There are less than two weeks between now and the "Game of Thrones" season four finale, but it's never too late to start considering season five.
In fact, it appears that the team behind "Game of Thrones" is already hard at work on the HBO show's fifth season, based on some casting breakdowns that recently appeared over on WinterIsComing.net. The breakdowns include a bunch of characters who are familiar to readers of "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons," the fourth and fifth books in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, and the templates for the upcoming season. But there are some notable omissions as well — characters who aren't mentioned on the list, but absolutely need to factor into season five.
Here's our breakdown of nine characters we need to see on "Game of Thrones" season five, plus some casting picks. SPOILERS ahead for those who have not read the books:
Who Is He?: He is Oberyn's brother, and the ruling prince of Dorne. It looks like Doran has a major role to play in season five, based on the leaked casting breakdowns, not to mention that whole Red Viper debacle. Doran suffers from a bad case of gout, leaving him in a wheelchair and reluctant to take face-to-face meetings with just about anyone outside of his inner circle. His stance on the Lannisters seems soft on the surface, but dig deeper and you'll find a soul as cold and calculating as Oberyn himself.
Who Should Play Him?: Joaquim de Almeida. He's most familiar for his villainous roles in films and television shows such as "Clear and Present Danger" and "24." Doran provides an opportunity for de Almeida to play another character with a thirst for blood on the tip of his tongue, but someone who can suppress those urges for the greater good. Timing is everything.
Who Is He?: Doran Martell's bodyguard. He's a man of few words — like, close to zero words, in fact. A point-of-view character in "A Feast for Crows," Areo is small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, but an interesting viewpoint into the ongoing intrigue in Dorne. Plus, he's married to his axe. Literally. That's pretty awesome.
Who Is She?: Doran Martell's eldest daughter and heiress of Sunspear. Gender roles in Dorne are not what they are in the rest of the Seven Kingdoms, so when Doran passes away — possibly very soon, due to his decreasing health — Arianne will be the ruling princess of Dorne. She's beautiful and brilliant, and knows how to use her sexuality to get what she wants — and what she wants is nothing short of playing the game of thrones.
Who Should Play Her?: Emmanuelle Chriqui. She already has history with HBO through "Entourage." Beyond that, she's stunning and smart, the type of woman some men might foolishly give their lives for — not saying that's what happens, but... you know.
Who Is He?: The Lord of White Harbor, a harbor city in the North of Westeros, just south of Winterfell. The head of House Manderly is a portly man marked (and, occasionally, saved) by his many chins, as well as his taste for pies. While he seems to have bent the knee to the Lannister-backed Boltons and Freys, Manderly is an old-school dude — he, like The North, remembers.
Who Should Play Him?: Robbie Coltrane. The actor who played Hagrid across all the "Harry Potter" films has the size, stature and personality to back up the larger-than-life Manderly. Whoever ends up with the role has to be somewhat high-profile, along the lines of Charles Dance as Tywin and Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder. Coltrane fits all the requirements and then some.
Who Is He?: Formerly the Lord of Griffin's Roost, and briefly the Hand of the King during the reign of Aerys Targaryen, before he was crushed by Robert's Rebellion. He was very close with Rhaegar Targaryen, but perhaps not as close as he would have liked. Since Rhaegar's death and the Targaryen's near-extinction, Connington has been on the run, but not without a purpose.
Who Should Play Him?: David Wenham. "Game of Thrones" won't be a true fantasy epic until the artist formerly known as Faramir shows up for the party.
Who Is He?: He's a hard character to discuss without diving into deep spoiler waters. Suffice it to say, Young Griff is very important, and a bit of a curveball for many of the things we've come to accept as true in the world of Westeros.
Who Should Play Him?: Nicholas Hoult. The "X-Men" star brings star power to the role, but not too much star power. He has warmth and sincerity written all over his face, but there's an intensity behind his eyes that would work wonders for Young Griff.
Who Is He?: Also called Crow's Eye. He hails from the Iron Islands, and is Lord Balon Greyjoy's younger brother. He has sailed all over the world as the captain the Silence, a ship that is crewed entirely by mutes who have had their tongues ripped out by Euron. That should tell you a lot about this guy. He wears an eyepatch to conceal a "black eye shining with malice." He's hated by all of his brothers. Probably because of the tongue-ripping thing, but also because he's an unabashed manipulator, a cruel warrior in battle, and rumored to have dabbled in dark arts.
Who Should Play Him?: Robert Knepper. Few actors on television play the cruel, cunning manipulator quite like this guy, who has had prominent roles on "Heroes," "Prison Break" and a number of other shows. Knepper deserves a bigger break in the form of a serious drama like "Thrones," and Crow's Eye is the perfect role to make it happen.
Who Is He?: Another of Balon Greyjoy's younger brothers, Victarion serves as the Lord Captain of the Iron Fleet. He's virtually unstoppable in battle; he never feels more alive than when he's taking another man's life. But he's a big, dumb brute who doesn't stand a chance in a battle of wits against anyone, possibly not even Orson Lannister. As such, he's easily manipulated by Crow's Eye, and sent off on an errand that is not likely to end well.
Who Should Play Him?: Ryan Hurst. He's a little young for the part, but the "Sons of Anarchy" veteran has all of the intensity and size that Victarion needs. It's about time someone put a massive battle axe in Hurst's hands and let him go to work.
Who Is He?: A hooded warrior who lives beyond the Wall, who meets up with Bran Stark and his fellow travelers. We're at the point where we should have met up with Coldhands by now on the show, so it's possible that he won't make the leap from the books. And that would be such a shame, because Coldhands is great! He rides a massive elk, commands a flock of ravens, and is somehow dead yet still alive — not quite a wight or White Walker, but not quite human, either.
Who Should Play Him?: Joseph Mawle, alias Benjen Stark from season one of "Game of Thrones." It remains unconfirmed, but popular theories persist that Benjen and Coldhands are one and the same. This hasn't been revealed in the books, but if Coldhands and Benjen are indeed the same person, the show can't introduce the character without bringing Benjen back into the mix. It's time to reveal that secret, Benioff and Weiss — no holding back now!