Winter has come, the army of the dead have arrived, and the game of thrones nears its conclusion.
After eight seasons of backstabbing, shock deaths, romance, huge battles, and three dragons, Game of Thrones will come to its heart-stopping conclusion next month.
With the final season arriving on April 15 in the UK, now is the perfect time to get a recap on everything that has happened in the HBO fantasy drama so far.
Set in the land of Westeros, where summers last decades and winter can last a lifetime, the noble houses of the Seven Kingdoms co-exist peacefully under King Robert Baratheon, the man who usurped the Mad King Aerys Targaryen.
But all is not well as threats both within and without the kingdom begin to emerge.
Here is everything that has happened in the seven seasons leading up to the grand finale.
Be warned, spoilers obviously.
Game of Thrones season 1 recap
The opening season focuses on the escalating feud between the noble House Stark and House Lannister, both in and outside of the capitol city of King’s Landing, as Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark of Winterfell serves his friend King Robert Baratheon as Hand of the King and learns increasingly dangerous secrets: that the King’s children are actually born of incest between Queen Cersei Lannister and her brother Sir Jaime Lannister, and that this was known by the previous Hand, Lord Jon Arryn, before his untimely death.
Young Bran Stark is left disabled after being pushed from a tower in Winterfell by Jaime following his discovery of the incest and a subsequent attempt on his life sees Ned’s wife Lady Catelyn Stark convinced of the bullied dwarf Tyrion Lannister’s complicity and she arrests him, but he only wins freedoms via trial by combat, despite his innocence.
Bloodshed results in open war between the two Houses as King Robert is killed on a hunting trip organised by his wife Cersei, seeing Prince Joffrey become King and shockingly order the execution of Ned Stark, after he himself is betrayed by advisor Littlefinger.
This game-changing twist sees Robb Stark, Ned’s heir, proclaiming himself King of the North and the capture of Ser Jaime Lannister, following a battle between his Northern forces and the Lannister armies.
Earlier in the season, Jon Snow, Ned’s motherless bastard son and bane of Catelyn’s existence, joins the Brotherhood of the Night’s Watch at the Wall, a giant ice wall that protects Westeros from the threats beyond. Once there, he must deal with dangers from rogue Wildlings beyond the Wall and also from the dreaded White Walkers. He makes a friend in the scaredy-cat Samwell Tarly.
Following Ned’s execution, Arya Stark escapes from King’s Landing with a Brother of the Night’s Watch bound for the Wall, while her sister Sansa Stark remains a prisoner and betrothed of the capricious Joffrey.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, we see the marriage of Daenerys Stormborn of the deposed House Targaryen – who ruled Westeros before being deposed by King Robert – to Khal Drogo of the barbaric horsemen tribe of the Dothraki, to bring about an invasion of Westeros to reclaim her family’s throne. The marriage sees Daenerys lose her abusive brother Viserys to her husband, husband die from a cursed wound, and her son in a miscarriage.
At the end of the season, however, her dragon eggs hatch when she walks into Drogo’s funeral pyre and she emerges unscathed from the flames with three baby dragons.
Game of Thrones season 2 recap
Tyrion Lannister serves as Hand of the King for his capricious nephew King Joffrey, and attempts to solidify House Lannister’s hold on the Iron Throne, but clashes with his sister, Queen Cersei. Tyrion secures the Iron Throne and manages to help defeat King Stannis Baratheon, but receives no credit.
Sansa Starkmust adapt to the treacherous world of King’s Landing and faces abuse from her betrothed King Joffrey, who she once loved but now detests.
Arya Stark must survive various perils in the countryside of Westeros after her Night’s Watch escort are killed including her time in Harrenhal where she meets an ally in a Faceless man and assassin named Jaqen H’garr.
King Robb Stark of the North campaigns against the Lannisters, searching for allies whilst aided by his mother, the widowed Lady Catelyn Stark, who upon learning that her sons Bran and Rickon may be dead, frees Ser Jaime Lannister in exchange for her daughters Arya and Sansa. Catelyn is joined by Brienne of Tarth, Renly’s former Kingsguard. Robb also falls in love with and marries Talisa Maegyr, despite being betrothed to the daughter of his ally Lord Walder Frey.
King Stannis Baratheon, brother of the late King Robert, plots to seize the throne from the scheming Lannisters, aided controversially by a Red Priestess, Melisandre of Asshai, and by the honourable former smuggler Ser Davos Seaworth. Stannis murders his brother and rival Renly and leads an unsuccessful siege of King’s Landing at the Battle of the Blackwater, where he is defeated by Tyrion, Lord Tywin Lannister and Renly’s former bannermen, House Tyrell.
Theon Greyjoy, long-term ward of Lord Eddard Stark, betrays his adoptive family in seizing Winterfell from Stark control, in the name of his father, Balon Greyjoy, the self-proclaimed King of the Iron Islands. Bran and Rickon must survive the Ironborn occupation of Winterfell and subsequently depart after their deaths are faked by Theon, who himself is betrayed, however, when his own men abandon him to other Northern forces.
Jon Snow’s completes missions beyond the Wall, first with the Night’s Watch, meeting fiesty spearwoman Ygritte, who he accompanies to go undercover with the King-Beyond-the-Wall of the Wildlings, Mance Rayder.
Meanwhile, Jon’s fellow Brothers of the Night’s Watch find themselves under attack from the White Walkers and the Army of the Dead.
Across the Narrow Sea, the wandering Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen, journeys through the desolate Red Waste to the dangerous but beautiful city of Qarth, where she finds warnings via prophecy and avoids having her dragons stolen. She then gets a boat away from the city.
Game of Thrones season 3 recap
Tywin Lannister takes up his seat as Hand of the King and consolidates power following the defeat of King Stannis Baratheon, including various marriage alliances: the engagement of King Joffrey to King Renly Baratheon’s widow, Margaery Tyrell; the marriage of the wounded Tyrion Lannister to Sansa Stark; and the potential marriage of Queen Dowager Cersei Lannister to Ser Loras Tyrell.
The arrival of House Tyrell in the capital and their own ambitions, however, causes clashes with House Lannister.
We also follow the journey and redemption of the freed Ser Jaime Lannister on his way back to King’s Landing, facing various perils and emotional moments with his companion and Lady Catelyn’s sworn knight, Brienne of Tarth.
A defeated King Stannis Baratheon seeks further advice from Melisandre, who seeks to make bloody sacrifice to place him on the Iron Throne. Visiting the Brotherhood, she purchases Arya’s friend and Robert’s bastard son Gendry and seduces him before leeching “king’s blood” from him, casting a curse on Kings Robb Stark, Joffrey Baratheon, and Balon Greyjoy. Gendry is freed by Davos Seaworth, who survived the Battle of the Blackwater and blamed Melisandre for their failure there. Davos is spared for his betrayal as Melisandre says they need him for the wars to come.
The controversial marriage of King Robb Stark to Talisa Maegyr sees his attempts to correct this mistake with the wronged House Frey result in the infamous Red Wedding of his uncle Lord Edmure Tully of Riverrun into House Frey. However, orchestrated by the Lannisters, Freys and the treacherous House Bolton, Robb Stark is murdered at the Wedding, along with a pregnant Talisa, his mother Catelyn, direwolf Greywind, and bannermen.
Arya Stark is captured by the outlaws known as the Brotherhood Without Banners, but is later kidnapped by Joffrey’s former servant The Hound, who attempts to reunite her with her family at the Red Wedding, but the slaughter sees them on the road again.
Following an attack by the Army of the Dead beyond the Wall, the Rangers of the Night’s Watch settle at Craster’s Keep, but mutiny against Lord Commander Jeor Mormont sees Samwell Tarly flee with Craster’s daughter Gilly, slay a White Walker, briefly meet Bran Stark, and return to the Wall.
Bran Stark and Rickon Stark, with wildling servant Osha and Hodor meet new allies in Jojen and Meera Reed. The group journeys north to the Wall and after meeting Sam, decide that it’s best that the brothers split up. Rickon leaves with Osha, while Bran and the rest begin to journey beyond the Wall, in search of the Three-Eyed Raven, a figure from Bran’s visions who may be able to explain his new supernatural abilities since his fall.
Theon Greyjoy is a prisoner of a sadistic Boy, who proceeds to castrate him. We later learn that he is Ramsay Snow, the Bastard of Lord Roose Bolton.
Across the Narrow Sea in Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys Targaryen gains an army of Unsullied warriors (DRACARYS), a new ally in exiled knight Ser Barristan Selmy, a love interest in swellsword Daario Naharis, and liberates slaves in the cities of Astapor and Yunkai, where she is proclaimed “Mhysa” (High Valryian for “Mother”) by the slaves there.
Game of Thrones season 4 recap
Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne arrives in King’s Landing for the wedding of King Joffrey Baratheon to Margaery Tyrell, but it is clear that he has vengeance in mind for the Lannisters, blaming them for the death of his sister Elia when the Targaryens were toppled by the Lannisters years prior.
The wedding ends in Joffrey’s poisoning and the subsequent wrongful arrest of his uncle Tyrion Lannister. A trial by combat between his champion Oberyn and the giant warrior the Mountain sees him found guilty, as Oberyn is brutally killed. Tyrion is freed, however, by his brother Jaime and Varys, and before escaping the city he proceeds to murder his treacherous lover Shae – who testified against him at his trial – and his cruel father, Lord Tywin.
In the aftermath of Joffrey’s death, his younger brother Tommen is crowned King and his mother Cersei faces a new struggle with Margaery Tyrell for control of him, after she is then betrothed to the new King. Margaery learns her scheming grandmother Olenna Tyrell was responsible for poisoning Joffrey.
After the murder of Joffrey Sansa Stark flees King’s Landing and her new marriage into House Lannister, safely into the hands of her new uncle Littlefinger, who with her aunt and his new wife Lysa Tully she learns engineered the War of the Five Kings with Lysa having kileld Jon Arryn and framed the Lannisters in a letter to her sister, Catelyn. Littlefinger murders Sansa’s crazed aunt Lysa after she grows jealous of her niece. Sansa testifies in defence of Littlefinger’s conduct to the Knights of the Vale and reveals her true identity, but proves that she can too manipulate political events in her favour.
In the North, Ramsay Snow is legitimised by his father as Ramsay Bolton and manages to stop Yara Greyjoy from rescuing his new slave: Theon. The Boltons install themselves at Winterfell.
Arya meanders through Westeros with the Hound, before the pair eventually come across Brienne of Tarth and Tyion’s former squire Podrick. Brienne was tasked by both Catelyn and then Jaime of finding the Stark sisters. Brienne fights the Hound and he is left for dead, including by Arya, who abandons him. Arya boards a boat bound for the Free City of Braavos with a coin given to her by the Faceless Man, Jaqen H’garr.
At the Wall, Jon warns the Watch of the coming battle. Jon manages to defeat the mutineers at Craster’s Keep before returning to the Wall as the Wildlings attack and the Brothers win the initial battle, but Jon loses Ygritte in the process and she dies in his arms. The rest of Mance Rayder’s army approaches and all seems lost until the army of King Stannis Baratheron defeat the Wildlings and install themselves at the Wall. Samwell then works it so that Jon is elected the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Beyond the wall, managing to avoid the dangers of the mutineers at Craster’s Keep, Bran and his friends arrive at the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, but are attacked by skeletons. Jojen Reed loses his life in the process, but Bran comes face to face with the Three-Eyed Raven.
In Slaver’s Bay, Daenerys Targaryen proves herself as the “Breaker of Chains” once more and conquers the city of Meereen. The Queen of Slaver’s Bay begins an affair with Daario Naharis, before learning that her friend Ser Jorah Mormont once spied on her for King Robert, prompting her to banish him from her presence. She must also imprison her dragons after they prove a danger to the citizens of Meereen, who she has decided to rule rather than leave to conquer Westeros.
Game of Thrones season 5 recap.
In King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister attempts to take control of King’s Landing but finds resistance from her uncle Kevan Lannister and Margaery Tyrell, who becomes Queen after marrying Tommen. Feeling pushed out, Cersei aligns herself with religious extremist the High Sparrow and allows his Faith Militant army. This instigates the arrest of Margaery’s gay brother Loras and her attempts to free him see her arrested for perjury. Olenna Tyrell fails to get her grandchildren freed and turns to her accomplice in killing Joffrey – Littlefinger – who produces Cersei’s lover Lancel Lannister as a witness against her. Cersei is arrested herself and abused into confessing to adultery. The Queen Dowager must complete a naked walk of shame back to the palace to find her freedom, which she completes and returns to the arms of her new henchman: a zombie version of the Mountain.
Ser Jaime Lannister is sent to rescue his daughter Myrcella Baratheon from Dorne and the threats of Oberyn Martell’s paramour Ellaria Sand and his bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes. Jaime and Bronn manage to save her and it is agreed with Prince Doran Martell that Myrcella and his own son Trystane should return to King’s Landing. Before leaving, however, Ellaria poisons Myrcella and the princess dies in Jaime’s arms after revealing she knows he’s her father and she loves him.
In Braavos, Arya Stark begins her training to become a Faceless Man at the House of Black and White. Due to her thirst for vengeance, however, Jaqen H’garr blinds her after she murders the paedophile Ser Meryn Trant.
Sansa Stark journeys with Littlefinger to Winterfell, where after rejecting the protection of Brienne of Tarth, she is married to the sadistic Ramsay Bolton in an attempt to reclaim her home. Littlefinger promises that she can rule through Ramsay or Stannis Baratheon will destroy him and let her rule. Sansa meets Reek (Theon) in Winterfell and on her wedding night to Ramsay, her new husband rapes her in front of Theon. Imprisoned and abused, Sansa manages to escape but is caught by Ramsay’s lover Myranda who Theon murders before he and Sansa jump from the castle walls.
At the Wall, Melisandre burns Mance Rayder at the stake and tries to seduce Jon Snow, who manages to work with but not obey Stannis Baratheon entirely. Jon sends Samwell Tarly to Oldtown to learn to be a Maester after the death of Maester Aemon, whilst becoming controversial with conservative Night’s Watch members due to his allying with and rescue of Wildlings. At the Battle of Hardhome beyond the wall, Jon rescues Wildling refugees and comes face to face with the Night’s King. Upon returning, Jon is murdered by his fellow Brothers of the Night’s Watch.
King Stannis Baratheon marches south to retake Winterfell from the Boltons, but cold weather sees his army flounder. Melisandre persuades him to burn his daughter Shireen at the stake to return his army to strength, but this prompts desertion from his troops and his wife Selyse to hang herself. Melisandre abandons him for the Wall, before he decides to go down fighting. The Boltons obliterate his army but he survives wounded, until Brienne of Tarth executes him in the name of his murdered brother, Renly.
In Essos, Tyrion Lannister journeys to join Daenerys Targaryen with Varys’ help, but is captured by Jorah Mormont who wants to bring him to Daenerys as a gift. Jorah contracts the disease Greyscale along the way and they are captured by Slavers before arriving in Daenerys’ presence in Meereen.
Also in Meereen, terrorists known as the Sons of the Harpy attempt to overthrow the reign of Daenery Targaryen, killing Ser Barristan. She reopens the fighting pits to quell the rising anger at her rule, but her escaped dragon Drogon causes a scene and she ends up climbing on his back and being flown in to green wastelands. She is then approached by a horde of Dothraki riders. In Meereen, Tyrion says he will rule with Varys while Daario and Jorah go to find Daenerys.
Game of Thrones season 6 recap
In King’s Landing, the High Sparrow controls the city, as Tommen is too weak to resist him. Cersei is powerless, while Margaery and Loras remain prisoners. Margaery is eventually freed by helping to form an alliance between the Crown and the Faith. Cersei plans to survive the charges against her with a trial-by-combat, but Tommen outlaws this, almost guarnteeing a guilty verdict. Cersei strikes out by detonating caches of wildfire beneath the Great Sept of Baelor on the day of hers and Loras’ trial, obliterating the High Sparrow, Margaery, Loras, their father, and Kevan Lannister in one fell swoop. Following the explosion, Tommen commits suicide. Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Jaime Lannister claims all of the Riverlands for the Lannisters and House Frey from the Tullys, before returning to King’s Landing and finding carnage.
In Dorne, Ellaria Sand seizes power by killing Prince Doran Martell and the Sand Snakes kill Prince Trystane Martell. She later aligns herself with a vengeful Olenna Tyrell and Daenerys Targaryen, as they will move against Cersei together.
Arya Stark abandons the Faceless Men after having her sight restored and refusing to kill an actress named Lady Crane. Crane is killed by Arya’s nemesis, the Waif, prompting a fight to the death between the pair. Arya wins and leaves Braavos, returning to the site of the Red Wedding and murdering Walder Frey in vengeance.
Jon Snow is resurrected at the Wall by Melisandre and proceeds to execute his killers. He resigns from the Night’s Watch and is reunited with Sansa Stark who arrives at the Wall with Brienne and Podrick. The siblings plot to reclaim Winterfell from the Boltons and rally the North against Ramsay, who has killed his father Roose and claimed his title and also has Rickon Stark prisoner after killing Osha. Jon and his wildling and northern forces almost fail at the Battle of the Bastards, with Ramsay also killing Rickon , but Sansa arrives with Littlefinger’s armies and wipes out Bolton forces.
In the aftermath, Sansa sets Ramsay’s own hounds on him, killing him, before the Northmen proclaim Jon Snow as the King in the North.
Jon banishes Melisandre from the North after Davos learns she murdered Shireen, while Samwell visits his family before arriving at the Citadel to learn to be a maester.
The Hound is revealed to be alive and working with a commune, but they are slaughtered by raiders. He tracks them down and kills them, before joining the Brotherhood Without Banners and heading North towards the Wall.
Theon leaves Sansa and returns to the Iron Islands and finds his father has been murdered by his evil uncle Euron Greyjoy, who is elected the new King of the Iron Islands. Theon and Yara must flee, eventually aligning themselves with Daenerys.
Beyond the Wall, Bran Stark trains how to use his visions with the Three-Eyed Raven and learns that the mythical Children of the Forest made the Night King and the White Walkers. The Army of the Dead attack, killing the Three-Eyed Raven and the Children, along with Hodor – who dies repeating the words “Hold the Door” as Bran controls his body in the past and present – confusing a young Hodor and forcing him to only say that word for the rest of his life. Bran and Meera are rescued by lost uncle Benjen Stark. Bran has a vision and learns that his aunt Lyanna Stark is actually the mother of Jon Snow, meaning he is his cousin and not his bastard brother.
In the East, Daenerys takes control of the Dothraki armies and kills her enemies within. Returning to Meereen, she and her dragons and Dothraki topple the Sons of the Harpy and the Slaver armies of neighbouring cities. Leaving Daario in command of the city, Daenerys leaves with her forces bound for Westeros.
Game of Thrones season 7 recap
Daenerys Targaryen arrives at Dragonstone in Westeros and sets about aligning her allies against Cersei: Yara, Ellaria, Olenna, and eventually Jon Snow, after being advised to by Melisandre.
Jon unites with Daenerys as she promises to let him mine dragon glass to fight the White Walkers – the only weapon against them – but she wants him to bend the knee.
Euron Greyjoy murders two Sand Snakes, before taking Yara, Ellaria and her daughter Tyene prisoner. Allied with Cersei, Euron hands Ellaria and her daughter over to her, with Cersei poisoning the latter in front of Ellaria and leaving them in a dungeon so she can watch her daughter rot.
Jaime leads an army against Olenna Tyrell, who he offers poison to as a quick death after her armies are defeated. Olenna admits to killing Joffrey before she dies.
Daenerys learns of these defeats and with the Dothraki and on the back of Drogon, attacks the Lannister forces returning from Highgarden. Jaime and Bronn survive and escape, but Daenerys burns those who do not wish to bend the knee – including Samwell’s father and brother.
Jon decides to journey Beyond the Wall to gain evidence of the White Walkers’ existence and is joined by a healed Jorah, the Brotherhood Without Banners and Gendry. They capture a wight but are set upon by the Army of the Dead. Gendry runs back to the Wall and sends a message to Daenerys who arrives on her dragons to rescue them all. The Night King kills her dragon Viserion in the clash, however, and later resurrects him as part of his army.
Jon is rescued by his uncle Benjen, who is killed by wights. He is wounded but taken to Daenerys and he bends the knee to her.
Together, Jon and Daenerys and their armies arrive at King’s Landing and meet with Cersei, where they show her the wight. Cersei will not bow down to Daenerys, however, prompting Tyrion to step in and persuade her. They agree to put the war aside to fight the White Walkers.
Cersei reveals to Jaime, however, that this is a double-cross and she will let the White Walkers grind down their enemies and she will fight whoever is left. Jaime then leaves Cersei and King’s Landing as winter arrives.
Bran Stark returns to Winterfell much changed, as does Arya Stark, who is suspicious of Sansa Stark, who Jon leaves in charge of Winterfell.
Littlefinger tries to sow seeds of discontent between the Stark sisters, but Bran sees through his schemes. Sansa then orders Arya to execute Littlefinger for all the crimes he has committed.
Having healed Jorah at the Citadel, a chance discovery by Gilly sees Samwell arrive at Winterfell with news for Bran: Jon Snow is not the bastard son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, but the legitimate Prince Aegon Targaryen – the heir to the Iron Throne.
Meanwhile, Jon and Daenerys make their way north by boat and consummate their romance on the way, to Tyrion’s concern.
At the Wall, the Night King and his army pass through into Westeros after they use Viserion to topple the Wall.
To be continued…