The final season of Game of Thrones has the largest number of major character fatalities in the HBO drama’s history.
Yet one of those deceased characters was originally supposed to survive the entire series.
Nope, it’s not Daenerys Targaryen (who was always doomed). But rather her protector and friend Ser Jorah Mormont.
When the show’s writers began plotting out season 8, they hoped to have Ser Jorah keeping Jon Snow company beyond The Wall in the show’s final scene. But instead, they scripted Jorah dying while shielding Daenerys from the Army of the Dead in episode 3.
“For a long time we wanted Ser Jorah to be there at The Wall in the end,” writer Dave Hill says. “The three coming out of the tunnel would be Jon and Jonah and Tormund. But the amount to logic we’d have to bend to get Jorah up to The Wall and get him to leave Dany’s side right before [the events in the finale] … there’s no way to do that blithely. And Jorah should have the noble death he craves defending the woman he loves.”
It would have been interesting to have Ser Jorah alive during Dany’s so-called Mad Queen turn given his intense loyalty, but it would have also added a complication and the show’s final episodes were pushing maximum density as is.
So what would Ser Jorah have thought of Dany firebombing King’s Landing and killing tens of thousands of civilians?
We asked Ser Jorah actor Iain Glen that very question.
“There’s a sweetness in that because Jorah will never know what she did,” Glen says. “That’s probably best. It’s a blessing for him that he never found out what happened to her. And from a pragmatic story point of view, his death served a greater purpose. Where could we have taken Jonah from there? F— if I know.”
Beyond The Wall! But it’s true, as Glen implies, that his character’s death also served as another “cut string” — as Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke put it in our post-finale interview — motivating her dark turn.
Plus, Ser Jorah’s death resulted in that touching funeral scene where Dany whispers something to his corpse. Previously, Glen gave some a hint about that mysterious whisper in our postmortem interview.
For more on the Game of Thrones series finale, pick up the new Summer TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly — buy your choice of Daenerys or the Starks now, or find the issue on stands Friday. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.