We’re in the endgame now.
Sorry, wrong franchise, but oddly enough, it still applies because the final season of Game of Thrones is upon us. Winter has officially come to Westeros, the Night King has wrangled himself an ice dragon while more incest, family reunions, and gruesome deaths are in store. It’s enough to leave fans practically giddy. And while you’re slogging through the work week, anxiously awaiting the show’s next episode, why not revisit some of the best hour-long installments this series has to offer?
Regardless of placement in the unfolding story of the seven kingdoms, this list stands as our definitive ranking of where the episodes stack up. It also serves up 15 standalone greats that are capable of giving fans a taste of Thrones goodness whenever they need a quick hit. Here are our choices for the best Game of Thrones episodes (so far, anyway).
Warning: There are spoilers ahead, and you won’t agree with all our picks (yet we’re pretty sure there are more than a few no-doubters). Let us know where we erred in the comments section.
15. “Winter is Coming” (Season 1, Episode 1)
The Story: The series first episode introduces us to the Stark family, who guard the Northern territory of Westeros. The Starks are paid a visit by the King and his family after the death of Jon Arryn, the former Hand of the King, while across the Narrow Sea, exiled prince Viserys Targaryen and his sister Daenerys plot to overthrow the current king.
Why It’s On This List: Not only were we introduced to the main players of the game — the Starks, the Baratheons, the Lannisters, and the Targaryens — we were teased with the history of the Seven Kingdoms and the coming conflict between families through symbolism and imagery steeped in Martin’s text. Benioff and Weiss managed to satisfy book fans and newbies alike with a faithful adaptation that introduced exciting new elements to a beloved story.
14. “Home” (Season 6, Episode 2)
The Story: The Wildlings, led by Tormund Giantsbane, storm Castle Black and overthrow Alliser Throne and his band of mutineers before Davos pleads with Melisandre to resurrect Jon Snow. Meanwhile, Bran and the Three-Eyed Raven delve into memories of the past, particularly of Ned Stark’s youth and his relationship with his sister, Lyanna.
Why It’s On This List: “Home” does a decent job of delaying Jon Snow’s fate until the very end while also sprinkling in some Stark history through Bran’s visions that will become even more important as the season goes on. It also gave fans a much-needed win. <GoT die-hards are used to saying goodbye to beloved characters on the show, but “Home” proved the writers weren’t total sadists who just gleefully mock our pain each week.