The biggest question that fans are asking in the run up to the final season of Game of Thrones is who is going to survive to the very end. The series is known for killing off major characters (often with little to no warning), and with more than one major battle in the works, season 8 of Game of Thrones is likely to be a bloodbath. There's the army of the living up against the army of the dead, and of course, the army of Cersei up against the army of everybody else.
But who has managed to survive the longest in the series so far? Of all the characters who were introduced in the very first episode, plenty have already met a sticky end - whether almost immediately, or only relatively recently. We look at the main characters who have managed to survive from 'Winter is Coming' all the way to the start of Season 8... no mean feat, in this world.
Note: There are a few minor characters who may well still be alive, or mentioned characters who are not dead yet, these are the only guaranteed major-character survivors who have been on Game of Thrones since the first episode.
11 Theon Greyjoy
Theon, like so many characters from that first episode, has not had an easy time of things... but fans still aren't too sympathetic to the ward of the Starks. After all, he brought a lot of the trouble down on his own head.
He attempted to take Winterfell (and briefly succeeded), he murdered two innocent boys, and he killed one of the other characters introduced in 'Winter Is Coming', Ser Rodrick Cassel. Extensive torture at the hands of Ramsey Bolton may have nearly been his end, but he's barely made it through.
10 Jorah Mormont
A much more sympathetic survivor is Jorah Mormont, the devoted follower of Daenerys Targaryen (even if he was originally going to betray her). In the first episode, Ser Jorah gets only a brief appearance, where he swears fealty to House Targaryen. Since that moment, he has been close to death more than once (and exiled more than once, as well). From the fighting pits to contracting Greyscale, Jorah is most definitely a survivor.
9 Tyrion Lannister
Another incredible survivor, Tyrion Lannister has managed to make it through the Battle of the Blackwater, a death sentence, an ocean voyage stuffed in a crate, a brief stint as a slave, and nearly becoming dragon-chow... but he's still alive and kicking, and now that he's the Hand of the Queen (Daenerys, of course, not his sister Cersei), he's back in power. Power, though, is rarely stable in the Seven Kingdoms.
8 The Hound
Sandor Clegane may be too tough to kill (yet), but he very nearly didn't make it to the final season. The Hound started out as bodyguard to Prince Joffrey, and was seen as a brutal and violent man for most of the early seasons.
He still is, of course, but now he uses his talents in the service of Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen. The Hound has survived the wrath of Cersei, a battle with Beric Dondarrian, and nearly being murdered by Brienne and left for dead by Arya. But by the start of the final season, the Hound is still here (and yet to see Arya again).
7 Jaime Lannister
Unlike many of the other characters from the first episode, Jaime Lannister hasn't been through quite as many deaths - or near deaths - since season one. The Kingslayer hasn't had it entirely easy, though. He was captured by enemies and then lost a hand to Locke when he was captured again. He's seen his fair share of battles, and there was a brief moment where it looked like he could have drowned, but Jaime Lannister remains alive for the final season... admittedly, one hand short.
6 Sansa Stark
Sansa Stark is the definition of a survivor, although without having gone into the kinds of battles where swords are swung. Instead, the girl who was a delicate flower in the first episode has become a hardened woman, capable of ruling Winterfell. She survived Joffrey's mental torture, as well as Ramsay Bolton's very physical torture, and spent much of the show cowering or on the run before coming into her own as Lady of Winterfell.
5 Cersei Lannister
Like her brother, Jaime, Cersei hasn't come quite as close to death as many of the other survivors from the first episode. She's actually managed to spend most of the series with some degree of power in King's Landing - whether as Queen, Queen Mother, or her new Dark Queen self.
However, she has had to survive the deaths of her father and children, and of course, her torture in the Sept and Walk of Shame through the streets of her city. Despite her ability to survive, however, thanks to the Valonqar prophecy, its not likely that she'll make it through to the end.
4 Arya Stark/Nymeria
Another consummate survivor, Arya Stark has returned to Winterfell like her sister - but the ways in which these two Stark women survived has been very different. Arya fled from King's Landing when her father was betrayed, survived her 'kidnapping' by the Hound, traveled to Braavos and trained as a Faceless Man (surviving everything from blindness to a pitched battle with the Waif), and has now killed an impressive number of her fellow Westeros citizens.
Her wolf, Nymeria, hasn't been with her for much of this time, but she is also a survivor. Driven off after the Lannisters wanted to have her killed for biting Joffrey, Nymeria and Arya reunited in the woods, where it was revealed that the direwolf now has a pack of her own.
3 Daenerys Targaryen
Daenerys may have come further than almost anyone else over the course of Game of Thrones. Gone is the frightened girl in the first episode, sold to Khal Drogo, terrified of her brother, lost in the world. Now, Daenerys is Queen, a woman with dragons, armies, and a bid for the Iron Throne itself. She's passed through literal fire to get here, too - surviving not only Drogo's funeral pyre and the burning of the temple in Vaes Dothrak, but several less high-temperature attempts on her life. From kidnapping by the House of the Undying to poisoning attempts and battles, Daenerys has got some serious near-death experiences under her belt.
2 Jon Snow/Ghost
Jon Snow, aka Aegon Targaryen, didn't technically survive... but he was resurrected, which means he is still alive for season eight, and that's good enough! The Bastard of Winterfell rose to become Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, was murdered by traitors, and raised by the Lord of Light. He's survived wildlings, White Walkers, and more, and he's still going strong.
Ghost, his direwolf, is also still alive - and the only Stark direwolf to have spent the entire series (or close to that) with the Stark that adopted him (although they are now separated, with Ghost at Winterfell).
1 Bran Stark/The Three-Eyed Raven
The final Stark to survive from the first episode to the final season is Bran Stark - which is all the more surprising because the end of 'Winter Is Coming' saw him pushed off a tower, presumably to his death! Despite losing the use of his legs, Bran was able to survive the attack on Winterfell, a journey beyond the Wall, and attacks from the White Walker army. However, he's not quite the Bran that fans first met in episode one. Instead, he has now become the Three-Eyed Raven, and this may be seen as a death of sorts (as Meera says, he died beyond the Wall), but it's also a resurrection... and as one of the oldest and most powerful beings in Westeros.