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.
Loki Episode 6 – Review
Episode six of Loki from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus. It’s time for the series finale. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
More to come
The post-credit scene showed that a second series has already been ordered, meaning this finale is essentially the end of Part One. Thank goodness it is. Because if this was the denouement of the entire Loki story then there’s a good chance it would go down in television infamy as one of the more unusual series endings.
Introducing the big bad
We pick up from Sylvie and Loki’s defeat of The Alioth as they look at the citadel upon the rock at the end of time. They make their way to the entrance, and upon being invited in they’re met by Miss Minutes. It’s been widely predicted that ‘she’ would be an agitator in this series. And at last her role has been revealed. She is an emissary of Kang The Conquerer, embedded within the TVA.
She offers Loki the earth, almost literally, as she tries to coax him to betray Sylvie. Her offers of infinity stones, defeating Thanos etc. Happily, Loki rejects all the trinkets that she offers. Instead, he and Sylvie head into the lift where they meet ‘He Who Remains’ aka Kang The Conquerer. A 31st-century scientist and the true timekeeper.
Sylvie attempts to kill him but he quickly demonstrates some of his powers by dodging and weaving her before she gives in and the three of them sit down for a very long discussion. To sum up what was a lengthy and occasionally fairly tedious scene. He Who Remains (HWR) asks Loki and Sylvie to kill him and take over the role of controlling the timeline. Loki is extremely reticent but Sylvie, angry at what HWR’s meddling has done to her life, is desperate to do so.
Meanwhile, back at TVA HQ, Renslayer is informed by Miss Minutes of HWR’s plan. Showing her dual role and playing on Renslayer’s desperation to keep the TVA active and relevant.
Loki and Sylvie get into a physical fight over what to do with HWR. With Loki recognising how the timeline will fragment with branches springing up all over the place. But Sylvie is consumed by her rage and eventually overpowers Loki, sending him back to the TVA and then kills He Who Remains.
Setting up season two
Loki finds Mobius and tries to explain what has happened. But then discovers the terrible effects of what Sylvie has done by apparently killing HWR. Mobius has no idea who Loki is. This situation is then made worse when Loki looks out to see a statue of He Who Remains adorning TVA HQ. Loki realises that he is in a different timeline branch. One where HWR or Kang is in control of everything. Sylvie has been manipulated into apparently killing him which has enabled him to increase his power further.
Jonathan Majors was masterful as He Who Remains. Which is what you’d expect from someone with a Masters in acting from Yale. He was flamboyant, powerful and mesmerising, which is exactly what you want from a major villain. He will be back in AntMan 3 as Kang The Conquerer and is set to be the key villain in the next phase of the MCU post-Endgame and Thanos.
I have been extremely positive about this series, as I think it has been the strongest and most cohesive of the Marvel series so far this year. But I can’t disagree with anyone who felt short-changed by this finale. My 11-year-old son was pretty vocal in his disappointment the moment the credits rolled, and he was absolutely right. He is one of the most obsessive Marvel fans around and if he was underwhelmed, I feel pretty sure he was reflecting the majority view. Nothing I’ve seen online since has dissuaded me from that either.
Phase 4 groundwork
It seemed that the finale was essentially an exercise in introducing He Who Remains or Kang to our screens ahead of AntMan 3. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it meant that the focus shifted away from being the climax of this series. Instead of being a prologue for the next phase of the MCU, which does seem a peculiar decision.
There are those who feel that the series original premise of Loki and Mobius teaming up to find Variants dotted around time and space was dropped after the first two episodes. Instead, it was replaced with a love story between Sylvie and Loki and a voyage of discovery with Mobius reduced to a bit part for the rest of the series.
But, the cliffhanger at the end of the series as Loki returns to the TVA does give me hope that Series Two will be an even better follow up.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10
Thank you for reading our review of Loki episode six. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our Loki episode five review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Loki HERE.
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