Game of Thrones 10 Best Episodes Ranked

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For almost ten golden years, Game of Thrones was the best show on TV.

The last season might have let the side down, but HBO’s revelatory adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s beloved fantasy novels is responsible for delivering legendary moment after moment.

That’s why HBO has announced multiple Game of Thrones spinoffs, and why we’re counting down the ten all-time best episodes in Game of Thrones’ long and epic history.

<p>HBO</p><p>This is the moment everything changed. In episode nine of the first season, Sean Bean’s character is brutally executed by teenage tyrant Joffrey Baratheon in front of a blood-thirsty crowd, radically altering our perceptions of the show. If it could kill off the most important character, not to mention the face of the show at that point, what else could happen? </p>
<p>HBO</p><p>It would be three long seasons before King Joffrey would get his comeuppance for Ned Stark’s death (not to mention the countless other atrocities he committed). But it was worth waiting for. During his wedding, the King’s Landing ruler choked to death on poison, turning blue and clutching his throat in front of horrified onlookers at his wedding reception. Saying that, there might have been one or two people who were happy to see the back of him.</p>
<p>HBO</p><p>Daenerys gets her dragons in the final episode of the first season, cementing <em>Game of Thrones</em>’ position as must-watch TV. Having just killed her catatonic husband Khal Drogo, and found out her unborn child was dead, the young Targaryen walks into fire holding her dragon eggs. The fires die down to reveal Daenerys, completely unharmed, if slightly cold after her clothes have burned away, holding three baby dragons.</p>
<p>The first big battle in <em>Game of Thrones</em> uses its bigger budget to spectacular effect. In the Battle of Blackwater, the Lannister army defeats Stannis Baratheon’s forces thanks to a genius play by Tyrion involving the ultra-flammable substance known as wildfire. By leaking it into the bay then igniting it with a flaming arrow, King’s Landing is bathed in an otherworldly glow and Stannis loses his major opportunity to take the throne.</p>
<p>Episode nine seems to be the one where big things happen in <em>Game of Thrones</em>, and season four is no different. Here we witness the climactic conflict between the Night's Watch and the Wildlings come to a head in a furious battle at Castle Black. Instead of switching between various characters’ stories separated by thousands of miles, we stay in one location for an entire hour of rousing action, merciless bloodshed, and in Ygritte's death, a pivotal moment for Jon Snow’s development.</p>
<p>HBO</p><p>Just when you thought <em>Game of Thrones</em> might be losing the plot, it hits you with a moment of genius. In <em>The Door</em>, we learn the tragic origins of Hodor, a man who can only say one word: “Hodor.” It turns out he was actually driven to a nervous breakdown during an act of heroism as he attempted to “hold the door” against White Walkers in order to allow Bran to escape. The episode showcased how even minor characters in the show had incredible depth.</p>
<p>HBO</p><p>One of the most significant deaths in <em>Game of Thrones</em>’ history. In fact, you might remember exactly where you were when it happened. It sees Tyrion choose champion Oberyn Martel to represent him in a trial by combat against the monstrous figure of The Mountain. Oberyn is getting the better of the 6' 9", 400lb behemoth until he’s suddenly tripped up and mounted, with The Mountain plunging his thumbs into Oberyn’s sockets. Yes, anyone can die at any time in <em>Game of Thrones</em>, as if audiences needed a reminder.</p>
<p>HBO</p><p>Jon Snow becomes a leader in the fifth season, using powerful speeches and battlefield prowess to unite the previously divided Wildling forces. They even overcome their differences to team up with bitter enemies the Night’s Watch and face the full brunt of the White Walkers. Jon might have wished he never bothered by the end of the episode, however, as he watches the Night King raise the dead and recruit everyone who had just perished over the last 50 minutes into his growing army.</p>
<p>HBO</p><p>Responsible for one of the most enduring images in <em>Game of Thrones</em>’ history, <em>Battle of the Bastards</em> sees Jon stand alone against an onrushing cavalry charge, sword at the ready. That calvary belongs to Ramsay Bolton, a despicable villain (he flails his enemies alive) in dire need of comeuppance. Jon gives him one, taking back his ancestral home of Winterfell and feeding him to a pack of massive dogs.</p>
<p>HBO</p><p>One of the most infamous episodes of television ever broadcast, <em>The Rains Of Castamere</em> basically kills off the show’s entire core cast. This happens at an event now known as The Red Wedding, which sees Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn, and his pregnant wife invited to a pleasant ceremony before getting stabbed to bits, along with most of the Stark army. If Ned’s death in episode one felt like a status quo shift, this episode was a tsunami, with the show refusing to play by conventional rules. There was one rule for the characters to abide by, however: don’t go to any more weddings.</p>