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You Either Win or You Die

The 6 Biggest Deaths in Season One of Game of Thrones

It’s as Cersei Lannister once said: “When you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die”. Whether it was the original book series or HBO’s legendary adaptation, that statement rings true to this day. In the world of George R.R. Martin’s epic, no character, no matter how important they are, is safe from death.

With a week until the premiere of the final season of Game Of Thrones, we’re taking a look back at the best deaths for every season. For this series, there are a few ground rules: one, any deaths had to occur on screen for all to see. Two, they have to effect the plot in some significant way.

Let’s kick off the carnage at the very beginning with Season 1.

#6- Gared and Waymar Royce, “Winter is Coming

These guys were two of the first people that we were introduced to in Westeros. They also hold the dubious distinction of being the first of hundreds of people to die in Game of Thrones. While riding beyond the Wall, they come across the grisly site of freefolk decapitated and arranged in a sacrificial circle. They are then promptly killed by a Wight and White Walker.

Considering what’s about to happen in the finale, the deaths of these two are important in the grand scheme of the show. The demise of these two members of the Night’s Watch serve as a warning, not only to an oblivious Westeros, but to the viewers: that an ancient evil is about to return.

#5- The Catspaw, “The Kingsroad

The first person on our list was only on screen for a few minutes, but he had a big impact on the show. Hired by an unknown client to kill a comatose Bran Stark, he nearly succeeded. Thankfully, his faithful dire wolf Summer was there to rip his throat out.

Even in death, this guy had a big impact. The mystery of who hired him, or why he had a rare, valyrian steel dagger with him, would helped stoke the conflict between the Starks and Lannisters. To this day, it’s still unknown who hired him, though it’s implied that it was, in fact, Littlefinger.

#4- Lady, “The Kingsroad

Remember how each of the Stark children had a pet direwolf? There were six at the start of the show. By Season 8, there are only two left. And Sansa’s was the first to go.

When Nymeria attacks Joffrey to defend Arya and her friend, the spoiled prince and Cersei demand that Nymeria be put down. Since Arya forced her to run away, Cersei forces Ned to kill Sansa’s direwolf in Nymeria’s place. This incident would mark the beginning of Arya Stark’s hatred for both Joffrey and Cersei Lannister, something that continues to this very day. That, in turn, led Arya down the path that she he has taken.

#3- Viserys Targaryen, “A Golden Crown

Yeah. Yeah, okay. I’ll give you the best crown you’ve ever seen!

This one is actually a personal favorite of mine. From the moment he appeared onscreen, Viserys Targaryen made everyone hate him by being a waste of space. He spent years emotionally and physically abusing Danaerys, then forced her to be married off to Khal Drogo against her will. All of this was done for his own benefit and reclaim the Seven Kingdoms he saw as his.

Viserys arrogance proved to be his undoing, as he drunkenly threatened to take back his sister and her unborn child. Luckily, Khal Drogo proved to be a protective husband, and gave Viserys a crown of molten gold as punishment.

His death, aside from the first of several jerks in the show (I keep a list), also marked an important moment in Daenerys’ character development. She began to truly see herself as a dragon, and that she would do everything that her brother could not. And by the gods, has she!

#2- Robert Baratheon, “You Win or You Die

While it’s technically breaking the rules, we will make an exception for King Robert, considering the impact his death has on the show. After spending years drinking and indulging himself, Robert’s mortally wounded off screen by a boar, and then later dies of his injuries.

King Robert’s death is ultimately what pushes the realm into the War of the Five Kings. This leads to the extinction of several great houses, tens of thousands of people dead, and Westeros a land divided as the White Walkers prepare to invade. Closer to home, it’s revealed that Cersei orchestrated her husband’s death by getting him too drunk to fight. This would lead to Joffrey becoming king, and the chaos that followed.

#1- Ned Stark, “Baelor

Ah, Ned Stark, the first of far too many good people to die. After being betrayed by Littlefinger and arrested on false charges of treason, Ned’s forced to lie and proclaim the bastard Joffrey as the rightful king in order to save his daughter Sansa. This does not save him, though, as Joffrey then impulsively orders him executed anyway.

Joffrey’s execution of Ned Stark makes things far worse in Westeros. The Starks now refuse to bow to the Baratheon’s or their Lannister puppet masters, setting the realm on the path to a war that nearly tears it apart.

Even back when Game of Thrones was still a book series, this moment came as a shock. Ned was the main character, and killing off the main character seemed unthinkable. His death helps the books and the show prove a point: no one, no matter how important, is safe.

Do you agree with my picks? What deaths from Season One do you think were most important?

Click here to see what I thought the big moments were for the season


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