The 23 Best Episodes Of 'Game Of Thrones' Ranked To Help You Relive Every Brutal Moment Again
Game of Thrones was arguably one of the best things HBO ever did and it will be a while before fans forget how monumental the series was. Whether you were a book reader or strictly a show watcher, there were some episodes and moments over the years that definitely stood out. That's why it was easy to narrow it down to the 23 best episodes of Game of Thrones, ranked from the being merely rewatchable to being game-changing in the series overall.
I admit there were some scenes that dragged on a little too long and I never want to see see Braavos again. But there were episodes that contained scenes and moments which really highlighted the importance of the show and its many intertwining storylines. Like the Red Wedding, or the Purple Wedding, both of which proved that no one is safe in Westeros if they ever attend or participate in a wedding ceremony.
There were also enough deaths over the course of the series to dedicate an entire cemetery to the fallen heroes and villains of Game of Thrones. The best Game of Thrones episodes might be more subjective than anything, but I think these are some of the best and most important episodes for any dedicated fan.
23. The Children (Season 4)
As with most Game of Thrones season finales, this one sets things up for the future. Daenerys is forced to chain her dragons after it's revealed that Drogon ate a young farm girl. You know, just Mother of Dragons problems.
Across the sea in Westeros, Tyrion escapes the night before he is to be executed and kills Tywin and Shae before boarding a ship out of dodge. And Bran finally meets with the Three-Eyed Raven to learn of his fate and start his transformation from a noble Stark into an emotionless time traveler.
22. The Laws Of Gods And Men (Season 4)
This episode gets viewers ready for Tyrion’s trial by combat and foreshadows Daenerys’ failures in Meereen. In other words, it’s the episode before a lot of unfortunate shenanigans go down. Daenerys gets her first inkling that her dragons might not be meant to be domesticated and Tyrion gears up for his trial while he watches Shae falsely testify against him. Isn't perjury a crime in Westeros too?
21. Mother's Mercy (Season 5)
The Stark girls each get their own taste of vengeance in the Season 5 finale. Arya strikes one more name off her list when she uses her skills as a Faceless Man to kill Meryn Trant. Elsewhere, Sansa escapes Winterfell and Ramsay’s clutches with none other than Theon at her side. Apparently, Sansa’s presence helped him overcome the whole "Reek" thing.
And in the Dothraki Sea which is not really a sea but more like a never-ending field of lush grass, Daenerys is taken prisoner by a horde of Dothraki. So you win some and you lose some in this episode.
20. Kissed By Fire (Season 3)
Jon and Ygritte’s love story is doomed from the start, but they hook up for the first time in this Season 3 episode. It’s actually kind of romantic and the fact that they are in a cave in the freezing cold doesn't seem to deter the new lovebirds from getting it on while breaking Jon’s vows as a member of the Night’s Watch. Oops.
19. Oathkeeper (Season 4)
I still don't understand everything about the Night King turning Craster’s babies into White Walkers, but at least this episode gives viewers a closer look at the undead king. The name of the episode comes from Brienne, who names her Valyrian steel sword Oathkeeper, which was given to her by Jaime to find and protect Sansa. What is it with these people and the need to name inanimate objects?
18. Book Of The Stranger (Season 6)
Sansa urges Jon to fight Ramsay to take back Winterfell and for once, they are on the same page. Elsewhere, Daenerys takes power into her own hands yet again when she is condemned to spend the rest of her days at Vaes Dothrak as a khal’s widow. Instead, she burns the leaders alive in their hut and, as she is immune to the flames herself, gains a few thousand new followers.
17. The Spoils Of War (Season 7)
Sansa and Arya finally reunite in Winterfell, but there’s a lot they missed in the six seasons they have been apart. Like the fact that Arya is now a trained assassin and Sansa is no longer the same naive girl who just wants to marry a king. Aside from some clashing concerns about how to run the North, the episode also features the Loot Train Attack, wherein Daenerys almost succeeds in killing Jaime with dragon fire.
16. Eastwatch (Season 7)
Daenerys and Jon get closer and he becomes one of the few people Drogon has ever let get close to him. Hint hint, Daenerys. That boy is not a Snow and you know it. In Oldtown, Sam finally gives up his life of emptying bedpans and transcribing scrolls to use his newfound knowledge for good in the North where Jon will need him.
15. The Climb (Season 3)
This episode allows Littlefinger to deliver his memorable speech about chaos being a ladder. It also helps show viewers just how much of a bad guy he has been this entire time.
14. Hardhome (Season 5)
Worlds collide when Daenerys hires Tyrion as her adviser and they vow to break the wheel their families created in Westeros. But the real kicker of this monumental episode is beyond The Wall, where Jon comes face to face with the Night King for the first time and sees how destructive the White Walkers really are.
13. Battle Of The Bastards (Season 6)
Ramsay is finally taken out in an epic battle, but not before Jon almost dies when he’s trampled by both the dead and living soldiers in the field. The only downside is that Jon and his men are saved by The Vale, which includes Littlefinger. And nothing comes from Littlefinger without a price.
12. The Dragon And The Wolf (Season 7)
Not only does Bran finally tell someone about Jon’s true parentage in this episode, but Jon and Daenerys finally give in to their feelings and hook up. Personally, I was all for their relationship, even if they are both Targaryens. This is Westeros — get with the times.
11. The Broken Man (Season 6)
Sandor Clegane, otherwise known as the Hound, finally returns to the show. The last time viewers saw him, he had been left for dead on a hillside, so this was a big win for fans who missed the Hound and his penchant for drinking ale and eating whole chickens.
Unfortunately, his new life as the follower of Brother Ray, a septon, is short-lived when a group of bandits slaughter everyone in their tiny village including the man who gave the Hound his second chance at life. So off he goes, with an ax in hand.
10. Fire And Blood (Season 1)
In the aftermath of the Game of Thrones episode which proved no character is safe when Ned was beheaded, Daenerys loses Khal Drogo and enters the funeral pyre with his body. She emerges the following morning unburnt with baby dragons flanking her shoulders. And so the Mother of Dragons is officially born and another title is officially added to Daenerys’ long list of names.
9. Blackwater (Season 2)
This is the first episode of the series where a battle takes place for almost the entire episode. In it, we learn just how much of a coward Joffrey is and we see Tyrion step up, only to be relieved of his duty as Hand of the King as soon as Daddy Tywin shows up.
8. The Winds Of Winter (Season 6)
The High Sparrow finally gets what is coming to him after forcing Cersei to take her Walk of Atonement, but Cersei isn't some who takes out just one enemy at a time. With the help of Qyburn’s Wildfire, Cersei blows up the Sept and annihilates almost the entire Tyrell bloodline.
Ironically, this causes Cersei’s last living son to commit suicide, but somehow it's all worth it for viewers who got to hear the "Light of the Seven" song for the first time.
7. The Iron Throne (Season 8)
In a season of episodes for which fans had less than kind words, "The Iron Throne" gets a special mention because it marked the end of an era. In the episode, Daenerys is killed by Jon, who reluctantly betrays her after he sees what she has become. He’s eventually exiled beyond the Wall, but all of his besties are there, so it’s really not an issue.
Bran is named the rightful king, which I didn't love, but it makes sense, given all he can do and see as a fair ruler. And Sansa and Arya get their own happy endings. The show started off with the Starks getting the short end of the stick, but the finale finally gave them their dues.
6. A Golden Crown (Season 1)
Before Daenerys was burning men and taking names, she was being controlled by her older brother, Viserys, who felt the Iron Throne was his to claim and his little sister was his to use as a bargaining chip. At this point in the series, however, Khal Drogo has had enough and gives Viserys the golden crown he keeps pestering the Dothraki king for. Only, it’s a molten gold crown poured over Viserys’ head while Daenerys watches on.
5. The Bells (Season 8)
Say what you will about the final season of Game of Thrones, but "The Bells" was a monumental episode. Daenerys finally cracks when she destroys King’s Landing in a moment when she could have taken the city like she had intended to do her entire life. It’s a huge turning point and unfortunately marks Daenerys as the Mad Queen.
4. Winter Is Coming (Season 1)
Few Game of Thrones episodes beat the one that started it all. "Winter is Coming" sets the wheels in motion to propel the entire series forward. Lysa poisons Jon Arryn off camera, forcing Ned to leave Winterfell to be the new Hand of the King.
Later in the season, in his absence, Bran is thrown from a tower, leaving Catelyn to seek revenge on her own and eventually wage war against King’s Landing. It’s a lot, but this episode in particular also has so many little details in the dialogue that book readers can especially appreciate.
3. The Mountain And The Viper (Season 4)
I will forever see Sansa as a total G thanks to the way she played the counsel at the Vale when she saved Littlefinger from being executed for Lysa’s death. It was a turning point for her and showed what she has learned from those she was around in King’s Landing.
But the most memorable part of the episode was when Oberyn Martell, a.k.a. the Viper, and the Mountain go head to head in a trial by combat with Tyrion’s life on the line. In the end, the Viper’s head is literally smashed in by the Mountain. It's still an important moment for book readers, as Oberyn is really in King’s Landing to seek revenge on the Lannisters for killing and raping his sister, who was once married to Rhaegar Targaryen.
2. The Lion And The Rose (Season 4)
The Purple Wedding will go down as one of the best Game of Thrones episodes of all time and I will fight anyone who comes for me to say otherwise. After a wedding reception from hell wherein Joffrey does everything he can to humiliate Tyrion, he succumbs to poison and he finally dies. Unfortunately, everyone thinks Tyrion is the culprit and it doesn't help that he’s holding the cup Joffrey drank from as the young king writhes in pain on the ground.
1. The Rains Of Castamere (Season 3)
What is it with Game of Thrones and tragic weddings? I don't think any of the weddings shown in the series turn out well for the participants or guests. Such is the case with the best episode of the series, "The Rains of Castamere." It's named for the Lannister’s signature song, which plays during the Red Wedding at The Twins.
With the help of those who still follow the Lannisters, Walder Frey and his men come for the Starks and kill Catelyn, Robb, and his pregnant wife.
Most Game of Thrones episodes gave fans something to stew over or mourn about until the proceeding episode or season. The best thing about the show was that it basically had cult status before it was over. And even though the show is gone, there are so many episodes that are still worth a rewatch or five.