From the Red Wedding to the scandalous sacrifice of Shireen Baratheon, Game of Thrones has never shied away from killing off its best-loved characters. And that, author of the original fantasy book series George RR Martin explains, is thanks to JRR Tolkein.
Speaking about Gandalf's unexpected death in Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, Martin said: "I can't explain the impact that had on me at 13. Tolkein just broke that rule, and I'll love him forever for it.
The minute you kill Gandalf, the suspense of everything that follows is 1,000 times greater. Because now anybody could die.
Of course, it's had a profound effect on my own willingness to kill characters at the drop of a hat."
While dozens of the original Game of Thrones cast list have met with grisly ends since the fantasy epic began on HBO in 2012, a vital few remain for the show's final season, which will air next summer.
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Fans are not expecting a happy ending. While little has been given away by Game of Thrones stars, Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke has said that filming her final scene as the Dragon Queen "f----- me up… Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavoir in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is." Needless to say, it's unlikely that the Thrones creators have put the knives away yet.