It's somehow only been eight years since Game of Thrones first hit our TV screens, but truly nothing has been the same ever since. This global phenomenon captured our collective attention in a way that can only be described as obsessive, and even with the end in sight, our obsession is showing no signs of slowing down.
And as we gear up for the debut of the final season on Sunday, April 14, it's the perfect time to wax nostalgic and look back on the past seven seasons of drama in the seven kingdoms, all leading to the inevitable war with the Night King and his army of undead White Walkers now that they've broken through south of The Wall.
Most of the characters we've met have died (most of the time in the most gruesome deaths imaginable), but 10 of our favorites have thankfully (and shockingly, tbh) made it to the final season alive. Seven seasons of war and fighting for survival in Westeros has definitely taken its toll, though, so check out the top 10 Game of Thrones characters, then vs. now, to see how much they've all changed from the very beginning of the show!
Then: just a Red Woman, looking for her Lord of Light, birthing shadow demon babies and trying to seduce anyone with King's blood in their veins.
Now: Still on Arya's kill list (oh, girl, you in danger), still prophesizing about Azor Ahai, aka "the prince (or princess) that was promised," fated to die in Westeros and currently traveling to Volantis.
9. Samwell Tarly
Then: a steward in the Night's Watch, Jon Snow's BFF and just trying to find his place in the world.
Now: he holds the key to the ultimate answer of who deserves to sit on the Iron Throne. He knows the truth about Jon Snow's parentage, and how to kill White Walkers. But will anyone believe him?
8. Sandor Clegane aka The Hound
Then: loyal to the Lannisters, bodyguard for Joffrey, carrying out evil tasks like killing Arya's friend Mycah. Hates his brother The Mountain for burning his face as a child.
Now: having gone through quite the change of heart, Sandor is now on the path towards redemption. He's managed to get his name crossed off Arya's kill list. He's seen a vision in the flames of the Night King's army. Still hates his brother The Mountain for burning his face as a child. The Clegane Bowl is one of the most anticipated moments of the final season, when these badass brothers finally fight to the death.
7. Cersei Lannister
Then: hiding her incestuous sexual relationship with her twin brother. Married to King Robert. Friendly (kind of) to the Starks.
Now: completely out in the open with her incestuous sexual relationship with her twin brother. She's expecting (again!) after losing all her other children. Totally power hungry and would rather attack Daenerys' army than unite with her enemies against the growing White Walker threat.
6. Jaime Lannister
Then: willing to do anything (like pushing a little boy out of the window in a tall tower) for his twin sister, who he loved extremely inappropriately. Known as the Kingslayer, he was living his best life, free to do whatever he pleased. Until, that is, the secret of him fathering Cersei's children started to leak and he became a prisoner of the Starks.
Now: disgusted by Cersei's actions and her unwillingness to set aside petty differences in the face of the White Walker threat, Jaime left Cersei, figuratively and literally. He's keeping his oath to Dany and Jon Snow to fight with them against the Night King and was last seen heading North.
5. Sansa Stark
Then: spoiled, ambitious young girl who was obsessed with becoming a Lannister and royalty. In love (or at least in like) with Joffrey. Hated her little sister Arya.
Now: Regent Queen of the North, back at Winterfell after a traumatic and dangerous life in King's Landing. Proud of her Stark family legacy and a skilled, intelligent, strategic ruler. United with her sister Arya in taking down Littlefinger.
4. Tyrion Lannister
Then: the hard-drinking, brothel-loving black sheep of the family may have been a Lannister by name, but the way his family treated him it was clear that all was not well. His slap of Joffrey was an iconic moment.
Now: allied with Dany against his own sister Cersei. One of the most strategic players left in the game. Came up with the plan to unite all enemies by bringing proof of White Walkers to King's Landing. Successfully swayed Jaime into leaving Cersei and fighting for the right cause.
3. Arya Stark
Then: a young girl who would rather learn to swordfight than be a princess. Fiercely loyal to her friends, but butted heads with her own sister Sansa over their different views on the world. When disaster struck her family, she began to recite a kill list of everyone who wronged the Starks.
Now: a skilled assassin committed to finishing crossing the names off her kill list. Finally back home at Winterfell after an epic journey across Westeros, she's reunited with Sansa and Bran and finally got her revenge on Littlefinger. But she has yet to reunite with her most beloved brother Jon Snow.
2. Daenerys Targaryen
Then: a young girl with no family besides a jerk of a brother, sold into marriage to the Dothraki leader to gain an army. Her tiny baby dragons born in the fire from her husband's body being burnt at the stake was just a small taste of her strength to come.
Now: a full-fledged mother of full-grown dragons, leader of an army, fighting for the Iron Throne and maybe a bit more power-hungry and eager to burn people alive with her dragons than her advisors like. Potentially Azor Ahai. But she just lost one dragon to the Night King, who turned it into a White Walker dragon. Plus she just boned her nephew (but she doesn't know they're related).
1. Jon Snow
Then: a bastard with no family legacy to his name. He joined the Night's Watch to earn his own honor.
Now: not only is he the King of the North, claiming his family's land and people as his own for the first time in his life, he actually has more honor and legacy than he even knows. He's confirmed to be Aegon Targaryen, the legitimate child of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, making him an heir to the Iron Throne. He could also be Azor Ahai. But he's bent the knee to Dany, meaning he might have given up his claim to the throne without even realizing it. But he's also romantically connected to Dany now, which will be awkward when they find out he's her nephew. Ew.