I haven’t counted, but I’m guessing around 9,219,291 people have died on Game of Thrones through its first three seasons. That body count is going to increase by about 8,292,928 in season four, but we’ll get to that. Let’s stay focused on all those who have been stabbed, maimed, decapitated, and been set on fire over the first 30 episodes of the HBO series, which FINALLY returns this Sunday.
Specifically, the tragic deaths. It’s one thing for Kraznys mo Nakloz to die. He had it coming. It’s another when OH GOD “RED WEDDING” FLASHBACKS. Here are 20 of the most tragic Game of Thrones deaths, with one note: I only included killings you see on-screen (with one sort-of exception). I’m not saying Robert Baratheon would have made the list, but he’s not eligible anyway because you never actually see the wild boar that mortally wounds him. Got it? Here we go. Bring some tissues.
20. Rickard Karstark
Let’s begin with Rickard Karstark, a father who lost one of his sons to Jaime Lannister and another to the war. He’s a grieving man who’s out for vengeance, and he gets it, by killing youngsters Martyn and Willem Lannister. Robb’s furious at the Lord of Karhold, who thinks the King of the North lost the war when he married Talisa (he did). WWNSD (what would Ned Stark do)? Behead Karstark for his treasonous words.
19. Red Wedding Guests
They were known only as That Guy In the Back and What’s His Face? Y’know, the One with the Thing on His Face, but they were loyal to the Starks, therefore, their Red Wedding deaths were tragic, if vague.
18. Rat Bucket Guy
Speaking of people without names, Rat Bucket Guy died the way he lived: with a rat in a bucket chewing his chest open. He was some poor peasant who was unlucky enough to be captured and dragged to Harrenhal, where he was questioned by the Tickler before succumbing to injuries inspired by his name. Oh the irony.
I know you’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead, but Lommy was kind of a dick to Arya. He bullies the poor girl, er, boy with that studly slice of a man Hot Pie, though the three do eventually become not quite friends but people who don’t want to die alone (so I guess they are friends). Lommy does die, though, courtesy of a Needle poke from a Lannister man-at-arms. His lifeless body is mistaken for Gendry’s, and that’s the last we hear of ol’ Lommy. The moral here is: don’t ever be a dick to Arya.
16. Viserys Targaryen
Viserys was a terrible person. He essentially sold his underage sister into sex slavery, a sister he also occasionally fondled while she was nude, all because he wanted to be the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms (most Game of Thrones characters could be described with sentences ending, “…ruler of the Seven Kingdoms). His grisly demise wasn’t tragic in the least; he deserved what he got, courtesy of Khal Drogo’s “golden crown.” No, he’s here because of the gold caked on his skull. Such a waste of a pretty metal.
Trying to follow the Walder Frey family tree is hopeless. He has dozens of sons and daughters and grandkids, not to mention at least eight wives, including Joyeuse, a poor nothing of a girl without an official pre-Frey background. During the Red Wedding, she took shelter under a table, before being grabbed Cat Stark, who thought she had a bargaining chip. She didn’t, and before long, Joyeuse was yet another corpse.
14. That Horse
That horse was only one day away from retirement.
13. Khal Drogo
The thing to remember about Khal Drogo is, he’s a monster of a man. Both in terms of his physical prowess and also the fact that he kind of, maybe rapes Dany and has killed god knows how many people. (Also, total bro.) Khal’s a brute, but one who’s portrayed in such a way that once Khaleesi begins to genuinely love him, so do we. That probably means we’re terrible people, so I’ll leave him in the middle of this list.
12. Jeor Mormont
As the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jeor is used to dealing with the unwanted scum of the Earth. He looks and acts like a boulder frozen in ice, but when his men revolt at Craster’s Keep over a lack of food and respect from their host, there’s only so much he can do to stop them. He’s outnumbered and the Night’s Watch plays dirty, especially Rast, who literally stabs his commandeer in the back.
11. Qhorin Halfhand
The Halfhand sacrificed himself for a noble reason. His death ensured that the Wildings would trust that crow Jon Snow. “We are the watchers on the Wall,” he tells Jon before going to the Great Wall in the Sky. Also, if Halfhand’s duel with Jon hadn’t been at least somewhat staged, he would have DESTROYED fake-Morrissey.
Yoren is no one’s favorite character, but he was an essential figure. He’s the Night’s Watch recruiter who shields Arya from Ned Stark’s beheading, then cuts her hair and tells her to start acting like a boy if she wants to survive. She also picks up his habit of listing the names of those who wronged you before sleep. One of the names on Yoren’s list: Ser Amory Lorch, or at least he would be, if he wasn’t dead.
9. Rodrik Cassel
Rodrik Cassel, the Master-at-Arms at Winterfell, is brave enough to spit in Theon the Traitor’s face. He’s also wise enough to tell Bran, “I’m off to see your father.” Unfortunately, Theon’s as had with swords as he is at threesomes, and he’s not able to kill Rodrick in one blow. It takes many, followed by a foot stomp.
8. Martyn and Willem Lannister
On one hand, they’re just kids. Too naive to knowing what’s going on, too innocent to be a threat. They should be higher, considering their age and moppet-like hair. On the other, they’re Lannisters. KILL THEM.
7. Renly Baratheon
If brother Stannis hadn’t befriended a witch of a woman who’s able to give birth to shadow demon-babies from her vagina, Renly Baratheon would have made for a decent king. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, and he was murdered by said shadow vagina demon-baby. Yeah, that old chestnut.
6. Maester Luwin
Maester Luwin did what he could to protect Bran and Rickon after Ned died, Cat hit the road, Jon traveled North, and Robb fulfilled his kingly duty (jeez, the Starks get around more than Ros). But he’s an old man, and old men are no match for Dagmer, who stabs Luwin with a spear. Tragically, he doesn’t die immediately — Osha has to finish the job, with Luwin’s merciful consent.
5. Ned Stark
Brave Ned Stark. Stoic Ned Stark. Proud Ned Stark. Stubborn Ned Stark. Dead Ned Stark.
Somewhere on the Internet, I bet there’s a list of everyone Ros ever slept with, including the name of the person who put together the list (hey, he, and obviously it’s a he, can dream). No such important document exists on her Wiki page, although this sentence does: “Jon once paid Ros for her time but did not have sex with her because of a pang of conscience over the possibility of fathering a bastard when he has suffered the life of being a bastard himself.” That is the most Jon Snow thing ever. Anyway, I’m clearly stalling, because once I discuss the details of Ros’ death, about how Joffrey shot her multiple times with a crossbow, I’m going to start typing in 870&**(*&&**&*&^&^&^*%#!@!@@$.
3. Robb Stark
It’s more the situation than the character. I was never a big Robb fan — he was a limp leader, unless he was around Talisa in the bedroom — but I’m not a monster: he was a Stark, and he had to see someone he thought he could trust stab his wife and unborn son to death. Plus, Grey Wind. Grey Wind should be #1.
2. Cat Stark
The silence between when Cat slits Joyeuse’s throat and when Black Walder Frey returns the favor is a sound worse than any Staind song. It seems to never end, but once it does and Cat drops to the floor, you desperately want it back, so that she can live.
I zipped through every episode of Game of Thrones for this feature, never stopping to actually watch any full scenes, only particular moments…except the Red Wedding. It still hurts, though not as much as that knife hurt Talisa and Baby Eddard. BABY EDDARD. Winter is coming, the pain is here.