I’ve been planning this for a while, but have only just managed to nail down the order of my Top 10. The idea for this post came from me needing to defend the death I’ve put in first place, and then I felt the need to present my opinion on some of the others. In a show so full of death and violence, I have inevitably had to leave out some top contenders. Lord Tywin Lannister, for example, was a brilliant death, but it didn’t impact me the way some of these in my list have. I also chose not to include Jon Snow’s death, as brutal as it was, mostly because it was never going to be a permanent thing. Some of my choices are probably controversial and unusual, but differing opinions are often great conversation starters, particularly when it comes to beloved TV shows.
The death of the young king is much lower down on my list than I ever thought it would be. Unfortunately, I knew before I started watching the series that Joffrey, First of His Name, did not make it through the six seasons that have been aired so far – a major downside to watching a popular show after it has become popular. Therefore the shock factor that everybody else would have inevitably enjoyed was missing for me, despite not knowing when or how the death happened.
As awful as the character was, he was also completely brilliant, and I think the actor did a fantastic job in portraying such a despicable person. I found myself thoroughly enjoying Joffrey’s scenes, and was actually quite disappointed that he was killed off so soon. There was also some disappointment surrounding the identity of his killer, as I had really hoped that Sansa had been knowingly responsible. However, there is no denying that being poisoned at your own wedding is pretty awful, so he had to make my top 10.
I am cheating slightly and putting these two characters together. They returned to the show together after a long hiatus and were both murdered mere episodes later by Ramsey Bolton, so I feel very similarly about their deaths.
Now, my boyfriend is the worst person to watch a TV show with when he knows what’s coming and you don’t. He had me completely convinced that Osha did not reappear after taking Rickon and his wolf to ‘safety’. I was so happy when she unexpectedly returned that her death a couple of episodes later was a pretty major blow for me. She was a brilliant character and I absolutely thought she was going to get the better of Ramsey Bolton. It was this scene that cemented my hate for Ramsey, even after everything he had already done to Theon and Sansa. The look on Osha’s face as she died was likely a mirror of my own, very much a “damn, I did not see that coming”.
Rickon. Poor Rickon. As the youngest Stark I suppose he never really had a chance, especially now we have confirmation that there is more to Jon Snow’s parentage than was previously thought. Right up until the second Rickon lost Ramsey’s game, my mind was constantly changing as to whether Ramsey was really going to kill him or not. I had a feeling he was probably missing with his arrows on purpose, and I was begging Rickon to stop running in a straight line. That final shot was so brutal, particularly as Rickon probably thought he was home free once he had got within close range of Jon. Even more brutal was the shower of arrows that hit Baby Stark once the battle had started.
This may be a controversial opinion, but I didn’t think Hodor’s death was as powerful as it could have been. Yes, he saved Bran’s life. Yes, there was the whole “hold the door” thing which was definitely a clever and emotional way to explain Hodor’s name and history. I just felt like there was something missing. Maybe it’s because he hadn’t been seen much in recent episodes so the emotional tie to the character had faded slightly. My favourite scene with Hodor was actually where Bran got in his head and made him kill a man. Hodor seemed incredibly distressed and troubled when he realised that he was responsible, and I had hoped that this might bring a bit more depth to the character, or even some defiance. But I suppose the point was that there was no depth to Hodor.
There was also so much going on in this scene that I think the action detracted from the death slightly. Personally, I was still reacting to Bran’s direwolf dying for LITERALLY NO REASON, and also trying to figure out if Bran had just manipulated time or something. Maybe when I watch it again I’ll feel differently, but for now I think there were deaths that definitely affected me more than this one did.
7. Prince Oberyn
This was just nasty. Possibly the most gruesome, almost unwatchable, scene in the show so far. There isn’t even that much to say about it. Prince Oberyn of Dorne got cocky when he overpowered the Mountain, forgetting that he was supposed to be fighting for Tyrion’s life and not his own revenge. You should never, ever, underestimate somebody that big. The Mountain rises and literally bursts Oberyn’s head. I didn’t know what to expect from this trial by combat because I was completely confident that Tyrion would survive, but I couldn’t see how Oberyn could possibly defeat Gregor Clegane. Clearly, he could not.
6. The Red Wedding
I knew The Red Wedding was a thing. I did not know when it happened or who it involved. Walder Frey, aka. Filch, quickly becomes one of the most hated characters in the show when he betrays the Starks and has them all slaughtered at his daughter’s wedding to Edmure Tully. Robb Stark, his wife and unborn child, all their soldiers and bannermen, Robb’s direwolf, and finally, heartwrenchingly, Catelyn Stark. Lady Stark’s death is the most difficult to watch, as she hopelessly kills Frey’s current wife after seeing her oldest son and the future of the Starks murdered by two men supposedly loyal to the Stark house, Roose Bolton and Walder Frey. At this point we must remember that both Bran and Rickon are believed to have been killed by Theon Greyjoy, and the locations of Sansa and Arya are unknown to the rest of the family. Cateyln truly believes this is the end of the Stark household. It is brutal and upsetting, and it was this episode that really hammered home to me the fact that literally nobody is safe in this show.
This scene brings an end to the ongoing war between Stark and Lannister, with the aftermath witnessed by Arya, after coming so close to being reunited with her family. It also leads to one of the most satisfying deaths of the show at the end of season 6 (see death number 4).
5. The Great Sept of Baelor
I truly didn’t think that the finale of season six could possibly be better than the previous episode, “Battle of the Bastards”. But then this happened. Everybody is waiting for Cersei to show up for her trial, while Cersei continues to drink wine in her tower. King Tommen is also kept in the Red Keep by a newly refurbished Mountain. Queen Margaery, her father and brother, Cersei’s own uncle and head of the Small Council, the High Sparrow and all his followers, are all within the Sept when it explodes like an enormous green firework, taking a considerable amount of King’s Landing with it. Cersei smiles and drinks more wine, while Tommen reacts quite differently.
The build up to the explosion is very well done, with Margaery becoming increasingly panicked and convinced that it is a trap. She was another brilliant character, well written and acted. Always seeming one step ahead, it is quite fitting that Margaery’s death is caused by Cersei, who is always somehow two steps ahead, as in previous episodes we were given the impression that Margaery was starting to get the better of the Queen Mother. It was also incredibly satisfying to see the High Sparrow get torn apart by the flames – I cannot begin to describe how much I disliked that character.
During the wildfire explosion we also see the death of Grand Maester Pycelle, killed by his own child spies and the new Maester, Qyburn. This scene is a considerable turning point in King’s Landing, resulting in the end of the Sparrows and their hold on the monarchy, and also in Cersei finally being crowned upon the Iron Throne.
4. Walder Frey
Arya Stark has been my favourite character all the way through the show, and this death is the perfect example of why she is so amazing. Walder Frey slaughtered a good chunk of her family and their followers, and we all knew he had to die for it (although I don’t remember hearing his name on Arya’s little list). He’s sitting there all smug and content, looking forward to the pie being served to him by a new servant girl, also on the menu as far as Frey is concerned. He moans about his sons being late, but the servant insists that they are actually present. It isn’t until the pie is revealed to contain Frey’s sons that I realised it was Arya. I think I literally shouted “yes!” and punched the air when I figured it out. This scene alone makes the entire “many-faced God” storyline worth it.
The realisation on Frey’s face as he is killed and the smile on Arya’s make this death so unbelievably satisfying, as does the more subtle realisation that Arya is now back in Westeros and close to reuniting with the rest of her family.
3. Viserys Targaryen
Many will have forgotten about this death, from way back in the first season. For me though, this is the absolute turning point that sells me on the show. Before this, I was struggling to keep track of the characters and places, and thought it was all going at quite a slow pace. Honestly, I was bored. I might have even stopped watching before this point if my boyfriend hadn’t already seen it and convinced me to keep going until at least this episode. And he was right, as he usually is. When this happened, I literally sat up, speechless. The show had suddenly become amazing and unpredictable and my entire life for the next few weeks, all because of Viserys Targaryen and his desperate need for a crown. Drogo clearly has had enough of his Khaleesi’s brother whining (he was not the only one), and so gives him exactly what he wants. A gold crown. By pouring molten gold over his head. And Daenerys just stands there and basically gives him permission. And then comes out with this goosebump-inducing line about how her brother was not a dragon because “fire cannot kill a dragon”. Eek.
Just writing this is making me want to watch it and fall in love with the show all over again. Also, a picture wouldn’t have done this death justice, so here is the clip:
2. Ramsay Bolton
Ramsay Bolton was like King Joffrey, but on a much larger scale. Awful and evil and cruel, but also completely brilliant, with excellent acting. Despite this, I definitely was not disappointed when he died. Everything about it was perfect. The timing, the circumstances, and especially the cause. There wasn’t a single person more suited for this killing than Sansa Stark, and it was still so fitting with her character in that she didn’t actually do it herself.
Before I get to that, let’s recap. Everything was looking pretty grim in the Battle of the Bastards for Jon Snow and his mismatched group of Watchmen, wildlings, the remaining houses loyal to Stark, Sir Davos and a giant. All hope is basically lost until Sansa rides in with Lord Petyr Baelish (ergh) and the Knights of the Vale, who save the day and take back the battle. Ramsay and his few remaining fighters retreat to Winterfell, quickly followed by Jon and his closest fighting buddies. Ramsay kills the giant (boo) with a final arrow to the eye, but is soon beaten near to death by Jon when it comes down to one on one combat. Ramsay is then chained up in the kennels of his beloved hounds. Sansa watches as the dogs rip him apart, then turns and walks away, smiling her very Sansa-like smile as she leaves the memory of him behind. Sophie Turner does a brilliant job with Sansa’s facial expressions – they’re always so subtle but there is so much meaning and thought behind every twitch and every look. She has easily risen to the same level as Ayra in terms of my favourite characters.
1. Tommen Baratheon
I can’t imagine there are many people who would place this at the top of their Game of Thrones death list, but this is the one which has really stuck with me the most. Tommen was a complete contrast to his brother while King, and was a true and kind character. He didn’t have secret agendas and he didn’t take pleasure in killing or torturing people around him. He was devoted to his Queen, his family, and the people he ruled over. Therefore it isn’t really surprising that witnessing the explosion of the Sept where Margaery and some of his relatives, living and dead, were trapped, would result in Tommen wanting to kill himself.
As far as I can remember, this is the only death of a main character which was not violent or gruesome, or even at the hand of another person. That is to me what makes it so sad. In all the violence that is Game of Thrones, it is loss and love which causes this young King to take his own life. The scene is filmed so perfectly; Tommen stands in front of a window in the Red Keep, watching the smoke pour out of the Sept while a servant expresses his apologies and leaves. Tommen then removes his crown and walks off screen. The camera, however, stays firmly on the window. I instantly suspected what was about to happen, but was not any less emotional when Tommen returned to the camera view, climbed into the window and simply let himself fall without a second of hesitation. The movement is almost haunting, particularly with the silence of the scene, and feels somewhat like it should take place in slow motion.
It is even more sad that the whole thing was caused by his own mother who, despite basically killing her last remaining child, struts up to the Iron Throne only moments after seeing his body to be crowned Queen. Cersei is the name I wish I could add to this list the most.
Bring on season 7.