12. Ramsay Bolton becomes dog food
As the old saying goes: you live by the dog, you die by the dog. Ramsay Bolton finally got his comeuppance in series six in one of the most satisfying Game of Thrones scenes yet: Sansa Stark, the long-suffering object of his sadism, getting her revenge by setting his own dogs on him. Arrogant to the last, Bolton is sure that his own hounds won’t harm him, that they were loyal. “They were [loyal],” replies Sansa. “Now they’re starving.”
11. Arya Stark’s learns that revenge is a dish best served with two sons baked into a pie
Series six was a series of revenge, a series where the Starks finally started to fight back. And this scene is probably one of its greatest examples. In a spectacular twist, Arya Stark is revealed to be in disguise at the Twins – having, presumably, stolen a face from the Hall of Faces before leaving Braavos – and comes face-to-face with Walder Frey, the man who betrayed and killed her mother and brother. But before murdering him, she has a special surprise. She has also killed his sons, Lothar and Black Walder, carved them up and baked them in a pie. Because Arya is nothing if not dramatic.
10. Tywin Lannister does not excrete gold
After a life of neglect and disdain, Tyrion puts his daddy issues to rest with a single, shocking crossbow bolt – fired after Tywin’s Pulp Fiction-esque mistake of calling Shae a ‘whore’. It wasn’t exactly the most dignified end for Tywin Lannister, the most powerful man in Westeros who, ultimately, dies on a toilet. And, as George RR Martin writes in the books, ‘Lord Tywin Lannister did not, in the end, shit gold.’
9. Ygritte knows death
There’s not much that Jon Snow knows apparently, but he does know grief after his lover Ygritte is struck down in the midst of battle. What makes her death more shocking however is who kills her: Olly, who will become known to Game of Thrones fans as the worst child who ever lived, with him going on to (literally) stab Jon in the back.
8. Viserys Targeryen finally gets his crown
Game of Thrones has a dark sense of humour. Viserys Targaryen, the vicious heir to the Iron Throne, wants nothing more than a crown – and in this shocking scene he finally gets one. What an expensive way to die.
7. Joffrey gets what he deserves
Compared to Ramsay Bolton and Walder Frey, the days of sadistic boy king Joffrey seem like fond, distant memories. But we should never forget his reign of terror – or how deeply satisfying it was to see him poisoned, dying in his mother’s arms.
6. Ned Stark does not get what he deserves
It’s the death that formed Game of Thrones’ brutal, ‘anyone can die’ reputation: Ned Stark, one of the biggest characters in the show (and who was played by its most well-known actor), beheaded on Joffrey’s whim. It was a moment so shocking that it’s aftershock are still felt today.
5. Jon Snow is stabbed to temporary death
Jon Snow is not dead, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t die. At the end of series five, Game of Thrones pulled one of the show’s most notorious plot twists, with a band of Night’s Watch brothers betraying Jon and stabbing him to death. Well, it was shocking at the time.
4. Tommen channels The IT Crowd
Depending on how you feel about it, Tommen’s death was either the tragic end of a naive boy king, or a stroke of dark, comedic genius. Tommen, carefully removing his crown, casually walking out of shot, casually walking back into shot, and then – as if it was totally normal – jumping out of the window. It was less a death, and more of a punchline.
3. Prince Oberyn’s head is crushed like a creme egg
The death of Prince Oberyn was not only shocking, but gruesome. It happened during his fight with the Mountain, a fight that he had dominated until he got cocky. One mistake and Oberyn was on the ground, trapped under the might of the Mountain, for whom the normal rules of strength don’t apply. Either that, or Oberyn’s skull is made out of paper mache.
2. Shireen is burned alive for some reason
‘World’s Greatest Dad’ mugs are not exactly selling out in Westeros, and even if they were, Stannis Baratheon certainly wouldn’t deserve one. In one of Game of Thrones’ most shocking, and unpleasant moments, the would-be king sacrifices his daughter to the Lord of Light – an act that he hopes will turn the tide of his invasion of Winterfell. What this means, in more simple terms, is that Game of Thrones shows a screaming, pleading child being burnt alive at a stake. Fun, fun, fun.
1. It’s a nice day for a Red Wedding
Could it have been anything else? The Red Wedding is a death(s) so spectacularly shocking that it has become pop culture shorthand; usually for an event of brutal, sweeping defeat, or extraordinary betrayal. For the Red Wedding was both those things; a huge, instant defeat for Robb Stark and a sensational act of treachery by Roose Bolton and Walder Frey.
For fans of the books, there was an almost morbid glee leading up to this moment; a sort of cold, perverse schadenfreude at the prospect of seeing new fans, so innocent and green, lose their minds at the moment where Robb and his mother, Catelyn, are betrayed and butchered at the word of Walder Frey. Yet the slaughter of the beloved Starks, whilst painful to read in the books, took on a new form of horror and heartbreak on screen.
The beauty of the Red Wedding was been hope: something Game of Thrones uses devastatingly. It teases you with it. It makes you think that perhaps, for once, everything will work out, that we’ll see a successful, war-winning union between Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey, or a long-awaited reunion between the long-lost Arya Stark and her mother. The narrative gives you hope because it knows you care. And then, with the closing of grand hall doors and the strings of a Lannister song, it kills everything you care about right in front of you. That’s the thing about hope: it can be just as cruel as despair.