The hype surrounding Game of Thrones may have dwindled a bit after the show's heavily criticized finale back in 2019, but it has since resurrected, thanks to an acclaimed new spinoff series. House of the Dragon has breathed life back into Game of Thrones for the first time in three years, and fans are beyond excited to see what the franchise has in store for the future. Between more House of the Dragon seasons and potential new spinoffs and prequels, there has never been a more exciting time to be a Game of Thrones fan.
Of course, this has led to rewatches of the original series, which many people had been putting off in the wake of their frustrations with the final season. As with any series, going back and watching it again with fresh eyes and minds allows the great episodes to really stick out.
With that in mind, we went back through all eight seasons of Game of Thrones and picked out the 10 best episodes the series had to offer. From iconic moments to moving speeches to some of the biggest battles to ever air on television, these episodes had just about everything.
Below, you'll find our ranking of the top 10 Game of Thrones episodes. Be sure to let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments!
10. "The Laws of Gods and Men" (4x06)
One of the great joys of Game of Thrones was watching Peter Dinklage become a household name. While he had been a fantastic actor appearing in mainstream projects for years, Dinklage's role as Tyrion Lannister launched him into the stratosphere, and he was often the most talented actor in any given episode of Game of Thrones.
Of all the great Peter Dinklage scenes throughout the show's eight seasons, his best might have come in "The Laws of Gods and Men." Dinklage brought the house down with his passionate plea while on trial for Joffrey's death, and he cemented his take on Tyrion Lannister as one of the great television characters of our time.prevnext
9. "The Spoils of War" (7x04)
People like to complain about how dark some of the big battles in Game of Thrones are. That complaint absolutely does not apply to "The Spoils of War," one of the two episodes from future Fantastic Four director Matt Shakman.
This episode arrived halfway through the penultimate season of the show and delivered on some moments that fans had been waiting for, like Jon Snow and Daenerys coming together or Arya finally making her way back to Winterfell. What takes the cake for the episode, however, is the massive battle between Daenerys and the Lannister forces.
The devastation of the battle that takes place in the episode plays in stark contrast to its overall brightness. The conflict rages in broad daylight, sunshine illuminating every second of the violence.prevnext
8. "The Door" (6x05)
"The Door" is tragic on quite a few fronts. Daenerys, Jorah, and Sansa all succeed in bringing tears to the eyes of viewers, but it's Hodor that ultimately opens the floodgates. One of the saddest moments in the series is also one of its biggest twists.
As Bran and his crew try to escape the undead, we finally learn about Hodor's story, and why his name is all he ever says. Bran's mind-controlling essentially messed with Hodor's mind years and years in the past, planting the message "hold the door" into his mind forever. He repeated it his entire life until the time finally arrived for him to fulfill his destiny.prevnext
7. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" (8x02)
There's a lot in the final Game of Thrones season worth being frustrated about, but "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" is nearly perfect from start to finish.
The final two seasons of Game of Thrones are filled with massive battles and action scenes. "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms" bucks that trend and gives us one last episode that's truly all about the characters. It's the calm before the storm. Some of the best writing of the series culminates in the beautiful moment of Brienne being knighted, the highlight of Season 8.prevnext
6. "The Rains of Castamere" (3x09)
"The Rains of Castamere" isn't just the most devastating episode of Game of Thrones, it might be one of the most devastating episodes of television in more than a decade.
This is, of course, the episode featuring the Red Wedding. The Starks often operated as the protagonists of the early Game of Thrones seasons, and any hope you had in the people of Westeros rested with the wards of Winterfell. That hope didn't just die in "The Rains of Castamere," it was absolutely slaughtered.
Even for those that had read George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice Fire and knew the massacre was coming, the episode was still a total gut-punch, anchored by a stunning performance from Michelle Fairley.prevnext
5. "The Winds of Winter" (6x10)
It's hard to recall an episode of Game of Thrones that kept you on the edge of your seat as long as "The Winds of Winter." This episode is a culmination of everything that happened to that point in the series, officially kicking off the story's final act.
Jon Snow becomes the King in the North. Dany finally sets off to reclaim her throne. Arya crosses off one of the most important names on her list by killing Walder Frey (after pulling a Sweeney Todd and feeding him his own sons). But the best and perhaps most important action of the episode takes place in King's Landing, as Cersei enacts her plan to become Queen.
Cersei's story masterfully comes together as she watches the dominos fall all around her, but her victory comes at a cost. Tommen kills himself by leaping out of his window in one of the show's most disturbing moments and immediately showing Cersei the consequences of her actions. The cherry on top is composer Ramin Djiwadi's "Light of the Seven," a stress-inducing piano ballad that should be mentioned among the best musical scores ever seen on television.prevnext
4. "Battle of the Bastards" (6x09)
Can you believe Game of Thrones brought a battle the size of Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings to television? "Battle of the Bastards" will always be remembered as one of the show's most impressive achievements, and for good reason.
Thanks to the never-ending lives of memes, the image of Jon Snow standing alone against the charging horses of Ramsay Bolton's army will be seared into our brains forever. But let's not forget just how incredible that moment is to witness during the episode, regardless of how many times you've seen it. It's the culmination of one of the clearest "good vs. evil" conflicts Game of Thrones had to offer, and it succeeded in getting almost every fan out of their seat the night it first aired.prevnext
3. "Baelor" (1x09)
Those who read "A Song of Ice and Fire" knew that Ned Stark was supposed to die early on in Game of Thrones. It happened in the books, after all. But Sean Bean was the show's biggest star. He was on all the posters and ads, sitting upon the Iron Throne with the words "Winter Is Coming." This was his show. You don't kill your biggest star before the end of the first season.
Well, you do if you're Game of Thrones. The death of Ned Stark stands as the moment that Game of Thrones proved anything could happen to anyone, and it changed how we watch TV to this day.prevnext
2. "Blackwater" (2x09)
The biggest conflict of Season 2 came to a head in "Blackwater," and the battle that followed is what showed fans that Game of Thrones could pull off massive, high-octane action sequences.
Stannis Baratheon's attack on King's Landing combines land and sea warfare to create an experience that more than holds up more than a decade later. The drama of the battle is even more impressive than the action, though, pitting the feelings of fans against themselves as they try to work out in their minds how they'd like the entire thing to shake out. It's impossible for you to be completely happy about the outcome, because good will lose and evil will triumph regardless of who actually claims victory. The moral conundrum of this episode is Game of Thrones at its finest.prevnext
1. "Hardhome" (5x08)
A lot of events throughout Game of Thrones are surprising to first-time viewers. The series delights in shocking an audience. But "Hardhome" is a situation where an entire episode and storyline take you by surprise. You don't see it coming, but its final frame makes you wish it would never end.
"Hardhome" takes place north of the Wall, as fan-favorite duo Jon Snow and Tormund Giantsbane head to the town of Hardhome to help a group of wildling people. There, they are ambushed by the Night King and his White Walkers. Their attack is chilling (no pun intended), and the chaotic, unexpected nature of the fight makes it that much more exciting.
The final scene of "Hardhome" acts as the moment the Night King fully takes hold of the viewers, and reminds them that the show is about him and no one else. You'll never forget the terror of watching him lift his arms and raise the slaughtered wildlings from the dead.prev