Although last week's episode of Game of Thrones, Book of the Stranger, ended on an unusually optimistic note for most of the characters, if there's anything fans know about the show, it's not to get too attached to anyone.
George R.R. Martin seems to have a penchant for killing off named and major characters, and it doesn't look like he's going to change his tune when "Winds of Winter" is finally finished.
The "A Song of Ice and Fire" author recently explained why he has no qualms about killing off so many beloved characters in his long-running fantasy series.
In an interview with science fiction magazine Galaxy's Edge, Martin said that just like the famous words in his books, "Valar morghulis," which means "all men must die," heroes must die as well because that is simply the truth of the world and it's his responsibility as a writer to uphold that truth.
"Once you've accepted that you have to include death, then you should be honest … and indicate it can strike down anybody at any time. You don't get to live forever just because you are a cute kid or the hero’s best friend or the hero," he said.
He also shared that he finds it irritating when an adventure story starts off with a hero, his best friend, and his girlfriend, and against all odds, they somehow manage to escape death multitudes of times, yet minor characters around them meet untimely ends.
He feels that storytelling this way is a "cheat," and to truly honor his beloved characters, he must often kill or maim them – "it has to be done."
On television shows like Star Trek, it is a long-running joke that only red shirts who go away on missions with Captain Kirk and Spock get killed.
But as fans learned very early on with the unexpected death of Ned Stark in season 1 (and book one), no one is safe.
Martin did also share that he feels a bit of guilt when he has to kill off a character. But he apparently does not let it bother him too much.
"I tend to think I don't kill them. The other characters kill 'em. I shift off all blame from myself," he said.