‘Game of Thrones’: Fans Say These Are the Best Episodes
Now that Game of Thrones has finally ended, it’s safe to say that fans will not be ranking the finale of the show among their favorite episodes. Generally speaking, the most enthused reaction seems to be something along the lines of: “I was fine with it.”
The Change.org petition to remake the final season keeps gaining more and more signatures and is up to 1.4 million at the time of this writing. It’s worth noting that’s only a fraction of the number of people who watched. Vulture critic Matt Zoller Seitz called the finale “the most lavish display of narrative housekeeping in TV history:”
But enough about the negative stuff. Even the most disgruntled fans would probably agree that on balance, the series gave us much more good than bad. So with that in mind, we present a ranking of the seven best episodes of Game of Thrones, as ranked by IMDB users, from least great to most great.
‘The Children,’ Season 4, Episode 10
At the Wall, Stannis Baratheon makes a surprise rescue of the Night’s Watch. Meanwhile, Bran Stark and his companions race through skeletons to meet the Three-Eyed Raven and the Children of the Forest. Daenerys chains her dragons, Tyrion murders his father and his ex-girlfriend. Brienne defeats the Hound, and Arya leaves him for dead. That sounds like the plot outline for an entire season, and that’s just one episode.
‘Blackwater,’ Season 2, Episode 9
If Game of Thrones used the Friends episode-naming method, this would be called The One Where Everything Explodes into Green Flames. Tyrion Lannister’s boat filled with “wildfire” detonates spectacularly, accompanied by screams of terror. Some say that war looks too “grand” in movies and TV to convey the true horrors of conflict. The consensus is that this episode is an exception.
‘The Spoils of War,’ Season 7, Episode 4
The climax shows Jon Snow and Daenerys consummating their relationship for the first time as Arya Stark returns to Winterfell. The Dothraki horde and Daenerys’ dragon wipe out the Lannister army. This is the most compelling kind of conflict, where it can be difficult, if not impossible, to root for one side over the other. As Stephen Stills once sang: “Nobody’s right, if everybody’s wrong.”
‘The Winds of Winter,’ Season 6, Episode 10
Cersei Lannister wins and loses as she becomes undisputed Queen of the Seven Kingdoms, only to lose her son Tommen to suicide in the bargain. Walder Frey wins in toasting victory over his enemies and then loses when Arya feeds him his sons for dinner, then kills him. Jon Snow is crowned King in the North, while Daenerys heads towards the Seven Kingdoms with an enormous alliance backing her. And winter rears its cold and ugly head.
‘Battle of the Bastards,’ Season 6, Episode 9
The title may sound like a gaudy wrestling match, but director Alan Taylor would call this one “the greatest battle ever portrayed in television history.” Given its placement in the ranking, viewers would probably agree.
‘Hardhome,’ Season 5, Episode 8
It’s the dead versus the living at a remote wildling settlement where Jon and his cohorts lead a humanitarian mission to help people sail south. No wonder the Night King was so popular as a Snapchat filter.
‘The Rains of Castamere,’ Season 3, Episode 9
Returning to the Friends nomenclature, this is The One with the Red Wedding. It only blasted apart the show’s central storyline, killing three Starks. It’s also the episode that shocked fans and made them realize nobody is safe on Game of Thrones.
If the last four in this ranking seem more or less interchangeable, that’s because they are – each scored a 9.9 ranking from IMDB users. You can find the full ranking here – and perhaps note with a sigh that many episodes of Season 8 rank the lowest, with the finale itself bringing up the rear. For Game of Thrones fans, hope can still be found. There’s always the prequel series or the books, where George RR Martin will come up with his own ending.