The Top 10 Most Shocking Deaths in Game of Thrones (So Far)

Valar morghulis.  All men must die.  It’s a central theme in Game of Thrones, and more than that, it’s a disturbing promise.  George Martin may create some of the most fascinating characters we’ve ever laid our eyes on, but he’s also not afraid of killing them off – many in disturbing and horrific ways.  With at least 500 deaths since the series started on HBO and Sky Atlantic, and Season 6 getting under way last night, let’s take a look at 10 of the most shocking deaths we’ve seen so far.

Spoiler alert: This article is based on the Game of Thrones TV show and is guaranteed to contain spoilers from the first 5 seasons.

Honourable Mentions

Merryn Trant

Whilst writing this list, we came up with more deaths than we could include in a top 10 list.  Characters who just narrowly missed out on the top 10 include Ygritte, Jon Snow’s cave lover who met her timely demise by Ollie just as she was reuniting with Jon, and Ser Meryn Trant who was brutally stabbed in the eyes by Arya the little serial killer.  Shae was another upsetting death – killed by the man who loved her and felt betrayed.  Oh, and poor Ser Dontos also deserves a mention for ferrying Sansa to safety only to be killed by Littlefinger’s men as he waited for his reward.

So who made the top 10?

10. Renly Baratheon

Renly Baratheon

Renly didn’t really have a claim to the throne, not with Stannis being alive, but he was a likeable character and his death by demon shadow baby was definitely one of the weirder ones we’ve seen.  Creepy enough to scare the daylights out of Brienne of Tarth, one woman I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of, Renly’s death also showed us the power of the God of Light and Melisandre.

I’m sure most people were expecting Renly to die at some point, but not by a shadow demon baby.  His death did have a rippling effect on Westeros, though.  Most of his army joined up with Stannis, his wife Margaery Tyrell went on to marry Joffrey, and if he hadn’t died the amazing scenes with Brienne and Jamie wouldn’t have happened.

9. Lysa Arryn

Lysa Arryn

Ah creepy Lysa Arryn.  The woman who killed her own husband for fear of losing creepy child Robin.  We all knew she was doomed as soon as she married Peter Baelish; he only ever loved Catelyn, and only married her for his own gain.  As soon as Lysa began to get jealous of Sansa, we knew Peter wouldn’t let it continue.  So making her fly out of her own moon door was the answer.  It was poetic in a way, but I don’t like to picture what bloody mess her body was in once it hit the floor.

This was one of the more satisfying deaths we’ve seen, but Lysa was clearly unstable and probably wouldn’t have lasted as long as she did if she hadn’t remained cooped up in the Vale after Jon Arryn’s death.

8. Viserys Targaryen

Viserys Targaryen

Yes, I know Viserys died in season 1, and it’s a long time ago, but his death is still one of the best and most gruesome that we’ve seen so far on Game of Thrones.  A bit of a dick really, and no true Dragon, Daenerys and Drogo had finally had enough of his attitude, his treatment of Dany and his incessant need to travel to Westeros without planning, and decided to reward his efforts with a molten crown.

It was pretty brutal, and Viserys had been a pretty big character up until this point, but we all knew it would be Dany who would carry on the Targaryen name, not her creepy brother.

7. Tywin Lannister

Tywin Lannister

Shot with an arrow whilst taking a dump – this was an almost poetic end for puppet master Tywin Lannister.  Whether Tyrion intended to kill his father when he escaped his cell is anyone’s guess, but seeing Shae in Tywin’s bed was probably what finally pushed him over the edge.  Treated like a 3rd rate citizen all his life, and sentenced to death for a murder he didn’t commit, it was no surprise that Tyrion finally snapped.  And, although Tywin tried to talk his way out of it, his true colours appeared after Tyrion shot the first arrow.

Tywin was a bit like Marmite – you either loved or hated him.  His scenes with Arya at Harrenhal were among my favourites of the whole show, but the torture and pain he inflicted on Tyrion couldn’t go unpunished for too many more seasons.  After his death, though, it became clear just how important he was to the Lannister family.  I doubt Cersei would have been shamed through the streets of King’s Landing had Tywin still been alive.

6. Ned Stark

Ned Stark

When you started watching Game of Thrones, it’s likely that you thought Ned Stark was the one safe character who would possibly end up in some kind of honourable power once the Lannister secret had been revealed.  Sure he was in prison, accused of treason, and wounded, but he’s a hero – heroes always survive. Wrong.

GRRM set a standard with Ned Stark’s beheading showing that even central characters are destined to die.

5. Joffrey Baratheon

Joffrey Baratheon

They say that good things come to those who wait, and after three long seasons of seeing the good guys die, it was about time King Joffers got his comeuppance.  An insufferable, evil, pain in the ass of a teenage king, Joffrey’s wedding feast didn’t quite go to plan when he was poisoned by his own wine.  No-one was able to help him as he fell to the ground, his face turning purple, with blood streaming out of his nose and eyes.  Unlike most of the other deaths on this list, the only complaint here was that it wasn’t gruesome enough!

Of course, Joffrey’s death sparked things up in King’s Landing.  Tyrion was arrested for his murder, Sansa escaped, Margaery ended up marrying Tommen, and Cersei saw her prophecy start to come true.  That didn’t stop her and Jamie from shagging on his death bed though.

4. Oberyn Martell

Oberyn Martell

Following Tyrion’s murder trial and his demand for a “Trial By Combat”, most viewers were unsure who Tyrion would be able to convince to fight for him against The Mountain.  His last champion, Bronn, declined, and Tyrion was left thinking that he would have to fight himself.  That was, until Oberyn appeared.  The Mountain had killed his sister Elia Martell, and her children, way before the show had even started, and Oberyn wanted revenge for her death. So he took the opportunity to kill him legally, and shove Tywin’s face in it at the same time.

Quicker than The Mountain, it wasn’t long before Oberyn had Gregor lying and bleeding on the ground.  But as we all watched in anticipation, waiting for him to give the final blow, Oberyn still wanted The Mountain to admit what he had done to his sister.  This lapse in judgement gave The Mountain the time he needed to flip Oberyn over, push his thumbs into his eyes, and literally explode his head.  Tyrion lost the trial, and Oberyn was killed in one of the most gruesome ways possible.

His death led to Tyrion’s escape, and trouble in Dorne.  And Cersei also got her comeuppance as Marcella was poisoned upon leaving Dorne with Jamie – something that wouldn’t have happened had she not accused Tyrion of murder in the first place.

3. Jon Snow

Jon Snow

After last night’s episode, I feel pretty certain that Jon Snow is really dead.  But I’m still not convinced that he won’t be resurrected somehow, after all – we still don’t know who his parents are and this was a pretty big deal all the way back in season 1.  Jon Snow died for his honour, just like Ned Stark.  He quite rightly believed that The Night’s Watch and the Wildlings combined would make for a better army against the White Walkers, but those at the Watch weren’t convinced.  Perhaps this was because they’d always believed the Wildlings were the enemies, in Ollie’s case they’d killed his family, but the majority thought Jon was a traitor.

Ollie did a good job convincing Jon to leave his office due to reports on his Uncle Benjen, but as he arrived, he was met with a cross with the word Traitor written on it.  Ser Alliser Thorne stabbed him first, followed by other members of the Night’s Watch and finally Ollie, all declaring “For The Watch” as they plunged their daggers into his beautiful torso.  Killing both Ygritte and Jon, Ollie showed viewers that there’s no room for love or compassion in Westeros, and that teenagers aren’t too young to turn into serial killers.  Sorry Ollie, but I have lost all the sympathy that I had for you two seasons ago.

2. Shireen Baratheon

Shireen Baratheon

The Red Lady, Melisandre, reared her ugly head again when she encouraged Stannis to kill his daughter Shireen.  This is one death that still haunts me to this day, and I still don’t understand how a father could be persuaded to kill his daughter.  It was almost made worse by the firm but close relationship we’d seen between Stannis and Shireen in the episodes leading up to her death, and by the fact that the one person who would have put a stop to it, Davos, had been sent to the Wall to plead for supplies.  Shireen was left to die on a burning pyre holding the wooden toy Davos had made for her.  Her mother hung herself the next day.

Note for future episodes: even kids aren’t safe.  I just hope that if any more kids die in this series, it’s not in such harrowing circumstances.  Haunting.

1. Catelyn and Robb Stark – The Red Wedding

The Red Wedding

The wedding feast of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey was supposed to be a happy occasion.  Walder Frey had presented the Starks with salt and bread, offering them guest right, and he’d seemed to accept Robb’s apology for wedding Talisa instead of honouring his promise to wed one of his clan.  But when the Rains of Castemere started playing and Catelyn uncovered Roose Bolton’s armour, you knew the Starks were in trouble.

First went Talisa and baby Eddard – death by dagger.  A gallant Robb was then engulfed by arrows, shot from musicians turned assassins.  Catelyn tried to regain the peace by threatening to slice the throat of Walder Frey’s wife.  (I didn’t say it was a good plan).  But Walder didn’t care as he could “find another one”.  Roose Bolton gave Robb a final dagger stab to finish him off and Catelyn’s cries of anguish were soon over as she met her bloody end as well.  Oh and all of the North men and Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind died too; the direwolf’s head later being mounted on Robb’s body and paraded around.

Possibly the most harrowing episode on TV ever, it also ended the war of the kings, made the remaining Stark kids orphans, and showed us that GRRM isn’t afraid of killing off anyone, even when they should be safe.  The amount of shocking and bloody deaths at the Red Wedding puts this scene at the top of our list.  Well played George.  Well played.

Who’s Next?

Who’s next on GRRM’s death list?  Two main characters died in the first episode of season 6, we still don’t know whether Jon will return, and based on Arya’s list, it’s likely she’ll be one of the main murderers this season, the little psychopath that she is (makes you wonder what Ned would think if he saw her now).  And, with no books to guide us from this point out, anything could happen.

Let us know your predictions in the comments.


All of the photos in this article are courtesy of HBO.  They have been used through the Fair Use policy.

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