‘Game of Thrones’: From Cradle to Grave — How the Years Have Affected the Cast

Season 7 of Game of Thrones will see worlds collide, as Daenerys Targaryen arrives in Westeros to stake a claim to the Iron Throne. She’ll have to wrest it from Cersei Lannister’s cold, scheming fingers, though. And then there are the Starks, who have finally returned to and regained their family seat in Winterfell. Of course, the greatest threat of all is waiting on the other side of the Wall — the Night King and his army of White Walkers.

As viewers count down the days until the HBO drama’s seventh-season premiere on July 16, Yahoo TV is launching our official countdown: #GoTIsComing. Check back here every day as we give updates on all of your favorite characters, details on an important new location, and a travel guide to the locations of Westeros. So pull on a thick coat and get ready for a long and brutal winter.

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Ned Stark had it easy: He died before the first season of Game of Thrones was even over. For the rest of Westeros, things have been hard. There have been assassinations, plagues, wars, people burned alive, and, yes, at least two weddings. The characters of GoT age like presidents and dogs: One year for us is like seven for them. Cersei, Jaime, Daenerys, Arya, and Jon have all come a long way since we first saw them; so much so that it can be easy to forget what they once were like.

Game of Thrones Season 7 premieres Sunday, July 16 at 9 p.m. on HBO.

Read more of our #GoTIsComing coverage:

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Preview: What’s Next for the Starks?
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Preview: What’s Next for the Greyjoys?
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7: Everything We Know So Far
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Peril-o-Meter: Who Dies Next?
‘Game of Thrones’ Spinoffs: What We Know (and Want)
‘Game of Thrones’: What’s the Deal With the Citadel?
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Map: A Catch-Up Guide to Where Everyone Is
‘Game of Thrones’: What’s Next For the Greyjoys?
Every ‘Game of Thrones’ Funko Pop! Doll You Can Buy Right Now
‘Game of Thrones’: 14 Times Littlefinger Was. The. Worst.
‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7 Preview: What’s Next For the Starks?
‘Game of Thrones’: Ranking the Couples From Eww to #Goals
‘Game of Thrones’ World Tour: A Guide to Seven Kingdoms Filming Locations Fans Can Visit IRL
* ‘Game of Thrones’: 15 Secrets and Details That the Costumes Reveal

Arya Stark

When we first meet Arya, she has the kind of spunk you expect from a sitcom child: puckish and full of rebellious energy. She’s the delightful young sprite always getting her hair tousled by the older siblings. The brutal deaths of her tutor and her father quickly replace that mischievousness with a cold determination for vengeance.

Arya could be anyone now. With her ability to change her face, what is left of the little girl we once knew? When she crosses every name off her list — and it seems almost impossible that those names won’t be crossed off one way or another — will there be anything left of Arya for her to return to?

(Credit: HBO)

Cersei Lannister

Look closely into Cersei’s eyes. At first, she appears to be the archetypal ice queen — pure scheming and malevolence. But the eldest Lannister heir harbors injuries and grudges behind her stern exterior that suggest a soul keenly aware of the injustice of the world around her. In some ways, she’s as much an idealist as Daenerys. After all, her primary motivation is love: love for her brother, love for her children.

By the time she takes the Iron Throne, everything she loves has been taken from her. All that’s left is the exterior she’s worn for so long. Feeling abandoned by her brother, with her children ripped from her arms, the only thing remaining for her is the power she has accumulated. Ironically, the only reason she ever sought that power was to protect those she loves. With nothing left to protect, where will her ambition lead her?

(Credit: HBO)

Daenerys Targaryen

Daenerys begins the show as a child bride — thankfully, not as young as the book casts her. Though there’s a steel in her that quickly becomes apparent, she looks very much like the toy doll the men in her life want her to be.

When she finally makes her way across the Narrow Sea, she has become a wise ruler. Her idealism is battered but intact. She has been a beggar and a prince and she knows now from experience that as queen, they’re both equally her subjects. Is she fit to rule the Seven Kingdoms? Yes. Will that happen? Well, the last few kings have proven that fitness is no bar to sitting on the Iron Throne…

(Credit: HBO)

Jaime Lannister

In another show, Jaime Lannister would have been the breakout heartthrob. He is absolutely beautiful — with his hair framing his face like an evening soap star and a chin that deserves to be on every teen girl’s wall in America. He’s the best swordsman in Westeros, conjuring images of the great swashbucklers of the ’30s and ’40s. But, of course, there’s the incest and the attempted child murder.

By the end of Season 6, he’s scraped rock bottom but clawed his way up. When we first met him, everything had been handed to him by his father. Now, he’s had his status stripped from him — along with his sword hand. Relearning to fight with his left hand is a metaphor for everything that he’s been forced to rebuild.

(Credit: HBO)

Jon Snow

Jon is in the sweet spot, legacy-wise, when we meet him. He has the privileges of royalty, but none of the responsibility. He’s a child with a child’s dreams; he goes off to seek fame in the Night’s Watch — which is what you do when you don’t know how harsh the outside world really is.

The King in the North has the face of someone who’s felt his life slip away and is still standing. Like Daenerys, he has been reviled and he has been revered, and he understands the responsibility of a ruler in a way that no one in King’s Landing possibly could.

(Credit: HBO)

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