Before you immerse yourself in House of the Dragon, here is a reminder of the best that Game of Thrones had to offer, with a selection of five moments (which could well have been 50) that made the show unmissable.
Ned Stark’s execution (Season 1, Episode 9)
In the first of many signature shocks in GoT, Ned Stark is executed by the tyrant teen that is Joffrey Baratheon, who changes his mind at the last minute about exiling Ned out of pure caprice. For the audience, killing off the face of the show in the opening season was not only unprecedented but also deeply unnerving. The pathos of Ned’s face transitioning from horror at being sacrificed to the silent resignation of imminent death makes this moment all the more iconic.
Tyrion Lannister’s unforgettable defence (Season 4, Episode 6)
Seconds after being insulted in open court by his one-time lover Shae, Tyrion begins his most iconic GoT monologue with the words: “Father, I wish to confess”. What follows is a verbal onslaught by the man who is on trial for the murder of Joffrey, but admits guilt in front of the commoners of King’s Landing for “saving the city and all your worthless lives”. Laced with irony, resentment, mock humour and Tyrion’s inherent self-righteousness, this is GoT drama at its most compelling.
Cersei Lannister blows up the Sept of Baelor (Season 6, Episode 10)
With her back to the wall and her power in potentially permanent jeopardy, Cersei pulls off one of the most audacious master plans in GoT history when she uses wildfire to blow up the Sept of Baelor, eliminating the ‘High Sparrow’ and House Tyrell in one fell swoop. Aside from its breathtaking (and sadistic) brilliance, what makes this moment even more iconic is the slightest of smirks that appears on Cersei’s face after she sees the sept go up in green flames.
The Stark sisters outmanoeuvre Littlefinger (Season 7, Episode 7)
It is only fitting that schemer extraordinaire Petyr Baelish, also known as Littlefinger, meets his demise through some cold-hearted scheming from Sansa and Arya Stark, who manage to outwit one of the most devious minds in all of Westeros. Punished for a litany of crimes against the Starks, Sansa quotes Baelish’s own line to him – “There’s no justice in the world, not unless we make it” – before Arya casually slits his throat. Simply spine-chilling.
Jon Snow stabs Daenerys Targaryen (Season 8, Episode 6)
Even though the finale of GoT’s eighth season did not deliver on the immense expectations, it did provide a moment of exquisite tragedy when Jon Snow, the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, stabs Daenerys, the woman who pillaged and massacred her way to becoming Queen and was also Snow’s aunt and lover (just GoT things!). What makes this scene iconic is the double betrayal that dictates it — Snow’s betrayal of Daenerys as her lover, which is forced upon the brooding hero because of Daenerys’s own betrayal of the realm, reason and remorse.