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.
Squid Game – Review
The Players and Games
On 17 September 2021, South Korean, Netflix series Squid Game was released. Unbeknown to many including writer and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk, this nine-part drama quickly became the most talked about and watched show around the world.
The extremely well written, staged and thought-out show is a mix of ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Battel Royal’ all rolled into one. To make an intense and binge-able series from start to finish.
The series can be watched with subtitles or dubbed. We would suggest watching it subtitled as some of the dubbed voiceovers don’t quite match up to the characters and you can lose some of the intensity in the scenes. With both options, however, you will still be able to get a good handle of the story, as you follow hundreds of money-poor contestants take on the deadly childhood games.
SPOILERS: If you haven’t watched the whole of Squid Game yet. Stop reading here as we are about to review the players and the games, with some hefty spoilers added in.
All dressed in green tracksuits the players are the focus of the story, and the costuming made sure they did just that. In Screen Rants video Squid Game: 15 Things You Missed, we find out that Dong-hyuk wanted the players in school uniforms. But after realising they would have to wear shorts and skirts, he went with the PE style tracksuits in green, the opposite colour to red on the colour wheel… to make sure the blood stood out.
The game starts with 456 players, but there are eight main characters, who we are invited to find out more about within the story.
Seong Gi-hun (player 456)
The very first player we are introduced to is gambling addict Seong Gi-hun, Played by actor and successful model Lee Jung-jae. Gi-hun lives with his mother, bets all her money on horses, has a lot of debts, and gets his own daughter’s birthday gift from an arcade game. Which cleverly links to the boxes they use for coffins, within the game.
Gi-hun, is a great main character because through his lies and bad habits, his narrative is written to show that he has a compassionate side too, which you can relate to.
Kang Sae-byeok (player 067)
The next character we meet is Kang Sae-byeok, portrayed perfectly by model Jung Ho-yeon, in her first ever acting role. The character arc of the strong, independent, pickpocket, is so interesting and endearing to watch. She goes from depending on herself to becoming part of a team and putting her trust in others.
Her back story is of wanting money to help her brother leave an orphanage and to move her mother from North to South Korea. This puts her in a very sympathetic light which urges us the viewer to root for her.
Cho Sang-woo (Player 218)
The next player we are introduced to is Cho Sang-woo, this complex character played by popular TV actor Park Hae Soo. His own story and mannerisms are what make him such an interesting and confusing character who one minute you like, for example when he helps the team out in tug-of-war game or the other minute you despise especially after the stunt he pulled with Ali, in the marble arena. This makes him one of the best characters to have in a show like this as he is unpredictable, like we saw at the end of game six.
Oh il-Nam (player 001)
The heart and soul of the team… or so we thought! Was Oh il-Nam player 001- we should have known!
One of the smartest players in the game was expertly played by actor and writer, Oh Young-soothe. The likable old man had us going all the way to the end and even made some of us cry in the marble game making the twist at the end of the series even better.
Jang Deok-Su (Player 101)
All good games need a villain, luckily there were a lot within the 456 players, but none were as bad as actor Heo Sung-tae’s portrayal of tatted Jang Deok-su.
Player 101, comes in hitting one of the female players and leaves being dragged down by another one! His well-written character had us shouting at the screen and hoping for a worthy death, and after his betrayal to Han Mi-nyeo before tug of war, she served him the cruel departure from the game we had all hoped for.
Abdul Ali (Player 199)
After saving Gi-Hun in the red light, green light game. Abdul Ali showed not only his strength but his love and trust in others which unfortunately would also become his demise…Thanks to snaky Sang-woo.
Actor Anupam Tripathi took his first big TV role and ran with it becoming one of the most loved characters in the series. Even getting a barrage of meme’s made for the character following his wrongful and underhanded death.
Han Mi-nyeo (Player 212)
Due to the copious amounts of death and blood, it’s always wise to have a little comic relief. Han Mi-nyeo’s character was certainly that, with her frequently used catchphrase of ‘I’m good at everything, except for the things I’m not’. Portrayed by Californian born actress Kim Joo-ryeong, the loud and obnoxious character really gave the competitive edge to the game, especially in the honeycomb games when she cheated, using a lighter to melt the candy! Her character, however, did get a little grating at times.
Ji-yeong (Player 240)
Our biggest issue with this character was that there was simply not enough screen time! Played by Lee Yoo-mi in her first major role, the character of Ji-yeong captured our hearts in just three episodes. Particularly as we got to know more about her harrowing backstory if only there was a way that both Ji-yeong and Sae-byeok could have left the marble arena together!
The main part of the story of Squid Game, is the six schoolyard games, which the players must play and win to get their hands on the life-changing sum of money.
Game 1: Red Light, Green Light.
The aim of the game is not to move when the ‘creepiest doll in history’ is looking, otherwise you are eliminated, and in this game, this doesn’t just mean out! When the ‘creepy doll’ isn’t looking you need to run as quick as you can and try and cross the line within the time frame. Sounds easy right? Not when you realise if you move… you die!
Red Light, Green Light is where the players realise what kind of game they are involved in and where we lost over half to the players too!
The schoolyard set and creepy doll voice just add to the tension of this game, which is also amplified by the visuals of the game in play accompanied by the switch over to the Front Man as he watched the game through monitors whilst listening to the song ‘Fly me to the moon’.
Game 2: Honeycomb/Dalgano Candy
To be safe in this game you need to successfully cut out a shape from Honeycomb, without damaging or breaking the shape. The only tool you are given to help you is a needle.
At the beginning of this game, we truly see the back-stabbing side of Sang-woo, as he realises what game it is, as the players start to pick their shape, before knowing what they need to do.
In the know, Sang-woo goes for the easiest shape, a triangle, and neglects to warn the others as Gi-Hun walks over to pick the hardest shape, the umbrella. This game separates the cheaters from the thinkers as Mi-nyeo and Deok-su use a lighter and Gi-Hun uses his brain and licks the shape free.
The climbing frames, bright colours, childish music and gunshots provide the perfect setting to make this whole scene completely unnerving for the players and the viewers.
Game 3: Tug of War
In teams of ten, it’s time for the players to play Tug of War. The main basis of this game needs no introduction, but instead of being pulled into a pile of mud like the classic game… you get pulled to your death.
Due to the Dr, Player 111, and his extra gameplay with some of the guards. (That involved selling body parts) Deok-su and his team know what game was coming up and managed to put together a team of strongmen to win their heat. Unfortunately, Gi-hun and his team didn’t have the same knowledge and in turn looked to have a weaker team than others. Luckily Il-Nam and Sang-Woo had solid gameplay ideas which saved the team.
The setting for Tug of War, took a bit of a dark turn and away from the schoolyard setting. With yellow and grey platforms set in a pitch-black room. Within this game, we lost half the players.
Game 4: Marbles
With this series, we all had the fear that at one point out favourites would be pitted against each other but not this early! Asked to pair up the players thought they would be playing together in teams like the last game, but that was not the case.
In the game of Marbles, the pairs were left to decide for themselves what game they wanted to play, with the loser being eliminated!
Probably one of the hardest games to watch as most pairs were playing a game of chance. If you were anything like us, we were hoping there was going to be another twist where some of the characters would survive in pairs but instead, we lost some big players and learned who were not to be trusted.
Having two games back-to-back where we lost half the players each time really helped keep the momentum of the story.
Game 5: Glass Bridge
To start this horrifying game of chance, the players had to pick their order, before knowing what the game was which led to a very tense moment where Gi Hun, almost went first. His indecisiveness helping him hugely here.
The aim of this game is for the remaining players to make their way across the glass bridge hopping from glass square to glass square, hoping to land on the tempered glass, rather than the normal glass which would break instantly sending them plummeting to their death.
Again, set in a pitch-black room with a few lights this game was intense! But it did however whittled the players down to three and showed Sang-woo’s ‘do anything for the money’ character again.
The added glass blasts at the end of the game also added an extra twist of tension as front runner Sae-byeok got severely injured.
Game 6: The Squid Game
With only two players left after Sang-woo eliminated Sae-byeok with a dinner knife, it was on to the final game and namesake of the series, Squid Game.
This game is divided into attacker (Gi-hun) and defender (Sang-woo). The attackers’ objective is to reach the “home” square marked on the opposite side of the field, while the defender’s purpose is to block them and push them out to win.
However, let’s be honest we saw very little gameplay as it ended up in a fight between the two finalists. The end of the game was gripping to watch, particularly with the knives in play and Gi-huns indecisive personality. Just as we think it’s all over, rather than putting his foot in the home square Gi-hun tries to get an injured Sang-woo to walk away from the game so they can both survive, giving up on the money.
But it a massive twist Sang-woo picks up the knife from the floor and instead of killing Gi-hun, like we anticipated, he kills himself. This was a great call from writer Hwang Dong-hyuk as it was unexpected and gave us a little extra from Sang-woos character. However, we can’t help but think that maybe it would have been a bigger twist if Sang-woo did kill Gi-Hun and won the games as no one was routing for him.
What do you think about our thoughts on the players and games within Squid Game? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out book to movie adaptations coming soon HERE.
Read IMDB information about Squid Game HERE.
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