Game of Thrones has a long and interesting history of either lying to its fans or assuming we’re stupid. Now, some of the lying sort of has to happen (why anyone thought that ANYONE involved in the show would spill the Jon Snow beans immediately after last season ended when they probably NDA’ed away their lives, I don’t know) but some of it is so overt and ridiculous that I’m not sure why they bother. Like this interview where they insist that this upcoming season won’t spoil the unreleased/unwritten books. This is ridiculous. OBVIOUSLY there are plot points that have not been confirmed or revealed in the books that are going to turn up in this season. There are a few I’m dead certain of, and a few more that I’m pretty certain we’ll at least get hints of. But there are definitely some things that don’t seem like they’re going to be covered in the show at all that are still interesting and will make it worth waiting for the books. Spoilers below for all the books and all seasons of Game of Thrones.
The Fate of Jon Snow: A Dance with Dragons ended with a stabbed Jon Snow fading to black. The fifth season of the show ended with a stabbed Jon Snow bleeding out on the ground. It looks like Jon Snow is DEFINITELY in this coming season of Game of Thrones which means we can assume he will live in the books. Sure, there are people in the books who are dead in the show and vice versa, but we’re talking secondary or tertiary characters like Xaro Xhoan Daxos or Ser Barristan. Our main cast? It’s safe to assume that if they’re still on the show, they’re going to be showing up in The Winds of Winter.
Jon Snow’s Parents: The books have hinted around a lot about who Jon Snow’s REAL parents are, but so far there’s no explicit confirmation. If some rumors about shooting locations and casting for this upcoming season are true, and the trailer seems to show that they are, then it’s likely we’ll learn the truth about Rhaegar and Lyanna; if they were in love, if she went with him willingly, if she died giving birth to their son.
The Battle of the Bastards: The trailer showed a lot of battle scenes in Westeros, and the showrunners have promised us a massive battle this season. There were no major battles in A Dance With Dragons in Westeros, but at the end of the books Jon is trying to rally members of the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings to ride with him to take back Winterfell from Ramsay Snow/Bolton. Then he’s “killed.” Show Jon was already killed, and perhaps once he’s not dead anymore he will be released from his vows and free to lead a charge on Winterfell and the Boltons.
Things the show will PROBABLY spoil, but might not.
Clegane Bowl: There’s a new King’s Guard member who looks an awful lot like the reanimated corpse of Gregor Clegane. The last time we saw The Hound/Sandor Clegane he was presumably mortally wounded in the countryside where Arya left him. Book readers have seen a new monk of suspiciously large stature on a nearby island with a very familiar horse, leading them to wonder if Sandor Clegane will end up returning to challenge what’s left of his brother as The Faith’s champion in Cersei’s trial by combat. Given how popular The Hound is with viewers, it seems like something the show would want to fast track.
Balon’s True Killer: The Greyjoys are coming this season, but it looks like they’ve rolled a few brothers up into one character, and a scene from the trailer makes me think they’ve decided to have Euron be the one who kills Balon. In the books, it’s heavily suggested that a Faceless Man kills Balon just prior to Euron’s return. That Faceless Man then ends up somewhere else in Westeros, which the show’s Faceless Man had business back in Braavos training Arya.
Daenerys’ Return: There are two key pieces of prophecy regarding Dany from the books that are not mentioned much in the show. Mirri Maz Durr, the medicine woman who poisoned Drogo, tells Daenerys he will come back to her “When the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, when the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves. When your womb quickens again, and you bear a living child. Then he will return, and not before.” And Quaithe, the mysterious red priestess, tells her “To go north, you must journey south, to reach the west you must go east. To go forward you must go back and to touch the light you must pass beneath the shadow.” So far the books have been more literal about the prophecies than the show, but it seems clear that Daenerys is retracing her steps to Vaes Dothrak. It makes the most sense that she would head either to Meereen or Westeros, but in the books the “sun” (represented by Quentyn) rose in the West and set in the East, could her next move be to Asshai by the Shadow? Maybe.
Things the show almost definitely WON’T spoil:
Oldtown: At last check in, we had Sam, a Sand Snake in disguise, a Faceless Man, a mysteriously burning glass candle, and a possible centuries-long plot against magic brewing in Oldtown. Something is probably going down there, but it’s not going down on the show.
Rickon: Bran may be getting his moment in the sun this season, managing to reveal key plot elements from a cave in the far north as he becomes a tree, but the fate of the youngest Stark has been all but forgotten on the show. It seems unlikely that we’ll be checking in with him on TV before we see him in the books.
Benjen Stark: I kind of hope we never find out what happened to Benjen. He’s like the Fireworks Factory of Game of Thrones and while Martin and the showrunners only have themselves to blame when people doubt that someone’s dead until they see a literal rotting corpse, (and that’s only strongly suggestive of death) I really hope they never return to give us an answer. Maybe he’s run off with the Children of the Forest! Maybe he’s a wight! Maybe he’s gone to the far north to lead the Thenns! Maybe he sneaked back across the wall to become a traveling bard under an assumed name! We’ll never know! (But he’s probably just dead.)