"Game of Thrones" returns for its seventh season on Sunday, and a whole lot of characters are going to die.
That's not inside information. HBO didn't screen any Season 7 episodes for critics. But we all know it's true because lots of characters always die on "Game of Thrones."
The deaths come in diverse, sometimes spectacular ways: slashed by ice zombies; ripped in half or incinerated by dragons; killed when a rat bit and clawed through prisoners' chest; butchered and baked into a pie; throat ripped out by a direwolf; burned alive; flayed alive.
Beheading seems to be one of the leading causes of death in Westeros.
It was actually super weird when Lord Hoster Tully and Master Aemon died of old age. And not that interesting.
Here are the Top 12 ”Game of Thrones” deaths (in chronological order):
1. Prince Viserys Targaryen • Viserys was so annoying about regaining his crown that Khal Drogo poured molten gold over his head. (Season 1, Episode 6)
2. Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark • In the series' first really shocking death (at least for those who hadn't read the book), Ned was beheaded on King Joffrey's orders. It proved that pretty much anybody could die in "GOT." (Season 1, Episode 9)
3. King Robb Stark, Queen Talisa Stark and Lady Catelyn Stark • Yikes, the Red Wedding! After plotting with Tywin Lannister and Roose Bolton, Walder Frey hosted a feast and his minions betrayed and murdered the Starks, including Robb's direwolf and thousands of Stark troops. It was horrifying, shocking, sobering and depressing. (Season 3, Episode 9)
4. King Joffrey Baratheon • Joffrey was poisoned and died an agonizing death (in a plot pulled off by Olenna Tyrell and Peter Baelish) at his own wedding. About the only people who mourned his passing were his mother/aunt, Cersei Lannister, and his father/uncle, Jaime Lannister. And Jaime didn't seem that upset. (Season 4, Episode 2)
5. Prince Oberyn Martell • Don't get cocky and lose focus when you're fighting Gregor Clegane! The Mountain grabbed Oberyn, gouged out his eyes and crushed his skull. It was grotesque, and the sound of cracking skull was ghastly. (Season 4, Episode 8)
6. Lord Tywin Lannister • Sitting in the privy, he was shot (twice) by a crossbow fired by his long-suffering son, Tyrion. It was an appropriate exit. (Season 4, Episode 10)
7. Princess Shireen Baratheon • Shireen, just a child, was burned at the stake on the orders of her father, Stannis — a failed spell by Melisandre to make Stannis victorious on the battlefield. Shireen's screams were horrifying. (Season 5, Episode 9)
8. Lord Commander Jon Snow • Jon was betrayed and stabbed by Alliser Thorne, Othell Yarwyck, Bowen Marsh and Olly. His death was, of course, overturned when he was resurrected by Melisandre. (Season 5, Episode 10)
9. Hodor • Hodor was killed by rampaging wights while trying to "Hold the door" and protect Bran Stark — whose time traveling created Hodor's tragic story. (Season 6, Episode 5)
10. Lord Ramsay Bolton • He was eaten by his own starving dogs, which was certainly justice — particularly because it was administered by the wife he brutalized, Sansa Stark. (Season 6, Episode 9)
11. The High Sparrow, Kevan Lannister, Lancel Lannister, Loras Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, Margaery Tyrell, et al. • These six, along with hundreds (thousands?) of others, were incinerated in a wildfire explosion on the orders of Cersei Lannister. (Season 6, Episode 10)
12. Lord Walder Frey • Fans waited more than three years for this sweet revenge. Frey, the architect of the Red Wedding, was fed a pie containing bits of his butchered sons — and then Arya Stark slit his throat and smiled as he died. (Season 6, Episode 10)
Lord Jon Arryn • Poisoned by his wife, Lysa, at Peter Baelish's suggestion.
King Robert Baratheon • Got drunk while hunting and was killed by a boar.
Khal Drogo • Smothered by his wife, Daenerys Targaryen, after he was rendered essentially comatose when cursed by the witch Mirri Maz Duur.
King Renly Baratheon • Stabbed by a shadow demon Melisandre created by having sex with Renly's brother, Stannis.
Pyat Pree • Incinerated by dragons Drogon, Rhaegal and Viserion.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Doreah • Locked in a vault by Jorah Mormont, on Daenerys' orders.
Kraznys mo Nakloz • Incinerated by Drogon the dragon.
Lord Beric Dondarrion • Killed by the Hound (Sandor Clegane) and then resurrected — three seasons before Jon Snow was brought back from the dead.
Lady Lysa Arryn • Pushed to her death by her husband, Petyr Baelish.
King Aerys Targaryen • Stabbed in the back by Jaime Lannister. (Flashback)
The Waif • Stabbed in the face by Arya Stark.
Prince Rickon Stark • Killed by a long-distance arrow fired by Ramsay Bolton — because Rickon ran in a straight line and didn't dodge.
Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun • Shot in the eye by Ramsay Bolton.
Grand Maester Pycelle • Stabbed by a group of children on Qyburn's orders.
King Tommen Baratheon • Jumped to his death after his mother killed his wife, Margaery Tyrell, and hundreds of others.
Lady Lyanna Stark • Died giving birth to Jon Snow. (Flashback)
A couple hundred more deaths
Here's a chronological list of the rest of the deaths in the first six seasons of "Game of Thrones," not counting the ones already included in our Top 12 and honorable mentions.
It's not complete, because thousands of nameless characters have also been killed. And it's possible that I might have missed a couple along the way … because there are just so darn many bodies to count.
Season 1 • Waymar Royce, Gared, Will, unnamed Dothraki warrior, unnamed assassin targeting Bran Stark, Mycah, Ser Hugh of the Vale, Kurleket, Ser Willis Wode, Wyl, Heward, Jory Cassel, Wallen, Stiv, Ser Vardis Egen, Varly, Vayone Poole, Septa Mordane, Syrio Forel, unnamed stable boy, Jafer Flowers, Othor, Mago, Qotho, Rhaego, Khal Drogo, Mirri Maz Duur.
Season 2 • Master Cressen, Barra, Rakharo, Yoren, Lommy Greenhands, Rennick, unnamed Lannister guard, unnamed tortured prisoner, Stafford Lannister, Emmon Cuy, Robar Royce, the Tickler, Ser Rodrick Cassel, High Septon, Ser Amory Lorch, Drennan, Irri, Ser Alton Lannister, Torrhen Karstark, the Spice King, the Silk King, the Copper King, unnamed members of The 13, unnamed Winterfell shepherd, Billy, Jack, Borba, Harker, Stonesnake, Matthos Seaworth, Ser Mandon Moore, Tom, Maester Luwin, Dagmer, Qhorin Halfhand.
Season 3 • Ser Jaremy Mallister, Hoster Tully, unnamed master torturer, Bannen, Craster, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, Greizhen mo Ullhor, Willem Lannister, Martyn Lannister, Lord Rickard Karstark, Ros, Mero, Prendhal na Ghezn, unnamed White Walker, unnamed old man, Orell, Wendel Manderly, Lady Joyeuse Erenford, unnamed Frey soldiers.
Season 4 • Lowell, Polliver, Tansy, Ser Axell Florent, Ser Dontos Hollard, Guymon, Olly's mother, Oznak zo Pahl, unnamed Great Masters, Locke, Karl Tanner, Rast, unnamed Bolton guards, unnamed dying man, Biter, Rorge, Kegs, Black Jack Bulwer, Mully, unnamed Mole's Town prostitute, Ralf Kenning, Adrack Humble, Pypar, Thenn Warg, Dongo, Smitty, Styr, Ygritte, Gren, Cooper, Donnel Hill, Mag Mar Tun Do Weg, Zalla, Jojen Reed, Shae.
Season 5 • White Rat, King Mance Rayder, Mossador, Lord Medgar Cerwyn, Lady Cerwyn, Lord Janos Slynt, unnamed merchant captain, Ser Barristan Selmy, Master Eaton, Ghita, Maester Aemon, Lord of Bones, Loboda, unnamed White Walker, Karsi, unnamed water dancer, unnamed Meereenese champion, Hizdahr zo Loraq, Queen Selyse Baratheon, Gordy, Simpson, King Stannis Baratheon, Myranda, Ser Meryn Trant, Princess Myrcella Baratheon.
Season 6 • Unnamed Bolton officer, Areo Hotah, Prince Doran Martell, Maester Caleotte, Prince Trystane Martell, Lord Roose Bolton, Lady Walda Bolton, unnamed Bolton infant, King Balon Greyjoy, Ser Gerold Hightower, unnamed Stark bannermen, Ser Arthur Dayne, Lord Greatjon Umber, First Steward Bowen Marsh, First Builder Othell Yarwyck, Ser Alliser Thorne, Olly, Iggo, Akho, Osha, Khal Rhalko, Khal Brozho, Khal Qorro, Khal Forzho, Khal Moro, unnamed White Walker, Three-Eyed Raven, Leaf, Hodor, Brother Ray, Steve, Riddell, Gatins, Morgan, Ser Brynden Tully (maybe), Lem Lemoncloack, Lady Crane, Belicho Paenymion, Razdal mo Eraz, Lord John Umber, Lothar Frey, Ser Black Walder Rivers.