If we counted every death on Game of Thrones, we’d be sitting here for hours. The mortality rate is well into the hundreds at this point (and that is not counting all of those who have died in a fiery or icy battle). Some deaths we saw coming from a mile away, while others totally blew our minds. The Red Wedding comes to mind, just to start, but GoT has now topped even that in terms of shock value. Really, you can’t watch this show and expect your favorites to stay alive for long.
Luckily for some, they can come back from the dead. But for many on this list, their gruesome death is how they left the Game of Thrones world for good. (Or at least that’s true for now. Who knows what the final season will bring?)
Warning: There is a little bit of Game of Thrones-level gore ahead!
Cause of Death: Strangulation
When it comes to shock-factor, obviously Shae’s death isn’t shockingly gruesome. This show is literally full of blood, guts, and sex, and her death was pretty par for the course. Yet, the murder itself was what made jaws drop, and created a very important arc for the show. Did anyone of us really expect Tyrion to actually kill Shae? He loved her. Yet, she betrayed his trust (and ultimately his heart), which could not be forgiven. The deed was so unforgivable, in fact, that she had to meet her end at his hand. He literally strangled her while she laid in bed waiting for his father.
24. Grand Maester Pycelle
Cause of Death: Stabbed (by tiny children)
Grand Maester Pycelle probably should have died a long time ago. But he was of use to the crown, so he lived for as long as they needed him. He also knew how to make himself as invaluable as possible, therefore keeping himself in their good graces for a long time. Yet, still, in the most epic plot twist concocted by Cersei, Pycelle died at the hand of the little birds. Can you imagine being stabbed to death by little kids? Dark.
23. Khal Drogo
Cause of Death: Suffocated (out of mercy)
Oh Khal Drogo, how we miss you! Knowing what we know now, Drogo’s death isn’t as shocking as some others, thus his placement near the end of the list. But at the time, it felt so out of the blue. We never saw his death coming until the infection spread in. Then the poor guy basically became Game of Thrones‘ version of brain-dead. To take him out of his suffering, Daenerys smothered him with a pillow. It was traumatic for everyone involved – including the audience. But at the same time, it led to Dany walking into the fire and coming out the next day with three baby dragons. So, we’ll take the trade.
22. Renly Baratheon
Cause of Death: Stabbed by shadow ghost
Renly’s death was one of the first examples that proved just how insane Game of Thrones could be. The battle for the throne was only just heating up in season two and the two remaining Baratheon brothers, Stannis and Renly, were desperately trying to stake their claim. In true spectacle, Stannis and Melisandre have sex, and Melisandre proceeds to give birth… to a shadow. If you’re still following, that shadow then goes on to kill Renly in his own tent, which is nowhere near where Melisandre gave birth. The shadow even had the face of Stannis, though everyone who saw it (Renly, Brienne of Tarth, and Catelyn Stark) was pretty mindblown when it appeared and did nothing to stop it.
21. The High Septon, Margaery Tyrell, Mace Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, Kevan Lannister, Lancel Lannister
Cause of Death: Burned alive in wildfire
On Game of Thrones, faith wasn’t always spoken about in strict terms. Then the fall of Cersei Lannister came, and it seemed that the Faith of Seven was strong and true. But those involved in watching Cersei fall had to meet their end, and if she could kill some Tyrells too, then that was all the better. To get the High Septon back for making her walk naked across King’s Landing to atone for her sins, Cersei planned a truly epic mass-murder. She blew up the Sept of Baelor with everyone inside, kept Tommen from going, and remained in her chambers.
20. Lysa Arryn
Cause of Death: Kicked out of the Moon Door
There are plenty of people on this list that we were not sad to see go, and this was one of them. Lysa Arryn was one of the worst Game of Thrones had to offer. She was terrible sister to Catelyn, and her parenting skills were questionable at best. And then she went and married Petyr Baelish, a creep who was obsessed with her sister who Lysa loved all the same. He literally started the entire war – the entire thing – because he didn’t have Catelyn. Well, Lysa’s marriage to Littlefinger was the beginning of her downfall. He wanted the power of the Vale and didn’t want her getting in the way by arguing with him. So, he kicked her out of the Moon Door and to her not-so-unfortunate death.
19. Myrcella Baratheon
Cause of Death: Poisoned with a kiss
Out of all the Baratheon (Lannister) children deaths, Myrcella Baratheon’s wasn’t the absolute craziest, but it sure did leave viewers stunned. She was finally returning to her mother after being sent away for her own protection, but her parents probably should have been paying better attention. Cersei Lannister pissed off the wrong member of the Sand family. Just as Myrcella is about to board a ship back to King’s Landing with Jamie, Ellaria kisses her goodbye. But that kiss isn’t out of love, though. Ellaria had just put on a swatch of poisoned lipstick, to avenge the death of her love, Oberyn Martell. This leads to a very bloody death for Myrcella in her real father’s arms.
18. Meryn Trant
Cause of Death: Eyes gouged eye and throat slit
When you get on Arya Stark’s bad side… run. Meryn Trant was one of many people on Arry’s list and she crossed him off in a truly disturbing way. To avenge her dancing instructor, Syrio Forel, Arya killed Meryn. But she didn’t just kill him. Arya gouged Meryn’s eyes out, stabbed him numerous times, and then slit his throat. That’ll surely do the trick, no?
17. Smalljon Umber
Cause of Death: Bit in the neck and had his throat ripped out
The Battle of the Bastards was probably one of the greatest episodes of Game of Thrones, and this death was a true standout. Smalljon Umber deserved to die, but then again, the list of people who deserve to die on Game of Thrones is a long, loooong list. Tormund (AKA the best Wildling there is) killed Smalljon in combat when he was distracted. In a bloody affair, Tormund bit Smalljon’s neck then ripped it out and severed his carotid artery. *cringes* Then, to add insult to injury, Tormund stabbed him multiple times.
16. Tywin Lannister
Cause of Death: Shot with a crossbow
There are some truly bad dads on Game of Thrones, but Tywin is quite obviously the worst. Not only did he fail to nip that pesty incest in the bud between his twins, but he treated his youngest son like he was diseased. His death was something we all wished would have happened in season one, so when it finally rolled around in season four, we felt pretty good about it. After betraying Tyrion (for the millionth time), Tywin’s bad deeds finally caught up with him. A father should probably never sleep with his son’s girlfriend, right? Tyrion shot Tywin with a crossbow while his dad was on the toilet.
15. Randyll and Dickon Tarly
Cause of Death: Burned alive by a dragon
Have you ever heard the term “making an example of…”? That is exactly what happened to this father and son duo. It is okay though, seeing as our favorite Tarly is Sam and these two didn’t exactly ever treat Sam right. When Randyll Tarly refused to bend the knee for Daenerys after they fought for the Lannisters (and epically lost), she shows them no mercy. In front of quite a large audience, and against Tyron’s wishes, Daenerys commands Drogon to burn Randyll and Dickon to a crisp. Dracarys!
14. Ramsay Bolton
Cause of Death: Eaten by his own dogs
Ramsay Bolton was quite possibly the most insane character on the whole show. While Joffrey was a manipulative brat with too much power, and Cersei is a vengeful woman, Ramsay just a genuinely sadistic MF. He hunted people like they were animals and relished torture. He had zero feelings about murdering his own father. He did despicable things to Sansa Stark. It was his time to go when he did, though Game of Thrones made sure to take him out with a bang. Ramsay really set himself up for this one, with his casual mention of his starving dogs during a meeting with Jon, Sansa, and the others before the Battle of the Bastards. Flashforward to Ramsay’s side losing the battle and Jon beating the living snot out of him. But Jon doesn’t kill him, and instead, he lets Sansa do it. They lock Ramsay up in the kennels he’d been using and then let his own hounds loose on him. There’s a certain poetic element to it all.
13. Viserys Targaryen
Cause of Death: Molten gold poured onto his head
Another poetic death. Like many of the men on Game of Thrones, Viserys was consumed with trying to claim the Iron Throne. Unlike the others, he actually had a real claim, considering his father (the Mad King) had been on the Throne last, before the rebellion. But Viserys made the fatal error of selling his sister into marriage to achieve power. What Viserys didn’t expect was for Daenerys and Khal Drogo to actually fall in love and for Dany to become Khaleesi, then use her power as such. When Viserys realized that his sister had more power than he did, he attempted to confront Drogo (while he was drunk), threatened to cut Daenerys and Drogo’s son out of his sister, and it wound up getting him a bowl of molten gold poured onto his head. Justice?
12. Petyr Baelish
Cause of Death: Slit throat
“How do you respond to these charges… Lord Baelish?” That was the moment we all literally stopped breathing during the season seven finale. After years of playing every side he could, Littlefinger’s crimes caught up with him in a big way. His biggest mistake was trying to pit the Stark sisters against each other. Sure, Sansa and Arya don’t have much in common, but they are blood, and that goes a long way after everything they’ve been through. The Three-Eyed Raven knew exactly every crime that Littlefinger had committed, and he served that information up to his eldest sister on a silver platter. Littlefinger begged for his life like the pathetic man he was, but Arya and Needle were waiting for the killing blow.
11. Robb (& Talisa) Stark
Cause of Death: Stabbed in the heart
At the time, Robb Stark’s death was arguably the most traumatic one. To this day, The Red Wedding is unforgettable. And yet, shouldn’t we have almost seen this one coming? Robb was warned numerous times not to marry Talisa, as it would betray his promises to Walder Frey. Still, it was gutting (pun intended) to watch Robb get shot with numerous arrows, then stabbed in the heart as Roose Bolton tells him, “The Lannisters send their regards.”
It was an even more devastating moment for the North, who truly believed in Robb as their King. With him gone, they had to suffer under the likes of Ramsay. Not to tack onto an already painful death, but we’re counting Talisa Stark with Robb. We weren’t as emotionally invested in Talisa (she is kind of why Robb and Catelyn got killed, though ultimately it is Robb’s fault). Let’s not even mention the fact that Robb’s direwolf, Grey Wind, was also murdered during the massacre.
10. Joffrey Baratheon
Cause of Death: Poisoned on his wedding day
There is probably no GOT death sweeter than this one. While Ramsay was pure evil, Joffrey was EASILY the most annoying character on the whole damn show. Calling Joffrey spoiled would be putting things very, very lightly. He was a vile human. On his wedding day, to Margaery Tyrell, Joffrey wanted to humiliate his uncle even more than he had in the past. Little did he know that would be his downfall. He put on a dwarf show for everyone to watch, then demanded Tyrone stay and serve him wine. Soon after, Joffrey clutched his chest (something that is now meme fodder) and collapsed. The poison set in fast, and Joffrey’s mother, Cersei, clutched him as he died. In his dying moments, Joffrey tried to blame Tyrion for poisoning him, a claim Cersei immediately believed which set a whole new series of events in motion. Of course, it’s later revealed that Olenna Tyrell poisoned Joffrey.
9. Catelyn Stark
Cause of Death: Throat slit open
Catelyn Stark was basically one of three good parents on this show, and all of those good role models are now dead. Catelyn’s death can be mostly blamed on her son’s choices to betray the Freys, but she did put herself in bad standings with Lannisters when she took Tyrion prisoner. In her own defense, she thought he was the one who ordered for Bran to be murdered in his bed after he was crippled from being pushed out of the window.
Either way, Catelyn’s death was the most devastating at the Red Wedding. She watched her pregnant daughter-in-law get stabbed repeatedly in the stomach. Then she saw her eldest son shot full of arrows and stabbed in the heart. By the time Catelyn Stark’s throat was slit, we were all just sobbing messes. If only she’d noticed the warning signs just two minutes earlier, she might have been able to get her family out of there alive.
8. Tommen Baratheon
Cause of Death: Jumped from his tower window
Of all the kings to sit on the Iron Throne, Tommen might have actually been the worst. He wasn’t evil. He had no master scheme. He seemed to genuinely love his queen. But ultimately, Tommen had no spine. He let his mother and Margery dictate everything. No choice made by Tommen was actually made by Tommen. When his wife was thrown into prison by the High Septon for protecting her brother’s sexuality, Tommen didn’t even have the decency to stand by her. Eventually, he finally decided to step up and support her, but his mother had the zombified Mountain prevent him from leaving due to her plan to set a wildfire and kill them all. By doing this, Cersei nailed the coffin shut for her only child who remained alive. Tommen made his first real decision. He watched the Sept of Baelor burn before walking back to his room to take off his crown and leap to his death.
7. Ned Stark
Cause of Death: Decapitated
Even though we’ve seen far bloodier demises, Ned Stark will always come in close to the top of this list for most shocking deaths. His end is what set the entire Stark family on a new path. Arya had been a bit of spitfire before then, but his death turned her into a revenge-seeking killer. Sansa finally stopped being a little girl in the background and now helps rule the North. Robb and Catelyn tried to do it first, but we all know how it turned out for them.
Ned was one of the first people to realize that Cersei’s children were not Robert’s but instead her brother’s. He threatened her with this information, and it was probably his biggest mistake. Ned’s death was one of the Littlefinger’s earliest betrayals, and the man turns his back on Ned after promising to help protect him. Typical Littlefinger, dare we say. For his “treason,” Ned was meant to be sent to Night’s Watch after he confessed. Instead, Joffrey demanded that he be decapitated in front of the Great Sept of Baelor.
6. Walder Frey
Cause of Death: Throat slit open
Walder Frey was at the forefront of planning the Red Wedding massacre. He saw Robb’s betrayal as the worst kind there could be. He’d taken Catelyn’s word when she had promised her son would stick to his oath and marry one of Walder’s many daughters. So when Robb fell in love with Talisa and didn’t respect his mother’s wishes or his promise, then had the idiocy to show up for a party with the Freys – we all kind of knew it would end badly for basically everyone involved.
Then the Red Wedding came to pass, and Robb’s youngest sister, Arya, saw her older brother’s dead body with his direwolf’s head sewn on paraded around after the massacre. Walder Frey immediately shot to the top of Arya’s list – and finally, after years of waiting for her to exact revenge, she did so perfectly. Arya used one of her faces to impersonate a servant of the Freys and gave Walder a piece of pie. After he deems it sour, Arya reveals there’s Black Walder and Lothar inside the pie, shows her real face and slits Walder’s throat. After killing him, she takes Walder’s face, uses it to pretend to be him, and murders his entire house the next day.
5. Jon Snow
Cause of Death: Stabbed
The only person to die and come back that made it onto this list is Jon Snow. We all had to wait between seasons to find out if Jon was really dead (he was) and what would happen. While it was tough to imagine Game of Thrones without Kit Harington, we knew that the show takes no prisoners and could very well kill off a beloved character for shock-value. It was a little obvious that Jon had gotten on the bad side of the other members of the Night’s Watch. Some felt he’d achieved too much power too fast, others thought that he was a bit soft, but most of them hated how he cared for Wildlings. When Jon then brought them into the protection of the Night’s Watch, to avoid being slaughtered by the White Walkers, the other members of the watch basically started a mutiny. They lined up and stabbed Jon, one by one. Even little Olly stabbed Jon! But jokes on them, Jon can never die, and they were all hung for treason.
Cause of Death: Impaled by icy spear
Now, you might wonder how a dragon could rank so high on this list, but until this scene, did you ever think Dany’s dragons could possibly die? Sure, Viserion wasn’t Daenerys favored dragon, but a dragon is a dragon and seeing the first one go was genuinely shocking. Because Daenerys is a queen of her word (and a little bit of a show off), she rode her dragons into battle to save Jon Snow and the others from the Night King and his army. It was easily one of the most epic moments on the show, as we’ve all waited years to see the Night King finally come in contact with someone who isn’t from the North. But Daenerys left one of her dragons unprotected – Viserion. The Night King (who should probably enter the javelin in the Olympics) hit Viserion with an icy spear. But the craziest part of it all was that after Viserion died, the Night King gave him that special White Walker touch and transformed Viserion into an ice dragon to fight for him.
Cause of Death: Killed by wights
If we were ranking deaths in terms of sadness, then you know that Hodor would be #1. Of all the people to die for, why did it have to be Bran Stark?! Hodor’s death was like a knife to the heart. He had always served House Stark faithfully. When Bran became paralyzed from the waist down, it was Hodor’s duty to carry him around. Hodor was always seen as simple-minded, and it was very obvious he had a limited mental capacity, but the revelation during his death was mind-blowing. When Meera and Bran needed to escape the cave of the Three-Eyed Raven to get away from the attacking White Walkers and wights, Hodor stayed back and held the door. But during this act of bravery, Bran warged into Hodor’s mind, in the present and the past. We then see Hodor as a child, then only called Wylis, as he begins shouting “Hold the door” over and over again until it finally becomes the jumbled “Hodor.” Thus proving that Bran actually ruined Hodor’s brain as the man literally was already giving up his life to save Bran.
2. Oberyn Martell
Cause of Death: Eyes gouged out
This is one of the deaths from Game of Thrones that will be permanently etched in our brains (along with Ellaria Sand’s screams that continue to ring in our ears). Oberyn’s death is a prime example of why you should never gloat with your back turned. Even though we barely got to know Oberyn on GoT, his death was so bloody and shocking; it made the top two most shocking deaths on our list. Oberyn came to King’s Landing to seek vengeance on the Mountain for raping and killing his sister. When Tyrion Lannister is accused of murdering his nephew, King Joffrey, Oberyn offers to fight for Tyrion in a trial by combat. Just as he wanted, Oberyn fights against the Mountain. He is able to show off his impressive skills as the Red Viper and demands that the Mountain admit what he did to Elia Martell. Oberyn is able to outmaneuver the Mountain in battle and eventually stabs him repeatedly with a spear laced with venom. Thinking that the Mountain is dead, he demands the Tywin admit to what happened to Elia. But the Mountain wasn’t dead. He rebounds, trips Oberyn and gouges his eyes out with his fingers to actually crush his skull. It might not have happened if Oberyn had worn a helmet as Tyrion had advised.
1. Shireen Baratheon
Cause of Death: Burned at the stake
We knew that Stannis Baratheon was not a good man, but we hadn’t realized he was evil until the moment Shireen met her end. Stannis was never our favorite when it came to the battle for the Iron Throne. He didn’t have the same claim that many others did, even if he was a Baratheon. He also failed to listen to Ser Davos every time his advisor had good, sound advice. To be frank, Stannis was an idiot. He got involved with Melisandre and the Lord of Light, then murdered his only surviving brother. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when Melisandre said they needed to sacrifice someone to the Lord of Light, Stannis was appalling enough to offer his own daughter. Throughout the series, we all saw that Stannis kept his daughter at arm’s length because of her greyscale (even if she was no longer sick or contagious). But to kill her in front of a crowd? We still aren’t over this death at all.