Game of Thrones has quickly risen to the top of as one of the most talked about shows currently on the air. The fact that it premiered with a built in fan base from those who loved the novels before it hit the screen definitely didn’t hurt. One of the things, perhaps the biggest thing, that makes it so addictive is the shocking moments that seem to come out of nowhere and knock the wind out of the viewers.
Keep in mind, this post is going to contain a lot of spoilers so if you’re not caught up on the show, you might want to turn back now. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy some of our most talented writers making their case for which shocking GoT moment they believe is the best!
Bran’s Fall by Radissen Ramoutar
Season 1, Episode 1. “Winter is Coming”
Game of Thrones is known for it twists and shocking reveals. It is the reason so many of us love the TV series. It is typical for a TV pilot to end in a big way and leave an audience wanting more. It’s how a TV show gets you hooked and keeps you coming back for more. For those who had not read A Song of Ice and Fire, that first episode of GoT opened up this amazing world. You were thrown into the epic fantasy in the North of Westeros and little did you know what the future had for Ned Stark and co.
Four seasons later, thing have changed (that was an understatement if there ever was one). People have died, kings have been crowned, castles have fallen and winter is still coming. But what started all of that? What happened in that very first episode that sent so many characters on journeys that would change Westeros (and not for the better)?
Could it perhaps be a ten year old falling out of a window? I understand that this article is about the most shocking GoT moment and not necessarily the moment that started it all; but I wanted to ensure that the significance of this moment was not lost. Bran was a boy who had a bright future. He had a badass last name, a cool dad, a vicious yet loving direwolf and he liked to climb. You may have met him in that first episode and thought, “Hey, that kid is cool. He’s gonna be just fine.”
Then he gets pushed out of a window. Let me say that differently – a ten year old got pushed out of a window by a man they call Kingslayer who the kid just saw having intimate relations with his kingslayerey sister. HE PUSHED A KID OUT OF A FREAKING WINDOW! I believe it is safe to assume that many people had a collective moment of crying out “What the f#*%?!” or “Sweet potato fries!?”
Crazy things may have happened later on in the show (another understatement) but this was the moment that we came back for. So many issues arose from it and a key character (I think…who knows with this show/series who is important or who will last?) lost his ability to walk. So now, here we are four seasons later and one boy falling out of a tower may have started it all (for us and for characters in the show).
Dany’s Rise to Queen by VL Vanderveer
Season 3, Episode 4. “Now His Watch Has Ended”
The best moment from “Game of Thrones” came at the midway point of season 3, at the end of “And Now His Watch Has Ended,” and is two-fold: the sacking of Astapor and Daenerys claiming her Unsullied army.
As the episode draws to a close, Daenerys, Missandei, Ser Jorah, and Ser Barristan walked into a large plaza where all of the Unsullied and most slave masters await. Daenerys removes Drogon from his cage and hands him over to Kraznys, who looks at the dragon like a child looks a gigantic ice cream sundae. Kraznys, in return, hands Daenerys the harpy’s fingers whip and she issues her first command to the Unsullied. They obey without hesitation. Then Kraznys complains that Drogon won’t come down.
“Zaldrīzes buzdari iksos daor.” A dragon is not a slave. With those four Valyrian words, Daenerys reveals that she has known the entire time exactly what has been going on in the Unsullied negotiations, surprising (in the show) Missandei, Jorah, and everyone else. She continues, proclaiming her birthright and that Valyrian has been her mother tongue. With a new fierceness and confidence we haven’t seen before, Daenerys orders the Unsullied to kill, kill, kill – soldiers, those who hold whips, to free every slave. And then, as Kraznys is begging for help from slaves that are now deaf to him – “DRACARYS.” If you need one word to know that things are going to get crazy on an epic scale, it’s “dracarys.”
After Astapor has been thoroughly sacked, all its slaves freed and its masters killed, Daenerys shows that she is as good as, if not greater than, Rhaegar. Even her figure is magnified in the smoking ruins and she appears ten times larger, then proves that she is even more grand than that. Without hesitation, she reveals the last part of her master plan and gives freedom to the thousands of Unsullied, her words emerging in beautiful Valyrian. They can return home if they wish and no one will hurt them. They are now free to do as they please. When no one moves, she makes one last gamble and asks them to fight for her as free men. Every Unsullied agrees.
Interestingly, when I had a chance to speak with David J. Peterson, the genius who created the Dothraki and High and Low Valyrian languages for “Game of Thrones,” in an extended interview, he told me this scene was his favorite, too, specifically the revelation that Daenerys could speak Valyrian. (Consider this a quick sneak peek at that interview, dear readers.)
Daenerys grows, in the space of a few minutes, from being a child in the eyes of Ser Jorah and Ser Barristan at times to not a woman, but a warrior queen. She is the last dragon who will return to Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne. Undoubtedly, she will be the one to destroy the White Walkers (even though that hasn’t reached Essos yet). She is Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons. And she has only started building her army and following.
The Red Wedding by D.A. Zapata
Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”
Game of Thrones set the resounding tone for the series early on, particularly after Ned Stark’s death in season one, which is that no one is safe. “Valar morghulis,” or “all men must die,” has become a common phrase spoken throughout the series, and with good reason. Deceit, vengeance, and bloodshed await at every turn, and one wrong move in the quest for power could be the death of you. If there was ever a moment in Game of Thrones that showed the severity and corruption of power, it was the Red Wedding in season’s three’s “The Rains of Castamere.”
The episode follows Catelyn and Robb Stark as they plan their attack on Casterly Rock, home of the Lannisters. Robb, now King of the North, believes that by conquering Tywin Lannister’s castle, he will have dominion over “his home, his gold, and his power.” This siege, however, relies heavily on the cooperation of Walder Frey, which is problematic because Robb has broken a vow he previously made to Frey in which he promised to marry one of his daughters. Nevertheless, they travel to The Twins to meet with Frey and seemingly make amends with him, where Edmure Tully is promised to marry one of Frey’s daughters as a form of recompense for Robb’s dishonor.
The wedding begins and all seems well. Edmure is pleasantly allured by Roslin Frey’s beauty and the wedding is filled with a gratuitous amount of food, wine, and laughter. That is, until “The Rains of Castamere” begins playing—known to be a Lannister song symbolizing warning and brutality. Catelyn’s eyes are immediately filled with fear as she turns to the musicians, and it becomes clear to her that the pleasantries under Frey’s roof have not been as sincere as they initially seemed. Frey rises and begins to speak of his “duties,” and the bloodshed begins. Robb’s pregnant wife, Talisa, is the first to be repeatedly stabbed in the stomach, followed by a storm of arrows being shot at Robb, his mother, and their men. The body count rises and Frey’s eyes fill with murderous glee, knowing he has prevailed in ending the reign of the Starks for protection and alliance with the Lannisters. Catelyn begs for mercy, asking Frey to take her but allow Robb to live. There is a deep desperation in her cries, yet Frey is merciless as he watches Robb’s own bannerman, Roose Bolton, murder Robb—one of the most shocking twists of the series, clearly showing that no one can be trusted. “The Lannisters send their regards,” Bolton sneers at Robb, and delivers the final blow as Robb collapses. Catelyn knows the battle is lost, and as all hope leaves her eyes, she is approached from behind and her throat is slit.
For those, like myself, who have yet to read the Song of Ice and Fire books, the events of the Red Wedding were entirely unexpected and emotionally scarring. The Red Wedding was a pivotal point in the series, depicting the brutality man is capable of in the name of power and vengeance. The Red Wedding was also a clear portrayal of betrayal, showing no one can be trusted, and by extension, no one is ever safe. Ultimately, “The Rains of Castamere” is undoubtedly one of darkest, grisly, and most impactful episodes of Game of Thrones to date, and The Red Wedding is a scene that will undoubtedly continue to haunt viewers of the series, both old and new.
The Destruction of Ice by Jason Godfrey
Season 4, Episode 1: “Two Swords”
While Ned Stark’s death and the Red Wedding did shock me when I first saw them, they set precedence that any character can die. After seeing so many characters die, beloved or otherwise, I became desensitized to seeing characters die unexpectedly. I believe I was reading the first half of Storm of Swords, third book of A Song of Ice and Fire, when I started to notice something that seemed to be left out of the show. Ice, Eddard Stark`s greatsword, was rarely mentioned after it was used to take the head off its owner. Any time a chapter in the books were told from Catelyn`s perspective, chances were that you would hear about how Robb wanted his father`s sword sent back. I had thought that the writers and producers of Game of Thrones had forgotten about the Stark family sword.
The opening sequence of season 4 shocked me once to see the sword I thought I`d never see again and shocked me a second time as Tywin Lannister had the sword melted down as Rains of Castamere played in the background. My reaction to any other scene was nothing compared to seeing Ice be melted down into two swords. I think I may have shed a tear.
Joffrey’s Death by Irene Enlow
Season 4, Episode 2. “The Lion and The Rose”
Ask any Game of Thrones fan what the most shocking scene in their favorite show was, and they’ll tell you it was Ned Stark’s death, the infamous Red Wedding, or even Oberyn Martell’s untimely demise. By now, we know that an integral part of Westeros is that the good people rarely win. Our favorites die, our heroes lose. Such is life, at least when you play the game of thrones.
That is why I found the death of Joffrey so shocking in Season 4. From the beginning of Season 1, Joffrey quickly gained fame for his villainy. Played tremendously by Jack Gleeson, Joffrey could always be counted on to inject in an already violent world, an unhealthy dose of sadism, humiliation, and despotism. Joffrey was evil, and he seemed invincibly so. It seemed impossible to imagine anything could ever happen to him, as the rest of our favorites died and he alone remained safe and whole. As Sansa adequately put it, “The worst ones always live.” This is why Joffrey’s sudden, and incredibly unpredicted death is so shocking.
The boy king, so long armored in his own evil, succumbed to death so quickly and violently that it was disquieting even to the most hardened of fans. In the end, though, it was not Joffrey’s method of death that makes his demise the most shocking in the show. It is that as I watched a boy I had learned to love to hate die a terrible death in his mother’s arms, I could feel no glee. I suddenly realized that much of Joffrey’s life was not his fault. His mental issues were a result of his parent’s indiscretion, his bad behavior that of a negligent father and a mother who spoiled him. His reign was a reflection of his manipulation, rather than of his glory. For the first and only time, I felt something like sympathy for Joffrey, and that in and of itself was more shocking than his death itself.
Tyrion’s Revenge by Eleonora Iafano
Season 4, Episode 10. “The Children”
During season four’s finale, we witness Tyrion committing a double homicide. Imagine being falsely accused of a murder that you did not commit – worse is that two of the judges at the trial will vote against you – and one of them happens to be your dear old dad. Tyrion Lannister managed to escape with the help of Jaime and Varys. What viewers see is that Tyrion hesitates before leaving the great keep; he creeps upstairs to the Hand of the King’s chamber is shocked by whom he finds in his father’s bed – his paramour, Shae. Seems that she liked wealth and power more than Tyrion and Tywin gave it to her, in exchange for a bitter piece of testimony that would blacken Tyrion forever in the eyes of Gods and men.
Betrayed, hurt and angry, he kills her. He moves further down the hall to the privy, armed with a crossbow and arrows. He finds his father there and during a very tense set of words, Tyrion decides he has had enough of being abused, ridiculed and betrayed by his father and sister. Falsely accused by Cersei, tormented by Joffrey and sentenced to death by his own father, Tyrion reached the breaking point. He let loose two arrows and killed the mighty lion.
Why is this so shocking? What isn’t known is that Tywin had Tyrion’s first wife, Tysha, raped by a garrison of Lannister guards and forced Tyrion to watch, as each guard paid Tysha a copper and then Tyrion was forced to do the same, but paying her a silver. Having a hate-hate relationship with your older sister over the years didn’t help Tyrion, either. Cersei wanted her little brother to die by any means how and it didn’t matter what the emotional damage was, she just wanted him dead. To add insult to injury, your ex-girlfriend is now sleeping with your own father? What is WRONG with House Lannister?! Hence, the hatred and vitriol built up inside of Tyrion over the years.
Each writer provides an awesome argument for why their shocking moment is the best. To dedicated viewers, each moment drew some kind of emotional reaction and strengthened our appreciation and respect for the show’s story. With the new season quickly approaching, its easy to say we can’t wait to see what happens next.
Which moment did you find the most shocking? Was there one we missed? Tell us about it!