Game of Thrones returned with a shock ending to the sixth series premiere and shed further light on the future of Jon Snow.
The much-beloved character, played by Kit Harington, was stabbed and left for dead at the end of the last series but many viewers speculated that he could be brought back to life.
The opening episode, which aired simultaneously in the US and UK, suggested, however, that Snow really has perished as there was no indication he would be revived.
There was more brutal violence as Ellaria Sand, played by Indira Varman, and the daughters of her dead lover Oberyn murdered Oberyn's brother Doran Martell and his son.
But the most shocking moment came as the Red Woman, Melisandre, played by Carice van Houten, revealed her true self in an unexpected plot twist.
As she looked in a mirror and removed her necklace, the character is revealed to be a much much older and wrinkled woman.
Elsewhere, newly blinded Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) is beaten with a stick as she begs in the streets, while Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) reveals she she not only speaks fluent Dothraki but is a Khaleesi to ward off the unwanted sexual advances from her captor.
Meanwhile, Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) forms an alliance with Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) after they fight off Ramsay Bolton's henchmen.
The highly-anticipated return of Games of Thrones is the first time the television series has moved past the plot of George RR Martin's books.
There were reports that the first episode, which was shown on Sky Atlantic in the UK and HBO in the US, had been leaked online hours before the premiere.