Joffrey is pretty high up, but he’s not number one.
If there’s one thing Game of Thrones is known for — along with the dragons and the copious amounts of nudity, that is — it’s the death scenes.
Bloody deaths, fiery deaths, sudden deaths: one of the reasons the show is so damn good is that you’re constantly wondering which character will be next to bite the dust.
In the run-up to Season 7, we decided to revisit the most earth-shattering deaths in the show so far. We’ve ranked them in order of how memorable they were, from least to most. We also left out the more minor characters like Janos Slynt that no-one really cares about, because there would have just been way, way too many otherwise.
From green fire to very long falls, these are the Thrones deaths that have stayed with us.
33. Jojen Reed
Cause of death: Stabbed to death by Wights.
Memorability: Not massively memorable, and he’s going at the bottom of the list because Jojen was sort of annoying anyway. But the actual scene in which he died — with Wights everywhere and Bran, Hodor, and Meera struggling to escape into the Three-Eyed Raven’s cave — was pretty good.
32. Maester Aemon
Cause of death: He was just really, really old.
Memorability: Probably the least dramatic death on Game of Thrones, but also poignant in its own, quiet way. Maester Aemon was one of the good ones.
31. Mance Rayder
Cause of death: Shot by Jon Snow with an arrow while being burnt at the stake.
Memorability: A pretty dramatic way to go, but it could have been worse: Jon Snow’s arrow was a mercy killing. One small caveat for this one, though (which contains a SPOILER from the books): in George R.R. Martin’s novels, Mance Rayder doesn’t actually die here. Melisandre uses magic to disguise another wildling as Mance, and he’s the one that gets burned to death (it’s possible that the show has completely cut this out, though, and Mance is actually dead).
Cause of death: Stabbed in the throat by Ramsay Bolton.
Memorability: A nasty, abrupt death, but made less memorable by the fact Osha had been absent from the show for the two previous seasons.
29. Balon Greyjoy
Cause of death: Flung over the side of a rope bridge by his brother Euron.
Memorability: A decent death, but let’s be honest: nobody really cares about the Iron Islands all that much.
28. Barristan Selmy
Cause of death: Killed while fighting the Sons of the Harpy.
Memorability: Ser Barristan may not have been the biggest character in the show, but when it came to sword-fighting he was a total badass. He definitely died a hero’s death.
27. The High Sparrow
Cause of death: Burned to death by wildfire in the Great Sept of Baelor in a Cersei Lannister plot.
Memorability: Pretty dramatic, and a great final shot of him disintegrating in green flames. Not a massive character, though, which is why he’s not making it higher up the list.
26. Grand Maester Pycelle
Cause of death: Stabbed multiple times by a gang of children, at the request of Qyburn.
Memorability: It happened at the same time that the Great Sept of Baelor was exploding in a torrent of wildfire, which made Pycelle’s demise a bit less memorable than it would have been otherwise.
25. Roose Bolton
Cause of death: Stabbed to death by his son, Ramsay Bolton.
Memorability: One of the many grey deaths in Game of Thrones: sort of satisfying because we all hated Roose Bolton, but also not that satisfying because we hate Ramsay even more.
24. Myrcella Baratheon
Cause of death: Poisoned by Ellaria Sand.
Memorability: Myrcella wasn’t a huge character (and she’d been absent for awhile before being re-introduced), but this one was still fairly poignant. Myrcella was one of the show’s many innocent victims — she just had the bad luck of being born a Lannister.
23. Robert Baratheon
Cause of death: Gored by a boar while hunting, after being plied with wine by Lancel on the orders of Cersei.
Memorability: Robert was an entertaining character, but his death was fairly abrupt. He actually dies off-screen, and his passing is almost over-shadowed by the chaos of other events taking place in King’s Landing at the time (Ned’s discovery of Cersei and Jamie’s incestuous relationship, for instance).
22. Lysa Arryn
Cause of death: Shoved through The Eyrie’s Moon Door by Littlefinger.
Memorability: Lysa Arryn was an annoying and unpleasant character, but her death scene was pretty damn spectacular.
21. Renly Baratheon
Cause of death: Stabbed by a shadow creature that Melisandre gave birth to.
Memorability: Renly Baratheon wasn’t in the show for long, but his death has to go down in history as one of the weirdest ones.
20. Shireen Baratheon
Cause of death: Burned alive as a sacrifice by Melisandre, with the approval of her own mother.
Memorability: Probably more traumatising than memorable. Admittedly Shireen was a relatively minor character, but the horrific nature of her death is one that lingers on. Definitely one of the most tragic deaths we’ve seen in the show so far.
19. Stannis Baratheon
Cause of death: Killed by Brienne.
Memorability: Stannis may have been an annoying, stubborn character in a lot of ways, but he was also sort of awesome too. His death at the hands of Brienne had a neat circularity to it: she was finally fulfilling her promise to avenge Renly.
18. Wun Wun
Cause of death: Multiple arrows. (Seriously, loads of arrows.)
Memorability: Wun Wun may have been massive, but he was still only a minor character in the show. He’s getting included here though because his performance in the Battle of the Bastards was truly, truly epic, and it took about 50+ arrows to finally bring the big guy down.
17. Margaery Tyrell
Cause of death: Wildfire explosion orchestrated by Cersei.
Memorability: Obviously this is the exact same death as the High Sparrow, but Margaery comes higher up purely because she was a more memorable character (her death was the final hammer blow in an ongoing rivalry with Cersei).
16. Rickon Stark
Cause of death: Shot with an arrow by Ramsay Bolton.
Memorability: Sort of a frustrating death, this one. On the one hand it was horribly tragic, but on the other it could all have been averted if RICKON HAD JUST HAD THE PRESENCE OF MIND TO ZIG-ZAG. Still, it was a brilliantly tense scene.
15. Viserys Targaryen
Cause of death: Doused in molten gold by Khal Drogo.
Memorability: Viserys didn’t have a whole lot of time to impact the show, but he’s made it this high up on the list purely because his death was easily one of the show’s most creative.
14. Walder Frey
Cause of death: Throat cut by Arya Stark (after she’d fed him a pie containing his sons).
Memorability: This one is memorable purely because it’s so damn satisfying — after the Red Wedding (which we’ll get on to in a bit) Walder Frey really had some bad things coming.
Cause of death: Strangled to death by Tyrion.
Memorability: This whole sequence was a tragically memorable one: Tyrion’s escape; his discovery of Shae in his father’s bed; her attempt to kill him; and, ultimately him strangling her with the golden necklace he once gave to her as a gift.
12. Khal Drogo
Cause of death: An infected wound.
Memorability: Another pretty weird, drawn out death. It started with an epic Dothraki fight scene, then moved on to some dark magic, and finally finished with Daenerys being forced to smother a vegetative Khal Drogo (a pretty big moment in her character’s development).
Cause of death: Shot with an arrow by Olly during the battle at Castle Black.
Memorability: This one serves as an unpleasant reminder that any love in the Game of Thrones world is ultimately doomed and always going to end horribly. If you think there’s going to be a happy ending, you know nothing.
10. Oberyn Martell
Cause of death: Head crushed by The Mountain.
Memorability: This has got to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, one-on-one fight scenes in Game of Thrones. The tension (and ultimately the frustration) is incredible, and the final blow — or rather, the final skull-mushing — is suitably disgusting.
9. Talisa Stark
Cause of death: Stabbed to death at the Red Wedding.
Memorability: So: the first of the Red Wedding deaths. We’ve put this one lower down on the list than some of the others because Talisa (despite her tragic demise) wasn’t quite as big a character as some of the other wedding guests. What happened to her was still utterly horrific, though.
8. Tommen Baratheon
Cause of death: Leaping from a window after being informed of Margaery’s death.
Memorability: Tommen’s final moments are incredibly, upsettingly powerful. The framing of the scene on the open window; the way he slowly removes his crown; the total lack of music or sound — it all adds up to make one of the most tragic, understated deaths in the whole show.
7. Tywin Lannister
Cause of death: Shot by Tyrion Lannister with a crossbow.
Memorability: Very memorable, mostly because it was one of the few times in the show when things actually went the way we wanted them to. Tywin was an excellent strategist, but he was also an arrogant, cruel man who was consistently unpleasant towards his son. That all came back to haunt him in the end, though.
6. Robb Stark
Cause of death: Stabbed by Roose Bolton at the Red Wedding.
Memorability: Horrific Red Wedding death number two is Robb Stark, who cradles his dying wife before being stabbed moments later in front of his mother. It doesn’t get much more horrendous than that.
5. Ramsay Bolton
Cause of death: Eaten alive by his own dogs.
Memorability: A fittingly nasty end for one of the show’s most unpleasant characters, made more memorable by Sansa’s triumphant smile as she turns her back on the sound of Ramsay’s screams.
4. Joffrey Baratheon
Cause of death: Poisoned at his own wedding by Olenna Tyrell.
Memorability: Very memorable for two reasons: 1) It was an incredibly tense, ultimately pretty gross scene, and 2) it was really, really satisfying to watch Joffrey finally snuff it.
3. Catelyn Stark
Cause of death: Throat cut at the Red Wedding.
Memorability: OK: the third and final Red Wedding death on this list. They’re all horrible, but there’s something about Catelyn Stark’s drawn out, blood-curdling scream that’s particularly chilling.
Cause of death: Killed by Wights while trying to hold the door.
Memorability: One of the most memorable moments in general from Season 6, and easily one of the show’s most poignant and powerful deaths. The time travel element was handled perfectly, and despite the fact that basically everyone in the world is constantly making Game of Thrones predictions, nobody guessed how this one would play out.
1. Ned Stark
Cause of death: Beheaded by Ilyn Payne, on the orders of King Joffrey.
Memorability: This was the moment that defined Game of Thrones. It was the moment we realised exactly what type of show it is: no one, especially the people we’re rooting for the most, is safe. Ned Stark was an archetypal man of honour: he had strict principles, he fought for what was right, and he was an audience favourite. In the world of Thrones, though, the men of honour are also the first ones to fall.