The Iron Anniversary
Top 10 Most Shocking Game of Thrones Deaths
When HBO Original Game of Thrones premiered 10 years ago, one thing became clear quickly: anything can happen. After the penultimate episode of the first season, viewers realized it was dangerous to get attached, but that didn’t make it any easier or less surprising when the end came for many characters we loved or loved to hate.
In celebration of the Iron Anniversary, we asked fans to help select the most shocking deaths from throughout the series. Curated from more than 33,000 votes, here are the results of the Choosing.
10. Walder Frey (Season 6, Episode 10)
As far as villains go, Walder was a bit more like a Lannister lapdog than a true mastermind, but his betrayal of the Starks wasn’t just a momentary lapse in judgement, and it led to a slaughter. Arya Stark had many names on her kill list, but this one took the cake (or pie, as the case may be) for marking her return to Westeros, and somewhat resolving a long-lingering heartache.
9. Ramsay Bolton (Season 6, Episode 9)
There is only one death on this list that was perhaps more satisfying than this one. After all of the mischief, abuse, and downright torture other characters experienced at the hands of Ramsay, audiences were eager to see how the bastard would get that grin wiped off his face, and they were not disappointed when Sansa Stark fed the man to his own starved hounds. The perfect button? Sansa’s own smile as she walked away from the kennels.
8. Viserion (Season 7, Episode 6)
The dragons weren’t classic characters, of course, but that didn’t mean we adored them any less. From their birth to their development into full-grown, intelligent, beasts, we loved seeing them come to life. Drogon, Rheagal, and Viserion were synonymous with power, and we also knew how much they meant to Dany, who saw the creatures as her children. Both details factored into the shock viewers felt when the Night King so casually shot Viserion down, and the chill we felt when the dragon’s giant eye reopened ice blue.
7. Littlefinger (Season 7, Episode 7)
The man we thought would see it all the way to the end. Master manipulator Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish may not always have had our favorite characters’ best intentions in mind, but he was still so fun to watch. His twisted relationship with Sansa, as a bandage to his unrequited love for Catelyn, always had us raising an eyebrow (Cersei taught us best), but we didn’t have to worry. The Stark women know how to take care of themselves, and Sansa calling the shots while Arya carried out the sentence was just one of the many memorable ways the pack continued to survive.
6. Joffrey Baratheon (Season 4, Episode 2)
You know a death is significant when the fandom gives the event its own name. “The Purple Wedding” as we’ve all come to know it, was surprising if only because it came so early in Season 4 and viewers weren’t 100 percent yet sure who had made it happen. But after everything we had witnessed Joffrey do, we’re not sure how much more we could have handled. The horrifying moment was played beautifully by both actors Jack Gleeson and Lena Headey.
5. Jon Snow (Season 5, Episode 10)
Olly, how could you? Jon Snow’s death was a horrible mirror to Ned’s — both men died for doing what they thought was right — but luckily for Jon, and for fans, Melisandre saw to it that we only had to go a couple of episodes without the hero. In a show where most deaths are one-and-done, viewers really weren’t sure if this was going to be it for Jon, and it left the series on one of its biggest cliffhangers between one season and the next.
4. Ned Stark (Season 1, Episode 9)
Ned Stark’s beheading set the tone for the rest of the series, both for characters within the story, and viewers of the show. His is the death we can all point back to and say, “that’s where it all changed.” Arya said it best: “The North remembers.” And so do we.
3. Hodor (Season 6, Episode 5)
The death that launched a thousand memes. Fans were left speechless after Hodor was revealed to be a young man named Wylis whose fate was sealed from much earlier than anyone could have imagined. Despite being a man of few words, Hodor was a much beloved sidekick, so while it hurt to see him go the way he did, we’re happy he got the powerful sendoff worthy of him.
2. Oberyn Martell (Season 4, Episode 8)
Oberyn swept onto the scene at the beginning of Season 4 and quickly became a fan-paramore favorite. We were all on edge when he volunteered to fight the Mountain, but it just didn’t seem possible that someone so vivacious would be given to us, only to be taken away so fast. But taken he was, and it wasn’t pretty. Cersei told us, “In the game of thrones you win, or you die,” but Oberyn sort of managed to do both. The Viper had his opponent down, but just didn’t finish the job, a big no-no in the world of Thrones, and a valuable lesson any character within earshot of Ellaria Sand’s screams wouldn’t soon forget.
1. The Red Wedding (Season 3, Episode 9)
Ned Stark’s death may have changed all the rules, but the murders of Robb, Catelyn, Talisa, Grey Wind, and the Stark soldiers, taught us there weren’t any rules anymore. We all held out a small glimmer of hope that somehow Robb or Cat would be spared, but it was not to be. A twist no one saw coming, the Red Wedding shook viewers to the core, and reminded us all that in Game of Thrones, no one was safe.