Game of Thrones’ Most Unforgettable Moments

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In a jealous fit, crazed Lysa Arryn threatens to push Sansa out the Moon Door if she continues her (alleged) flirtation with Littlefinger. © HBO.

Right before Season 4 started, Rolling Stone ran a rather intriguing list about who the “top” characters are on Game of Thrones. They defined “top” as “memorable.” Now that Season 4 is over, things have changed. As a result, I don’t entirely agree with Rolling Stone and I suspect you won’t either. But, before we look at their list, it’s worthwhile — not to mention fun — looking at which scenes on the show are the most memorable.

After all, in the last season on Game of Thrones, the action, twists, and huge events just kept coming.  George RR Martin cut his teeth working on the 1985 The Twilight Zone reboot, which if you’ve never seen it, was the king of the twist ending.

Reel Good wrote a great article ranking the show’s most significant moments, but I just couldn’t resist playing the game myself, so here’s my list. I’d love to hear your most Game of Thrones memorable moments.

1 – Ned Stark’s death

Ned-Stark-Sean-Bean-at-the-Sept-of-Baelor
You never forget your first time. Nothing sends the “no one’s safe” message quite like the first time we see just how ruthless George RR Martincan be with his characters. Reel Good’s Rank: 16

2 – The Red Wedding

red-wedding-robb-starkVisceral. Bloody. Shocking. Controversial. Reel Good’s Rank: 6

3 – The Duel & Prince Oberyn’s Death

oberyn-martell-mountain-episode-8-trial-combatAs Reel Good so aptly put it [to Oberyn], “Eyes on the prize, you dummy.” Even if you read it in the books first, seeing the Oberyn’s head explode is really something else. Reel Good’s Rank: 3

4 – Theon’s Dismemberment

ramsay-theon-tortureThe scenes when Ramsay tortures Theon are almost unbearable, but Ramsay’s “penectomy” takes it to a whole new level. You could easily extend this item to include any of Ramsay’s scenes. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

5 – Tyrion kills Tywin and Shae

tyrion-tywin-killsPatricide. The Lannister patriarch and villain dies – something we just never thought we’d see happen. Forget where it happened. If anything, we thought we’d see Tywin die on the throne, just not that throne. Reel Good’s Rank: 1

6 – Joffrey’s Death

joffrey-choke-fbAnother “you never thought you’d see the day.” Reel Good’s Rank: 5

7 – Jaime Lannister Pushes Bran Out the Tower Window

JamienandbranThere’s an old adage in Hollywood that you never kill kids or dogs. George RR Martin has no problem breaking both of these rules. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

8 – “Dracarys!”

dracarys-pyat-pree Daenerys commands her dragons to incinerate the slave master Kraznys and the Pyat Pree wizard of Qarth. A marvelous display of power. Nothing says “Holy dragons!” quite like immolation. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

9 – Littlefinger Pushes Lysa Arryn Out the Moon Door

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Giff Artist: Uproxx. © HBO.

It makes my acrophobic little palms sweat just thinking about it. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

10 – Daenerys Hatches Her Dragons in the Flames

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Even though we figure she will survive — after all, “oh yeah she wasn’t fireproof after all” would be pretty stupid death  — when Daenerys walks into Khal Drogo’s funeral pyre and later emerges unsinged with baby dragons, it’s still astonishing. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

11 – Tyrion “pushes the nuclear button” at His Own Trial

tyrion-trialInstead of trusting he would be sent to the Wall and astounded by Shae’s betrayal, Tyrion loses it and asks for a trial by combat. Later, Tyrion has an “oh crap” moment when he learns his sister picks the universally feared Mountain as his adversary — and nobody will fight him. Reel Good’s Rank: 4

12 – Tyrion Escapes

game-of-thrones-season-4-tyrion-jaime-escape
Jaime and Varys help Tyrion escape from the dungeon and impending destruction. This is a borderline deus ex machina resolution — aka the “death-row pardon” — but it works. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

13 – Varys’ Wizard-in-a-Box

varys-tyrion
When Varys shows Tyrion the wizard who “cut” him in a trap door beneath the floor, it is unexpected, creepy, and chilling. The startling scene reveals a hidden and alarming facet of the deceptively mild eunuch. Reel Good’s Rank: 8

14 – Yara Defies Balon and States She Will Rescue Theon

yara-greyjoy-1024
When Balon Greyjoy casts off Theon for not being a man anymore and Yara defiantly informs her father she will “march on the Dreadfort, find her little brother, and bring him home.” A marvelously powerful, majestic, and even transcendent scene.
Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

15 – Arya’s Teachers Sacrifice Themselves for Her

syrio-forel-kingsguard
Arya’s “dancing master” (SyrioForel) and her governess-type person (Septa Mordane) sacrifice themselves to save Arya when Lannister guards try to take her into custody. It’s quite touching — even though, as fans at Westeros.org have been buzzing, Syrio Forel might not be dead. Reel Good’s Rank: N/A

16 – Battle of Castle Black

flaming-arrows
This is my favorite episode ever, so I could (and maybe should) rank it higher. Reel Good’s Rank: 2

17 – “A crown for a king”

Crown-for-king-viserys
When Viserys finally gets his comeuppance, it’s a grisly business indeed. Reel Good’s Rank: 16

18 – Jaime Rescues Brienne of Tarth from the Bear Pit

gwen-rescue-bear-pitAfter Locke sends Brienne to fight his bear with only a wooden sword, it looks like near certain death.  Reel Good’s Rank N/A

 

Other worthy mentions might include when Jon Snow gives Arya her sword Needle, Locke chops off Jaime’s sword hand, Ned Stark kills Lady, Melisandre and Stannis burn heretics — including his brother-in-law(!) — on the beach in Dragonstone, Maester Luwin dies under the Heart tree after Theon seizes Winterfell, and undoubtedly many others.

All images copyright HBO.

Jamie Adair is the editor of History Behind Game of Thrones, a website about the history behind George RR Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels and the hit TV show, "Game of Thrones."

12 Comments

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    Anonymous

    Looks like you are going for the big events, Jamie. I am surprised that you did not include the battle of Blackwater. (“There are brave men out there … Let’s go kill ’em.”)

    For me, the most unforgettable moments tend to be the small, in-between moments that reveal something about a character. It is the same with the books. I tend to remember the non-action quiet moments that suddenly become sharp and bright in my mind.

    Some examples in no particular order (TV only) —

    Season 1: Jon and Arya say goodbye. He gives her Needle. She jumps up to hug him.

    Season 3: Robb looks at Catelyn and says, “Mother,” like a little boy, before he dies.

    Season 2: Jaqen H’ghar gestures “1” with a finger on his cheek at Arya after he killed the first one.

    Season 2: Jaqen in the cage, calling out to Arya, “A man has a thirst,” with a cat-like smile on his face.

    Season 3: Submerged in darkness, Theon writes a letter pledging loyalty to Robb and then burns it. (Kudos to Bryan Cogman.)

    Season 4: “I will be your champion,” says Prince Oberyn, standing like a god in the dungeon with a torch in hand.

    Season 1: The look and nod between Ned and Yoren before Ice falls.

    Season 2: During the Blackwater, Sandor Clegane walks out on his master, “Fuck the king.”

    Season 3: Brienne and Jaime share a naked (in more way than one) moment in the bath.

    • Reply June 29, 2014

      Jamie Adair

      Ah, very good eye. These are great moments. I almost included Brienne and Jaime’s bath. I loved that scene. The cinematography, the raw emotion. All of it was great. I also love that scene with Prince Oberyn – it was very inspiring. I completely missed that moment between Robb and Catelyn. In fact, I’d forgotten all about that one! Well done – thanks!

      • Reply June 29, 2014

        Jun

        Sorry, it was me who posted that one, but I forgot to lot into my wordpress account. 🙂

  • Reply June 29, 2014

    Olga Hughes

    Yes, the Hound walking out on the Lannisters!

    Ned and Cat say goodbye for the last time.

    Arya and Hot Pie say goodbye.

    Arya looking up at the birds after Ned is executed.

    Arya’s lesson with Syrio as Ned looks on.

    Littlefinger’s ‘chaos is a ladder’ speech.

    Theon executes Ser Roderick ‘Now you are truly lost’.

    Grenn and the men of the Night’s Watch face Mag the Mighty.

    Varys every time. Wizard-in-the-box was awesome.

    • Reply June 30, 2014

      Jun

      Yes “Now you are truly lost” moment was excellent. In fact the entire Theon-takes-Winterfell scene is memorable. Also when Theon makes that rousing speech and then gets knocked out …

      • Reply July 1, 2014

        Jamie Adair

        I completely agree about when Theon takes Winterfell. I find almost all of his scenes extremely hard to watch and read. But, he has an amazing character arc. I also loved that speech Baelish gave in “The Climb” – that was astonishingly powerful.

  • Reply July 6, 2014

    rosswittenham

    What about the ‘Valyrian is my mother tongue’ scene? That’s pretty special.

  • Reply July 6, 2014

    Watcher on the Couch

    I would agree with all the above in no particular order. A small but noteworthy scene is the one in Series 1 where Sansa nearly pushes Joffrey off the drawbridge but the Hound pulls her back. After all, a heck a lot of people whinge that she is not a pro-active enough character. When I’ve looked at some other GoT websites there seem to be some people who have little love for the casting of Yara or Mance. I know they changed Yara’s name from the books but I have no problem with the castings. The unhappy people seem to think the actress playing Yara should be “hot” in a Hollywood sense – I never got the feeling that book Asha was a glamour puss though she did have charm. I don’t think Gemma Whelan is bad looking anyhow. Some folk seem to think Ciaran Hinds is too old to play Mance; I think he looks in good fettle for his age.

    Season 4 was a roller coaster of a season. Some of the changes from the book were okay – some I thought “Was that really necessary”. Going to last season I am very thankful we got no “thaphires” and also grateful there was no blue hair for Daario. (I hope that’s not spoilery for people who haven’t read the books). The “not-rape” was decidedly iffy. I enjoyed Season 4 by and large and provided I am still on the planet in 2015 will be geared up to watch Season 5.

    • Olga Hughes
      Reply July 6, 2014

      Olga Hughes

      People might have less of a problem with Gemma if they didn’t make the Yara character so bloody dour. She’s not got any of Asha’s real spirit, but then again they will probably cut a large part of her story out of the last three seasons so it hardly matters now. I like her acting but I don’t like how they have written her.

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