‘Game of Thrones’ director says he ‘wanted to kill everyone’ at the Battle of Winterfell, but the creators wouldn’t let him

Beric Dondarrion was one of many victims at the Battle of Winterfell.

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Beric Dondarrion was one of many victims at the Battle of Winterfell.
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Helen Sloan/HBO

  • “Game of Thrones” director Miguel Sapochnik recently revealed that he wanted far more carnage during the Battle of Winterfell.
  • “I wanted to kill everyone,” Sapochnik told IndieWire. “I was up for killing absolutely everyone. I wanted it to be ruthless, so that in the first 10 minutes you say, ‘All bets are off; anyone could die.'”
  • The director said that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the HBO series, wouldn’t let him kill too many characters: “There was a lot of back-and-forth on that.”
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Some “Game of Thrones” fans were disappointed with the lack of carnage during the climactic battle against the Army of the Dead – and the episode’s director, Miguel Sapochnik, likely agrees with them.

Read more:‘Game of Thrones’ pulled a lot of punches during the epic Battle of Winterfell, and fans can’t decide if they’re relieved or disappointed

“I wanted to kill everyone,” Sapochnik said during a recent episode of IndieWire’s podcast. “I wanted to kill Jorah in the horse charge at the beginning. I was up for killing absolutely everyone. I wanted it to be ruthless, so that in the first 10 minutes you say, ‘All bets are off; anyone could die.'”

Jorah had an emotional death near the end of the episode.

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Jorah had an emotional death near the end of the episode.
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HBO

Sapochnik revealed that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the creators of the HBO series, wouldn’t let him kill too many people on the fourth episode of season eight, titled “The Long Night.”

“David and Dan didn’t want to,” he said. “There was a lot of back-and-forth on that.”

The so-called Battle of Winterfell did include a number of emotional deaths for major characters. Jorah Mormont, Edd, and Theon Greyjoy had been featured on the show since the first season. Lyanna Mormont was a huge fan favorite, and Beric Dondarrion heroically sacrificed himself for Arya.

Read more: Every important ‘Game of Thrones’ death, ranked from least to most tragic

But every other major character, aside from the Night King himself, emerged from the battle alive.

At one point, it looked like Brienne and Jaime were doomed.

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At one point, it looked like Brienne and Jaime were doomed.
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Helen Sloan/HBO

The showrunners convinced Sapochnik to save some material for the show’s penultimate episode, “The Bells,” which Sapochnik returned to direct.

Read more: Every major ‘Game of Thrones’ character who died during the battle in King’s Landing on episode 5

“With credit to them, they let me engage early,” Sapochnik said of Benioff and Weiss. “It was a sustained engagement. I got to really question and argue with them, and I’ve learned with them when to stop arguing because there comes a point when they dig in and you just don’t want to be there.”

Sapochnik is beloved by “Thrones” fans for helping to create the show’s most legendary battle sequences.

He directed Jon Snow’s first showdown with the White Walkers, “Hardhome,” on season five, as well as the epic “Battle of the Bastards” and the season finale, “Winds of Winter,” on season six.

Jon Snow on season five, episode eight,

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Jon Snow on season five, episode eight, “Hardhome.”
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Helen Sloan/HBO

But Sapochnik wasn’t initially “trusted or liked by the showrunners.” According to the director, Benioff and Weiss didn’t approve of some of the artistic decisions he made with his first attempt on season five, “The Gift.”

“I was visually policed for the first three months of my shoot,” Sapochnik said on the podcast, “and it made the creation of ‘Hardhome’ really difficult because I pissed them off.”

“The style that evolved from ‘Hardhome,’ that then was used subsequently as we went through the rest of ‘Game of Thrones’ was born in part out of weird necessity to find a functional and efficient way of shooting,” he continued. “And at the same time, to [do it] without shaking things up, because that’s what Dan and David did not want.”