'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Theories: Cersei, Daenerys, Bran, Bronn and Azor Ahai

Season 8 of Game of Thrones isn't expected to premiere in HBO until some time in 2019, which leaves lots of time for outlandish theorizing. Some of the fan theories making the rounds online are dumb, while others seem almost certain to come true.

Most guesses are fair game, particularly since the conclusion to Game of Thrones is likely to differ substantially from the end of the book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. For example, in The Winds of Winter, the long-awaited next book, Lady Stoneheart is terrorizing the Kingsroad and there's still another claimant to the throne running around—a young man who claims to be the son of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen (Jon Snow's father) and Elia Martell. But much of the speculation leading up to Season 8 could just as well be true in the books as the show.

There are sure to be fan theories spoiling on the shelf as we tick off the years between George R.R. Martin's final two entries, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. But come 2019, we'll know the real story behind the swirling Game of Thrones Season 8 speculation.

Jaime kills Cersei

Cersei has transformed into a paranoid and ruthless queen over the course of seven seasons, but as Joseph Heller wrote and Kurt Cobain sang, "just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you." In Game of Thrones Season 5, Cersei encountered the witch Maggy in a rare flashback. Maggy makes three predictions, telling Cersei she'll marry the king, lose all her children and be dethroned by someone "younger, more beautiful." We're two for three so far, with Daenerys coming for the Iron Throne, ready to fulfill the third prediction (after Cersei blew up Margaery).

But there's an extra element to her prediction in the book: "And when your tears have drowned you, the valonqar shall wrap his hands about your pale white throat and choke the life from you." "Valonqar" is High Valyrian for little brother. Cersei, naturally, assumes this lethal sibling will be Tyrion. But Jaime fits just as well, having come out of the womb moments after Cersei, clinging to her heel. And while there are few hints in the HBO series, the thematic symmetry of Jaime, not only killing the love of his life, but once again killing a tyrant mad with power, is just too poetic to pass up.

Plus, Maggy's description of Cersei's "pale white throat" may point to a slightly more implausible fan theory…

Cersei Ice Queen

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Whatever happens, it probably won't be good for Queen Cersei. HBO

Originally part of a broader fan theory that predicts Daenerys retreating back across the Narrow Sea (not bloody likely), the more plausible prediction is that Cersei will become a thrall of the Night King, perhaps even the Night Queen. That should give Jaime sufficient reason to commence the strangling. This, of course, depends on...

King's Wastelanding

Less a fan theory and more an extrapolation from good evidence, it seems almost certain that we'll see the near decimation of King's Landing in Game of Thrones Season 8. Not only does this fit well with Daenerys' vision, but set leaks seem to confirm a lot of destruction is heading Cersei's way.

Cleganebowl

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This is so happening. HBO

For a while it looked like Cleganebowl—a rematch fight between estranged brothers Gregor "The Mountain" and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane—was more fan wish fulfillment than a guarantee. But that all changed in Season 7 episode "The Dragon and the Wolf." Amidst a tense standoff between warring factions in the Dragonpit, the action pauses for Sandor to threaten his brother: "You know who's coming for you, you've always known." It's as good an indication as any that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss intend to deliver the fight we've all been waiting for in the final season.

Arya's Kill List

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Arya kills Walder Frey in "Game of Thrones" Season 7. HBO

"Joffrey, Cersei, Walder Frey, Meryn Trant, Tywin Lannister, the Red Woman, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Ilyn Payne, The Mountain, The Hound," Arya intones, each night before bed.

While the Stark sister's kill list didn't have teeth for a few seasons, Arya has been racking up bodies since leaving the House of Black and White, home to the Faceless Men assassins. In Season 7, Arya managed to knock out Walder Frey. But most of the people on her list have managed to get themselves killed without her. Only Cersei, the Red Woman, Ilyn Payne, The Mountain and The Hound still live (Beric Dondarrion was atop The Wall when it fell, it's unknown whether he survived).

There's little chance Game of Thrones will end without Arya snatching a few more scalps. She could easily merc Ilyn Payne. The Red Woman seems like a bit more of a challenge. But the most poignant of Arya's kills is likely to be The Hound, since they've shared several adventures together. Still, it's hard to imagine Arya allowing a Clegane to live. Instead, she might just wait long enough for The Hound to kill his brother.

The Faceless Men

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These guys are up to something. HBO

It's unlikely the Faceless Men will sit idly by as Arya murders half of Westeros' upper crust. But the return of the Faceless Men might spell trouble for more than the Starks. The Faceless Men may act as if they're neutral arbiters of death's desires, but could they have a concealed agenda? It's been widely theorized The Faceless Men get many of their hits from the Iron Bank of Braavos, essentially acting as the final word in debt collection.

An Heir with Dragons

Fans really want to see a Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen baby, even if it is the spawn of incest (Dany being Jon's secret aunt). But as much as we might want to see a happy ending between the two, there's one major obstacle: Daenerys can no longer have children after she sacrificed her child in a failed effort to save Khal Drogo's life. Or, at least, that's what Daenerys believes. "The dragons are my children," she tells Snow. "They're the only children I will ever have. Do you understand?"

But the pointed mention of her supposed infertility instead implies the opposite. What better way to defy fate than to birth an heir?

A Bronn Upgrade

This might be a small fan theory, but it's got a satisfying twist to it. While old battle buddies Bronn and Tyrion are currently on opposites side of the conflict (Bronn very nearly gets roasted by one of Daenerys' dragons), that probably won't be true for long, particularly considering Jaime is no longer loyal to Cersei. And what has Tyrion always promised Bronn? To pay double whatever anyone offers to betray him. As Bronn's assets swell—he went from sellsword to lord of Castle Stokeworth—it will only get harder for Tyrion to fulfill his end of the bargain. But what's better than one castle? How about two castles.

With Walder Frey dead, Bronn seems like a natural fit to take over The Twins once the war is over.

Bran the Everywhere Man

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There's probably going to be a lot of this in "Game of Thrones" Season 8. HBO

Not only does Bran have the greenseer power to see the past and future, but he can also alter events; a power Bran discovered when he accidentally fried Hodor's brain. Bran's ability to be anywhere and everywhere makes him a tempting locus for fan theories. One of the most popular is that Bran is actually Bran the Builder, the first Stark who built The Wall and Winterfell.
Since it's also been theorized that Bran the Builder was corrupted and became the Night's King, this would also make Bran the Night's King. Hell, maybe he's Daenerys too, who knows?

Why this makes sense or what it adds to the plot is hard to say, but there is a Bran theory that works without handing the keys to all history and reality over to the lad. Could it have been Bran whispering in the ear of Aerys Targaryen, the Mad King? In Season 6, Bran experiences a sprawling vision that spans moments throughout both the timeline of the series and hundreds of years in the past. Most notable is the Mad King, on his throne, shouting, "Burn them all!" This could be the Game of Thrones writers hinting at the widespread theory. Did Bran not just witness, but change the course of history, teeing up Robert's Rebellion and the War of the Five Kings? We'll find out in Season 8.

Azor Ahai

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The true identity of Azor Ahai will be one of the most important plot points in "Game of Thrones" Season 8. Hint: It's not Stannis. HBO

Everything depends on the identity of Azor Ahai, or The Prince That Was Promised. This is the prophecy that weaves its way all through Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire, alluded to by multiple characters. The basics suggest an ancient champion will be reborn, will take up the great sword Lightbringer, will "wake dragons from stone" and defeat the White Walkers, or, at least, cause "the darkness" to flee.

The whole dragon thing certainly makes Daenerys a likely candidate (despite many characters referring to Azor Ahai as "him"), but several others have been proposed. Much to Melisandre's discredit, Azor Ahai is definitely not Stannis Baratheon. Azor Ahai could be Beric Dondarrion, though he's more likely a misshapen reflection of the prophecy. Some people have even tried to squeeze Davos Seaworth into the prophecy's shape. The most favored candidate is Jon Snow, though it remains to be seen how he relates to dragons or when Lightbringer is to be reforged.

But sometimes prophecies are murky. While Game of Thrones is likely to make the identity of Azor Ahai quite clear, it would make just as much sense to leave it as is, with multiple characters embodying aspects of the prophecy.

Sam is the Feral Kid

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Samwell Tarly, looking appropriately skeptical at his chance of surviving Season 8. HBO

Less a fan theory than a proposed coda to the series, it's speculated that the entirety of Game of Thrones is being related by a single storyteller, similar to how the Feral Kid is revealed to be the narrator at the end of The Road Warrior.

That storyteller: Samwell Tarly, currently at Winterfell. Sam is positioned better than anyone to understand the full scope of the narrative, sharing with Bran the secret knowledge of Jon Snow's true parentage.

Ending with Samwell reading from a book to his assembled grandchildren sounds a little hokey, but maybe a little schmaltz is just what we'll need after six episodes of carnage.

Some of these theories are more outlandish than others, but each will have to wait just as long to be answered, when Game of Thrones returns for its final season in 2019.

'Game of Thrones' Season 8 Theories: Cersei, Daenerys, Bran, Bronn and Azor Ahai | Gaming