TheHound_1It’s a morbid topic of conversation for any television show, but for Game of Thrones the question of which character will be killed off next is a fair and vital one to ask. George R.R. Martin and HBO have never been shy about racking up a body count, and while season six immediately became known for a more satisfying run of heroics that saw some of the protagonists survive sticky situations, the episodes were just as bloody as ever.

Ultimately, this show is a race to the Iron Throne, and a struggle for control over the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. And over time that’s all come to be represented more by individual figures than by whole kingdoms or houses. Thus, the question of who dies next feels particularly important. While plenty of minor characters are sure to fall here and there, we’ll almost certainly see a few central figures meet their ends in season seven. In fact, with the series finale expected at the end of a shortened eighth season, the field may begin to narrow quite a bit next spring and summer.

Here are our picks for the 10 characters likeliest to die when we next return to Westeros.

1. Sandor Clegane (The Hound)

Pretty much the entire internet is eagerly anticipating a final showdown between the colossal Clegane brothers. In fact the idea is so popular it’s been given its own name: the Cleganebowl. It seemed like it was about to happen in season six and did not, but both Clegane brothers are still alive and at odds, so this is very possible. Sandor, sadly, seems the likely loser. He’s simply a tragic figure, and killing off The Mountain would leave Cersei — one of the major players for the Iron Throne — essentially without an ally.

2. Gregor Clegane (The Mountain)

Then again, we could always see The Hound prevail. Season six was far friendlier to heroes and protagonists than any previous season, and if that trend continues the folks at HBO may just choose to thrill fans with a Hound victory over his wicked and semi-zombified brother.

3. Melisandre

It may simply be that the Red Lady has served her purpose. She brought Stannis’s forces to mainland Westeros, resurrected Jon Snow, and now finds herself an outcast without a king or lord to serve. That makes her dangerous, as she could always lend her substantial power to some other ruler. But at this stage it seems more like she’s vulnerable off on her own as the world’s forces converge. She actually took the top spot in one existing death pool for season seven, where it was also mentioned that Ser Davos vowed to kill her if he saw her again.

4. Euron Greyjoy

If there’s a more reckless leader in Game Of Thrones than Euron Greyjoy, we haven’t met him yet. After tossing his brother from a bridge, he went through the drowning/crowning ritual of Iron Islands kings only to discover that his niece and nephew had stolen all his ships. So, naturally, he set about building more ships so that he could go murder them and seduce the Mother of Dragons to take over Westeros. He’s ambitious, undermanned, and impulsive, which seems like a deadly combination.

5. Lady Olenna (The Queen Of Thorns)

The beloved Queen of Thorns seems able to squirm out of any situation, but there’s one thing working against her: she’s probably Cersei’s biggest enemy. Heading into last season, the official betting odds on expected deaths listed a few of the top names, such as Lancel Lannister and the High Sparrow, simply because they represented enemies of Cersei. Going by a similar rationale this year, Lady Olenna Tyrell ought to be high on the list.

6. Ellaria Sand

For such a massive, clever show, Game Of Thrones has struggled to make the Dornish plotlines feel like more than filler. Thus, while Ellaria Sand is theoretically a powerful ruler in the south of Westeros, she feels more like collateral damage waiting to happen. She trusts no one and rubs pretty much everyone the wrong way, and while she appears to have an alliance with Daenerys in the works it’s easier to imagine the Mother of Dragons executing her than joining her.

7. Jaime Lannister

It’s hard to imagine the show without Jaime, but he and Cersei seem as if they’re at a breaking point. Jaime seemed to see his sister for what she was at the end of season six, and as with Olenna, if he’s her enemy he’s not in good shape.

8. Yara Greyjoy

Yara Greyjoy has proven to be a shrewd player in the game of thrones, and she may have one major plot point going for her: many have speculated about a potential romance between her and Daenerys, and that would protect her rather well. On the other hand, it might be convenient for the greater plot if she were to be killed off, placing Theon back in a place of power to continue his redemption story.

9. Petyr Baelish (Littlefinger)

Frankly, it seems unlikely that we won’t see Littlefinger involved until the very end. However, toward the end of season six, Sansa Stark became just about the first person to call his bluff and cast him aside, rather than fall for his tricks — and that puts him in an unusually dangerous position.

10. Daenerys Targaryen

Finally, it’s worth remembering that this show has always thrived on shock value. No one is safe from Martin’s axe, and seeing Daenerys fall before the final season even begins would be the biggest surprise since Ned Stark’s beheading. Oddly, that means it shouldn’t be counted out!