Since it’s first episode Game of Thrones shocked its fans. The show saw brutal conflict in each of its seasons. Many moments were so intense they made the viewer watch from behind a cushion. Character deaths became standard fare, but some of the deaths stand out much more than others. These are the 5 most gruesome and painful deaths in Game of Thrones.
SPOILERS AND A WARNING: You probably already know all there is to know about Game of Thrones but if not there are spoilers in this article. Also, if you’re shocked by descriptions of violence an pain this may not be the article for you. So beware!
Throughout Game of Thrones, we’re met with many deaths. Some sad (R.I.P Hodor), some shocking (cue flashbacks to the Red Wedding) and some long-anticipated and needed (Joffrey)!
Out of the thousands of on-screen deaths, we’ve done our research into which would have been the most painful and most gruesome. We’ve re-watched the parts that needed to be watched through fingers or over pillows. Below is our list of the top 5 most gruesome and painful deaths in Game of Thrones.
Read on, and relive them, if you dare…
5. Viserys Targaryen and his Golden Crown
In the first season, we all had our own list of most hated characters. This grew throughout the seasons, no doubt. But I’m sure there were two names firmly at the top of most people’s lists: Joffrey Baratheon and Viserys Targaryen. Unfortunately, we had to wait until the beginning of season 4 to see the demise of Joffrey. But in season one, audiences were appeased by Viserys, played by Harry Lloyd, getting his comeuppance and the crown he wanted… just not in the way he wanted.
The Golden Crown was the first of the really painful-looking deaths. And it set the way for more ‘out of the ordinary’ demises to come. But, using molten gold as a punishment isn’t as unique as you may think.
A 2003 study by ‘The Journal of Clinical Pathology’ tells us that “in 1599, a Spanish governor in early colonial Ecuador suffered this fate. Native Indians of the Jivaro tribe, were unscrupulously taxed in their gold trade. They attacked the settlement of Logrono and executed the gold-hungry governor by pouring molten gold down his throat.”
Scientists in the same article carried out and experiment. This was performed on a bovine larynx. They found that the exact cause of death “is probably mediated by the development of steam and consequent thermal injury to the airways.”
Now, even though it’s a slightly different punishment, the effects could be the same. Instead of burning the victim’s airways with steam, it would have produced steam around his brain and through his ears – brutal!
It’s not as slow as some deaths, as it was only about 13 seconds long. Yet it would have been a lot more excruciating than, say, a swift Ned Stark-style execution. putting it above most of the other deaths in Game of Thrones but at the bottom of our list.
4. Joffrey Baratheon and the Purple Wedding poisoning
Across the 8 seasons, there were a lot of people who got poisoned to death. These include Myrcella Baratheon, Tyene Sand, Olenna Tyrell and most of the male population of The House of Frey. But, the most gruesome, drawn-out, and let’s be honest, welcomed scene was the poisoning of Joffrey Baratheon, portrayed by Jack Gleeson.
He was killed by ‘The Strangler’ poison at his wedding, administered by Olenna Tyrell and Little Finger. Joffrey’s ending scene took around 2 minutes of screen time. From the first cough to that ending frame of his purple face that none of us will ever fully erase from our minds.
To quote Oberyn Martell from the season 4 DVD special feature ‘Game of Thrones: History & Lore – Poisons’. “Dissolved in wine, it makes the muscles of a man’s throat clench tighter than any fist. The victim’s face turns as purple as the little crystal seed from which his death was grown, and so they call it the strangler.”
To give the poison a little bit more context. Here is the full break down of the damage the Strangler can do: “It causes the throat to swell shut. To the untrained eye, its effects may be confused with a severe choking fit. It also causes blood to leak out of bodily orifices, such as the mouth, eyes, even through the skin’s pores. The effects are almost instantaneous after being ingested.”
Even though this potion is fictional. I found from several sources that there are a few wild plants that could do similar damage. Most of which can be found in hotter countries, just like Dorne in Game of Thrones where a lot of the poisons behind deaths originated.
As his death was well drawn out, painful and had a very gory end shot, it’s definitely deserving of a spot in the top 5.
Read on though as we felt there were other deaths that would have been way more painful for the characters involved and with a lot more blood and gore…
3. Shireen Baratheon burned at the stake
As we know, death by fire wasn’t a rarity in Game of Thrones. There was wildfire, mainly used by the Lannisters in the Battle of King’s Landing. Then again later in the explosion at the Great Sept. Plus, Daenerys Targaryen often used her dragons. Which saw the end to several characters, including Randyll and Dickon Tarley, Pyat Pree, Kraznys, Varys and most of the people left in Kings Landing at the end of season 8.
Out of all the fire deaths, though, the most painful way to go would have been being burned at the stake. I think the fire-related death that stuck in most of our minds long after it aired – and was one of the hardest to watch – was poor little Shireen Baratheon, played by Kerry Ingram. We had all grown to adore hers and Davos’ relationship, and the fact he wasn’t there to save her just made things so much worse.
A bit of history
I think these types of demises are even more gruesome because we know that they actually happened in real life too. Back in the 1400s, people were burned at the stake for all manner of crimes, including accusations of being a witch. This form of punishment ran as late as the 18th century in some countries!
In a 2018 article called ‘Creepy Things You Didn’t Know About Burning to Death’. We found out that “human flesh does not catch fire easily. So burning to death can be a slow and painful process.” The fire pulls the skin away from the bone and the body can start to decompose while the victim is still alive. Also, there’s not just one cause of death that can occur with this method. The victim can experience carbon monoxide poisoning, shock, loss of blood, suffocation, and heat stroke. There are some people that believe spontaneous human combustion is a thing (though this has never been proven). Even the Game of Thrones characters themselves knew how bad these deaths were. So much so that Jon Snow put Mance Rayder out of his misery with an arrow before he could get to this point.
Now, I’m not trying to deny that dying from the other forms of fire were not equally as awful or painful. But most of the deaths from wildfire in the series were over quite quickly. And, as for dragon fire, the flames came from above with force, so the same applies. With poor Shireen’s death, the flames started slowly and at the feet. After an excruciating build-up, the real damage wouldn’t happen until the flames were shoulder height. What’s more, she was so young and didn’t wrong anyone!
She was a sacrifice to R’hllor by Melisandre and her father, Stannis Baratheon, in hope that the Lord of Light would aid them in the Battle of Winterfell. At the end of the day, it proved extremely unnecessary as he was beheaded shortly after the battle by Brienne of Tarth.
Her final scene, with these blood-curdling screams, lasted just under a minute and puts her untimely death firmly in third place.
2. Oberyn Martell in trial by combat
The 2004 film ‘Van Helsing’ saw arguably one of the best film quotes of all time: “I think if you’re going to kill someone, kill them. Don’t stand there talking about it,” said Anna Valerious (played by Kate Beckinsale), before swiftly killing Dracula’s bride.
This quote was all I could think of when I watched the death of Oberyn Martell, played by Pedro Pascal. If only he’d stayed quiet and finished the Mountain off. We would have had enjoyed more of his poison knowledge in the show.
His death was one of the hardest scenes to watch. We see the Mountain crush his head like a watermelon. Making this one of the most unique and gory scenes to watch, made even worse by the screams of his wife, Ellaria Sand.
Inflicting death by crushing the skull was actually a punishment that happened in the Middle Ages. Unsurprisingly by a machine called the ‘Head Crusher’.
“With the chin placed over the bottom bar and the head under the upper cap. The torturer slowly turned the screw pressing the bar against the cap. This resulted in the head being slowly compressed. First, the teeth are shattered into the jaw, then the victim slowly died with agonising pain – but not before his eyes were squeezed from their sockets.”
Let’s be honest, by hand or machine, both ways sound extremely painful, especially in Oberyn’s case, as it was his eyes that went first by the Mountain’s thumbs. This is definitely the rightful contender for the number 2 spot!
1. Ramsey Bolton gets eaten by his own dogs
After we got formally introduced to Ramsey Bolton, played by Iwan Rheon. We quickly got to grips with the new most hated character. Especially after he chopped off parts of Theon Greyjoy… that made most men watching wince and grab for the cushion, right? In true Game of Thrones fashion, we all knew at some point he would most likely meet a very sticky end – and that he did.
His demise was, again, heavily anticipated and hard to watch as his dogs ripped him apart face first, whilst he was tied to a chair. Even though he was not the first character to have been eaten by these dogs. His was certainly the most graphic. In the deaths of Tansy, Ramsey’s servant, and his stepmother, Walda, along with her baby, we didn’t see the dogs at work. But with him, we got a rather graphic peek.
From first bite to the end of the scene, where Sansa started to walk away, he had already endured 30 seconds of mauling. We could still hear that he was alive, making us believe that this was indeed one long and painful way to go.
Another similar death to Ramsey Bolton’s was Rast, from the Night’s Watch. Rast was eaten alive by Ghost, Jon’s dire wolf. As Ghost was there to hunt and kill, and much bigger than Ramsey’s dogs, Rast’s death would have been shorter.
I mean, if you are going to teach your dogs to eat people and then starve them, you might want to keep some meat in your back pocket. But then again, he didn’t have much choice thanks to The Queen of the North.
A little bonus
So, that’s our top five. There were some other deaths that almost made the list. These included Lyanna Mormont’s heroic scene, taking a giant weight with her (you go girl). Also, Meryn Trant being stabbed in the eyes, then in the chest and throat, and of course, the whole Red Wedding, pretty much from start to finish!
Okay, as a bonus, let’s take a quick look at the Red Wedding. A blood bath of 7 deaths including the dire wolf, Grey Wind. This list was based on individual deaths. At the wedding, a majority were implemented by arrows or throats being cut. Which let’s face it, there were a lot of in Game of Thrones. They would have been over pretty quickly. And the most sadistic parts, like sewing Grey Winds head to Rob Stark’s body, was done after their deaths.
But thinking about it Catelyn and Talisa Stark were probably the worst. Talisa was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach where she was carrying Rob Starks unborn child. And then Catelyn had to watch it all unfold, and her son die, before they finally took her life. So, let’s say Talisa and Catelyn are strong contenders for 6th and 7th place.
Now, try and re-watch Game of Thrones from season 1, without using a pillow to cover your eyes.
Thanks for reading our article on the 5 most gruesome and painful deaths in Game of Thrones. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
More from Game of Thrones articles HERE.
Read IMDB information on Game of Thrones HERE.
Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review
Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!
Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.
This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.
Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.
Shades of grey
This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.
With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.
This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.
Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.
Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.
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