As a rule of thumb, the bloodier and more gruesome a death on “Game of Thrones,” the better. That’s especially true if you are avenging the death of a family member or defending the honor of your kingdom. As a result, we’ve seen more than our fair share of torture scenes, bloody combat scenes, and executions on “Game of Thrones.” Here are some of the most brutal and gruesome of them all.
#1: Viserys wears the crown of molten gold
In Season 1, Episode 6, we get an early taste of the cruel and unusual punishments that are on the way for anyone who dares to cross the brutal Dothraki, led by Khal Drogo and his new wife, Daenerys Targaryen. For the first five episodes of Season 1, we see Viserys constantly fondling and threatening his sister Daenerys, until she finally agrees to be married off to the brutal Khal Drogo. The goal of Viserys, of course, is not her happiness, but rather the warriors and horses that he will receive to take over the Iron Throne in King’s Landing.
But Viserys pushes things too far – he starts to demand a golden crown and some respect from Khal Drogo. He wanders in to a party drunk one night, and threatens Daenerys, Khal Drogo and their unborn son. Khal Drogo, in a feat of silent rage, decides to give Viserys a golden crown – but one made of molten gold. He pours the molten gold on his head, instantly killing him and sending a warning to any others who threaten him or the young khaleesi.
#2: The bloody carnage of the Red Wedding
Perhaps one of the most famous – and most gruesome – scenes of “Game of Thrones” was the Red Wedding scene in Season 3, Episode 9. The Internet had a collective freak-out after the episode aired, mostly because it was so dastardly. Here’s what went down: Robb Stark and his pregnant wife Talisa, accompanied by their mother Catelyn, are invited to a wedding of Lord Walder Frey. The whole invitation is a bit sketchy, especially since Robb Stark had previously turned down the marriage with Roslin in favor of Talisa, but this was supposed to be a way of making amends and bringing peace between the two families.
At one point during the wedding, though, the doors to the wedding hall are locked and sealed shut. Then the musical tune “Rains of Castamere” begins to play – it’s a sure tip-off because the song is a Lannister family song, and the agreement between the Freys and the Starks was that they would unite against the House of Lannister. Then Catelyn Stark notices that one of the men next to her is wearing a hidden suit made of chain mail… at a wedding? But it’s too late – assassins appear out of nowhere, arrows rain down on the Northmen in attendance, and a particularly dastardly assassin repeatedly stabs Talisa in her pregnant belly. But that’s not all – Catelyn Stark is brought down by an arrow, and then a man comes behind her and slits her throat as blood spills out. The camera, of course, lingers on her face so that you can witness the full horror of the scene.
#3: Arya Stark slits the throat of Walder Frey
Later, though, we witness the full revenge of Arya Stark, who has to bear the fact that her mother and brother were brutally killed at the Red Wedding. She arranges for Lord Walder Frey to eat a pie with his sons baked into it – and then she slits his throat. Revenge, as they say, is a dish best served cold. And there’s no colder dish than a cold pie with your dead kids baked into it!
#4: The boy-king Joffrey sadistically murders the prostitute Ros
We know from the very outset that the boy-king Joffrey, himself the evil incestuous spawn of Jaime and Cersei, is up to no good. At one point, he contemplates murdering his bride-to-be, Sansa Stark, with a crossbow. People are noticeably concerned, and decide to allay his appetite for sick and sadistic pleasure by giving him two prostitutes – Ros and Daisy – to toy with. When they arrive, Joffrey instructs Ros to start beating Daisy with a whip while he looks on contented. Then he gets bored and decides to have Ros start beating Daisy with a huge club.
Later, we learn that Joffrey is thinking of something “new and daring.” Yes, this time, he is ready to follow through on his crossbow idea, but this time with the prostitute Ros. Her days were already numbered because she had been trading secret information to the spymaster Littlefinger – and now she’s about to pay the ultimate price. Once she’s given over to Joffrey, he ties her to the bedpost of his bed and begins to use her as target practice. Yes, he fires arrows from his crossbow, thereby pinning her to his bed as a bloody trophy. The lesson we learn in Season 3, Episode 6, is that “Chaos is not a pit, it’s a ladder.” And that’s what Joffrey is about to do – he is going to try to climb that ladder of chaos.
#5: The head of the Red Viper explodes
Some of the bloodiest scenes involve mortal combat, and one of the most memorable of these came from Season 4, Episode 8. There’s been a long-standing feud between “the Red Viper” (i.e. Oberyn Martell) and “The Mountain” (Gregor Clegane) and they decide to settle things on the battlefield. The Red Viper wants full vengeance for the brutal rape and murder of his sister. So we witness a trial by combat. At one point, the Red Viper thinks he has won, and has The Mountain pinned to the ground. He looks up to the crowd, and thinks that vengeance is finally his. But wait a minute! The Mountain picks himself up off the ground, grabs the Red Viper, punches him in the mouth, and then proceeds to gouge his eyes out. And he does it so hard and with so much force that the head of the Red Viper literally explodes. OMG.
This, too, is a tale of revenge gone horribly, horribly wrong. Theon Greyjoy has been tortured and castrated, and there’s nothing more that he wants than to plunder and pillage Winterfell and punish the House of Stark. When he finally gets his chance, he decides to behead the Master-of-Arms of Winterfell, Ser Rodrick Cassel. But Theon Greyjoy needs to brush up on his medieval execution techniques! He needs four clumsy thwacks of the sword to sever the head of the House of Stark ally, and even then, he needs a final shove of his boot to dislodge the head, where it then rolls along the ground. It’s hard and painful to watch.
#7: A villager is eaten alive by rats
Punishments and torture scenes seem to get more original and more creative as the series moves along. In Season 2, Episode 4, we get a particularly brutal execution scene. Gregor (“The Mountain”) Clegane is in search of the Brotherhood and their treasure, and so he asks his henchman Tickler to interrogate the local villagers to find out their location.
Tickler and Weasel pick one villager out of the crowd and strap him down so that he can’t move. They proceed to ask him questions about the Brotherhood, but he won’t give them an answer. So Weasel straps a bucket full of rats to the man’s chest. He still won’t give up any answers, but he’s looking understandably panicked. So Weasel heats up the bucket with a torch. The heat and flame cause the rats to start burrowing into the chest cavity of the man – as you might imagine, the fright and pain sends the villager into a state of shock. And, the whole time, the other prisoners are forced to watch this act of barbarity.
Of course, these seven scenes are not the only scenes of brutality and depravity that have occurred during the seven seasons of “Game of Thrones.” What about the time (Season 5, Episode 10) when Arya gouges a man’s eye out and then stabs him? Or the time when Ramsay Snow is murdered by a pack of ravenous dogs (Season 6, Episode 9)? Or the time when Khal Drogo of the Dothraki rips out the threat of his rival Mago who dares to challenge him (Season 1, Episode 10)?
And, of course, there’s the scene at the end of Season 5 where Jon Snow is stabbed to death by all the members of the Night’s Watch. That might have been a hard-to-stomach scene, but as we know now, he somehow miraculously comes back to life in Season 6, and now seems to be the odds-on favorite to win the Iron Throne. So maybe a little death and chaos is good for the career after all!
One thing is certain – the scale and scope of the death and violence in “Game of Thrones” is truly staggering. When a villager being eaten alive by rats barely cracks the Top 10 list of scenes, you know that there’s been some pretty epic violence along the way.