“Game of Thrones”, hailed as one of the greatest television shows of all time, captivated audiences around the globe with its intricate storytelling, complex characters, and grand scale. Based on George R.R. Martin’s epic fantasy series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” the best “Game of Thrones” episodes transported viewers to the realm of Westeros, a world plagued by political intrigue, power struggles, and supernatural threats. With its richly developed narrative, nuanced performances, and jaw-dropping plot twists, “Game of Thrones” revolutionized the fantasy genre and became a cultural phenomenon.
Most of the aforementioned twists and turns came from one of the many vicious deaths on the show. No one was safe! One study on how to survive in “Game of Thrones” says, “The risk of death is high among characters in Game of Thrones. By the end of the seventh season, more than half of the characters had died — 186 out of the 330 characters we included in this study — with violent deaths being the most common by far.”
All of those deaths may not have fared well for people who really got into the show. Researchers say fans subconsciously ‘became’ their favorite characters when fully engaged. Viewers lose themselves in another world and even form attachments to the fictional characters who live there. Their brain starts to think about their favorite characters in the same way they think about themselves.
Fandom aside, this list culminates the most legendary plotlines in the series. And be warned, it is chock full of spoilers. StudyFinds set out to do the research for you, visiting 10 expert websites to put together this list of the best “Game of Thrones” episodes. If you’ve got your own suggestions, please leave them in the comments below!
The List: Best Game of Thrones Episodes, According to Fans
1. “The Rains of Castamere”
This episode, also known as the “Red Wedding,” is a shocking and pivotal moment in the series, with significant consequences for many characters. Collider talks about how it changed the course of the story, “The massacre causes ripple effects throughout the Seven Kingdoms and intensifies the Starks’ ongoing sorrow in the early seasons. The episode’s title is the name of House Lannister’s signature song which recalls the tale of how House Lannister annihilated the rival House Reyne of Castamere when they dared to revolt. As it played in the wedding, it denotes the imminent bloodshed that will take place.”
‘The Rains of Castamere’ was released 10 years ago today pic.twitter.com/3R2qNy5W5V
— Thrones Facts | HOTD 🐉 (@Thrones_Facts) June 2, 2023
It was brutal to watch as IGN says, “The Red Wedding stands as one of the most diabolical bloodlettings in TV history. Fans unspoiled by the books were protected by those who’d read up, so as to preserve their shock and misery for all time. Viewers left ‘The Rains of Castamere’ feeling hollowed out, and that was the exact intention.”
The Mary Sue comments, “This episode is intense not just because we lose some of our favorite characters, but because it makes the situation seem almost hopeless for everyone trying to stop the Lannisters’ rise to power.”
2. “Battle of the Bastards”
This episode showcases a massive battle between Jon Snow’s forces and Ramsay Bolton’s army, featuring spectacular action sequences and intense storytelling. The Ringer writes: “This is, in my opinion, the greatest Game of Thrones episode ever, and it has the best battle scene in the entire series. The episode hits on three major Thrones themes: dragons, murder, and revenge.”
“From Jon facing down with the charging horsemen to the one-shot sequence in the chaos of the battle to the image of Jon emerging from the pile of bodies, the episode was the most cinematic in the series,” says Screen Rant.
In this episode, Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch face off against the White Walkers, leading to a thrilling and horrifying confrontation. “The chaos of ‘Hardhome’ marries cinematic combat to raw terror as effectively as television has ever done, culminating in the resurrection of countless fallen humans by the demonic Night’s King in a gesture that feels obscene in its transgressive arrogance. Both Jon Snow and the audience leave the scene behind in stunned silence,” says Vulture.
CBR comments with, “The Battle of Hardhome is considered one of the best. In ‘Hardhome’ Jon’s journey to the Free Folk fishing village is the main focus. The White Walker threat is once again reinstated, in style. An army of White Walkers and wights attacks, claiming numerous new bodies for the Night King. It is a frantic sequence to close out the episode, and is by far the best and most terrifying battle of the season.”
“The breathtaking battle at Hardhome is indisputably the high point of the episode, expertly delivering thrilling action and pulse-pounding suspense, even if it ultimately leads to a devastating loss,” adds Looper.
4. “The Winds of Winter”
This season finale delivers several major plot twists, including the destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor and the ascent of Cersei Lannister to the Iron Throne. ToyNK says, “with season 6’s final episode. In King’s Landing, Cersei would be trialed in the Great Sept. However, she planned something vile, which led her to lose something she loved. We love this so much as it has a powerful message that ‘everything has a price,’ especially if you’re hurting others.”
It was just full-on incredible moments like the ones described by The Ringer, “The cut from baby Jon’s face to adult Jon’s face as he’s poised to be named the White Wolf and the King in the North instantly earned its place in the pantheon of shattering TV moments, the rare reveal that not only meets but exceeds expectations and that sparks as many new questions as it just answered. Jon isn’t the episode’s only new ruler, though: Cersei channels her inner Aerys, burning her enemies by blowing up the Sept of Baelor in a chillingly choreographed and scored sequence. As always, her miscalculations have grave consequences, in this case her son Tommen’s suicide.”
How do you choose? “While most of the fan-favorite episodes of Game of Thrones feature one huge storyline that takes all the attention, ‘The Winds of Winter’ features so many big moments that it is hard to determine which one had the biggest impact,” says Screen Rant.
5. “The Watchers on the Wall”
Focusing on the defense of Castle Black from an attack by the Wildlings, this episode showcases epic battles, emotional moments, and strong character development. Men’s Health says, “HBO spared no expense for ‘Watchers on the Wall,’ directed Neil Marshall, who also helmed the masterful ‘Blackwater.’ The fight between the wildlings trying to invade Castle Black and the Night’s Watch sees Snow at his most tested. And those shots of giants and a wooly mammoth (!) trying to knock their way through the Wall still inspire awe.”
“Let’s be clear: It’s still goddamned amazing. Director Neil Marshall pulls out all the CGI stops — giants and mammoths and ice scythes, oh my! — and choreographs the thing to perfection. (That big swirling shot around Castle Black as, like, two dozen individual fights raged!) The Romeo and Juliet–style death of Ygritte in Jon Snow’s arms gives it the emotional gravitas to match the spectacle,” says Vulture.
IGN gushes with, “Season 3’s big battle episode, ‘The Watchers on the Wall,’ may not have quite captured the unique majesty of Season 2’s ‘Blackwater,’ but it still packed a huge punch (and a hefty production budget) as Jon Snow rallied what was left of Castle Black’s forces against the full brunt of Mance Rayder’s Wildling army. Many fell, including Jon’s fire-haired star-crossed love, Ygritte, in a ferocious fight that featured giants, Thenn cannibals, and humongous Wall-sized pendulum blades. This was a full hour of underdog heroics and spectacular stunts.”
You might also be interested in:
- The Mary Sue
- The Ringer
- Screen Rant
- Rotten Tomatoes
- Men’s Health
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.