Top Ten Deaths in Game of Thrones

Beware of spoilers!

HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones” is known for many things, but it’s not the intense action, the sex, the gore, or even the dragons that it’s most known for. No, the show is most known for its shocking, brutal deaths.

As we gear up for the season premiere, this Sunday, April 12th, I thought I’d share my top ten deaths in “Game of Thrones.” How are they ranked, you ask? Through a combination of four factors: method of death, shock level, character significance, and emotional impact. Would you use different metrics? Sound off below!

Without further ado, my list of the top ten deaths in Game of Thrones:

10. Khal Drogo

Method of death: Strangled while in a coma. 2/5
Shock level: Low. 2.5/5
Character significance: 4/5
Emotional impact: 4.5/5
Total death rating: 13/20

While it was long obvious that Khal Drogo would not be coming back from his infected wound, he was still a fantastic character at his prime, an undefeated Dothraki with the longest of hair, and truly soft-hearted, once Daenerys had come to know him.

9. Ygritte

Method of death: Arrow through the heart. 3/5
Shock level: Medium. 3/5
Character significance: 3/5
Emotional impact: 4.5/5
Total death rating: 13.5/20

Deaths were bound to occur when an entire episode is dedicated to the Battle at the Wall, where Wildlings coordinated an attack from the north and from the south at the same time. While we thought that maybe Jon Snow and his lover would be able to make things work, perhaps take her in as they’d done with Gilly, Ygritte had too much of the free-folk in her to ever turn her back on her own people.

8. King Renly Baratheon

Method of death: Stabbed by Melisandre’s dark magic. 4/5
Shock level: Medium. 3.5/5
Character significance: 3.5/5
Emotional impact: 3/5
Total death rating: 14/20

Though Stannis was next-in-line for the throne, we still rooted for Renly, especially when he had decided he would side with Robb Stark at Catelyn’s request. In one of Melisandre’s first magical showcases, she birthed some kind of black shadow that sneaked into his tent and murdered him, opening up an arc for Brienne of Tarth, Catelyn, and Jaime Lannister.

7. Prince Viserys Targaryen

Method of death: A golden crown. 5/5
Shock level: Medium. 3.5/5
Character significance: 4/5
Emotional impact: 2.5/5
Total death rating: 15/20

One of the earliest deaths in the series, Viserys Targaryen certainly had it coming. Scoring the only 5/5 on this list for method of death, Khal Drogo killing the Beggar King while his sister watches was a fantastic, brutal scene and ended up as the title of the episode.

6. Lord Tywin Lannister

Method of death: Crossbow to the stomach while on the toilet. 4/5
Shock level: High. 4/5
Character Significance: 5/5
Emotional impact: 3/5
Total death rating: 16/20

Lord Tywin Lannister could never live that long in the show. He was cunning and a fantastic player of the game,but  it seemed that almost every character could not bear the man, his own children included. While I could watch endless hours of Charles Dance playing Tywin Lannister, I think his death will push his twin children to new limits, and I look forward to see how this all affects the politics of King’s Landing.

5. Prince Oberyn Martell

Method of death: Crushed skull during trial by combat. 4.5/5
Shock level: High. 4/5
Character significance: 4/5
Emotional impact: 4.5/5
Total death rating: 17/20

By the time “The Mountain and The Red Viper” aired, viewers had become long-accustomed to the frequent deaths in the series. So while we were cautiously hopeful, even optimistic that Prince Oberyn might beat out Gregor Clegane, the truth was: We really didn’t know who would win. Accompanied by an excellently-choreographed fight sequence, as well as some fine acting from Pedro Pascal, it’s no surprise Prince Oberyn Martell’s bloody end made the top 5.

4. King Joffrey Baratheon

Method of death: Poisoned at his wedding. 2/5
Shock level: High. 4.5/5
Character Significance: 5/5
Emotional impact: 5/5
Total death rating: 17.5/20

Has any character ever been so despised as King Joffrey Baratheon? His emotional impact rating certainly scores high, as does his character significance rating. While poison doesn’t rank high in my method of death scale, it did allow for him to score a high shock level. Did anyone expect Joffrey to die in the second episode of the season? He was in King’s Landing, relatively safe from unknown people and war-zones, and surely we all expected the most brutal villain of the series to last longer.

3. Lady Catelyn Stark

Method of death: Slit throat at brother’s wedding. 3/5
Shock level: High. 5/5
Character significance: 5/5
Emotional impact: 4/5
Total death rating:18/20

The show managed once again to shock viewers at the Red Wedding. For that final moment before her throat is slit, you might think that Lady Catelyn could still live. Robb is dead, after all, and she could become a prisoner. But no, after a much-too long wait, a Frey soldier steps up and ends the episode with one of the most cringe-inducing, bloody deaths followed by utter silence.

2. King Robb Stark

Method of death: Stabbed in the heart at uncle’s wedding. 3/5
Shock level: High. 5/5
Character significance: 5/5
Emotional impact: 4.5/5
Total death rating: 18.5/20

After his father’s death, many viewers had hoped Robb would be able to avenge his father. Alas, he went ahead and married a girl, breaking a promised vow in the process. Featuring betrayals by Walder Frey and Roose Bolton, Robb’s death in “The Rains of Castamere” was arguably the most brutal moment of Season 3.

1. Lord Eddard Stark

Method of death: Beheaded in King’s Landing. 4/5
Shock level: Very high. 5/5
Character significance: 5/5
Emotional impact: 5/5
Total death rating: 19/20

Look, I know, he only beat Robb by a half point. If I were grading individual episodes, the double whammy of “The Rains of Castamere” would probably beat out “Baelor”. But of course Lord Eddard Stark would top the list. Before “Game of Thrones” was known for its brutal deaths, it was a show about our hero, Ned.

Honorable mentions: Talisa Stark, Shae, Lady Lysa Arryn, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont, Ros.

Final thoughts:

Well, there it is. I did have to shuffle the scores a bit so that the rankings fit what I felt was most appropriate and so that there weren’t any ties. I judged emotional impact as feeling either devastated that they died (the Starks) or giddy with excitement that they finally tied (Joffrey). How would you rank the deaths in Game of Thrones?

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