The penultimate season of Game of Thrones is now behind us, and as we gear up for next year’s series finale, we’re looking back at some of the most epic, gory and gruesome scenes of Season Seven. Although this season only gave us seven episodes instead of the usual 10, all of them packed a punch—and gave us a fair amount of battles, deaths and foul play. Arya giving a big middle finger to House Frey and Olenna Tyrell dropping the mic; undead bears and ice dragons; battles on the sea, on land and beyond the wall: There were many times we had to pick our jaws up off the floor and brace ourselves for what was to come.
We’re here to rank the season’s death scenes, because that’s what makes Game of Thrones so darn fun, but we’ll begin with a couple honorable mentions that may or may not have led to fatalities. Can the undead really get killed? And we can’t leave out Cersei’s revenge on the Sands.
Benjen Stark Saves Jon Snow
We learned in Season Six that Benjen Stark is undead. He was attacked by White Walkers and, while beginning to turn, was saved by the Children of the Forest, who shoved a piece of Dragonglass into his heart, stopping the transformation. Of course, Jon Snow doesn’t know all of this when he reunites with his uncle beyond the wall. After the King in the North tells Daenerys and the others to go back to Eastwatch without him, he gets overwhelmed with wights and dragged into a hole in the frozen lake. The camera closes in on Longpaw, and we see an arm reach out of the water. Jon grabs the sword and pulls himself out, but he’s still greatly outnumbered by the dead. All of a sudden, Benjen gallops through, swinging a chain of fire. He gives Jon his steed and tells him to ride toward the pass. Jon begs him to come, but he says there’s not time. Jon looks back as he flees and sees the flame exhausted as his uncle’s consumed by wights. But though he may be a pile of dismembered body parts, can wights really “kill” someone who’s undead?
Cersei Lannister Poisons Tyene Sand
During episode two’s naval battle, Euron Greyjoy’s men capture Ellaria and Tyene Sand. “Kill us, get it over with,” Mama Sand insists, but Euron has different plans. He presents the women as his gift to Cersei. Ellaria killed the queen’s daughter, Myrcella, and now the fierce Lannister wants her revenge. She chains up Ellaria and her daughter, and after a long speech, kisses Tyene with “Long Farewell” poison on her lips and then quickly drinks an antidote, which is exactly what Ellaria did to Myrcella. The effects could take hours, days, weeks to kick in, and Ellaria will be forced to watch her daughter’s gruesome death. However, we haven’t seen Tyene die, which means there may still be hope for the Sands, though the chances are slim.
10. Gendry Waters Kills Two Gold Cloaks
Ser Davos finds Gendry Waters at Fleabottom, where he works as a blacksmith, while Tyrion secretly meets with Jaime in the depths of King’s Landing. As they try to leave by boat, two gold cloaks interrogate them. Just when they get them to leave, Tyrion walks down the bluff and the guards’ suspicions increase tenfold, so Robert Baratheon’s bastard bashes one in the side of the skull with a war hammer (much like the one his father liked to use), and turns the other’s face into bloody pulp. It’s one of the more graphic death scenes in Season Seven that’s not part of a larger battle.
9. The Unsullied Ambush Casterly Rock
This was a unique battle scene because of the way it was filmed. The focus is on Tyrion’s speech. As he explains how his father made Casterly Rock an impregnable house, we see the Unsullied attempt, unsuccessfully, to storm the castle from the front—soldiers topple off ladders, squashed from large rocks thrown by Lannister men or shot by arrows. But that’s just a scenario; as Tyrion explains a secret passage he built through the sewers, we see the Unsullied take the path he describes and surprise the Lannister soldiers. They slash their way to the top of the castle, slitting men’s throats and pinning one against a wall with a spear through his chest, just to find out that the majority of the Lannister forces has been shipped to take House Tyrell.
8. Randyll and Dickon Tarly Get Roasted
After the carnage of the Loot Train battle, Daenerys gathers the surviving Lannister and Highgarden soldiers and asks them to bend the knee after giving a powerful speech about her intentions as ruler; the alternative is death. Some soldiers are hesitant, but Drogon’s roar scares a number into submission. Randyll Tarly refuses to kneel to the Mother of Dragons, saying he supports Cersei because she was born in Westeros and lived there her whole life. Tyrion tries to get Daenerys to send him to the wall, but he refuses, saying, “You are not my queen.” “You will have to kill me, too,” Dickon says. His father tells him to step back, but he won’t. Tyrion begs Dany to choose an alternative punishment, but she says she gave them a choice. Drogon roars again as the Dothraki pull the two rebels in front of the dragon. With one fiery breath, both men dissolve into ashes in a matter of seconds.
7. Loot Train Battle
The Lannister and newly acquired Highgarden armies march through an open plain as they hear an approaching rumble. All of a sudden, the Dothraki army descends the hill, hollering as they charge on horseback. Bronn instructs Jaime to go back to King’s Landing, but the proud Lannister will not abandon his army. “We can hold them off,” he says, just as Daenerys comes flying in on Drogon’s back. “Dracarys!” she commands, the high Valyrian word for Dragonfire, and in the blink of an eye the Lannister front line is fried to a crisp. Men flail around as the Dothraki gallop through the flames, hooves pounding on charred corpses. The two armies exchange blows with swords, spears, and arrows; blood gushes while Drogon spews fire across the field. Bronn pins a Dothraki soldier to a wagon by shooting him point blank with scorpion, a massive crossbow machine meant to spear dragons. He hits Drogon with a propelled spear, and as the dragon descends, in pain, it shoots fire directly at the wooden cross bow, roasting it. This was by far the best battle scene in the first half of the season, in the series’ most-viewed episode to date.
6. Euron Greyjoy Kills Obara and Nymeria Sand with Their Own Weapons
Euron Greyjoy is a real crazy sonuvabitch, and if killing his own brother (and enjoying it) wasn’t proof enough, the naval battle in the season’s second episode is. During the invasion of the Greyjoy and Dornish fleets, the maniacal uncle to Theon and Yara brutally kills two of the Sandsnakes with their own weapons of choice. He stabs Obara Sand in the stomach with her spear and lifts her up with it, Mortal Kombat style, then chokes Nymeria to death with her whip, leaving both corpses spiked and hanging from the bow of their ship.
5. Undead Bear Kills Thoros
In the penultimate episode of Season Seven, Jon Snow leads a group of men beyond the wall, hoping to capture a wight and bring it to King’s Landing as proof to Cersei and Daenerys that the White Walkers are real. While out in the snow, the men see an object in the distance that begins to charge at them—it’s an undead bear. After thrashing a few wildlings, the bear is face to face with Sandor Clegane, and just when you think his time is up, Thoros pushes him aside and tries to fight off the beast with his flaming sword. The bear bites him and shakes him around before someone is able to give it a fatal blow. The Lord of Light priest takes a mighty swig from the flask before his injuries are cauterized with a flaming sword. He eventually dies from his wounds (and the cold) as the brave group finds itself surrounded by an army of the undead.
4. The Night King Spears Viserion
This is definitely one of the saddest deaths of the season. In, “Beyond The Wall,” Daenerys comes to the aid of Jon Snow and company, as they find themselves outnumbered by wights during the Frozen Lake Battle. Flying on the back of Drogon, the dragon spews flames across the vast, snowy landscape—mowing down wights in the process. Rhaegal and Viserion fly close by, scanning the area. On the ground, we see the Night King take an icy spear from a White Walker, aim and hurl it toward Viserion. Hit, the dragon spirals toward land, blood gushing, and crashes into the frozen lake, where he sinks. At the end of the episode, the wights pull the dead dragon out of the frigid water with chains (how they got those will forever be a mystery). The Night King then touches Viserion and, right before the credits roll, the dragon’s eye springs open, an icy blue.
3. Arya Slits Petyr Baelish’s Throat
Petyr Baelish, a.k.a. Littlefinger, is one of the slimiest scumbags in all of Westeros, and this season he tried to pin Sansa against Arya. In the finale, we’re led to believe his plan worked and Sansa begins to fear her sister, and when she calls her into the Great Hall it’s assumed she’s charging her sibling with murder and treason until she turns her head. “Lord Baelish,” Sansa says. Littlefinger stands there, stunned, as the Stark girls tell him how it is. With their brother Bran now all-knowing, they reveal that they know all of the wrongdoings he did to their family, all the way up to his plan to turn the sisters again each other. With one quick slice, Arya slits his throat, and we all let out a collective cheer at what might be the most satisfying death all season—because really, screw Littlefinger.
2. Jaime Lannister Poisons Olenna Tyrell
Olenna Tyrell is an OG badass bitch, and her death scene seconds as one of the best mic drops in the entire series. As the Lannister army storms Highgarden, Jaime finds the Lady of the House cooped up in her tower, sitting at a table. After some witty banter and sassy remarks, she asks how Jaime intends to kill her. He tells her Cersei had some gruesome ideas, but he talked her out of them. He pours a vial of poison into Olenna’s wine. “Will there be pain?” she asks. “No, I made sure of that.” After gulping down the fatal concoction, she looks Jaime dead in the eye and says, “I’d hate to die like your son, clawing at my neck, foam and bile spilling from my mouth, eyes blood red, skin purple. Must’ve been horrible for you as a Kingsguard, as a father. It was horrible enough for me—a shocking scene. Not at all what I’d intended. You see, I’d never seen the poison work before. Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me.” OH NO SHE DIDN’T!!!
1. Arya Poisons All the Men in House Frey
Season Seven opens the best way we could’ve imagined. The camera pans over a meeting of House Frey, led by Lord Walder Frey. But wait, you think, didn’t Arya kill him in the Season Six finale? Frey pours his men wine and proposes a toast. “You’re my family,” he says. “The men who helped me slaughter the Starks at the Red Wedding.” As he continues to give detail about the bloodshed, it starts to become clear something isn’t right. “But you didn’t slaughter every one of the Starks,” he says, as everyone in the dining hall begins to choke. “Leave one wolf alive, and the sheep are never safe.” As the Freys begin to collapse, the camera closes in on a smirking Walder, as he reaches for his face and pulls it off to reveal Arya underneath. She turns to his young wife. “When people ask you what happened here, tell them the North remembers.”
Katrina Nattress is a music and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in LA Weekly, Bandcamp, Flood and Vinyl Me, Please, among other publications. She lives in Los Angeles and tweets about music, television, politics and sports @KatrinaNattress.