When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die. And, well, over the past seven seasons, there have been a lot more losers than there have been winners.
Before Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres on April 14 and ushers in more bloodshed, let's give some of the deceased a consolation prize. These are the 25 best deaths in Game of Thrones, partially because of how important or shocking they all were, but mostly just based on how gnarly and memorable the kill was.
Viserys Targaryen was the first main character to die in the series, and while he didn't make it too far in the Game of Thrones, he did at least get a sweet golden crown. So, that's something.
A simple beheading is pretty ho-hum when it comes to Game of Thrones deaths, but Ned's killing is still one of the best deaths of the show because of how shocking it was. Joffrey was supposed to send him to the wall, not kill the ostensible main character of the entire series!
Maester Cressen was not a fan of Melisandre's influence on Stannis Baratheon, and given that Melisandre would eventually prompt Stannis to immolate his own daughter, Cressen probably had a point. He was so opposed to Melisandre that he drank a poisoned toast in an attempt to take her down with him, only to spend his dying moments watching in confused horror as she chugged the rest of the wine without any ill effect.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Doreah
We didn't technically see Xaro Xhoan Daxos and Doreah die, but given that Daenerys locked them in Xaro's impenetrable, empty vault, it's almost guaranteed that the traitorous pair starved to death in the pitch black darkness.
Kraznys mo Nakloz
It's not just the getting burned alive that makes Kraznys' death so satisfying, especially now that Dany's a budding pyromaniac. No, it was Kraznys' pre-mortem confusion, his cruel ignorance of how to train a dragon, and his disbelief that Dany speaks Valyrian.
All the Red Wedding victims
Obviously, the deaths of Robb, Talisa, and Catelyn Stark had to make the list.
The Red Wedding has become such an iconic moment that it's now easy to take these shocking murders for granted, but it's impossible to overstate how jaw-dropping a moment this was. A horrible, ignoble end for three of the show's most straightforward and heroic characters.
Is there something upsetting about watching a child suffocate to death in terrible agony while his parents helplessly watch their firstborn die? Yes, and Thrones doesn't shy away from the horror of the moment.
That said, f*** Joffrey!
Locke made an impression when he cut off Jaime Lannister's hand, and then kind of wore on everyone's patience when he joined the Night's Watch to keep tabs on Jon Snow at Roose Bolton's behest. The storyline, a show-only invention, felt like filler, which is why it was pretty satisfying when Bran, warging into Hodor, essentially used the big guy's strength to rip Locke's shoulder off.
The Moon Door is about 600 feet above the ground, meaning that Lysa Arryn probably had about six seconds to think about how Petyr Baelish, her beloved husband, had betrayed her before hitting the earth and turning into bloody mist. Those six seconds were probably the longest and the worst six seconds of her life — and also the last.
Why couldn't Oberyn have just driven his spear through the Mountain's neck? Against all odds, he'd won the fight, only to face the ultimate penalty for showboating. Watching Oberyn's teeth scatter across the stone like a handful of chiclets before the Mountain exploded his head like a busted cantaloupe might be one of the worst images of the entire series — a high bar!
The Wildings the scythe killed
That scythe was the coolest part of the Battle of Castle Black, even if it did seem like a lot of effort for something that could only be used once.
Multiple characters on Game of Thrones have talked about how people s*** themselves after they're killed, but Tywin has the distinction of s***ting himself while he died. A crappy way to go, sure, but a fittingly ironic end for one of the most powerful men in all of Westeros.
Janos Slynt is the ultimate bully in that he's a cruel, weak coward who thinks far too highly of himself. Watching all his confidence and bluster fall away as Jon prepares to execute him for his disobedience is satisfying, but not as satisfying as watching his head fall away mid-sentence.
Maester Aemon lived to be around 100 years old and he died peacefully, in his sleep, of old age. In Westeros, that's got to be the most unlikely — and therefore badass — ways to go.
The Lord of Bones
There's a bit of a meta-narrative that makes this Wildling's death so satisfying.
In the A Song of Ice and Fire books, Mance Rayder isn't actually dead because Melisandre used magic to make the Lord of Bones take his place when Stannis attempted to execute the King-Beyond-the-Wall. So, when Tormund unceremoniously beats the Lord of Bones to death, it's the show's way of further convincing book readers that, no, that storyline will definitely not be happening on the show.
Meryn Trant was an awful guy before we learned that he was also an abusive pedophile, and that extreme level of wretched villainy made his death feel more justified. Still, getting both your eyeballs stabbed out is a rough break.
Drunken King's Landing boaster
This King's Landing resident who was boasting about showing Cersei his genitals during her walk of atonement doesn't get a name, but he does get his head exploded against a wall. That's what you get for speaking ill of Cersei while the Mountain is around — and for drunkenly pissing on his shoes.
Alliser Thorne, Olly, and the other Night's Watch mutineers
It doesn’t matter that Olly was a child — these guys got what was coming to them for killing Jon Snow, their Lord Commander. (Jon's death is not on this list because, c'mon, it didn't even stick.)
Hodor's death scene is really two deaths, and that's what makes it so affecting. The first death is obvious — the lovable giant is torn to pieces by wights while holding the door so Bran and Meera can escape. Meanwhile, in the past, young Hodor is having a seizure thanks to Bran's time-traveling and the cruel loop of fate. That's the second death — the death of the person Hodor could have been had it not been for this.
Is being eaten alive by your own starved hounds a horrible way to die? Yes, but Ramsay Bolton was quite possibly the most horrible person on the entire show. And it's not all bad for Ramsay. At least this way he's been reunited with Myranda, whose body he'd ordered be fed to the very same hounds.
All the Sept of Baelor explosion victims
Cersei's explosive scheme claimed the lives of Margery Tyrell, Loras Tyrell, Kevan Lannister, Lancel Lannister, and The High Sparrow, along with many other residents of King's Landing. But, the greatest loss was Mace Tyrell's singing voice.
King Tommen Baratheon walked out that window to his death with the poise of an Olympic diver and the comedic timing of a Monty Python sketch. It's perfect.
Arya was nice enough to give Walder Frey a final meal before slitting his throat. Unfortunately for Walder — and perhaps more unfortunately for Walder's two sons — that meal was made out of his butchered sons.
Blowing up the Sept of Baelor was Cersei's most cunning plan, but killing Tyene Sand with the same poison that Ellaria Sand used to kill Myrcella, and then forcing Ellaria to watch her daughter die and rot, has to be her most diabolical.
If Littlefinger isn't really dead, as a befuddling popular fan theory posits, I will drink an entire bottle of shampoo.