As the premiere of the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones approaches, fans are preparing to say goodbye to their favorite characters. Winter is here, and it’s unclear who will make it to the last-ever episode without ending up on a long list of characters who’ve died on the HBO series.
Richard Dormer, who plays Lord Beric Dondarrion on the show, told BuzzFeed News that Game of Thrones’ reputation for killing off some of its major characters changed the television landscape and reshaped the idea of what viewers can expect in fictional storytelling. This shift, he said, started when Ned Stark was killed in Season 1.
“It was a game-changer for television in general because they went, ‘Here’s a character you’re going to love, get to know, and at the very last episode we’re going to cut his head off,’” Dormer said on BuzzFeed News’ Twitter morning show AM to DM.
“It just changed everything.”
Ned Stark’s death at the end of the first season was the catalyst for a number of heartbreaking and electrifying storylines. It set into motion a series of events that altered the whole series.
Fans also learned not to get too attached to their favorite characters, knowing they could die at any time. After Ned Stark’s death, Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Ramsay Bolton, Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin Lannister, and Olenna Tyrell were just a few major characters who followed.
“It set up the idea on the show that nobody is safe,” Dormer said. “Even the lead character is not safe.”
When the show left off at the end of Season 7, the future of Lord Beric, who’s also the head of House Dondarrion, seemed uncertain. Beric was at the Wall with Tormund, but it appears that his character survived to see at least the beginning of Season 8.
“Everybody you’re watching on screen could just go at any minute and I think that’s another thing that really was a game changer,” he said.
Watch the full interview below: