One of the biggest TV sensations of all time, HBO’s Game Of Thrones has proved that ‘dungeons and dragons’ doesn’t have to mean ‘geeky’, with George RR Martin’s epic novels expertly turned into a sexy, action-packed, gritty and intelligent TV show that has won countless awards and still have another two seasons to run before reaching what is bound to be an incredible finale.
There have been so many highlights and shocking moments, so here is our list of the top 11 Game Of Thrones episodes so far:
11 – Baelor (Season 1 Episode 9)
The first truly great episode and also the first genuine shocking moment, Baelor introduces Game Of Thrones to a world where ‘no, they’re not going to do that are they? OH GOD THEY HAVE’ is a regular feeling in the pit of your stomach. Sean Bean’s Ned Stark was the star of the show, a good, noble man who we were all expecting to see do battle with the sleazy Lannisters and presumably triumph in the end. Right up to the moment where his head got cut off.
10 – The Children (Season 4 Episode 10)
By the fourth season finale, there wasn’t much room for shock, but still Tyrion’s escape from jail and murder of both his former girlfriend and his father (on the toilet) was a jaw-dropping way to sign off for another year. Even better was the brutal battle between Brienne and The Hound, one of the best fight scenes the show has done so far, which is saying something.
9 – The Door (Season 6 Episode 5)
Even in a show where heartbreaking deaths are to be expected, this one hurt. Seeing gentle giant Hodor sacrificing himself to save Bran and Meera was deeply upsetting, but what made it so important was the revelation of why young Wylis ended up only able to say ‘hodor’ and how his whole life was building up to this sacrifice. It’ll be a few years yet before the phrase ‘hold the door’ stops causing spontaneous floods of tears.
8 – The Spoils of War (Season 7 Episode 4)
This felt like the episode where we find out the true power of Daenerys dragons as she rides Drogon to the battle with Lannisters and utterly decimates them with his deadly fire. It also felt like the end for the Lannisters as their army was swept away with ease… but we know by now they will not give up that easily. It is also the episode where the Stark sisters finally reunite at Winterfell. An episode that is both action-packed and exciting.
7 – And Now His Watch Is Ended (Season 3 Episode 4)
One of those mid-season episodes where the chess pieces don’t get moved around so much as knocked off the board. As well as the Night’s Watch mutiny at Craster’s Keep that sees the Lord Commander murdered by his own men, this episode has the game-changing moment where Dany utters the word ‘dracarys’ and roasts the slavers of Astapor with her now-very-deadly dragons.
6 – The Mountain And The Viper (Season 4 Episode 9)
Pedro Pascal’s Red Viper hadn’t been in Game Of Thrones for long before he offered to fight The Mountain in Tyrion’s Trial By Combat, but he’d made quite an impression. Given that he had to win the fight to save the life of one of our favourite characters, there was no way he’d lose, right? Apart from in Game Of Thrones, of course, where he not only lost but had his skull crushed into a bloody pulp. Yikes.
5 – Hardhome (Season 5 Episode 8)
When you have set new standards for incredible battle scenes, you need to keep on improving them, and this episode makes the Blackwater look like a minor scuffle. The sense of dread ahead of the white walker massacre at Hardhome is almost unbearable, and the spectacle of it actually happening took Game Of Thrones to a whole new level in both effects and storytelling, showing exactly what a threat the realm is facing from these undead monsters.
4 – Battle Of The Bastards (Season 6 Episode 9)
The last two episodes of Season 6 proved that this show is actually getting better as it moves towards its end game. The Battle Of The Bastards was the long-awaited showdown between Jon Snow and Ramsey Bolton, with Stark homestead Winterfell at stake, along with the North in general. Bloody, brutal, brilliant and immensely satisfying, this was incredible TV, and that’s without even mentioning the dragon-related craziness at the start of the episode.
3 – The Winds Of Winter (Season 6 Episode 10)
The Season 6 finale has the best opening sequence of any Game Of Thrones episode ever, possibly of any episode of any show ever. Impeccably scored by Ramin Djawadi’s haunting Light Of The Seven, it showed Cersei exacting her revenge on her enemies all at once, wiping out more named characters than even this show has done before. Mind-blowing. Of course, it also came with a heart-breaking twist for her, plus the spine-tingling sight of Dany finally heading for Westeros with her fleet and her dragons.
2 – The Rains Of Castamere (Season 3 Episode 9)
We should have expected this (obviously those who had already read the books did) after what happened to Ned Stark, but when The Red Wedding started to take a sinister turn, most of us still expected Robb and his family to somehow escape. We’re used to seeing our heroes escape impossible situations, not get wiped out by them, but this is Game Of Thrones and not only does Robb die but his wife and unborn child get horrifically murdered, his mother’s throat gets cut and even his poor direwolf gets it. One of the most shocking things to ever happen in TV, this was something that still haunts viewers even a few years on.
1 – Blackwater (Season 2 Episode 9)
Before the Blackwater, Game Of Thrones had largely saved money by showing us the build-up to and aftermath of large battles, but this was one that they needed to deliver on, the crucial clash between Stannis Baratheon and the Lannisters. And boy did they deliver, stretching their TV show budget to make it look like a big Hollywood production, particularly the spectacular wildlife explosion.