Game of Thrones has kept us entertained for almost seven years now. It’s made us laugh, scream in anger, cover our not-so-innocent-anymore eyes, made us pick our jaws up off the floor. It has also made us cry and feel bad for the characters. One of its key features keeping us glued to every episode is the show’s ability to make the viewers emotionally invested in the characters, caring about plot twists, true intentions, and the well-being of each of them.
We’ve watched sixty seven episodes in six and a half years, read five installments of A Song of Ice and Fire, and played one cannon video game by Telltale Games. Here are 20 moments in the entire Game of Thrones universe that made our hearts sink, our lips quiver, and had us reaching for our phones to text our best friend, our eyes becoming waterfalls as we pretended we weren’t crying, asking “Who the hell is cutting onions around here?”
As always, spoiler alert if you’re not caught up to season seven. You’ve been warned!
Jon And Sansa Reunite
Even though Jon Snow and Sansa Stark had never appeared together on-screen before season six (fun fact of the day), we can assume it had been at least five years since they had last seen each other. In those five years Ned Stark was beheaded, Catelyn and Robb Stark had been betrayed and killed at the Red Wedding, Bran and Rickon had been abducted by Theon Greyjoy, Arya became separated from the family and presumed dead, Jon had been killed and resurrected after fighting White Walkers, and Sansa had gone from Lannister fangirl to Lannister captive, then married off to the psychotic and abusive Ramsay Bolton.
They had both gone through so much and were in such desperate need for good news, and you could feel it when they shared that reuniting hug at Castle Black. It’s even better when they start talking about their next steps after reminiscing about their happy lives all those years ago, before King Robert came for their father. The Starks have gone through so much in this show, it feel good to see a glimmer of hope for the future.
“Promise Me Ned” – The Tower Of Joy
We finally see the truth behind Lyanna’s Bed of Blood at the Tower of Joy. Though we, the viewers, already had an idea of Jon Snow’s real parentage, we see a dying Lyanna who had just given birth to Aegon Targaryen. A product of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen’s forbidden love, Aegon would have absolutely been a target for assassination had King Robert ever caught wind of him – Robert and Lyanna were supposed to marry.
Instead, Lyanna Stark ran away with Rhaegar Targaryen, in love and marrying him in secret, and now their heir was born. The true heir to the Iron Throne. What’s more important about this scene is that Ned Stark keeps it all a secret for the many years to come, putting his pride and reputation in danger (as well as his marriage) by claiming Jon Snow as his bastard. This demonstrates how much he loved his sister and wishes to honor her beyond her death, even if it means to continue on with the lie that started Robert’s Rebellion to begin with.
“I Command You To Heal Yourself” – Daenerys To Jorah
Ser Jorah Mormont and Daenerys Targaryen were both exiles, and had been very close friends in the beginning of her journey. At that time, Jorah was still reporting on her activities and statuses to Varys, a spymaster for the usurper that had taken her father’s throne. After his original intent was accidentally revealed when a scroll arrives for him, signed by the late King Robert Baratheon, he is banished from Mereen and consequently kicked out of Daenerys’ service.
Heartbroken, he goes on a wild journey with Tyrion Lannister (who he finds hiding in Volantis with Varys) back to Mereen on foot, hoping that bringing Tyrion to Daenerys will earn him a pardon. While on a boat, they get attacked by men infected by Greyscale, a nasty disease that will turn you into a scaled maniac overtime. Unfortunately, Jorah realizes he’d been infected, but that still doesn’t stop him from finding Daenerys and showing her that he’s still on her side – and yet he gets banished a second time. Damn, Dany.
However, after a second confrontation with her, Daenerys tearfully orders Jorah to go and find a cure for his disease, so that he may be by her side when she takes back the Seven Kingdoms. She can tell he cares for her and regrets how this all started, and we can all tell she wants her mentor and good friend Jorah back by her side. Their loving hug in season seven makes us all warm and fuzzy on the inside – and Jon Snow a little jealous.
“Forgive Me” – Stannis Sacrifices Shereen
In yet another disturbing scene, we see Melisandre (the Red Witch) burning Stannis Baratheron’s young daughter, Shireen, claiming the Lord of Light demanded it so Stannis could win the war. The awkward and tension filled moments prior to her burning at the stake reveal a sad father, torn between burning his one and only daughter alive to please a God or chancing losing this all-out war for his rightful claim on the Iron Throne because his fatherly feelings got the best of him.
We see Melisandre reassuring Stannis that it’s the right decision to do, and Stannis’ wife, Selyse, agrees before having a last-minute change of heart as the flames go up and Shireen starts to scream. It is absolutely depressing seeing a father seeming to be absolutely ok with his only daughter’s murder, especially when we, the viewers, don’t live in a world where magic is real.
He had seen Melisandre’s magic work before, and he had seen visions in the fire. What would happen if he were to be so selfish as to not let his daughter burn, leaving the Throne in the “wrong hands”? Was this something he could forgive himself for, as well as his wife’s suicide shortly after, as it was all for the good of the Seven Kingdoms? It didn’t really matter in the end, Stannis met his end by the hands of Brienne of Tarth.
“Hold The Door” – Hodor’s Origin
Absolutely one of the saddest moments in Game of Thrones. Our beloved Hodor, Bran Stark’s loyal and caring servant, met a very sad end by the hands of the White Walkers. Don’t lie to yourself, you know you’re terrified of seeing a White Walker Hodor in the final season. Hodor, originally named Wylis, was unfortunately rendered mentally disabled in his youth when Bran Stark accidentally warged into Hodor’s younger self while attempting to save himself and his little party in a White Walker attack.
The fact young Wylis mentally experienced his own death that would occur years later is heartbreaking on its own; but actually seeing Hodor holding the door to keep the White Walkers out while Meera was screaming “hold the door!” at him, remembering all the times he had made both the viewers and characters laugh and “aww”, understanding that he was doing what he was meant to do – hold the door – didn’t give us any comfort in seeing him die.
“I Know I Love You” – Jon Betrays Ygritte
Jon Snow’s back and forth struggle between being loyal to the Night’s watch and his oath and allowing himself to fall in love and devote himself to Ygritte cause a very hurtful betrayal that will forever stay with us. Ygritte fully believed Jon Snow would leave it all behind for her just like she was willing to die and lie for him. Once he betrays her, saying he has to go back home, she becomes angry – hurt, feeling like a fool.
She shoots him, not with the intention of killing him or stopping him from going back to Castle Black. Ygritte wants to hurt him as he’s hurt her, making sure he knew he couldn’t escape this betrayal without consequence. We all know she could’ve killed him with a clean, accurate shot to the heart is she wanted to, yet he didn’t. She loved him, and there was no way she had it in her to finish him. Ladies, take note. He may be dreamy and fun, but he could hurt you and inevitably be the end of you, which brings us to the next item…
“All Because I Couldn’t Love A Motherless Child” – Catelyn Stark On Jon Snow
Before these two lovely ladies met their awful ends together, they shared a much more pleasant and “aww”-worthy moment. Talisa notices that Catelyn is making a prayer wheel for the Faith of the Seven, something that can only be made by mothers who are praying for their children. Catelyn tells her that she has made them twice before, the more recent being while she was praying for Bran to wake from his coma after his fall in season one.
Talisa asks about the other time she had done this, and Catelyn says that when the kids were younger, Jon Snow had the pox and almost died. She says that at first the thought that Jon would conveniently die of natural causes made her pray to the Seven for his end, but became horrified at herself for thinking such a thing, making a prayer wheel and staying up with him all night, praying to the gods that if they forgave her earlier wish that Jon would die, she promised she would urge Eddard to have Jon legitimized as a Stark and she would raise him as her own son.
This is hard for a mother struggling with raising a boy who isn’t her own child, especially with the rage towards Jon’s then-unknown mother, and she believes this war is a punishment from the gods because she didn’t keep her word. Talk about a guilty conscience.
“Olly” – Jon Snow’s Murder
Allowing the Free Folk to cross through the Wall and into the Seven Kingdoms in an attempt to save them and join forces against the White Walkers caused one of the biggest on-screen betrayals in Game of Thrones. After being named the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon did many things to try and keep the White Walker situation under control by attempting to gain the Free Folk’s trust and army.
Because of all the time he spent with the Free Folk and sympathizing with them, his fellow Crow men consider his actions a betrayal to the Night’s Watch. When Olly comes for Jon, telling him there have been news on his Uncle Benjen, Jon follows him without a second thought and is greeted by a sign that says “traitor”. We all knew something was very wrong when a handful of his Crow brothers surrounded him, and we all dropped our jaws to the ground as each of them stabbed Jon one at a time, saying “For the Watch”.
Perhaps the most upsetting moment was when Olly, a young child, delivered the last and fatal stab to his heart, killing Jon. We had already started to become somewhat annoyed at little Olly, who didn’t understand the bigger picture much like the other men in the Watch, and this was the last straw. Even though Jon’s death left viewers very upset, the sadness didn’t last long. Jon was resurrected right away on the second episode in season six and he has since then turned to his actual calling – ruling the North, even though he’s a Targaryen.
“I Will Kill The Man Who Tries To Wake Me – Daenerys’ Vision Of Drogo And Rhaego
The Mother of Dragons has a very sad reminder of what her life could’ve been if it had worked out the way she wanted it to. After Daenerys finds out that her stolen dragons are in the House of the Undying, she goes there to recover them. There, she has a vision where she sees a Dothraki tent in a snow storm. When she enters the tent, Daenerys finds herself in Khal Drogo’s tent back home, and finds herself face-to-face with her dead husband, Drogo, and stillborn child, Rhaego. Rhaego is now the most adorable baby boy, playing in the arms of Drogo.
Daenerys shares an emotional moment with them, exchanging vows of love and regret. The saddest part is that even though we, the viewers, know this isn’t real, both don’t know if this is a dream or real life. We all hopped on the feels train when Drogo said that he would kill the man who tried to wake him from this dream. That only makes the scene more heartbreaking, because as much as Daenerys wishes to stay with them, she realizes it’s an illusion when she hears her dragons in the distance, screaming and screeching for her. She turns and walks away, and both Drogo and Daenerys are saddened by it.
“Watch Her Become A Woman” – Ramsey And Sansa’s Wedding Night
Those were the words that infuriated the Game of Thrones fandom. In a plot that was modified from the A Song of Ice and Fire books, Sansa Stark marries Ramsay Bolton and in turn is raped by him on their wedding night – with Theon (then, Reek) forced to watch it.
Sansa had already gone through so much up to that point, having to witness her father’s beheading, being punished by the Lannisters and made to marry Tyrion Lannister, having to be snuck away from King’s Landing because she was accused of King Joffrey’s murder, having her crazy aunt Lysa breathing down her neck and, as always, having Littlefinger following her around telling her that he loves her.
It felt unnecessary to see her character put through this horrible situation, however, that scene only fueled the hatred that fans already felt for Ramsay Bolton, and only made his death and Sansa’s character growth more enjoyable and pleasing to watch.
The Night King Kills Viserion
The Mother of Dragons swooped in just in time to save the A-Team (Jon Snow, Tormund Giantsbane, The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, Thoros of Myr, Gendry, and Jorrah Mormont) from the ever-increasing number of White Walkers as they attempted to capture one.
She had brought her three dragons (Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion), and was succeeding at melting away all the ice and all the Wights, when in comes the Night King with his mighty throwing arm, throwing an ice spear at Viserion, killing it. Daenerys has the look on her face as a mother who just watched her child die – anger, sadness, confusion, despair.
We, the viewers, clung to the edge of our seats as we watched the Night King prep yet another throw, this time intended for Drogon, the bigger dragon. Thankfully, they all escaped after that and returned to safety, but the damage was done. Whether you immediately thought about the Night King raising Viserion and adding him to his impressive army of the Dead or not, we all had the same “aww, crap” feeling deep in our guts when we watched that happen.
Now, Daenerys has to be even more careful with her dragons – she cannot afford to lose another one, especially if they happen to be raised from the Dead and fight against their original cause.
“One Of Us Has To Stay” – Rodrick or Asher? (From the TellTale Game)
The Telltale Games tell the story of two brothers – Asher and Rodrik Forrester. Asher had always been a rebel – brawling in taverns, sleeping with whores, and finding ways to anger his father. But his life took a dark turn when, at age seventeen, he fell in love with Gwyn Whitehill, the daughter of Ludd Whitehill, his father’s bitter rival and began a secret love affair with her. When the romance was exposed, Lord Forrester faced a grim choice: go to war, or exile Asher across the Narrow Sea. Asher was then exiled.
Rodrik was the complete opposite of his brother, being a good son and the Head of House Forrester after their father perished at the Red Wedding. Asher and Rodrik spent so many years apart, that when they finally reunite, the player must choose one of them to stay behind and fight so the other can escape. In the end, it doesn’t matter who you choose to leave behind – what matters is that this family will never be a whole again. Either the brother who tried to redeem his careless actions and make his way back to his House when they most needed will die, or the brother who was supposed to be the Lord of Ironrath and Head of House Forrester will die.
Brienne Pledges Fealty To Sansa After Saving Her
Brienne had gone on a wild goose chase after pledging an oath to Catelyn Stark that she’d find and protect her daughters, Arya and Sansa, until her death. After following trails with no tracks and hoping for a miracle, she finally finds Sansa and watches her from a distance, since Littlefinger is with her. Brienne “bending the knee” to Sansa is a powerful scene because it was unexpected and improvised, with Sansa even needing Podrick to help her with the ceremonial dialogue.
It was also beautiful because it mirrored the Oath Brienne had initially pledged to her mother Catelyn and it was also a follow-up to a previous failed attempt to pledge to Sansa while she was still young and naively following Littlefinger. This pledge and its wholehearted acceptance by Sansa shows that Sansa has grown and found her own identity – she’s a Lady of Winterfell and nobody’s woman anymore.
Arya Sends Nymeria Away/Lady’s Death
Lady was Sansa’s adopted direwolf. When Arya’s direwolf, Nymeria, bites Joffrey Baratheon, Arya shoos her out in the woods, making sure she escapes and is not found. Ned Stark, Arya and Sansa’s father, is asked to bring the girls for a discussion of what really happened. Sansa, who was still enamored with Joffrey Baratheon and still hoped to marry him one day, lied about what really happened only to seem more favorable with the Lannisters/Baratheons, and Queen Cersei demanded that a direwolf die as punishment.
Since Arya’s direwolf could not be found, she requested that Lady, Sansa’s direwolf, die instead. Ned Stark carries out the sentence himself, killing Lady because “she deserved better than a butcher”. Many argue that Lady’s death represents the beginning of Sansa’s detachment to her Stark family, and also the beginning of the many struggles she’d have to face. Regardless, Lady’s death played an important part on Sansa’s loss of innocence and a taste of how bitter lies can taste.
“Egg! I Dreamed I Was Old” – Maester Aemon’s Death
Maester Aemon Targaryen was one of the last remaining Targaryens. He had spent many years as Maester in Castle Black, guiding and crowning Lord Commanders, recording events. As he grew older and sicker, he began to have hallucinations and kept calling his apprentice Samwell Tarly “Egg”, his brother’s name.
The last thing he tells Sam is “Egg! Egg! Mother is looking for you. Egg! I dreamed I was old…”, which symbolizes his deteriorating mental state and his struggle with dementia, where he thinks he’s back in his young years talking to his brother, Aegon V Targaryen.
It’s a very emotional part in both the Song of Ice and Fire books and the HBO show. When Gilly tells him to get some sleep because he’ll have to speak for him the next day, the pain in Sam’s face is visible. Even in Aemon’s deathbed, Sam refuses to accept the passing of a mentor and more-or-less father figure to him while in the Night’s Watch.
His speech about Maester Aemon is short and touching, and Sam did an excellent job honoring his friend as his long watch finally ended. Sam is also reminded that he’s “losing all his friends”, and it means he has to mature and learn to fend for himself.
“I Will Be Your Champion” – Oberyn Is Tyrion’s Champion
When Tyrion Lannister is accused of murdering his nephew, King Joffrey Baratheon, he is given a chance to prove his innocence via a Trial by Combat. He has no champion to fight for him, and those he’s asked have denied the opportunity. However, Oberyn Martell of Dorne had been in King’s Landing for King Joffrey and Queen Margaery’s wedding, and he paid him a visit in his cell.
He wished to fight, but not just for Tyrion’s cause. Ser Gregor Clegane (aka, the Mountain) had raped and killed his sister and her children, and Oberyn wanted revenge. So, after pledging himself as Tyrion’s champion, he kisses his lover, Ellaria Sand, not knowing it’d be for the last time. Oberyn was flawless – he basically dances and glided in the arena, wounding Clegane various time and eventually knocking him down. While we, the viewers, cheered for what seemed to be a future victory, we also held our breath when Oberyn refused to finish Clegane off without him admitting to his crimes. “You raped my sister! You killed her! You killed her children! Say it!”
As Oberyn let his thirst for revenger take over, Clegane seized the opportunity to grab him and smash his head in, while saying he indeed raped and murdered his sister and her children. A gruesome and stomach-twisting end to a beautiful and skilled man, Oberyn’s death will forever be one of the most gruesome ones in the show.
Cersei’s Reaction to Myrcella’s Death
As we all know, many innocent people die in A Game of Thrones. Even more so if said innocent person happened to be related to someone who was held in a grudge. This is how Myrcella Baratheon, the only daughter of Queen Cersei and Ser Jaime Lannister, dies. Myrcella had been spending time in Dorne, betrothed to Prince Trystane Martell. After Prince Oberyn Martell’s death while fighting as Tyrion’s champion, his lover Ellaria Sand seethed with desires of revenge. She plotted to murder Myrcella to create a conflict between the Lannisters and Martells, but Jaime Lannister and Bronn make it to Dorne, almost kidnapping Myrcella before any of those plans come into fruition.
As Jaime and Myrcella say farewell to Ellaria and her daughters, Ellaria kisses Myrcella’s lips while hers were unknowingly covered by a poison called The Long Farewell. On the way home to King’s Landing, Myrcella tragically dies in Jaime’s arms, right after she told him she knew he was her father instead of King Robert Baratheon. As if her death wasn’t heartbreaking enough, Cersei’s reaction tops the feels charts. Her face shows extreme excitement as she skips down the steps to the port, and we dreadfully see it go to confusion, disbelief, and realization.
She mourns Myrcella, saying she was so good and sweet, so pure. She was nothing like Cersei, just good. She then mentions the three prophecies Maggie the Frog gave her years ago, and that she should have known this would have happened. In the end, it didn’t matter that Myrcella was a good person, she paid the price of having been caught in two families’ affairs in which she had no part in.
“You Know Nothing Jon Snow” – Ygritte’s Death
Ygritte was angry and ready for revenge over her betrayal. She and her group of wildlings had attacked a couple of villages and killed some villagers, and then prepared themselves to attack Castle Black. She was determined to be the one who’d kill Jon Snow, she had to be the one to make him pay.
However, as the battle unfolded and many wildlings and Crows died fighting each other, she found herself with an arrow trained at Jon’s heart, hesitating. As they looked at each other one last time, Olly, a very young member of the Night’s Watch, shoots her through the chest from behind with an arrow. As she collapses, Jon runs to her, desperate.
They exchange words and reminisce on their time spent in the cave where they’d made love before, and Jon says he’s sure they’ll go back to it one day. Ygritte smiles and says the famous last words, “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” and she dies in his arms. Jon had already been feeling pretty awful over betraying his true love, and having her die in his arms because of a battle he could have easily avoided stung even more.
“Don’t Look” – Ned Stark’s Death
In a very unusual move for American television, Lord Eddard “Ned” Stark came into our lives and got taken out (no pun intended) shortly after. This loyal, family-oriented, beloved Lord of Winterfell unfortunately trusted the wrong people. His quiet, comfortable life in the North was interrupted when the King of the Seven Kingdoms, King Robert Baratheon came to him and asked Ned to be Hand of the King in lieu of Jon Arryn, who had just recently died. Ned really wants to decline the offer and stay in the North, but Lady Catelyn Stark insist on him going to find out about what really happened to her brother-in-law, Jon Arryn.
While in King’s Landing, Ned finds out that none of King Robert’s supposed children are his, and are indeed a product of incest between Queen Cersei and her twin brother, Jaime Lannister. Compelled to tell King Robert the truth, Ned pleads to Cersei to take the children and leave King’s Landing and hide, certain that Robert will not be pleased. When Robert comes back mortally wounded from a hunting trip, Ned decides to not tell him and let his old friend die in peace.
However, after a series of events in which Ned tried to honor his recently-dead friend, his words are twisted and he is branded a traitor, being executed by King Joffrey Baratheon before anyone can react. Seeing someone with the purest of intentions having his acts and words twisted and taken out of context hurts, and as we witness his unfair beheading we realize that this story will probably never go the way we, the viewers, expect. And it reminds us that we have to make sure we always have boxes of tissues ready to go.
“Mother” – The Red Wedding
If you didn’t get any kind of emotional during this horrific, unexpected scene, you have no heart. We see Catelyn, Robb, and Talisa Stark, followed by soldiers and other leadership from the North, make their way to the Twins in order to celebrate the wedding of Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey after accidentally breaching an pact with Walder Frey in which Robb Stark was to marry Roslin Frey instead.
We see a clearly bothered Walder Frey make remarks on how beautiful Talisa Stark is and how he would have broken oaths in a heartbeat for a woman like her. We see Frey extend the sacred guest rights to the Starks and company. However, Catelyn immediately recognizes the Lannister anthem “The Rains of Castamere” playing. Seeing the realization hit her, Roose Bolton shows her he’s armored. Catelyn’s concern is confirmed when Walder says he hasn’t given Robb and Talisa Stark their wedding gift yet. As Catelyn shouts for Robb, Frey’s assassins start massacring everyone in the room, including the pregnant Talisa Stark and her unborn child.
Following the shocking scene of a man fatally wounding a pregnant woman, we see Catelyn plead with Frey, promising to forget this if he lets Robb walk away and keeps her instead, threatening to slit Frey’s wife’s throat if he doesn’t let Robb go. “Mother.”
And that’s where we all breakdown, as Roose Bolton stabs Robb in the heart, and Catelyn wails for her son and family, who she believes to be all dead, catatonic as her own throat is slit. Though this happened for slightly different reasons and was somewhat expected in the book, watching the scene unfold in the show only makes it more heartbreaking. Tissues, anyone?