In a little under a month from now, the eighth and final season of HBO’s critically-acclaimed fantasy series Game of Thrones will drop, much to everyone’s excitement.
As the conclusion of Game of Thrones draws ever closer, let’s look back at some of the most heart-wrenching, heart-breaking, fist-pumping, blood-boiling, blood-freezing scenes this beautiful but brutal beast of a show has given us since 2011. In no order of merit, of course.
***WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD FOR YOU WHO HAVE NOT CAUGHT UP, SO READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
1. Battle of the Bastards
Seen in: Season 6 Episode 9 “Battle of the Bastards”
Major players: Jon Snow, Ramsay Snow
“Do you like to play games, little man? Let’s play a game.”
Before Seasons 7 and 8, the Battle of the Bastards was the undisputed largest battle scene ever to be filmed for television. To jog your memory a little: Jon Snow (Kit Harington) was baited by his bastard counterpart Ramsay (Iwan Rheon) into saving his younger half-brother Rickon moments before the battle began. Of course, because some kids only know how to run in straight lines, Rickon dies before he can even reach Jon, provoking him to abandon all of his battle plans and charge headlong into the Bolton army.
Naturally, Jon’s coalition army of Night’s Watch members and wildlings gets overwhelmed by Ramsay’s in a scintillating 15 minutes of music-less, no-nonsense fighting and carnage, and before long the young half-Stark is literally buried in a mosh pit of bodies that would make any Slayer concert look like a joke. But of course, we all know what happens after that, as a Petyr Baelish-shaped deus ex machina comes to the aid of Jon Snow & Co. with the arrival of the Knights of the Vale on horseback blindsiding Ramsay Snow’s forces.
This serves as a watershed moment in the battle, and Ramsay Snow’s army is quickly whittled down to just some stragglers and himself. Let’s not even talk about the one-on-one the two Snows had, because there was always going to be one winner between the two. So satisfying was the multi season reunion of the Stark kids and their old home of Winterfell.
And later on we finally get Ramsay’s comeuppance – his “Girls” – six famished bloodhounds get sicced on him by Sansa Stark as a final farewell to a major pain in the butt for the last few seasons. Talk about getting what’s coming to you.
2. Daenerys Gets An Army
Seen in: Season 3 Episode 4 “And Now His Watch Has Ended”
Major players: Danaerys Targaryen, Missandei, Kraznys mo Nakloz
This once scene made lots of fans want to learn Valyrian, and it’s no surprise why. Here, we’ve witnessed the birth of a truly terrifying leader in Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke). Not only was she beautiful, but she was also charismatic, intelligent, and cunning, and all those aspects were demonstrated here to give you a taste of the awesome badass Mother of Dragons we know her to be currently.
For those that have trouble remembering what happened in this scene, Danaerys was in negotiations with slave trader Kraznys mo Nakloz in the city of Astapor for an 8,000-strong army of Unsullied warrior-eunuchs, in exchange for ownership of Dany’s three dragons. Initially, we see her in a little bit of a disadvantage, seeing her as an inexperienced foreigner attempting to deal with a sly fox such in Nakloz, who constantly barraged her with Valyrian insults, with the impression Dany didn’t understand Valyrian. So the trade happened – Dany got her army, and Kraznys got his new pet Drogon.
But little did he know that our favourite Targaryen badass was born speaking the stuff, and, as he struggled with controlling Drogon, Dany unveiled her uncanny ability to speak the old tongue fluently, fully commanding the Unsullied without so much as a sweat. How the shift in power happened so quickly, to our amazement and to Kraznys’ horror.
And, turning back to face the hapless slave trader who still had no clue how to control Drogon, Dany uttered the word to set him – and the audience – alight. And that completed the transformation of innocent, helpless little Dany to the badass Queen we’ve all come to love today.
3. The Red Wedding
Seen in: Season 3 Episode 8 “The Rains of Castamere”
Major players: Robb Stark, Talisa Stark, Catelyn Stark, Walder Frey, House Lannister (off-screen)
“The Lannisters send their regards.”
If you’re a madcap like the author of this article, you’d probably be either humming or whistling the tune of the titular “Rains of Castamere”, or playing it on your Spotify or YouTube, when reading this bit. The iconic song was played moments before some fan-favourites of the show at the time were all killed off in one swift motion.
If only Robb Stark (Richard Madden) hadn’t married Talisa (Oona Chaplin). If only Walder Frey hadn’t been so greedy. If only Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) had accepted her sons’ wishes to marry an outsider. If only Robb and Talisa hadn’t named their two-and-a-half-minute old son after Sean Bean’s character (because, you know, his characters always die). If only Arya Stark and The Hound had arrived earlier… so many if only’s, but there was always going to be one outcome from this blood-splattered scene, the impact of which can still be felt five seasons on, firsthand witness Arya most especially.
Thankfully for many of us, and her, justice was served most satisfyingly, with Arya herself coming back to The Twins to murder not just poor ol’ Walder (we’re using the word “poor” just as a formality here, but no one really sympathises for Lord Frey at this point), but the entire House Frey.
A girl must have her vengeance, after all.
4. Hodor: Origins
Seen in: Season 6 Episode 5 “The Door”
Major players: Hodor, Bran Stark, Meera Reed, Three-Eyed Raven, White Walkers
“Hold the door! Hold the door! Hold door! Hold door! Hodor! Hodor! Hodor!”
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking scenes in all of Game of Thrones is the demise of everyone’s favourite gentle giant. Context: Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) and Meera Reed (Ellie Kendrick) have to escape the lair of Brynden “Three-Eyed Raven” Rivers, which is under assault by the undead and the White Walkers. Problem? They’re closing in on them, fast. And what do you do when you’ve been a loyal servant to the Starks all your life, and all you want is for them to live to fight another day? You hold the damn door.
That’s right, Hodor (Kristian Nairn), original name Wylis, sacrificed himself to save the escaping Bran and Meera. A noble act, if not heartbreaking. But if you think about it more, you’d see that all this was partially due to Bran. was subject to the machinations of none other than Bran Stark, who spent that entire episode warging recklessly, despite the Three-Eyed Raven’s warnings.
One of which involved him prodding into young Wylis’ (Sam Coleman) mind, who then was still sound of mind and speech. During the escape, however, Bran suddenly warged into Wylis yet again, who this time entered a series of violent fits, and overheard Meera screaming “Hold the door!” to present-day Wylis/Hodor. No prizes now for guessing what happens next.
We miss you, Hodor.
5. The Mountain and the Viper
Seen in: Season 4 Episode 8 “The Mountain and the Viper”
Major players: Oberyn Martell, Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, Tyrion Lannister, Cersei Lannister
“You murdered her! You raped her! You killed her children!”
Of all the mano ý mano duels and fight scenes in Game of Thrones, none stand out more than the epic but tragic showdown between these two fighters.
In the red corner, we have the cunning, the graceful, the sexy spearman, Oberyn “The Viper” Martell, whose riveting performance by Pedro Pascal lit the audience up during his very brief stint with the show, had it not been for his untimely demise at the hands (literally) of his blue corner counterpart: the stoic, imposing, stone-cold killer, Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, portrayed ever so coolly by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson.
Though we have never actually seen what transpired in Oberyn’s constant chant-like verbal abuse of Sir Clegane regarding the death of his sister Elia Martell (because it happened long before the events of the show started), we still feel for him, especially because we spent a considerable amount of time with Pedro Pascal’s character up until this point.
And, again, when a scene lingers on for too long, Murphy’s Law applies yet again. And this time it came in the form of Oberyn’s skull being squashed like a pumpkin by Mr Clegane. We can only imagine the collective gasps and ear-piercing screams made by the audience when this happened, not just his consort, Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma).
Good thing Gregor Clegane died not long after, thanks to Oberyn’s poison-tipped spear… right? Wrong, with a capital “W”.
Damn you, Qyburn.
Seen in: Season 5 Episode 8 “Hardhome”
Major players: Jon Snow, Tormund Giantsbane, a crap ton of wights, the Night King
“The long night is coming, and the dead come with it.”
Hardhome may not have the epic feel of Battle of the Bastards, or as heartbreaking as the Frozen Lake Battle, but it was the debut of the big bad of the franchise, the one they call the Night King. And, boy oh boy, did they make him oh-so satisfyingly terrifying in this scene.
In another 15-minute-odd fight sequence that saw the unassuming Free Folk fishing village get invaded by marauding wights, we saw how easily a small settlement – let alone an entire city – get wiped clean by the relentless undead, despite the valiant efforts put up by the Night’s Watch, let by (you guessed it) Jon Snow. Among the wights were a couple of White Walkers in the mix, and yes, they were formidable in their own right, Jon having had a close shave once or twice in a scuffle with one.
And then the Night King happened.
Let me show you… my Funko collection.
The effect and presence he had was certainly felt among the living combatants, and even spread to the audience at some point. The silent, blue-eyed undead boss strode into Hardhome as if it was his home, with the flick of a wrist, the hundreds and thousands of wights under his command just got doubled with the corpses that piled up in the village, and cranked up to 11 in terms of savagery, easily shaving off the Night’s Watch and Wildling ranks as if they were made of butter. How quickly the fear and despair spread among the survivors at the end of the scene, especially in the stare-off between Jon and the Night King. Not a single word was uttered by the latter, and we always knew that was just a mere taste of his terrifying power.
7. The Purple Wedding
Seen in: Season 4 Episode 2 “The Lion and the Rose”
Major players: Joffrey Baratheon, House Lannister, House Tyrell, Sansa Stark
“Oh, someone help the poor boy!”
Okay, so up until this point, we haven’t really had a scene that made most of us smile like excited little children opening their presents during Christmas much like this one. The Purple Wedding was no gorefest like its more tragic and bloody cousin, The Red Wedding (see entry no. 3 above), a season prior, but it was certainly just as shocking and surprising for many who watched it for the first time.
Up until this point, we’ve had three full seasons’ worth of hatred and loathing for the then-current Lord of the Seven Kingdoms built up. King Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson, in what would be his finest performance as the bastard child-king), who was on that day newlywed to Queen Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer), was still firing on all snarky and downright mean-spirited cylinders, tensing up the joyous occasion by humiliating his uncle Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) in an attempt to show off his balls as King.
Naturally, sparks flew between the two Lannisters, even with the rest of their family and House Tyrell, as well as all the guests and servants onlooking. It’s a scene that is an excellent blend of tension and trying to suppress it, with Margaery attempting multiple times to lighten everyone’s mood. Of course, Joffrey being Joffrey, he just wouldn’t know how to back down, directing all his spite towards his uncle. Until he starts choking on his wine, coughing blood, falling into a series of fits and the irises of his eyes turn purple (hence the name of the occasion).
And who’s to blame? Certainly not Olenna Tyrell (which we later learn is the true mastermind of this coup), or the innocent (and faily useless) Sansa Stark, who just sat pretty throughout. Of course, the natural choice for culprit would be The Imp, just because. A bittersweet ending for an otherwise hugely satisfying character death that was a long time coming.
8. Cersei’s Walk of Shame
Seen in: Season 5 Episode 10 “Mother’s Mercy”
Major players: Cersei Lannister, Septa Unella, High Sparrow
Ah, yes. Mama Lannister (Lena Headey) got what’s coming to her too, although not in the way many had hoped. Still, it was rather satisfying to see Queen B(we’ll leave you to fill out the rest of this B-word out for yourself) get utterly humiliated in this scene. Cersei was exposed (pun intended) for incest (but not with Jamie. It was with her not-so-well-known cousin Lancel, who joined the Faith Militant and sold her out for it), among other things.
Accompanying her for the dreadfully long walk was the stoic Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham), whose repeated chanting of “Shame” popularised the word beyond the small screen, even being immortalised as a meme on many occasions. Her unrelenting chanting, followed by the angry bystanders assaulting the butt-naked Cersei (body double notwithstanding) with rotten fruit, vegetables, eggs and all sorts of junk, all contributed to a really humbling experience for the then-Queen Mother, after all the nonsense she threw at many other characters so far.
Of course, this merely only served to strengthen Cersei’s resolve to reinforce her iron grip on the Iron Throne a season later, when she, as her first act as Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, got her revenge by bombing the The Sept which was full of her enemies, including the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) and the Faith Militant, as well as locking Unella up with her glorified undead bodyguard Gregor Clegane, repeating the dreaded chant that emotionally scarred her during the Walk of Atonement.
A damn shame, too. Unella was growing on some of us.
9. Littlefinger’s Death
Seen in: Season 7 Episode 7 “The Dragon and the Wolf”
Major players: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Bran Stark/Three-Eyed Raven
“Sometimes when I’m trying to understand a person’s motives, I play a little game.”
This death was another one that at least half the fanbase (the half that doesn’t enjoy all the lying, politicking and backstabbing done by Littlefinger, at least) thoroughly enjoyed. For all the ratting the rat-faced Petyr Baelish (no offense to the dashing Aiden Gillen, by the way) did, surviving this far into the series, his actions would always come back to bite him, and bite hard they did.
After all, it was he who effectively started the War of the Five Kings at the beginning of the series – from the offscreen murder of Jon Arryn that spurned Ned Stark to recluctantly leave his family for Winterfell (thus setting the downward spiral poor Ned’s family would go down for majority of the seris), the manipulation of various parties within King’s Landing and out, the usurpation of power at the Vale after murdering Lysa Tully, the Stark kids’ aunt, conspiring with Olenna Tyrell for the murder of King Joffrey Baratheon, and so on. Chaos was truly his ladder.
And Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) was at the heart of his conniving, often haplessly used as his bargaining chip for power. But, as she said so herself, despite being a “slow learner”, she still managed to learn how to play the game, and turned that chaos Littlefinger revelled so much in on him. Baelish fooled the previous generation of Starks so well, but not the current wolf pack, especially with the all-knowing Bran, now transcended as the Three-Eyed Raven, on their side. He was never going to escape the web of lies he spun so long ago.
And who better than to land the killing blow than vengeful Arya (Maisie Williams)? So satisfying.
10. The Fall of Bran (and ultimately the Starks)
Seen in: Season 1 Episode 1 “Winter Is Coming”
Major players: Bran Stark, Jamie Lannister, Cersei Lannister
“The things I do for love.”
Game of Thrones prides its many scenes through the buildup of cause-and-effect. Though Littlefinger certainly played his part setting the stage for the events of Game of Thrones, many would also argue that, if not for this particular scene, the lives of the Starks would’ve possibly become a lot smoother.
From Bran not heeding his mother Catelyn’s words to refrain from climbing the tower at Winterfell, to Jaime and Cersei not being able to contain their intense sibling love for one another at least until they returned to King’s Landing, a lot could’ve happened differently had these characters not made those choices.
But, then again, we wouldn’t be getting all these epic scenes above had this not happened, right? After all, it was always Bran’s destiny to become the Three-Eyed Raven, and Cersei’s rise to power was certainly a matter of sooner or later. Jaime’s hand, though… that was kinda his fault. Oh well.
11. The Frozen Lake Battle
Seen in: Season 7 Episode 6 “Beyond the Wall”
Major players: Jon Snow & the Brotherhood Without Banners (read: Argonauts), Danaerys Targaryen & Her Children, White Walkers
“I just got hit by a dead bear… funny old life.”
This scene is one hell of a ride. The stakes have never been higher in any one scene on this list, and that was to retrieve a still… undead wight, for the purposes of convincing the rest of the Seven Kingdoms about the threat of the Army of the Dead. Of course, you’d naturally be rooting for #TeamLiving in this scene, because up against them are the nefarious White Walkers, let by the Night King. But despite the threat the Army of the Dead offered, the ragtag group of fighters packed quite the punch.
From Beric Dondarrion’s (Richard Dormer) badass flaming sword and multiple lives, to Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Rory McCann) exchanging quick-witted quips with axe-wielding redhead Wildling badass Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju), and to Jon Snow knowing something better than nothing about the White Walkers, you’ve got a badass lineup of fighters who held their ground valiantly against the undead, Avengers-style. Of course, until they got overwhelmed. Again.
Enter Dany and her kids, Drogon, Viserion and Rhaegal, swooping in to save the day, melting the faces of the wights and White Walkers en masse. Again, when a scene lingers for too long, Murphy’s Law was always going to kick in. And with all those White Walkers looking intensely up at Danaerys’ scaly children, you could almost telegraph what they were going to do next.
“I said GET TO THE CHOPPA, dammit!!!”
Like an Olympic javelin thrower, the Night King, without blinking, took Viserion down just before everyone could call it a day, much to Dany’s horror. And all those who laughed off theories of an undead dragon in the control of the Night King were definitely silenced, as an episode later, we witnessed one of the most magnificent – if not horrific – moments in the series, with undead Viserion breaching the Wall, setting the stage perfectly for Season 8.
It was certainly a toughie to pick the best scenes out of so many epic ones, but these are certainly up there with the best in terms of impact and memorableness. We know you have your own list of favourite GoT scenes, so we’d like to hear them from you in the comments below!
The folks at HBO Asia have gone above and beyond to provide you with multiple ways in which you can watch it, be it on their new partners Singtel and Toggle, or the old guard in the form of StarHub, as well as HBO’s own mobile streaming platform, HBO Go.
Regardless of the platform, many new fans will no doubt come into the fray, hastily binging away to get up to speed before the April 15 premiere of Season 8.
Marion grew up an addict of RPGs. He likes diving in, taking in the worlds, the characters, the stories… and sometimes forgets to go to sleep because of it. Nearly every sentence he speaks has a Dungeons & Dragons reference. He also dreams of becoming a Witcher someday.