A breathtaking season finale, — the promise of a great victory across the sea, the promise of something learned in the Citadel’s stunningly vast library — just wrapped up Game of Thrones Season 6.
There was also death. Lots of it. For all of its optimism, Season 6 was merciless, killing off characters both beloved and despised, sucker-punching us when we expected it least and streamlining the playing field in the process.
And there was a lot of greatness. This season, more than any other, Game of Thrones became something far, far more than “dragons and tits.” Theories were confirmed, the dead were revived, theories were disproved and a bastard lost his life. Above all, the entire tone of the great game changed. This is now a story of survival.
Check out the video above to replay the best of this season’s deaths, then stick around as we count down the 10 bloodiest, most memorable, most downright epic deaths of Season 6.
10. Doran Martell
“Not Doran!” screamed absolutely nobody as Ellaria Sand murdered the brother of the man she’d loved in the first of mercifully few visits to Dorne (just two, in fact) this season. It’s almost like Benioff and Weiss looked at social media during Season 5 and said “let’s do less of that.”
9. Ser Alliser Thorne
Alliser Thorne, Jon Snow’s perennial tormentor at Castle Black, deserved death the way I deserve wealth and success. By which I mean, a lot.
After his Murder on the Orient Express homage in the Season 5 finale, you knew karma would catch up with Ser Alliser — and when it did, it was glorious. To be fair to him, he took his hanging with good grace, using his last breath to disparage Jon Snow one final time. The man had his principles.
8. Walder Frey
Now that Arya has effectively taken on the role of Lady Stoneheart, vengeance is the only dish on the menu for the foreseeable future — and where better to start than with Ser Walder Frey?
The pitiful old pervert who betrayed guest right by slaughtering Catelyn, Robb and Talisa under his own roof had lived with the arrogance of a man who wanted everything for nothing, so it was fitting that he should die in a cold, dark room with nothing but an assassin and a pie filled with his own flesh and blood for company.
Was it a surprise when his servant removed her face and revealed her true identity? Of course not. I cheered anyway.
7. Lady Crane
A lot of men died in Season 6, and most of them had it coming. Lady Crane, the actress and breakout star of the excessively creepy Braavosi theater troupe, was that rare thing in Westeros: A good person simply going about her business. She was killed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, having spent the night using miracle juice to tend to Arya’s wounds. She did not deserve death.
Oh well. I suppose we’ll always have The Babadook.
6. The Waif
In stark contrast to Lady Crane, the Waif did deserve death. Consumed by jealousy over Arya’s bloodline, she despised Jaqen’s protege from the first moment they met. The Waif was no one, but she wanted desperately to be someone.
Ultimately, her envy was her undoing. Outsmarted by Arya, forced to fight in the dark where the apprentice whose blindness she had once exploited now held a clear advantage, the Waif paid the debt owed to the Many-Faced God. And it felt good.
It also gave us one of the best lines of the season, a moment of pure, undeniable, fist-pumping triumph.
5. Tommen Lannister
For all of their bravado, all the talk about paid debts and slain kings, the men of the Lannister family are by and large weak, stupid, powerless, or some combination of the three. Tommen was all of those things; manipulated by Margaery, poisoned against his own family by the High Sparrow, moulded to despise the only person who truly loved him.
Jumping from the Red Keep was the first and only time he ever took an executive decision without allowing somebody else to make him their pawn. For that, he deserves a little respect. I’m not particularly sad he’s dead, and neither, apparently, is Cersei.
Wise words from a wise woman.
4. Rickon Stark
Who was Rickon Stark? Did he play chess? Did he tell jokes? Did he have a favorite food? We’ll never know. The brutal truth is that Rickon was what Arya once aspired to be: no one. He was unimportant, a fringe figure in the great game who lived only to die.
But what a death it was. We were toyed with, led to believe Ramsay might just have missed his chance when the third arrow flew past Rickon’s shoulder. But, as Jon then learned, Ramsay Bolton is clever. He toyed with his prey. The fourth arrow was the killer, and Rickon bled out on the filth of the battlefield in seconds.
It was Game of Thrones at its most brutal and, considering Rickon’s non-presence in the show, a strangely poignant reminder that good people die.
3. Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun
Above every other death in Season 6, the murder by arrow of Wun Wun, the last giant in Westeros, seemed designed to spawn a thousand GIFs.
We never really knew Wun Wun, but he died a hero, fighting on even after taking hundreds of arrows from the Bolton men on the battlefield. Still, he was barely in heaven before he got the pleasure of watching Ramsay’s soul travel down into hell. Instant karma.
2. Margaery Tyrell And The High Sparrow
If it seems odd to consider the reluctant alliance of a smart, seductive social climber and a power-hungry religious fanatic a pairing here, He repaid her with stupidity. Their fates tragically intertwined, that stupidity that got them both killed.
The High Sparrow was possibly the best Game of Thrones villain since Tywin Lannister (I loved Ramsay as much as the next masochist, but he was not as layered as the Sparrow), a man you knew you ought to hate and yet, somehow, couldn’t. He was a riddle inside an enigma: the architect of so much chaos in King’s Landing, yet he truly seemed to want something better for the people.
Margaery, for so long the smartest woman in the Seven Kingdoms, discovered too late that no ambitious political player should ever put her fate in the hands of a man. Perhaps that’s something her old friend Sansa could learn from.
Please. It was always going to be Hodor.
It’s hard to do justice to the gentle big guy with a singular vocabulary who acted without question on every command given by Bran, keeping his traveling companion alive, all the while blissfully unaware that the Stark boy was inadvertently responsible for his mental handicap. He lived almost an entire lifetime awaiting one instruction — and when it came, Hodor was ready.
His was by some distance the saddest, most tragic death in the history of Game of Thrones.
Which was your favorite death in Season 6?
You are the Princess Shireen of the House Baratheon, and you are my daughter.