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Here’s a look at the most shocking moments from the finale of the seventh season of ‘Game of Thrones.’
USA TODAY

Spoiler alert! The following contains spoilers from Game of Thrones Season 7 Episode 7, “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Read our recap of Episode 7 here, Episode 6 here. 

The most shocking thing about the Game of Thrones season finale was not a toppled Wall or that an aunt and her nephew slept together. The most surprising aspect of “The Dragon and the Wolf,”  was what it didn’t do. In the episode’s nearly 80 minute running time, only one named character was confirmed to have died. 

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On Thrones, at least in the first six seasons, death was as random and tragic as it is in real life. Heroes, villains, extras, they’re all equally in danger of being snatched away. It established this definitively in the first season by killing off Ned Stark, its protagonist and moral center, which, at the time, felt unprecedented. And then it continued this pattern with massacres like Red Wedding and Cersei’s destruction of the Sept, which felt like the last time truly major characters were killed (no offense to Olenna or Littlefinger). 

As a result, tension was derived from the fact that everyone was constantly in danger no matter their past or their future plans. Not coincidentally, Cersei’s coup was the last time a twist on the series was truly shocking or devastating. It fulfilled the promise that every scene with your favorite character could be his or her last. 

It’s why it feels so odd and unfamiliar that in the Season 7 finale, the only major death was Littlefinger’s, who was executed by Arya and Sansa for his many crimes, in a moment so telegraphed it felt unsubstantial.Tormund and Beric might be dead, because they were on the Wall when the Night King and Viserion brought it down, but we can’t know for sure based on the way the final scenes were shot. 

And it’s not just the finale that seemed to shroud its major characters in a veil of safety (especially its heroes). During the White Walker battle in Episode 6, the only named character to die, other than the dragon, was Thoros of Myr. He perished along with a number of wildlings the episode didn’t bother to make clear were along for the ride, while Jon miraculously emerged after sinking in a frozen…