In contrast to previous seasons, the seventh season has been shortened to seven episodes, due to the smaller amount of story content remaining, as well as the increased production values and time required to film episodes involving larger set pieces than in previous seasons. Filming began in Belfast on August 31, 2016 and ended in February 2017.
The season premiered on July 16, 2017.
Like the sixth season, Season 7 is based on an outline of the two final, presently-unpublished novels in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring.
After a summer lasting almost ten years, the words of House Stark have finally become reality once again: winter is here.
In King's Landing, Cersei Lannister has finally seized the power that she has craved for many years. In one swift move, she has eliminated nearly all of her enemies, rivals, and obstructions; Queen Margaery Tyrell, Lord Mace Tyrell, Ser Loras Tyrell, Cersei's uncle Ser Kevan Lannister, Grand Maester Pycelle, the High Sparrow, and most of - if not all - members of the Faith Militant were killed when the Great Sept of Baelor was destroyed using large amounts of wildfire, an event orchestrated by Cersei. She has crowned herself the undisputed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, with Qyburn as her Hand and the undead knight Ser Gregor Clegane at her side. After nearly four decades of serving as the power behind the throne, House Lannister has finally become the new royal house. However, Cersei is still haunted by the prophecy she was told during her childhood, which claimed that the deaths of her three (future) children would predate her own; Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are all dead, Tommen having taken his own life shortly after the Sept's destruction. This has made Cersei all the more determined to crush her enemies once and for all, but the number of her enemies has just increased exponentially. Though she now sits on the Iron Throne, she has effectively undone all of Tywin Lannister's efforts to ensure that his family stay in power as her actions have undoubtedly earned her the hatred of all of Westeros. Most of the realm is either in open rebellion against the Iron Throne or has fallen out of her allies' control, leaving Cersei effectively as the Queen of King's Landing and the lands owned by the Lannisters. It is the beginning of the end.
In the Riverlands, the last bastion of Robb Stark's independent Northern-Riverland kingdom, Riverrun, has fallen to House Lannister and House Frey in a siege led by Ser Jaime Lannister. Lord Edmure Tully, who had been held hostage by the Freys ever since the Red Wedding, ordered the Tully garrison to stand down for the sake of his wife and child, whom Jaime had violently threatened if Edmure refused to cooperate. Edmure's uncle, Brynden "The Blackfish" Tully, is dead, having chosen to fight to the death rather than surrender. Brienne of Tarth and her squire, Podrick Payne, had traveled to Riverrun in an attempt to recruit the Blackfish to assist Sansa Stark in reclaiming Winterfell from House Bolton. The attempt failed, and they were only barely able to escape when the castle fell.
Although House Frey has reclaimed Riverrun, Lord Walder Frey is also dead. Arya Stark, despite nearly being killed by the Waif and ultimately overcoming the assassin in single combat, has completed her training as a Faceless Man in the Free City of Braavos. With her original mission clearly back in focus, she has abandoned the Order and returned to Westeros to cross more names off of her list of vengeance, starting with Walder Frey, the last surviving orchestrator of the Red Wedding that claimed the lives of her mother, brother, and pregnant sister-in-law, at the same time butchering Walder's two most prominent sons, Lothar Frey and Walder Rivers who also helped carry out the massacre, and leaving the rule of the Riverlands in unknown hands. Also, Sandor "The Hound" Clegane has survived his brutal fight with Brienne of Tarth and attempted to build a new, humble life, but has been dragged back into conflict by the Brotherhood Without Banners, who intend to head north to fight in the war that is coming.
On the Iron Islands, King Balon Greyjoy is dead, having been murdered by his psychopathic younger brother, Euron Greyjoy. Balon's son, Theon, returned to the Iron Islands after helping Sansa Stark escape from Ramsay Bolton and endorsed his elder sister, Yara, as their father's successor at the subsequent Kingsmoot. However, Euron has claimed and won the Salt Throne by promising an alliance with Daenerys Targaryen, which he will use to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. In desperation, and in fear for their lives, Theon and Yara have stolen a hundred ships from the Iron Fleet. With sailors and soldiers loyal to them, they have traveled to Meereen and sought out Daenerys's help first. They have managed to secure an alliance between House Targaryen and House Greyjoy to help Daenerys retake the Iron Throne and overthrow Euron in return for the Iron Islands' independence. Euron, however, has ordered the construction of an even bigger fleet to begin his own invasions, seek out new alliances and destroy all who may stand in his way of taking the Seven Kingdoms for himself.
Also aiding Daenerys are the Dornish and the Tyrells, the rulers of the Reach. In Dorne, Ellaria Sand and the Sand Snakes have staged a coup; they have murdered Prince Doran Martell and his heir, Trystane, and taken control of Dorne in retaliation for Doran's refusal to wage war against House Lannister after the brutal death of his younger brother Prince Oberyn at the hands of Ser Gregor, who also murdered their sister Princess Elia and her two young children, Princess Rhaenys and Prince Aegon. With Cersei declaring war against the Sands for their murder of her daughter Myrcella, Ellaria has turned to Daenerys and her loyalists to help bring down the Lannisters. Unknown to Ellaria, however, is that Tyrion Lannister, Myrcella's uncle, is now serving as Daenerys's Hand of the Queen, and will likely demand justice against the Sands for murdering his beloved niece in cold blood. Lady Olenna Tyrell, herself now a target of Cersei as she is now the only surviving Tyrell, has met with Ellaria and the Sand Snakes, a meeting facilitated by Varys. Although skeptical of their motives (and wary that they essentially murdered their own family to seize power), grief-stricken and incensed by the deaths of her son, grandson, and granddaughter, Olenna pledges House Tyrell's forces to Daenerys in the hope of revenge for her slain family, no longer caring about her own survival.
In the North, Jon Snow and Sansa Stark, aided by Ser Davos Seaworth, Tormund Giantsbane, and Lady Lyanna Mormont, have finally defeated Ramsay Bolton and reclaimed Winterfell following a spectacular battle. Their victory was also due in large part to the support from the knights of the Vale, the elite soldiers of House Arryn, the lords of the Vale, courtesy of Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish. Even though House Bolton is now extinct following Ramsay's brutal execution, the future of House Stark is left in question: with Robb and Rickon dead, and Bran believed dead as well, the Northern and Vale lords have turned to Jon and named him the new King in the North, while Sansa has rejected Littlefinger's proposal to help him take the Iron Throne and become his queen. Given that Littlefinger was instrumental in the outbreak of the War of the Five Kings (by conspiring with Lysa Arryn to murder Jon Arryn, pit the Starks and Lannisters against each other, and throw Westeros into complete chaos), and that one of his initial goals was to become the new Warden of the North, Jon's ascension to King in the North is now a major obstacle in his master plan, setting the stage for a looming conflict between Jon and Littlefinger, the latter already having sewn seeds of distrust in Sansa towards Jon. The Red Priestess Melisandre, meanwhile, has been dismissed from Jon's service following the discovery of her role in Shireen Baratheon's death, as well as for the burning of countless innocent people as sacrifices to the Lord of Light during her service to Stannis Baratheon, stripping Jon of easily one of his most valuable advisers, and is now heading south to locations unknown.
In the Reach, after navigating various obstacles, Samwell Tarly, Gilly, and her son have finally reached the Citadel in Oldtown, where Sam intends to train as a maester to replace the deceased Maester Aemon of the Night's Watch, hoping to gain some insight into the White Walkers and how to defeat them. However, with Sam's theft of his family's ancestral Valyrian steel sword, Heartsbane, he has undoubtedly incurred the immense wrath of his father, Randyll Tarly, who will now likely seek retribution, while the absence House Tyrell's armies will have also left the Reach open to coming outside attacks, so Samwell must use the sword in his studies and uncover the secrets behind Valyrian steel for the coming battle against the dead, before all is lost.
Across the Narrow Sea, having at last defeated the slave masters and the Sons of the Harpy, Queen Daenerys Targaryen has finally set sail for Westeros. She has acquired an army consisting of the Unsullied, the Dothraki, and troops from House Greyjoy, House Tyrell, Dorne, and her three full-grown dragons. Tyrion Lannister serves at her side as Hand of the Queen, though at the cost of two of her advisors: Ser Jorah Mormont, whom Daenerys has sent to find a cure for his spreading greyscale infection, and Daario Naharis, her lover whom Daenerys has ordered to stay behind with the Second Sons (on Tyrion's advice) so that she may pursue a potential marriage alliance to aid her in her campaign. Unknown to Daenerys, however, there is already somebody across the Narrow Sea who may very well have a stronger claim to the Targaryen monarchy than she does, and who may prove to become her most valuable ally or her greatest enemy yet.
Beyond the Wall, Bran Stark has been training in his power of greensight under the tutelage of the Three-Eyed Raven and has learned some devastating secrets, specifically the origin of the White Walkers and the true parentage of his believed half-brother, Jon Snow: Jon is the son of Lyanna Stark and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, which would make him the nephew and a rival claimant to Daenerys Targaryen for the Iron Throne. Following an attack which claims the lives of the Three-Eyed Raven, Hodor, and seemingly the last of the Children of the Forest, Bran and Meera Reed have been rescued by Bran's undead uncle, Benjen Stark, and taken back to the Wall. There, Bran must prepare for the arrival of the Night King, who at all costs must be defeated before Westeros can dream of another spring.
Producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss confirmed that season seven would be both filmed and released later than past seasons of Game of Thrones. This was mainly due to the desire to accurately depict the winter that now grips Westeros.  As a result, filming took a scheduled pause in December 2016, with a scheduled complete wrap date in February 2017.
In Northern Ireland, production began in August 2016. Interior shooting returned to the show's headquarters, the Paint Hall Studios in Belfast as well as Linen Mill Studios in Banbridge. Meanwhile, location shooting has taken place at the following locations so far: the Winterfell set in Moneyglass, the Saintfield Estate (for scenes in the Winterfell Godswood) as well as Ballintoy (previously Pyke), Murlough Bay (previously The Stormlands), and Fair Head in Country Antrim. The Dark Hedges in Stranocum, which were previously featured in Season 2, will also return to stand in for the Kingsroad.
In Spain, filming took place from late October through December at various locations. Production started in the Basque country, including Itzurun Beach in Zumaia (as Dragonstone), Muriola Beach in Barrika (as the shores of Blackwater Bay) and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Bermeo (as Dragonstone), before moving to Andalusia, where they used the Roman Ruins of Italica in Santiponce (as King's Landing), Las Atarazanas (also known as the Royal Dockyards) in Seville (as King's Landing) and Castillo de Almodóvar del Río (as Highgarden & Casterly Rock). Meanwhile, filming had also started in the province of Cáceres at Trujillo Castle (as Casterly Rock & King's Landing), before commencing a nearly month long shoot at Las Breñas and Barrueco de Arriba in Malpartida (as the Reach). Production in Spain ended in the Old Town of Cáceres (as King's Landing & Oldtown) mid-December.
Finally, for the first time since the fourth season, production returned to Iceland in January. Filming took place at the glaciers of Jökulsárlón and Svínafellsjökull, serving as locations beyond the Wall, before moving to the Black Sand Beach of Vík.
Season 7 has a shorter episode count than past seasons: seven instead of ten. The showrunners said they did this because as the story reaches its climax, every episode will be massive in scale. There is a physically finite amount of time that they can film each year, however, and gigantic action scenes on the scale of "Hardhome" take longer to film than a setup episode of mostly dialogue in interior sets like "The Climb" or "The Gift", etc.
Each episode had a physically longer runtime than in prior seasons: the earlier seasons averaged out at around 54 to 56 minutes per episode, but episodes in Season 7 average out at around 63 minutes per episode. As for specific runtimes, the first and second episodes of the season have a runtime of 59 minutes each, the third episode has a runtime of 63 minutes, the fourth episode has a runtime of 50 minutes, the fifth episode has a runtime of 59 minutes, the sixth episode has a runtime of 70 minutes, and the seventh and final episode has a runtime of 80 minutes.
Taken altogether, therefore, while there are only seven episodes in Season 7, due to their increased individual lengths, there is enough extra runtime to make up for an entire eighth episode (of the regular length from prior seasons). There was some speculation when the seven episode format was first announced that the showrunners were simply chopping up the normal overall runtime of the season into seven parts because those were the natural "chapter breaks" of the story, but Benioff and Weiss later waved this aside, reiterating that the entire point of filming fewer episodes than in the past was because the scale of each has been drastically increased, straining the limits of how much they can film in a single year. Season 7's total runtime was 7 hours, 18 minutes - compared to the 9 hours, 15 minutes that prior seasons averaged.
- Main article: Season 7 cast
- Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister (7 episodes)
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister (6 episodes)
- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister (6 episodes)
- Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen (7 episodes)
- Kit Harington as Jon Snow (7 episodes)
- Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish (7 episodes)
- Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth (7 episodes)
- Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark (7 episodes)
- Maisie Williams as Arya Stark (6 episodes)
- Carice van Houten as Melisandre (2 episodes)
- Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei (5 episodes)
- Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand (2 episodes)
- Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy (4 episodes)
- Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth (5 episodes)
- Conleth Hill as Varys (6 episodes)
- John Bradley as Samwell Tarly (5 episodes)
- Isaac Hempstead-Wright as Bran Stark (5 episodes)
- Jerome Flynn as Bronn (4 episodes)
- Hannah Murray as Gilly (3 episodes)
- Joe Dempsie as Gendry (2 episodes)
- Kristofer Hivju as Tormund (4 episodes)
- Rory McCann as Sandor Clegane (4 episodes)
- Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont (6 episodes)
Selected guest starring cast
- Richard Rycroft as Wolkan (6 episodes)
- Anton Lesser as Qyburn (5 episodes)
- Rupert Vansittart as Yohn Royce (5 episodes)
- Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm (4 episodes)
- Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy (4 episodes)
- Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Gregor Clegane (4 episodes)
- Jim Broadbent as Ebrose (4 episodes)
- Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion (4 episodes)
- James Faulkner as Randyll Tarly (4 episodes)
- Vladimir Furdik as the Night King (4 episodes)
- Tom Hopper as Dickon Tarly (4 episodes)
- Staz Nair as Qhono (4 episodes)
- Paul Kaye as Thoros (3 episodes)
- Ellie Kendrick as Meera Reed (3 episodes)
- Tim McInnerny as Robett Glover (3 episodes)
- Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne (3 episodes)
- Mark Gatiss as Tycho Nestoris (2 episodes)
- Bella Ramsey as Lyanna Mormont (2 episodes)
- Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell (2 episodes)
- Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand (2 episodes)
- Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy (2 episodes)
- David Bradley as Walder Frey ("Dragonstone")
- Keisha Castle-Hughes as Obara Sand ("Stormborn")
- Ben Crompton as Eddison Tollett ("Dragonstone")
- Aisling Franciosi as Lyanna Stark ("The Dragon and the Wolf")
- Ben Hawkey as Hot Pie ("Stormborn")
- Jessica Henwick as Nymeria Sand ("Stormborn")
- Joseph Mawle as Benjen Stark ("Beyond the Wall")
- Wilf Scolding as Rhaegar Targaryen ("The Dragon and the Wolf")
- David Benioff: executive producer & showrunner
- D.B. Weiss: executive producer & showrunner
- Bernadette Caulfield: executive producer
- Frank Doelger: executive producer
- Carolyn Strauss: executive producer
- George R.R. Martin: co-executive producer
- Vince Gerardis: co-executive producer
- Guymon Casady: co-executive producer
- Bryan Cogman: co-executive producer
- Greg Spence: producer
- Chris Newman: producer
- Lisa McAtackney: producer
- Michele Clapton: costume designer
- Deborah Riley: production designer
- Ramin Djawadi: composer
- Nina Gold: casting director
- Robert Sterne: casting director
- Jeremy Podeswa: episodes 1 and 7
- Mark Mylod: episodes 2 and 3
- Matt Shakman: episodes 4 and 5
- Alan Taylor: episode 6
|61||"Dragonstone"||July 16, 2017||10.11|
|Jon organizes the defense of the North. Cersei tries to even the odds. Daenerys comes home.|
|62||"Stormborn"||July 23, 2017||9.27|
|Daenerys receives an unexpected visitor; Jon faces a revolt.|
|63||"The Queen's Justice"||July 30, 2017||9.25|
|Daenerys holds court; Cersei returns a gift.|
|64||"The Spoils of War"||August 6, 2017||10.17|
|The Lannisters pay their debts. Daenerys weighs her options.|
|65||"Eastwatch"||August 13, 2017||10.72|
|Arya grows suspicious. Tyrion answers a good question.|
|66||"Beyond the Wall"||August 20, 2017||10.24|
|Jon hunts the dead. Arya confronts Sansa.|
|67||"The Dragon and the Wolf"||August 27, 2017||12.10|
|Tyrion tries to save Westeros from itself.|
Comparison with the novels
Although all the plotlines of this season are ahead of the point the novels reached, various scenes of it are based on the third, fourth and fifth novels "A Storm of Swords", "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons"; it also consists of a few scenes based on sample chapters of the upcoming sixth novel "The Winds of Winter".
For a full list of differences between the season and the novels, see Differences between books and TV series - Season 7.
Season 7 is different from the previous seasons not only by its number of episodes, but also in several more aspects:
- All the plotlines take place only in the continent of Westeros and its surrounding seas.
- No king is killed off in this season; in the previous six seasons, at least one king was killed per season.
- Each episode contains multiple callbacks and references to previous seasons, at least ten per episode (the final episode alone contains more than twenty), much more than in the previous seasons.
Season 7 Blu-ray and DVD box sets were released on December 12, 2017. They are available for pre-order from Amazon.com, which prices the Blu-ray set at $62.00 and the DVD set at $49.99.
Features on the DVD release include:
- Audio Commentaries from:
- From Imagination to Reality: Inside the Art Department-Extensive
- Fire & Steel: Creating the Invasion of Westeros
- Conquest & Rebellion: An Animated History of the Seven Kingdoms
The Blu-ray release with Digital Copy includes all of the features on the DVD set, plus:
- A digital copy of the entire season
- Histories & Lore – 8 segments including:
- An "In-Episode Guide"