How Will 'Game of Thrones' "The Children" Stack Up To The Show's Past 3 Finales?

When a show's penultimate episode features a $12 million battle, the death of a major character, and the biggest, most complicated production in the series' entire history, you'd think the actual finale would be a little more calm. Then again, most shows aren't Game of Thrones. According to showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, Sunday's final episode, "The Children," will not only be the show's longest hour so far, but also the greatest finale that the series has ever had.

“It’s the best finale we’ve ever done, bar none,” they said in a statement on Tuesday. “The performances from our cast, the direction from Alex Graves, the VFX work, the new [music] cues from Ramin Djawadi—all of it came together in perhaps the finest hour we’ve produced."

Well, that's a way to peak viewers' interest. Benioff and Weiss' statement is certainly a hefty one for a series' showrunners to make, but we don't doubt that Thrones will live up to their expectations. After all, while the series' past finales may not have been quite as action-packed or game-changing as "The Children" will likely be, they were pretty fantastic. A look back:

Season 1 — "Fire and Blood"

Penultimate episode: "Baelor," in which Ned Stark was beheaded. Kinda a big deal.

What happened: Not much. Mostly, the Starks grieve, Jon Snow goes beyond the wall, and Robb gets named "King of the North." We all know how that ends. Oh, and Dany hatches her dragons.

Impact on the series: Well, the dragons are still here, so that's something. Otherwise, the episode was more about calming viewers down after Ned Stark's execution than advancing the plot.

Season 2 — "Valar Morghulis"

Penultimate episode: "Blackwater," which was the biggest, bloodiest battle in Thrones history until "The Watchers on the Wall" came along.

What happened: Tyrion wakes up from his injuries, Sansa gets rid of Joffrey (for now...), Robb marries Talisa, Arya escapes, and Sam gets his first view of White Watchers.

Impact on the series: All those things mattered, but the finale wasn't any more important than any other episode that season.

Season 3 — "Mhysa"

Penultimate episode: "The Rains of Castamere," otherwise known as "The Red Wedding." So... yeah.

What happened: Nothing nearly as traumatic as the episode before it, thankfully. Well, unless you count Theon going through hell and becoming Reek, but hey, he had it coming.

Impact on the series: Not too much. The finale, like the series' first, was devoted to helping viewers' recover from the prior episode, and although certain storylines mattered — Dany being called "mhysa" by the Unsullied, for instance — most of them made no major impact.

Season 4 — "The Children"

Penultimate episode: "The Watchers on the Wall," last week's giant, stunning battle.

What happened: From Benioff and Weiss, we know that we'll learn about Tyrion's fate, Jon Snow's assassination attempt on Mance Rayder, Arya's post-laughing decision, and something involving Dany.

Impact on the series: It's going to be huge. Thrones fans, get ready.

Images: HBO