Which episode of “Game of Thrones” reigns supreme? Ahead of the eighth and final season of the epic HBO series that begins April 14, we rank all 67 episodes from worst to best.
67. Season 5, Episode 6: “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”
The infamous “Sansa rape episode.” Also dull and lazily written, with the show’s worst fight scene ever: Jaime, Bronn and the Sand Snakes.
66. Season 4, Episode 3: “Breaker of Chains”
Slow and mostly full of non-events. Also includes Jaime’s rape of Cersei.
65. Season 2, Episode 2: “The Night Lands”
Despite introducing great characters like Gilly and Pod, grating and includes one of the show’s most pointlessly exploitative sex scenes, as Littlefinger watches oral sex through a keyhole. Also: The tedious Greyjoy storyline begins.
64. Season 5, Episode 2: “The House of Black and White”
Jon Snow’s election as Night’s Watch lord commander is a lame footnote compared to the triumph it was in the books.
63. Season 6, Episode 2: “Home”
Did you know Jon Snow didn’t really die?!? The question that dominated pop-culture conversations for a year is answered in the most anticlimactic way possible.
62. Season 4, Episode 4: “Oathkeeper”
Do you remember Bran was captured by the Night’s Watch mutineers in Season 4 and that Locke was trying to kidnap him? Yeah, let’s all forget that, thanks.
61. Season 1, Episode 2: “The Kingsroad”
Has to continue the premiere’s task of setting the stage and introducing characters. Excruciatingly slow leading to the confrontation between Joffrey and Arya.
60. Season 4, Episode 5: “First of His Name”
Jon comes to execute the mutineers. Bran heads north instead of seeking out his brother. And Lysa conveniently explains that Littlefinger convinced her to poison her husband, starting the war.
59. Season 5, Episode 5: “Kill the Boy”
Ramsay’s sadistic lover Myranda starts to taunt Sansa. Dany lets her dragons burn a Meereenese master. And Olly and the Watch traitors start to hate Jon.
58. Season 5, Episode 3: “High Sparrow”
Launches the Sansa/Ramsay story, which, in addition to leading to the rape scene, returns her to being the victim she was in Season 2.
57. Season 2, Episode 1: “The North Remembers”
Tries to catch up on too much at once.
56. Season 5, Episode 4: “Sons of the Harpy”
The big Sons of the Harpy attack plays out like a sad brawl. Also: the introduction of the Sand Snakes.
55. Season 6, Episode 4: “Book of the Stranger”
Daenerys recycles her Season 1 trick — walking through fire — to escape her Dothraki captors.
54. Season 7, Episode 5: “Eastwatch”
Twiddles its thumbs before the big beyond-the-wall mission.
53. Season 2, Episode 7: “A Man Without Honor”
Xaro Xhoan Daxos’s betrayal of Daenerys is predictable, as is Jaime’s murder of his cousin.
52. Season 2, Episode 8: “The Prince of Winterfell”
Robb and his illicit love Talisa give in to their mutual attraction.
51. Season 5, Episode 1: “The Wars to Come”
Mostly a casual check-in on who’s alive, where they are — except when Jon saves Mance from being burned at the stake.
50. Season 3, Episode 10: “Mhysa”
Daenerys is hoisted up by the former Meereenese slaves.
49. Season 1, Episode 3: “Lord Snow”
Introduces a dozen or so major characters, including Littlefinger and Ser Alliser. Also has Robert endlessly telling war stories.
48. Season 3, Episode 1: “Valar Dohaeris”
Fails to deliver on the promised battle between Mormont’s Night Watch garrison and the White Walkers.
47. Season 6, Episode 3: “Oathbreaker”
Too convenient, to make things work later, that the Three-Eyed-Raven prevents Bran from following Ned into the Tower of Joy; the Umbers give up Rickon and Osha to Ramsay; and Qyburn can charm Varys’s “little birds.”
46. Season 7, Episode 6: “Beyond the Wall”
How does Gendry run to the Wall so fast? Why don’t the wights follow him? Where do the Walkers get a giant chain?
45. Season 6, Episode 1: “The Red Woman”
Despite Brienne’s rescue of Sansa and Melisandre’s big reveal, the writers invent reasons not to burn Jon Snow’s body and to get Davos to defend him.
44. Season 5, Episode 7: “The Gift”
Sansa’s continued abuse by Ramsay.
43. Season 6, Episode 6: “Blood of My Blood”
Sam returns to Horn Hill to confront his terrible father. Dany rallies the Dothraki she’s already rallied just so we can see a dragon again.
42. Season 7, Episode 7: “The Dragon and the Wolf”
The disappointing last episode for nearly two years and last before the final season. The King’s Landing summit is underwhelming. Jon and Dany’s romance is forced. The White Walkers marching beyond the Wall is a visual mess.
41. Season 3, Episode 3: “Walk of Punishment”
The writers brilliantly introduce Edmure and the Blackfish but try too hard to make Talisa a thing.
40. Season 7, Episode 2: “Stormborn”
Arya meets up again with Hot Pie. Varys oozes hatred for Melisandre. Dany questions Varys’s loyalty, weeks too late.
39. Season 4, Episode 1: “Two Swords”
Given the massive change brought on by the Red Wedding, it makes sense the series strikes a different tone, with a strong focus on the Lannisters.
38. Season 3, Episode 6: “The Climb”
Jon and Ygritte’s summit of the Wall is one of the series’ most terrifying sequences.
37. Season 1, Episode 5: “The Wolf and the Lion”
Ned and Jaime’s fight in the streets of King’s Landing. And RIP Jory Cassel, one of the show’s only purely good characters.
36. Season 7, Episode 3: “The Queen’s Justice”
Long-awaited meeting of Jon and Dany is, well, fine. People and armies seemingly teleport around Westeros. But Olenna’s last scene is one for the ages.
35. Season 2, Episode 5: “The Ghost of Harrenhal”
Renly dies, Brienne swears her oath to Catelyn, Jaqen begins his kills for Arya.
34. Season 6, Episode 8: “No One”
Arya beats the Wraith. Brienne and Jaime reunite. Dany gets back to Meereen, finally ready to fight.
33. Season 4, Episode 6: “The Laws of Gods and Men”
Hard to believe Peter Dinklage won an Emmy for Season 5 but not for his aching performance here. His trial sequence is well done.
32. Season 2, Episode 4: “Garden of Bones”
One of the weirdest and most horrifying episodes, remembered for Melisandre giving birth to the shadow demon baby.
31. Season 5, Episode 10: “Mother’s Mercy”
Good finale for a bad season. Gets Sansa out of Winterfell. Allows Brienne the justice of executing Stannis.
30. Season 2, Episode 6: “The Old Gods and the New”
Theon takes Winterfell. King’s Landing peasants riot. Also: Dany’s much-parodied “where are my dragons?” scream.
29. Season 3, Episode 2: “Dark Wings, Dark Words”
Margaery’s political brilliance is on display as she seduces and manipulates Joffrey. Also: Jaime and Brienne’s incredible fight on the bridge.
28. Season 4, Episode 7: “Mockingbird”
Oberyn agrees to fight for Tyrion. A shock ending: Littlefinger throws his meal ticket, Lysa Arryn, through the Moon Door in front of Sansa.
27. Season 1, Episode 8: “The Pointy End”
Sets up much of later seasons: Jon kills his first wight; Syrio Forel dies defending Arya; Dany fights slavery for the first time; Robb calls his banners.
26. Season 5, Episode 9: “The Dance of Dragons”
Includes one of the series’ most horrific moments — Stannis burning Shireen at the stake — and one of its most triumphant, Drogon rescuing Dany from the fighting pits.
25. Season 2, Episode 10: “Valar Morghulis”
Has the hilarious and inspired moment when Tywin Lannister’s horse defecates just before the ceremony honoring him.
24. Season 1, Episode 1: “Winter is Coming”
First episode was a pacing mess but accomplishes the overwhelming task of introducing 20 characters, disparate locations — and the stakes of the series.
23. Season 3, Episode 8: “Second Sons”
A rare moment of triumph: Sam’s defeat of the White Walker. Also: Sansa and Tyrion’s disastrous wedding.
22. Season 1, Episode 4: “Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things”
Tensions between the Starks and the Lannisters mount, and we get to know these people.
21. Season 7, Episode 1: “Dragonstone”
Opens a season with the usual check-in around the world. Dany’s is a powerful, silent scene in which she and her armies land on Dragonstone, and she touches Westerosi soil for the first time.
20. Season 2, Episode 3: “What Is Dead May Never Die”
Tyrion rules as Joffrey’s Hand with more savvy than anyone but his own father. His cleverness is shown off in a jaunty, hilarious sequence, as he gives conflicting information to different sources to suss out Cersei’s spy.
19. Season 3, Episode 7: “The Bear and the Maiden Fair”
Jaime dives into the bear pit to save Brienne and becomes a figure worth rooting for.
18. Season 4, Episode 10: “The Children”
One of the few season finales that goes all out. A monumental episode that includes the Hound and Brienne’s combat, Tyrion’s heartbreaking murders of Shae and Tywin and Bran’s arrival at the Three-Eyed-Raven’s cave.
17. Season 6, Episode 7: “The Broken Man”
The Hound’s epic return after a season and a half is worth the wait, helped by a guest appearance by Ian McShane, whose Brother Ray softens old Sandor Clegane.
16. Season 5, Episode 8: “Hardhome”
Once you get over the surprise of the White Walker battle, the sequence is messy and confusing. Still a vastly better battle scene than a good one on other series.
15. Season 4, Episode 2: “The Lion and the Rose”
The Purple Wedding, when Joffrey is poisoned at his nuptials with Margaery, is horrific from beginning to end. The lead-up to Joffrey’s frothing demise is strained but expertly executed. When the little sociopath’s life finally ends, it’s a relief. But Tyrion’s implication in the murder makes that relief fleeting.
14. Season 3, Episode 5: “Kissed by Fire”
Not all of the best episodes have battles, deaths and dragons. Sometimes, it’s love and intimacy: Jon and Ygritte consummate their love, and Jaime bares his soul to Brienne.
13. Season 1, Episode 7: “You Win or You Die”
Has Cersei’s famous line: “When you play the game of thrones, you win, or you die. There is no middle ground.” The dangers of the game are thrown into (ahem) stark relief, as Ned’s mistakes land him in a dungeon.
12. Season 7, Episode 4: “The Spoils of War”
The horror Drogon unleashes on the Lannister army is a sight to behold. The sequence never lets you get away from the fire and screams.
11. Season 1, Episode 6: “A Golden Crown”
This gets lots of little things right, from Bronn’s trial by combat for Tyrion to the wildling attack on Bran to the death by molten gold of Viserys Targaryen — the first major character to die. That set a high standard for killing off characters in shocking and meaningful ways.
10. Season 6, Episode 9: “The Battle of the Bastards”
Famous for the unbelievably brutal battle, with mountains of bodies and suffocating pits of limbs — some of the series’ most grotesquely striking visuals.
9. Season 3, Episode 4: “And Now His Watch Is Ended”
At no point have Daenerys’s dragons let loose to greater effect than in her liberation of the Unsullied.
8. Season 6, Episode 5: “The Door”
No one’s death has hit harder than that of Hodor, the sweet, simple giant who dies in the present while simultaneously being destroyed in the past.
7. Season 1, Episode 10: “Fire and Blood”
Memorable for the iconic image of Dany emerging from the ashes of her husband’s funeral pyre unharmed — and clutching three baby dragons. Also deftly handles the aftermath of Ned’s death, setting up the show to succeed without its leading man.
6. Season 4, Episode 8: “The Mountain and the Viper”
After four seasons of death and brutality, the writers still fooled fans into believing the good guy could win. But “Thrones” is not that kind of show. We might have expected Oberyn’s to win a David-vs.-Goliath victory against the Mountain. Nope.
5. Season 6, Episode 10: “The Winds of Winter”
Elegant and breathtaking opening, in which Cersei destroys the Sept of Baelor, with hundreds of her enemies inside. Scored to melodic strings, the sequence builds toward one more rollercoaster drop with Tommen’s suicide. That Daenerys also finally sails for Westeros is the cherry on top.
4. Season 1, Episode 9: “Baelor”
The series largely saves its biggest battles and most jaw-dropping moments for a season’s ninth episode. Which means its best episodes (and our top four) most often come right before the finale. Cutting off Ned Stark’s head was the coming-out party for “Thrones,” announcing the series would do anything and kill anyone in the name of storytelling. When Joffrey ordered Ned’s head off, it was a singular moment of terror and tragedy. It also showed remarkable restraint, seen through Arya’s eyes, keeping the moment of violence off-screen — which made it all the more terrifying.
3. Season 4, Episode 9: “The Watchers on the Wall”
The best battle the series has portrayed, “Watchers” is a cold and bloody examination of the themes of love, duty and honor, pitting Jon against the woman he loves as the Night’s Watch defend sCastle Black against Mance Rayder’s wildling army. This is one of the few battles to focus on infantry, not commanders. The deaths of Pyp and Grenn are among the series’ most affecting, even though they were minor characters.
2. Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”
Everyone remembers the end of this pivotal episode — the Red Wedding at which Robb, Catelyn, Talisa and the Stark army are slaughtered by Roose Bolton and the Freys. But the entire hour is a masterstroke. Mostly, the good guys prevail. Dany takes the slave city of Yunkai, Jon escapes the wildlings, and Arya finally gets close to her family. Which only makes the bloodbath more affecting. “Castamere” raised the bar for what we expect from television.
1. Season 2, Episode 9: “Blackwater”
A torrent of emotions and violence, this was the first episode to stay entirely in one location. It chronicled Stannis’s assault on King’s Landing, missing no detail. Filled with brilliant moments, from Joffrey forcing Sansa to kiss his sword to Cersei’s drunken rants to Tyrion’s profanely inspiring address to the troops. Relied on impeccable acting and writing instead of dragons or White Walkers. A masterful example of exquisitely slow-built tension followed by bittersweet relief.
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