So many people have died on Game of Thrones that keeping track of them is quite the undertaking. It’s such a pervasive element of the show (and the books upon which the show is based) that we’ve even resorted to gambling about when characters will die while blogging previous seasons. And with the upcoming fourth season’s tagline of “All Men Must Die,” the marketeers as HBO are assuring us that these next 10 hours of thrones will be the bloodiest and most unpredictable yet.
Which is all the reason we need to take a pause and remember fondly those who have died. HBO did this with their Beautiful Death art project, which wraps up this weekend just in time for the season 4 premiere. We are doing it with our own Oscar ceremony style In Memoriam tribute, which can be seen below. But first, we’d like to take a moment to rank the five most important deaths — those that had the greatest to do with moving the show’s narrative forward.
Here are the 5 most important deaths on Game of Thrones through 3 seasons:
5. Robb Stark
The King in the North died a sad, unfortunate and wholly unexpected death. His cause was one of the few remaining that was just, so we were rooting for him the entire way. And just as he learned he was about to extend the Stark family line with his new wife, he gets stabbed through the heart by that creeper Roose Bolton. More importantly, Robb’s death was the definitive end to the War of the Five Kings. Sure, Stannis and Balon Greyjoy are out there somewhere, but Robb was winning. He had the Lannisters on the run. Until it came time to send their regards.
4. Robert Baratheon
Had this drunken fool been able to stop being a drunken fool for one damn minute, Joffrey may never have become King so early. Hell, someone may have smothered him in his sleep long before he would have to become King. But that’s not how things work in Westeros. The best person for the job (leadership positions at least) always seems to die. It’s not for us to say that Robert would have been a great king, but I believe in Ned Stark. Had the Lannisters not taken both of them out, they could’ve ruled peacefully — at least until the blonde girl with dragons showed up and torched everyone.
3. Khal Drogo
Think about how different the story of Danaerys Targaryen would be if she had her moon and stars alongside her. She wouldn’t have had to scrape and claw her way to power, she wouldn’t have had to free all of those slaves. Would the dragons have ever hatched? So much has happened as a result of Drogo’s death. Just add it to Dany’s tab of pent up aggression and pray she sets those damn dragons loose on her enemies sooner than later.
2. Catelyn Stark
The sheer visceral nature of how Catelyn died at The Red Wedding is what makes it important. It’s the show’s full loss of innocence in one gloomy scene. The world of Game of Thrones will not be the same going forward, as not even guest’s rights have meaning anymore. On top of that, she watches her daughter in law and unborn grandchild get brutally stabbed, her eldest son shot full of arrows and she kills a teenager before having her own throat “slit right down to the bone.” Oh god, that’s a nasty way to go.
1. Ned Stark
The death of the Lord of Winterfell and Hand of the King Eddard “Ned” Stark was quite the shock moment in the first season. It was the first time audiences got to experience how serious this series was going to be about killing off people you love. I remember watching the first season with my mom, someone who adorably finds great emotional attachment with characters. “I like Ned,” she explained somewhere in the first 4 episodes. “They better not kill him.” Oh poor, sweet mother of mine. Ned was the tip of the iceberg, but his death was also the shockwave that sent the Seven Kingdoms into chaos. Every death that has come since has been a result of Joffrey’s decision to relieve Lord Stark of his head.
As the order is subjective, I’m curious to see how all of you would rank them. Feel free to do so in the comments below. But first, let’s pause for a moment of reflection for all those who have died in our first ever In Memoriam tribute:
Game of Thrones season 4 premieres April 6 at 9pm on HBO.