10 Things We Know About Game of Thrones Season 8

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

We are now just over two weeks away from the premiere of the final season of Game of Thrones. It's a day fans have been waiting for since August 2017, when season 7 concluded in spectacular fashion. While the gigantic team of artists who bring the show to life both in front of and behind the camera have done an impressive job of remaining tight-lipped on any of the juicy details, there are a few things we do know about what to expect from Game of Thrones season 8. (Just be aware that if you're not caught up, there are spoilers ahead!)

1. There will be fewer episodes than in previous seasons, but they'll be longer.

Season 8 will be comprised of a total of just six episodes. While fans were initially disappointed to hear that the season would be so short, there is a silver lining: Three of the episodes will be about 80 minutes long, which is practically movie length. Here are the runtimes:

Episode one: 54 minutes
Episode two: 58 minutes
Episode three: 60 minutes
Episode four: 78 minutes
Episode five: 80 minutes
Episode six: 80 minutes

Many fans believed, based on multiple reports and even quotes from people behind the show, that every single episode would be closer to that 80-minute runtime. "Season 8 episodes will all I think be longer than 60 minutes. They'll be dancing around the bigger numbers, I know that for sure," director David Nutter said in November 2018. Though this turned out to be wishful thinking, fans are just happy that their Sunday nights will be full of Game of Thrones again.

2. The first episode will take place at Winterfell, and will mirror the pilot episode.

Without giving anything vital away, Entertainment Weekly shared some basic details about the first episode of season 8, which will in many ways mirror the series' pilot episode:

"Season 8 opens at Winterfell with an episode that contains plenty of callbacks to the show’s pilot. Instead of King Robert’s procession arriving, it’s Daenerys and her army. What follows is a thrilling and tense intermingling of characters—some of whom have never previously met, many who have messy histories—as they all prepare to face the inevitable invasion of the Army of the Dead."

3. Cast members have been (unsurprisingly) cryptic about it.

While many of the series' stars have shared the details of their final day of filming (Lena Headey's last day on the set was "weirdly tedious"), their feelings on the season overall, and how they predict fans will react to the ending, any true spoilers have been pretty much nonexistent. And much of what Game of Thrones insiders have sad has been rather cryptic. Case in point: Emilia Clarke.

When asked about the series ending by Vanity Fair, Clarke stated that, “It f***ed me up. Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone’s mouth of what Daenerys is ...” Clarke also added that she’s “doing all this weird s**t” in the final season. “You’ll know what I mean when you see it,” she explained. While not very helpful to those fans looking for details, it certainly adds some mystery around what we can look forward to.

4. We'll see ghost again.

According to special effects supervisor Joe Bauer, Jon Snow’s direwolf Ghost will be making his return to the screen this season. "He’s very present and does some pretty cool things in season 8,” Bauer told HuffPost of Jon's furry sidekick.

5. It will feature the most epic battle in Game of Thrones history.

It only makes sense that there would be a huge battle in the final season, as it's essentially what the entire series has been leading up to. And while we've seen some impressive battles before, most notably the Battle of the Bastards, insiders say that this upcoming fight—which took a whopping 55 days to shoot—will be like nothing the show has ever produced. "It makes the Battle of the Bastards look like a theme park,” Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, told Entertainment Weekly.

6. Tormund Giantsbane and Beric Dondarrion are alive.

The first full-length trailer for the final season shows Tormund and Beric walking down a dark corridor in a quick scene, which seems to indicate that they are indeed alive. The last time we saw these two in season seven, they were being trapped on top of the remaining part of the wall after the Night King destroyed it with Viserion. No one knew if they had survived.

7. The Night King is intent on killing one person in particular.

Though it may seem as if the Night King just kills whoever—or whatever—gets in his way, he has a very specific target in mind. Vladimir Furdik, who plays the Night King, told Entertainment Weekly that, "People will see [the Night King] has a target he wants to kill, and you will find out who that is."

8. Jon Snow will learn his true parentage.

In an interview with TV Insider, co-showrunner D.B. Weiss all but confirmed that Jon Snow will learn his true parentage (which, let's face it, would be disappointing if he didn't as it's been such a major plot point). "From a dramatic standpoint, it makes things interesting, because the story is no longer about who Jon's parents are," Weiss said. "It's about what happens when Jon finds out."

9. They shot multiple endings.

It's been reported that multiple endings were shot for the season—and not because the showrunners couldn't decide on how to end the series, but so that they could ensure that no details about how the series will end would be leaked. “I know in Game of Thrones, the ending, they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that nobody really know what happens,” HBO boss Casey Bloys told The Morning Call. “You have to do that on a long show. Because when you’re shooting something, people know. So they’re going to shoot multiple versions so that there’s no real definitive answer until the end.”

10. It will shock fans.

Fans are hoping for the most intense, epic season in television history, and Clarke has pretty much assured us that will happen. While at the Academy Awards this year, the actress told Ryan Seacrest:

“It's going to be huge, that much everyone needs to know ... It took us a long time to film this one for a very good reason. But I think there's going to be some things ... I know there's going to be some things in this last season that will shock people.”

The final season of Game of Thrones premieres on April 14.

7 Fast Facts About RollerCoaster Tycoon

Amazon
Amazon

For Windows gamers, 1999 was dominated by RollerCoaster Tycoon, a now-classic strategy and building game that tasked users with erecting an amusement park and gauging the popularity of rides while maintaining a profit margin and keeping patrons from barfing all over the landscape. For the game’s 20th anniversary, check out some facts about its origins, its association with pizza, and how it became a pinball machine.

1. The first RollerCoaster Tycoon sold 4 million copies.

RollerCoaster Tycoon was the brainchild of Scottish programmer Chris Sawyer, who had enjoyed success with his line of Transport Tycoon games in the 1990s that allowed players to build and operate their own railroad, truck, and ship lines. Sawyer decided to marry that concept with his love of roller coasters. An independent effort—Sawyer enlisted only two collaborators, artist Simon Foster and musician Allister Brimble—the first Tycoon game that was released in 1999 sold a staggering 4 million copies.

2. RollerCoaster Tycoon came free with frozen pizza.

In the early 2000s, packaged food companies offered products that came with promotional offers for CD-ROMs. In 2003, Pillsbury offered a free copy of RollerCoaster Tycoon to anyone who sent in proof of purchase barcodes from specially-marked boxes of Totino’s Pizza Rolls or Pillsbury Toaster Strudel.

3. There’s a RollerCoaster Tycoon pinball machine.

A pinball machine released to coincide with 2002’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 took the spiraling coasters of the game and put them under glass. Players could try and direct the pinball—a substitute for the park guest—around and through coasters like The Flying Ghost and The Rocket.

4. RollerCoaster Tycoon helped inspire Minecraft.

If you or a loved one has spent countless hours absorbed in the popular world-building game Minecraft, you have RollerCoaster Tycoon to thank. Minecraft creator Markus Persson was a fan of Tycoon for the way it allowed players to construct elaborate designs. He also enjoyed Dungeon Keeper, which had a fantasy element. Together, the two games encouraged him to develop Minecraft. The game debuted in 2009 and went on to become one of the biggest interactive success stories of all time.

5. RollerCoaster Tycoon inspired real roller coaster designers.

The laborious construction undertaken by players of RollerCoaster Tycoon weaned a number of players on the excitement of the amusement industry. Park designers hoping to break into the industry have used screen shots from the game as examples of their design prowess at trade shows.

6. You can get a spooky update of RollerCoaster Tycoon in time for Halloween.

Atari distributes an Android and iOS version of RollerCoaster Tycoon for mobile phone users. For 2019, the company is offering a Six Flags Fright Fest update to the game that adds a Halloween component. Players can add Skull Mountain, an actual Six Flags coaster, as well as a Demon Rock statue.

7. A RollerCoaster Tycoon fan spent 10 years building a park.

In 2017, a Reddit user declared he was finished building out his own custom park on RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. The 34 coasters and 255 attractions were all minutely detailed, offering a sprawling virtual park with themed areas covering everything from Egyptian attractions to a forest. In comparison, it took only four years to build the actual Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

10 Wild Scooby-Doo Fan Theories

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

For 50 years, the hard-working teens (and dog) of Mystery, Inc. have been investigating the paranormal. What began as a single Hanna-Barbera cartoon series—Scooby Doo, Where Are You!—in the 1960s quickly morphed into a franchise with multiple spin-off shows, comic books, and a few questionable movies. That adds up to a lot of spooky stories, which have inspired fans to come up with their own creepy (or just plain crazed) tales about Scooby and the gang. Here are some of their best theories, including one that somehow connects to Patrick Stewart.

1. Scooby is a Soviet space dog.

For all the cases that Fred, Daphne, Velma, and Shaggy solved, they never got to the bottom of the show’s most enduring mystery: How and why does Scooby Doo talk? Some fans think he can’t really speak—that it’s just something his buddy Shaggy imagines while he’s high. But one Redditor has a much more complicated and compelling theory based on the show’s 1960s setting. At that time, America and the USSR were locked in the so-called “Space Race,” competing to see who could claim the first achievements in spaceflight. The Russians famously shot Yuri Gagarin into the stratosphere in 1961, but he wasn’t the first Soviet in space. Canine cosmonauts like Laika beat him by several years, and if the USSR was willing to put a dog in a rocket, who’s to say they didn’t experiment on him first?

According to this fan theory, Scooby is a runaway from the Soviets’ classified space dog program, designed to breed pups capable of operating satellites and understanding radio commands. Scooby was the best of the bunch, the rare test subject who could understand and imitate human speech. Naturally, one of the scientists got attached and defected with Scooby to the USA. When that scientist died, Scooby found a new family with a group of friendly teenagers. But the CIA never stopped searching for this Soviet wunderpup, which is why Mystery, Inc. is constantly traveling by van—and why the original show is called Scooby Doo, Where Are You!

2. The show takes place during an economic depression.

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

A classic Scooby-Doo mystery might take place at a theme park, museum, or mine—so long as it’s grimy and deserted. That’s a weird coincidence when you think about it: why are all these places so rundown? Well, that tends to happen when you’re weathering a financial collapse, and many clues indicate that’s just what’s happening in the world of Scooby-Doo. The towns he and his friends visit never seem to be doing well. No one has any money: Not the many scientists posing as monsters for cash, not the operators of every haunted attraction the gang investigates, and certainly not Shaggy and Scooby, who gorge on dog treats and lose their minds whenever they so much as smell a burger.

3. Mystery, Inc. is actually a cult.

Let’s break down the core members of the gang: You have Fred, the handsome and friendly frontman of the group. Then there’s Daphne, the fashionable and pretty one who mostly follows Fred around. Velma has the brains and Shaggy has full-blown conversations with a dog. When you really think about, doesn’t this all sound a bit like a cult? Fred would obviously be the cult leader, who recruits groupies like Daphne to obey his every command. Velma’s intelligence makes her a useful addition, and she could also be seeking acceptance from the “cool” kids. As for Shaggy, well, men who claim dogs can talk to them have a famously disturbing history—much like cult members.

4. They’re all draft dodgers.

Scooby Doo, Where Are You! premiered in 1969. Also happening that year? The Vietnam War. As able-bodied men (seemingly) over 18, Fred and Shaggy would both be eligible for the draft, which begs the obvious question: is Mystery, Inc. just a bunch of draft dodgers? The boys could be driving that van straight to Canada to avoid deployment, along with Fred’s fiancée Daphne and their antiwar activist friend Velma. Scooby’s stance on the war remains unclear, but he’s along for the ride.

5. Scooby Snacks alter your genes.

What if Scooby’s preferred treat is really a steroid capable of editing genetic code? It would explain why Scooby—and other members of his canine family, like Scrappy-Doo and Scooby-Dum—can talk, as well as their ability to perform “completely ridiculous stunts.” (Also, if Scrappy-Doo is on steroids, it would explain why he’s always trying to fight.) But what about its effect on humans? As far as we know, Shaggy is the only person who eats Scooby Snacks, and he seems to have a freakishly high metabolism, considering the mile-high sandwiches he eats and his super skinny frame.

6. Fred drives the Mystery Machine because the real owner is too high.

Whenever the gang piles into the Mystery Machine, there’s only one person behind the wheel: Fred. Mystery, Inc.’s de facto leader is constantly driving his friends from one haunted house to the next, which would imply that the Mystery Machine is his car. But why would a clean-shaven, preppy kid like Fred own a lime green van with flowers plastered over the doors? That car obviously belongs to a hippie, and in this group, that’s Shaggy. His hippie lifestyle, however, may be the reason Shaggy never drives. He’s either lost his license from driving under the influence, or Fred is worried he will, so someone else serves as his designated driver.

7. Shaggy is Captain America’s son.

This theory starts with small coincidences, like the fact that Norville “Shaggy” Rogers and Steve Rogers share a last name. Then it builds to something bigger when you factor in a detail from Captain America: The Winter Soldier. While out on a morning run, Sam Wilson (a.k.a. Falcon) claims that Steve can run 13 miles in half an hour, a rate that breaks down to 26 mph. Shaggy, meanwhile, frequently keeps pace with Scooby, a Great Dane. Those dogs run up to 30 mph. Ergo, Shaggy is Steve’s son.

8. Monsters really do exist in the Scooby-Doo universe.

A still from 'Scooby Doo, Where Are You!'
Warner Home Video

Each time the gang catches a new “monster,” it always turns out to be a human in disguise, grumbling about how they “would’ve gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you meddling kids.” Monsters, the show tells us over and over again, are not real. But this Reddit theory poses an important question: If monsters don’t exist, why is there a business dedicated to catching the fake ones? The fact that Mystery, Inc. keeps getting calls implies that “supernatural fraud” is an entire category of crime, one that wouldn’t make sense or work if people didn’t believe in monsters. Everyone in the Scooby-Doo universe also seems to accept monsters as a normal and everyday occurrence, suggesting that monsters are real—the gang has just never caught one.

9. Shaggy and Scooby are actors.

When danger calls, Shaggy and Scooby tend to run the other way. But what if the group’s most cowardly members were actually actors pretending to be scared of ghosts, monsters, and other paranormal entities? According to this fan theory, Shaggy and Scooby are faking their over-the-top fear in order to draw the monsters out. By posing as easy targets, they know they’ll get spooked first, and thus make it easier for Mystery, Inc. to trap the ghost/witch/pirate. That’s why Fred always pairs Shaggy with Scooby when they split up to investigate, and it’s why after many years of investigating the supernatural, the two of them still don’t seem remotely used to it.

10. Green Room is just a gritty Scooby-Doo reboot.

The 2015 horror movie Green Room is about a band with a van that squares off against an evil old Nazi. The Scooby-Doo franchise is about a team (that was supposed to be a band) with a van that squares off against evil old men (who could also, theoretically, be Nazis). You do the math.

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