Game of Thrones keeps reminding us that all men (women, and children) must die, that doesn't make their death scenes any easier to stomach. While some characters' demise have been met with cheers — Viserys, Joffrey, Ramsay, and Littlefinger chief among them — others were a cause for mourning. After all, who doesn't remember Ned Stark's shocking execution in Season 1 or the traumatic Red Wedding from Season 3? If the most tragic deaths on Game of Thrones have taught us anything, it's that no one is safe in Westeros — whether it's innocent children or the Mother of Dragons.
However, another lesson the HBO series has driven home is that not everyone who dies stays dead. Case in point: Jon Snow, who was betrayed by the Night's Watch and literally stabbed in the back before Melisandre brought him back to life. Then there was Beric Dondarrion who resurrected countless times before his final death at Winterfell. Even The Mountain was "mostly dead" (to quote
The Princess Bride) before Qyburn did his weird pseudo-science on him. And although it's never mentioned in the show, George R. R. Martin hinted in the books that Catelyn Stark had resurrected as a character named Lady Stoneheart.
So whatever your thoughts on
Game of Thrones Season 8 or that divisive series finale, let's pour one out for the 21 characters who bit the dust in particularly tragic ways. Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO Season 7, Episode 3. While these two weren't necessarily on "the good side," what Cersei did to them was unforgivable. The queen first bound and gagged the mother and daughter, then kissed Tyene Sand on the lips with the same poison that had killed her daughter, Myrcella. In doing this, the queen forced Ellaria to watch her little girl die and decompose. If audiences didn't know how cold-hearted Cersei really was, they did now. Season 4, Episode 10. Although Shae knew how much Tyrion hated his father, he discovered that she was sleeping with Tywin Lannister, too. Not only that, but the sex worker testified against Tyrion during his trial for supposedly murdering Joffrey. This was unforgivable in his eyes, and he strangled her to death in a brutal scene. Season 1, Episode 10. This happened so long ago, and Drogo wasn't much of a talker, so it's hard to be too sad about his death. However, it was certainly tragic for Dany, who lost her child and husband in one fell swoop. Season 4, Episode 8. In order to get revenge on The Mountain for raping and murdering his sister, then killing her children, Oberyn volunteered to be Tyrion's champion in a trial by combat. And while he succeeded in (mostly) killing Gregor Clegane, the Martell met an...explosive end. Season 8, Episode 5. While his death was all but guaranteed — especially after that tearful goodbye he shared with Brienne — it was still sad to watch him go. That said, it was fitting that Jaime and Cersei died together. Season 8, Episode 3. Dany's right-hand man had always been in love with her, and he died defending her from wights during the Battle of Winterfell. Ser Jorah was a tragic figure, but it's comforting that he died a hero. Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO Season 5, Episode 10. Myrcella's death would have been more harrowing if we'd known anything about her. But although Jaime and Cersei's daughter didn't have much screen-time or personality, it was still shocking to see her begin choking while she and her father were on their way home from Dorne. Season 8, Episode 3. Theon more than redeemed himself by the time he met his demise in the godswood. Although he initially betrayed the Starks, the score was evened after Ramsay Bolton kidnapped, tortured, and castrated the Greyjoy. And in a particularly touching moment before he charged at the Night King to defend Bran, the Three-Eyed Raven assured him, "You're a good man. Thank you." Season 1, Episode 2. Mycah was simply pretending to sword-fight with Arya when Joffrey ruined everything. As the young Stark attempted to protect her friend, Nymeria burst onto the scene and bit Joffrey. And although we didn't see him get murdered onscreen, audiences saw the Hound leading his horse through camp, with Mycah's limp body slung over the saddle like a piece of meat. Season 8, Episode 3. The Lady of Bear Island was a young, fierce leader who lost her life defending Winterfell from the Night King. Before she was crushed to death by a giant wight, she was able to stab him with dragonglass — thus taking him down with her. Season 6, Episode 10. After the young king witnessed the sept being blown sky high by his mother's command, Tommen wordlessly jumped out of the Red Keep window. The Baratheon was a sweet, pure boy and wasn't able to stomach what had just happened, and his suicide was a shocking moment of television. Season 3, Episode 9. Although she was cruel to Jon until the bitter end, Catelyn was simply looking out for her family when she made a deal with Walder Frey. The two decided that, in exchange for passage through the Green Fork in order to attack the Lannister's army, her eldest son would marry one of his daughters. Unfortunately, Robb married a woman named Talisa, instead, and the Freys retaliated in the most brutal way imaginable. Season 6, Episode 9. Although we never really got to know the youngest Stark boy, that Ramsay Bolton gleefully sent him running across the field before the Battle of the Bastards — only to shoot him down with arrows — was heartbreaking. Season 4, Episode 9. "We should have stayed in that cave," a dying Ygritte told Jon, wistfully. But the star-crossed lovers were on opposite sides — he a member of the Night's Watch and she a wildling. As a result, Ygritte was taken down by the young Olly, who eventually stabbed Jon in the back. Season 5, Episode 10. Although this scene is considerably less painful in retrospect, let's not forget how shocking Jon's death was in the moment. The Night's Watch was furious with their Lord Commander for making an alliance with the wildlings and murdered him for it. And while Melisandre brought him back in Season 6, audiences had to wait on pins and needles for nearly a year, hoping against hope that this wasn't really the end for Jon Snow. Season 8, Episode 4. When The Mountain executed Daenerys's handmaiden at the tail-end of "The Last of the Starks," Twitter went into an uproar. And rightfully so — Missandei was one of the only people of color on Game of Thrones, and to see the innocent character butchered was too much for fans to take. What's more, she and Grey Worm had just made plans to go to the beach, and now they'd — tragically — never get to go. Season 3, Episode 9. All these two love birds wanted to do was get married (which they did), have their baby (which they'd agreed to name Eddard if it was a boy), and not get murdered by the Freys. No such luck. Season 1, Episode 2. Maybe it's weird to put an animal so high on this list, but I can't get through that scene of Ned approaching Lady without crying hysterically. What's so tragic about the death of Sansa's direwolf is that she did absolutely nothing wrong — it was Nymeria who attacked Joffrey (not that Arya's direwolf deserved to die, either). But since Arya had already sent her pet away, the Baratheons decided to retaliate by killing Lady, instead. Ned volunteered to do the deed out of respect for the animal, and the look of excitement on her face when she saw Ned coming was absolutely gut-wrenching — even in retrospect. Season 1, Episode 9. When did you first discover that Game of Thrones was killing off Ned "Big Papa" Stark? Eddard had just discovered who Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen's real father was (Jaime, duh), and Cersei had him imprisoned for it. Against both his mother's and Sansa's advice, however, the hot-headed Joffrey decided to have Ser Ilyn Payne execute Ned for his impertinence, while his two daughters watched. Season 6, Episode 5. No Game of Thrones fan will be able to view the phrase, "Hold the door!" the same way again. As Bran discovered during his training with the Three-Eyed Raven, Hodor wasn't always mentally disabled. In fact, Bran was the one who caused it while warging into young Wylis (as he was called at the time). What's more, audiences discovered that the gentle giant had been repeating his final instructions the majority of his life. "Hodor" in fact meant, "Hold the door," which is what he did in his last moments. You were the best of us, Hodor, and we salute you. Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO Season 5, Episode 9. This poor little girl had both a tragic life and death. Stannis Baratheon's only child, Shireen was unloved by her mother and had facial scars from a since-cured case of greyscale. The only person who ever really loved her was Ser Davos, who understood the sweet, intelligent person Shireen really was. In fact, it was she who taught the Onion Knight how to read.
Unfortunately, Melisandre decided that in order for Stannis to become Azor Ahai (which he wasn't), they would have to burn Shireen at the stake. Which they did — to audiences horror and for absolutely no reason. It was the most grueling scene in
Game of Thrones history and is just as difficult to rewatch.
And now our
Game of Thrones watch has ended. Am I crying, or is Ser Davos cutting onions again?