Warning! Potential SPOILERS below for Game of Thrones Season 8!
Boasting the most popular television show in the world brings with it some unique problems, as HBO continues to discover with Game of Thrones. While basking in the phenomenal success of the series, the network has also been plagued with issues such as hackers blackmailing them and posting scripts and entire episodes online, as well as the series being pirated over a billion times. As production ramps up this fall to shoot the final 6 episodes which will comprise season 8, the complication now on the minds behind Game of Thrones is how to prevent the hotly anticipated ending of the series from being leaked?
The answer: shoot multiple versions of the ending, according to HBO's Casey Bloys. The plan is reportedly to shoot four versions of the series' conclusion. It's an ingenious strategy designed to fool not just paparazzi who will be stalking the set trying to capture spoilers, but also the series' rabid fanbase, who all have guesses and theories about how Game of Thrones - which has long since surpassed the popularity of the still-incomplete A Song of Ice and Fire cycle of novels from creator George R.R. Martin - will ultimately conclude.
The multiple endings plan, of course, creates its own fun guessing game: What will the four endings be? And then the biggest question of all: which of the four endings will be the real ending? With this in mind, we do what the Three-Eyed Raven can't and peer into the future to guess the final fate of Westeros and the men and women who dwell within.
ENDING 1: EVERYONE DIES
Game of Thrones is one of the most bloodthirsty television shows ever and has never been shy about killing off its main characters, starting with the purported hero of the series Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in season 1. Our parting sight of season 7 was of the eastern section of the Wall being blown to pieces by the Night King and his undead dragon Viserion, followed by the hundred thousand zombies comprising the Army of the Dead crossing over into the mainland of Westeros. Now that the White Walkers have truly begun their invasion, we still don't know if the combined forces of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), the Northern army led by Jon Snow (Kit Harington), and the Lannister troops we expect Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to assemble will be enough to actually defeat the undead.
It's very possible they won't be able to. Even with the dragonglass Jon is mining from Dragonstone and forging into weapons, Daenerys' two living dragons Rhaegal and Drogon, the few Valyrian steel swords in existence, and the Dothraki and Unsullied armies Daenerys brought from Essos, the forces of the living may not be able to stand against the evil magic of the Night King. There's a lot of speculation about what the Night King's ultimate endgame is - something none of the characters have even considered besides their overarching fear of all of them being killed. Thus far, the Night King has simply been unstoppable. Will Game of Thrones end with everyone turned into Wights and the Night King bringing winter to the Iron Throne - as Daenerys once saw in a vision when she was trapped in the House of the Undying in season 2?
Admittedly, the 'everyone dies, evil wins' scenario - while not unthinkable - is far-fetched, even for Game of Thrones. Season 7 has been introducing rays of hope that weren't there before, from the reunion of the Stark siblings at Winterfell, to Jaime rebelling against his sister/lover Cersei (Lena Headey), to the romance that has blossomed between Daenerys and Jon Snow. The Night King murdering everyone and being victorious would be quite a slap in the face to the fans who have been watching all along hoping for good to ultimately triumph over evil. But again, this is Game of Thrones, and, though it's a cynical ending, everyone in Westeros being wiped out is certainly one way to cure Westeros of all of its ills. The Night King being unbeatable has also been set up from the very beginning.