When you play the Game of Thrones you win or you die. The winners are still alive - Cersei, Daenerys, and Jon are all duking it out for both the Iron Throne and survival itself - but the losers continue to drop like flies. With one of the longest running (and most scheming) characters, Littlefinger, biting the dust in , it's time to look back at the most satisfying deaths in the show.
Just to be clear, these aren't the most shocking or the most gruesome; no, these are the demises most deserved by the characters who played the Game of Thrones real dirty. We cheered loudest when these people met their end...
How: Executed (AKA, throat slit) by Arya Stark
It's always a major moment when an original Game of Thrones character is killed off, but there's not many around from season 1 anymore. Most, like Jon or Daenerys, were safe(ish) in season 7 and we'd find their deaths more heart-breaking than satisfying. Littlefinger on the other hand... that's different.
Petyr Baelish has been around since the start of the show and was responsible (directly or indirectly) for some of the most terrible things ever to happen in Westeros. He betrayed Ned Stark and sent him to his death, he manipulated Lysa Arryn into killing her own husband and then married and killed her, and he effectively 'sold' Sansa to the Boltons to be raped and tortured. Despite his skill for deception, all his bad deeds were bound to catch up with him eventually and that's exactly what happened in the finale episode of the last season.
Believing he'd successful managed to turn the Stark sisters against each other, he fell into their trap and was tried and executed for his many crimes. "You stand accused of murder, you stand accused of treason." Sansa says. "How do you answer these charges… Lord Baelish." After recounting his many treacheries and despite his attempts to weasel his way out of them, Sansa finds him guilty and Arya executes him by slitting his throat with his own knife. After everything he's done, there's no doubt that this was one of the best and most satisfying deaths of Game of Thrones so far.
How: Eaten alive by his own hounds
Ramsay Bolton is a character who was born to be killed off. The checklist of horrible things he’s done is endless. He’s hunted women in the woods, tortured people by flaying them alive. He sexually assaulted Sansa Stark and made Theon Greyjoy watch, a man Ramsay had tormented and castrated in the season prior. In season 6, he murdered his own father and had his mother-in-law and newborn brother fed to his dogs. This was not a nice person, which is why his death was one of the most gratifying of the series so far.
Read more: Game of Thrones season 6 review
This was a guy who spent his entire life torturing others without understanding what it was like to be tormented himself. It was simply amazing watching Sansa Stark casually walk away as Ramsay was eaten alive by his own hounds. Poetic justice at its finest. Side props to Myranda, Ramsay’s squeeze, who was flung to her death at the end of season 5.
How: Throat cut after being fed a pie made up with his sons
Walder Frey was a weasel of a man. Having murdered his guests, the Starks, at the Red Wedding, he then locked up his son-in-law, Edmure Tully, and held his newborn son hostage. He boasted about his exploits to his people and his Lannister allies, telling Jaime that they are 'not too different' because they're both survivors. Ironically, he doesn't last much longer after that claim.
In one of season 6's most satisfying moments, Arya disguises herself as a serving girl, kills Walder's two eldest sons, and serves them to him in a pie. After revealing this gruesome piece of cooking, she then grabs Walder by the head and slits his throat. Lovely. That she poisons the rest of the Freys right at the start of season 7 is the icing on the cake. Or should that be 'the lid on the pie'?
Lady Olenna Tyrell
How: Voluntarily drinking poison
What? WHAT? How the hell is Lady Olenna on this list? She's one of the show's best characters, she poisons herself, and we don't even see her die. All valid points. However, the Queen of Thorns' death is easily one of the most satisfying in the whole show because she goes out swinging, cutting Jaime Lannister's smugness with the truth about how she poisoned his son, Joffrey. She even has time to deliver one last piece of plain-speaking wisdom, as she describes the sadistic ex-King as a "c**t".
Even in death, the Queen of Thorns wins with her withering wit and utter defiance in the face of her enemy. That is what makes her passing - while sad - one of the most satisfying deaths in Game of Thrones.
Ser Meryn Trant
When: Season 5, episode 10 - Mother’s Mercy
How: Stabbed by Arya Stark
Arya’s becoming quite the little assassin on Game of Thrones. She’s killed Polliver, Rorge, the Waif, Walder Frey, Littlefinger, and... well, all the rest of them. However, Ser Meryn Trant is definitely her most important kill, for more reasons than ‘he liked to beat up little girls.’ Although trust me, that’s a huge reason. Ser Meryn Trant was a monster. He followed Joffrey’s orders without question, going so far as to physically strike Sansa on more than one occasion before Joffrey told him to. In a way, by killing him, Arya got justice for Sansa, even if she didn’t know it. Meryn was also kind of a stubborn weakling, refusing to fight when he didn’t want to on the grounds that ‘the king wouldn’t approve.’
Meryn was also the first person Arya’s killed from her list. That’s not to say he was the first one to die. Joffrey and his grandfather Tywin Lannister were both killed in season 4, along with the Mountain (who was brought back to half-life) and, as far as she knew, The Hound (who, as it turns out, is not so dead after all). By stabbing Ser Meryn Trant, who she believes killed her sword master Syrio Forel, Arya forever solidified that she couldn’t become ‘no one.’ But he could. Because he’s dead.
Xaro Xhoan Daxos (and Doreah)
When: Season 2, episode 10 - Valar Morghulis
How: Locked in a vault and left
Seriously, this goober. Xaro was the wealthiest man in Qarth, and the only member of The Thirteen who’d earned his seat instead of inheriting it. But, he wasn’t content with being rich, successful, and powerful. He was basically the Thrones’ version of a Disney princess, always wanting more. First, he tried marrying Daenerys to attach himself to her coattails. When that didn’t work, he stole her dragons and declared himself King of Qarth.
Unfortunately for Xaro, Dany’s dragons are more apt to burn buildings to the ground than surrender, so Daenerys was able to steal them away from the House of the Undying pretty quickly. And once she came across Xaro and Doreah, her servant-turned-betrayer, she locked them in a vault of riches to slowly starve to death in the dark. That’s a nasty way to go.
How: Found guilty of treason and hanged
Forget Joffrey. Forget Ramsay. For a while, Olly was the most hated character on Game of Thrones. Nay, on television itself. Olly was Jon Snow’s steward who broke his oath to protect that Lord Commander by, you know, stabbing him to death. We all knew it was coming. Olly clearly didn’t like Jon Snow’s partnership with the Wildlings since they murdered his entire family, but the moment Olly shot Snow’s girlfriend with an arrow, I lost all sympathy for that little snot.
I think a lot of fans had a mixed reaction to Alliser Thorne’s death. He wasn't well liked but he explained his mutiny well. He was a man dedicated to the Night’s Watch and he didn’t want to see it come to an end for one man’s principles (which it believe it would if Jon Snow continued as Lord Commander). But Olly was just a punk kid who no one cared about. In fact, his death was one of the most celebrated in Game of Thrones’ history. Kinda creepy considering he was just a kid. Still, screw Olly.
When: Season 4, episode 10 - The Children
How: Shot with a crossbow by his on Tyrion while he was on the toilet
Sometimes it’s hard to remember just how much power Tywin Lannister had over the Seven Kingdoms, but for a while he was a force to be reckoned with. Tywin was the Hand of the King for both Joffrey and Tommen Baratheon, as well as the former Mad King Targaryen, and he knew what he was doing the entire time. He’s exerted an amazing amount of power over the decades, ruling the kingdoms more than any of his royal children ever could.
What’s amazing is not that he died, but rather how he died. For years, Tywin resented his son Tyrion for being a dwarf and supposedly killing his wife in childbirth. As such, he’d taken great measure to torture his son, including forcing Tyrion to watch as the woman he loved, a prostitute, was paid to sleep with an entire group of guards. Tyrion was the one to finally kill him off, shooting him with a crossbow as he sat over the toilet in his pajamas. It was gratifying to see such an imposing man killed during such an embarrassing moment.
When: Season 4, episode 7 - Mockingbird
How: Pushed out of the Moon Door
Lysa Arryn wasn’t the most ruthless or dangerous of all the characters on this list, but she was definitely one of the weirdest. She was a woman unhinged, driven insane by jealousy. She was constantly envious of her sister, Catelyn Stark, and her daughter, Sansa, going so far as to threaten to murder Sansa because she thought her niece was seducing Petyr Baelish. Lysa murdered her own husband and framed the Lannisters, supposedly to gain Petyr’s favor. Then, of course, there was the whole ‘I’m going to breastfeed my preteen son in front of everyone’ thing.
When Petyr declared that he’d only ever loved Lysa’s sister Catelyn right before pushing her through the Moon Door she’d used to kill so many other people, it was one of the most fun deaths we’ve ever had on the show. Sure it looked silly, but it was just so delightfully devious to watch.
When: Season 1, episode 6 - A Golden Crown
How: Melted with gold
Viserys’ death is especially satisfying because it was the first ‘deserved’ death we ever really got on the series. He was Daenerys’ brother, a little meathead who basically sold her off to Khal Drogo in exchange for an army. Once Dany started becoming more beloved amongst the Dothraki, in particularly Khal Drogo himself, Viserys became more impatient and stupid. He threatened her several times and suffered on every occasion, including being forced to lose his horse, a big disgrace amongst the Dothraki.
After Viserys broke the law by brandishing a sword in the ‘no weapons’ city of Vaes Dothrak, Khal Drogo delivered on his promise of giving Viserys a ‘golden crown’ and basically murdered him by pouring molten gold on top of his head. The thud his head made as it hit the ground solidified that not all of the deaths of Game of Thrones would be sad, that some of them could feel really good.
When: Season 4, episode 2 - The Lion and the Rose
How: Poisoned at his own wedding
The death we wanted. The death we needed. And the death we deserved.
Joffrey Baratheon was one of those characters we couldn’t wait to see axed off. From the series premiere to his horrific end at the Purple Wedding, Joffrey was the nastiest piece of work out there. He was selfish, arrogant, stupid, and infantile. I mean, who didn’t love it when Tyrion Lannister slapped him in the face over and over again?
However, as the series went on, we found out there was more to Joffrey than being immature and petty. He had a real darkness to him that manifested in unpredictable ways. He put Ned Stark’s head on a pike and forced Sansa to look at it. He paid Petyr Baelish for prostitutes he could force to painfully whip one another. In one case, he even murdered one with a crossbow. It’s no surprise Margaery’s Grandmother ensured Joffrey’s glass of wine was poisoned, because she didn’t want her daughter married to such a monster. His death was also one of the longest and most painfully uncomfortable ones we’ve ever gotten on the series so far, slowly choking for air as his face turned purple.