Game of Thrones comes back for its eighth and final season on 15 April. The final six episodes will (hopefully) wrap up several years of stories, character journeys, and clever Tyrion Lannister one-liners. But sometimes it’s hard to remember exactly what happened on this series that started way back in 2011. So, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to recap the past seven seasons of the hit HBO series, getting you all caught up before winter finally arrives.
The video above has your recap of season one of Game of Thrones, but we also have all the highlights below. Obviously, spoilers for season one.
- The series opens with the death of Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King. Now that King Robert Baratheon is without a right-hand man, he heads to Winterfell to ask Ned Stark, the Warden of the North, to replace him. Ned isn’t sure about this, but Robert says that if he does, then Ned’s daughter Sansa Stark can marry his first-born son, Joffrey Baratheon, which will eventually make her Queen of the Seven Realms.
- Robert also pays tribute to Ned’s dead sister, Lyanna Stark, who was kidnapped by the then-king’s son, Rhaegar Targaryen, leading to her death and “Robert’s Rebellion.” Robert puts a feather on Lyanna’s statue and notes how not all the Targaryens are dead.
- Ned Stark agrees to join Robert as Hand of the King, and they head out to the capital of King’s Landing, with Sansa and her younger sister Arya Stark in tow. Ned leaves behind his eldest son, Robb Stark (in charge at Winterfell), his other sons Brandon and Rickon Stark, and his ward, Theon Greyjoy.
- Also, they find direwolf puppies. Those are important.
- Soon after arriving in King’s Landing, Ned Stark discovers that things aren’t going too well for the kingdom. The High Council is filled with a bunch of schemers—notably, famed brothel owner Petyr Baelish and Varys, the Master of Whispers (spymaster). Plus, the kingdom is massively in debt to Queen Cersei’s father, Tywin Lannister.
- Plus, there’s a rumor going around that Jon Arryn’s death wasn’t an accident, that he was killed for learning a shocking secret. And what’s that secret? That Cersei Lannister has been having an affair with her twin brother, Jaime—and Robert isn’t the father of their children, Joffrey, Tommen, and Myrcella. Westeros doesn’t look too kindly on incest, as it’s against both of its main religions—the old gods, and the Faith of the Seven.
- Ned Stark does the stupid thing of telling Cersei he knows about the incest, which she doesn’t really care to deny. He also sends a letter to Robert’s brother, Stannis Baratheon, to let him know what’s going on. But before Robert himself can find out, he’s injured in a hunting accident and dies. Cersei immediately declares Joffrey king and has Ned arrested for treason.
- Ned agrees to confess to his so-called “crimes” and join the Night’s Watch—a group of men who guard the Wall in the north—in order to save his family, but Joffrey changes his mind at the last second and has Ned executed.
- Sansa is forced to watch her father die and then taken prisoner. But Arya, who’s been training to fight for the past few months, manages to escape, disguised as a boy. She heads to the Wall with the new recruits for the Night’s Watch—her special sword Needle (a gift from her bastard brother, Jon Snow) in tow.
- The Lannisters end the season on the Iron Throne, but they’re surrounded by enemies. Not only is Robb declared the King in the North, effectively seceding the northern lands from the Seven Kingdoms, but both Stannis Baratheon and his younger brother Renly are now vying for the crown.
- We open the show Beyond the Wall, as members of the Night’s Watch come across a ritualistic display of butchered wildling bodies. They’re then confronted by the White Walkers, and only one of them manages to escape. He’s later beheaded by Ned Stark for desertion. (Thanks John W. for the reminder!)
- Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow has joined the Night’s Watch, a group of men who protect the realm from everything that lies beyond, but he finds it’s not everything he signed up for. Not only is the group filled with criminals and degenerates, but he’s also assigned to serve as a steward for Lord Commander Mormont—alongside his new friend, Samwell Tarly.
- But winter is coming, and the dead are coming back to life. It even happens at the Wall, with Jon Snow fighting a reanimated brother of the Night’s Watch to save the Lord Commander. Mormont gives Jon his family’s sword Longclaw as a gift.
- Things don’t start out too well for young Brandon Stark. After catching Queen Cersei having sex with her twin brother, Jaime, Bran’s pushed out of a window and winds up paralysed from the waist down.
- He also starts having strange dreams about a three-eyed raven—something he later learns his younger brother, Rickon, has also been having.
- While in a coma, Bran’s attacked by an assassin carrying a very unique dagger—prompting his mother, Catelyn Stark, to launch an investigation. She’s told by Petyr, who’s secretly in love with her, that the dagger belonged to Cersei and Jaime’s brother, Tyrion. Catelyn ends up apprehending Tyrion and bringing him for a trial at her sister’s castle. But he requests a “trial by combat” and wins, thanks to his new friend Bronn, so he doesn’t stay there long.
- Meanwhile, Tywin Lannister is pissed off that his son was captured, so he sends an army to the Riverlands to retaliate. Only, it doesn’t work. Robb Stark, who’s reeling from Ned’s capture and execution, has amassed an army of his own. They outsmart Tywin’s forces and successfully take Jaime Lannister prisoner.
- Way over in the country of Essos, you’ve got Daenerys Targaryen. She and her brother Viserys are the last known Targaryens, the previous rulers of Westeros who could control dragons, which are now extinct. They fled Westeros after Robert’s Rebellion and the death of their father, the Mad King—who was stabbed in the back by Jaime Lannister, his Kingsguard, earning him the nickname “Kingslayer.”
- Viserys wants to take the Iron Throne back, so he forges an alliance with the Dothraki by marrying his sister to their leader, Khal Drogo. At her wedding, she meets a sellsword and Westeros exile named Jorah Mormont—who pledges his service—and is given three fossilised dragon eggs.
- Daenerys and Drogo fall in love, and she becomes pregnant with their son. King Robert attempts to have her killed, but Jorah—who was previously working as a spy for Varys—changes allegiance and saves her life. Daenerys also realises Viserys is a whiny brat, who even tried to steal her dragon eggs at one point, so Drogo kills him by pouring liquid gold on top of his head.
- But it isn’t long before Drogo himself is injured in a fight. Daenerys, wanting to save her husband, turns to a witch to cure him. But the witch, a victim of Dothraki cruelty, curses them instead. Daenerys’ baby dies, covered in scales, and Drogo is left catatonic. She chooses to end his life.
- At his funeral, Daenerys frees all the Dothraki slaves and gives them the choice to stay with her, before laying her dragon eggs on the funeral pyre and stepping into the flames. She emerges the next morning, naked and unharmed, with her three new children. The dragons have returned.
Stay tuned for season two!