[Spoilers through “Game of Thrones” Season 5, Episode 4, below.]
“Game of Thrones” is not a show where audiences can afford to get attached to certain characters. Such is the case with last Sunday night’s episode, in which two characters faced their final days — anyone can be offed at any moment. And a lot have, as explained in this infographic from the Washington Post.
With Season 5 approaching its mid-way point, we look back at every primary character death on the show, according to the Washington Post’s graphic, ranked from least to most tragic. That means cool deaths like Viserys Targaryen and ones we were happy to see finally come to pass, like Jofffrey Baratheon, are ranked lower than the ones that left us just a little bit empty inside.
17. Joffrey Baratheon (Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”)
There’s not much that needs to be said about our hate for Joffrey Baratheon. At the end of the day, his death was a long thing coming, and fans everywhere jumped for joy when he turned purple and uttered his last breath. Tragic? More like welcome.
16. Viserys Targaryen (Season 1, Episode 6: “A Golden Crown”)
We’ll say this now: Viserys’ death is still one of, if not the coolest, most satisfying on the show. Upon threatening the Mother of Dragons and her unborn child, Khal Drogo takes melting hot gold and pours it on the Targaryen’s head. Needless to say, Viserys is no dragon (as they wouldn’t be killed by something so pathetic as fire…) and doesn’t survive the crowning. But Viserys was not that likable of a character, and we were glad to see him go. Long live the queen.
15. Shae (Season 4, Episode 10: “The Children”)
Shae’s death would be higher on the list if she didn’t end up being such a lying backstabber who slept with her lover’s father. Alas, that’s exactly what she turned out to be. Shae’s death is tragic because it strikes a metaphorical knife right through fan-favorite Tyrion’s heart. But because she betrayed one of our favorite characters, she won’t be much missed.
14. Robert Baratheon (Season 1, Episode 7: “You Win or You Die”)
Poor Robert didn’t win at all: While the character may have been likable, his death is far from noble. Then again, he wasn’t a very noble man, as exemplified by the way he died: a drunken boar hunt gone wrong. And while some new details have emerged about that, it probably won’t change the fact that Robert would have gone out like that eventually.
13. Jeor Mormont (Season 3, Episode 4: “And Now His Watch is Ended”)
Mormont, the former Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, was killed by his own men during a mutiny at Craster’s Keep. So it’s fitting that the episode’s title be “And Now His Watch is Ended.” Mormont, despite his best efforts to keep his men in line, couldn’t do so when they were at their hungriest and most desparate. Refusing to take matters into his own hands, the mutineers did it for him. Poor guy was only trying to keep the peace.
12. Renley Baratheon (Season 2, Episode 5: “The Ghost of Harrenhal”)
Renley Baratheon didn’t enjoy a long tenure as king, before a shadow in the form of his brother Stannis literally stabbed him in the back. And to be quite honest, it’s very easy to forget about this particular Baratheon brother. But Brienne’s confession this latest season shined a new light on Renley, making his death all that more tragic, at least in terms of Brienne’s storyline (and we all love Brienne). Renley was the only person to ever make Brienne feel special and his death resulted in the one person who didn’t judge her by her appearance being taken away from her.
11. Jojen Reed (Season 4, Episode 10: “The Children”)
By now, it’s become pretty clear that a lot of people die in the Season 4 finale. Probably the least memorable one is Jojen Reed, because quite honestly, he wasn’t a very memorable character. But the sight of a skeletal creature stabbing him repeatedly, and then his sister cutting his throat mercilessly and THEN his body being burned by a child of the forest before he can turn into one of those skeletons that killed him…well, his death was the very definition of overkill, and while he may not have been the most memorable character, he still didn’t deserve all of that.
10. Tywin Lannister (Season 4, Episode 10: “The Children”)
Charles Dance’s presence on “Game of Thrones” will surely be missed. And his intimidating character Tywin also will be. Not because he was particularly noble like Ned, charming like Jon or cunning like Tyrion, but because Charles Dance is such a powerhouse of an actor. And badass. If you’re wondering why Tywin and Shae aren’t paired together on the list, it’s because we have a little more sympathy for Tywin than we do for Shae. Sure, Tywin may have stolen her from his son, but deep down, Tywin respected Tyrion. Right up until he gets an arrow through the heart.
9. Ygritte (Season 4, Episode 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”)
If Jon Snow knows anything, it’s that the red-headed Wildling he fell in love with was bad news. But he couldn’t help falling for her. And we couldn’t help being a tad sad about her departure, despite how much she enraged us. After all, if Jon Snow liked her, doesn’t that mean we should? Ygritte dies in Snow’s arms during the Battle of Castle Black after being shot with an arrow by a little kid. It’s a touching scene, if only for Jon Snow’s reaction. We hate to see him upset.
8. Oberyn Martell (Season 4, Episode 8: “The Mountain and the Viper”)
Oh, Oberyn. We hardly knew ye. Maybe that’s why this one stung. It might also be the gruesome way in which it happens. Either way, Oberyn was built up to be a major player in Season 4. When picked to be Tyrion’s champion in a trial by combat for his freedom (after having been accused of poisoning Joffrey), fans had the slightest bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, Oberyn would be victorious. But this is “Game of Thrones,” and we shouldn’t have been so naive. Oberyn has his head literally crushed in with a giant pair of bare hands, but that’s what happens when a viper goes up against a Mountain.
7. Lady and Grey Wind (Season 1, Episode 2: “The Kingsroad” & Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”)
The direwolves of the Starks are just as much characters as any of the humans, and it’s awfully painful to see them go. Lady was Sansa’s pet until (as if we didn’t need any more reason to hate the Lannisters) Cersei convinces her husband Robert to have the wolf killed, after Joffrey lies about one attacking him. It’s ironic, in that Sansa lied about the incident and claimed to remember nothing so as to not upset Joffrey. Ned, always the noble one, does the deed himself.
Meanwhile, Grey Wind, yet another casualty in the Red Wedding massacre, was made more painful by the fact Arya watches this one happen. That girl just cannot catch a break.
6. Sandor “The Hound” Clegane (Season 4, Episode 10: “The Children”)
The Hound was never an easy guy to like. And even on his deathbed, he was pretty insufferable. But something about his character made us root for the guy, despite the fact he was a savage, merciless killer with no regard for how it affects people…so not unlike nearly everyone on “Game of Thrones.” But the Hound had become Arya’s protector (as if she needs one) and the dynamic between the two made us like the Hound even more. As he laid dying after falling off a cliff, he begged Arya to kill him. She doesn’t, and walks away to leave him to die. Despite all of the terrible things the Hound had done, we think he actually cared about Arya. And in his final moments, she couldn’t give him what he wanted… even though it’s exactly what she had wanted all along.
5. Rodrick Cassel (Season 2, Episode 6: “The Old Gods and the New”)
Here’s where we cheat a little. While Rodrick may have been a secondary character, his death is an important and often understated one. “I’m off to see your father,” a kneeling Rodrick Cassell assures Bran as the young boy pleads for Theon Greyjoy to show mercy. It doesn’t come, and Greyjoy, drunk (i.e. misguided) with power, takes his blade to the neck of Winterfell’s Master of Arms and, after numerous agonizing takes, finally kicks his head to the ground. Not only is the death accompanied by the screaming of Bran, who must watch this brutality take place, and the painful thought of the death being slow and merciless when it should have been swift, but it’s the moment Theon truly turns for the worst. There was no going back.
4. Robb and Talisa Stark (Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”)
It may seem odd to rank Robb and Talisa’s deaths separately from Catelyn’s—as they are all killed off during the Red Wedding—but theirs had a different aura surrounding them. While Catelyn’s death was swift and silent, Robb and Talisa’s were slow and merciless. Talisa, having been stabbed numerous times in her stomach (while carrying Robb’s child), is left to die a painful death on the ground as her husband, bleeding out himself, watches, knowing that the reason this is happening is because they married in the first place. The circumstances make the entire sequence that much more difficult to fathom and watch. The Starks drop like flies. Who will be next?
3. Khal Drogo (Season 1, Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”)
Daenerys Targaryen is arguably one of the most beloved characters on the show. Before she was ruling kingdoms, though, she was the wife of Khal Drogo, the Dothraki warrior played by pre-Aquaman Jason Mamoa. During his tenure on the show’s first season Khal was a hard character to like at first, due in large part to his, um, forcefulness. But he grew on us, and his death at the hands of the Mother of Dragons herself Daenerys was one of the more upsetting, but inevitable, of the series. After putting him into a vegetative state, she suffocated her lover with a pillow, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”-style.
2. Eddard “Ned” Stark (Season 1, Episode 9: “Baelor”)
It was the shot heard ‘round the world… or, more accurately, the beheading. Those unfamiliar with “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the series of novels the show is based on, surely thought Ned Stark was the main character of “Game of Thrones.” And for a time, he was. But can we really expect Sean Bean to survive a medieval sword-and-sandals tale? The answer is ‘no.’ Ned was executed by command of the “king” Joffrey for “betraying” former king Robert. As his daughters looked on, Ned confessed his crimes expecting (but lets be real) exile. Sansa screaming for her father’s life, the crowd chanting and Ned, one last look at the statue of Baelor to make sure Arya isn’t looking — a heartbreaking scene, and one that ensured that no one is truly safe in the “Game of Thrones.”
1. Catelyn Stark (Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”)
If Ned’s death was the shot heard ‘round the world, then the “Red Wedding” was the atomic bomb. And no death from the infamous, hair-grabbing, jaw-dropping scene is harder to watch than Catelyn Stark’s. With her son Robb having been shot with an arrow, crawling towards his pregnant wife lying on the ground bloody and dying, Catelyn makes one last, desperate plea for Walder Frey to let him go. Holding a knife to his wife’s neck, Catelyn promises to slit her throat. “I’ll find another,” Frey says, moments before the traitorous Roose Bolton finishes Robb off. Horrified, Catelyn does as she promised, just before her own throat is slit. While we may have been screaming at our televisions throughout the stressful sequence, the final moments induce nothing but silence. Powerful beyond words.
Agree? Disagree? What would your list be like? Let us know in the comments below!