Get Medieval: The Seven Most Awful Things People Did on 'Game of Thrones' Season One - Rolling Stone
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Get Medieval: The Seven Most Awful Things People Did on ‘Game of Thrones’ Season One

Game of Thrones

Helen Sloan/Paul Schiraldi/HBO


When Game of Thrones returns for its second season on April 1st, kings will clash in the fight for the Iron Throne of Westeros. But when it comes to bad behavior on TV, there's no conflict whatsoever – Game of Thrones reigns supreme. Both the show and the series of books by George R.R. Martin on which it's based are unflinchingly brutal when it comes to depicting the by-any-means-necessary savagery of this fantasy world's power struggles and personal conflicts. GoT's willingness to Go There helped make it a critical and audience smash, but it also made the series' first season a catalogue of betrayals, beheadings, animal cruelty, and general inhumanity. And from the cutest baby wolves to the most famous cast members, no one was safe.

 Since the show's big on sevens – Seven Kingdoms, seven gods, seven hells, seven* full-frontal nude scenes (*approximate count) – we've assembled a list of the seven shittiest things people did during Season One. Attention all children, seasoned character actors, and horses planning to appear on Season Two: Don't say we didn't warn you.

By Sean T. Collins

Paul Schiraldi/HBO


Daenerys and Drogo melt Viserys’s head (Episode 6, “A Golden Crown”)

Okay, so exiled wannabe king Viserys Targaryen was an utterly unlikable douchebag who abused his kid sister Daenerys, sold her into sexual slavery, and threatened to kill her and her unborn child. But…actually, wait, there are no buts, he's just terrible. Still, the punishment that Dany's extravagantly shirtless husband Drogo devises, with her silent approval – rewarding Viserys's demand for a crown by pouring a red-hot vat of molten gold on his head – isn't a fate I'd wish on anyone. Well, okay, maybe Prince Joffrey. (Fun fact: This is not the only case of a character melting their brother's face off  – according to the creepy story that sleazy Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish tells Sansa Stark, that's how the warrior known as the Hound earned his horrific scars at the hands of his even scarier older brother the Mountain.)



Littlefinger betrays Ned (Episode 7, “You Win or You Die”)


"I did warn you not to trust me," says royal beancounter, proud pimp, and would-be romantic rival Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish as he holds a knife to Eddard Stark's throat. Okay, so that's one thing dude's been honest about. But after spending the season leading Ned from clue to clue in his investigation of the death of the last Hand of the King, then offering to buy the support of the City Watch for Ned's coup against newly crowned King Joffrey and his mother Queen Cersei, the one-time confidante of Ned's wife Catelyn revealed his true colors, betraying Stark and slaughtering his entire fighting force in a single move. For that, Littlefinger gets the longfinger.



Ser Gregor Clegane and Mirri Maz Duur kill horses (Episode 5, “The Wolf and the Lion”/Episode 9, “Baelor”)

Game of Thrones certainly has its recurring quirks: Kings rip people's tongues out like they're giving out parking tickets, and characters seem to give history lessons and/or reveal their painful backstories anytime a woman takes her top off. But what's with the hard-on for horses, you guys? Ser Gregor Clegane, the so-called "Mountain That Rides," comes down like an avalanche on the horse that fails him during King Robert's jousting tournament, decapitating it with a single blow (a feat he's said to repeat off-screen when he's killing his way across the countryside to send the Starks a message). And Mirri Maz Duur, the vengeful healer/witch who dupes Daenerys into sacrificing her unborn son to save her dying husband Drogo, slices up a sacrificial horse's jugular in spectacularly splatterific fashion. All told, there's enough equine abuse to make Luck look like My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic.

Helen Sloan/HBO


Ned kills Sansa’s pet wolf/The Hound kills Arya’s friend (Episode 2, “The Kingsroad”)

Just when you thought it was safe to be small and adorable. When the extravagantly awful Prince Joffrey bullies tomboyish Arya Stark's redheaded peasant pal and gets his ass kicked by Arya and her pet wolf as payback, his queenly mother Cersei and her minions are on some blame-the-victim shit. Joffrey's scarred bodyguard Sandor "The Hound" Clegane goes ginger-hunting, executing the blameless butcher's boy in cold blood. And when Arya's wolf goes missing, the Queen orders her sister Sansa's totally innocent pet to take the fall, prompting their perpetually sad-eyed dad Eddard "Ned" Stark to do the deed himself rather than leave it to one of the Queen's goons. Studies show that it's impossible to watch the killing's excruciating build-up, or to hear the wolf puppy's terrified yelp when Eddard puts it down, without wanting to crawl in a hole somewhere and stay there for the rest of your life.



Drogo rapes Daenerys (Episode 1, “Winter Is Coming”)

Women have it tough in the world of Game of Thrones, and none of the women we've met so far have it tougher than Daenerys. Used as a bargaining chip by her power-hungry older brother Viserys, Dany isn't so much the bride at her wedding to hulking warlord Drogo as she is one of his wedding presents. It's easy to forget by the end of the season, by which point Dany and Drogo's doomed relationship has bizarrely blossomed into a romance for the ages ("Moon of my life!" "My sun and stars!"), but their marriage begins in tears, and in one of the most difficult-to-watch scenes even sex-and-violence-soaked HBO has ever shown.

Helen Sloan/HBO


Jaime pushes Bran out the window (Episode 1, “Winter Is Coming”)

Whether you first encountered it in the books or the show, your reaction to this moment probably went something like this: "Hmm, this is a pretty interesting fantasy world, I guess I'll stick with it to see whaHOLY SHIT, HE DID WHAT?!?!" The attempted murder of a child to cover up royal incest is the first of the series' countless big shocks, and the place where it establishes its bonafides as a very adult take on the epic-fantasy genre. It's also magnificently cruel in its casualness: "The things I do for love," sighs sisterfucking/kingslaying Jaime Lannister to his slightly too-beloved sister Queen Cersei as he tosses ten-year-old Bran Stark to his likely death for having caught them in the act. Who says romance is dead?

Helen Sloan/HBO


Joffrey beheads Ned (Episode 9, “Baelor”)

This is the big one. A single swing of the royal executioner's sword kills off the show's best-known actor, eliminates the story's main character, and chucks the rules of television right out the window, Jaime-style. Here we learn that the world of Westeros is even less forgiving than we thought, and that Game of Thrones is playing for keeps. No wonder people freaked the eff out about it. All thanks to that repulsive little shit Joffrey – excuse me, King Joffrey, ugh – who calls his assholish audible in defiance of his desperate fiancée Sansa and scheming mother Cersei alike, cementing his place in the pantheon of TV villains you just want to watch get smacked in the face repeatedly.

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