Game Of Thrones: The 50 Greatest Moments So Far

We counted down the 50 most shocking, satisfying, terrifying and delightful moments in Game Of Thrones so far. Major spoilers…

Warning: contains spoilers for Game Of Thrones seasons one to seven

Ian McShane may think it’s just “tits and dragons,” but he’s wrong. Game Of Thrones is tits, redemption, mythology, violence, comedy, surprise, technical feats, magnificent design, acting prowess, smart writing, a story years in the telling, and dragons. Big, scaly, snorting, masterfully rendered dragons.

Did we mention the dragons?

Out of the 67 episodes that have aired so far, we’ve selected just 50 of this show’s greatest moments. By the time we reach the season eight finale, expect to see some changes below…

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50. Syrio vs the Kingsguard

Syrio and Arya Stark

Season one, episode eight

“The first sword of Braavos does not run.”

It’s a martial arts classic – the skilled retired master drawn into battle one last time to protect the young protegee – and this is a classic season one moment. When Lannister goldcloaks, led by the despicable Meryn Trant, attempt to kidnap Arya, “dancing” master Syrio allows her to escape. Fans loved the Braavosi sword so much that the theory he was actually Jaqen H’ghar in another borrowed face lived on for years. What do we say to the god of death? Not today.

read more: Game of Thrones Season 8 Predictions and Theories

49. Jaime and Brienne’s bath

Jaime Lannister and Brienne of Tarth Bathing

Season three, episode five

“You all despise me. Kingslayer, Oathbreaker, the man without honor.”

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This is the turning point for Jaime Lannister in Brienne’s eyes, and in those of the viewer. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau gives a powerful performance in this monologue telling the true story of how Jaime came to be known as the Kingslayer. He didn’t break his oath to protect the Mad King out of greed for power, but fear of carnage. In destroying his reputation, Jaime saved the people of King’s Landing from being burned alive by wildfire, and nobody would ever thank him for it. He still pushed Bran out of that window though, so…

read more: Game of Thrones Season 8 – Everything We Know

48. Tyrion slaps Joffrey

Tyrion Lannister slapping Joffrey

Season one, episode two

“One word and I hit you again.”

Aka the gif that keeps on giving. This short scene in which Tyrion hits his royal nephew for refusing to even feign sympathy for Bran Stark’s “accident” was delicious at the time, but in hindsight, led to a great deal of woe. “The prince will remember that, little lord,” the Hound tells Tyrion, and the prince does remember, and exacts his revenge through humiliations that eventually put Tyrion (wrongly) in the frame for Joffrey’s murder.

read more – The Real History of Game of Thrones: Tyrion Lannister

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47. Brienne vs the bear

Brienne of Tarth Versus a Bear

Season three, episode seven

“A wooden sword?”

Jaime going back to Harrenhal to save Brienne is another big check in his redemption column. When his Lannister gold can’t ransom her, Jaime leaps into Locke’s bear pit with no weapon and no plan other than to stop a terrible wrong from happening. Brienne is saved and in turn, by pulling him out of the bear’s charging path, she saves Jaime right back.

read more: Game of Thrones Changes That Improved on the Book

46. Summer saves Bran’s life

Bran Stark With Direwolf Summer

Season one, episode two

“It’s a mercy. It’s dead already.”

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Loyalty is hard to come by in the Seven Kingdoms, but the Stark direwolves, while they lived, were devoted to their masters, fighting alongside them in battle and savaging their foes (including Prince Joffrey – bonus points to Nymeria, even if it did end badly for Lady). Summer died in season six protecting Bran from attack by wights but this was the first time he saved the Stark boy’s life.

read more: 24 Game of Thrones Book Characters Not in the Show

45. Ramsay’s sausage dinner

Ramsay Snow With a Sausage

Season three, episode ten

“No. Pork sausage. Do you think I’m some sort of savage?”

Ramsay Bolton torturing Theon made for some truly uncomfortable scenes in season three, not least the moments leading up to the Greyjoy’s castration. It was this gloating, horrific joke by the psychopath though, that really sticks in the mind.

Spearing a pork sausage on the end of his fork and chomping down in front of his victim with glee proved that Ramsay was one dangerous bastard.

read more: The Unanswered Questions of Game of Thrones

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44. Jaime gives Oathkeeper to Brienne

Oathkeeper the Sword

Season four, episode four

“I’ll find her, for Lady Catelyn, and for you.”

Another entry in the Jaime and Brienne camp. Jaime presenting Brienne with a suit of custom-made armor and her own Valyrian steel was a moving tribute from an enemy-turned-friend. Naming the sword Oathkeeper, in reference both to Brienne’s oath to Lady Stark, and to Jaime’s nickname Oathbreaker, was stirring stuff.

read more – The Real History of Game of Thrones: The War

43. Melisandre gives birth

Melisandre Giving Birth to a Shadow Demon

Season two, episode five

Shadows cannot live in the dark, Ser Davos.”

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Melisandre’s magic has provided more than a few WTF moments on Game Of Thrones. Her leech curse, her real age, the resurrection of Jon Snow… this one though, the birth of the shadow assassin with the face of Stannis Baratheon that drags itself out from her nether-regions and murders Renly, was the first, and the hardest to forget.

read more: Ranking all the Game of Thrones Villains

42. Sam leaves Horn Hill

Sam Leaving Horn Hill

Season six, episode six

“We belong together. All of us.”

Game Of Thrones’ timing is one of its greatest talents. After a heart-felt goodbye to Gilly and Little Sam at Horn Hill, this moment leaves just a long enough pause before Samwell stomps back in to the room with a new plan. He takes his due inheritance in the form of Valyrian steel sword Heartsbane, takes his woman and his adopted son, and takes back control.

read more: The Game of Thrones Episodes to Re-Watch Before Season 8

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41. Jon gives Needle to Arya

Jon Snow Giving Arya Stark Needle

Season one, episode two

“First lesson: stick ‘em with the pointy end.”

Don’t let the fact that GRRM originally intended Jon and Arya to be a couple ruin this moment of sibling warmth. Just like Ned Stark with his gift of “dancing lessons,” in this scene Jon Snow proves himself Arya’s ally by supporting her rejection of traditional gender roles. This girl’s not for embroidery, and neither is her Needle.

read more: What to Expect From the Game of Thrones Prequel

40. Daario Naharis vss the Champion of Meereen

Daario Naharis at Meereen

Season four, episode three

“Let me kill this man for you.”

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A combination of grand scale, action and well-timed humor make this moment one of the show’s greats. After refusing most of her entourage’s request to fight the Champion of Meereen for the reason they’re too important to lose, Dany speedily agrees to letting the cocky Daario chance his arm. His arm, as it happens, turns out to be very, very good. Champion defeated, Dany makes one of the speeches of her political career.

read more: Dead Game of Thrones Characters Still Alive in the Books

39. Jon and Ygritte’s cave

Jon Snow and Ygritte in a Cave

Season three, episode five

“Is that what lords do to their ladies in the south?”

There’s not much happiness to be had in the Seven Kingdoms, but Ygritte and Jon temporarily find some in this hot spring cave where she convinces him to break his vows (he doesn’t take much convincing, to be fair to her). It’s a brief romantic idyll, away from the Wildlings, the Night’s Watch and the constant threat of the White Walkers. Sadly, it wasn’t to last.

read more: What’s Next for Jon Snow?

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38. Olenna vs Cersei

Olenna Tyrell

Season six, episode seven

“I wonder if you’re the worst person I ever met.”

Given half a chance, Olenna’s scenes would fill up most of this list, such is the joy of Dame Diana Rigg serving up attitude in a chin-strap. She doesn’t suffer fools and refuses to be intimidated by the Lannisters (asking homophobe Tywin whether he’d ever “had a go” at another boy beneath the sheets and confronting him about his twins’ incest was a memorable exchange). This one though, in which she tells Cersei that her having lost is “the only joy she can find in all this misery” is a joy itself, even if it is premature.

read more: Ranking the Game of Thrones Deaths by Anguish

37. Melisandre’s true form is revealed

Melisandre's True Form

Season one, episode six

“You haven’t seen her do what I’ve seen her do.”

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Baths have proved unexpectedly pivotal to Game Of Thrones. Dany takes a boiling hot one in the first season and emerges unburnt, long before she hatches her dragon eggs on Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre. Jaime cleans not just his body but his reputation, in Brienne’s eyes, in one. And Melisandre’s true form is revealed in this one. The centuries-old witch takes off her magical ruby before a dip and with it goes her youth and glamorous beauty.

36. Dany retrieves her dragons

Daenerys' Three Dragons in Season 2

Season two, episode ten

“They miss their mother.”

Dany’s vision in the House of the Undying, with its depiction of snow falling on a King’s Landing throne room in ruins, is of symbolic importance, but the moment she first uses “Dracarys” to command her children to kill the warlock who took them and to break their chains is just as significant. Over the seasons, Dany will use that command many times, but this is the first and it is exhilaration itself.

35. The Hound fights five soldiers to get some chicken


Season four, episode one

“Fuck the king.”

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A man built like The Hound needs protein, so best not come between him and his chicken. In this scene, he and Arya stumble upon a group of Kingsmen raping and pillaging their way through the Riverlands in a tavern, and teach them all a bloody lesson. Rory McGann’s menacingly assured delivery paired with a brutal fight and Arya retrieving Needle make this a classic.

34. Tyrion’s trial speech

Tyrion Lannister at Trial

Season four, episode six

“I should have let Stannis kill you all.”

Sometimes it doesn’t take literal explosions to blow the roof off the place; just one show-stopping performance. Peter Dinklage gives just that in Tyrion’s trial speech, which lets out the pain of a lifetime of hurt and unfair treatment by his father, his sister, and the world.  

33. Dany burns down the Temple of the Dosh Khalen

Daenerys Facing the Dothraki Khals

Season six, episode four

“You’re not going to serve. You’re going to die.”

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When will people learn not to underestimate the Mother of Dragons? While the Khals are busy laughing at Dany’s diminutive form and planning all the ways they’re going to abuse and control her, she’s enacting a plan that kills them all. “None of you are fit to lead the Dothraki. But I am,” she says, to the Khals’ amusement. And then she locks the doors and burns them all to death. Told you.

read more: What’s Next for Daenerys Targaryen

32. Uncle Benjen saves Jon

Ben Stark and Jon Snow

Season seven, episode six

“Uncle Benjen. How?”

“I’ll do what I can as long as I can,” the not-quite-dead Benjen Stark told Bran and Meera in season six, and what he did here – sacrificing himself to save his nephew Jon – was major. Yes, Uncle Benjen turning up at precisely the right moment to save Jon’s life was convenient, but it was also the resolution to a seasons-long mystery. If Jon/Aegon defeats the Night King, he’ll have his uncle to thank.

31. Skeletons attack!

Skeleton White Walker

Season four, episode ten

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“He is lost. Come with me or die with him.”

This tribute to stop-motion animation legend Ray Harryhausen by the Game Of Thrones team was both visually memorable and an emotional end for Jojen Reed. As Bran, Hodor and the Reeds approach the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven, they’re fought by reanimated skeletons and only survive thanks to Hodor’s bulk and Leaf’s magic grenades.

30. The Night King’s origin

The Night King as a Human

Season six, episode five

It was you. You made the White Walkers.”

The Children of the Forest did it. They were the ones who, in an attempt to protect themselves from the First Men, made a weapon that would go on to threaten to extinguish all living people in the Seven Kingdoms. They created the Night King by inserting a dragonglass blade into a man’s heart. If that blade is removed, would it be the end of all the White Walkers and Wights he’s created in turn?

read more: The History of the Night King

29. Daenerys commands the Unsullied

Daenerys and the Unsullied Army

Season three, episode four

“A dragon is not a slave.”

Another “dracarys” moment from Dany, in which the Queen of the Andals teaches slaver Kraznys a lesson. Two lessons: 1) slavery is wrong and 2) don’t mess with Daenerys Stormborn. It won’t end well. Pretending to trade a dragon for 8,000 Unsullied, Dany burns the slaver to death, commands her new army to kill their cruel masters, and gives her soldiers freedom.

read more – The Real History of Game of Thrones: Daenerys Targaryen

28. Sam kills a White Walker

Sam Kills a White Walker

Season three, episode eight

“It’s come for the baby!”

This was the moment Gilly really knew that Samwell Tarly was a good bet for her and her son. Despite not being much of a swordsman, and despite being terrified beyond belief, Sam stood up against a White Walker, saved the life of a baby, and discovered the magical, pivotal, secret of Dragonglass to boot.

27. Brienne vs. The Hound

Brienne vs. The Hound

Season four, episode ten

“Safety? Where the fuck’s that?”

Another clash of the titans – the bout between Brienne and the Hound which leaves him dying on a hillside (spoiler: he survives) and Arya running away to Braavos, is a beautifully done thing. From Arya and Brienne’s instant bonding to The Hound’s suspicion over her Lannister gold, to the swordfight itself and Arya’s escape, you couldn’t look away.

26. The Viper vs. The Mountain

The Viper vs. The Mountain

Season four, episode eight

“I am the brother of Elia Martell.”

Acrobatic finesse met brute strength in a thrilling battle that ended with no victor. The Mountain, fighting as Cersei’s champion, crushed the skull of The Viper, fighting as Tyrion’s, but not before The Viper fatally poisoned him. Beautiful choreography and stomach-turning brutality – a Game Of Thrones speciality.

25. Tyrion kills Tywin

Tyrion kills Tywin

Season four, episode ten

“All my life you wanted me dead.”

Tywin Lannister deserved this ignominious end. Dying on the toilet, killed by the son he emotionally abused and betrayed was a fitting demise for a man like Tywin, who thought gold could buy everything, and remained arrogantly manipulative until he breathed his last.

24. Cersei’s walk of shame

Cersei’s walk of shame

Season five, episode ten

“Shame. Shame. Shame. [Rings bell] Shame.”

To see such a proud and cruel woman brought so low should feel just, but Lena Headey’s performance, shorn of hair and stripped of dignity, made Cersei’s walk of atonement impossible to take any satisfaction in. Cersei is monstrous, but Headey makes her pathetically human, even with the devil of revenge in her eyes as she’s carried away by the reanimated Mountain.

read more: What’s Next for Cersei Lannister?

23. Ramsay’s dogs eat him

Ramsay About to Be Eaten by His Dog

Season six, episode nine

“My hounds will never harm me.”

Now this is a death that viewers can feel nothing but delight in. There was no redemption for psychopathic murderer and rapist Ramsay Bolton, and we were happy to see him become dogfood, especially under Sansa’s cool gaze. Sophie Turner goes to look away from watching Ramsay’s starved hounds devour her abuser, but forces herself to turn back and bear witness. Poetic justice.

22. R+L=J confirmed

Young Ned Stark

Season six, episode ten

“You have to protect him. Promise me, Ned.”

Bran using his mystical powers to witness the birth of his cousin at the Tower of Joy confirmed what many had long suspected: that Jon Snow was no bastard, but the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and therefore heir to the Iron Throne. Ned Stark made a promise to his dying sister to protect the boy from Robert Baratheon, and he did the job so well it took seven seasons for us to have the truth confirmed.

21. Olenna’s last words

Olenna Before Her Death

Season seven, episode three

“Tell Cersei it was me…”

The Queen of Thorns delivered cutting barbs right until her last breath. In this magnificent scene between Diana Rigg and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Olenna used her death to confess to having poisoned Jaime’s son Joffrey – a final “screw you” to the monstrous Cersei uttered in her untouchable window of time after drinking down her own glass of poison.

20. The Stark children kill Littlefinger

Arya Killing Littlefinger

Season seven, episode seven

“Thank you for all your many lessons, Lord Baelish.”

For a long time on Game Of Thrones, it felt as though the bad guys always won. The Ned Starks lost their heads while the Joffreys sat on the throne. Then the tables began to turn and every so often, we saw victories like this one. The result of all Littlefinger’s scheming and ambitious manipulation? A slit throat, at the hands of the united siblings he’d tried to divide. A great death and a great moment.

19. Jon Snow meets Drogon

Jon Snow Meeting Drogon

Season seven, episode five

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?”

This quiet scene not only gives us a close-up look at Drogon, demonstrating the CGI artists’ mastery in the dragons’ creation, but also ties in satisfyingly to Game Of Thrones’ mythology. By showing such interest in Jon, and allowing himself to be touched by him, Drogon shows the magic in Jon’s Targaryen heritage, and hints that soon enough, Dany may not be the only dragon rider in the Seven Kingdoms.

18. Arya vs The Waif

Ayra Stark with Needle

Season six, episode eight

“A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell and I am going home.”

The Waif may have promised Arya to the Many-Faced God, but Arya had other ideas. Specifically, the idea to use the skills she’d learned during her period without sight to defeat her Terminator-like foe in a pitch-dark swordfight, and then to sort her pronouns out and tell Jaqen H’ghar that she was finished being no-one and finally, she was going home.

read more: The Real History of the Faceless Men

17. Jon snow dies

Jon Snow Dies

Season five, episode ten

“For the watch.”

A betrayal only possible to rewatch in the knowledge that it isn’t really the end of Jon Snow. Little Olly abusing the trust of the Commander of the Night’s Watch to lead him to a bloody end was a painful shock. We expected it of Alliser Thorne, but Jon Snow’s steward stabbing him in the heart? The cowards.

16. Dany finally crosses the Narrow Sea

Daenerys Heading Her Fleet of Ships

Season six, episode ten

All the way back to Dany’s older brother Viserys, this was the Targaryen plan: get an army and sail it across the Narrow Sea to retake the Iron Throne. It took six seasons and a great many battles before Daenerys managed it, and finally seeing it happen sent shivers. The Mother of Dragons, flanked by her most trusted advisors, surrounded by her army, with three dragons flying above… majestic.

15. Arya poisons the Freys

Arya Stark and Dead Freys

Season seven, episode one

“Tell them the North remembers.”

The sight of Walder Frey ripping off his face like a Scooby-Doo villain should have been ridiculous by any measure but somehow Game Of Thrones sold it. Perhaps it was Maisie Williams’ performance as the lethal Arya Stark, perhaps it was David Bradley as Walder, perhaps it was the lighting, or the hours we’ve all invested in this story of cruelty and revenge. Whatever it was, it was brilliant.

14. Cersei blows up the Sept

The Sept Being Blown Up

Season six, episode ten

“Cersei is not here. Tommen is not here. Why do you think they are not here?”

Margaery Tyrell knows what’s up. As soon as Cersei doesn’t appear at her own trial, the queen understands that it’s a trap. Monstrous as Cersei is, you’d have thought massacring an entire bloodline and destroying an ancient holy place in the process would have been a bridge too far, but no. She did it, making good on the Mad King’s threat to “burn them all.” A spectacular act from a despicable leader.

read more – The Real History of The Sparrows

13. Drogon rescues Dany from the fighting pits

Drogon Arriving at the Fighting Pit

Season five, episode nine

“Protect your queen!”

Aka: the day Game Of Thrones broke the record for the number of stunt performers set on fire (later beaten by season seven’s wagon train attack). The Sons of the Harpy turning on Dany at the fighting pits had it all – peril, emotion when Dany took the exiled Ser Jorah’s hand, surprise when all looked lost and then Drogon’s call could be heard, and awe as Dany takes flight for the first time.

12. The massacre at Hardhome

The Night King Leading White Walkers

Season five, episode eight

“Shut the gates!”

This was the turning point, when the viewers and Jon Snow learned the lesson that it was irrelevant who sat upon the Iron Throne – the living were facing an extinction event from White Walkers, whose numbers grew with every life they took. It was a lesson demonstrated through a terrifying battle and a shitload of extremely impressive special effects, which is the very best way to learn.

11. Hold the door

Hodor Holding the Door

Season six, episode five


Hodor’s origin story – in which Bran’s magical time-travel while under attack from Wights in the Cave of the Three-Eyed Raven sort of blew a fuse in young Wylis’ mind and the instruction to “Hold the door” from attackers lodged in his damaged brain and became the only word he could say: “Hodor” – is very sad, but also highly satisfying as a plot move.

10. Varys vs. Littlefinger

Littlefinger and Varys

Season three, episode six

“Chaos is a ladder.”

For all the exquisite action in Game Of Thrones, sometimes two characters talking can provide the most thrills. That’s the case in this stand-out scene between Conleth Hill and Aidan Gillen set in the King’s Landing throne room. Two powerful players with clashing ideologies, one protecting the realm, the other thinking only of his own venal ambition.

9. The Battle of Blackwater

Wildfire at the Battle of Blackwater

Season two, episode nine

“There’s only one ship.”

From the moment Tyrion’s sole ship glides into Blackwater Bay leaking a river of explosive wildfire from its hull, the battle is over. Forget bringing a gun to a knife-fight; Tyrion brought napalm to a naval bout. It saved King’s Landing from Stannis’ attack, but, as Peter Dinklage’s grief-stricken face shows watching the explosion, at what cost? Trust Cersei to nick the idea for her own nefarious plan in season six.  

read more – The Real History of Game of Thrones: Wildfire

8. Battle of The Bastards

Season six, episode nine

“Run to your brother.”

Another hugely impressive feat of production, the Battle of the Bastards was grand in scale, yet managed to tell an emotional story while the fur, blood, and guts were flying. Rickon’s cruel death, Jon Snow falling straight into Ramsay’s trap, the arrival of the Knights of the Vale, the Starks retaking Winterfell… it was thrilling and satisfying.

7. The Purple Wedding

Joffrey Poisoned at His Wedding

Season four, episode two

“Serve me my wine.”

If they gave out Emmys for schadenfreude, this scene would win every time. Watching the despicable Joffrey, an instrument of pure, pathetic cruelty, choke to death was one of the sweetest (and, admittedly, most disgusting) moments ever to happen on TV.

6. Dany, the Dothraki and Dragons vs the Lannisters

Daenerys and Drogon Versus the Lannister Army

Season seven, episode four


The wagon train attack was season seven’s showpiece, and what ended up on screen was spectacular – totally worth the months of planning, the hundreds of supporting artists, the painstaking CGI, and all those stunt people they set alight. There the Lannisters were, happily transporting their Highgarden plunder back to King’s Landing, having pulled a fast one on their enemy, when they heard two sounds: the pounding hooves of the Dothraki and the great wings of Dany’s dragon.

5. Jaime pushes Bran out of the tower

Bran by the Tower Window

Season one, episode one

“The things I do for love.”

It’s a good job that Bran Stark didn’t listen to his mother and stop climbing the walls of Winterfell… this was where it all began. Jaime Lannister callously pushing a ten-year-old off a tower wasn’t just a combination of sex, shock, and cruelty that would define Game Of Thrones, it established the Lannisters’ villainy, Cersei and Jaime’s incestuous relationship (thus the question over Joffrey’s legitimacy as an heir that led to Ned’s execution), gave Jaime an act for which to redeem himself in the eyes of the audience, and started Bran Stark on the way to becoming the all-seeing Three-Eyed Raven. A pivotal push.

4. The Red Wedding

The Frey Killing Catelyn Stark

Season three, episode nine

“The Lannisters send their regards.”

Like Ned Stark’s death, this bloodbath showed that nobody was safe in the game of thrones. The murders of Catelyn, Robb, and a pregnant Talisa Stark while supposedly protected by ancient laws, were an act of war and one paid for dearly by the Freys when Arya the assassin came to collect on their debt in season seven.

read more – The Real History of Game of Thrones: The Red Wedding

3. Ned Stark’s death

Ned Stark Before His Beheading

Season one, episode nine

“Treason shall never go unpunished.”

This was the shock death that proved Game Of Thrones brooked no truck with the notion of plot armor. The show’s ostensible lead, head of House Stark, Lord of Winterfell, Warden of the North, Mr. Sean Bean… decapitated in the very first of this show’s blood-swimming episode nine. How can the show possibly continue, we asked? Just watch me, said Game Of Thrones, and we did.

2. Dany becomes the Mother of Dragons

Daenerys and Baby Drogon

Season one episode ten

“Blood of my blood.”

This was pivotal – the moment Daenerys Targaryen stepped into her husband’s flaming funeral pyre, burnt to death the witch whose curse killed him and their unborn son, hatched her century-old dragon eggs and emerged as The Unburnt, with three baby war machines clinging to her sooty skin. The beginning of it all.

1. Viseryion brings down the wall

Zombie Viserion Breathing Blue Fire

Season seven, episode seven


The pain of seeing Viseryion felled by the Night King’s spear in season seven was only equalled by the dread of seeing his great undead eye reopen as ice-blue after resurrection, and the shock of seeing him breath blue fire to destroy the Wall. Protected by ancient magic and standing for centuries, the Wall was Westeros’ last hope of protection against the White Walkers, and now, it’s gone.

Game Of Thrones season 8 premieres on HBO on April 14.