Game of Thrones: Ranking All the Deaths by Anguish
Which of these many Game of Thrones deaths brought a tear to your eye? We rank them all by levels of anguish. Spoilers and tears await...
This article contains Game of Thrones spoilers from all seven seasons.
A lot of people die in Game of Thrones–this much is known. But there’s a world of difference between the deaths that leave us cheering on the killer and the deaths that leave us staring, open-mouthed at the TV screen, wondering what just happened. And so for this list, we’ve ranked the deaths we’ve seen in Game of Thrones so far in order of how upsetting they are. Obviously, ‘upsetting’ is a subjective category, but basically we’re going by how likely each death scene is to make you cry through a combination of attachment to the character and the way their individual deaths play out.
To make this list, the character must be named and have at least a few lines of dialogue–we’re not including random Lannister guards or anything here, and even Mag the Mighty got left off for lack of a speaking role. It should be a death that’s supposed to mean something to the viewer. We’ve also tried to stick to people who are definitely dead, or at least very probably dead.
Lastly, this list relates specifically to the TV show Game of Thrones, not the “A Song of Ice and Fire” books. Yes, I have read the books. No, I’m not going to talk about the differences here, because although this is a veritable feast of spoilers for the show, I am not going to include anything that relates to changes from the books and might, therefore, spoil future seasons.
125. Olly from the Night’s Watch
Sheer relief was the primary emotion that greeted this treacherous little twerp’s death.
124. Walder Frey
Arya took her vengeance for the Red Wedding, and it was sweet. As was the Frey pie accompanying it.
123. All the rest of the Freys
Quickly dispatched at the beginning of season 7, this gave David Bradley one more chance to show us how brilliant he is by convincingly playing Arya.
One of a number of simply horrible characters we were only too glad to be rid of. That list also includes:
121. Karl Tanner
Burn Gorman’s very nasty Night’s Watch Mutineer got a very nasty teeth-cleaning.
120. Meryn Trant
No one can have shed a tear for the stabby demise of this pervert sadist in that Braavosi brothel.
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119. Gatins, Morgan, Ridell, Steve and Lemoncloak
The rogue Brothers Without Banners who made the fatal error of turning The Hound into their enemy when they strung up Al Swearingen.
118. Othell Yarwyck and Bowen Marsh
Jon Snow’s assassins who got left hanging.
Here is another Night’s Watch Mutineer, one who literally stabbed The Lord Commander in the back.
No tears were shed for this prisoner when his neck was snapped by the Hound.
Likewise for Rorge, the escaped prisoner who paid the price for threatening all kinds of nastiness to young Arya Stark.
114. The Tickler
This Lannister torturer met his end at the hands of Jaqen H’gar, as part of Arya’s payment.
This rotter should never have killed poor Lommy Greenhands “What the fuck is a Lommy?”
Similarly, this Astapori slave-trader should never have demanded Dany’s dragons (or threatened many a rapey thing).
111. Pyat Pree
This creepy warlock of Qarth deserved to be roasted to a cinder.
110. Mirri Maz Duur
The maegi set the stage for Dany’s rebirth, and signed her death warrant in the process.
109. The Waif
We only wish we could have seen the look on a girl’s face when she met the pointy end of Needle.
In Locke’s case, it wasn’t the Lannisters who paid the ‘debt’ of his having severed Jaime’s sword hand, but an enchanted Hodor.
Theon saw that this messed-up kennel master’s daughter’s life was cut short. Then Ramsay saw that she’d fill the stomachs of his hounds.
Stop! Hammer time. The Magnar of Thenn was ultimately no match for Jon Snow.
This Dothraki rider disrespected the wife of his khal, and paid the price.
Mackenzie Crook’s warg may technically still be alive in the body of his eagle, but his human life was ended at the end of Longclaw.
103. The Lord O’Bones
He was probably recruited to the Wight Army after Tormund taught him a fatal lesson about not insulting men with big sticks.
102. Ser Mandon Moore
Podrick saw to it that the treasonous Ser Mandon Moore didn’t survive his attempt on his Lord Tyrion’s life.
101. Janos Slynt
The cowardly Slynt met his end by Longclaw’s blade.
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100. Khal Moro, Khal Rhalko and Khal Forzo
Khans are flammable, as it turns out.
99. Belicho Paenymion and Razdal Mo Eraz
The masters of Slavers’ Bay deserved everything they got.
98. Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane
… Although it doesn’t exactly stick…
97. Ser Alliser Thorne
No tears for this hanged man.
96. Black Walder Frey and Lothar Frey
Ditto for the nasty Freys.
95. Smalljon Umber
That’s what happens when you chose the Boltons over the Starks.
We’re genuinely surprised to see Littlefinger go before the end, and we’d been rather hoping Varys would finish him off, but seeing the remaining Stark-Tully siblings turn on him and finally work together to accomplish something is thoroughly satisfying. Good riddance to the man largely responsible for many of the other deaths on this list.
93. The High Sparrow
He got creepier and more chilling with every appearance. Shudder.
92. Roose Bolton
He has the honor of being the least awful person who participated in carrying out the Red Wedding. It’s not much of an honor. Plus, he foisted Ramsay on the world. Urgh.
91. Balon Greyjoy
Did he have any redeeming qualities?
90. Doreah and Xaro Xoan Doxos
To be honest, they were both getting kind of annoying anyway.
89. Hizdahr zo Loraq
88. Lord Randyll Tarly
He was mean to Sam.
87. Lord Rickard Karstark
We know he was upset, but murdering children in their cells is never the answer.
86. Ser Vadys Eagen
Don’t take on Bronn is the lesson of this one.
85. Black Jack Bulwer and Kegs (and Mully)
Wildlings did for these Night’s Watchmen in Molestown.
Euthanized for the Many-Faced God of Death.
83. Oznok Zo Pahl
As Daario did for old Oznok.
82. Ser Amory Lorch
Was another of Arya’s three-life repayment plan from Jaqen H’gar.
81. Ralf Kenning and Adrack Humble
Flaying was so not a good look for these Ironborn.
80. The Thirteen
Mess with Targaryen fire, you’re going to get burned.
Trying to stop Theon from rescuing Yara.
A Wildling who should have listened to Jon in the first place.
77. Waymar Royce
Night’s Watchman is a perilous job, as Waymar Royce found out the hard way.
As did poor Gared.
And poor Will, the Night’s Watch deserter. If only somebody had listened to him.
74. Ser Hugh
Speaking of parlousness, jousting can be fatal.
Ramsay Snow, that grinning psycho, hunted this poor girl down like a dog.
Who learned about Dany’s sense of justice the burny way.
71. Maester Cressen
You come at the Red Witch, you best not miss.
A Wildling too cool and likeable to survive for longer than 15 minutes.
69. Areo Hotah
Was barely given the time to make an impact on the TV show.
68. Mace Tyrell
Wait, he wasn’t already dead?
67. Uncle Kevan Lannister
We’re amazed he lasted so long, to be honest.
66. The Three-Eyed Raven
Stupid, impatient, Bran. Not that we weren’t also impatient to get to the point of the Tower of Joy sequence. But still.
Bran’s body count is really starting to go up.
64. Walda Bolton and Baby Bolton
Surely, Roose must have known these two wouldn’t last five minutes with Ramsay around?
63. Trystane Martell
He was young, so that’s mildly sad. Otherwise, more or less a non-entity.
62. The Sand Snakes
A lot of wasted potential here; we could barely tell which was which, and don’t even care that their deaths were spread across two different episodes.
61. Doran Martell
We love Alexander Siddig, but TV Doran really didn’t do anything.
60. Viserys Targaryen
He was awful through and through. But does anyone deserve molten gold poured on their head? Actually, Viserys might.
59. Grand Maester Pycelle
He wasn’t particularly nice, but he’d been around since the first season, and his death kickstarted Cersei’s massacre of half the elite of King’s Landing.
58. Lancel Lannister
Ironically, killed by Cersei after helping her to commit one of the murders that kicked all of this off in the first season.
57. Lysa Arryn
At least now neither Sansa nor the audience ever have to listen to her have sex again.
56. Selyse Baratheon
It’s a shame she couldn’t have shown her daughter more love before changing her mind about wanting to burn her at the stake at the last possible moment.
55. Joyeuse Frey
It wasn’t her fault her gropey old husband violated guest’s right in the most despicable way possible. Nor that he couldn’t care less what happened to her.
54. Alton Lannister
Well, Jaime had to do something in season 2, we suppose. But not cool, Jaime. Not cool.
53. Ser Dontos Hollard
Not the sharpest tool in the box, this one.
52. Martyn and Willem Lannister
They weren’t especially important characters, but they were young children. (See also Robert Baratheon’s many illegitimate children, none of whom were named on the show except those still alive).
51. Dickon Tarly
Poor Dickon was much nicer than his Dad and could have saved himself, but chose to die with honor.
Not the most pleasant child around, but still a child. At least his death was avenged by Arry, though.
48. Qhorin Halfhand
He was kind of cool, but he wasn’t really in the show much so didn’t make quite so much of an impression as he did in the book.
47. Ser Brynden “The Blackfish” Tully
He should have been higher up the list, but was unceremoniously killed off-screen–hardly a fitting end for such a renowned warrior and Red Wedding survivor.
Wrong place, wrong time.
45. Lady Crane
Never try to help Arya Stark seems to be the lesson here. Unless you’re a badass ninja who can change faces, of course.
44. Mance Rayder
At least the King Beyond The Wall was mercy-killed by Jon and spared the worst of the Red Woman’s prescribed burning.
43. Ellaria Sand
To be honest, we’re actually kind of on Cersei’s side here–Ellaria did murder Cersei’s daughter using the same method Cersei uses to kill hers, for no other reason than whose daughter she was (not to mention Oberyn, whom they’re all so desperate to avenge, got himself killed voluntarily fighting a duel to the death in which he let his guard down). So, really, it’s hard to get too worked up about Ellaria’s own, genuinely unpleasant, demise.
42. Shaggydog and Summer
When Smalljon Umber produced Shaggydog’s head, many viewers were so shocked that they were convinced it was part of a clever trick. As Summer went down fighting White Walkers, however, it became clearer that the TV show is pouring all its budget into the dragons, and getting rid of as many direwolves as possible, Ghost and Nymeria are only surviving by never being around to get killed, even in the middle of battles.
41. Robert Baratheon
King Robert is a fun and likeable enough character, but his death is essential to the plot. The show is called Game of Thrones, and at the beginning, he’s the one sitting on the throne. So, while his death is sad, it’s so necessary that it’s actually rather easy to overlook.
40. Myrcella Baratheon
It’s a little bit disturbing how okay she was with her uncle also being her dad, but to die 30 seconds after acknowledging this is particularly unfortunate.
39. Maester Aemon
Aemon Targaryen died of old age, in his bed, with people who cared about him nearby. In Westeros, that’s a pretty stunning achievement. But we’ll miss him, and the Watch is certainly the poorer without him.
38. Irri and Rahkaro
These two were just too nice to survive in Westeros or Essos. It is known.
37. Benjen Stark #2
Barely two seconds on screen, and he’s gone again. After all that searching for him in the early seasons, what a waste.
Hated by some and an addition for the TV show, the cruel manner of Ros’s death and its dramatic placement within Littlefinger’s ‘chaos is a ladder’ speech may have moved viewers to a small ‘Aw,’ as she went.
35. Thoros of Myr
Thorosdisappeared for a bit too long in between appearances for his death to make much of an impact, but he was a fun character, and Beric is likely to be in trouble now.
34. Jojen Reed
We liked Jojen, but we mostly feel sorry for Meera.
33. Tywin Lannister
We’ll all miss Charles Dance and his awesomeness but Tywin was a terrible, terrible father. And for that, he had to die.
We’d have been sadder if she hadn’t inexplicably become jealous of Tyrion’s wife season 4 and, of course, if she hadn’t lunged at Tyrion with a knife. Her heart-rending betrayal at Tyrion’s trial also renders her death rather less tragic, while the manner of it is really more horrifying and uncomfortable than anything else.
31. Jeor Mormont
He had to go, because of plot. But we were sad.
30. Loras Tyrell
Poor Loras more or less disappeared before he was finally killed off in the sixth season finale, thus sadly depriving us of more comedy scenes where he gives his opinion on fashionable jewellery.
29. Wun Wun
Ramsay just had to get in one more arrow, didn’t he?
28. Septon Ray
As a character who only appears in one episode, Septon Ray’s death was never going to have the impact of many of the others listed here. However, a heartfelt performance by Ian McShane, the general likeability of the character, and the bigger tragedy surrounding his death, convincing the Hound that it really is impossible to live in peace in Westeros, all mean that it packs a punch, nonetheless.
Osha was a great character, beautifully played by Natalia Tena and always fun to watch. Her death should have meant more, but having her brought back for one scene and then, oh so predictably, killed by Ramsay Bolton stripped it of some of the sense of tragedy it might otherwise have brought.
26. Rickon Stark
The only reason Rickon rates so highly on this list is because he’s a Stark. Poor Rickon didn’t even get a single line before adding to Ramsay’s list of kills in season 6. Basically, he was metaphorically stuffed in a refrigerator to motivate Jon Snow. But he was the youngest of the Stark children, and we have a strong sense of loyalty to and fondness for that family, even when they get almost no character development.
25. Joffrey Baratheon
Yes, he was one of TV’s most despicable characters. Yes, we’d all been baying for his blood for so long that his death felt almost overdue. But let’s face it; we loved to hate him, and the show is the poorer without him and Jack Gleeson’s masterful performance.
24. Stannis Baratheon
He would have been far, far higher up this list if he hadn’t burned his own daughter at the stake in the preceding episode. Up until that point, his dedication to duty, honor, and good grammar had made him one of the more palatable candidates for kingship in Westeros. But after hearing Shireen’s screams, we couldn’t see him finished off fast enough.
Poor Yoren left to pick up some recruits and ended up, several weeks later, sacrificing himself to save Arya and Gendry. Let’s hope they’re appropriately grateful.
22. Pip and Grenn
Not redshirts, but performing their function, which is to be killed off to show that the situation is dire. At least Grenn got a pretty cool final scene.
21. Talisa Maegyr
Much like Ros, although she wasn’t the most popular character and a TV invention, the manner of her death was so horrible that it was genuinely tragic, no matter how you felt about the character in general.
20. Tommen Baratheon
He was really useless, but he was also a child thrown into an impossible situation; we can’t all be Lady Lyanna Mormont.
19. Renly Baratheon
Ah, Renly. So charming, so quick to laugh. So forward-thinking with his female Kingsguard. So sweetly in love. Alas, he was gone too soon.
18. Barristan Selmy
At least we finally got to see one of Westeros’ greatest swordsmen in action as he went down swinging.
17. Margaery Tyrell
Surely the most upsetting of the deaths in the Great Sept Explosion, and the character we were really wanting to see break loose and get out of there, Margaery’s death feels like a bit of a waste of a great character. But then, that’s probably the point.
16. Olenna Tyrell
And there goes the last of the Tyrells. We had hoped that Olenna would at least be able to avenge her grandchildren. She still manages to get in one last verbal attack though, carefully waiting until after she has taken the merciful, painless poison to make sure Jaime knows who really killed his son. Nicely played, Olenna. The art of verbal sparring in Westeros is now increasingly a dying spectacle, with only Tyrion left to practice it.
15. Septa Mordane
She wasn’t the most exciting character on the show, but Septa Mordane’s death scene is truly affecting, as she calmly walks forward unarmed to face a gang of men with swords in an attempt to buy Sansa time to escape.
14. Jory Cassel
The first really significant or surprising death, this. Some viewers have grown to love Jaime Lannister over the years; some will never forgive him for shoving Bran out of a window, or for the way her treated Cersei in season 4. But there are many out there who simply cannot forgive him for shoving a sword through Jory Cassel’s eye.
13. Syrio Forel
Tempered only by the tiny thread of hope some bear that perhaps he’s still alive. We didn’t see him die and we didn’t see a body. Head-canon is a beautiful place.
12. Lady and Grey Wind
Yes, the direwolves are higher up this list than a lot of the humans. But again, circumstance is key; Lady’s death is the first real indication that anyone can die (since we normally expect the dog to live, see for example Independence Day). And since Ned being forced to execute her, it only becomes more horrid. Grey Wind’s demise, meanwhile, is part of the enormous tragedy of the Red Wedding.
Perhaps the biggest shock of season 7, this loss of one of Dany’s children hits hard. If dogs and wolves are fair game on Game of Thrones, it’s the dragons that occupy the place dogs do in other stories–you can kill as many Lannister soldiers as you like, but don’t hurt the dragon! Viserion, named after an unlikeable character and not given all that much personality, may not be as beloved as Dany’s Drogon, but he’s still one of only three dragons in the world, and his resurrection as a zombie dragon has chilling consequences.
10. Jon Snow
We all knew he wasn’t really dead, anyway. In the early seasons of the show, no one was safe and apparent leads could be killed off left and right. In later seasons, however, as we start to build to a climax and the shape of the final confrontation becomes clearer, some characters have started to stand out as absolutely essential to the story (or far too popular to die), and Jon Snow is definitely among them. However, his fakeout death nevertheless packs a punch on first viewing (even for viewers convinced it won’t stick), and even on repeat viewings, watching him be assassinated by one of the most unlikeable children on television is still upsetting.
9. Shireen Baratheon
We may be grateful to Melisandre for bringing back Jon Snow, but seriously, the woman is evil.
8. Ser Rodrick Cassel
“Gods help you, Theon Greyjoy. Now you are truly lost.”
7. Maester Luwin
Like Septa Mordane, the reason Maester Luwin’s death is so moving is largely down to the way it plays out, and to Donald Sumpter’s performance. Having already thought he’d lost the two boys he’d helped to raise (pretty much by himself since Catelyn Stark left) and got them back again, Maester Luwin clearly thought they were gonners again when Winterfell burned. The delight on his face when he sees them alive, knowing he’s dying and this is his last chance to talk to them, is beautifully heartfelt. As he asks Osha to help him die, our tears are half for him, and half for Bran and Rickon, left alone with Osha and Hodor and separated from or otherwise deprived of every parental figure they’ve had.
It was always going to end in tears for Ygritte and Jon Snow, the Romeo and Juliet of Westeros. But that doesn’t make her death scene (during which Wildings conveniently refrain from attacking Jon so he can bend dramatically over her corpse for a moment) any less tragic.
5. Khal Drogo
The Dothraki’s greatest war lord, brought down by an infection he got while showing off and a resentful witch. Like Robert, Khal Drogo really had to go so the plot could keep moving and Daenerys could step up to the plate, but when he reappeared briefly in the House of the Undying, it tore our hearts out all over again.
4. Oberyn Martell
Like Khal Drogo, Oberyn was brought down by his own confidence. When he died, we fear Westeros’ sense of humor died with him, and the world was just a little less awesome. And… squelchier.
Hodor’s death would be tragic under any circumstances, as he’s such a likeable character, one attached to the Starks and who had been around since the first season. But the circumstances of his death and the revelation that his entire life had been controlled by and building up to that moment is just heartbreaking. We’ll never be able to ask anyone to hold the door again.
2. Ned Stark
What can we say that hasn’t been said? If the direwolf dying didn’t convince you, if the early deaths of Viserys and Robert, and Jory Cassel didn’t convince you, then this was the moment you realized: in the early seasons of this show, absolutely no one is safe. And not only will your favorite character, the apparent lead and by far the most sympathetic person on the show, die, but they’ll be killed in front of their teenage daughters on the whim of a psychotic boy-king.
1. Robb and Catelyn Stark
We couldn’t separate these two. The Red Wedding is a notorious slaughter and some of its victims have already appeared on this list, but in amongst the screams of extras, these are the deaths that scene is really about. Which is more upsetting? Robb Stark, King in the North, who never lost a battle, holding his dying wife and unborn baby and letting the fight go out of him as he stands there full of arrows and asks, “Mother?” Or Catelyn Stark, eternally well-meaning even though she can be infuriating, screaming wordlessly as she slices the throat of the hapless Joyeuse Frey and goes dead even before the final blow falls?
Robb and Catelyn were paired up in their battle for the Riverlands in the eighth episode of season 1, “The Pointy End,” and while mother and son may have had their differences along the way, they are pretty much tied together until the agreement Catelyn made and Robb’s refusal to keep it brings them to their untimely ends. Which of the two any individual viewer is more upset to lose is pretty much down to personal preference; their deaths together are easily the most tragic, horrible, shocking and upsetting scene the show has yet produced.
This article originally appeared on Den of Geek UK.