This is a dangerous season for actors on Game of Thrones: As the show increasingly catches up with George R.R. Martin’s books, showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have granted themselves a license to kill, and even characters who survived the books aren’t safe. Yes, that’s right: The show is finally coming closer to fulfilling the promise of “Valar morghulis” — for the first time, all men could die. To honor the memories of our numerous soon-to-be-departed friends, let’s run down the list of who is most likely to meet their onscreen end in season five. (We’re writing from the perspective of a book reader, so be warned: There are major spoilers.)
Arys Oakheart and Quentyn Martell
As luck would have it, the two biggest deaths of A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons are guaranteed to be left on the cutting-room floor, as neither the foolhardy Kingsguard nor the naïve Dornishman have been cast for this year. That’s probably for the best; this late in the game, GoT doesn’t have time to introduce new characters who will almost immediately a) get their heads chopped off or b) get burnt to a crisp. The only question is, will their roles be filled by more established characters, or are the crowning-Myrcella and freeing-the-dragons plots out entirely?
Grandmaester Pycelle and Kevan Lannister
These two members of the Small Council almost made it through the end of Dance, only to meet the business end of Varys’s crossbow in that book’s epilogue. They’re both back in King’s Landing for season five, only, this time, their murderer isn’t. Varys looks to be spending the season palling around with Tyrion in Essos; is he really going to make a trip back across the Narrow Sea just to kill two random old dudes?
Loras Tyrell is almost the perfect blank space for Benioff and Weiss to project their darkest fantasies: He disappears from the scene in A Feast for Crows, and then a bunch of horrible things happen to him off-screen. (Unless you believe the conspiracy theories.) With nothing much to contradict them, expect the writers to go wild dreaming up terrible fates for our daffily slow Loras. Beheaded in a jousting accident? The first victim of a grey scale pandemic? Simultaneously burned alive, beheaded, and flayed by the Faith? Anything can happen!
Let’s recap what happens to Mance in the books: He’s taken prisoner by Stannis after the battle at the Wall, sentenced to death, replaced with Rattleshirt for his execution, sent on a secret mission to Winterfell, then apparently captured by Ramsay Bolton. That’s a lot for a character who’s had about 15 minutes of screen time total. In the interests of streamlining, why not make things easier by actually executing him? Ciarán Hinds has movies to star in!
Nobody who reads A Dance With Dragons believes that Jon Snow is permanently dead, and even Martin is barely pretending he’s gone for good at this point. But still — his Ides of March–ing at the hands of a group of disloyal Crows was one of the dramatic high points of Dance, proof that there were real consequences to Jon’s leadership failures. Thrones has largely done away with the “are they really dead?” cliffhangers that Martin loves, so we’re skeptical about this playing out exactly like it did in the books, but Jon’s forthcoming resurrection seems like too big of a plot point to be scrapped entirely.
The only mystery about little Lord Arryn is why exactly he hasn’t been killed yet. He’s a helpless child with serious medical issues who’s being watched over by the most ruthless player the game of thrones has ever seen. He is the Kentucky of GOT death pools.
Remember how we said the show might use someone else in Arys Oakheart’s place? The smart money, sad to say, is on Bronn, who’s headed to Dorne for some sneaky, show-only shenanigans with Jaime Lannister.
Or why not switch up the crowning-Myrcella plot and turn it into a killing-Myrcella plot? We know that the show is emphasizing her adolescent love affair with Prince Trystane — the Romeo and Juliet of Westeros could get a Romeo and Juliet ending of their own.
If you think about it, Jorah Mormont’s entire adult life has been spent stumbling toward a shot of redemption that he will never achieve because he is, fundamentally, a screw-up. What could be more poetic than him trying to get back into Daenerys’s good graces, and then dying in the attempt?
Have you seen the way he’s been looking at Missandei? If Game of Thrones were a war film, he’d have been dead two hours ago.