Warning: The following contains major spoilers for one of the best shows on television. For those who haven’t seen the series or are not up-to-date, the punishment is a beheading. That probably seems harsh, but that’s how things work in the Seven Kingdoms.
Game of Thrones is a fantasy TV series that airs on HBO. The series is based on George R.R. Martin’s novels, A Song of Fire and Ice, and quickly became a critically and commercially acclaimed show. Critics and fans have praised the series for its incredible writing, amazing directing, phenomenal cast and breathtaking cinematography. The series follows the lives of several different characters: some in a battle for power and the Iron Throne, some seeking revenge and others preparing for the threat of a great mythical force from beyond the wall.
The series is known for having some of the most gut-wrenching and heartbreaking moments in TV history. These moments are so devastating that they’ve made grown adults cry and weep in the fetal position. Some of these moments could even make the coldest, most heartless person break down and sob. Here is a look at 13 of the Most Heartbreaking Moments in Game of Thrones.
13) Bran Stark Paralyzed – “Winter Is Coming” Season 1, Episode 1
When we first meet young Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead), he is curious, mischievous and adventurous. He could also walk. His love to climb up the castle walls and towers is inevitably what ruined his chances at a track and field scholarship. However, one day Bran climbed up the wrong castle tower on the wrong day, at the exact wrong moment in time. They set the tone right away with the first episode and its ending when Bran climbs up the tower and sees Jamie (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and sister, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) in a compromising position. Realizing the danger if their secret is revealed, Jamie shoves Bran out of the window. After being in a coma, Bran awakens to discover that he is paralyzed. The heartbreaking revelation would have major ramifications on future events.
12) Death of Myrcelle Baratheon – “Mother’s Mercy” Season 5, Episode 10
Myrcelle Baratheon (Aimee Richardson) was the daughter of siblings Cersei and Jamie Lannister. Myrcelle was promised to the Prince of Dorne in order to solidify the alliance with the two houses. Of course things always work out perfectly in this series so after the violent death of Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), Cersei feared for her daughter and sent “Uncle” Jamie to bring her back. She was right to fear for her safety because Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) was looking for revenge. Jamie went to Dorne and thought he was successful in bringing her back. On the ship just outside of Dorne, Myrcelle collapsed into Jamie’s arms. Ellaria had given her a fatal kiss that had poisoned the young princess. What made all this more heartbreaking is that Jamie witnessed his daughter’s death.
11) Jamie Lannister Loses His Hand – “Walk of Punishment” Season 3, Episode 3
When Jamie Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is first introduced he comes across as arrogant, ruthless and evil. He is a gifted swordsmen and a highly skilled warrior. He commits heinous crimes, such as, pushing Bran from the castle tower causing permanent paralysis. However, things began to change around season three. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) is taking her prisoner, Jamie Lannister, back to King’s Landing on order of Lady Stark. She is to trade Jamie for Sansa and Arya. However, Jamie is able to grab a hold of Brienne’s sword and they battle. During the struggle, The Bolton Bannerman captures them. While imprisoned the men decided to r*pe Brienne, but Jamie is able to convince them not to. It was very shocking in itself that Jamie tried to help someone. It seemed to work for only a second when they chop off Jamie’s hand. Not just any hand, his sword hand. This heartbreaking moment soon led to slight change in the character. He’s a little more humble and has surprisingly helped several other characters since then. He orders Brienne to find Sansa and take her to safety after Cersei orders him to find and kill Sansa.
10) The Death of the Direwolves
It’s possible that the death of a direwolf is equally as heartbreaking as a human’s death. In the first episode, each Stark child received a pet direwolf. There were six Direwolves; Sansa’s Lady, Arya’s Nymeria, Bran’s Summer, Robb’s Grey Wind, Rickon’s Shaggydog and Jon’s albino, Ghost. Four of the six are deceased, one is missing and one is alive. Arya sent Nymeria away in order to protect her after attacking Joffery. King Robert ordered Ned to kill Lady in Nymeria’s place. Grey Wind was killed at The Red Wedding while The Umbers killed Shaggydog. The death of Summer is probably the most brutal and violent. Summer is swarmed by a group of Whitewalkers when trying to protect Bran. With Nymeria’s fate unknown, the only Direwolf to survive so far is Jon’s constant companion, Ghost.
9) “Death” of Jon Snow – “Mother’s Mercy” Season 5, Episode 10
Between season 5 and season 6, it was the most difficult time in the lives of Game of Thrones fans. The previous season had ended in the most heartbreaking moment yet. Certain members of the Night’s Watch formed a mutiny and killed their Lord Commander, Jon Snow (Kit Harington). One-by-one each one stabbed Jon in the heart in a Ceaser-esc assassination with the final blow coming from the young boy and his friend, Olly. It appeared that another beloved character was gone, but fans prayed to the Old Gods of the Forest, The Many Faced God and even Lord of the Light. In season 6, The Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten), proves herself by actually bringing Jon back to life. Fans rejoiced all over the world, but Game of Thrones had one last trick left up their sleeve. In the closing moments of the episode, Jon is forced to execute those who mutinied, including Olly. It not only broke the hearts of fans, but it also clearly broke the heart of Jon.
8) Death of Ygritte – “Watchers On The Wall” Season 4, Episode 9
Jon and Ygritte (Rose Leslie) had to overcome many differences; he’s the bastard child of one of the most respected families in the North, and she loves murdering people from the North. Jon had ventured North and met Ygritte, a wildling. Technically she captured him and allowed him to live. They were always weary of each other, but soon things got hot and heavy in the coldest part of Westeros. Jon broke an oath he took with the Night’s Watch by sleeping with Ygritte, something seemed like he was okay with that, though. Furthermore, things were just simply not meant to be for Jon and Ygritte. During a battle as they fought for their respective sides, they crossed paths. Ygritte had sworn to kill Jon the first chance she got, and she hesitated when she realized she didn’t want to kill the man she loved. Of course in Game of Thrones land, everything doesn’t always end well. Olly ends up killing her with a crossbow. She died in Jon’s arms breaking the hearts of so many viewers. That being said, things worked out for fans of the show because Kit Harrington and Rose Leslie are dating in real life.
7) Daenerys Targaryen Banishes Jorah Mormont – “The Mountain and the Viper” Season 4, Episode 8
Where is the most dangerous place in Game of Thrones? Is it King’s Landing? Iron Islands? Beyond the wall? For Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen), it’s the dreaded Friend Zone! Jorah was originally a spy that was sent to keep track of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) in case she decided to reclaim the Iron Throne, which is exactly what she had set out to do. However, soon Jorah began to fall for the Mother of Dragons. Unfortunately, she doesn’t feel the same way. Jorah’s heart breaks in two when he realizes she has feelings for another. When Daenerys discovers the truth about Jorah, and how much he has lied to her, she banishes him, which to some is better then the alternative… death. Later, he returns to save her, but she sends him away again. The moment is widely regarded as one of the most heartbreaking non-death moments in the series.
6) Shae Betrays Tyrion Lannister – “The Laws of Gods and Men” Season 4, Episode 6
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) was the black sheep in his family and not because he didn’t find his sister attractive. Tyrion suffered from dwarfism and his father, Tywin (Charles Dance), had great resentment towards him. Cersei didn’t like her younger brother as well, often calling him a monster and blaming him for their mother’s death because she died giving birth to him. The siblings never got along and Cersei was always looking for her chance to strike. Cersei was certain that Tyrion was responsible for her son, Joffery’s death, and so did all of King’s Landing. Tyrion had to stand trial, and it was the last witness that shocked and devastated Tyrion the most. His heart broke as the woman he loved, Shae (Sibel Kekilli), betrayed him and falsely testified that he had conspired to murder Joffery. Tyrion’s tear-filled eyes pierced the audience’s hearts. After being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit, Tyrion escapes and goes to murder his father, but finds Shae in Tywin’s bed. The two former lovers fight, which ends with Tyrion killing Shae.
5) The Burning of Shireen Baratheon – “The Dance of Dragons” Season 5, Episode 9
The Burning and death of Shireen Baratheon is one of the most uncomfortable, gut-wrenching and heartbreaking moments in the series. Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) and his troops are low on supplies and food. In order to please the God of Light and to fulfill his destiny, Stannis allows The Red Priestess, Melisandre, to burn his daughter Shireen alive as a sacrifice. Shireen (Kerry Ingram) is an innocent and sweet soul who has been kept hidden by her parents due to a disfigurement on her face. She grows close to Davos (Liam Cunningham) as her father and mother pay little attention to her. Her screams as she is burned were so horrifying that even Stannis’ own men couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
4) Sansa and Ramsay’s Wedding Night – “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” Season 5, Episode 6
One of the most heartbreaking, uncomfortable and gut-wrenching moments occurs on Sansa Stark’s wedding night. You’re probably asking yourself, “which wedding night?”. Like the rest of the Stark family, Sansa (Sophie Turner) has endured several heartbreaking moments. From marrying Joffery Baratheon to witnessing her father’s beheading to being separated from her family. It seemed as though things couldn’t get worse for Sansa… until she met the psychotic and ruthless, Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon). After finally escaping from the evil Lannister family, Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Aidan Gillen) arranged for Ramsay to marry Sansa. The Boltons had taken the castle of Winterfell, Sansa’s home. Ramsay r*ped Sansa on her wedding night, with Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) forced to watch in a very controversial scene. However, a truly heartbreaking scene occurred one season later when Sansa is reunited with Littlefinger after escaping from Ramsay. Her description of the wedding night is so gut-wrenching that even the heartless mastermind, Littlefinger, is heartbroken.
3) The Red Wedding – “The Rains of Castamere” Season 3, Episode 9
The Red Wedding is widely regarded as one of the most shocking, devastating and heartbreaking moments in the series. The episode revolves around the marriage of Walder Frey’s (David Bradley) daughter, Roslin, and Catelyn Stark’s (Michelle Fairley) cousin, Edmure Tully. Robb Stark (Richard Madden) needed to form an alliance with Walder Frey, so he promised to marry one of Frey’s daughter, but Robb broke off the engagement and married Talisa (Oona Chaplin). This angered Walder Frey but The Stark’s safety was guaranteed at the wedding. During the celebration, The Freys and Boltons double-crossed The Starks, brutally killing everyone in sight. This included stabbing Robb’s pregnant wife Talisa, in the womb repeatedly, shooting Robb with arrows before finishing him off and slitting Catelyn’s throat.
2) Ned Stark’s Beheading – “Baelor” Season 1, Episode 9
Ned Stark (Sean Bean) was a good man with unconditional love for his family and a good head on his shoulders. Ned’s shocking death set the tone in the series that nobody is ever safe. It was the first death of a major character and probably one of the first times the series made its fans weep. Stark discovers that his deceased friend, King Robert Baratheon’s kids, are actually the product of an incestuous relationship between Cersei and Jamie Lannister. However, before he can reveal the truth, the new King, Joffery Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), imprisons him. Eventually, Joffery decides to behead Ned, and add insult to injury with public humiliation. The heartbreaking death of Ned is compounded by the fact that both Sansa and Arya are in attendance for the beheading. The episode is critically acclaimed and widely praised for its devastating twist.
1) The Death of Hodor – “The Door” Season 6, Episode 5
After Bran (Isaac Hemstead) became paralyzed, Hodor (Kristian Nairn) became his main form of transportation. He was physically imposing, but simple minded and only ever said, “Hodor.” Bran has the magical ability of Greensight, which shows his visions and allows him to see events of the past. He is also a Warg, which allows him to enter the conscious of an animal and even Hodor. Bran even sees a young Hodor who is well spoken and can communicate when witnessing past events. Once discovered by The White Walkers, Bran, Hodor and Meera, escape with Bran both in the past and in Hodor’s conscious. Meera (Ellie Kendrick) pulls Bran to safety as Hodor prevents The White Walkers from opening a door. He holds it shut with all his might as Meera yells: “Hold The Door!”. Sadly, The White Walkers get their hands on Hodor, tearing him apart, but he does not budge. In the past, young Hodor seems to notice Bran and hear the shrieks of Meera’s cries for him to hold the door. Due to the constant telepathy, Hodor’s younger self has a seizure and yells repeatedly, “Hold the Door”, which slowly turns into “Hodor.” Never have three words caused so much heartache. Fans and critics praise the episode for its emotional death and heartbreaking revelation.