Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on television right now. Everywhere you turn, it seems as though someone is discussing the last episode, telling you that winter is coming and valar morgulis seems to have become a sort of mantra by which people live. The show is known for its realistic depictions of war and politics, shocking story changing moments, and sometimes rather bizarre personal relationships, be they brother and sister, husband and wife, parent and child, or staunch enemies. The HBO show is a ratings darling, more people tuning in each season, so the series adapted from the popular fantasy novels must be doing something right. Over the course of almost four seasons now, Game of Thrones has provided their audiences with war, sex, intrigue, and family moments. But sometimes, those moments make us cringe. We close our eyes, squint, and try to avert our gaze until the uncomfortable and awkward moments are over. Sometimes the moments are too sexually explicit, sometimes too gory, and, very often, too horrible to sit through. The show does not shy away from the graphic nature that comes with epic fantasy but there are times when we grit our teeth and wait for it to pass.
Obviously heavy spoilers lie ahead!
10. Daenerys Eats a Heart
Early in the first season, Daenerys Targaryen, Khaleesi to a powerful Dothraki clan, finds herself pregnant and must be presented to the crones of the Dothraki people. Tradition calls that she must consume the heart of a stallion. Now, this isn’t like eating a nice juicy steak. This is a raw, bleeding, giant stallion heart. So it’s natural that audience members might have felt a bit squeamish as they watched the Khalessi bite and chew her way through a giant red organ. It didn’t help that actress Emilia Clarke’s hands and face was covered in blood during the consumption of said heart. Add in the wailing woman in the background, the sense of urgency and importance, and Dany’s husband, Khal Drogo, grinning ear to ear as he watches his bride consume a horse’s heart, and it’s probably a good idea to not be eating during this scene.
9. Lysa and Robin
Let’s be frank: Lysa Arryn, Lady of the Vale, is a bit nuts. She presents herself as someone who is in constant mortal danger, she’s obsessed with a man who is love with her sister, and she guards her child, Roibin, as if he were made of porcelain and glass and even the slightest gust of wind might shatter her sweet baby. So there is a definite sense of awkwardness when we are introduced to Lysa Arryn as she is nursing her son. Did we mention that Robin is about six years old? A mother breastfeeding her child is an iconic image of tenderness and love, but in this case that classic image is subverted into one of uncomfortable shock when you see a six year greedily sucking on his mother’s teat, both he and Lysa unabashed. It doesn’t help that little Robin only stops feeding to ask if he can throw a man out of the giant hole in the floor, known as the Moon Door, to the rocks below.
8. Loras Shaves Renly
Loras Tyrell and Renly Baratheon are a sweet couple. Their relationship, while widely known about, is kept discreet because of social conventions about homosexual pairings. However, you can tell in their few scenes that there is a real tenderness to them. But, there is something odd in watching one man shave another man. Loras like Renly hairless and thus takes up the task of rendering Renly without hair. Perhaps the scene would not have been so awkward if not for the conversation that happens around it which goes from men being men, war, to a jousting match in which a boy’s eye fell out of its socket. Or maybe it’s that Loras isn’t interested in just shaving Renly’s chest. After his front is done, Loras moves on to his armpits. Or maybe it’s that halfway through, Loras thinks it’s a good idea to cut Renly and make him bleed. All in all it’s a weird moment for the audience.
7. The Removal of Theon’s Favorite Toy
Theon Greyjoy loves the ladies. There is just no denying that. A lot of his earliest scenes have him visiting various brothels and ladies of the night. But after a failed attempt to take Winterfell, the young Prince of the Iron Islands found himself captured by the sadistic Ramsey Snow and Theon quickly became Ramsey’s pet. Their favorite games included torture, beatings, starvation, thirst, and the game to end all games: Theon wakes up to find two beautiful ladies tending to his wounds and his needs. As Theon is prone to do, he tries to sleep with them, despite being injured. However it turns out to all be a ploy when Ramsey Snow enters the room having realized that Theon’s favorite toy is his manhood. Watching Ramsey hold Theon to the floor and cut it off probably made every male in the audience wince, squirm and be grateful that they hadn’t met the Bastard of the Dreadfort.
6. Viserys and Daenerys
Author George R. R. Martin seems to take particular pleasure in messed up sibling dynamics. This is the first of a few on our list. Viserys is a cruel, sadistic, mean older brother. He dreams of sailing across the Narrow Sea and retaking his father’s throne. And if he has to sell his younger sister to a horse warlord then he’ll do it. He also takes pleasure in torturing Dany, hurting her whenever she “wakes the dragon.” At the start of the series, Dany is a scared little girl who wants nothing to do with Viserys’s political ambitions, but, like a chess piece, she is moved around according to his will. Viewers can’t help but feel sorry for the silver haired princess whenever she trembled in his presence or whenever Viserys would touch her in a non-brother like way. But don’t worry: Dany manages to crawl out from her brother’s shadow and has no trouble watching her husband give Viserys a crown of (molten) gold.
5. Joffery Torturing Sansa
It should be a romantic fairy tale: the handsome young prince, who is heir to the throne. The beautiful young lady who dotes on him and can’t wait to bear his sons. But that is not the world George R. R. Martin created. Instead, Joffery is a disgusting, egotistical, maniacal, twisted, evil little…you get the picture. Joffery takes pleasure in finding new and interesting ways of hurting Sansa. One day, he’ll give her presents and tell her how lovely she is. And then in the next moment, he’ll have one of his guards strip her and beat her (but not her face. Oh, no. He likes her pretty). Maybe the day after that he’ll parade her outside and show Sansa her father’s head on a spike. And then the following day, Joffery won’t lift a finger when Sansa is abducted and almost raped by an angry mob. Every time they are on screen together, the audience holds their breath: will Joffery be nice or will he be malicious? Is it any wonder everyone cheered when he finally died?
4. Theon and His Sister Yara
Theon thinks his homecoming should be a momentous occasion. After years away as a ward to Winterfell, Theon imagines that the heir to the Iron Islands will receive a warm welcome. Sadly, it did not happen the way he imagined. There were neither parades nor joyful peasants, but there was Yara. Tough, iron born, sexy Yara who offers to take Theon up to the castle on her horse. They flirt and at one point Theon gets fresh, putting his hand down her pants as they ride. And then the revelation: Yara is his sister. When you learn this news, you can’t help but recall their ride up to the castle, Theon whispering sweet nothings in her ear. It’s enough to make you retch. At least Theon felt as uncomfortable as we did.
3. Oberyn’s Death
He may have only appeared this season, but Oberyn Martell very quickly became a favorite with his charming good looks and witty sense of humor. When Tyrion Lannister is accused of killing Prince Joffery, Oberyn declares that he will be Tyrion’s champion and do battle with the knight known as “The Mountain that Rides.” At first, the duel between swordsman and spear wielder is going well for Oberyn. His spear manages to hurt the Mountain. But then Oberyn gets cocky and doesn’t finish the Mountain off until the Mountain confesses his crimes against Oberyn’s family, which were numerous. Taking the opportunity to get the upper hand, the Mountain toppled the Red Viper onto his back and proceeded to squeeze his head like a watermelon until it quite literally burst all over the ground, blood and brain matter going everywhere. It might be the most gruesome single death on Game of Thrones to date.
2. Jaime and His Sister Cersei
Every time these two are on screen together, we cringe. Jaime and Cersei love each other deeply; they’ve lived their entire lives side-by-side and have three gorgeous children together. They are also twins. Whether it’s consensual sex in an abandoned castle tower, arguing with each other over politics, or whether Jaime is raping Cersei in front of their dead son, everything about them is wrong, wrong, WRONG. This is not a functional relationship and the level of awkward is through the roof. Brother and sister are just not supposed to act this way!
1. The Red Wedding
From start to finish, something about the wedding at the house of Lord Frey felt off. Lord Frey was too quick to forgive Robb Stark for his transgressions. The celebration had a foreboding sense to it. As the episode drew to a close, it became clear that the wedding was a trap for the King of the North and his family. Within seconds, the joyful celebration turned to massacre as knives were pulled out and plunged into the belly and heart of every Northern man and woman there. We watched, horrified and uncomfortable, as Robb’s young pregnant wife was repeatedly stabbed. We watched his men die around him. And then we watched as Robb’s mother, Catelyn, begged for her son’s life only to have Robb on the receiving end of a knife blow to the chest. Our final image was Cat screaming in anguish before her own throat was opened by a Frey. The fact that there was no music as the credits rolled spoke volumes about how the audience felt.