As the fourth season of Game of Thrones approaches, Catherine Gee counts down the 15 most jaw-dropping moments so far
Barely an episode of this fantasy series goes by without a moment that causes slack-jawed shock from its viewers. George RR Martin
, who wrote the original Songs of Fire and Ice novel series on which the drama is based, has a brutal, ruthless approach to storytelling. But which of the Game of Thrones
plot twists have been the most shocking so far? CONTAINS SPOILERS OF SEASONS 1-3 15. Jon Snow kills Qhorin Halfhand
In order to gain the trust of the band of wildlings that hold them captive, senior member of the Night’s Watch Qhorin Halfhand (Simon Armstrong) instructed Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) to kill him – so he did. After a tense sword battle, Jon thrusted his weapon through his mentor’s torso.
14. White Walkers
At the end of season two we finally get a proper glimpse of the spooky White Walkers that have made the wildlings so nervous. Trapped behind a rock – yet somehow left unharmed – Sam Tarly (John Bradley) struggles to hold back the tears as an army of winter zombies walk through the snow.
13. Jaime Lannister escapes from jail
He’s a wily one, that Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Befriending his innocent, star-struck cousin (Karl Davies) in prison, he then brutally murdered him in order to distract the guard and make his escape. Poor lad, he was just so happy to be in the presence of the great Kingslayer.
Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) proved his worth, even if his family still wouldn’t recognise it, when he arranged for the use of Wildfire during the Battle of Blackwater Bay. As Stannis Baratheon (Stephen Dillane) led his army to King’s Landing, with the hope of taking the Iron Throne, the Lannister army unleashed a dazzling green explosion in the middle of the Bay, ensuring their victory.
11. Daenerys gets her dragons
The first time we to see what Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) is made of. Her husband is dead, her Khalasar on the brink of desertion. So she proves her toughness by strapping the witch who bewitched Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) to his funeral pyre before walking in herself and emerging with three fire-breathing dragon-children.
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10. Melisandre gives birth
The Red Priestess Melisandre (Carice van Houten)was a devious schemer from the very beginning but when her pregnancy came to completion we learned that her magical powers are not only real but decidedly creepy. She gave birth to the “shadow”, a mysterious spirit that swept straight off to assassinate Lord Renly (Gethin Anthony).
9. Daenerys frees the slaves
Ser Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) was always convinced of Daenerys Targaryen’s (Emilia Clarke) regal potential, Ser Barristan Selmy (Ian McElhinney) less so. No doubt was left after this seriously rousing display of tactical greatness when, in one fell swoop, she freed the Unsullied army from their captors, earned their loyalty and set her dragon on evil slaver Kraznys mo Nakloz (Dan Hildebrand).
8. Jaime Lannister’s hand is cut off
We finally got to see a bit of kindness in the eldest Lannister sibling, as he tactically talked Locke (Noah Taylor) out of allowing his men to rape Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie). But moments later his arrogance got the better of him and Locke grew tired of Jaime’s persistent attempts to bribe him. Suddenly the Kingslayer and master swordsman was no longer in possession of his sword hand. To add insult to injury, the next day Locke forced him to wear the severed hand on a string around his neck.
7. Theon takes Winterfell
Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) cements his betrayal of the Starks when, desperate to impress his father but too stupid to realise that ignoring orders is not the way to do it, he attempts to take Winterfell. It doesn’t work in the end but it does see him commit the murder and incineration of two young boys (whom he tries to pass off as Rickon and Bran Stark) and, even more shockingly, the graphic beheading of Ser Rodrik Cassel (Ron Donachie).
6. Bran Stark is pushed through a window
The second-youngest Stark boy (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) caught Jaime and Cersei Lannister ((Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey) in an incestuous tryst when he climbed the castle walls to the tower window. Ruthless Jaime quickly solved the problem by casually shoving Bran to his apparent death.
READ: Lena Headey on playing Cersei
5. Daenerys eats a horse heart
This one is a particularly stomach-churning scene. In order to give birth to a strong son, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) must eat a whole raw stallion heart without vomiting. Being able to watch it without retching can also be considered an achievement.
4. The severing of Theon Greyjoy’s penis
Despite the copious amounts of rape in Game of Thrones, the gruesome nature of this scene must make it the one that most causes viewers to firmly squeeze their legs shut. Kidnapped by Ramsay Snow (Iwan Rheon), Theon Greyjoy was tortured at length. By this point in the third series, Theon had transformed into an entirely unlikeable, hot-headed little rotter, so he lost a few sympathy points. But when Ramsay savagely chopped off his penis and then taunted him by emphatically eating a sausage, well, we learned that men’s genitals aren’t safe in Westeros either.
3. The golden crown
Never has there been a murder more pleasing than that of Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) vile, spoiled big brother, Viserys (Harry Lloyd) – even if it was via a method so sadistic and violent that few of us would have ever thought of it before. Finally bored of Viserys’s demands for gold crown, Khal Drogo gave him what he wanted. With molten gold poured over his head, Viserys died a screaming death.
2. The execution of Ned Stark
We really should have seen it coming (well, those who had read the books already did); any character played by Sean Bean is destined to die. But lovely, (almost) entirely honourable Ned Stark seemed an integral part of the plot. Surely they wouldn’t allow his head to be chopped off by a former Dr Feelgood guitarist? Well, they did exactly that as Ilyn Payne (Wilko Johnson) performed the deed and thus taught us early on that no one is safe.
1. The Red Wedding
It seemed fishy from the beginning. No one in Westeros takes anything lightly. Walder Frey (David Bradley) appeared surprisingly relaxed about Robb Stark (Richard Madden) marrying Talisa (Oona Chaplin) instead of the Frey daughter to whom he was betrothed. But by now we knew just how willing George RR Martin is to maim or kill our favourite characters. The whole episode is a rattling pressure pot and just when we adoring viewers thought we’d made it through with no serious fatalities, the last five minutes happened. Talisa, Robb and Catelyn Stark – plus poor Grey Wind – dead. Oh George.