The first major casualty in the Battle of Winterfell shocked fans on Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones.
Spoilers for Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 ahead.
Game of Thrones said goodbye to a beloved character, Lady Lyanna Mormont, in this week's episode. The pre-teen ruler of Bear Isle fought valiantly in the long-awaited Battle of Winterfell. To her credit, it took a full-blown wight giant to take her down.
Lady Mormont put up a valiant fight in the scene, which featured an undead giant beating down the gates of Winterfell and sweeping away enemies with huge swipes of its club. Lyanna took a serious hit but got back up, only to be picked up by the giant, who was destroying everything in its path. With the last bit of her strength, she drove a dragonglass sword into its bright blue eye, taking down a huge enemy with her dying breath.
Many fans were subjected to the death early on Sunday evening, when spoilers began to leak on social media. It is unclear how exactly the episode got out, though it seems to have begun on 4Chan. Before long, screenshots and descriptions migrated to Reddit, and from there to Twitter. Many were outraged by the leaks, especially because they came out of context and incomplete.
As fans are well aware, this is not the first time an emotional death has been sprung upon them, and it will probably not be the last. The show is known for its brutality and unflinching look at violence and mortality, and this battle — and the final season as a whole — are sure to carry that tradition on.
Other characters are expected to die before the Battle of Winterfell, as fans are calling it, is over. In particular, those who had resonant emotional scenes or moments of real catharsis in last week's episode are in danger. This means that Brienne of Tarth, Grey Worm, Theon Greyjoy and Gendry are all in serious danger.
One thing that Game of Thrones has had a hard time duplicating is the shock factor in many of its early deaths. The show became a sensation when it put fans in the shoes of a few heroic main characters, only to kill them unceremoniously early on. This was best represented in Ned Stark's death at the end of Season 1, when many fans thought he would be the hero of the series.
The following season upped the ante on the same concept with the now infamous scene known as the Red Wedding. Rather than one main character, an entire cast of heroes was put to death all at once. At the time, a popular prank was to discreetly record loved ones watching the scene and post their reaction online.0comments
As emotional as Season 8 is, it may never reach those devastating heights again. Still, fans will have a lot of mourning to do as they wait to see what remains of the armies of the living next weekend.
Game of Thrones airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.