Home TV TV Lists

25 Greatest ‘Game of Thrones’ Moments

As enhanced editions of George R.R. Martin’s novels come to iBooks, we’re celebrating the most unforgettable ‘GoT’ scenes

When novelist-turned-screenwriter George R.R. Martin returned to the printed page to publish A Game of Thrones 20 years ago, he had a mission: write an epic fantasy too spectacular to be filmed. In a sense, he was successful. Game of Thrones, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss' blockbuster adaptation of the Song of Ice and Fire series that the show's namesake novel kicked off, was too spectacular to be filmed – until the risk-taking, boundary-pushing New Golden Age of TV Drama made it possible. The result is, in every sense of the word, one of the biggest shows on television.

Now there's a version of the source material that's even bigger. Enhanced Editions of all five Ice and Fire novels to date – A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance With Dragonsare coming to Apple's iBooks Store, featuring interactive maps, family trees, annotations and more. To honor this maester-worthy event, we're counting down the 25 greatest moments in GoT history. From kisses to killings, baths to beheadings, shock endings to weddings of every color – these are the scenes and sequences that make Westeros the home of great storytelling.

Bran Pushed Out the Window

HBO

4

Bran Pushed Out the Window

Season 1, Episode 1: "Winter Is Coming"
"The things I do for love." Ask any reader of George R.R. Martin's first Song of Ice and Fire novel, and they'll likely tell you this was the moment that hooked them. A playful, good-hearted little boy stumbles across the queen fucking her own brother – then gets unceremoniously thrown by Jamie Lannister to what appears at first to be his death? This simply isn't done in fantasy, whether on the page or on the screen. But Martin went ahead and did it anyway. The show smartly ended its pilot with Bran Stark's fall, sending the message that anything could happen here, to anyone …

The Death of Ned Stark

HBO

3

The Death of Ned Stark

Season 1, Episode 9: "Baelor"
… and here's where they proved it, once and for all. Played by Sean Bean, the cast's best-known actor, Ned Stark was the undisputed, top-billed hero of the show and its source novel, the face on all the posters, the heroic figure standing for truth and justice against an unjust new regime. None of that saved him. When King Joffrey's executioner dropped the axe on Ned's neck, he shocked the world, both on-screen and off. No other moment is as responsible for the cultural phenomenon that the novels and the show have become.

Blackwater

HBO

2

Blackwater

Season 2, Episode 9: "Blackwater"
The first of Game of Thrones' four major battle sequences to date, "Blackwater" remains, in many ways, the one to top. Shot by director Neil Marshall, who'd return to helm "The Watchers on the Wall" two seasons later, the fight between Stannis Baratheon and the Lannisters for control of King's Landing and the Iron Throne took up an entire episode, from build-up to the declaration of victory by Lord Tywin. In between was the most expansive and explosive action ever filmed for television – literally explosive, thanks to the huge green wildfire detonation that blew Baratheon's navy to shrieking, smoking smithereens. With a focus on the human cost of the conflict on both sides, the sequence set the gold standard for blockbuster storytelling with heart and soul intact.

The Red Wedding

HBO

1

The Red Wedding

Season 3, Episode 9: "The Rains of Castamere"
It began with a music cue, the most ominous opening notes this side of John Williams' Jaws theme. The moment that the wedding band began playing the Lannister anthem "The Rains of Castamere," both Lady Catelyn Stark and we at home knew something was wrong. We just had no idea how wrong it could get.

What followed instantly entered the pop-cultural pantheon of shocking TV, placing the phrase "the Red Wedding" right up there with "Who shot J.R.?" Betrayed by Walder Frey and his partner in crime Roose Bolton, the Starks were ruthlessly slaughtered: King Robb shot multiple times and stabbed in the heart; his pregnant Queen Talisa and their unborn child knifed to death; and his mother Catelyn done in by a slit throat, collapsing to the floor to end both the episode and all hope of Stark victory. Whether you first attended the bloody nuptials while reading the third book in Martin's series, A Storm of Swords, or caught it on HBO in the penultimate episode of the show's third season, chances are good some part of you feels like you never made it out.

Show Comments