With all the dark, dramatic moments, blood-filled scenes that would make “Kill Bill” proud, and high body counts of favorite characters ever increasing, it’s hard at times to remember that “Game of Thrones” has good moments. I don’t necessarily mean a scene you enjoy, but rather one that makes you realize kindness is something that still exists in George RR Martin’s harsh fantasy world. HBOWatch recently did a piece onthe most shocking moments from the show, so it’s only fair to balance that with moments that warmed our hearts.
They may be few and far between, but there is a great deal more to Westeros, Essos, and the main characters than blood, gore, death, cursing, and plotting: there can be great kindness, like Margaery Tyrell leaving her procession when entering King’s Landing to visit some of the city’s orphans; Rickon telling Bran that he, little Rickon, has to protect crippled Bran because they’re brothers; Daario Naharis bringing local flowers to Daenerys as they head toward Meereen; Tyrion saving Sansa from Joffrey stripping her naked and having her beaten, and Sandor Clegane throwing his white Kingsguard cloak over; and many more.
Over the last few weeks, the writers of HBOWatch have been discussing some of our favorite, most heartwarming moments from “Game of Thrones.” Sadly we couldn’t fit them all in, so here are some of our top moments. Let us know in the poll at the bottom if we included your moment or you had another one in mind, and please tell us about your favorite in the comments. Enjoy!
The Stark Family at Winterfell
Season 1, Episode 1: “Winter Is Coming”
Look at them. Bran is standing up. Arya isn’t killing someone. Sansa’s hair is red. Catelyn is smiling. Robb is trying to be like his dad. Rickon is actually there. Jon is standing in the back somewhere looking sulky. Hodor.
I didn’t know it watching that first episode but the scene in the first picture would never happen again. This is for us to remember the Starks as they were, when they were happy, and content…and alive. That first episode of GoT throws us right into Winterfell. That location may feel like a distant memory since we have not been there in a few seasons but it used to be a bright and happy place. Remember when we first met the Starks? Jon and Robb teaching a young Bran how to shoot, Ned and Catelyn watching proudly from on high. Sansa and Arya’s playful sister banter. Arya defying the patriarchy every chance she got. Rickon sitting on a saddle playing with his toy sword while laughing at his older brothers. Robb, Jon and Theon (I include Jon and Theon because they were part of this family then) getting haircuts and shaved while the actors playing them flexed as hard as they could so as to appear buff. Ned hanging out with Ice in the Godswood. Catelyn disciplining Bran but secretly being okay with his mischievousness. Ned taking the boys out for a good ole beheading and coming back with direwolves for everybody. Good times. They were the family you couldn’t help but feel like you wanted to be a part of. It may have only lasted an episode but for a time, the Starks were happy and together and a family.
Tyrion’s Gift to Bran
Season 1, Episode 4: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”
There is nobody that feels more unwelcome anywhere in Westeros than Tyrion Lannister. Even his own family considers him a bastard and his existence is an insult to the Lannister name. When he returns to Winterfell after his visit to the Wall, he shrugs off the chilly reception that he gets there. He requests the presence of Bran Stark much to the skepticism the acting Lord of Winterfell, Robb Stark. Upon Bran’s arrival, Tyrion asks if he has any memory of his fall. This, of course, is before he gets accused of trying to kill him later in the season. Despite the negativity surrounding Bran’s injuries (he will never walk again), Tyrion pulls out a scroll. As Bran unrolls it, Tyrion explains: they are blueprints for a brace that will enable Bran to ride on a horse again. When Tyrion is asked why he would such a thing, he replies, “I have tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things.”
He had no self-serving motive for helping someone in need. This was a rare thing to see in Westeros because it’s contrary to the rules of the Game of Thrones. While there are other moments where Tyrion showed compassion for the Stark children (like his heart-to-hearts with Jon and Sansa), giving Bran the gift of mobility remains the most heartfelt moment in Game of Thrones for me.
– Jason Godrey
Jon Snow’s Friends in the Night’s Watch
Season 1, Episode 4: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”
For all the opportunistic alliances that seem to make up Westeros, the small, unnecessary acts of friendship in “Game of Thrones” become all the more heart-warming when contrasted with the cold calculation that so often seems to be an overwhelming quality in the show. While friendships are easily made and even more easily broken in the South, the North seems to foster truer bonds that withstand the test of time, winter, and even White Walkers. Perhaps one of the most touching moments in the show is when Jon begins to form friendships at the Wall. At first, Jon is distant and removed from his new brothers who are unfriendly and resentful of his noble upbringing. However, as Jon gets to know those around him, he learns that they are not so different after all. Soon, a friendship evolves between Jon and the other new recruits for the Night’s Watch, which is especially heartening in its inclusion of Samwell Tarley, an unlikely addition to a group of rough and tumble rangers. In the end, Jon’s friendships are an essential part of his storyline—even when he has left his friends far behind, he knows that they will always have his back.
The Conversations of Arya Stark as & Tywin Lannister
Season 2, Episodes 4-7: “Garden of Bones;” “The Ghost of Harrenhal,” “The Old Gods and the New,” “A Man Without Honor”
The reason why I chose the Arya and Tywin conversations in season 2 is because of the (grand)father/daughter portrayal that is shown. Though Arya has had several moments that border on criminal, her character is not without spunk and self-confidence. Tywin Lannister quickly comes to the realization that his spunky young prisoner is very mature and that there’s more to her than meets the eye. He saw right through her male disguise and was impressed by the fact that she could read and write. While Tywin was planning to gather an army and try to take King of the North Robb Stark down, Arya was in the room, listening to the plans but staying quietly aloof. That was, until Tywin asked her about what she thought of Robb Stark and fighting in a war.
The first turning point in their relationship is when she stood toe to toe and told him straight to his face: “Anyone can be killed.” Tywin begins to show a softer side: this little girl has more guts and savvy than some of his soldiers. At one point, he offers her his meal and says for her to eat his food. How many prisoners of war do you think Tywin Lannister would offer that kind of hospitality to? The second turning point in their relationship is when she very boldly declares that “Most girls are idiots.” Tywin’s reaction: he laughs. HE LAUGHED, for God’s sake!
As his cup bearer, the two engage in detailed conversations about the history of Westeros. They have an easy banter and at one point she even gets a little too cocky with the great lion, but somehow manages to keep a straight face and hold her own. I don’t know why, and some people may not see this as heart-warming, but the way Tywin speaks with her and offers her food, touches my heart. He doesn’t dumb things down because she’s young. He treats her well and seems pleased by her company (although I don’t think he would openly admit to it). I liked how they were both fascinated by the history of the Targaryens and were able to find some common ground. This young wolf pup lost her father and her entire family. Having someone who isn’t telling her that she has to pay attention to her embroidery was probably quite refreshing for her and she also appeared to enjoy his company (when she wasn’t secretly plotting about revenge in her head).
Grey Worm Keeps His Name
Season 3, Episode 5: “Kissed by Fire”
One of the most heartwarming and incredible moments in “Game of Thrones” came in the middle of season 3. Daenerys, having sacked Astapor, claimed her Unsullied army, and freed every slave, meets with several of the Unsullied chosen as leaders. The fifteen or so Unsullied officers were asked to choose a leader from amongst themselves, and they step back, allowing Grey Worm to step forward. Turning to Missandei, Daenerys looks for an explanation as to why this person would have such a degrading name. Missandei says that, when they are cut, the Unsullied are given new names like “grey worm, red flea, black rat, names that remind them what they are. Vermin.” Immediately Daenerys tells the Unsullied officers – so they can convey her message to their troops – to change their names and cast off the ones they were given as slaves. She wants them to take back their old names or any other name they can think off, so long as it is “a name that gives you pride.”
Grey Worm, however, her new leader of the Unsullied, says he doesn’t want to change his name. That may not be the best way to start out your tenure as captain of the Unsullied, but his reason for keeping “Grey Worm” is both heartbreaking and heartwarming: “‘Grey Worm’ gives me pride. It is a lucky name. The name this one was born with was cursed. That was the name he had when he was taken as a slave. But Grey Worm is the name this one had the day Daenerys Stormborn set him free.”
It’s hard to find the words to describe the feelings you get from this scene, which lasted less than two minutes. Freedom was something these men never dreamed of. They were castrated, taught to fight, and knew only how to take orders. In A Storm of Swords, from where this scene originates, Missandei tells Daenerys that the Unsullied would find it easier to stop breathing than to disobey an order. By freeing them and giving them the option to leave and return home or go anywhere or stay and fight as free men, Daenerys has offered them the gift that has more value in it than all the remaining dragon eggs and her three living dragons could buy. She gave them the ability to choose. Is it any wonder that those around her love her and will follow her wherever she goes? That she is a mother to them, a miracle, a young woman who, with her kind heart, intelligence, swift thinking, and kindness, can inspire such loyalty among thousands and thousands of followers? Though some may argue her three dragons are the most miraculous thing about Daenerys’ life, I would say that she is the miracle. Grey Worm points that out beautifully. He took his freedom but will forever honor Daenerys Stormborn with his now chosen name.
Season 3, Episode 10: “Mhysa”
Only one episode after the emotionally tumultuous Red Wedding, “Game of Thrones” had one of the most beautiful and profoundly defining moments of the series as of yet. Throughout season 3, we see Daenerys conquer cities and free slaves until finally arriving in Yunkai, where she frees the Yunkish slaves. She waits outside the gates of the city as they emerge to greet her, unsure of their motives. The slaves soon begin chanting “Mhysa!” repeatedly with their arms stretched out, and a confused Dany turns to Missandei to ask her what it means. “It is old Ghiscari, Khaleesi,” she tells her. “It means ‘mother.’”
Dany, now sure the slaves mean no harm, walks into the crowd, where the Yunkish slaves praise her with smiles and outstretched arms. They lift her up onto their shoulders, shouting “mhysa!” louder than before, and a smile stretches across Dany’s face as she begins to appreciate the value of her actions and the joy it brings those that were previously in chains. It is here that Dany truly becomes the “Breaker of Chains,” a title adopted into her name by the following season. She becomes known for defending the freedom of the imprisoned and responding to “injustice with justice,” as she later states.
Up to this point, Daenerys was a strong-willed conqueror, but after freeing the Yunkish slaves, she becomes much more than that. She becomes an individual fighting for what she believes in. She is not only creating a larger army, but she is freeing those that have suffered their entire lives under the rule of violent, manipulative slave masters. Dany is carried among the crowd of the Yunkish slaves as she looks up to the sky, where her dragons soar overhead. Among all the evil and deceit that takes place in “Game of Thrones,” Dany represents the power of what is good and fair, and it is depicted magnificently in this moment. It comes as no surprise that Daenerys is a fan favorite, even more so after this scene. She is a force to be reckoned with, and with Westeros in her sights, a powerfully climactic finale is undoubtedly coming for those who have doubted her.
Jon and Ygritte at the Battle of Castle Black
Season 4, Episode 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”
The scene with Ygritte and Jon Snow during the battle of Castle Black warmed (and broke) my heart. I love how complex the characters are in this show, and Jon and Ygritte are great examples. The scene so effectively shows Ygritte’s torn allegiances, between her Wildling spirit and her deep love for Jon. You can see all the love and betrayal in her face as she points her arrow directly at Jon’s heart. And, despite the torment on her face and the deadly weapon pointed straight at his heart, Jon can’t help but smile (which is so rare for him), because he is just filled with joy at seeing her, being near her. When he smiles, the ferocity in her face starts to become some mixture of love and anguish. Then almost immediately (poetically?) an arrow shoots straight through her heart. Jon runs to her (the smile gone forever?) and holds her as she dies. Despite the war, fire, and death surrounding him, he allows himself the moment to hold her in his arms and grieve his loss. Jon snow is a man raised to guard the wall, to suppress all his other urges and needs in order to fully dedicate himself to the protection of the Seven Kingdoms against many things, including the very woman he loves. While coordinating the protection of that wall, he allows himself to break from his vow to mourn the loss of someone he should be killing instead of mourning – it showed how pure of heart, strong, and loyal he is. And how all of this war and death and hatred – even when ingrained in them since birth, has no power when it’s fighting against love. A pretty heartwarming message, delivered through the classically dark and bloody “Game of Thrones” lens.
After looking over all 40 episodes “Game of Thrones” has, to date, produced, these were our favorites – but we really want to know yours. We sadly couldn’t include them all. Please make sure you tell us what you think of our selection and add your own favorite moment at the bottom. Don’t forget to vote, too, about which one warmed your heart the most. And remember: even though “Game of Thrones” has some horrific parts to it, there are still good people and touching moments to keep you going.
VL Vanderveer is a graduate of East Tennessee State University’s Department of Literature and Language. Aside from her blogging for HBOWatch.com, she can be found in the Marketing department of InnLink Central Reservations Services.