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The Most Important 'Game of Thrones' Character Deaths

Updated March 9, 2020 8.2k votes 605 voters 17.5k views34 items

List RulesVote up the most important moments that changed the course of the series.

By now, we've all heard the maxim of HBO's Game of Thrones fandom - "Don't get attached to anyone, because they're probably on their way out." Major character deaths aren't just common on Game of Thrones, they're integral to the evolution of the story, and the more important a character is, the more important and game-changing their demise is sure to be.

The loss of characters in Game of Thrones has proven to be important to the series. Rising political leaders of Westeros are routinely bumped off to make way for hungrier competitors (or in some cases, just for revenge). In the heat of battle, brave warriors perish senselessly, often without dignity, and almost always without glory. In the world of Game of Thrones, everyone's head is up for grabs. When asking "who gets axed in Game of Thrones," the answer might as well be, "everyone."

Which demises were the most critical to the development of the series, and just how many characters have been struck down now, anyway? Vote up the most important, series-altering, notable deaths from GoT.

  • Eddard Stark
    Photo: HBO

    Ned's shocking passing at the end of Season 1 introduced what would become one of the show's signature moves: wiping out major characters violently and grotesquely, with little warning, and no apologies. Threatening to challenge the Lannisters' claim to the throne by exposing Jaime and Cersei's relationship, Ned's head was removed at King's Landing for treason.

    Arya fled, Sansa was taken against her will, and Robb and Catelyn conspired to retaliate and seize the throne.

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  • 2

    Night King

    Night King
    Photo: HBO

    The Big Bad finally met his match in Season 8, episode 3. Towards the end of the Battle of Winterfell, Theon attempted to stab the Night King but was quickly vanquished. Fortunately, a ninja-like Arya snuck up behind the Night King just before he got to Bran. She dropped her two-sided dragonglass dagger and got him right in the gut, effectively wiping out all of the wights along with him. 

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  • Robert Baratheon
    Photo: HBO

    Though there was a little funny business with the wine he was drinking, Robert's passing early in the first season was basically a whoopsy. He was gored by a wild boar while out on a hunting trip, having been too drunk to dodge and defend appropriately.

    Robert's wife, Cersei, was excited about Robert's passing because it meant that her son, Joffrey, could finally ascend the throne. Ned Stark, however, had strong suspicions about the actual genetic lineage of Cersei's children, and the Lannisters' subsequent retaliation against Ned's claims are what sparked show's main conflict over who is most entitled to rule Westeros.

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  • Joffrey Baratheon
    Photo: HBO

    Joffrey was always kind of a brat, but his final scene at his wedding to Margaery Tyrell still came as a shock. After drinking a glass of tainted wine, Joffrey passed in his mother's arms, foaming at the mouth and choking on his own puke.

    Unlike many other hapless characters, Joffrey's passing probably wasn't an impassioned act of revenge - it was strategic. The only real downside was that Joffrey's passing was unfairly pinned on his uncle, Tyrion, who was imprisoned, and ultimately forced to flee King's Landing as a result.

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