Top 10 Darkest Game of Thrones Moments
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Top 10 Darkest Game of Thrones Moments

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
"Game of Thrones" has some of the darkest moments in TV history. For this list, we'll be looking at scenes from this hit HBO show that really showed us the extent of human depravity. Naturally, a spoiler warning is in effect. Our countdown includes Sacrificing Shireen, Craster's Daughter-Wives, Jon Snow's Assassination, Theon Becomes Reek, and more!
Transcript
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest “Game of Thrones” Moments. For this list, we’ll be looking at scenes from this hit HBO show that really showed us the extent of human depravity. To clarify, we’ll be focusing on thematically dark moments and not literally dark ones, even though we too could barely see the Long Night. We’ll be excluding “House of the Dragon” for now, though Queen Aemma’s birthing sequence could definitely qualify. If you haven’t seen the entirety of “Game of Thrones,” beware of spoilers. Were there any moments we missed? Let us know in the comments!

#10: Ned Stark’s Execution

“Baelor”

Nowadays, it’s common knowledge that “Game of Thrones” characters are not the kind to get attached to. But a bulk of viewers had no reason to suspect this back when it debuted. Despite the ensemble cast, Ned Stark is initially the closest thing we have to a main protagonist. He’s honorable through and through, so he’s virtually the last person we expected not to see Season 2. Unfortunately for Ned, his staunchness in trying to rightfully get the horrendous King Joffrey deposed makes him enemy number one for the Lannisters. He’s quickly detained and branded a traitor, and just when it seems like Joffrey will show mercy, the latter orders a beheading with both of Ned’s daughters in attendance. This was a serious reality check.

#9: Jon Snow’s Assassination

“Mother’s Mercy”

Speaking of characters we thought were bulletproof, Jon Snow’s technical death caught everyone by surprise. Despite not actually being Ned’s son, Jon might as well be in terms of his adopted morals and resolution. The Night’s Watch are lucky to have him as Lord Commander, but several members are unable to suspend their prejudices to see that. Jon’s decision to let the wildlings cross the wall was naturally going to be contentious, but it’s ultimately the right one. What isn’t the right decision is for several traitors to ambush their leader and send him to an early grave. It’s a gross descent into cowardice for so many otherwise good men. While Jon ultimately gets revived, the scene still fills us with bitterness to this day.

#8: Daenerys Burns King’s Landing

“The Bells”

Now here’s a decision that was controversial from a storytelling standpoint. For much of the series, Daenerys Targaryen is presented as a rising phoenix destined to do away with much of the corruption and strife plaguing Westeros. Except, her arrival on the continent is met with much more resistance than anticipated. Rather than take the hardships in stride and rise above, Daenerys becomes the sorest winner in history by burning down not only her enemies in King’s Landing, but hundreds of thousands of innocents caught in the literal crossfire. It’s hard enough watching such a beloved character make this turn, but we also can’t blame the reaction of her closest confidants over the sheer horrendousness of it all.

#7: Craster’s Daughter-Wives

“The North Remembers”

“Game of Thrones” has no shortage of despicable villains, but few were designed to draw our ire quite like Craster. A wildling living north of the Wall, Craster has an uneasy if understood alliance with the Watch. While there’s no single moment of his that most makes our stomachs retch, his introduction and the revelation that he’s taken to marrying and breeding with his daughters in an endless series of perversion is a difficult transgression to abide by. To make matters worse, Craster’s made a habit of sacrificing any sons he sires to the growing White Walker horde. Sometimes the darkest evil exists within the heart of humanity, but thankfully Craster eventually gets what’s coming to him.

#6: Jaime & Cersei Mourn Joffrey

“Breaker of Chains”

We’ve known Jaime and Cersei Lannister have a toxic relationship since the series premier, but even we didn’t expect this. Though the death of Joffrey Baratheon came as a celebrated development among fans, it was followed by one of the most difficult scenes to watch in the entire series. Though Jaime and Cersei are understandably mortified and unable to accept the loss of their son, the former’s coping mechanisms are seriously messed up. Despite Cersei adamantly rebuffing his advances, Jaime angrily forces himself upon her anyway, engaging in an act that would be unforgivable under any circumstances. But the fact that it happens right next to their son’s corpse makes it all the more disturbing.

#5: Hold the Door

“The Door”

Sometimes character arcs come full circle so satisfactorily that it blows by our loftiest expectations. But that doesn’t make this revelation any less dour. The simple-minded Wylis, better known as “Hodor,” proves to be a reliable ally to the Stark children, particularly Bran. But he pays the ultimate price for his loyalty when their party is besieged by White Walkers. While Hodor is tasked with “holding the door” so Bran can escape, the latter inadvertently wargs into the mind of a young Wylis; it’s through this action that turns Wylis into Hodor for the rest of his life. It’s a stunning reveal, but one that’s punctuated with Hodor’s heroic death. He was always destined for this moment, and he pulls through completely.

#4: Theon Becomes Reek

“Mhysa”

Theon Greyjoy is a thoroughly unlikable character in the first two seasons, but even he doesn’t deserve what happens to him. After his failure to take and hold Winterfell, Theon falls into the clutches of the sadistic Ramsay Snow. Despite being a member of House Bolton, Ramsay doesn’t care about avenging House Stark, to which his holds fealty. Instead, he takes to torturing Theon for the sheer joy of it. For an entire season, Theon is subjected to an endless series of mistreatment, including being stripped of his manhood. But the darkest moment comes when Ramsay also takes his dignity. By accepting the name Reek, Theon fully assumes a life of submission, and his lifetime’s worth of trauma keeps him there.

#3: Sacrificing Shireen

“The Dance of Dragons”

If there was one glimmer of hope and innocence in Westeros, it was the young Shireen Baratheon. Despite coming from the miserable Stannis Baratheon and being afflicted with the otherwise fatal greyscale, Shireen manages to keep a chipper attitude regardless. But her father’s desperate pursuit of the throne leads to one of the darkest moments of the series. With the pivotal Battle of Winterfell looming, Stannis is persuaded to make the ultimate sacrifice. In a bid to get a favorable outcome from the Lord of Light, Stannis has Shireen tied to a pyre and burned alive. As if that wasn’t horrid enough, Shireen’s cries for mercy beforehand are haunting. But they are to no avail.

#2: The Red Wedding

“The Rains of Castamere”

Clearly, some of the show’s best moments are also the most heartbreaking. And it doesn’t get more heartbreaking than the Red Wedding. Despite following his heart, Robb Stark’s decision to marry Talisa Maegyr was always going to come as a slight to Walder Frey, to whose daughter he was originally betrothed. At the reception for the consolation wedding, the Freys ambush their guests and slaughter them all. As if losing fan-favorite characters like Robb and Catelyn Stark was bad enough, the murder of Talisa and their unborn baby is the hardest pill to swallow of all. We’ve seen some cold and heartless betrayals on this show before, but none feel so vicious and senseless as this.

#1: Sansa & Ramsay’s Wedding Night

“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”

Sansa Stark really becomes an exceptional character in the back half of the series, but she’s forced to endure some of the worst mistreatment imaginable along the way. We already know that Sansa being forcibly married to Ramsay Bolton isn’t going to go well, but just when we think the latter’s sunk to new lows, he digs even deeper. Just the idea of them consummating things is cringe-inducing, but Ramsay makes the whole experience that much worse by forcing Theon to bear witness. Not only that, but Sansa is incredibly distraught as she loses her virginity in the worst possible way. Bleak, grim and horrific, this scene truly tested the limits of viewers everywhere.
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