Every season finale of Game of Thrones leaves us simultaneously ravenous for more episodes and so emotionally exhausted that we actually welcome the hiatus — for about a week, until next Sunday rolls around and Westeros is nowhere to be seen. The end of season 5 in particular contained so many story-changing events (spoilers ahead), we don't even have enough words to describe all the emotions we went through: the death of Jon Snow; Arya's blindness; Cersei's gut-wrenching walk through King's Landing; the zombified Mountain; etc. All we want to know now, is what's ahead for Game of Thrones in season 6?
Now that Game of Thrones is encroaching more and more on the final plotlines of George R. R. Martin's most recent Thrones book, A Dance with Dragons, there are fewer literary spoilers that haven't already played out on the show at this point. Readers, for example, already know what will become of Brienne (at least if the show stays faithful to the novels), but viewers and fans of the books are now on the same page when it comes to Jon Snow's death and Cersei's current misfortunes.
So instead of relying on Martin's source material to guess what could happen next season, let's hear from the show's cast and crew. This tight-lipped bunch revealed a few tidbits that will have to tide us over until next year.
Jon is definitely dead
As Kit Harrington made very clear in a post-finale interview with Entertainment Weekly, the commander of the Knight's Watch won't be making a miraculous recovery: "[The showrunners] said, 'Look, you're gone, it's done.' .... Quite honestly, I have never been told the future of things in this show, but this is the one time I have. They sat me down and said, 'This is how it is.' ... I'm not coming back next season. So that's all I can tell you, really."
Dany's babies grow up
Dany's dragons weren't around for much of season 5, but they'll be impossible to miss next year. As the show's visual effects supervisor, Joe Bauer, told Yahoo News, "The dragons will again be double in size. ... When the dragons were small, we had little foam rubber models of each dragon and we could carry them on and off of the set and it was no big deal. Last year, the best we could do was a head and this year it's going to be a finger nail or something, I'm not really sure." But will they be any help when the Last Targaryen faces that horde of Dothraki?
Another long-lost character may return
Bran was entirely absent from season 5 because, as executive producer David Benioff explained to Entertainment Weekly, "We're trying to keep the various storylines the same as the books and trying to keep them roughly [chronologically] parallel. And last year we caught up to the end of Bran's storyline [in A Dance with Dragons]. So if we pushed him forward this season, then he's way ahead of where the other characters are." But now, the other characters have caught up to where we left the youngest Stark, meaning that he's likely to return next season, having completed much of his warg training with the three-eyed crow off-screen.
When will season 6 begin?
There's no official start date yet, but almost every other season has begun in the first or second week of April, so expect the same in 2016.