One of the best and worst things about the Game of Thrones creators is that they’re not afraid to shock us. Anybody -including the heroes we’ve been rooting for from the beginning- is capable of dying, which means that the season finales are always an event to remember. Here are some of the most memorable season finales that have kept us talking until the next season begins.
4) The Children (Season 4, Episode 10):
For an entire season, we’ve witnessed Tyrion at his absolute lowest. Betrayed by Shae, falsely accused of murdering Joffrey, he seems broken in spirit. But in this shocking final episode, he breaks out of prison with a crossbow and a few choice words for the father who has always scorned him.
It’s a glorious moment when Tyrion kills him in the privy, but also a tremendously sad one: it marks the moment when Tyrion severs the last of his bonds to the Lannisters. It’s also a moment of betrayal: he kills Shae after finding her in his father’s bed. What happens next? We have absolutely no idea where Game of Thrones is headed after this. (Coincidentally, as he breaks out, Daenarys is imprisoning her dragons in the catacombs of Meereen. This is another plot development that shortens the odds on our Mother of Dragons.)
3) Mhysa (Season 3, Episode 10):
The Red Wedding is a hard act to follow, but this Season 3 finale does not disappoint. We learn that it was Tywin who masterminded the massacre of the Starks, and that it is Ramsay who has captured Theon. This is an episode that does a fantastic job of moving the chess pieces around the board so that they’ll be ready for the events of Season 4. Jon escapes from Ygritte and heads to Castle Black, a grieving Arya kills some men who mock her brother’s death (foreshadowing!) and Jaime is back in the capital with Cersei. The standout moment of the episode is surely the unforgettable scene where the now-freed Yunkai hoist Daenarys above the crowd, chanting “Mhysa” (mother).
2) Fire and Blood (Season 1, Episode 10) :
‘Fire and Blood’ is the motto of House Targaryen, telling us that this finale will be focused on Daenarys. And even though the North is busy seceding from King’s Landing, the meat of the episode is undoubtedly in Lhazar, where Khaleesi is tackling some big problems. Khal Drogo is in a vegetative state, and her unborn son is dead. It’s a moment that would bring any queen to despair, but then of course Dany is a dragon queen. She takes her fate into her own hands: first she smothers her husband out of pity and then walks into his funeral pyre. We watch with bated breath – will she meet the same fate as her unfortunate brother Viserys? – but quickly realise that fire cannot harm a dragon. Daenarys emerges from the ashes, completely unharmed, with three freshly-hatched dragons. Westeros will have hell to pay.
1) The Winds of Winter (Season 6, Episode 10):
Showrunners Benioff and Weiss decided to introduce a new piano score especially for this episode, and it is a decision that pays off spectacularly. The first moments of the episode cut between the preparations for the trial and the preparations for Cersei’s wildfire explosion. As the characters settle their collars and adjust their suits of armour, we feel that nervous dread that tells us something is going to happen. But when it happens, it surpasses our wildest expectations: the Sept of Baelor explodes in an enormous cloud of green smoke, incidentally taking out all of Cersei’s enemies and establishing her as the undisputed ruler of the Iron Throne. Meanwhile, Daenarys takes to the sea to challenge her, and we get a stunning visual of her dragons flying- finally!- to Westeros.