Game of Thrones season 8: How to rewatch, and what's next for Westeros

Winter has come and gone here, the dead have been vanquished, and a new king now reigns.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, generational studies. Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
4 min read

Daenerys was so close to landing that Iron Throne. Or was she?


The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is over, after endless headlines, theories and much speculation.

The series finale aired on May 19, and torched HBO rating records much as Drogon torched the Iron throne. (Too soon?) Not everyone is a fan of the newest ruler of the Six Kingdoms (no longer Seven because Sansa pulled a Brexit). And some thought a certain queen's madness came a little too quickly to be believed. But at least we finally got Jon Snow giving Ghost his who's-a-good-boy scritches.

See all the Game of Thrones season 8 photos

See all photos

The show, based of course on George R.R. Martin's book series A Song of Ice and Fire, began eight years ago, and that's forever in TV time. The youngest actors literally have grown up with the show, especially Arya, Bran and Sansa.

Game of Thrones stars, from season 1 through today

See all photos

Where's that book?

Fans who don't know what they'll do after the series has ended can't even console themselves with Winds of Winter, the next George R.R. Martin book in the saga, because ha ha ha boo hoo hoo

But the book, like winter, is coming. Just before Thanksgiving 2018, Martin told The Wall Street Journal he was at a remote mountain cabin where he goes to "hunker down" and write, and that he's "hard at work" on Winds of Winter. He wouldn't give spoilers, but he said he had a master plan, despite the events of the TV show. 

"I'm still going to finish it the way I always wanted to finish it, the way it's been in my head for 25 years now," Martin said.

Martin also spoke up about Winds of Winter in August 2018. Then, he noted some people have died on screen who won't die in the books. (Margaery? Hodor? Shireen? We can dream...) Despite what Martin said, he's not adverse to killing major characters on the page too -- and blames J.R.R. Tolkien's Gandalf, of all people.

How to rewatch

To rewatch the final season, you'll need a subscription to HBO (or a friend with one), but if you don't have cable, you can pay for HBO Now, a streaming subscription version of HBO that doesn't require a regular cable subscription (or even a TV). Not sure you'll like it? You can stream HBO Now free for 30 days. And you can catch up on past seasons via HBO, Blu-ray, DVD and 4K Ultra Blu-ray. Past seasons are also available on Hulu with an HBO Premium Add-on

Meet the cast

Here's a list of the major cast members who survived to the final season. Spoiler: Not all of their characters were still breathing when the final credits rolled.

See the sets

Even though the show has ended, fans will be able to relive the terrors and triumphs of Westeros by visiting the Game of Thrones sets in Northern Ireland. HBO isn't confirming a lot of details for what will be called the Game of Thrones Legacy attractions, but the sets for Winterfell, Castle Black and King's Landing could be included, and costumes, props, weapons and other items will be on display.

Inside the workshop where Game of Thrones swords are made

See all photos

What's up with the GOT spinoffs?

George R.R. Martin doesn't want to call them spinoffs, but HBO is working on as many as five "successor shows" taking place in the Game of Thrones universe. Martin has said fans should not look for any familiar faces, as all of the new shows will take place before the time period depicted in Game of Thrones. It's not yet known if all, or how many, of the shows will actually make it to air.

Watch this: Game of Thrones season 8 finale: Our watch has ended

But one has definitely advanced more than others. Martin called it The Long Night, then had to say that's not the official title (but if we had to guess... it is). It looks to be about the mysterious Children of the Forest -- check out our guide to what we know so far.

In May, British tabloid The Sun announced filming has begun, and has the working title "Bloodmoon." We also know Naomi Watts has been cast as a "socialite with a secret," and Josh Whitehouse also has a role.

Need some more background? In June 2018, Deadline reported that HBO ordered this pilot from writer Jane Goldman, who's known for the Kingsman movie series, as well as StardustKick-Ass and two X-Men blockbusters. It'll be set thousands of years before Game of Thrones, and HBO delivered a fairly generic plot summary, except for that bit about the White Walkers.

"The series chronicles the world's descent from the golden age of heroes into its darkest hour," the network revealed. "And only one thing is for sure: From the horrifying secrets of Westeros' history to the true origin of the White Walkers, the mysteries of the East to the Starks of legend ... it's not the story we think we know." 

Martin says "some (of the successor shows) may not even be set on Westeros."

We do know what won't be covered: no Robert's Rebellion and no Dunk and Egg. Robert's Rebellion refers to Ned Stark, Robert Baratheon and Jon Arryn's rebellion against House Targaryen, and Dunk and Egg are other Martin characters, a hedge knight and his squire, who have their own stories taking place a century before the current books. Martin said when he's done writing all his tales of Dunk and Egg, he'd love for them to have a show, and that Robert's Rebellion will be explained in the current book series when (if... ) he finishes.

The most evil Game Of Thrones characters ranked

See all photos

Note: This story originally published on April 6, 2018, and is updated more frequently than GRRM publishes.