This List is closed to voting and commenting
1 | 0.00%
This season-three highlight sees two couples bare both body and soul for very different reasons. Beyond the Wall, Jon and Ygritte consummate their relationship in a red-hot scene set in a secluded subterranean grotto. At the Bolton-controlled fortress of Harrenhal, Jaime and Brienne bathe together after their long captivity, and the exhausted Kingslayer explains the true story behind his nickname — he murdered the Mad King to save the people of King’s Landing, which he’d planned to level with wildfire — before collapsing in her arms.
2 | 0.00%
The most shocking death in the most shocking episode — which is obviously saying a lot — wasn’t that of Robb Stark, nor his pregnant queen Talisa, nor their unborn child, nor House Stark matriarch Catelyn. It was your idea of what this show was even about. Orchestrated by ambitious Northern Roose Bolton and vengeful old shitbird Lord Walder Frey, this almost unbearable slaughter killed off the show’s central story line itself. With the White Walkers and Dany’s dragons still constrained to the margins of the action, the Stark-Lannister war was the series’ spine. It is severed here, in the most dramatic and final fashion imaginable.
3 | 0.00%
The siege of King’s Landing, the assault on the Wall, the Battle of the Bastards: As impressive as each of these conflicts are, they were also telegraphed for weeks. What happened at Hardhome, a remote wildling settlement to which Jon Snow and his newfound ally Tormund Giantsbane led a humanitarian mission to help its people sail south, happened out of nowhere. With only the barking of dogs, the rumble of thunder, and a cloud of mist as a warning, the dead were suddenly upon the living, and the White Walkers followed. The chaos of “Hardhome” marries cinematic combat to raw terror as effectively as television has ever done, culminating in the resurrection of countless fallen humans by the demonic Night’s King in a gesture that feels obscene in its transgressive arrogance.
4 | 0.00%
During the climax of the show’s second season, everything that makes Game of Thrones great explodes in a geyser of green flame. The boat full of “wildfire” that serves as Tyrion Lannister’s secret weapon against the invading forces of Stannis Baratheon detonates with mind-boggling ferocity, dwarfing even what readers of the books might have imagined. Just as important as this sight are the sounds that follow: the screams and cries of burning, drowning, dying men. This is no antiseptic fireworks-display destruction. This is death. This is war.
5 | 0.00%
Impressive as it was when it aired, this breathtakingly grim battle episode has only grown in reputation as time passes: “I still think ‘Battle of the Bastards’ is the greatest battle ever portrayed in television history,” says “Baelor” and “Beyond the Wall” director Alan Taylor, “and I think it will be for a while.” Rife with bad decisions made amid the fog of war, the titular clash pits Jon Snow against Ramsay Bolton for the fate of Winterfell, the North, and quite possibly all of humanity. Rickon Stark, Wun-Wun the giant, and Ramsay himself are just three of the countless casualties, which slowly pile up into literal mountains of corpses. The savagery is anticipated earlier in the episode, in a way, by Daenerys’s use of her dragons to ravage an entire fleet in Meereen.
6 | 0.00%
Rarely, if ever, have the stakes of “the great game” been as clear as they are in this year’s season finale. In King’s Landing, Cersei Lannister eliminates all of her political enemies in one fell swoop and becomes undisputed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms — but loses her son Tommen to suicide in the bargain. In the Riverlands, Walder Frey toasts to victory over his enemies — then gets killed by Arya Stark after she serves him his own sons for dinner. In Winterfell, Jon Snow is crowned King in the North by his grateful lords — and though Sansa Stark bears a more direct claim, they may well be right anyway, since he’s secretly the blood of the Dragon. And in the East, Daenerys sets sail for the Seven Kingdoms at the head of a massive alliance between the Dothraki, the Unsullied, the Ironborn, the Dornish, and the Tyrells — and, of course, her dragons. Rulers rise, rulers fall, and winter is officially here.
7 | 0.00%
For a show with a reputation for callous brutality, Game of Thrones sure knows how to tear your heart out. Here, that power comes in the form of Sansa confronting her former “guardian” Littlefinger over surrendering her to the clutches of the Boltons, detailing the trauma of rape and abuse with diamond clarity. It comes in Daenerys saying good-bye to Jorah Mormont, a flawed man but as sincere a supporter as she’ll ever have, when he reveals his (supposedly) fatal greyscale infection. And it comes as Bran Stark realizes he broke the brain of his hulking friend Hodor, whose one-word vocabulary is the result of being ordered to “Hold the door” against the onslaught of the White Walkers and their zombie army during Bran’s telepathic journey through time.
8 | 0.00%
Stannis Baratheon deserted by his men and his Red Woman, defeated by the Boltons, and decapitated by Brienne of Tarth. Sansa and Theon jumping to freedom from the walls of Winterfell. Poor poisoned Myrcella Baratheon in the arms of Jaime Lannister, the father she acknowledged for the first time seconds earlier. Arya Stark wreaking bloody revenge against Ser Meryn Trant, arguably the worst knight in the Seven Kingdoms who isn’t nicknamed after an animal or a land mass, and who is blinded for his transgressions. Varys reuniting with Tyrion as the show’s premiere platonic power couple. Cersei Lannister forced by religious fanatics to endure a walk of shame that forces us to empathize with one of the show’s most resolutely difficult characters. And Jon Snow murdered as a traitor to the Night’s Watch by his own men. A killer finale.
9 | 0.00%
An episode consisting almost entirely of moments years in the making, this mid-season climax shows Jon and Daenerys touching for the first time (something readers of George R.R. Martin’s books have been anticipating for over two decades) and Arya Stark returning to Winterfell at last. But eventually, character beats give way to hoofbeats, as the Dothraki horde and Dany’s dragon absolutely annihilate the Lannister army.
10 | 0.00%
is is the big one. Game of Thrones is now known for I-can’t-believe-they-just-did-that shocks, and the unexpected death of Ned Stark is the daddy of them all. Killing off the undisputed main character of the series — played by Sean Bean, the show’s best-known, top-billed actor, seen on every promotional poster HBO produced — was the unmistakable sign that Game of Thrones would play for keeps.