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GAME OF THRONES’ Saddest Moments (So Far)

Being a viewer of Game of Thrones and/or a reader of A Song of Ice and Fire is like voluntarily having your heart squeezed by a monster. George R.R. Martin‘s world of fantasy, magic, dragons, and ice zombies is rooted in a realism that makes the story enthralling, but also happens to crush our will to live. People die the way they do in life–not because of descriptions of good and evil or right and wrong, and certainly without consideration of what we want or think should happen. No, life is unflinching and inconsiderate, often horrible and sad, and so is Game of Thrones. It’s why when you realize that this week, (June 2nd, 2013) marks four years since season 3’s “The Rains of Castemere,” you have a knot in your stomach. (Oh, you didn’t know that? Well, sorry, but now you get to feel awful like we do.)

So because a good cry can be cathartic, we’re going to do it together, by listing our top 5 saddest moments from the show. Though, be warned, these are freaking brutal.

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HONORABLE MENTION (Happy Tears Edition)

  • Brienne Swears Her Sword to Sansa Stark
  • Bran Sees His Father, Uncle, and Aunt as Children at Winterfell
  • Sansa is Reunited With Jon at Castle Black

Season six has been the most cry-inducing season yet, and we still have four episodes to go. This is only going to get worse, isn’t it? A lot worse. There’s even more from this year (understatement), including this next one.

  • Daenerys Tells Jorah to Find a Cure for Greyscale and Return to Her

“Wherever it is in this world, I command you to heal yourself, and then return to me. When I take the Seven Kingdoms I need you by my side.”

Jorah has been sent away/left three times, and while this one saw him get his deserved redemption, it was still the saddest of them all. (I love Jorah, and the first two banishments made me more angry than sad, where this moment turned on the waterworks.)

  • Every Scene With Princess Shireen and Ser Davos

Can’t discuss this now. Never going to be able to.


  • Oberyn Tells Tyrion He Will Be His Champion

This was amazing…until it wasn’t. But in the moment, this was an incredible moment between two of the best, most likable characters on the show.

  • Jon’s Night’s Watch Brothers Bring Him Back By Repeating Their Vows

These vows are going to make you sad later.


  • Stannis Sacrifices His Daughter Shireen

Nope. Nooooooope.

  • The Hound Tells Arya How His Brother Burned His Face
  • Cersei’s Reactions To the Deaths of Her Children
  • Cersei’s Walk of Atonement

Two characters you might not expect to make you sad, but they did. Yes, Joffrey dying was great, but watch Cersei hold him at the end and try not to feel awful for her, just like at the end of her “shame” walk. Also, The Hound, for all his cursing and murdering, was one of the saddest figures on the show. That revealing speech was brutal.

  • Maester Aemon’s Death

“Egg, I dreamed that I was old.” And we all cried like babies, so it was tough all around.


  • Khaleesi Sends Jorah Away In Disgrace–Twice

We’re glad this worked out–minus the Greyscale.

  • Theon Beheads Ser Rodrik Cassel

Ser Rodrik tells Bran he’s going to see his father, then Theon wasn’t strong enough to do it in one swipe. Oof.

  • Ned Kills Lady, Arya Sends Nymeria Away, Summer Sacrifices Himself For Bran

Can’t wait to see the awful way Ghost dies.

  • Grenn Says The Night’s Watch Vows As the Giant Comes Through the Tunnel

God this show is sad. At least nothing else bad ever happens at Castle Black.

  • Ygritte is Killed by Olly
  • Jon Snow is Killed by His Own Night’s Watch Brothers

Oh. Right.


5) The Mountain Kills Oberyn During a Trial by Combat

“Elia Martell–I killed her children, then I raped her, then I smashed her head in–like this!”

Oberyn might not have been around long, but he was one of the best characters, and his death/failed revenge on the man who killed his sister and her children, wasn’t just terrible because his head was squished like a ripe peach, but because it meant innocent Tyrion was guilty in the eyes of the gods. The worst is how we all forgot for a second who wrote this, and we thought we were getting an awesome moment. Shame on us. At least we all learned our lesson then…didn’t we? No, we didn’t.

4) Jaime Gives Brienne Oathkeeper and a New Squire

“They say the best swords have names. Any ideas?”

A stunner! A moment that made us cry for good reasons. Jaime’s redemption and friendship with Brienne of Tarth reached its bittersweet end when the two said goodbye with a wonderful, heartbreaking moment, all while throwing lovable Podrick Payne into the mix. Not all the sad moments on this show are about someone dying, rarely it’s about people actually caring for one another, and this was the best.

3) The Red Wedding

“The Lannisters send their regards.”

This scene didn’t make me cry in the moment, I was too furious for that, but my god it’s just horrible. Forget all the Northmen that died, forget pregnant Talisa being stabbed in her stomach, or Roose Bolton putting a dagger through Robb, or even Arya getting there just in time to see it all unfold, Catelyn’s screaming is enough to get you. I know people that stopped reading the books after this scene, and you know what, they must not hate themselves. So good for them.

2) Ned is Executed for Treason

“Ser Ilyn, bring me his head.”

Ned Stark is the greatest man to ever live, in Westeros or anywhere else, real or fictional. This is so horrible, even more horrible than you remember. Sansa is screaming, Arya is being told not to watch by Yoren, while everyone pleads with Joffrey to stop, and then Ned looks for his daughters, sadly realizes what is coming, while the noise drifts away, and he lowers his neck so he can be killed with his own family sword. As a devout man of House Stark I’m surprised this isn’t number one either, but we could see this coming. Almost everything Ned did to this point was a mistake, his tragic flaw being that he was too good a man. I don’t think I will ever get over this, and the show filmed it in a truly breathtaking manner that captured the sadness of it all.

1) The Origin of Hodor’s Name and Death

“Hold the door.”

This is not recency bias. This was the saddest thing I have ever seen or read in any work of fiction. Poor Wyllas’s whole life was a giant sacrifice he had no real option in making. Just quiet a hero the world will never really know, making a sacrifice that went well beyond just giving his life to it. The kid who played young Hodor screaming those words should win an Emmy. He should win two. I spent thirty minutes after this ended unable to talk.

That’s our list. We know not everyone will agree, but at least we all feel awful now. What’s really scary is how with the way this season is going none of these top 5 saddest moments might make the list by the finale in four weeks, let alone by the series finale.

So what did we miss? What are some of the other saddest moments that should be on here? Tell us in the comments below so we can all share a good cry together.

Images: HBO

Cheer yourself up with our Game of Thrones rom com trailer, When Brienne Met Tormund:

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