WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones' penultimate episode, "The Bells."
HBO's hit Game of Thrones will come to an end Sunday with perhaps the most personal battle of the entire series. Daenerys Targaryen laid waste to King's Landing in the penultimate episode, proving herself every bit as cruel -- and perhaps just as mad as her infamous father. Meanwhile, Jon Snow learned (too late) the cost of remaining loyal to his queen, and rebuffing pleas -- from his family, from his best friend, from Varys -- to make his claim to the Iron Throne. With only a handful of major characters remaining, the notoriously brutal fantasy drama won't likely pull any punches going into the finale.
Here are some of the remaining power players on Game of Thrones, and which of them we expect to live and die.
Daenerys has spent most of Game of Thrones as a protagonist who frequently committed acts of cruelty, seemingly in pursuit of more noble goals. But with the events of "The Bells," she became the kind of tyrant she once fought against in Essos. Despite the series' gray morality, characters who do terrible things are punished, eventually. Between Daenerys' increasing paranoia and her massacre of untold innocents in King's Landing, it's highly unlikely that she'll survive the finale. Game of Thrones can be dark, as viewers well know, but leaving the Mad Queen victorious, and her enemies -- real or imagined -- dead or banished would be a grim ending indeed.
With the Battle of King's Landing, and the death of Cersei Lannister, Daenerys has reclaimed her birthright, rule of the Seven Kingdoms. The only way she'll give that up is if she's dead.
Jon is a well-intentioned doofus who never wanted to sit on the Iron Throne; heck, he didn't even want to be Lord Commander of the Night's Watch or the King in the North. Beyond that reluctance, Jon ascending to become the "good king" seems like too tidy of an ending. Instead, He will likely be the one to confront Daenerys, despite his reservations, and may even be the one forced to execute her. But in her current state of mind, there's no guarantee he would survive such an attempt. His death would probably be the final straw for her former allies, too, so there's a chance he even goes out to further unite them against the Mad Queen.
While this could be the final turn, it's more likely that Jon will kill Daenerys than the other way around. But if he manages to survive, don't be surprised if he returns Beyond the Wall to escape what's also his birthright, as the secret Targaryen heir. He could easily get the moment with Ghost fans were clamoring for two weeks ago.
Tyrion, as usual, is in a sticky situation. He's repeatedly failed Daenerys as her Hand, and went as far as to betray her confidence to free his brother Jaime in "The Bells," and plotting a way for Cersei to escape. Daenerys' patience with Tyrion ran out long ago, so it wouldn't be surprising for her to sentence him to the same fate as Varys. However, if he were to escape her wrath, and both Jon and Daenerys were kept from taking Iron Throne -- did it even survive the collapse of the Red Keep? -- there's perhaps no one more qualified to rule Westeros.
Despite not being a Targaryan, Tyrion very well could use his Lannister lineage to stake a claim. He's less likely to die than someone like Jon or Daenerys, but he has a target on his back. It really could go either way, although we honestly expect him to survive and play a major role in the future of Westeros.
Arya Stark has had a very lopsided season. After defeating the Night King at the Battle of Winterfell, she barely escape Daenerys' fiery rampage through King's Landing. Arya turning her darker intentions toward the Mad Queen would make sense, given that she witnessed the carnage firsthand; it could also fulfill the prophecy Melisandre alluded to in "The Long Night." Even more than Jon, Arya seems poised to make a move against Daenerys, and could easily be the one to kill her.
But while we fear Jon wouldn't survive such an attack, we can see Arya slipping away in the chaos with a new face and identity. She'll survive, only perhaps not as Arya Stark.
Luckily, Sansa is out of the immediate line of fire. That's a good thing, considering Daenerys' distrust of the Lady of Winterfell and her suspicions about the loyalty of the North. If the series were set to continue for another few episodes, Sansa would likely find herself face to face with Dany's surviving dragon. But with most of the power players in King's Landing, that's undoubtedly where the action of the finale will be centered. Of course, there's still the question of Yara Greyjoy and the remaining Iron Fleet, who are pledged to Daenerys.
Unless Yara becomes a wild card and targets Winterfell, as her father and brother did before her, it's unlikely Sansa is in any real danger. If anything, she could be poised to become key to a reunification that helps to chart the future of the Seven Kingdoms. The same goes for others in Winterfell, like Bran Stark and Brienne of Tarth, who will no doubt sit out this final conflict.
As Jon's chief adviser, Davos Seaworth has proved himself a loyal and good man to some of the most important people in Westeros. On the other hand, he was part of Tyrion's scheme to free Jaime Lannister. There's a chance Davos could suffer punishment for his role in the plot.
We really hope not, however, because Davos has been one of the few thoroughly goodhearted people in the series; his death would be crushing. He'd also be a valuable presence, so it's possible he'll make it out alive. But we have a bad feeling about the Onion Knight.
Grey Worm is likely not long for this world. Like Daenerys, he went off the deep end after the death of Missandei, and participated in the slaughter of Lannister soldiers after their surrender. His actions contributed to the wide-scale chaos in King's Landing. He'll remain loyal to Daenerys, to the bitter end. Jon Snow and Grey Worm stared daggers through each other in "The Bells," so don't be surprised if the two come to blows in the final episode.
For all his (many) faults, Jon has always been portrayed as a tenacious warrior. The only one who's arguably as dangerous alone on the battlefield is Grey Worm. The two dueling could be a major action beat. If that's the case, expect the main character to dispatch the morally compromised supporting character. Grey Worm also could be targeted by Arya, giving the young assassin the perfect identity to steal so she could attack Daenerys. Grey Worm definitely isn't making it to the end credits.
It turns out Bronn is still the smartest guy in Westeros. Instead of throwing his full support behind Cersei and assassinating her brothers in "The Last of the Starks," he decided to wait and see if she would defeat Daenerys. Now, he's able to call on Tyrion for the debt he's owed (obviously only if Tyrion survives). Bronn could make out with an absurd amount of riches for his role in the series, and even if Tyrion is killed, he could slink back into obscurity and live out his days.
He seems destined to survive the finale, even if he doesn't end up with any of the riches he was (repeatedly) promised by the Lannisters.
Concluding Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on HBO, Game of Thrones stars Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark and Kit Harington as Jon Snow.