WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones season seven. Obvs.
Game of Thrones season 7 is now over... and there's already much speculation about the show's future.
Is the end in sight? From teasers to story leaks to theories, here's everything you need to know.
Game of Thrones season 7 release date: When's it on?
Season 7 premiered simultaneously on Sunday night, July 16 on at 9pm ET on HBO in the US and at 2am on Monday, July 17 on Sky Atlantic in the UK.
Each week, if you can't stomach the thought of staying up so late, there's always the repeat viewing later in the day at the more manageable time of 9pm to look forward to. You can also watch it on demand any time after 2am.
If you don't want to stump up for the full Sky package, you can try a NowTV Entertainment Pass, which gives you access to the show (and loads of others) on all your devices. It's currently available for a two-week free trial (it's £6.99 a month afterwards and £7.99 from 15 August), so you can watch the first two episodes for nothing at all if you time it right.
"We're starting a bit later because at the end of this season, 'Winter is here' – and that means that sunny weather doesn't really serve our purposes any more," showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss previously confirmed.
"So we kind of pushed everything down the line, so we could get some grim grey weather even in the sunnier places that we shoot."
Makes sense... not that it helps to soothe our broken hearts. We'll be getting a bumper-length premiere running to 59 minutes and season finale lasting at least a whopping 81 minutes, maybe closer to 90, to make up for the long wait.
It's looking like we could be in for another long wait after that, too, with the eighth and final season possibly delayed until 2019.
"[Benioff and Weiss] have to write the episodes and figure out the production schedule," HBO President Casey Bloys said. "We'll have a better sense of that once they get further into the writing."
"We honestly don't know yet [when the final episodes will air]," Benioff admitted. "There's been a lot of back and forth about air dates. That's a long way off from being settled."
Shooting begins on the last six GoT episodes in October.
Filming wrapped on season 7 in February – with Emilia Clarke having already completed work on the "mindblower" new season. To give us a taste, here's a first-look teaser: featuring the first dialogue from season 7 courtesy of Jon Snow, it hints at a huge battle ahead between the living and the undead White Walkers.
"The same thing is coming for all of us. There is only one war that matters – the great war… AND IT IS HERE."
The season's key art also hints at the Walkers playing a major role this year, with a chilling look at the Night King:
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 1: What happened in 'Dragonstone'?
In a reprise from last season, Arya kicked off the season in suitably gruesome style, disguising herself as Walder to poison all the men of House Frey.
Bran and Meera reached the Wall, while at Winterfell, Jon Snow works to rally his forces against the White Walkers. Sansa, though, begins to openly question his authority - is trouble brewing between the siblings?
Cersei is looking to quash the Starks once and for all, but refuses an alliance with - and a proposal from - Euron Greyjoy. The cocky pirate promises to return to King's Landing with a gift for Cersei to prove his loyalty.
Samwell begins his training as a maester in Oldtown and after stealing books from a restricted area of the Citadel's library, he finds a map of Dragonstone - which shows where a large quantity of dragonglass, deadly to White Walkers, is located.
Daenerys and her fleet of allies have just arrived at Dragonstone, while her old ally Jorah Mormont rots in a cell at the Citadel...
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 2: What happened in 'Stormborn'?
At Dragonstone, Daenerys decides that she doesn't want to take King's Landing by slaughtering everyone in sight. Tyrion advises Olenna, Yara and Ellaria that they will use both Tyrell and Dornish forces to surround King's Landing, while the Unsullied and Dothraki take control of Casterly Rock, cutting off Cersei's retreat.
At King's Landing, Samwell's father Randyll is asked to swear alliegiance with the Lannisters, while Qyburn shows Cersei a way of killing Daenerys's dragons: a massive crossbow.
Daenerys agrees with Tyrion to meet with Jon Snow in order to make an alliance, but only if he bows to her. While the North aren't happy, Jon and Davos head off to meet with her, after hearing on Sam's news that Dragonstone contains a mountain of dragonglass. He leaves Sansa in charge while he's away, much to Littlefinger's delight.
Arya reunites with Hot Pie, and discovers that Jon is now King of the North. She delays her quest to kill Cersei, and heads off to reunite with her half-brother.
Sam takes it upon himself to cure Jorah of his greyscale, and discovers a book which may help him do so, despite it being incredibly dangerous.
With the Greyjoys' Iron Fleet transporting the Sands to Sunspear to rally the Dornish forces, they are ambushed by Euron's fleet. They are completely overrun, Nymeria and Obara Sand are killed, and Euron appears to take Yara, Ellaria and Tyene with him. Theon reverts to his Reek self, and cowardly jumps ship, leaving Yara on her own.
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 3: What happened in 'The Queen's Justice'?
At Dragonstone, Jon and Davos arrive with their soldiers. Daenerys offers to make Jon Warden of the North if he bends the knee, but he refuses. They agree that she is not responsible for her father's crimes, but she denies his belief that he should be held by his ancestor's oath to hers. Jon explains about the White Walkers, but Daenerys wants to claim the Iron Throne first.
Daenerys discovers that Euron has defeated Yara's forces, and Jon is forced to stay at Dragonstone. Tyrion discourages her desire to burn Euron's ships with dragons, as they would require her to join them.
Melisandre tells Varys that she plans to return to Volantis, but she predicts that both of them will die in Westeros.
Jon convinces Tyrion that the White Walkers are real, and he relays his request to mine the dragonglass. She accepts as a gesture of goodwill, and she wonders what Davos almost revealed about Jon's resurrection.
Euron parades captives Ellaria, Tyene and Yara through crowds in King's Landing. He presents the Sands as a gift to Cersei, who accepts his military alliance and promises marriage when the war is won. Cersei kisses Tyene with the same poison that Ellaria used to kill Myrcella, and now Ellaria must watch her daughter die.
Cersei now flaunts her intimacy with Jaime, and later meets with Tycho Nestoris of the Iron Bank to collect repayment of the Lannisters' loans.
Sansa reunites with Bran, who arrives at Winterfell with Meera. Sansa is confused by Bran's revelation that he is the Three-Eyed Raven, and is troubled by his knowledge of her suffering.
In Oldtown, Archmaester Ebrose proclaims that Jorah is now healed of greyscale and allows him to leave. Jorah tells Sam he plans to reunite with Daenerys, and that he owes Sam his life. Ebrose praises Sam's skill, but punishes his disobedience with an assignment to copy a large number of documents.
The Unsullied take control of Casterly Rock via its sewers, as designed by Tyrion. However, they discover far fewer defenders than they expected. The Iron Fleet destroys the rest of Daenerys's ships, leaving Grey Worm and his army stranded.
Jaime, Randyll Tarly, Bronn and their armies take Highgarden, after abandoning Casterly Rock to trick Daenerys into committing her Unsullied elsewhere. Jaime grants Olenna a suicide rather than Cersei's plans to execute her. After drinking the poison, Olenna tells Jaime that she killed Joffrey, and asks him to tell Cersei.
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 4: What happened in 'The Spoils of War'?
At King's Landing, Tycho tells Cersei that once her debt is paid, they are willing to issue a new loan to expand her armies. Cersei says that Qyburn has contacted the Golden Company to fight for the Lannisters.
At Winterfell, Littlefinger gives Bran the Valyrian steel dagger that was used in an attempt to kill Bran back in season 1. He is disconcerted after Bran repeats a line he once said to Varys, that 'chaos is a ladder'. Meera says farewell to Bran, but he is indifferent to her departure.
At Dragonstone, Jon shows Daenerys the Dragonglass mine, and discovers carvings made by the Children of the Forest, depicting how they teamed up with the First Men to combat the White Walkers. Now seemingly accepting that Jon is telling the truth, she vows to fight for the North, but only if Jon bends the knee.
Daenerys learns about the Unsullied's burning fleet and Highgarden's fall. She asks Jon for his counsel, and he warns that if she uses her dragons to attack King's Landing, she will be no different to previous tyrant leaders.
Theon and his Ironborn survivors return, and Jon attacks him. However, he says that his role in Sansa's escape if the only reason he won't kill him. He asks for help to rescue Yara from Euron.
The Lannister troops depart Highgarden, and the gold reaches King's Landing. However, the Lannisters and Tarlys are attacked by Daenerys riding Drogon and her horde of Dothraki. Bronn manages to wound Drogon with Qyburn's scorpion, and Daenerys dismounts him to remove the bolt.
As Jaime attempts to kill Daenerys, Drogon shields her and almost burns him alive, before Bronn tackles him at the last second. Jaime and Bronn fall into the Blackwater Rush, and Jaime begins to sink to the bottom of the river.
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 5: What happened in 'Eastwatch'?
Bronn pulls Jaime to safety, the Kingslayer wowed by the power of Dany's dragons. Daenerys shows no mercy to the surviving Tarlys, having Drogon incinerate both Randyll and son Dickon.
With Bran's visions warning him that the army of the dead is encroaching, he has ravens sent throughout the Seven Kingdoms warning of the threat.
The Archmaesters in Oldtown receive Bran's warning but do not take the threat of the White Walkers seriously. This infuriates Sam, who decides to leave the Citadel - ignoring a potentially crucial piece of intel uncovered by Gilly…
Prince Rhaegar Targaryen - believed to be Jon Snow's real father - had his marriage annulled and was formally wed to Lyanna Stark, which would make Jon his legitimate son. Which, in turn, would give the King in the North a better claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys.
At Winterfell, Arya grows suspicious that Sansa wants to overthrow Jon and rule the North herself. She later spies Littlefinger receiving a scroll from Maester Wolkan - the letter Sansa wrote following King Robert's death, under duress from Cersei, asking her family to swear fealty to King Joffrey.
Arya sneaks a peek at the scroll, unaware that Littlefinger is watching.
Daenerys returns to Dragonstone, where she is reunited with a healed Ser Jorah. Jon receives Bran's warning, but is ill-equipped to fight the army of the dead. Tyrion suggests that they capture one of the White Walkers and present it to Cersei, to convince her the threat is real.
Tyrion later travels to King's Landing, sneaking into the Red Keep for a secret meeting with Jaime, to warn him about the undead army. Jaime conveys the message to a skeptical Cersei, who has news of her own - she is pregnant with his child.
Jon forms a band of warriors - Ser Jorah, Gendry (who Davos had recovered from King's Landing), Tormund and the Wildling's prisoners The Hound, Beric Dondarrion and Thoros of Myr - to travel north of the Wall, capture a wight and bring it to King's Landing.
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 6: What happened in 'Beyond the Wall'?
Jon, Tormund, the Hound, Jorah, Beric, Thoros, Gendry and other wildlings head north in search of a wight. An undead polar bear attacks and nearly kills Thoros before it is killed. The group then find a small group of wights led by a White Walker. After destroying the White Walker, the wights are instantly de-animated. One remaining behind is captured by the group.
The White Walker army besieges the group, and Gendry is told to return to the Wall to send a raven to Daenerys. The remaining group end up of an island of ice, which holds them off for a while. Thoros dies from his wounds.
After the water freezes over, the wights attack the group. Daenerys eventually arrives with her three dragons, and burns the wights. The group climbs on Drogon, but Jon stays behind to fend off the remaining wights.
The Night King throws his spear at Viserion, and kills him. Daenerys flies away with the group, but has to leave Jon behind. His uncle Benjen arrives and fights off the wights, allowing him to escape on his horse, but Benjen is killed.
The wights pull out Viserion from the water, and the Night King re-animates him.
Meanwhile, Arya confronts Sansa about the letter discovered in Littlefinger's room. Arya refuses to accept Sansa's explanation that she was only a child at the time and did not betray her family.
Sansa expresses her worries to Littlefinger, who suggests that Brienne would protect her from Arya if she tried to kill her. A message from King's Landing invites Sansa to the capital, but she sends Brienne as her representative.
Sansa discovers a bag of faces in Arya's room, and Arya explains her Faceless Man training. Arya threatens to take Sansa's face, but gives her the Valyrian dagger.
Tyrion also expresses his concern about potential treachery in their meeting with Cersei. He also asks Daenerys who will succeed her, considering she can't have children.
Game of Thrones season 7, episode 7: What happened in 'The Dragon and the Wolf'?
Littlefinger was killed by the Stark sisters as they entrapped him in a public defence of his crimes.
Bran acted as chief witness, Sansa was the judge and Arya the executioner, as she cut his throat open with the Valyrian steel knife.
Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen consummated their relationship. However, Jon's status as a legitimate Targaryen was also confirmed.
The White Walkers finally made it into the Seven Kingdoms, although appeared halted by the Wall itself.
But The Night King attacked it with a reanimated White Walker version of Daenerys's dragon Viserion and his blue flames demolished the Wall.
Game of Thrones season 7 trailer: What can we see so far?
The latest trailer is pretty phenomenal and action-packed, teasing, amongst other things, Jon Snow battling White Walkers, Jaime at war, a siege at sea, giant dragons and Beric Dondarrion with a flaming sword!
Another season 7 trailer out there right now, featuring Queen Cersei, Daenerys and Jon Snow making their way to their respective thrones – with a hint of possible trouble to come as Cersei lets out a frozen breath which dissolves into the terrifying undead eye of the Night King.
With April came a HBO promo which revealed striking new looks for Daenerys, Tyrion... and a few more friendly (and not so friendly) faces.
In June, HBO España released a new montage as part of a Game of Thrones pop-up attraction which features Jaime leading Lannister forces into battle, shots of bloody hand-to-hand combat among Queen Cersei's forces, as Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) touring her ancestral home of Dragonstone.
Game of Thrones season 7 ratings: How well has it done?
'Dragonstone' brought winter to an incredible 16 million US viewers on July 16. HBO's seventh season premiere doubled the show's previous ratings across all platforms from the season six opener in the spring of 2016.
When only TV viewers are taken into account, Entertainment Weekly reports that the 10.1 million who turned into HBO for 'Dragonstone' on Sunday was also significantly higher than the 8.9 million who tuned in to the show's previous most-watched episode 'The Winds of Winter' in June 2016.
However, if you were one of the chancers who watched the premiere the naughty way, well, you have A LOT of company. To the surprise of precisely no-one, the episode 'Dragonstone' is currently the most torrented show of the year so far.
As tracker Torrent Freak reports, over 130,000 people were actively sharing the episode through torrents across the web as of yesterday (July 17).
One outlet also revealed that the episode was generating up to 20,000 views per hour on its own site.
Despite having leaked online, episode 4, 'The Spoils of War', also smashed the show's US ratings record with 10.2 million viewers - a record it held till episode 5, 'Eastwatch', pulled in even bigger numbers, with a total audience of 10.72m.
Game of Thrones season 7 cast: Who's in it?
Kit Harington (Jon Snow), Peter Dinklage (Tyrion), Lena Headey (Cersei), Emilia Clarke (Daenerys) and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime) all reportedly signed up for a seventh season back in late 2014.
But all these contracts mean is that GoT has an option on those actors. There's still no guarantee that their characters will actually survive that long – and Sophie Turner has hinted that "not all" of the current cast will make it to the final sprint.
For example, in October 2014, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that – along with Sophie Turner (Sansa) and Maisie Williams (Arya) – Natalie Dormer had also signed up for season seven. But that didn't stop her character Margaery from going up in Wildfire flames at the end of season six.
One character we'd given up for dead will be back, though – with Iain Glen (Ser Jorah) spotted on a flight to Northern Ireland, greyscale be damned (even if Glen has hinted that the character's end "may well be close").
Mark Gatiss has also confirmed he's returning as Tycho Nestoris, which could spell trouble for Cersei if the Iron Bank is looking to collect from the Lannisters.
House Mormont's littlest bad-ass, Lady Lyanna (Bella Ramsey), is also back after a scene-stealing turn in season six – and she might just be teaming up with our favourite Wilding, Tormund (Kristofer Hivju), too.
Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) and her Sand Snakes will continue to make their presence felt – although Jessica Henwick almost missed out on a GoT return as Nymeria, due to her commitments to Iron Fist.
Official images confirm the return of Richard Dormer as the immortal Beric Dondarrion too, riding alongside The Hound.
Beric could well be a pivotal figure going forward, after George RR Martin revealed that the immortal warrior is actually a Fire Wight - a natural enemy to the White Walkers. (Given that Jon Snow was, like Beric, resurrected by a servant of the Red God, does this mean that he's a Fire Wight too?)
As for Joe Dempsie's long-lost Gendry – last seen rowing to parts unknown back in season three – there's still no word when he'll be back, though the actor told Digital Spy he'd "love to be involved".
"There's a lot of unanswered questions about Gendry and the longer it goes on, the more obvious his absence becomes," he said.
But... he has since been spotted landing in Belfast – and in Spain, where he appeared to take part in a scene featuring Davos and Tyrion (make of that what you will) – and Dempsie himself later appeared to confirm his big comeback.
There's even some talk that the long-dead Khal Drogo could be back... a rumour that sprang up after Jason Momoa was spotted in Ireland with GoT's showrunners and later fuelled by a second snap of the actor alongside Kit Harington.
"I prepare for the north," he posted on Instagram... What a tease!
And could the late villain Walder Frey be joining him on a trip back from the great beyond? David Bradley's online resume certainly suggests he'll be appearing in season seven...
Among the newcomers to Game of Thrones this year will be Oscar-winner Jim Broadbent – appearing in five episodes as "an old professor character" who aids Samwell Tarly – and Dickensian actor Joseph Quinn, who'll play an all-new character (as in, not in Martin's novels) named Koner.
Perhaps the most unlikely cast addition is Ed Sheeran – yes, that Ed Sheeran – who made a guest appearance in 'Dragonstone', following in the footsteps of fellow musicians Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, Coldplay's Will Champion and Sigur Rós.
Sheeran confirmed that his will be a brief cameo and that his character won't be subjected to a gruesome demise – sad news for anyone who's ever been made to listen to 'Galway Girl'.
Instead, he'll feature in a short scene where he serenades Arya Stark. Hasn't that poor girl been through enough? "I just know the scene I did with Maisie, and it's decent," Sheeran said. Nothing exciting happens in this scene, we just have a conversation and that's kind of it."
Sheeran's cameo was widely criticised by viewers, but director Jeremy Podeswa thought he did a fine job. He leapt to the singer's defence during an interview with Newsweek, insisting: "I think Ed did a lovely job - he's a lovely actor and a lovely person."
There was talk that UFC fighter Conor McGregor might be joining GoT – playing a pirate in Euron Greyjoy's crew – which his boss Dana White appeared to confirm. McGregor later denied the rumours - though maybe he's just being coy?
HBO is definitely casting a number of new mystery roles, though, with nondescript codenames like 'Young Lord' and 'Lovely Lady' – provoking much speculation as to which characters could be about to make their screen debut.
Following in the footsteps of Sigur Rós and Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody, indie popsters Bastille are also believed to have shot a musical cameo in this year's finale.
Sadly, any rumours that Murder, She Wrote legend Angela Lansbury would show up in Westeros have since been totally debunked.
Game of Thrones season 7 episodes: How long will it run?
HBO officially renewed its smash-hit series for a seventh year on April 21, 2016 – with HBO's then-president of programming Michael Lombardo later indicating that Game of Thrones would end after eight seasons.
"David and Dan are feeling there's probably two more years after season six, that's what we're looking at right now," he said in January.
In June, Benioff and Weiss appeared to confirm that the show would wrap up with two shorter seasons:
"It's two more seasons we're talking about," Benioff said. "From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70-75 hours, and that's what we'll end up with. Call it 73 for now."
Given the 60 hours already covered, that does indeed leave us with just 13 remaining – and it's since been announced that we'll be getting seven episodes this year
Then, in March 2017, we finally had it 100% totally officially confirmed that the eight and final season will span just six episodes.
"There's probably a world where we could have milked this thing for another eight seasons, and that would have been very lucrative for all of us," acknowledged producer Bryan Cogman. "But [Benioff and Weiss] really wanted to go out on a good high point."
(Ser Davos actor Liam Cunningham has revealed that filming on the final season will commence in September, while Sophie Turner also let slip in February 2017 that she'd be back filming on Thrones later in the year... so we guess that means Sansa survives season seven, unless she was employing some Littlefinger-style deceit.)
But don't fret: while the next two seasons will be shorter, the total time spent filming (roughly five months) will be the same as for a 10-episode run – and according to Iain Glen, this means that the "scale and size of the set pieces" will be more epic and "more extraordinary" than ever before.
Kit Harington later echoed his co-star's comments: "There are [fewer] episodes this year, so they spent more money on those episodes. So, the whole scale of it is up."
"Before, we'd have one or two show-stopping, major episodes per season," said GoT cinematographer Robert McLachlan. "This season, probably at least half of them are whoppers. They're not going to disappoint."
There's even been talk that all six of the final GoT episodes will be feature-length, spanning around 80 minutes each. Casey Bloys has hinted that individual episodes might even run to two hours. Now that's epic!
Fewer episodes doesn't neccesarily mean less of your favourite characters, either: "We're actually filming longer now - I don't know how that's happening," Emilia Clarke said, while Peter Dinklage also revealed that he's "worked more days this season" and Kit Harington insisted that "everyone gets a bigger slice of the pie".
"You kill a couple dozen characters, the people who are left by default need to carry more dramatic weight," Weiss explained.
Game of Thrones ending: What's going to happen?
Here's hoping all the dragons make it out of the coming war alive – especially with rumblings of a dragon skull model being built...
"The thing that gave Cersei humanity was her kids," Lena Headey has said. "They're gone now. Her father is gone. Tyrion is gone. There's no-one to tell her she can't, she's stupid, she's just a woman.
"I think when Jaime looks anything other than happy, she has a 'f**k you' moment. This will be such an interesting season for them."
He later suggested that Jaime might not even be "capable" of killing Cersei after all that's gone between them. Peter Dinklage, though, has warned that Tyrion is "bracing himself" for a face-off with Cersei this season, after the pair parted on the worst of terms.
Fans, meanwhile, have speculated that Cersei might meet her end at Jon Snow's hand - or that The Hound might (indirectly) be responsible for her downfall. Whatever happens, even Headey is convinced that her character is "f**ked" and doomed to die before the series is over.
Will Jaime turn to the dark side, or the light? Coster-Waldau has revealed that Jaime will "step up and take his father's place" this season – will the tyranny of Twin live on in his favourite son? Or is Jaime secretly mankind's saviour, the Prince that was Promised, as some fans have theorised?
(An Easter Egg in a new batch of season 7 pictures hints that a reveal involving the Lord of Light could be incoming - so possibly we'll find out if it's Jaime, or Jon Snow, or even Ser Davos, very soon...)
Back to Daenerys, and as well as Cersei, she might have to face off against Jon, too – unless, of course, she makes him her husband, as part of an incestuous partnership? It's the sort of thing that GoT loves...
Emilia Clarke might've shot down that particular theory, though, suggesting that the Mother of Dragons has no time for romance and warning us not to read into any chemistry between Dany and Jon.
Fans have also been speculating that the Cleganebowl – a face-off between The Hound and his now zombified brother The Mountain – will come to pass this season.
"I did notice a lot of people were talking about the Cleganebowl – people were waiting for me and my brother to fight," Gregor Clegane actor Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson told us.
"There's a lot of expectation from the fans to see that happen – obviously I cannot comment on that... you're just going to have to see what's gonna happen!"
We've compiled recent teasers and footage over here, which do indeed seem to suggest that Cleganebowl could finally happen in season 7's finale.
One thing's for sure – we're going to get another "epic" bout that'll reportedly make the Battle of the Bastards look like a playground skirmish.
(There's also rumblings of an unholy Euron / Cersei alliance. "Cersei sold her soul many years ago – maybe that's why Euron likes the idea of her," actor Pilou Asbaek said.)
Of course, a second major bout with the White Walkers after season five's 'Hardhome' is sure to be on the cards... with Liam Cunningham hinting that "a lot" of characters will come together to battle a common threat.
"The progress of the show with the White Walkers and all that stuff, it's pretty obvious nobody's going to be able to take this force on on their own," he said.
"So when we've had all these, for all these seasons, disparate stories come from disparate ends of Westeros, it has been – and it's been signalled from the end of last season – that there's a lot of people and situations going to be coming together.
"It was kind of interesting to meet some people who I normally only meet on a red carpet. Who that is and when that happens remains to be seen."
Producer Bryan Cogman went on to tease: "There are White Walkers and dragons and once they start to come together the story has to go where it goes."
"For a long time we've been talking about 'the wars to come' - well, that war is pretty much here," Benioff said.
No kidding - GoT even broke a record this year for setting more stuntmen on fire simultaneously than any other TV show or movie.
There's also talk of another climactic bout that'll take place in the season finale, with forces from Casterly Rock (the Lannisters' ancestral home) and Highgarden (ditto for the Tyrells) pitted against one another.
13 major cast members – as well as 500 extras and 100 horses – are thought to be involved. Surely the show'll deliver a death or two here? Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson has hinted at "absolute chaos" to come ("I'm panicked for people.") and Digital Spy readers are expecting Littlefinger to be the first character to meet a grisly end.
(Could it be Sansaaaaa that strikes the killer blow? Aiden Gillen, the actor behind Petyr Baelish, has described the object of Littlefinger's obsession as his "one weakness" - hmmm!)
Speaking of the deceased, don't expect (SPOILERS!) Lady Stoneheart to make an appearance on GoT any time soon. Though Catelyn Stark was resurrected in Martin's novels, she's yet to resurface on the TV show and director Mark Mylod has insisted he's had "not had one discussion" about the character in the GoT writers' room.
The first batch of season 7 photos do nothing to quiet rumours of a major battle either. From Jaime Lannister to The Hound to lovebirds Brienne and Tormund to Jon Snow, everyone in the Seven Kingdoms appears to be on the verge of war.
Final warning: from here on out, we're in SERIOUS spoiler territory!!!
It seemed inevitable that Daenerys and Jon Snow would meet from the moment he was all-but confirmed to be her long-lost nephew – and sure enough, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington have been spotted shooting their first ever scenes together.
Game of Thrones costume designer Michele Clapton later let slip that Jon would interact with both Dany and Cersei at various points this season.
Some leaked concept art also appears to show Jon standing alongside Tyrion and Bronn near the ruins of the Dragonpit – apparently a sequence planned for the season finale.
"She's playing the game now, and very ruthlessly," said Sophie Turner. "When she wants something, she's going to go out and get it."
"There is definite tension between them right from the first scene," Kit Harington echoed. "But as far as where that goes or takes them or how dark it can get, we'll see. It gets past sibling squabbling, it gets into two people power struggling."
There's been talk of more "reunions" and "unions" this summer – and a fan site's claims that Daenerys, Tyrion, Ser Davos and Brienne will unite at the Dragonpit next season seems to be borne out by photographs taken of the set.
"There's a whole bunch of reunions and first time meetings that people have been waiting for for a long time," Weiss promised.
It looks like Jorah Mormont (now cured of his greyscale?) will be reunited with his beloved Khaleesi – and there was also talk that Jon Snow would collide with Theon Greyjoy this season and the pair were indeed later snapped on location, engaging in a violent altercation.
It looks to be a rough season for Theon all-round (yes, again!) as he was also pictured being thrashed by his wicked uncle Euron. (Don't take everything you see for granted, though – Kit Harington has claimed that some scenes captured on camera were faked to fool the paparazzi.)
That being said, Alfie Allen has hinted at "redemption" for his troubled character – so maybe there's light at the end of a very long and very dark tunnel?
Hempstead Wright has hinted at "collisions" between characters – admitting that things are "not looking great" for Bran, now that he and Meera are out on their own.
New footage also appears to show Arya travelling North - perhaps heading beyond The Wall, where Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) resides, or trekking back to her home of Winterfell?
"What overall excites me about this season is that main characters are coming together and it feels like things are ramping up," Sophie Turner said in December.
Maisie's also dropped the bombshell that season seven will end on a "huge cliffhanger" that will lead directly into the show's final season.
"It's just kind of tumbling now – we've come to the climax and it's rolling down to the end," she said. "It's exciting!"
If you're looking to delve into real spoiler territory... the Freefolk subreddit has released a batch of strong and plausible claims about the substance of season seven – shortly followed by a tweet from Natalie Emmanuel (Missandei) decrying people who want to "ruin" it for everyone – but if you want to read them, you'll have to go here.
As for the how the series as a whole will draw to a close? "We know what the end is, and we're barrelling towards it," Benioff and Weiss said of what's sure to be the most highly scrutinised series finale since Lost.
The tight-lipped pair haven't given any clue as to what that ending might entail - though George RR Martin has hinted at a "bittersweet ending" for his A Song of Ice and Fire books, which serves as the (increasingly loose) inspiration for Game of Thrones.
GRRM has also shared a significant twist – or "holy shit moment" – with Benioff and Weiss, which won't make it to the screen till "the very end" of the show.
It doesn't sound as though the cast have been let in on any secrets, though – Kit Harington, for example, has no idea how Game of Thrones will end. Yes, Jon Snow literally knows nothing.
"Everyone's been wondering how it's going to end, and what's going to happen right from the get-go, and theorising about it," he said. "It's really exciting to me not knowing, genuinely having no idea where it's going to end, what they've got in their heads, and being the first to find out."
"No one knows anything," echoed Emilia Clarke. "No one is told anything. It's all crazy. It's a secret from the cast. We can't be trusted. They pretty much have told us so."
Meanwhile, Samwell Tarly actor John Bradley told us that the very final Game of Thrones episode could change our entire perception of the series.
"Because we don't know how it ends – we don't know who wins or who loses – we've got no idea what kind of story we're telling," he suggested. "We don't know if it's an indictment of how bad people can triumph if good men do nothing, or a redemptive story about good triumphing over evil."
But even if he's not sure what kind of tale is being told, Bradley is convinced that Samwell will make it to the end of it: "If he's still around at this stage, you do suspect that there is gonna be a point to keeping him around."
Our money's on the final episodes being a bit of a bloodbath, with the concluding eighth season being described as "carnage" by the cast.
Watch our pick of the best Game of Thrones fan theories that are still active going into season 7:
Game of Thrones 7 episodes: Who's directing?
Alan Taylor – who's directed six GoT episodes, including Ned Stark's final outing 'Baelor' – will return to the show for the first time since 2012.
Jeremy Podeswa will also be back, having previously secured an Emmy nomination for directing the controversial 'Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken' – in which Sansa (Sophie Turner) was raped by Ramsay (Iwan Rheon).
Finally, Matt Shakman is also on board. He's not worked on the show before, but has directed episodes of The Good Wife, Heroes Reborn, House and 39 instalments of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
The Emmy nominee has however indicated that he's keen to return to GoT in 2018, to helm one of the final episodes.
Game of Thrones books: What's going on with 'The Winds of Winter'?
"I have days where I make lots of progress, I have days where I make next to no progress," Martin told Digital Spy back in 2014, discussing his long-awaited next book, The Winds of Winter.
The sixth novel in his fantasy saga, Winds has been in the works for several years now – before even the first episode of Game of Thrones had aired on HBO.
In January 2016, having missed a series of deadlines, Martin confirmed that the book wouldn't be published before the launch of season six of the TV series.
GRRM suggested in January 2017 that the book will finally "be out this year", though he did add: "But hey, I thought the same thing last year."
And while HBO's season six – which consisted of mostly original material – was relatively optimistic by GoT standards, Martin's warned that his book could be decidedly less buoyant.
"I've been telling you for 20 years that winter was coming," he noted. "Winter is the time when things die, and cold and ice and darkness fill the world. So this is not going to be the happy feel-good that people may be hoping for. Some of the characters [are] in very dark places."
He gave us another update in July, hinting that his Winds will "be different [to the TV show] in some ways, but will [run] parallel... in others".
"At this point, there are probably a dozen characters who are dead on the show but alive in the books, so it would be impossible for the two to remain the same," Martin said.
Game of Thrones spin-offs and prequels – and will there be a movie?
George RR Martin, ever the optimist, was bullish about the prospect of a GoT sequel, prequel and/or spinoff when questioned on the matter in April.
"There is certainly no lack of material," he said. "There are eight million stories in Westeros as well… and even more in Essos and the lands beyond. A whole world full of stories, waiting to be told… If indeed HBO is interested."
Just don't expect either Kit Harington or Emilia Clarke to feature. Representatives for Harington have denied that the actor has been approached to star in a spin-off, while Clarke insisted that "other spin-offs... might be more intriguing" than a Daenerys series.
"I have no doubt there'll be prequels and sequels and who knows what else," Clarke said. "But I am doing one more season. And then that'll be it."
"I think that makes a lot of sense, to start with a new set of characters," Harington agreed. "There's so much scope for this story that's been going for thousands of years. I'm happy to step away from Jon Snow."
Benioff and Weiss have also insisted that they wouldn't be involved in any such project. "At a certain point, especially if it's a serialised story, it falls apart and loses its heat and its momentum – because there's a carrying capacity even a world the size of ours has," Weiss said.
"When you reach that carrying capacity and you try to push it further, people start to wonder when this is going to be over and hope that it will be over soon so they can move onto the next thing. That's not what we ever wanted."
"I'm sure there will be other series set in Westeros," Benioff clarified at the 2016 Emmys. "But for us, this is it."
The pair reiterated their position in March 2017, with Benioff saying that he and Weiss are resisting the "urge to keep doing it."
"I think HBO might well do [a spin-off] and I'm looking forward to watching it. [But] I think it's better for them to get new blood in with new visions."
Bloys outlined its official stance on a spin-off in September 2016, saying that while "there are so many properties and areas to go" into, they'd have to find "the right writer" to replace Benioff and Weiss.
"There are things that sound interesting," he said. "But at this point, we have no writers assigned or anything like that."
Two months later, Boys would confirm that "preliminary" talks are "ongoing" about a possible GoT prequel series, comments echoed by HBO's CEO Richard Plepler in December 2016.
"It certainly has not escaped Casey and myself that there might be some brand extension that would be exciting. It certainly has not escaped the producers.
"Right now we're focused on finishing the series with the kind of energy and excitement that everyone has come to expect. We're going to do that while at the same time parallel processing very embryonic stages of other possibilities."
At this stage, a GoT prequel is looking more likely than, say, a Tyrion spin-off. Bloys again: "A prequel feels like it has less pressure on it. [Author George RR Martin's history of Westeros] gives you areas in which to say to a writer, 'If you were going to do this, then go flesh it out,' and we'll see what comes back."
In May 2017, news broke that HBO was officially developing at least four - yes, FOUR - different spin-offs, with four different writers: Kong: Skull Island's Max Borenstein, Kingsman: The Secret Service's Jane Goldman, L.A. Confidential's Academy Award winner Brian Helgeland and Westworld's Carly Wray.
GRRM later suggested that in fact five different shows are in development: all prequels, with no established characters. None of them, by the way, chronicle Robert's Rebellion - and an adaptation of Martin's Dunk and Egg novellas has also been ruled out.
Martin reiterated this in June, revealing that "five successor shows are moving forward at various rates of speed" - though Bloys would insist a month later that HBO only has "a deal for four spinoffs right now with four writers".
Only one of the spin-offs is expected to ever make it to screen, and even then not for a long time, with Bloys explaining that each of the projects are at an "embryonic" stage as of June 2017.
In late July 2017, Bloys gave another update, saying that the spin-offs won't air until at least a year after the series ends.
"The number-one priority in all of this is the final season of Game of Thrones," he told reporters. "I don't want to do anything with a spin-off or anything that detracts or distracts from that.
"That [final Game of Thrones] season will happen and my guess is it would be at least a year before you saw anything else.
"What I don't want is the attention to be drawn from the final season, which I think is going to be epic and amazing and somehow have the distraction of a new Game of Thrones airing right after that. It's best to separate it and that's what we'll do."
Bloys added that the jury is still out on whether Game of Thrones will end next year as originally planned or be pushed into 2019 - the latter being a scenario that would presumably push any spin-off into 2020, at least.
There's been talk too of a Game of Thrones movie. And we'll give you one guess who's been doing most of the talking.
"It might need a feature to tie things up," George RR Martin said back in March 2014. "Something with a feature budget, like $100 million for two hours. Those dragons get real big, you know..."
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