Spoilers ahead for all books and seasons of Game of Thrones!
There are few TV shows more talked about than HBO’s Game of Thrones. Throughout its five seasons, it’s gone from an obscure fantasy series aimed at a niche audience, to one of the most-watched series on all of television. It made its way to these lofty heights on the strength of solid writing, a diverse cast of Hollywood’s best and brightest actors, and of course George R. R. Martin’s source material novels. After the last season though, fans have been clamoring to find out what happens next.
For reasons we’ll get into soon, Season 6 will break new ground for Game of Thrones. Anticipation has never run higher, news is beginning to trickle in about what’s in store, and no one but the GoT writing team and showrunners know what will happen next. What do we know? It’s not much, but it’s tough to keep the lid on entirely in the age of the Internet. Details are beginning to leak out, so here’s what we have so far. [Update, 2/15/16: Added ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 6: Hall of Faces Tease (see below).]
1. For the first time, Game of Thrones will wade into uncharted waters
That new ground we were talking about? That’s directly tied to the fact that Season 6 will be the first one not directly paralleled by one of George R. R. Martin’s novels. With Martin still working on the sixth book titled The Winds of Winter, the show is set to lap the book series once the new season kicks off next Spring. As of now, TWoW doesn’t even have a release date, so it’s safe to say the HBO series isn’t counting on Martin to finish anytime soon.
For the show, that means showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss won’t be held accountable to the source material, free to do just about anything they want (under the advisement of Martin, having told them both how the next two books will play out). There will no longer be a separation of book readers and TV watchers, as the two groups are now equally as caught up.
2. The return of Bran and Hodor
With tons to unravel in Season 5, the one thing we failed to get any closure for concerned the fate of Bran and Hodor (and Rickon too, but let’s be honest, you probably forgot he was there until we reminded you just now). When last we left Bran at the end of Season 4, he had stumbled upon the Children, and onto the physical embodiment of the Three-Eyed Raven. As it turns out, said Raven is actually an old man grown into a tree in a cave, so needless to say we’ve been in need of a bit more exposition for some time now. Combine that with Bran running around with White Walkers (pictured above), we have a lot of unanswered questions right now.
3. The Greyjoys
In Martin’s novels, entire chapters are devoted to the Greyjoys, following the death of Balon, Theon’s father. The books follow the Iron Islanders as they fight amongst themselves to choose a new leader. Characters like Euron and Victarion Greyjoy have been tragically left by the wayside in favor of other storylines in the HBO series, and many thought a choice had been made to leave them out entirely.
As it turns out though, Season 6 will finally bring us back to the Iron Islands, with Danish actor Pilou Asbæk cast as Euron. Ian McShane has also been cast in a yet-to-be-revealed role, so it’s looking more and more like the Greyjoys will soon become a central story thread on Game of Thrones. Additionally, footage from the first full-length trailer appears to show Theon himself having returned home to his family.
4. Jon Snow: Dead or alive?
The biggest question on everyone’s minds following the closing moments of Season 5 has concerned the fate of Jon Snow. When last we saw him, he was left bleeding out in the dirt, betrayed and stabbed by the men of the Night’s Watch. As a fan favorite, many have simply not wanted to believe him to be dead, although their hopes may actually be based in some modicum of practical storytelling.
Snow’s role was built up as a sort of savior figure against the White Walkers, and to have him killed off before it’s all said and done seems like an odd choice. Combined with rumors from the set that a scene with Jon Snow, Ramsay Bolton, Sansa, and Littlefinger was recently just shot at Winterfell, it seems likely that Jon yet lives. Even so, HBO’s official synopsis for the season premiere doesn’t mince words: “Jon Snow is dead,” it reads, giving us little hope that the fan favorite is somehow alive and kicking.
5. Other new characters
We can usually get an idea for where a particular season of Game of Thrones is headed based largely on its casting. As mentioned previously, we’ll be seeing a whole lot of the Greyjoy family. Past that, there are also rumors that a casting call went out for Septon Meribald, evidenced by the need for someone to play “a gruff ex-soldier who found religion.” For fans of the Starks, we’re even going to see a return appearance of Ned Stark, albeit in a flashback with Sebastian Croft playing a 13-year-old version of him. Joining the cast with the other new faces will be Richard E. Grant, in an unspecified role that we imagine will utilize the talented British actor to the fullest.
6. The premiere will be arriving later than usual
Typically, Game of Thrones premieres in late-March/early-April, airing 10 episodes over 11 weeks. For Season 6 though, we have yet to get a concrete date for the debut episode. According to some back-of-the-napkin math from Entertainment Weekly, HBO’s currently announced schedule of shows makes it impossible for GoT to begin any earlier than mid-April. The most accurate estimate pegs the premiere for late-April, which would push the show deep into the summer months for the first time in its history. [Update, 2/11/16: HBO has revealed that Season 6 will premiere on April 24.]
7. Choose your House with brand new teasers
— Game Of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) January 22, 2016
As the promotion cycle for Season 6 ramps up, we’re finally seeing our first bits of footage in the form of 20-30 teasers from the Game of Thrones Twitter account. Above we hear Ramsay Bolton proclaiming his lordship over the ancestral home of the Starks. The other two teasers you can see here and here hint at the storylines concerning Cersei Lannister and Daenerys Targaryen respectively.
6. HBO’s full-length trailers
It was only a matter of time until HBO dropped a full trailer for Season 6, and as of early-March, we now have just that. It features all sorts of hints about the fate of Jon Snow, where some of our characters are now, and what’s to come once the premiere arrives on April 24. You can peep our full breakdown of the trailer over here for all the important details we caught in various screen-caps.
[Update, 4/11/16: Added second full-length trailer for Season 6 (see below).]
Keep your eyes peeled for more info! We’ll be updating this article as more news rolls in, so stay tuned.
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