HBO’s Game of Thrones had a reputation for killing off important characters, which is why it’s so significant that even eight characters survived from the pilot through the finale. Although Game of Thrones viewers who read the books knew about the tragic deaths of many beloved protagonists and villains ahead of time, those new to the story were informed quickly that no character was safe once Sean Bean’s Ned Stark was beheaded in season 1. The deaths of Game of Thrones’ best characters almost appeared to be a certainty by a certain point in the series, especially once the show surpassed the timeline of George R.R. Martin’s books. Since the spinoff series House of the Dragon came out, there’s no better time to revisit who survived in Game of Thrones.
A significant portion of Game of Thrones’ most important characters survived from the pilot until the beginning of season 8, but the final season quickly picked off major figures with surprising death twists. Among those in Game of Thrones’ pilot who made it to season 8 but didn’t survive to the end of the finale are Daenerys Targaryen, Cersei Lannister, Jaime Lannister, Sandor Clegane, Theon Greyjoy, and Jorah Mormont. In Game of Thrones season 8, many of the remaining prominent characters from season 1 were killed in the Battle of Winterfell, the sack of King’s Landing, or in the latter event’s aftermath.
Although they saw the deaths of many loved ones along the way, there were a few Game of Thrones characters who luckily survived from the show’s premiere through its finale. However, the fates of a few characters were unclear by Game of Thrones’ season 8 finale, so very few figures are confirmed to have survived from the first episode to the end of its last. While less than a dozen Game of Thrones characters survived from the pilot to the finale, there is also a considerable number who lived from the first season (not necessarily the pilot) until the end. That said, here’s a breakdown of all 8 Game of Thrones characters who survived from beginning to end.
One of the first characters to appear in Game of Thrones’ pilot episode, Jon Snow’s survival through the end of the series was unsurprising to many. While Jon Snow did technically die in Game of Thrones’ season 5 finale, he was resurrected by Melisandre a few episodes later, which allowed him to officially resign his post as Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. Jon was soon established as the King in the North, leading the so-called bastard son of Ned Stark to gather forces against the Night King.
Along the way, Jon created an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen in which he bent the knee and named her Queen of the Seven Kingdoms after the two fell in love, only for Jon to discover that he’s the trueborn son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. After Daenerys sacked King’s Landing and murdered thousands of innocent citizens, Jon Snow killed Dany while embracing her as what he felt to be his final honorable act. Exiled to the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow’s Game of Thrones story ended as he went Beyond the Wall and lived among the Freefolk.
Although Sansa Stark was one of Game of Thrones’ least-liked figures in the pilot and season 1, Sophie Turner’s character soon became one of the strongest parts of the entire series. From a spoiled lady to the independent, loyal Queen in the North, Sansa’s journey featured one of the best arcs in Game of Thrones. While she had several close calls with death, Ned Stark’s eldest daughter survived until the end of Game of Thrones’ finale, where Sansa was last seen being cheered and crowned as the Queen in the North.
As a girl with no name who mastered death, Arya Stark was known as one of Game of Thrones’ best characters all the way from the pilot to the finale. Death seemed to be the least of Arya’s fears by the end of Game of Thrones, which was partially due to her impressive survival skills. After being saved by Beric Dondarrion in The Battle of Winterfell and narrowly escaping death during the sack of King’s Landing in season 8, Arya Stark sat on the council that elected her brother Bran as King of Westeros. Following her family’s major rule in Westeros in Game of Thrones’ finale, Arya’s story ended with the exciting notion that she would be sailing to sea as an explorer searching for “what’s west of Westeros.”
In a well-rounded story, Bran’s arc began Game of Thrones’ conflict in the pilot and concluded it in the finale. In the pilot, the talented climber Bran was thrown out of a window when he caught Jaime and Cersei together, leaving him permanently paralyzed from the waist down. Bran then went on a journey as the Three-Eyed Raven, seemingly abandoning his title as Lord Brandon Stark of Winterfell after Robb’s death. When Bran returned to Winterfell as the new Three-Eyed Raven, he used his abilities to bring together the stories of the remaining major characters and helped finally defeat the Night King when Arya climactically stabbed the undead leader. In Game of Thrones‘ finale episode, Tyrion decides that the remaining nobleman who deserves to be king is Bran the Broken, who he decides has the best story of any character (though this has been up for heavy debate since 2019). Bran Stark’s Game of Thrones arc concludes as he bears the titles of the Three-Eyed Raven and the King of Westeros.
Alongside Jon Snow, Tyrion Lannister is one of the series’ most important, prominent characters who miraculously survived from Game of Thrones’ beginning to the end. While many characters wished him dead or expected him to die, particularly when he was sentenced to death by his father, Tywin Lannister, Tyrion defied the odds and survived as Game of Thrones’ most intelligent character. In the pilot, Tyrion was living lavishly due to his sister’s title as the queen, his father’s title as Hand of the King, and his family’s massive wealth, but this all changed once King Robert Baratheon died. After several seasons as Game of Thrones’ most humorous, sympathetic, strategic character, Tyrion became Hand of the Queen to Daenerys Targaryen and found himself directly battling his sister Cersei. At the end of Game of Thrones, Tyrion Lannister convinces Jon to kill Daenerys after her massacre in King’s Landing, which lands him in the dungeons. Leading the council in Game of Thrones’ finale, Tyrion nominates Bran Stark as King of Westeros, with the Lannister heir once again serving as Hand of the King.
The last of the direwolves to stick with the Stark children, Jon took in Ghost in Game of Thrones’ pilot episode when he, Ned, Bran, Robb, and Theon happened upon a litter of direwolf pups next to their slain mother. They found six direwolves, one for each Stark child including Jon, with the “bastard” being given the lonely albino pup with white fur and red eyes. Jon and Ghost stayed together for the majority of Game of Thrones in which the direwolf would often protect its human, though the two were separated from time to time after Jon leaves the Wall or Winterfell. Jon and Ghost are finally reunited in Game of Thrones’ finale when the lead character is exiled to the Night’s Watch, where the two start Beyond the Wall and lead the Freefolk home.
While Lady, Shaggydog, Grey Wind, and Summer were all confirmed to be killed during Game of Thrones, the only other pup from the pilot assumed to be alive by the end alongside Ghost is Arya’s direwolf Nymeria. In season 1, Arya let Nymeria go free to avoid her being killed as punishment for biting Joffrey, and the two weren’t reunited until Game of Thrones season 7 when Arya found Nymeria leading a pack of wolves in the woods. Nymeria’s fate was never revealed thereafter, but it’s assumed that the leading direwolf survived to the end alongside Arya.
Illyrio Mopatis (Maybe)
Illyrio Mopatis was an important figure in Game of Thrones’ pilot and season 1 until Viserys was killed, whereafter Dany began her journey to reclaim her throne in Westeros. Illyrio, a Magister of Pentos and Targaryen loyalist, kept Viserys and Daenerys in his manse until he arranged her marriage with Khal Drogo, all the while having secret communications with Lord Varys. After Game of Thrones season 1, Illyrio Mopatis bears little importance on the series and Dany’s trajectory, as he never physically reappears after episode 5. Illyrio’s last storyline was in Game of Thrones season 5 when Master of Whisperers Lord Varys smuggled Tyrion to his home in Pentos, with Varys revealing their plan to restore Targaryen rule. Illyrio’s fate was never confirmed in Game of Thrones’ finale, but it’s assumed that he’s still living lavishly across the Narrow Sea.
Other Game Of Thrones Season 1 Characters Who Survived The Ending
While very few characters who appeared in Game of Thrones’ pilot survived the ending, there were several more characters who were introduced later in season 1 who made it through the season 8 finale. While he would quickly become one of the most important characters in the series, Samwell Tarly wasn’t introduced until season 1, episode 4, with his arc coming to a close in the series finale as the Grand Maester. Likewise, Tyrion’s trusty sellsword pal Bronn didn’t make his debut until episode 4, though would survive through the end to become the Lord of Highgarden and Master of Coin to Bran Stark. Arya’s brief love-interest Gendry Rivers, the bastard son of Robert Baratheon, was introduced in Game of Thrones season 1, episode 4 when Ned Stark discovered his parentage. By Game of Thrones’ ending, Gendry became legitimized as Gendry Baratheon and the Lord of Storm’s End, though Arya would reject his marriage proposal.
Robin Arryn, the young cousin of the Stark children who debuted in season 1, episode 5, also survived from beginning to end as the Lord of the Eyrie. While Drogon technically appeared as a dragon egg in Game of Thrones’ pilot, he and his siblings weren’t born until the season 1 finale. After Rhaegal, Viseryion, and their human mother Daenerys died in Game of Thrones season 8, Drogon became the last-known living dragon, having taken his mother’s body back to Essos in the series finale. Other characters featured in Game of Thrones season 1 whose ending fates are unclear are Ilyn Payne, Hot Pie, and Jaquen H’Ghar (or the Faceless Man who uses his alias), the latter of whom is likely still overseeing the House of Black and White in Braavos.
Will Any Surviving Game Of Thrones Characters Get Spin-Offs?
House of the Dragon is the first Game of Thrones spinoff to hit the small screen, but with GoT‘s popularity and George R.R. Martin’s sheer amount of written content, is it possible that one of the surviving characters could get their own show? House of the Dragon is considered a prequel to GoT, set nearly 200 years before the events of its parent show, and follows House Targaryen throughout its tumultuous reign on the Iron Throne. Therefore, no Game of Thrones characters appear (though there is a theory that Melisandre could show up), and any connections to the parent series are in House names alone.
Throughout the years, there have been plenty of talks and rumors as to what the next GoT series could be, but only one has potentially seen the light: Jon Snow’s spinoff. It’s been confirmed that HBO is in the early stages of developing a Jon Snow spinoff show, with Kit Harrington returning to reprise his popular role. If the TV show were ever to see the light of day, it’s possible that several crucial surviving Game of Thrones characters would make an appearance. The show is rumored to be a limited series set after the events of GoT when Jon goes to live beyond the Wall.
While not in development, many have been holding out hope that Arya Stark will get her own spinoff series chronicling her adventures west of Westeros. Arya would be one of the most interesting characters to follow, and Maisie Williams has expressed interest in reprising her role as the beloved Stark. Other Game of Thrones spinoffs are in the works at HBO, such as the Sea Snake series, which would follow the exploits of House of the Dragon‘s Corlys Velaryon. Another one is set 1,000 years before GoT, called Ten Thousand Ships, which would follow Princess Nymeria and how she founded Dorne. In terms of characters who lived from Game of Thrones’ premiere to its finale, though, only the Jon Snow spinoff is potentially on the cards for now.