As Game of Thrones heads into its eighth season, we recognize that beyond any battles, dragons, and ice zombies, plenty of us are just here for the characters — especially the memorable relationships we’ve come to love over time.
Some favorite characters will even be meeting each other for the first time in season eight. Sansa and Daenerys should finally be introduced to each other when Jon returns to Winterfell, for example. But many other characters will be having long overdue reunions, sometimes after many years apart and vastly altered circumstances since their last meeting. For example: The last time Jaime Lannister met Bran Stark was ... not auspicious for either of them. How far they’ve both come since!
So as we gear up for Sunday night’s season premiere, here’s a look at some of the reunions we’re hoping for in season eight — and a reminder of where these characters were when we last saw them together.
The Stark siblings
Arya + Jon
The slow gradual reunion of the remaining Stark siblings has been one of the emotional lodestones of the latter seasons. But Jon and Arya haven’t seen each other since the second episode of the very first season, when he famously gave her a parting gift as he headed off to join the Nights’ Watch: Needle, the sword she would survive with for years thereafter.
Since they last parted, Arya’s become a shape-shifting sociopath, and Jon’s become a queen’s consort. (And a true Targaryen heir, though he doesn’t know it yet.) They were once the closest of siblings, and we can’t wait to see them together again.
Bran + Jon
Like Arya, Bran hasn’t seen Jon since the beginning of season one, when he left Winterfell to join the Night’s Watch. But since becoming the Three-Eyed Raven, the youngest surviving Stark sibling doesn’t really seem all that into family reunions — or other humans at all, for that matter. Though it will still be nice for Jon to have one more family member around him, what really matters about this reunion is the knowledge that Bran (and Samwell) has to impart to Jon: that he’s a tried-and-true member of the Targaryen dynasty, and one of the few people with a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne.
Sansa + Jon
This isn’t really much of a reunion, since the two had their first real reunion over a season ago. Since then, they’ve been more or less jointly ruling the North, with Sansa taking the helm while Jon courts much-needed alliances to fight the Night King. But, as HBO’s teasers have already hinted, it’s going to be quite a shock for Sansa to see her (presumed) half-brother bedding the Mother of Dragons. Expect a bit of tension to be worked through.
Bonus: Jon + Ghost; Arya + Nymeria
Jon hasn’t seen his beloved direwolf since he left him behind at Winterfell with Sansa, so we’ll be waiting to see him reunited with one of the last two remaining Stark sibling direwolves. We got a glimpse of the other remaining wolf, Arya’s puppy Nymeria, as a grown, mostly feral wolf in season seven. It looked like they parted for the last time then, but we all know the direwolves have a way of showing up for the Stark kids in their hour of greatest need.
Arya + The Hound
Undoubtedly, Arya’s reunions are going to be among the season’s richest, in part because she’s parted ways with people so memorably throughout the series. For instance, she left the Hound for dead at the end of season four, refusing to end his suffering after one hell of a fight with Brienne of Tarth — even though he was originally on Arya’s famous Kill List. It was a fitting goodbye for one of the series’ most beloved and unlikely pair-ups, and a grace note over the Hound’s slow and steady redemption arc. When they finally see each other again, with Arya more or less grown up, will they finally progress from frenemies to friends? We can’t wait to find out!
Tyrion + Sansa
The former Hand of the King hasn’t seen his unfortunate child bride since she was rapidly spirited out of King’s Landing in early season four, following the notorious Purple Wedding. Though the two were officially married, Tyrion wasn’t really into raping a terrified preteen (she was clearly disgusted by the whole ordeal), so the marriage was thankfully never consummated — and since Sansa was subsequently married off to Ramsay Bolton, it’s safe to say her marriage to Tyrion is truly annulled by this point.
Bronn + Tyrion and Jaime
One of the series’ most satisfying redemption arcs has gone to Bronn, who started out as a purely mercenary sellsword and wound up developing a smidgen of grudging loyalty toward the good guys. He dramatically saved Jaime from Dany’s dragon Drogon in season seven, episode four, although he later claimed that he just did it for the prospect of the castle he claims the Lannisters owe him. But we know better; he also was instrumental in arranging a major earlier reunion between Tyrion and Jaime. How will Bronn feel when he next sees the reunited Lannister brothers — will he still just be waiting for the money, or can we finally get this three-way bromance underway?
Jaime + Bran
Okay, so this one’s a bit awkward: The last time these two met, it was at the end of the show’s very first episode — when a much different Jaime pushed Bran out of a tower in an attempt to silence the kid about his incestuous relationship with Cersei, thus permanently paralyzing Bran and leading to events whose repercussions are still being felt on the show. Of course, without that twist in fate, Bran arguably wouldn’t have become the Three-Eyed Raven, so surely it’s all good now, right? Right?
Euron + Cersei
Eh, no one really cares about Euron Greyjoy’s manipulation by Cersei as she uses him to double-cross her supposed “allies” heading North to battle the Night King — a move that’s already alienated Jaime from her once and for all. Still, these two should be meeting up again in season eight, and we can’t imagine he’ll be happy about being used as a pawn. Not that this has made much difference for any of Cersei’s other pawns in the past.
Theon + Yara
Theon is determined to get his sister Yara back from his uncle’s power after Euron kidnapped her during an early season seven battle. Of course, since this is Theon we’re talking about, the odds aren’t looking great for Yara, but we all know she can fend for herself, so maybe these two siblings will have a happy reunion and successful escape after all.
Old friends and old flames
Samwell + Jon
These two former Night’s Watch companions haven’t seen each other since Samwell left to go to the Citadel. But now Samwell is back at Winterfell, just in time to drop some major bombshells on Jon (alongside Bran) about Jon’s parentage.
Arya + Gendry
Fans have long sensed that Arya was nursing a stealth crush on her childhood friend. Now that she’s all grown up, she’ll likely be running into Gendry on the march north, since he’s teamed up with Davos and Jon to defend against the Night King. Will the sparks finally fly, or will they have more important things on their mind?
Brienne + Jaime / Brienne + Tormund
Now that Jaime seems to have finally broken with Cersei once and for all, his epic friendship/romance with Brienne may finally be free to blossom in the far North. But Tormund the Wildling may have a thing or two to say about it, especially once he sees Brienne again.
Unlikely reunions (that we still want to happen)
Arya + Melisandre
When these two briefly crossed paths in season three, it was chilling: Melisandre was definitely weirded out by all the darkness she saw in Arya, and Arya was clearly equally unimpressed by the Red Witch. If you thought Melisandre was scared of Arya then ...
Davos + Melisandre / Varys + Melisandre
The last time Davos and Melisandre were forced to play nice, he was still reeling from the fact that she’d ordered Stannis Baratheon to burn his teenage daughter alive. Not exactly the roots of a fruitful partnership, there. And Varys has always hated witches because of what a sorcerer did to him in childhood — a backstory of which Melisandre has always been eerily aware. There’s a lot of unfinished business between Melisandre and these two; we’d love to watch it play out once and for all.
Cersei + Sansa
Once Cersei’s “Little Dove,” Sansa has come a long way since the days when she idolized the queen and dreamed of a comfortable King’s Landing life. Her sham marriage to Tyrion ended in disaster, with the Tyrells using her to poison Joffrey and scapegoat Tyrion for it in season four. And with Cersei having plenty of wrath to go around for that incident, we’d love to see the two of them meet as equals — and opposites — after all this time. It’s unlikely we’ll see Sansa leaving the safety of Winterfell, or Cersei leaving King’s Landing, but this reunion goes on our wish list.
And last, but certainly not least ...
It’s a testament to how great Game of Thrones is at giving you a compelling ensemble with rich subplots and backstories that one of the shows’ most longed-for, epic battles is between two minor characters. The infamous longed-for face-off between the Clegane brothers, the Hound (Sandor Clegane), and the Mountain (Gregor Clegane — now a creepy zombified version of himself), is such a fan favorite that it’s become a huge meme, shorthanded everywhere as the Cleganebowl.
The two had a brief, testy but fizzled reunion in season seven — that was so anticlimactic that here at Vox, we began to doubt that the Cleganebowl would ever happen. But that’s what season eight is for: The Hound’s actor Rory McCann has even hinted that it’s going to happen. So hold on to your skulls and get ready for the epic WrestleMania bout we’ve been waiting for.