey is poisoned at his own wedding and dies
Jamie helps Tyrion to escape, but the dwarf subsequently finds his father in bed with his mistress. Angry at this betrayal, Tyrion kills his father and escapes across the Narrow Sea, seeking Daenerys who he hopes can defeat his sister Cersei.
On his return from Winterfell, Roose Bolton discovers his son Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon) has tortured Theon, castrated him and caused him to fall into madness, now going by the name Reek.
By the Wall, Jon returns to the Night’s Watch and warns them of the oncoming army of Wildlings led by Mance Rayder. The army arrives and attacks Castle Black – but the Night’s Watch is saved by Stannis Baratheon’s men.
Brienne meanwhile finds Arya and The Hound and defeats Gregor Clegane in battle. Arya flees to the House of White and Black in Braavos to learn from Jaqan H’ghar.
Game of Thrones: Arya is kept safe by The Hound, before fleeing to the House of White and Black
Mance Rayder is burnt at the stake by Stannis, and Jon is elected leader of the Night’s Watch despite opposition from the elders in the brotherhood. Melisandre later convinces Stannis to sacrifice his only daughter Shireen as an offering to the “Lord of Light” whom they serve. She is burned alive, and Stannis loses his standing with his troops.
Sansa has been taken to Ramsay Snow by Littlefinger, who has the intention of seeing the pair wed – returning the Starks to Winterfell. But Sansa suffers at the hand of Ramsay, although she is helped to escape by Theon who tries to overcome his madness and right the wrong he had done to the Starks when he betrayed Robb.
Stannis arrives at Winterfell with the intention of challenging the Boltons but his men desert him after learning of how he killed his daughter.
Cersei continues to scheme against Margaery who has now married Joffrey’s younger brother Tommen, the new King.
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Game of Thrones: Ramsay Snow imprisons and tortures both Theon and Sansa
But her conspiring works against her and Cersei’s sexual past is exposed – with the leader of a puritanical cult, the High Sparrow, given more power and subsequently forces her to walk through the streets of Kings Landing naked for her sins.
Meanwhile, Daenerys and her Unsullied army has taken over the city of Mereen but faces opposition from an anonymous group known as the Sons of the Harpy.
Tyrion has crossed the Narrow Sea and meets Daenerys, winning her trust and bestowed ruler in her absence.
At the Wall, Jon enlists a group of Night’s Watchmen to meet the Wildlings – hoping to achieve an alliance. Their meeting is abruptly cut short by the Night King – who slaughters almost everyone there. When Jon returns to the Wall those who remained behind stab him repeatedly, killing him.
Game of Thrones: The Targaryen family tree – how Daenerys has a claim to the throne
Game of Thrones: Daenerys begins to take over Essos, freeing slaves
Melisandre works her magic and returns Jon from the dead, believing him to be the Prince Who Was Promised, a vessel for the Lord of Light. Jon takes back control of the Nights Watch and pledges to set out for Winterfell and reclaim it from Ramsey Bolton. Sansa reunites with Jon after travelling to the Wall.
The so-called Battle of the B*stards sees Ramsay face off against Jon, but is defeated when Littlefinger and the Knights of the Vale arrive at the last second. Sansa regains her power and feeds Ramsay to his own dogs in retaliation for the violence he bestowed on her.
Across the other side of Westeros, Cersei is put on trial by the High Sparrow for her sexual misconducts, and the High Sparrow continues to control the inexperienced King Tommen.
Cersei fights back and blows up the Great Sept of Baelor with wildfire planted in the cellar, killing both Margaery and the High Sparrow. Tommen commits suicide when he sees the flames and knows his wife is dead.
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Game of Thrones: Cersei blows up the Crypt and kills Margaery and the High Sparrow
Taken prisoner by the Dothraki, Daenerys is expected to live in seclusion like the other widows in their tribe. However, she proves she has magical powers – walking through fire and emerging unscathed. She is freed and returned to Mereen as their leader.
Theon reunites with his sister Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan) and together they plot to steal the fleet from their uncle Euron (Pilou Asbaek) who has assumed control of the Iron Islands. The siblings set out for Essos – with the hopes of hatching an alliance with Daenerys.
Arya has learnt all she can from the House of Black and White and avenges her slain family by killing Walder Frey – slitting his throat.
Bran has also undertaken training, but from “The Three-Eyed Raven” who is then slain by the Night King. Bran takes his place.
Daenerys and her army of Unsullied and Dothraki board the Frey ships and travel to Dragonstone which was once home to Stannis Baratheon. Melisandre attempts to initiate a relationship between Jon and Daenerys, telling the Mother of Dragons it will be good to have Jon as an ally in her quest for the throne.
Jon travels to meet Daenerys in Dragonstone after receiving an invitation and the pair form a close bond plotting to defeat both the White Walkers and Lannisters. Yara and the Unsullied are dispatched to King’s Landing.
Cersei is proposed to by Euron Greyjoy, who attempts to sway her fancy by setting out to defeat his niece Yara and her invading army.
Elsewhere, Dothraki and Lannister armies clash, with Jamie leading his house battalion. One of Daenerys dragons, Drogon, is injured in the fight. After spotting the dragon, Jaime warns Cersei of Daenerys’ power, and subsequently, Jon and Daenerys call a truce with Cersei.
The pair head north of the Wall to capture a White Walker, but Jon later falls prey to the Night King and has to be saved by Daenerys. They capture a White Walker but lose Daenerys’ dragon, Viserion who is transformed into an Ice Dragon by the Night King.
Game of Thrones: The Night King and Ice Dragon breach the Wall with the White Walker army
Returning to King’s Landing, Jon and Daenerys speak of teaming up with Cersei to defeat the threat of the White Walker army, bringing their White Walker to convince her. As they head back to Winterfell after meeting with Cersei, Jon and Daenerys succumb to their feelings and sleep together.
At Winterfell, Stark sisters Arya and Sansa reunite with Bran, but tensions between the girls arise and Littlefinger monopolises on this. However, Bran soon exposes Littlefinger for the liar and betrayer he is – revealing it was he who killed the original Hand of the King Jon Arryn, the murder which triggered all events since. Sansa then gives Arya the go-ahead to kill Littlefinger, and his throat is slit.
Bran uses his powers to learn Jon’s true heritage — he is not Ned Stark’s illegitimate child as they were all told, but a Targaryen with a true claim to the Iron Throne.
The Wall is breached by The Night King and White Walker army, with the help of Ice Dragon Viserion who blasts the Wall with his icy shard-like breath. The Starks’ motto rings true and winter has come.
Game of Thrones season eight will air on Sunday, April 14 in the US on HBO and Monday, April 15 in the UK on Sky Atlantic.