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Want to predict who'll survive in Game of Thrones? There’s an algorithm for that

By Benjamin Bullard
Sansa Stark, Jon Snow, and Danaerys Targaryen in HBO's Game of Thrones

Don’t take this info and run to your nearest bookie, because it’s definitely for entertainment purposes only. But if you want to compare your final-season Game of Thrones predictions against the savviest of binge-watching AI machines, then some nerds in Germany got you covered.

Who’ll die? And more importantly, who’ll survive? Researchers at the Technical University of Munich reportedly have devised an algorithm to put a firm probability number next to the name of each of the Westerosi who’ve somehow managed to make it past horrible death in GoT's first seven seasons, according to The Verge.

Using statistical methods already familiar to insurance actuaries who rely on probability data to keep from losing money, the numbers-crunching also takes into account GoT-specific “metadata,” according to the report. Details both major and minor play a role, like which house a character hails from, whether they’re male or female (males die more often on the show), whether they’re a major or minor character, and even how many times they get a shoutout on fan wikis.

Out of all the show’s main players, the results heavily favor Daenerys Targaryen to make it all the way to the finish line. The algorithm serves up only a 0.9 percent chance that Daenerys will suffer the fate of so many of her dead relatives. Coming in behind the Mother of Dragons is a trio of reasonably good and mild-mannered guys with favorable death odds: Tyrion Lannister (2.5 percent chance), Lord Varys (3.2 percent), and the studious Samwell Tarly (3.3 percent).

Walking the razor’s edge, on the other hand, is Ser Bronn of the Blackwater, Jaime Lannister’s former right-hand man (literally). The mercenary life may sit well with Bronn, but it doesn’t bode well for his chances: The algorithm gives him only a 6.5 percent prayer of staying alive long enough to watch the end credits roll on Season 8. He’s followed pretty closely by characters who don’t all necessarily fail the eye test when it comes to longevity. Sure, the Mountain, Gregor Clegane, makes sense at 80.3 percent, but it’s at least a little surprising to see Sansa Stark come in third (73.3 percent) — just ahead of her brother Bran, the all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven (57.8 percent). Granted, being a Stark has never been easy in George R.R. Martin’s world, has it?

While we wait for the rest of Season 8 to prove or disprove the reliability of deep AI and machine learning, perhaps the researchers can deploy their new tech to settle a more pragmatic question — like which character we should trust with babysitting duty so we can experience the finale in peace (even if nobody on the show can)? The long winter continues this Sunday, when the second episode of the still-young season of Game of Thrones breathes more dragon’s fire onto HBO.