The Game of Thrones franchise continues to grow and thrive even three years after its final episode aired. Prequel series like House of the Dragon have reinvigorated the franchise, with the promise of future shows, such as the rumored Jon Snow spinoff, keeping fans with their eye to the future.
Game of Thrones certainly had a reputation of being a series in which no one was safe; fan-favorite characters could be killed off at any moment. Using the IMDb rating system, fans have spoken out about which episodes they felt were the best sendoff to certain beloved characters who were taken too soon.
10/10 Daenerys – “The Iron Throne” – 4.0
The series finale of Game of Thrones picked up after Daenerys’s desolation of King’s Landing, which led to the death of Queen Cersei, Jaime Lannister, and many innocent civilians unfortunate enough to be caught in the destruction. Conflicted over the new Queen’s actions, Jon Snow takes matters into his own hands, killing Daenerys himself to keep her from becoming a malevolent ruler like her father was.
This episode, as well as the entire final season, was incredibly controversial upon its premiere, with many viewers voicing their displeasure with the sudden changes to Daenerys’s character. Additionally, the show’s ultimate resolution wherein Brandon Stark is made king, Jon is banished from Westeros, and the sudden ending of many characters’ story arcs proved tremendously unsatisfying, resulting in an abysmal IMDb score for the finale.
9/10 Missandei – “The Last Of The Starks” – 5.5
“The Last of the Starks” saw escalations rising between Queen Cersei and Daenerys Targaryen, who desperately attempts to save the life of her handmaiden and close friend, Missandei of Naath, after she is captured by Westerosi forces. While Dany and Tyrion both attempt to reason with the queen, Cersei orders that the Mountain behead Missandei in front of them.
This episode proved massively upsetting to fans not only due to the sudden death of a fan-favorite character but also as a result of its strain to set up the final two episodes of the series. “The Last of the Starks” meanders to a finish line that itself proves unsatisfying, laboring under a fatigue that would prove disastrous in ensuing episodes.
8/10 Cersei Lannister – “The Bells” – 6.0
The penultimate episode of Game of Thrones, entitled “The Bells,” sees the grisly deaths of multiple main characters, including many that had been with the series since its very first episode. The opening includes Daenerys executing Lord Varys before taking her dragons on a rampage over King’s Landing, in which Cersei, Jaime, the Hound, the Mountain, and Grand Maester Qyburn were all killed.
Many fans point to “The Bells” as the moment that Game of Thrones truly went off the rails. The episode saw the dissolution of Jaime Lannister’s long-running redemption arc, the underwhelming defeat of Cersei Lannister, and a sudden shift in Daenerys Targaryen’s character that left many fans angry. While the episode is not as hated as its immediate successor, it still remains widely disliked in the Game of Thrones fandom.
7/10 Theon Greyjoy – “The Long Night” – 7.5
“The Long Night” was easily one of the most bloody episodes in Game of Thrones, following the main characters, now united against a common threat, as they battled the Night King and his army of the dead. During the feature-length episode, many important characters meet a grisly end, including Eddison Tollett, Lady Lyanna Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, Theon Greyjoy, Ser Jorah Mormont, and Lady Melisandre.
This episode received heavy criticism for its poor lighting, which made the battle difficult for viewers to follow, and its quick dismissal of the Long Night. Nevertheless, the battle therein was nevertheless awe-inspiring, keeping with Game of Thrones tradition, and remains a highlight of the show’s final season.
6/10 Khal Drogo – “Fire And Blood” – 9.4
The first season finale of Game of Thrones, appropriately titled “Fire and Blood,” includes the culmination of Daenerys’s storyline with her husband, Khal Drogo. After making a bargain with a witch to keep her husband alive, Dany finds herself cheated, forced to put Drogo out of his catatonic misery by smothering him with a pillow.
Filled with tragedy, intrigue, and great promises to come for the future of its characters, “Fire and Blood” remains one of the best episodes of Game of Thrones. The episode harkens to a better time, wherein the series made the deaths of its characters meaningful, giving Jason Momoa’s Drogo a tragic and impactful sendoff.
5/10 Ned Stark – “Baelor” – 9.6
In the unforgettable penultimate episode of Game of Thrones‘ first season, Sean Bean’s Eddard Stark is made to stand trial for his alleged crimes. Though he is promised absolution if he confesses, the newly crowned King Joffrey betrays him, ordering his execution before a crowd of onlookers, which included Ned’s two daughters.
Elevated by impeccable writing and a brilliant final performance by Sean Bean in the role of Ned Stark, “Baelor” sticks in viewers’ minds long after their first viewing. It also shifts the entire paradigm of the series, as it becomes abundantly clear that no character is safe–nor ever will be again.
4/10 Ygritte – “The Watchers On The Wall” – 9.6
In the penultimate episode of season 4, “The Watchers on the Wall,” the Night’s Watch is forced to stand in defense of Castle Black as the Free Folk army attempts to breach the Wall. During the skirmish, several beloved members of the Night’s Watch fall, as does Jon Snow’s one-time love interest, Ygritte.
“The Watchers on the Wall” is easily one of the best episodes in Game of Thrones, and includes as one of the best battles in the entire series. The audience is made to feel the hopelessness of the Night’s Watch forces as they engage a much larger army and, in the end, the battle comes down to the last man.
3/10 Hodor – “The Door” – 9.7
Hodor is a beloved character in Game of Thrones who, despite only being capable of saying one word, consistently proves himself to be loyal, brave, and kind in every situation. The season 6 episode “The Door” features Hodor’s heroic death as he holds a door against the army of the dead, which seeks to kill Bran Stark.
Despite a somewhat rocky season, “The Door” effectively sends off one of the show’s more wholesome characters in an emotional and tragic manner. The episode is also elevated by the revelation that this heroic act of “holding the door” was indeed Hodor’s entire purpose, drilled into his broken mind from a young age.
2/10 Rob Stark – “The Rains Of Castamere” – 9.9
“The Rains of Castamere” is perhaps the most important moment in Game of Thrones, also proving infamous for its depiction of the Red Wedding, in which Lord Frey betrays the Starks at his daughter’s wedding, uniting with Lannister forces and the traitorous Lord Bolton to murder the Starks and their forces, including Catelyn, Robb, Talisa, and Robb’s unborn child.
This episode is unbearably tragic, bringing an end to the hopeful storyline following Robb’s war against the Lannisters. Brilliantly written, elegantly shot, and difficult to watch, “The Rains of Castamere” is one episode that Game of Thrones fans can never forget.
1/10 Margaery – “The Winds Of Winter” – 9.9
The season six finale of Game of Thrones featured the deaths of several main characters, many of whom were beloved by the fanbase. While fans might have been happy to see characters like Walder Frey, Grand Maester Pycelle, and the High Sparrow meet their end, the sudden deaths of Queen Margaery, Ser Loras, and King Tommen proved incredibly tragic.
In what has become one of the highest-rated episodes in Game of Thrones history, “The Winds of Winter” redefines the political landscape of the series, finally putting Cersei Lannister on the Iron Throne. From the opening wherein Arya Stark finally gets revenge on Lord Frey for the Red Wedding to the slow burn of Cersei’s ultimate plan, this episode illustrates everything that makes Game of Thrones one of the best–and most tragic–series of all time.