The "Game of Thrones" Comic-Con panel brought in a packed house to the massive Hall H. Author George R.R. Martin acted as moderator, talking to stars Richard Madden (who plays Robb Stark), Michelle Fairley (Catelyn Stark), Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Rose Leslie (Ygritte) and Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) and producer Carolyn Strauss about Season 3.

We've got all the highlights from the panel, including the biggest announcement, which came at the very end: "Game of Thrones" Season 3 will premiere March 31, 2013 on HBO.

There was also some major Season 3 casting news, including Diana Rigg (yes, Emma Peele of the classic British series "The Avengers") as Lady Olenna Tyrell, "The Queen of Thorns"; Mackenzie Crook, as the wildling raider Orell, who "is a 'warg' or 'skinchanger,' with the ability to enter the mind of an animal and control its actions," according to HBO; Clive Russell as Bryndon Tully, a.k.a. The Blackfish; and 11 (yes, 11) others.

The panel kicked off with a highlight reel from Season 2. No new footage -- and not much nudity -- but still great for setting the mood. Keep reading for more goodness from Martin and the cast, and some inside scoop on which famous faces were there to watch the panel.

50 shades of "Game of Thrones" gray
Martin started his moderating duties by talking about the "gray characters" he's created in the "Game of Thrones" universe -- "It's not a simple world of heroes and villains. The characters have flaws." -- then asked Alfie Allen about Theon's darker storylines this season. "I don't think he's a villain. He's misguided, He's got issues, I can relate to that," Allen said. "Everyone's sort of flawed in it ... I don't think there's any straight heroes in 'Game of Thrones.'"

And even more gray
"I think she's got a huge amount of [insecurities]," Clarke said of Dany. "I think in Season 2 you saw her self doubt. She's so protective of her people and her dragons, she needs to be as strong as she can and not show her doubt. I think that's the beauty of the character -- it keeps her linked in and noble."

Let's talk about sex
Martin quickly turned the conversation to sex. "What's it like doing all those sex scenes?" Martin asked Allen. "It was fine. It was good. I enjoyed it ... I wanted to get in shape for it anyway. I wanted to feel like a warrior," Allen said, adding, "All the sex scenes he has are with prostitutes -- he's paying for it. It's not like he's a stud muffin!"

Martin then prompted Richard Madden about his own experiences doing sex scenes, but Madden admitted that he prefers violent scenes to sex scenes. "Swinging a sword is a lot more fun," Madden said, which the crowd got a big kick out of.

Where in the world is "Game of Thrones"?
On the subject of the show's many exotic shooting locations, Strauss said she believes it's the first TV show to shoot in four countries simultaneously: "I would probably put some money on it ... it's a phenomenally difficult show to do." Martin chimed in, joking that the Wolf unit is shooting in Belfast, the Dragon unit in Morocco and Croatia and the "Freeze Your Ass Off" unit in Iceland.

Big questions, still unanswered
Did Theon Greyjoy die last season? "We'll see what happens," Allen said. "What is dead may never die." Martin nudged Allen to tell a story about how the show's creators and writers David Beniff and D.B. Weiss tricked him. "Dave and Dan wrote a fake script for me -- they gave me a script and I got killed by Bran in it. I didn't say anything to them, I think they were expecting me to kick off about it." Apparently they kept upping the ante, teasing him about Theon becoming a zombie, and then (of course) a naked zombie.

Fair Khaleesi
Emilia Clarke, the only repeat panelist from last year (Martin joked that all the rest of them were scared off), said she's getting recognized a bit more these days without her wig on. "When it happens, it really happens," she said before telling a story about a woman whispering "Khaleesi" to her after doing a double-take as she stepped out of a department store elevator.

The magic of television
With the direwolves now large and in charge, they're obviously all CGI. "If it was real I'd be terrified," Madden said. "It's a fantastic silver ball on the end of a big wooden stick. It's a different challenge than actually having an animal. Emilia has lifesize replicas of the dragons, I just have a ball or a giant teddy bear wolf." And yes, they built scale models for Khaleesi's dragons in Season 2. "I got very protective of them," Clarke admitted.

It's all in the material
"It's incredibly relevant, that's why it's so brilliantly successful," Clarke said of the show's modern-day appeal. "It's dealing with issues that everyone's dealing with today. The whole thing is so beautifully written." Strausse agreed: "These characters are very complex human characters. I think that's what the show brings out -- it tells complex stories, really well told." And Martin denied that the story has political undertones: "I don't think my books are meant to be any veiled statement on politics ... It's about the human arc, the heart of the story is the characters."

Friends in high places
HuffPost TV's Laura Prudom spotted "Glee" stars Kevin McHale and Jenna Ushkowitz and "Hart of Dixie" star Scott Porter all sneaking in with special passes to see the panel. "The Big Bang Theory" star Kaley Cuoco also mentioned that she's a huge "Game of Thrones" fan at "The Big Bang Theory" Comic-Con panel earlier on Friday.

Check out our slideshow for more of our "must see" TV picks for San Diego Comic-Con 2012, and be sure to visit HuffPost TV over the next few days for our full coverage of the convention.

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  • DC Comics' Darkness & Light Art Exhibition

    <strong>When:</strong> Mon., July 9 to Sun., July 15 <strong>Where:</strong> Michael J. Wolf Fine Arts, 363 5th Avenue, San Diego, CA 92101 <strong>Why:</strong> If you're a fan of superheroes and villains, you won't want to miss this one-of-a-kind art show, presented to raise awareness and funds for the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa. The unique pairing of comic-inspired art with photography features a large-scale piece of original artwork by Jim Lee, the legendary artist and DC Entertainment co-publisher, featuring the profile of Batman in a color palette inspired by the hues of Africa. <a href="http://www.wecanbeheroes.org/darknessandlight" target="_hplink">More info here.</a>

  • Preview Night Pilot Screenings

    <strong>When:</strong> Wed., July 11 at 6 p.m <strong>Where:</strong> Ballroom 20 <strong>Why:</strong> Warner Bros. continue their annual Preview Night tradition with exclusive world premiere screenings of the pilot episodes of five of the most highly anticipated TV series of the 2012-13 television season: "666 Park Avenue," "Arrow," "The Following," "Revolution" and "Cult."

  • Nerd HQ

    <strong>When:</strong> Thurs., July 12 to Sun., July 15 <strong>Where:</strong> Block No. 16 Union & Spirits, 344 7th Avenue (7th and J), San Diego CA, 92101 <strong>Why:</strong> For the second year running, Zachary Levi's <a href="http://www.thenerdmachine.com" target="_hplink">Nerd Machine</a> presents Nerd HQ, a cornucopia of gaming, technology and nerdtastic "Conversations for a Cause" -- intimate Q&As with some of the industry's biggest stars to benefit <a href="www.operationsmile.org" target="_hplink">Operation Smile</a>. "Conversation" tickets cost $20 and guests include Joss Whedon, Stan Lee, Damon Lindelof and the cast of "Psych." <a href="http://www.thenerdmachine.com/conversation-panel-preview/" target="_hplink">More info here.</a>

  • The "Extra" at Comic-Con Stage

    <strong>When:</strong> Thurs., July 12 to Sat., July 14 <strong>Where:</strong> Bayfront Park between the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel. <strong>Why:</strong> Free entertainment and a festival atmosphere from noon 'til 10 p.m., including movie screenings of "The Goonies," "Beetlejuice" and the "Friday the 13th" remake; a showcase featuring all six Batmobiles; live performances from The Bacon Brothers, "The Voice's" Tony Lucca and Frenchie Davis; and on-stage interviews with Warner Bros. talent including stars from "The Big Bang Theory," "Childrens Hospital," "Fringe," "Nikita," "Person of Interest," "The Vampire Diaries" and more. <a href="http://comiccon.thewb.com/2012/wbsdccextrastagelineup/" target="_hplink">More info here.</a>

  • The Walking Dead Escape: Live The Apocalypse

    <strong>When:</strong> Thurs., July 12, 6 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Fri., July 13, 1 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Sat., July 14, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.; waves will run every 20 minutes. <strong>Where:</strong> Petco Park in downtown San Diego, CA. <strong>Why:</strong> Do you think you could survive a zombie apocalypse? Now's your chance to prove it as you navigate a ballpark infested with walkers and must climb, crawl, hide and slide your way to safety. "Survivor" tickets cost $75 and participants will receive an Exclusive Special Edition of the 100th Issue of "The Walking Dead." Less daring (but more bloodthirsty) fans can buy spectator tickets for $15. <a href="http://www.thewalkingdeadescape.com/" target="_hplink">More info here.</a>

  • "Nikita" Q&A and Exclusive Video Presentation

    <strong>When:</strong> Thurs., July 12 at 6 p.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Room 6BCF <strong>Why:</strong> Allow me to be self-serving for a moment, because yours truly is moderating this panel. But aside from representing HuffPost TV, the presentation also features the majority of the show's stellar ensemble cast, with Maggie Q, Shane West, Lyndsy Fonseca, Aaron Stanford and Melinda Clarke joining executive producer Craig Silverstein to spill a few secrets about Season 3.

  • "The Big Bang Theory" Screening and Q&A

    <strong>When:</strong> Fri., July 13 at 12:05 p.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Hall H <strong>Why:</strong> For the first time ever in Hall H, the mega-popular TV series returns to Comic-Con for a special screening and a lively discussion. Will Howard "Froot Loops" Wolowitz return from space? Where do things stand with Penny and Leonard? And will unscheduled handholding affect "The Relationship Agreement"?

  • "Firefly" 10th Anniversary Reunion Panel

    <strong>When:</strong> Fri., July 13 at 12:30 p.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Ballroom 20 <strong>Why:</strong> Calling all Browncoats! It's been 10 years since the crew of the Serenity first took flight in "Firefly" and for the first time ever, Science Channel will reunite Captain Mal Reynolds and the crew from the ship. Join Joss Whedon, Nathan Fillion, Adam Baldwin, Alan Tudyk, Sean Maher, Summer Glau, and many more for a trip down memory lane, some special surprises, and exclusive Science Channel giveaways. SHINY.

  • "Game of Thrones" Panel and Q&A

    <strong>When:</strong> Fri., July 13 at 2:45 p.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Hall H <strong>Why:</strong> Last year's panel was one of the most buzzworthy of Com-Con and now that the series has graduated to Hall H, it's certain to be even bigger. Cast members attending include Alfie Allen, Emilia Clarke, Michelle Fairley, Richard Madden and Rose Leslie, with author George R. R. Martin moderating.

  • EW: "Powerful Women In Pop Culture" Panel

    <strong>When:</strong> Fri., July 13 at 4:15 p.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Ballroom 20 <strong>Why:</strong> Entertainment Weekly presents the "Powerful Women In Pop Culture" (a.k.a. Women Who Kick Ass!) Q&A. The panel features Kristin Bauer van Straten ("True Blood"), Sarah Wayne Callies ("The Walking Dead"), Kristin Kreuk ("Beauty and the Beast"), Nikki Reed ("Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2"), and Anna Torv ("Fringe"). The fan-favorite females will open up about the power and privilege of playing characters that have redefined the rules for women.

  • TV Guide Magazine: "Fan Favorites" Panel

    <strong>When:</strong> Sat., July 14 at 1 p.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Indigo Ballroom, Hilton San Diego Bayfront <strong>Why:</strong> "Fan Favorites" brings together stars from TV's hottest shows for a lively discussion filled with behind-the-scenes scoop. Panelists (subject to change) include Nathan Fillion ("Castle"), David Giuntoli ("Grimm"), Joel McHale ("Community"), Tyler Posey ("Teen Wolf"), Maggie Q ("Nikita"), Matt Smith ("Doctor Who") and more.

  • "Fringe" Panel and Q&A

    <strong>When:</strong> Sun., July 15 at 10 a.m. <strong>Where:</strong> Hall H <strong>Why:</strong> Fringe returns to Comic-Con for its farewell panel to celebrate its fifth and final season. Series stars Anna Torv, Josh Jackson, Lance Reddick, Blair Brown, Jasika Nicole and John Noble, along with executive producer J. H. Wyman, offer a Q&A with fans and an exclusive video presentation. Following the panel is another cult hit, "Supernatural," featuring new showrunner Jeremy Carver, writer Ben Edlund, and cast-members Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Jim Beaver and Mark Sheppard.

Related on HuffPost:

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  • The Justice League, "The Big Bang Theory"

    "The Big Bang Theory" is the ultimate Comic-Con lover's show, but nothing beats the gang dressed as the Justice League, beating out a sea of Justice Leagues in their New Year's costume party contest.

  • Troy & Abed on Halloween, "Community"

    Right before <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=IXYUn5BOgHA" target="_hplink">Greendale's zombie outbreak</a> in Season 2's big Halloween episode, Troy and Abed tried out their geektastic costumes, which weren't such a huge hit with the ladies. It wasn't long before Troy was shirtless with just a "Dracula" toilet seat cover around his neck.

  • "Modern Family" Does Halloween

    The Pritchett-Dunphy clan doesn't mess around when it comes to Halloween. Phil and Claire's house was totally decked out and costumes ranged from sexy witch, gargoyle (<em>that's</em> what Gloria was saying!), zombie bride and groom, and Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, to, of course, a slutty Mother Teresa.

  • Bones as Wonder Woman, "Bones"

    To see Temperance Brennan dressed as Wonder Woman was every nerd's dream come true, but to hear her praise for costar David Boreanaz, who dressed as a nerd for the episode? Priceless. "I love nerds -- he's never been more attractive to me."

  • Bill as the Bionic Woman, "Freaks & Geeks"

    While the older freaks were out smashing pumpkins and knocking down mailboxes, the younger geeks were still trying to trick-or-treat with some sweet costumes. Our personal favorite of the bunch? Bill, dressed in drag as the Bionic Woman.

  • Seth Cohen as Spiderman, "The O.C."

    Thought that the "Spiderman" upside-down-in-the-rain kiss was really steamy? Always dreamed of recreating it? Seth Cohen did (albeit on accident) with his love Summer in this iconic "O.C." moment.

  • Castle's "Firefly" flashback, "Castle"

    He wasn't a Browncoat exactly, but Castle's "space cowboy" costume made him look a lot like his old "Firefly" character Mal.

  • Sarah as Princess Leia, "Chuck"

    This is why Con-goers will always have a special place in their hearts for "Chuck." Not only was Chuck the ultimate Nerd Herd hero, but his leading lady looked great fighting crime, selling yogurt and hot dogs or dressed in "Star Wars" costumes.

  • Halloween vampire & werewolf scary stories, "Community"

    Do you like scary stories? The "Community" gang sure does, although some were scarier than others. Annie's started out romantic, then quickly turned into vampire/werewolf awesomeness. Grab the other two parts of your love triangle and go to town!

  • Summer as Wonder Woman, "The O.C."

    Summer's striptease down to her Wonder Woman costume for Seth, golden lasso included, didn't even need the sexy "Santa Baby" soundtrack. Seriously. It's just as good without any sound, which is why it's another classic "O.C" moment.

  • Super Mario & The Princess, "Family Guy"

    So these aren't exactly main characters on "Family Guy," but we loved their Super Mario cutaway, featuring a pissed off princess and a rambling Mario with a heavy Italian accent. Optional accessories: bring your own mushrooms, turtle shells and gold stars.

  • Liz Lemon as Princess Leia, "30 Rock"

    In an attempt to get out of jury duty, Liz dressed as Princess Leia ... unfortunately, she fit right in with the rest of the crazies called in to do their civic responsibilities in New York City.

  • Erica Durance as Wonder Woman, "Harry's Law"

    "Smallville's" former Lois Lane Erica Durance made headlines for her guest starring role on NBC's ill-fated "Harry's Law" last season, all because she was donning her own superhero garb.

  • Dwight Schrute as a Sith Lord, "The Office"

    Would you pay $129 for a Sith lightsaber? If so, you're in good company with Dwight Schrute.

  • Darryl as Dracula & Meredith as Sookie, "The Office"

    "The Office" knows how to do Halloween. Need more proof? Check out Darryl as Dracula (2:33 mark) and Meredith as "True Blood's" Sookie Stackhouse (3:43 mark), complete with a fake blonde wig and Merlotte's waitress uniform.

  • Barney's Stormtrooper, "How I Met Your Mother"

    There's always a horde of Stormtroopers at the Con, but you can be the only one who's actually Barney's collectors' edition prop Stormtrooper from "How I Met Your Mother."

  • Fez as Batman, "That '70s Show"

    Don't mess with Fez! Batman might be a crime-fighter, but this foreign exchange student has no problem fighting <em>or </em>committing crimes in the name of good trick-or-treat candy.

  • Phoebe as Supergirl and Monica as Catwoman, "Friends"

    In "The One With the Halloween Party," Chandler was a giant pink bunny, Joey was Chandler and Ross was "Spud-nik" (of course), but it was the ladies who really brought the awesome: Check out Phoebe as Supergirl and Monica as a sexy Catwoman. Meow!