Through six seasons of the acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones, audiences have been drawn into a fantasy world with vast political intrigue and deep lore. Based on the novels “A Song of Ice and Fire” by George R.R. Martin, the show became one of HBO’s cornerstone television series, with its unpredictability and massive scale continually leaving audiences in awe.
With only two seasons left, CBR is taking a look at some of the most unforgettable moments from the first six seasons of “Game of Thrones.” With the endgame of the series in sight, it’s important to take a look back to remember just how far everyone has come on this wild ride through Westeros and Essos.
That being said, here’s a look at some of those groundbreaking events Martin’s world has blown us away with.
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS HEAVY SPOILERS FROM SEASONS 1-6 OF “GAME OF THRONES.”
16. EXECUTION OF NED STARK (Season 1)
The sign that “Game of Thrones” was set to be a different series compared to most was the moment that Eddard Stark was betrayed and executed upon the death of Robert Baratheon and his revealing the truth surrounding the relations between Cersei and Jamie Lannister.
Up to his execution, everyone had known Ned as an honorable, just lord free of corruption who could be the shining light. The moment he took what was seen as the wrong side, he was forced to bow before Joffery Lannister and claim he was being treasonous, even though he wasn’t. Even being Robert’s Hand of the King didn’t save him from the Lannister’s cruelty, who had him executed. His death also taught the audience a valuable lesson: simply being good and honorable won’t allow you to survive in this world.
Ned’s death also took valuable secrets to the grave, including the truth surrounding the deaths of the previous Hand Jon Arryn, Cersei’s contribution to King Robert’s death, the truth about her incestuous relationship and Joffrey’s lineage, and the identity of Jon Snow’s mother. As Warden of the North, his death plunged instability into the largest region of Westeros while sparking what would be known as the War of the Five Kings.
15. HATCHING THE DRAGONS (Season 1)
Throughout the first season, audiences are told about how special Targaryens are, as they could supposedly tame dragons and be unharmed by fire. To this point, viewers were skeptical to just how special Daenerys truly was, especially given the behavior of her brother Viserys, the-then rightful heir to the Iron Throne.
Following the unfortunate death of her husband Drogon and being subsequently abandoned by his tribe, Daenerys’s legend begins as she steps into the raging maw of his funeral pyre with three dragon eggs that were presumed could never hatch. When the embers die down, a naked Daenerys is seen, ash-covered but unharmed, clutching three baby dragons.
Having her hatch the dragons in an era when the creatures are long extinct, the scene draws audiences into realizing just how special Daenerys truly is. This would culminate a powerful step in her maturation process as she resolves to continue on her path to someday return to Westeros.
14. NIGHT’S WATCH VS WILDLINGS (Season 4)
Game of Thrones is known for its intense battles, and the battle between the Wildlings and the Night’s Watch is one to remember.
After Jon Snow successfully infiltrated the Wildlings as a spy and gained the trust of their leader, Mance Rayder, he was able to warn the Night’s Watch of the Wildling army’s intentions of attacking Castle Black. What follows is one of the most chaotic and masterful battles of the series. Despite their valiant efforts, the Night’s Watch loses a good number of its men in the battle and are only saved from subsequent attacks thanks to the arrival of Stannis Baratheon and his army on the following day. The battle itself also included the death of Jon’s wildling lover, Ygritte, while Stannis’ arrival resulted in Mance’s capture and execution.
This battle is the culmination of conflicts that have been occurring as the Night’s Watch continues investigating why the Wildlings are growing active and moving towards the Wall. To this point, audiences have grown sympathetic toward the Wildling cause, given that they sought to scale the Wall solely to escape from the White Walkers.
13. VISERYS GETS HIS CROWN OF GOLD (Season 1)
Siblings can be a pain to deal with sometimes, but siblings like Viserys are in a league of their own when it comes to entitlement, arrogance and downright cruelty. As Daenerys’ older brother, Viserys wed her to Kahl Drogon, thinking the marriage would cement their alliance and allow him to use Drogon’s Dothraki hordes to reclaim the Iron Throne for himself. Seething at the Dothraki leader for going back on his promise to invade Westeros, he retaliates by drunkenly threatening to kill Daenerys and her unborn child (fathered by Drogon). Tiring of this crazed Targaryen, Drogon decides to pour molten gold all over his head, giving Viserys the golden crown he obsessed over having.
Viserys’ death is among the most gruesome of Season One and didn’t hold back on the shock factor. While fans were certainly happy to see the whining Targaryen depart, his death was more important in establishing Daenerys’s independence from what was essentially her captor. She did not weep for his death, and it became the first time in her life she became truly free to make her own decisions, as she and Drogon had actually fallen in love by this point.
12. JAIME LOSES HIS HAND (Season 3)
Jaime Lannister is one of the more polarizing figures of “Game of Thrones” due to his incestuous relationship with his sister and his callousness towards people he doesn’t personally care about. One of Jamie’s more defining and shocking moments came when he was robbed of his right hand.
Traveling with Brienne of Tarth to King’s Landing to bargain for Sansa and Arya Stark, the two are captured by bannermen of Roose Bolton and set to be taken to Harrenhal where he’s set up shop. Not eager to be taken prisoner given the nature of their trip, Jamie attempts to bargain with their captors by promising them money. Instead of going along with it, the captors, disgusted by the Lannister, decide to punish him by lopping off his right hand.
This moment is significant for a number of reasons. Notoriously known as “Kingslayer” and an oathbreaker, being robbed of his right hand is seen as a representation of Jamie’s utter powerlessness without his swordsmanship skills or the protection of his Lannister name. It also stands as a character-defining move that humbles Jamie and allows the audience to see him as something more than just a jerk in an incestuous relationship.
11. BATTLE OF BLACKWATER (Season 2)
The War of the Five Kings nearly came to an end for the Lannisters during the Battle of Blackwater. Acting as Hand of the King for the tyrannical Joffrey, Tyrion Lannister was given the impossible task of staving off Stannis’ invasion of Kings Landing, without having much in the way of battle experience or manpower. With the invasion occurring in Blackwater Bay, Tyrion, through some cunning and quick thinking, sinks most of Stannis’ fleet with wildfire. He even led the ground effort on the shores while Joffrey fled the battle.
During the fight with Stannis’ soldiers, Tyrion is gravely injured by a sword slash across the face by a traitorous Kingsguard on Cersei’s orders. Regardless, Tyrion’s bravery and previous motivational speech inspired the troops to hold out long enough for Tywin Lannister’s forces to arrive and save King’s Landing from falling.
Being one of the first large-scale battles of the series, the Battle of Blackwater showed the extent of Tyrion’s charisma, intellect and how tactically gifted he is, given how he held the city for so long with so little. He led the troops as a king should while his nephew cowered in fear. The battle was an iconic moment for him and cemented his role as a major player moving forward.
10. JOFFREY’S DEATH (Season 4)
Easily among the most hated characters in the series, fans were quite pleased with the way that the young “Baratheon” went out. While celebrating his birthday, Joffery’s ugly behavior was on full display. He is especially ungrateful of his uncle Tyrion, who saved his cowardly hide from certain death at the hands of Stannis. All of this comes to a head when, during the wedding, Joffery begins choking after drinking his wine, which turns out to have been poisoned. Dying in Cersei’s arms, she quickly blames Tyrion as the perpetrator and has him arrested to await trial for a crime he didn’t commit.
Joffrey’s death, while satisfying to the many who waited four long seasons for him to go, is what begins to unravel the Lannister’s grip on the throne. With clear tensions in their family, Cersei is given the perfect excuse to finally execute her brother, who is too smart for his own good given his knowledge of her relationship with Jamie and the secrets of her children. Though she grieves for her son, ousting Tyrion in the process is just what she needs to clear another obstacle from her path.
9. RAMSAY BOLTON’S DEATH (Season 6)
The much-despised Ramsay Bolton became the Lord of the North by murdering his father, Roose Bolton, and his infant half-brother (Ramsay was a legitimized bastard, which meant his half-brother was heir to Winterfell before him). All that stood in his way was a newly-resurrected Jon Snow and a ragtag bunch of small Northern houses and Wildlings. With the strongest Northern bannermen at his disposal, his numbers advantage almost won him the battle. Only the timely arrival of Sansa and Littlefinger with the Knights of the Vale to turn the tide of battle. He ultimately loses after he is viciously beaten by Jon. While imprisoned, he is watched calmly by Sansa as he is ripped apart and devoured by the same hounds he used to kill so many people.
If there was ever a satisfying death in “Game of Thrones,” it was Ramsay’s. A character responsible for torture and multiple deaths, including those of the Wildling Osha and Rickon Stark, many were looking for his sadistic reign of tyranny over Winterfell to end. The only debate regarding Ramsay Bolton is whether he was worse than Joffrey or not.
8. THE MOUNTAIN VS THE VIPER (Season 4)
With Tyrion’s clown-court trial over Joffrey’s death not going well, the Imp demanded a trial by combat. He gains an unexpected champion to fight on his behalf: Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne, who recently arrived in King’s Landing with ulterior motives.
Pitted against Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, Oberyn is quite confident, showcasing his skills with a spear. It is during this fight that Oberyn reveals why he’s come to the city: to avenge the death of his sister, Elia Martell, who was raped and murdered at The Mountain’s hands. While trying make him confess during the fight, Oberyn is forced to the ground and has his skull brutally crushed like a melon. The Mountain’s victory is short-lived, however, as he perishes due to being pierced by Oberyn’s poison-laced spear.
“Game of Thrones”does not feature one-on-one battles often, but this fight between The Mountain and Oberyn showed the series is more than capable of putting them together. The battle had multiple layers and parties involved. From Tyrion’s trial, Cersei’s revenge, and Oberyn’s opportunity to avenge his sister, it was a fight that had a lot at stake, with events from the past and present colliding in this trial by combat.
7. DAENERYS RIDES DROGON (Season 5)
Having reluctantly reopened the Meereen Fighting Pits under extreme pressure from the citizens, Daenerys and her advisors personally attend the grand reopening in their main coliseum. However, the Sons of the Harpy use this as a chance to attempt assassinating her.
A massive battle erupts between Daenerys’ Unsullied and the Sons of the Harpy, with chaos erupting throughout the coliseum. Just when it seems they’re at the end of their rope, Drogon makes his entrance, burning the Sons of the Harpy while making his way towards his mother. Daenerys then climbs on his back and gives him a new command: fly. Drogon takes off with her on his back, mystifying everyone, with even the recently arrived Tyrion left speechless.
Up to this point, Daenerys had been having trouble commanding her three dragons, particularly Drogon, who had become something of a problem child (he killed sheepherders’ stock and even one of their sons). His return to her side illustrates that he still cares for his mother, while her command to fly signifies her growth as a Targaryen.
6. CERSEI’S WALK OF SHAME (Season 5)
With the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant giving Cersei all she can handle, going so far as to take her prisoner for sleeping with her cousin Lancel, Cersei is forced to atone for her sins. In order to do so, the Faith Militant dragged her low. Very low.
To atone for her sins, Cersei’s long hair is cut and she is forced to walk the streets of King’s Landing fully naked, complete with a nun getting everybody’s attention by ringing a bell and shouting “shame” as she followed close behind. It was Cersei at her lowest and most humiliated, utterly exposed physically and mentally to the citizens she ruled over for much of her life.
Cersei is one of the more interesting characters on “Game of Thrones,” often being able to outmaneuver her enemies while caring for no one else but Jamie and her children. Her atonement left her feeling powerlessness, something she’s never experienced as a Lannister before. Upon reaching the castle from her march, her loyal servant Qyburn welcomes her back by giving her a new Kingsguard member: The Mountain, freshly resurrected as a result of his alchemy, signifying that her revenge has only yet begun.
5. JON SNOW’S PARENTAGE REVEALED (Season 6)
During his tutelage with the Three-Eyed Raven, Bran Stark was walked through various flashbacks in the past, one of which involved Ned’s mission to rescue his sister, Lyanna Stark, who had been kidnapped by Rhaegar Targaryen during Robert’s Rebellion. Or so the story went.
After Bran witnesses his young father fight off two elite Kingsguard, he enters the tower that Lyanna’s held in. Once inside, he finds her in a bedchamber attended by nursemaids. It is here that Ned witnesses his sister doing the absolute last thing he expected: giving birth to a boy, revealing the long-unknown truth of Jon Snow’s true lineage as the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen instead of being Ned’s illegitimate son.
A long-standing theory within the “A Song of Ice and Fire” community, the reveal of Jon’s parentage is one of the biggest revelations in the series. It reveals that, as the son of the oldest Targaryen prince, Jon has a legitimate claim to the Iron Throne. It also explains a large reason why Ned was so protective of Jon, as he was his last remaining link to his sister and, as an heir of Rhaegar’s, he would’ve been executed by Robert.
4. MASSACRE IN THE SEPT OF BAELOR (Season 6)
With Cersei having to further undergo trial by the Faith Militant for her crimes, she is at the end of her rope. Unable to have a trial by combat, she is left with little options. So what does one do when all your enemies gather in one place? Kill them all, of course.
With the trial taking place in the Sept of Baelor, Cersei makes use of the enormous stores of Wildfire left over from the Mad King’s plot and stores it all beneath the Sept, destroying the entire building and surroundings in one fell swoop. In its destruction, she kills the likes of Queen Margaery Tyrell, the High Sparrow, Loras Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, her uncle Kevan Lannister and dozens of bystanders attending her trial or going about their business outside. As a result of Margaery’s death, her son Tommen commits suicide, paving the way for Cersei to take the throne. Now, with no children left, Cersei is untethered and free to finally do as she pleases. What that means for King’s Landing remains to be seen.
3. “HOLD THE DOOR” (Season 6)
For so long, Hodor was nothing more than a joke to those who new him, given how he could only say his name and appeared to lack any kind of purpose. Loyal to the Starks for years as a stableboy, his character took on a different meaning after his sacrifice.
When the Night’s King arrived at their hideout, the Three-Eyed Raven urges that it is time for the young Stark and his friends to leave in order to avoid being captured and killed. As they escape down the cave with the wights catching up, Hodor stays behind to stall for time by holding the door shut. Bran, still inside a flashback while all of this goes on, connects to the Hodor of the past (whose original name was Wylis) who subsequently hears Meera yelling to his present self to “Hold the Door!” This mentally traumatizes the young Wylis, who has a seizure while repeatedly yelling the phrase until it eventually becomes “Hodor.”
It’s a deeply sad moment, as Hodor’s name literally meant what his final purpose in life was: to hold the door for Bran’s escape. However, unlike many other character deaths on the show, it felt like it served a purpose beyond just shocking or saddening the audience.
2. THE WIGHT WALKERS ATTACK HARDHOME (Season 5)
Realizing how dangerous the White Walkers are, Jon travels with the Night’s Watch and a group of Wildlings led by Tormund Giantsbane to Hardhome in order to convince the remaining Wildlings to join their cause. They are soon joined by some uninvited guests, as the White Walkers themselves appear with an army of wights to eliminate the village.
Soon, the Night’s Watch and the Wildlings are caught in a massive battle as they attempt to evacuate the many Free Folk via the harbor ships while holding the undead army back. In the process, Jon slays a White Walker with his Valyrian Steel sword, revealing another key weakness of the frost demons. Despite killing the White Walker, the wights break through, forcing Jon and the others to retreat. While watching them flee, the Night’s King raises his arms and we see all the recently killed Wildlings rise as wights to replenish his army.
If there was ever a complete feeling of hopelessness at the end of a battle, Hardhome had it. The knowledge that the Night King can raise the dead as wights and add them to his forces reinforces the idea that he might be an impossible villain to beat. The battle was the first glimpse of the show’s true endgame, and “Hardhome” gave viewers a better idea of just what the White Walkers are capable of.
1. THE RED WEDDING (Season 6)
If there’s one lesson to be learned from “Game of Thrones,” it’s not to get too attached to the characters, as they could suffer a gruesome death at any moment. The Red Wedding is a perfect example of this.
Following Ned’s death, his eldest son, Robb Stark, lead a major war campaign against the Lannisters, quickly becoming known as the “King in the North” by his followers and the “Young Wolf” by his enemies. However, after breaking his pledge to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters, the old lord retaliates by having Robb, his pregnant wife Talisa, his mother Catelyn Stark and all of Robb’s forces killed after having invited them to his castle under the guise of peace. It would later be revealed that the operation was orchestrated by Tywin Lannister, who convinced both Frey and Roose Bolton to betray Robb for greater power.
One of the biggest twists in “Game of Thrones,” the Red Wedding displayed the kind of treachery that the Freys and Boltons are capable of while also showing the level of influence Tywin Lannister has over the Seven Kingdoms. It also resulted in the Bolton rule of Winterfell, as Roose was made Warden Of The North.
Did your favorite “Game of Thrones” moment make it onto our list? What are you looking forward to seeing from the last two seasons? Let us know in the comments!
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