Game of Thrones Season 6 Character Catch-Up: Where Are They Now?
Ahead of the GoT season 6 premiere, we list the backstories and key plot lines of all the main characters.
If you’ve been watching HBO’s Game of Thrones since season 1 first aired, that means you’ve been following the stories of Westeros for more than five years. That, coupled with writer George RR Martin’s sprawling cast of characters and intricate family tree, means there’s many details that can become lost in memory.
Ahead of the world premiere of the first episode of Game of Thrones season 6, GameSpot has assembled an essential catch-up guide that details each character and their stories so far.
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Game of Thrones season 5 concluded with many of its major characters crestfallen and humbled, but none moreso than Cersei Lannister. Her final moments of the show depicted her walking across King's Landing, stripped naked with her hair shaved, pelted with waste from amassed onlookers, as part of an arranged public humiliation ordered by the High Sparrow.
Ironically, it was Cersei who cultivated High Sparrow's rise to power in King's Landing, as part of a wider plot to dismantle the Tyrells' standing. To that end it worked, but the popular religious leader, having been granted military powers, arrested Cersei on long-running rumours of adultery and incest.
Cersei concedes that a confession of adultery to the High Sparrow, and a subsequent walk of shame, is her only path to freedom. Her final moment in season 5 shows her covered in filth as she returns to the Red Keep. She is consoled by Maester Qyburn and cradled in the arms of the newest member of the Kingsguard, who is very likely to be the resurrected and mutated body of The Mountain. The scene ends with her looking back at the filth-splattered path she walked, and the High Sparrow's followers, with an envenomed glare.
The majority of Daenerys's story up to season 4 covered her extraordinary rise to power, from traded wife to the miraculous parent of three dragons, to the commander of the Unsullied, and ultimately as the ruler of Meereen. Season 5 depicts her political capitulation, having lost the confidence of Meereen's people after finding herself at odds with their customs and culture.
Making matters worse, she was constantly under threat of execution from the Sons of the Harpy, an insurgent group who attempted to take her life on several occasions. With each failed murder the Sons came closer, having vanquished Daenerys's trusted guard and adviser Ser Barristan, and gravely wounding the Unsullied commander Grey Worm.
At the conclusion of season 5's penultimate episode, The Sons of the Harpy have Daenerys surrounded in an amphitheatre, but she escapes to the sky after Drogon, her most senior and disobedient dragon, swoops in to save her.
Drogon takes her to a vast stretch of fields and mountains, of which the location is unknown. Soon afterwards she is ambushed by a khalasar of Dothraki. In seasons 1 and 2, a clan of Dothraki had worshipped her as Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea. But this unknown clan’s standing with her is deliberately not made clear (although in season 6 trailers it is suggested she is held captive). Unsure of her fate, Daenerys drops her ring in the grassy fields to leave a trail.
Few characters have travelled The Seven Kingdoms quite like Tyrion. His story has taken him to virtually every major location between The Wall at the coldest north and sun-kissed Meereen in the deepest south.
Tyrion's mark can be found at many of these iconic locations. He cunningly saved King's Landing at the Battle of Blackwater Bay, then married Sansa Stark under duress, was later wrongfully convicted of assassinating King Joffrey, lost a trial by combat that appeared to seal his fate, and still managed to escape after killing his father, and his lover Shae. In season 5 he fled to Meereen, before being captured by Ser Jorah Mormont, after which both of them were seized and traded by slavers, before meeting Daenerys and becoming her adviser. It is a miracle that his heart still beats.
After Daenerys's escape from Meereen, he is left as caretaker of the city, along with Varys.
Jorah, Missandei, Grey Worm, Daario Naharis
Along with Tyrion, these four loyal servants of Daenerys are left reeling from her escape from Meereen. It's likely they can still govern the city, with the Unsullied having ensured some control over its people. The real question is who stays to restore order in Meereen and who departs to search for their queen.
Jorah, who in one season 6 trailer appears to have found Daenerys's ring, may be the only one of the four looking for her. That in itself carries some troubling questions, as Jorah is shown in season 5 to have caught the usually fatal (and extremely infectious) greyscale disease.
Jon Snow is dead, probably. Or at the very least, if you want to split hairs, Jon Snow was killed. Or possibly, there was an attempt on his life. Nothing is certain.
The grim reaper has smiled on the Bastard of Winterfell virtually from the outset of the show, but the resourceful and honour-bound Crow has managed to survive all threats and battles, up until the end of season 5.
His downfall began when elected as the 998th Lord Commander of the Night's Watch. His grand plan, to forge an alliance with the Wildlings that his people had been fighting for generations, was perhaps Snow's best chance to resist the looming invasion of the White Walkers. But his radical ploy, to let the Free Folk walk through the northernmost border of the Seven Kingdoms and settle in the land, was deemed treachery by his brothers.
At the conclusion of season 5, he is lured from his chambers by his protégé Olly, and is subsequently stabbed multiple times by Ser Alliser Thorne and other rebels within The Night's Watch.
The final moments of season 5 show him bleeding out. How his likely death plays into season 6 has become the subject of intense speculation from fans...
...which brings us to Melisandre, the red priestess who has demonstrated both a lust for those bound for power as well has her own supernatural abilities. Just before Jon Snow's assassination, she is seen arriving at Castle Black.
Season 5 showcases the deep shortcomings of Melisandre's powers; her visions of Stannis Baratheon claiming the throne were deeply misplaced. Her beliefs that burning Shireen Baratheon alive would secure his victory were proven profoundly false. Fearing defeat, she absconds from Stannis's disastrous campaign to take Winterfell. Her arrival at Castle Black is deliberately left ambiguous.
Bran Stark, Meera Reed, Hodor
Bran is the first major character who was absent for an entire season in Game of Thrones, having not featured at all in S5.
He had played a key role in the four seasons prior, with his story taking him off the beaten path, heading north of Winterfell on a wild-goose chase, following the path of a three-eyed Raven that appears in his dreams.
Bran, along with Hodor, Meera and Jojen Reed, eventually come to a giant weirwood tree containing the Three-Eyed Raven, as foretold in one of Bran's visions. Suddenly, the group is attacked by Wights (Jojen is killed), before a Child of the Forest leads them away to a cave that, interestingly, radiates a magical power that kills Wights as soon as they enter it.
Inside the cave, the Three-Eyed Raven reveals himself to be a Greenseer, a title given to those who possess magical powers including the ability to see into the future. At the conclusion of his story in season 4, Bran asks the Three-Eyed Raven if he can be made to walk again.
He is told he cannot walk, but soon will be able to fly.
Ned Stark's feisty and vengeful daughter's path home has deviated so many times that her quest, and indeed her past, has faded in the process. Many of the people she sought to kill to
avenge her father (and subsequently the majority of her family) are already dead, while her family ties have slowly been killed off.
By the end of season 5, Arya was perhaps more lost than ever. As a student of Jaqen H'ghar, learning the dark arts of the assassin, her sense of sight has been taken away from her, perhaps as a way to train her other senses, but also as a punishment for insubordination.
Her sin was killing Meryn Trant, in an act of revenge for killing her former sword instructor Syrio Forel. But the assassination of one of her targets was a contravention of H’ghar’s cult, as she is forbidden to take a life that wasn't hers to take, and also stole a face to wear as a disguise in order to get close to Meryn. In the aftermath she was blinded, though this was not just a punishment, as depriving her senses is a key stage in her training as an assassin.
Lady Sansa and Theon of Greyjoy
The unrelenting tragedies of both these characters ends in season 5 with the two united again, jumping off a wall in Winterfell, as part of a desperate bid to escape the recently legitimised Ramsay Bolton.
Although the show doesn't answer whether either survived the fall, a season 6 trailer shows both running through the woods hand-in-hand, seemingly not particularly injured by the drop. Other snippets and trailers appear to suggest Theon has been caught, while Sansa escaped.
Considering the horror scenes of Theon's captivity at the hands of Ramsay (castration, sleeping in a kennel, psychological dismantling), how he will be treated if Ramsay recaptures him could lower the show to even darker scenes of depravity.
Sansa's next steps are unclear. She was married into the Boltons by Baelish, who convinced her that this will be an opportunity for her to enact revenge on the men who had a hand in killing so many people in her family.
Brienne of Tarth
Brienne concludes her story in season 5 by dealing a fatal blow to a wounded Stannis Baratheon. Battling with him and his mercenary army was not her first choice, but more a matter of necessity due to Baratheon's march onto Winterfell.
Brienne was watching over Winterfell on the lookout for Sansa, as earlier in the season she swore allegiance to her, as part of a promise to Sansa's mother, Catelyn Stark.
Now that Sansa appears to have escaped Winterfell, Brienne's next steps are not perfectly clear, though she is still sworn to find her.
The Faceless Man of Braavos is the grindstone sharpening Arya Stark’s blade of justice. Having met her in King’s Landing, he smuggles her out after the execution of her father, Ned Stark. The mysterious assassin then takes her in as his apprentice and the two spend much of season 5 at the House of Black and White, where he teaches her how to become “no one.”
His training methods seem to be inconsequential tasks such as sweeping floors and bathing dead bodies, but, over time, he reveals that it was all in aid of teaching Arya to expunge her previous identity. He wants her to become a blank canvas on which another person can be painted.
H’ghar asks Arya to dispose of Needle, the blade given to her by brother Jon Snow, and thereby cast aside one of the remaining anchors to her former life. He then shows her the Hall of Faces, a cavernous chamber lined with great stone pillars. Within each of these are hundreds of faces, all which the Faceless Men can assume.
Although he deems Arya is not ready to become “no one,” he allows her to become “someone else” in order to track and poison The Thin Man, a businessman on the docks. Arya abandons her mission and instead kills Meryn Trant, who murdered her sword-fighting instructor Syrio Forel back in King’s Landing.
She is judged by H’ghar as violating the code of the Faceless Men for taking a life that was not hers to take. As penance he drinks the vial of deadly poison he gave Arya and falls to the floor. Arya reaches down to H’ghar’s body and begins to pull off many faces, until she reaches her own. Gazing upon her own visage she goes blind. Nearby, H’ghar re-emerges, this time in the body of The Waif, another acolyte of House of Black and White.
Ramsay and Roose Bolton
Considering the Bolton's command of Winterfell was under threat from Stannis Baratheon, the unfolding developments of season 5 were relatively fortunate for the pair, albeit deplorable. Ramsay gets legitimised by Roose, then marries Sansa (after which he rapes her), then undermines Stannis's attack by destroying his horses and food tents with just twenty good men.
But after crushing Stannis's army, the Boltons return to Winterfell to find that Theon and Sansa have absconded, and Ramsay's mistress Myranda has been killed in the process. How they enact revenge, and if they are able to, could be a key story of season 6.
Jaime concludes season 5 on a ship voyage back to King's Landing with his daughter Myrcella aboard, apparently having secured her safe passage from Dorne.
But Myrcella is killed from a poison administered to her lips by Ellaria Sand. How Jamie and Myrcella's mother Cersei respond to this will likely be a key plot point in season 6.
In one trailer for season 6, Jaime is shown saying to Cersei, "Everything they have taken from us we're going to take back and more." This threat could be aimed at The High Sparrow, however, as Jaime is also shown with a platoon of armed guards outside the Sept of Baelor.
In season 5 the Spider of Westeros flees King’s Landing for Pentos, taking Tyrion with him at the behest of his brother, Jaime. While there, he reveals his machinations have all been in aid of returning the Targaryens to the Iron Throne and believes the sharp-minded dwarf could be the guiding hand Daenerys needs. Varys and Tyrion leave Pentos and begin their journey to Meereen, hiding Tyrion in a wooden box to avoid attracting attention to him, which would be problematic given that he had just murdered one of the most powerful man in Westeros, his father, Tywin Lannister.
Stopping off at Volantis, Varys lets Tyrion out briefly and the two explore the markets. This proves to be a mistake, as Tyrion is promptly kidnapped by Jorah, who delivers him to Daenerys in the hopes that he will regain her favour. He doesn’t.
Tyrion reveals Varys is loyal to the last of the Targaryens, a story she is reticent to believe considering he also attempted to have her assassinated. She is told that Varys did this in order to protect himself which, in turn, allowed him to ensure Daenerys’s safety.
Varys eventually reconnects with Tyrion, who has been taken on by Daenerys as her advisor. The master of secrets pledges to help Tyrion and Daenerys to ensure they maintain control over Meereen, a city on the verge of tearing itself apart.
Littlefinger, Petyr Baelish
The Iago character of Game of Thrones has a weakness for weaving elaborate webs to exploit others and mask his intentions, but he's beginning to come unstuck.
After marrying Sansa Stark into the Boltons at Winterfell, in season 5 he returns to King's Landing and, after having discovered the Sparrows have destroyed his brothels, meets with Cersei.
She explains her desire to take Winterfell from the Boltons, upon which Littlefinger reminders her that he is the Lord of the Vale. His bargain is simple; if he takes Winterfell, he would like to be made Warden of the North.
Cersei explains that she wants to see Sansa's head on a spike, which, if you believe Littlefinger is sympathetic to the plight of Ned Stark's daughter (it is strongly implied he is falling in love with her), makes his mission a little more complex.
Things worsen still, as Olenna Tyrell asks Littlefinger to help free her grandchildren--Margaery and Loras--from the High Sparrow's imprisonment (which, complicating matters further, Cersei had partly orchestrated). Olenna threatens Littlefinger, explaining that if he does not help, she will expose his hand in King Joffrey's murder.
The High Sparrow
The High Sparrow's rise to power culminates in season 5, with Cersei anointing him as High Septon and later restoring the Faith Militant; an order that allows him to dispense justice and bear arms.
His new powers were administered without mercy, having imprisoned Margaery Tyrell for lying to the gods, along with Cersei for adultery. At the conclusion of season five, he sets Cersei free after she confesses adultery, but not before she takes a deeply humiliating walk of shame, naked, across King's Landing.
Various trailers for season six show that Cersei and Jaime Lannister resisting the High Sparrow and his Sparrows, suggesting a civil war is on the cards.
This fearsome warrior formally known as Gregor Clegane was poisoned in a fight to the death with Oberyn Martell, upon which he was presumed dead. It is implied he survived after being experimented on, Frankenstein-style, by the crazed alchemist Qyburn. Introduced only as “the newest member of the king’s guard”, this mutated monster has become Cersei's key guard. Trailers for season 6 have teased he will be set loose on the Sparrows as his master seeks to regain control of King's Landing.
This mild mannered King of the Seven Kingdoms is manipulated by his closest allies, from his mother Cersei to his (now imprisoned) wife Margaery. He has vowed to free Margaery from captivity at the hands of The High Sparrow, but was talked out of it by Cersei. He's now in a strop.
Captured by the high Sparrow in season 5 for lying to the gods at a trial. Both Tommen and her grandmother Olenna want her freed. A trailer for season 6 shows her bowing before The High Sparrow.
In a move that seems out of character for the methodical Olenna, she begins to play a dangerous game by giving Littlefinger an ultimatum: Free her grandchildren Margaery and Loras from the High Sparrow, or she will reveal Littlefinger's hand in the assassination of King Joffrey.
Stannis, Shireen, and Selyse Baratheon
Stannis's fate is sealed. He burned his daughter Shireen alive at the behest of Melisandre to secure victory over the Boltons of Winterfell. That, in hindsight, was a spectacular failure. His army of mercenaries, funded by the Iron Bank of Braavos, largely desert him due to both the appalling scene of sacrifice, along with the impossibly cold snow storm that has engulfed them.
Later he discovers his wife has committed suicide (or has been hung by the mercenaries). Melisandre deserts him too, and the remaining few men left are swept up by the Bolton army. Hiding in the woods, Stannis is found by Brienne of Tarth, who appears to kill him.
Having rode to Winterfell seeking Jon Snow's support in fighting with Stannis, he discovers his king has died after Melisandre arrives at Winterfell. In one of the season 6 trailers, he appears to be protecting Jon Snow's corpse from other members of the Night's Watch.
In season 5, Bronn was poisoned whilst on a failed mission to safely return Myrcella Lannister to King's Landing. At the same time got real close with his assassin Tyene Sand, who gave him an antidote in exchange for saying she is the most beautiful woman he has ever met.
Ellaria Sand, Doran Martell, Trystane Martell
Ellaria, having pledged fealty to Prince Doran of Dorne, goes against his wishes and kills Myrcella Lannister as an act of revenge for the death of Oberyn Martell. How Doran responds, knowing that his son Trystane is in the Lannister's custody, is unknown.
The White Walkers
For five seasons now Game of Thrones has teased their invasion into Westeros (S3 ended with a shot of them approaching the Wall), and while the dreaded invasion still hasn't arrived, season 5 provided a dramatic demonstration of the White Walker's lethality.
The battle of Hardhome offered insight into the White Walker's powers to reanimate and possess their victims, as well as their internal hierarchy. A luring shot of the Night's King at the end of the Hardhome scene was perhaps the most foreboding White Walker scene yet. Make no mistake, winter is coming.