Ten Most Shocking Game of Thrones Moments
As those not living under a rock will be aware, a little HBO show about (as Ian McShane so eloquently put it) “tits and dragons” makes its return tonight. Whether you’re a die hard book reader, TV-watching obsessive or, like me, somebody who got a little bit bored of season 5 (yes, I’m talking about you Sand Snakes), there’s no denying that the series has provided some of the most jaw dropping moments in television history. In preparation for the season 6 premiere, how about we count down just ten of the most shocking Game of Thrones moments to date?
*HUGE SPOILERS, OBVIOUSLY*
Melisandre gives birth to a smoke demon (Garden of Bones, S2E04)
Viserys’ golden crown (A Golden Crown, S1E06)
Jaime loses his hand (Walk of Punishment, S3E03)
Robert’s bastards are Killed (The North Remembers, S2E01)
The death of Tywin Lannister (The Children, S4E10)
Daenerys rises from the flames (Fire and Blood, S1E10)
Other than a few references to white walkers and black magic, the first season of Game of Thrones didn’t seem particularly magical, focusing instead on the politics and murky secrets at the heart of Iron Throne. The first true reveal of the show’s fantasy side was in the finale of season 1, when Daenerys stepped into a burning funeral pyre and returned the next day not only alive, but carrying three dragons on her shoulders. The dragons have since gone on to be one of the show’s most popular features.
“The things I do for love” (Winter Is Coming, S1E1)
We all should have guessed the gutwrenching show Game of Thrones would turn into. Just look at the ending of the very first episode, in which young boy Bran Stark discovers Jaime Lannister having sex with his own sister, Queen Cersei, before being pushed off a ledge and crippled to keep him silenced. It’s a fitting beginning, and only a small glimpse of what was to come.
Ramsay and Sansa’s wedding night (Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken, S5E06)
No moment in Game of Thrones history was quite as controversial as Ramsay Bolton raping his new bride Sansa Stark, as the tortured Reek watched on. It’s a hugely unpleasant moment (perhaps even worse than the book’s counterpart), and one that I hope leads to Sansa and the former Theon Greyjoy finally getting a small bit of justice against the truly horrible Ramsay Bolton.
The Night’s King raises the dead (Hardhome, S5E08)
Officially the greatest Game of Thrones episode according to IMDB (with a whopping 9.9/10 rating), most people remember Hardhome for its final twenty minutes, as Jon Snow and the Wildlings go to war with the undead. A brutal, chilling battle, no moment better summed up the overwhelming threat the White Walkers pose than when the Night’s King stared at Jon Snow and raised his arms, bringing Snow’s deceased former allies back to life as his army. Easily one of the most iconic images in the show’s history.
The Purple Wedding (The Lion and the Rose, S4E02)
Game of Thrones fans rarely get to celebrate, but people were practically dancing in the streets when evil little shit King Joffrey finally snuffed it, poisoned at his own wedding. Sadly, fans couldn’t celebrate for long as our hero Tyrion Lannister was quickly accused of murder and put on trial. For now though, the show’s big bad was finally defeated.
Stannis sacrifices Shireen (The Dance of Dragons, S5E09)
Everyone has had a moment where they’ve thought “This has gone too far”. For some, it was the Red Wedding in season 3. For many, it was the foul rape of Sansa Stark by Ramsay Bolton. For me, however, it had to be this upsetting moment when Stannis Baratheon, losing the war and desperate for luck, sacrificed his young daughter Shireen and sent her to the flames. Her screams as she cried for her parents to save her can still send a shiver down your spine.
“For the watch” (Mother’s Mercy, S5E10)
The internet promptly went into meltdown over the very final scene of season 5, as plucky underdog Jon Snow was betrayed by his Night’s Watch counterparts and stabbed endlessly, over and over again. While it isn’t quite as poignant or logical as in the books, it was still a shock to see one of the show’s only heroes bleeding into the snow. However, it seems Jon Snow’s journey is far from over…
Prince Oberyn vs. The Mountain (The Mountain and the Viper, S4E08)
No moment in the show’s history personally shocked me like this one. By far the most disgustingly violent scene I’ve ever witnessed on television, the death of Prince Oberyn was partly so shocking because of how brilliant Pedro Pascal had been in the role. A quick fan favourite, it was crushing to watch him get, well, crushed. It’s quite possible that no moment in the show’s history will ever be quite as stomach churning as watching The Mountain smash Prince Oberyn’s head in, sentencing Tyrion Lannister to die in the process.
Ned Stark gets beheaded (Baelor, S1E09)
We should have seen it coming, given that Ned Stark was played by professional corpse Sean Bean. Somehow, we didn’t, and hearts were broken across the world as the truly honourable Ned, a pure Game of Thrones hero if ever there was one, was executed by King Joffrey. A cruel scene, played before a crowd baying for blood, the death of the show’s protagonist threw the entire show into chaos and lead the way to the rest of the show’s shocking stories.
The Red Wedding (The Rains of Castamere, S3E09)
It could only be this. No moment in the show’s history is as iconic and talked-about as the brutal murder of Robb and Catelyn Stark. Starting with the hideous stabbing of Robb’s pregnant wife, the Red Wedding was a massacre in which most of the Stark family and bannermen were finally wiped out by the evil Lannisters. This was the moment in which all hope was lost, and people began to realise that George RR Martin wasn’t fucking around. The heroes were dead. The villains were triumphant. No moment in Game of Thrones has been quite as powerful before or since.
Disagree with my rankings? Feel like I’ve missed out a major moment? Leave me a comment giving your views on the most shocking Game of Thrones moments.
By Harry J. Ford
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