Any one person could identify any number of reasons why Game Of Thrones has remained one of television’s most acclaimed dramas and something that manages to demand our full attention the instant its available. But as we head toward the final season this weekend, I keep thinking about the show’s ability to carry multiple narrative threads across an epic show world with an army of a cast that, at times, swells and shrinks to suit the story. It’s really something when so many other shows lose their way and their connection to the audience when they lose characters. Game Of Thrones draws so much value out of each character’s death, prompting celebration, emotional devastation, and consequences that can stretch miles and years.
We wanted to honor that specific skill by ranking the best death scenes on the show, but how do you define what is “best?” In this case, satisfaction and import to the overall story carry more weight. Though, I admit, that I’m a sucker for an amazing visual too, and that may have nudged one or two up in the ranking (looking at you, Viper vs. The Mountain). Regardless, all lists are subjective, and this is merely my take. Half the fun is seeing how you respond and which ones I missed or got way wrong. So, let’s get started.
16. Jon Snow Gets Stabbed A Lot (Season 5, Episode 10)
Led to an unfriendly assemblage of Night’s Watch members who weren’t super keen on his soft spot for wildlings, Jon Snow gets stabbed repeatedly (prompting a chorus of loud and moist puncture sound effects). Olly deals the final blow. But while it sure felt impactful between seasons, we all quickly learned that none of it really mattered since Jon quickly returned from the dead to exact his revenge and hang the lot of his executioners. Especially Olly.
15. Tommen Dies So That A Meme Can Live (Season 6, Episode 10)
The unintended consequence of Cersei blowing up the Sept comes when her son, the sorta king, decides to bail on existence in the aftermath of seeing both his wife go up in green smoke and the lengths that his mother will go to.
A character who was more pawn than player, Tommen’s exit lives on in GIF form even if near everything else he did on Game Of Thrones was pretty forgettable.
14. Shireen Baratheon Pays The Price For Her Father’s Power Lust (Season 5, Episode 9)
The madness of Lord of Light true believers and the Baratheon army’s desperation combine to create a moment that is truly dark and full of terrors as Stannis and Selyse Baratheon go along with Melisandre’s plan to find the way forward by burning their daughter, Shireen, at the stake while she unsuccessfully begs for her parents to save her.
It’s one of the more shocking moments in the history of Game Of Thrones, but it’s perhaps necessary to demonstrate the pull of power and how far Baratheon would go. Still, while it’s technically well done, it’s also one of the more bleak moments in a show chock full of them, and I just couldn’t go any higher on it with that in mind.