7 seasons; 67 episodes, each with their own heart-stopping moments and dramatic twists. Over the last decade, the long-running HBO series Game of Thrones has gripped fans and critics alike with its intense imagery and shocking order of events that have thus far be atypical of other fantasy shows.
The final curtain is set to come down next month, as the eighth and final season of the series airs on 14 April. Before that happens, we (as does the North) remember the most iconic scenes and moments from this cult drama – non-explicit edition, of course. This should go without saying, but for the sake of all readers: spoilers ahead from the past seasons!
Most Game of Thrones-esque moment: Ned Stark’s execution
Season 1, Episode 9: Baelor
If there’s really one point in the show that encapsulated Game of Thrones, it has to be this. When the show was first released, viewers had been following the footsteps of Eddard “Ned” Stark (played by Sean Bean, the most well-known cast member at the time), who had appeared on basically every poster and trailer of season one. With his sense of justice amidst a kingdom of backstabbing and death, it was not difficult to see that he was the protagonist, as normal fantasy series’ would dub their heroes.
However, all that changed at the end of the same season when Game of Thrones shocked the world by lopping off the head of House Stark’s leader in front of his screaming eldest daughter. Killing off its most prolific character was a daring move, one that cemented the series’ place as a fandom phenomenon – and only a sign of bigger things to come.
Most epic coming-of-age: Mother of Dragons
Season 1, Episode 10: Fire and Blood
Across the Narrow Sea and away from the continent of Westeros, where most of the series takes place, the exiled House Targaryen found its footing under the Mother of Dragons, Daenerys Targaryen. This title hadn’t come easy – spending most of season one mocked by her older brother Viserys and forced to marry a leader of the nomadic horse tribe Dothraki, Khal Drogo, she had only found her place after she seemingly lost everything, walking into her dead husband’s burning pyre.
When her tribesmen all thought her dead, she proved everyone wrong by rising from the ashes with three new-born dragons, the first born in a century and a half. It was then she was named the Mother of Dragons and leader of her husband’s tribesmen (known as khalasar), beginning her campaign to retake Westeros (and lift up the hearts of ardent Targaryen fans).
Most romantic moment: Kiss on the Wall
Season 3, Episode 6: The Climb
Despite the series’ notorious reputation for violence, there have been some quiet, happy moments. One of them involves future leader of the Night’s Watch Jon Snow and his wildling lover Ygritte atop the Wall, just after a terrifying climb up the icy cliff. Against a beautiful sunset, the pair kissed as if nothing was wrong with the whole world – and if only just for that few seconds, we could almost believe the same.
Most shocking sequence: The Red Wedding
Season 3, Episode 9: The Rains of Castamere
It’s been years since this fateful event, but we still can’t help the shivers down our spines when we hear the first notes of Lannister theme ‘Rains of Castamere’ and the words “The Lannisters send their regards”. A massacre orchestrated by the Freys, Boltons and Tywin Lannister, the Stark campaign under Ned’s heir Robb Stark came to an end when his pregnant wife Talisa, his mother Catelyn, himself as well as thousands of Northern soldiers were ruthlessly slaughtered at the wedding of his uncle Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey. Absolute carnage in the penultimate episode of season three, fans were shell-shocked by its ferocity and learnt not to let anything past the plot of the show.
Most deserved death: The Purple Wedding
Season 4, Episode 2: The Lion and The Rose
There are plenty of wretched characters in Game of Thrones whose deaths you might have wished for. While many have since been dealt away with, none of them are quite as fulfilling as the death of the tyrannical Joffrey Baratheon at his very own wedding. Echoing the bloody Red Wedding the season before, the king is poisoned by his newly-wedded wife’s grandmother Olenna Tyrell and Master of Coin (as well as professional King’s Landing schemer) Petyr Baelish. Accusing his uncle Tyrion Lannister with his dying breath, his death was a pivotal point in Tyrion’s departure from King’s Landing – as well as a cause of celebration amongst many anti-Lannister fans.
Most obvious plot point: Jon Snow’s resurrection
Season 6 Episode 2: Home
Let’s face it: we all knew this was coming. When Jon was killed by his own men at the end of season five, fans were sure there was simply no way Game of Thrones could’ve pulled another death à la Ned Stark – the story had simply progressed too far, and he was the only one who had any inkling of the Night King’s threat. True enough, the arrival of sorceress Melisandre resulted in his return and although cliché, we’re glad that the Stark’s male line still held a glimmer of hope.
Most heart-wrenching death: “Hold the door!”
Season 6, Episode 5: The Door
Witnessing the end of our favourite characters is always painful, but there is one that’s particularly heart-breaking. During psychic Bran Stark’s escape from the White Walkers alongside his friend Meera Reed and mentally-disabled Hodor, they fled from a cave which Meera pleaded with Hodor to “hold the door” of.
Bran’s lack of control over his telepathic time travel powers, however, forced the phrase into the head of a young servant from decades earlier named Wylis, who shortened it into “Hodor” – becoming his new name. Hodor was then left at the cavern to help the rest escape and eventually killed by the pursuing horde. Fans were stunned at the revelation of Hodor’s past and his sudden death, which is no doubt one of the saddest ones in Game of Thrones’ history.
Most intense battle: Battle of the Bastards
Season 6, Episode 9: Battle of the Bastards
While the Battle of Blackwater Bay (Season 2, Episode 9) comes close to top in the scale of epic battles, we have to give it to the Battle of the Bastards – the fight for Stark ancestral home Winterfell had us at the edge of our seats the whole time. Facing off were Ramsay Bolton and Jon Snow, both then hailed as bastard sons of House Bolton and Stark, each with their own force and something to prove: Ramsay, to be the rightful ruler of the North by crushing the Starks once and for all; and Jon, to take his father’s place as the last male in the Stark bloodline.
No matter which side you rooted for, the scene where Jon faces an oncoming charge from Bolton’s knights will forever stay etched in your minds, and the final rout of Bolton forces by Jon and Sansa was undeniably satisfying to Stark fans.
Most satisfying revenge: Arya kills the Freys
Season 7, Episode 1: Dragonstone
It could be Sansa setting the hounds loose to tear up Ramsay Bolton (Season 6, Episode 9), or Cersei Lannister blowing up her enemies in King’s Landing which caused her last child to commit suicide (Season 6, Episode 10) – but those who lamented the fateful Red Wedding were in for some well-deserved vengeance against the Freys.
Arriving home to Westeros after training in the House of Black and White in Braavos, Arya Stark was able to kill two Frey men, dismembering their bodies and baking them into a pie which she then presented to their father Walder Frey while disguised as a serving girl. After watching him eat it, she revealed her identity and slit his throat while watching him die slowly.
With this occurring three seasons after the Red Wedding, it seems that revenge is definitely best served cold (and in a pie).
Watch the Game of Thrones Season 8 trailer here:
What were your favourite moments in Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments below!