These moments made the show, even if they hurt to watch. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top 20 “Game of Thrones” moments.
For this list, we’ll be discussing some of the best moments from the phenomenon that is “Game of Thrones.” If you’re not caught up yet, beware: this video is dark and full of spoilers.
#20: Bran Catches Jaime & Cersei
“Winter is Coming”
The first episode of “Game of Thrones” sets the tone for the rest of the show in many ways, and one thing it teaches us, is to expect the unexpected, even when it comes to main characters. Arguably the first big twist occurs when Bran Stark, who loves climbing, scales a broken tower in Winterfell and catches siblings Jaime and Cersei Lannister in the act. Bran’s intrusion leads Jaime to push him off the tower, permanently crippling him and changing both of their lives forever.
#19: The Birth of Dragons
“Fire and Blood”
Daenerys overcomes many setbacks on her long road back to Westeros, but one of the biggest is the loss of her husband Khal Drogo and their unborn child. Distraught, Dany burns Drogo’s body, along with the witch responsible, and her three dragon eggs. When she steps into the fire herself, it’s naturally worrying, but seeing her emerge from the ashes alive and unharmed is amazing. And it’s not the only miracle - the eggs have hatched, and Daenerys Stormborn is now the Mother of Dragons.
#18: The White Walkers Knock Down the Wall
“The Dragon and the Wolf”
For most of the series, the threat of the White Walkers looms in the background. They come crashing through into the forefront however in the seventh season’s final moments. Seeing the Night King swoop in on his undead dragon as the Night’s Watch and Wildlings panic is terrifying enough, but watching the icy monarch bring down the Wall had everyone soiling their pants. The dread we felt as the endless waves of wights shambled through into the Seven Kingdoms still hits us every time.
#17: Jaime & Brienne’s Bath
“Kissed by Fire”
Jaime Lannister doesn’t endear himself to people easily. He’s arrogant and sarcastic, and there’s that whole “screwing his sister and pushing a kid out of a window” thing. Notoriously, he also killed the king he was sworn to protect. While recuperating from the loss of his hand in a bath with Brienne of Tarth, Jaime recounts his infamous deed, explaining that the Mad King had planned to burn down King’s Landing with Wildfire. Jaime’s raw emotion really casts his character in a new light, elevating him beyond simply an antagonist.
#16: The Tower of Joy
“Oathbreaker” & “The Winds of Winter”
The events surrounding this nondescript tower had the power to shake the Seven Kingdoms. Through Bran’s visions into the past, viewers witness Ned Stark’s attempt to rescue his sister Lyanna. Although the fight outside is awesome, it’s the revelation inside that had us all talking. Within the tower, Lyanna dies in childbirth, entrusting her son for Ned to protect. As many fans had suspected all along, “Jon Snow” isn’t Ned’s bastard at all, but the son of Lyanna and Rhaegar Targaryen - making him the heir to the Iron Throne!
#15: Dany Saves the Expedition Beyond the Wall
“Beyond the Wall”
When Jon leads an expedition beyond the wall to capture a wight, the odds are stacked against them. The group end up surrounded by the army of the dead, with wights wearing them down. All hope seems lost . . . until who should appear but Dany and her dragons! The soaring music and spreading flames are enough to lift anyone’s spirits. But the moment is tinged with sadness too, as the Night King manages to kill Viserion with an ice spear - something that’ll lead to plenty of headaches later on.
#14: Tyrion’s Trial
“The Laws of Gods and Men”
It’s courtroom drama at its best! When the most famous dwarf in Westeros is tried for the murder of King Joffrey, he suffers through a parade of witnesses miscontruing his words and, in the case of his former lover Shae, outright lying. As painful as it is to watch, it’s supremely satisfying to see Tyrion’s rage boil over. He rightly calls out everyone there for scapegoating him just because he’s different, and manages to throw a wrench in his father’s plans while he’s at it. Bravo Tyrion!
#13: Hold the Door
When Bran decides to take a solo trip into the past without his mentor, the Three Eyed Raven, the results are disastrous. The Night King marks him, and the dead attack their hideout. As Bran watches a young Hodor in the past, while also controlling Hodor in the present, past Hodor collapses. Meera’s words, which Bran is overhearing in the present, get stuck in young Hodor’s head, traumatizing him forever - as “hold the door” gradually becomes “Hodor”. Few deaths in the series are as heartbreaking or mind-bending as this one!
#12: The Battle of Blackwater
While “Game of Thrones” had had a few battles scenes before, none of them were to the scale or length of this one, and it absolutely blew us away. With King’s Landing under threat from Stannis Baratheon’s forces in Blackwater Bay, Tyrion devises a desperate strategy to use Wildfire against the ships and hold the line at the Mud Gate. The spectacular Wildfire explosion is accompanied by intense fighting on shore, as well as some surprising betrayals, and an ending that had even Cersei on the edge of her seat.
#11: Jon Snow’s Death & Resurrection
“Mother’s Mercy” & “Home”
Jon Snow grows a lot during the show, developing from a brooding teenager into a real leader and Westeros’ best hope against the White Walkers. And then, he’s murdered by his own men for siding with Wildlings against the undead. Jon’s death broke the internet and left fans heartbroken. So the elation we felt when Mellisandre brought him back to life was pretty spectacular! It’s enough to make you want to become a follower of the Lord of Light…or at least worship Jon Snow. Don’t forget though, he’s not a god. [“’I’m not a god!’ ‘I know that – I saw your pecker. What kind of god would have a pecker that small?’”]
#10: Joffrey’s Death
“The Lion and the Rose”
Born from the incestuous union of Jaime and Cersei Lannister, Joffrey “Baratheon” ruled over the Seven Kingdoms like the spoiled, sadistic child he was. At his wedding, he’s at his absolute worst, delighting in humiliating his uncle Tyrion, to everyone’s discomfort. Just as his antics reach new depths of loathsomeness, his wine is poisoned and he chokes to death at last. After what he put everyone though, the insufferable slimebag’s death was so cathartic, it had fans praising the old gods and the new!
#8: Ned Stark’s Beheading
Ned Stark is arguably the most honorable character in the series. So it’s heartbreaking when his attempts to do the right thing, namely exposing Cersei’s affair with Jaimie and removing Joffrey from power, are rewarded with betrayal and imprisonment. Yet, right up until those final moments, there was still hope he’d be spared and join the Night’s Watch… until, well, JOFFREY. Ned’s death was a definitive moment and game changer for the show, letting the audience know that being the good guy, and a protagonist to boot, didn’t guarantee survival.
#7: Oberyn Martell vs the Mountain
“The Mountain and the Viper”
It was easy to root for the charismatic Oberyn Martell as Tyrion’s champion against Gregor “the Mountain” Clegane - and not just because Tyrion’s life was at stake. Not since Ned Stark had a character endeared us to them so quickly. Although Oberyn manages to best the massive killer, his quest to make his opponent admit to raping his sister and killing her children leads him to leave the Mountain alive too long. The hulking monster’s revenge is one of the series’ most visceral and brutal deaths.
#6: Arya Kills the Night King
“The Long Night”
While the Battle of Winterfell is chock full of amazing moments, we had to give it to Arya! Despite the defenders’ best efforts, the army of the dead quickly overruns Winterfell. With the Night King bearing down on Bran Stark, Arya leaps in out of nowhere - only to be caught in midair. In a neat move, she switches hands with her Valyrian steel dagger and stabs him in the gut; ending the wintry threat for good! Seeing Arya’s training culminate in her saving the world was incredibly satisfying.
#5: Daenerys Destroys the Lannister Troops
“The Spoils of War”
Despite returning to Westeros with a massive army, Daenerys Targaryen meets with several early losses in her contest with Cersei over the Iron Throne. However, the tide starts to turn when Daenerys decides to attack the Lannister army on its way back to King’s Landing after sacking Highgarden. Seeing the Dothraki horde in battle with Daenerys on her dragon is absolutely awe-inspiring. While it’s hard fought, and Bronn with that scorpion makes a credible threat, it’s still a pretty one-sided battle and it’s great to see Daenerys get this victory.
#4: Cersei Blows Up the Sept
“The Winds of Winter”
Although Cersei’s walk of shame is incredibly iconic, we’d argue that her greatest moment of triumph is even more so. While the aforementioned walk partially atones for her sins in the eyes of the Faith Militant, she’s still scheduled for trial in the Sept of Baelor. However, Cersei is a no show, and a gorgeous musical montage slowly builds to the revelation that she’s set casks of Wildfire underneath it - leading to a massive, fiery green explosion that disintegrates her rivals, and puts the lioness back on top.
In the books, “Hardhome” took place “offscreen”, so to speak. So for the first time, both sides of the fandom were united in shock during this battle. Jon Snow’s attempt to forge an alliance with the Wildlings in their village Hardhome is successful; but the dead choose that moment to attack. The tense, thrilling battle is a curbstomp for the living, though Jon does manage to kill a White Walker. The Night King raising the dead as the survivors escape STILL gives us chills!
#2: The Battle of the Bastards
“Battle of the Bastards”
It’s been called one of the greatest episodes in TV history. The Battle of the Bastards pits Jon’s forces against Ramsay Bolton’s for control of the North. Initially, Jon’s army seems well-prepared; but Ramsay’s cruel murder of Rickon leads Jon to commit prematurely. The result is a desperate battle that quickly becomes a slaughter. It’s only the timely intervention of Sansa and Littlefinger, of all people, that saves the day. Gory, glorious, and gorgeously cinematic, at times all at once, the Battle of the Bastards is arguably the show’s best battle.
Before we get to our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:
Littlefinger is Executed
“The Dragon and the Wolf”
Brienne vs the Hound
The First Lethal Dracarys
“And Now His Watch Is Ended”
Euron Captures Yara
Arya Stark Kills Walder Frey & Wears His Face
“The Winds of Winter” & “Dragonstone”
#1: The Red Wedding
“The Rains of Castamere”
How could it have been anything else? Sure, he did it for love, but Robb’s decision to break his promise to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters was short-sighted at best. To try to make up for it, he arranges to have his uncle marry one of the Frey girls. However, Walder is a spiteful man and, with Roose Bolton, he has Robb, his mother, his wife, his unborn child, and his men murdered. The shock of the Red Wedding was like an asteroid hitting pop culture. It was a moment that MADE the series and completely changed the course of events . . . even though it was also SO hard to watch!