'Game Of Thrones' Season 6: Everything We Know So Far

There's still a lot we don't know about Game of Thrones, but as more and more details leak out it's getting harder to keep track of what we do know. So we've put together a handy guide of everything we know about Game of Thrones Season 6 so far, from casting updates to plot rumors and more.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Details

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Margaery

When Will Game of Thrones Season 6 Premiere?

While HBO has yet to announce a Game of Thrones Season 6 premiere date, the first five seasons debuted between late March and mid-April, so Season 6 likely will too. Shooting on Game of Thrones Season 6 began in July in Northern Ireland and Spain, and will continue until late this year.

Game of Thrones - Hardhome

Who's Directing Game of Thrones Season 6?

As we reported back in June, Game of Thrones has already revealed its list of directors for Season 6:

Episodes 1 and 2 will be directed by Jeremy Podeswa, who helmed Season 5's "Kill the Boy" and "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken." His other credits include episodes of HBO's Boardwalk Empire and Showtime's The Tudors.

Episodes 3 and 4 will be directed by Daniel Sackheim. He's new to Game of Thrones but has plenty of directing experience on other shows like FX's The Americans and Fox's Lie to MeHouse, and The X-Files.

Episodes 5 and 6 will be directed by Jack Bender, another Thrones newbie with a long list of non-Thrones credits. He's probably best known for his work on Lost, of which he directed 38 episodes. He's also worked on Under the DomeThe Sopranos, and Alias.

Episodes 7 and 8 will be directed by Mark Mylod, who directed "High Sparrow" and "Sons of the Harpy" in Season 5. He was a regular behind the camera on HBO's Entourage (23 episodes) and Showtime's Shameless (11 episodes).

Episodes 9 and 10 will be directed by Miguel Sapochnik, who gave us Season 5's "The Gift" and "Hardhome." You might remember the latter as the one with the massive wight attack, and Game of Thrones traditionally goes big for the ninth episode of this season.

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Tyrion in Meereen

Who's Writing Game of Thrones Season 6?

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will return, naturally. In addition, Bryan Cogman, who has written seven episodes including Season 5's "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken," has confirmed he'll pen two scripts for Season 6.

Meanwhile, author George R.R. Martin, who wrote one episode for each of the first four seasons, will not contribute a script in Season 6. The tl;dr version is that he's too busy writing A Song of Ice and Fire Book 6, The Winds of Winter. But if you want Martin's explanation in his own words, here you go:

Speaking of which... after wrestling with it for a month or so, I've decided not to script an episode for season six of GAME OF THRONES. Writing a script takes me three weeks, minimum, and longer when it is not a straight adaptation from the novels. And really, it would cost me more time than that, since I have never been good at changing gears from one medium to another and back again. Writing a season six script would cost me a month's work on WINDS, and maybe as much as six weeks, and I cannot afford that. With David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, and Bryan Cogman on board, the scriptwriting chores for season six should be well covered. My energies are best devoted to WINDS.

So When Does A Song of Ice and Fire Book 6 Come Out, Anyway?

Good question. George R.R. Martin said this spring that he'd like The Winds of Winter to come out before Game of Thrones Season 6 premieres, presumably to avoid having the show start spoiling the books. More recently, though, he's changed his tune a bit:

There was a period where I was worried about that. Then I said, to hell with that. Worrying about it isn't going to change it one way or another. I still sit down at the typewriter, and I have to write the next scene and the next sentence ... I'm just going to tell my story, and they're telling their story and adapting my books, and we shall see.

The one thing he can say for sure is that he doesn't want to publicly announce a timeline. "Don't ask me when the book is going to be done — I'll ask my minions to lop your head off," he joked.

But Martin's Spanish publisher may have spilled the beans. Editor Alejo Cuervo told a radio station that he expects The Winds of Winter to hit in 2016 "for sure... unless a meteorite falls."

Game of Thrones Season 5 Theon and Sansa

How Many Seasons of Game of Thrones Are Left?

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have said they envision Game of Thrones ending after Season 7, and the main cast is signed on through Season 7. HBO, on the other hand, wouldn't mind if the show stuck around through Season 10.

As of now, it looks like the most realistic guess is eight. Benioff and Weiss have conceded that eight seasons is a possibility, and HBO's president of programming Michael Lombardo has also said eight seasons seems likely. In any case, we are definitely past the halfway point of the series.

Game of Thrones Season 6 Casting

Who's Back in Game of Thrones Season 6?

We can expect all the major characters who are still alive to return next season, of course, including Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister, Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister, Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark, Maisie Williams as Arya Stark, etc.

In addition, we'll be welcoming back a few characters who haven't been seen in a while:

  • Isaac Hempstead Wright is back as Bran Stark for the first time since Season 4, along with Kristian Nairn as Hodor — which probably means we'll see Ellie Kendrick as Meera Reed as well.
  • Art Parkinson and Natalia Tena look likely to return as Rickon Stark and Osha, who were last seen in Season 3.
  • Gemma Whelan will be back as Yara Greyjoy, who last appeared in Season 4.
  • This last one is potentially a big spoiler, so highlight to read: [begin invisotext]Rory McCann is believed to be back as the Hound, after being left for dead by Arya at the end of Season 4.[end invisotext]

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Sam and Gilly

Who's New in Game of Thrones Season 6?

Along with all the returning cast members, Game of Thrones is bringing in some fresh meat. For starters, we'll be meeting Samwell Tarly's family:

  • Freddie Stroma will play Dickon Tarly, Sam's younger, handsomer, more athletic brother.
  • James Faulkner will play Randyll Tarly, Sam and Dickon's stern, imposing father.
  • Samantha Spiro will play Melessa Florent, Sam and Dickon's much nicer mother.
  • Rebecca Benson will play Talla Tarly, Sam's kind younger sister.

And we'll see a theater troupe putting on a play about recent events in King's Landing:

  • Richard E. Grant is the troupe leader, probably Izembaro from the books, and possibly the guy playing "Ned Stark."

Other new characters include Max von Sydow as the Three-Eyed Raven, replacing Struan Rodger from the Season 4 finale; Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy, Theon's uncle; and Sebastian Croft as a young Ned Stark, presumably in a flashback.

In addition, there are a few actors we know will appear, but not in what roles, including Ian McShane and the Icelandic band Of Monsters and Men (in a cameo). And on top of all that, there are other characters outlined in casting calls that don't seem to have been cast yet. Watchers on the Wall has all the details you could possibly want on that front.

Kit Harington as Jon Snow in Game of Thrones

Is Jon Snow in Game of Thrones Season 6?

Note: Season 5 spoilers and Season 6 speculation ahead.

It doesn't matter how many times the cast and crew insist "dead is dead" — those Jon Snow truther theories are going to stick around until Season 6 actually premieres.

The mystery here actually isn't whether Kit Harington will return as Snow. There's very good reason to believe he will, as the actor has been spotted near the set on multiple occasions. No, the big question is what form he'll take. The most boring, straightforward guess is that Harington is just back to play a corpse, like Jack Gleeson (Joffrey) and Charles Dance (Tywin) did after their characters died.

There's also the possibility he'll only appear in a flashback or dream sequence of some sort. Both devices have been employed by the show at various points. Remember when Jason Momoa came back as Khal Drogo for Dany's vision at the House of the Undying?

But the most intriguing (and possibly very spoiler-y) fan theory is that [begin invisotext]Jon Snow will be resurrected by Melisandre. There's precedent on the show for bringing back the dead — Beric Dondarrion, seen in Seasons 1 and 2, has been killed and revived multiple times by the red priest Thoros of Myr.[end invisotext]

Game of Thrones Season 5 - The Dance of Dragons

Game of Thrones Season 6 Plotline

NOTE: This section contains major spoilers for Seasons 1-5, some spoilers for Books 1-6, and some speculation about Season 6 that could turn out to be spoiler-y.

Game of Thrones Season 4 - Bran

Bran Stark

Last Seen: Finally meeting the Three-Eyed Raven in the Season 4 finale.

Next Up: According to the showrunners, Bran has spent Season 5 training with the Three-Eyed Raven offscreen. Think of it as Bran's own Luke Skywalker-like transformation. "Like, it would be far less interesting, after The Empire Strikes Back to have an hour-long movie in between Empire and Return of the Jedi where Luke is training," said David Benioff. "It's so much cooler to cut from end of Empire to beginning of Return, where he's become the Jedi."

Ramsay Bolton

Last Seen: Demolishing Stannis Baratheon's forces.

Next Up: There's not much concrete information on Ramsay's future at this point. Stannis is (probably) dead, so that's one problem out of the way for Ramsay. But he's just lost two of his most prized possessions — Sansa and Reek — so perhaps he'll make some effort to retrieve them next season.

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Sansa and Theon

The Greyjoys

Last Seen: Balon Greyjoy was last seen refusing to rescue his son Theon from the Boltons in Season 3. His daughter Yara was last seen trying and failing to rescue Theon in Season 4.

Next Up: So far the Iron Islands have been severely sidelined on the show, but that may change in Season 6. The casting of Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy and the return of Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy suggest we're about to see a kingsmoot, i.e., a ceremony to choose the next king of the Iron Islands.

Sansa Stark

Last Seen: Escaping Winterfell by leaping off a high wall and into the snow with Theon Greyjoy.

Next Up: Sophie Turner has reportedly been shooting around the Winterfell set, but beyond that all bets are off since Sansa's storyline has veered very far from the source material. If the show wants to bring her back to the books, though, she's probably headed back to the Vale.

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Brienne

Brienne of Tarth

Last Seen: Spending almost all of Season 5 waiting for Sansa to light a candle, only to give up right before Sansa actually lights the damn candle, and then wandering off to kill Stannis instead.

Next Up: Brienne's entire Season 5 storyline was created just for the show, so there's a good chance she'll spend Season 6 catching up with her book counterpart. If so, expect to see a lot more action. We don't want to get too deep into spoiler territory here, but if you're curious Vanity Fair has a great rundown of what might happen to Brienne next season. (Yes, they think Lady Stoneheart is a possibility.)

Jaime Lannister

Last Seen: Escorting his daughter Myrcella from Dorne back to King's Landing. After a touching father-daughter moment, she suddenly collapses and dies in his arms, having been poisoned by Ellaria.

Next Up: Word is Jaime is headed to the Riverlands, which could mean we're returning to Jaime's book storyline after an off-book detour to Dorne last season. In the novels, Riverrun (seat of House Tully) was besieged by Houses Lannister and Frey following the Red Wedding, and Jaime goes there to get Byrnden Tully to surrender.

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Margaery

King's Landing

Last Seen: Enjoying a religious uprising courtesy of the Faith Militant.

Next Up: It's difficult to guess what's next for our primary King's Landing characters (i.e., Cersei, Margaery, and Tommen). More generally, however, set photos indicate both the Tyrell soldiers and the Faith Militant will be running around the city in full force.

Samwell Tarly

Last Seen: Getting Jon Snow's permission to go to Oldtown with Gilly so he can study at the Citadel and become the new Maester of the Watch.

Next Up: It seems Sam will be reunited with his family in Season 6, seeing as the entire Tarly clan has been cast. Word is there's going to be a Tarly dinner scene, which should be pretty awkward seeing as the only reason Sam is in the Night's Watch is because his dad forced him to join as a way of disinheriting him.

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Tyrion

Tyrion Lannister

Last Seen: Left to rule Meereen on Daenerys' behalf, along with Missandei, Grey Worm, and Varys, while Jorah Mormont and Daario Naharis go off to look for her.

Next Up: Although she wouldn't get into specifics, Nathalie Emmanuel, who plays Missandei, teased some fun times ahead for the city-state's new ruling trio:

The dynamic of those three characters will be so fun to watch. You've got Tyrion who is just so comical, and then Missandei, who is very straight and collected, and very internal with her feelings, and then Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), who is almost emotionless altogether, as far as we're aware... So to put those two characters with a guy who just talks a lot, and is so funny, and is a bit of a drunk, a bit of a womanizer — it's setting up for a really interesting dynamic.

Daenerys Targaryen

Last Seen: Surrounded by a Dothraki khalasar after escaping the Sons of the Harpy on Drogon's back.

Next Up: If the show is following the books here, that khalasar will turn out to be headed up by Jhoqo. Formerly a lieutenant under Drogo, he declared himself a khal soon after Drogo's incapacitation. Jhoqo wasn't exactly a fan of Dany's, as he disliked the idea of a woman leading a khalasar. Wonder if he'll like her any more now that she's conquering entire cities?

Game of Thrones Season 5 - Arya

Arya Stark

Last Seen: Getting her revenge on Meryn Trant by stabbing him to death in a brothel. As punishment, Jaqen H'gar blinds her.

Next Up: Arya is still blind in Season 6 (or at least for part of Season 6), as confirmed by Maisie Williams. More recently, the actress teased that the character could be "fighting blind" in the new season. There's also a rumor that Arya will be headed to the Riverlands this season, and both the books (specifically, the Winds of Winter preview chapter "Mercy") and set photos suggest she'll be crossing paths with the theater troupe at some point.

Flashbacks

Last Seen: In the Season 5 premiere, showing us the creepy prophecy that's been haunting Cersei since her youth.

Next Up: There are strong hints that Season 6 will go into the Tower of Joy, the focus of a certain fan theory about Jon Snow's parentage.