'Game Of Thrones' S1-7: the epic recap you need before season 8

Sam Ashurst
All the ‘Thrones’ talking points, in the simplest possible terms (credit: HBO)

So, you know how when Game Of Thrones is on telly, it’s basically all everyone talks about?

Well, get ready for that to be a million times worse from this Sunday, when it returns. Fans haven’t been able to properly discuss White Walkers and dragons for a full year, so there’s loads of pent-up chat. Also, this is the final season, so every episode is going to have some mad talking point.

If you haven’t watched a single second of Thrones, you’ve now left it way too late to binge the seven seasons you’ve missed out on. But we’re going to make it easy for you to take part, so don’t worry.

We’re Thrones geeks, and we’re prepared to put our knowledge to use to help you. You know, much like Sam curing Jorah of Greyscale last season. Sorry, sorry, you have no idea what we’re saying, do you? Forget we said that.

If you don’t know your Hodors from your red-haired whores (there was a character with this name in the books, she was called ‘Ros’ on the show, thankfully), then enjoy our – very, very simplified – season by season guide to the show.

Season 1

Ned loses his head (credit: HBO)

We meet the central family of the saga, the Starks, led by Ned Stark and his wife Catelyn. Ned’s the one who came up with that whole ‘winter is coming’ catchphrase you’re probably bored of.

Ned and Catelyn have got kids of their own, Robb, Sansa, Arya, Bran, and Rickon, as well as a ward named Theon, and Ned also has a bastard son named Jon Snow.

Jon ends up going off to a place known as ‘the Wall’ to join a group called ‘the Night’s Watch’ who defend the realm from foreign invaders.

Read more: Gwendoline Christie ‘deeply unsettled’ by finale

There’s been rumours of these weird ice zombies known as White Walkers resurfacing near the Wall, and Jon encounters one of them.

Ned goes to join the king in King’s Landing, where he discovers the queen (Cersei Lannister) is having an affair with her brother Jaime Lannister (not her other brother, Tyrion Lannister, the smart-mouthed dwarf, who she hates). Coincidentally, Jaime paralysed young Bran in the first episode. He kicked the second-youngest Stark son out of a tower window, after discovered their incestuous relationship.

The product of this affair, their son Joffrey, is next in line for the crown. Joffrey has a bodyguard nicknamed ‘the Hound.’

Ned confronts the queen, and has his head chopped off for his trouble, after the king dies in a hunting accident. The new king, Joffrey (who’s a massive t***), gives the order to execute Ned.

Sansa (who Joffrey has pledged to marry) and Arya, (who manages to escape King’s Landing), are both forced to watch their father die.

Meanwhile, a young woman who believes she’s the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, named Dany, gets married, widowed, and is responsible for the first dragon eggs hatching in Westeros for centuries.

With her dragon pets giving her confidence, she advances on Westeros with a Dothraki army (barbarians, basically) to take back her throne.

Season 2

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 2: New Character Images (Slideshow)

The queen’s brother Tyrion is promoted to ‘Hand Of The King’ (basically, a sort of second in command to the ruler), and he’s really good at it, using his book-smarts to defend King’s Landing from an invasion by a rival potential king named Stannis, who’s hooked up with a witch named Melisandre.

There’s another rival king, named Renly, but he dies without doing much, so let’s not worry about him.

Joffrey tortures Sansa, Ned’s son Robb goes to war over his father’s death, and Dany knocks about in a place called Qarth for ages.

Read more: The real-life history that inspired ‘Game Of Thrones’

Jon Snow heads beyond the wall to find out more about the ice zombie threat, and encounters wildlings (basically, vikings) who capture him. Ygritte, who Jon Snow will marry in real life, tricks Snow, and tells him he knows nothing.

Theon attacks Winterfell, and Bran is forced to escape with a wildling woman, and his mate Hodor (who just says Hodor).

Arya is captured and taken to a castle, where she escapes with the help of a ‘Faceless Man’ (weird assassins who can change form).

Jaime Lannister, captured by Robb Stark, escapes, is recaptured, then is released with a female knight named Brienne, who is sent to trade him for Sansa and Arya (who they think is still at King’s Landing).

Season 3

Nice day for a red wedding (credit: HBO)

Despite being an awesome Hand, Tyrion loses his job after his dad Tywin arrives at King’s Landing. Tywin forces Tyrion to marry Sansa, so that Joffrey can marry Renly’s widow, Margaery.

Robb decides to break an agreement he made to marry a Lord’s daughter in season 2, because he’s fallen in love with someone else.

They’re invited to a wedding by the Lord, along with mum Catelyn, and loads of his men. They are murdered. It’s awesome.

If you really want to annoy your GoT  mates, just say ‘the Red Wedding was overrated, it was so much better in the books. Also, the fact the show didn’t adapt Lady Stoneheart made it all bit pointless. It’s all shock and no substance.’

Ayra bumps into the Hound during the massacre and an unlikely alliance is formed.

Dany gets a bigger army.

Brienne captures Jaime, and he demonstrates a more sensitive side while they share a bath.

Jon meets the leader of the wildlings, and continues to fall in love with his former prisoner, Ygritte.

Season 4

This image released by HBO shows Jack Gleeson portraying Joffrey Baratheon in a scene from ‘Game of Thrones.’ The final season premieres on Sunday. (credit HBO)

Joffrey is poisoned with wine during his wedding to Margaery. Sansa is blamed for it, and goes on the run with a creepy dude named Littlefinger, who may be responsible for every major event in the series so far.

Jaime and Brienne arrive at King’s Landing to the news that Sansa has escaped.

Sansa and Littlefinger go to stay with her aunt, who is also super creepy, and she gets killed by Littlefinger.

Jon Snow makes it back to the Wall and warns the Night’s Watch about the incoming wildling invasion. The Night’s Watch teams up with Stannis and his army to defeat them.

Cersei blames Tyrion for Joffrey’s death, and puts him on trial. He loses, and is put in prison. But Jaime helps him escape – not bargaining on the fact Tyrion would kill their father with a crossbow on the way.

Ygritte dies. Jon Snow still knows nothing.

Arya escapes from the Hound with the help of Brienne, and runs away to train to be a Faceless Man.

Season 5

Jon Snow’s brutal death by mutiny at Castle Black (credit: HBO)

Jon Snow is made the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and is killed for his trouble.

Littlefinger pairs off Sansa with Ramsay Bolton, who’s living at Winterfell and is basically more psychotic than Joffrey. So, he’s technically her type, but it doesn’t end well.

Tyrion has joined Dany in Mereen, and is forced to survive a rebellion that leaves her stranded with her dragon in the middle of a Dothraki army.

In King’s Landing, Cersei tries to use a religious cult against Margaery, who has married her other son Tommen. The cult turns on Cersei, and makes her walk naked through the streets. Shame, shame.

Stannis fights the Boltons, and loses – massively, getting murdered by Brienne who just so happens to be passing through the battle.

Season 6

Jon goes solo during the Battle of the Bastards (credit: HBO)

Jon Snow’s brought back from the dead by Melisandre, and he decides to win back Winterfell from the Boltons. The fight is named ‘the Battle of the Bastards’ as both sides are being led by literal bastards (and one of them is also a figurative bastard).

Jon wins, Ramsay is fed to his own dogs. Yay! Jon and Sansa reclaim Winterfell and all is well.

Dany is a prisoner of the Dothraki, who expect her to behave like a Dothraki widow and live in isolation. She sets some stuff on fire, walks through it, and they change their minds and decide to join her army.

After not appearing on the show for a whole season, Bran trains to be a ‘Three-Eyed Raven’ who’s basically someone who gets to see the whole past, present and future of Westeros. He’s basically a binge-watcher.

We find out why Hodor says ‘Hodor’ – it’s a contraction of the sentence ‘Hold the door.’ It’s too complicated to go into here, but this really is all you need to know about this one.

When his mentor, the current Three-Eyed Raven dies, killed by the leader of the White Walkers, the Night King, Bran takes on the mantle and basically becomes a walking spoiler alert.

Arya kills the Lord who killed her family in the Red Wedding.

Season 7

Winter has come (credit: HBO)

Dany FINALLY makes it over the sea to Westeros. She moves into Dragonstone, because she’s really into dragons and they’re a big part of the aesthetic.

Jon visits Dragonstone to try to convince Dany to help him defeat the White Walkers. Dany’s also fighting the Lannister armies, using her dragons to kill lots of people and wagons via a series of pretty spectacular set-pieces.

Dany’s dragon Drogon is injured by a Lannister weapon.

Jon and Dany realise that they’re going to need Cersei’s armies to defeat the ice zombies, and Jon goes on a mission to capture one, so they can show it to her, to prove what a threat they are.

The mission goes predictably badly, because it’s a terrible idea. Dany manages to break the rules of space and time, arriving at exactly the right moment to save Jon from a massive army of ice zombies.

Sadly, one of her dragons gets killed, and resurrected by the Night King. So he’s now got a dragon. Great work guys.

Read more: Has Tyrion’s ‘Game Of Thrones’ season 8 fate already been revealed?

Still, the plan – sort of – works, after Jon and Dany take the ice zombie to Cersei, who’s not massively impressed, but still agrees to the truce – for her own reasons.

Back in Winterfell, Sansa and Arya appear to be having a load of pointless and frustrating arguments, but it turns out it’s all a ruse to murder Littlefinger? This doesn’t make much sense, so don’t worry about it too much, all you need to know is Arya has killed another baddie.

Bran discovers Jon’s true heritage, he’s not Ned Stark’s bastard, he’s a Targaryen with a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne.

Jon and Dany bang, and Tyrion isn’t happy about it. Jon probably won’t be either after he realises she’s his aunt! Talk about a cliffhanger!

Game of Thrones’ eighth and final season will begin its broadcast with episode one on April 15, on Sky Atlantic at 2am and 9pm. You can watch seasons 1-7 on NOW TV now.