From its stunning cast to its gorgeous locations, Game of Thrones is more often than not a smorgasbord of aesthetically pleasing visuals. But in its time on HBO, it’s served up plenty of awful visuals, too. The ever-present threat of death, dismemberment, and bloody battles is enough to make most fans shield their eyes from time to time. And even if those gory scenes don’t turn your stomach, there have been many other truly gruesome storylines.
Here are the most disturbing Game of Thrones moments, ranked from least to most horrifying.
7. Joffrey’s wedding
By the time Joffrey Baratheon finally bit the dust, it’s safe to say that no one — except maybe Cersei — was sad to see him go. That doesn’t mean that the manner of his death was any less excruciating to watch. While attending his own wedding to Margaery Tyrell, Joffrey began choking. Within minutes, he was convulsing on the ground, vomiting, gasping, and bleeding from his eyes and nose. And then, he was gone.
Yes, Joffrey was a monster. But there’s still something relatively disturbing about watching anyone, let alone a child, take his last tortured, dying breath in his mother’s arms.
6. Jaime assaulting Cersei
As siblings and lovers, it goes without saying that Jaime and Cersei Lannister have a complicated relationship. But up until Season 4 of Game of Thrones, their trysts, as twisted as they are, seemed to be mostly consensual. The lack of consent, therefore, is what made their encounter in Joffrey’s tomb especially disturbing.
Jaime wanted to comfort Cersei over the death of their son by getting it on. Cersei simply wasn’t having it — but Jaime wouldn’t take no for an answer. The incest is bad enough, but throwing rape into the scenario crossed a line that seemed downright unforgivable.
5. Daenerys’ heart-y appetite
Apparently when you’re part of the Dothraki clan, consuming raw horse organs is not considered a pregnancy dietary “don’t.” We learned that fact the stomach-churning way in Season 1, when Daenerys Targaryen consumed a stallion heart as a crowd cheered her on.
The fact that Dany was eating a heart at all was pretty gross. But she really seemed to be enjoying herself, and between the blood running down her face and the oh-so-realistic sound effects that accompanied her meal, it was, without a doubt, the most unappetizing scene we’ve seen on Game of Thrones so far.
4. Shireen at the stake
There are very few characters on Game of Thrones that are purely and truly good. Shireen Baratheon, daughter of Stannis, was one of them. So it was devastating to watch when the Lord of Dragonstone took Melisandre’s advice and sacrificed his only heir to the gods.
No, we never saw Shireen go up in flames. But her frantic pleas to her parents, which soon turned to horrified screams of pain, and the reaction of Stannis’ soldiers as they watched her die, made it clear that her death was both tragic and unnecessary.
3. Theon’s torture
When Game of Thrones first began, no one would have thought that Theon Greyjoy would wind up becoming one of the most empathetic characters. But after the former playboy became Ramsay Bolton’s plaything, his story took a surprisingly unfortunate turn.
It wasn’t just that Ramsay emasculated Theon, it was how much joy he took in taunting Theon during and after the act itself that made the entire experience so painful to watch.
2. Sansa’s wedding night
When Sansa agreed to marry Ramsay, fans were wary. After all, she had no idea what a monster he was and she’d already been through enough. Ramsay, true to form, made Sansa’s wedding night a living hell when he raped her and forced Theon to watch. And in doing so, he cemented his status as the most odious character on Game of Thrones.
Sansa was still just a child when Ramsay took what little innocence she had left. And though we were spared most of the gory details surrounding his assault of her, the look on Reek’s face was enough to show us how horrifying and gruesome it was.
1. Oberyn’s showdown with the Mountain
For just a moment, it looked like Oberyn Martell might actually prevail when he took up the task of being Tyrion Lannister’s champion. Then, the Mountain overpowered the Viper and proceeded to literally smash his face in with his fingers. In terms of sheer gore, it was easily the most disturbing moment on Game of Thrones. And for sheer shock value alone, it became one of the most talked about moments in the show’s history.
It was so easy to like Oberyn, with his charm, combat skill, and solid sense of right and wrong. That, more than anything, was what made his sudden and grotesque loss so hard to stomach.
Follow Katherine Webb on Twitter @prufrox.
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