By Ben Travers | Indiewire April 17, 2014 at 10:34AM
In a series with as much bloodlust as "Game of Thrones," no one is safe. From the shocking season one beheading of Ned Stark to the not-so-fairy-tale endings of the Red and Purple Weddings, beloved and despised characters alike have met their end at the tip of George R.R. Martin's pen. Characters aren't so much expendable as they are fair game, with the program's borderline revolutionary surprise slayings becoming at the very least a trademark of modern television's innovations. So who's next? Indiewire will rank the characters most likely to be killed off every week -- with the person most at risk at the top -- based on circumstance, evidence, and plain 'ol gut feelings. Obviously, readers of the books already know what's coming, so please don't spoil it for those of us too busy, lazy, or simply disinclined to pick up the hefty novels. Without further ado, the unlucky few:
1) Tyrion Lannister
Direct Evidence: Call this pessimism. Call it predicting the worst to prepare for the worst. Call it whatever you want, but don't call it misguided. As much as we all love Peter Dinklage in general but especially as the wine guzzling, whore-mongering, King-defying Tyrion Lannister on "Game of Thrones," he's put himself in a terrible position. The dying King Jagweed used up his last prickish breath to point out Tyrion as his murderer before perishing three seasons too late. Tyrion has now been imprisoned by the heir apparent to the throne, Queen Cersei (though arguments will certainly ensue over who's the rightful King) -- who's also Joffrey's MOM! Methinks Cersei will need some convincing not to behead Tyrion post haste.
Circumstantial Evidence: As far as gut feelings go for Tyrion's demise, I don't really have one. There's dread due to the difficult position he's been cast in, but it's hard to imagine even the ruthless mind behind "Game of Thrones" killing off the fan favorite. Of course, that's probably what I would have said before Ned Stark lost his head...
2) Stannis Baratheon
Direct Evidence: If anyone is going to challenge the reign of Queen Cersei based on right, it will be Stannis Baratheon. After all, when his brother King Robert Baratheon died, he was the rightful heir to the throne. Joffrey was the bastard son of Jaime and Cersei, and Stannis would have taken the throne then if he was able to prove it, convince more armies to join his cause, or avoid the traps laid by Tyrion in the Battle of Blackwater. The knowledge of Joffrey's death will only reignite his quest for the Iron Throne, and -- more importantly to these rankings -- make him enemy #1 for Cersei. She knows he's the rightful heir and will do anything in her power to keep him from assuming the throne.
Circumstantial Evidence: Stannis hasn't been much more than a pawn for Melisandre for a while now, so his death wouldn't drastically alter the plans of his clan. This would be a major loss considering he's been with us so long and is a tremendous warrior, but his soul was lost long ago and Melisandre is certainly more powerful. It makes sense -- which probably means it won't happen.
Direct Evidence: When Tyrion falls, so falls Bronn. Considering his boss is imprisoned and likely to be killed, it only seems safe to assume Bronn will be suspected of murdering the King, as well. After all, who would have helped Tyrion poison the wine? Who has been loyal to Tyrion even without immediate compensation? Who risked his life for the suspected King Slayer time and time again? Who might be found out for sending Shae away on a boat against Tywin's orders? Bronn. So it's with a heavy heart, I rank him third most likely to perish.
Circumstantial Evidence: Very little. The above is basically all theory, and Bronn could be saved by his recent work with the legendary King Slayer, Jaime Lannister, who he's training to fight left-handed. That being said, if Tyrion is "proven" guilty (actually guilty or otherwise) and he doesn't die, it will be Bronn who's slain instead. Why? If you can't kill the fan favorite, do the next best thing. A second-in-command is almost as devastating as the leader.
4) Prince Oberyn Martell
Direct Evidence: From a viewer perspective, Oberyn is the number one suspect in Joffrey's death. The Lannisters have to figure that out...right? Cersei may be blinded by rage and Joffrey's damning finger wagging, but Jaime knows better. He was never Joffrey's biggest fan, despite being his royal guard. Jaime must listen to his brother's claims and find out the truth about Oberyn.
Circumstantial Evidence: It can't be his time yet. The speech Oberyn gave to Tyrion in the season four premiere as well as the fight he picked in the brothel soon after established the Prince as a major player. He can't die yet, even if Cersei finds out he killed her son.
5) Sansa Stark
Direct Evidence: She was whisked away from the meal just before Joffrey's death. Her absence will be noted, and she's married to Tyrion, the accused murderer, on top of that. Oh, and she's a Stark, a character flaw by birth for the Lannister family. Dark days lie ahead for Sansa...but that's nothing new for the one-time fiance to Joffrey (yuck).
Circumstantial Evidence: Despite marrying the fan favorite, she's never been one herself. Sansa's death wouldn't cause as much of a stir as the characters listed above her, thus her relatively low ranking despite damning direct evidence against her life.
Wild Card - Sandor "The Hound" Clegane
The wild card slot is reserved for characters with no real cause for alarm. They seem safe, especially compared to the five troublesome characters listed above them. I have no real reason to suspect Sandor's death other than the unofficial tagline of "Game of Thrones": expect the unexpected. That being said, he does get in quite a few fights and has seemingly joined forces with Arya, a hot-headed young girl approaching puberty -- not exactly the most sound ground to stand on. Despite being a rogue agent, so to speak, Sando has become a recent favorite among forgiving viewers and would still be sorely missed -- making him all the more likely to die.