Game of Thrones was nothing if not consistent. Thanks to the sudden demise of characters you didn't think would die on Game of Thrones, fans always appreciated a good end every now and again, especially a surprising one. Think for a moment and several prominent character passings likely come to mind, especially that one from the very first season. This type of twist is something of a specialty for author George RR Martin, and it's carried over into the show. Throughout the HBO series, a lot of people have perished. Some have been offed in rather obvious ways - did anyone think Ramsay Bolton wasn't going to get torn apart by his dogs? - but others are complete surprises.
Fans waited a long time to find out who wound up on the Iron Throne, but along the way a lot of people they loved met their premature end. Fan theories kept everyone guessing for a long time, but now that the show has finally reached its conclusion, here are the most surprising casualties Game of Thrones gave viewers during its eight seasons.
For the majority of the first season, it looks as if Eddard "Ned" Stark is going to be the main protagonist. That all comes to an end thanks to Petyr Baelish's betrayal, which leads to Ned's public slaying at the hands of Joffrey's headsman.
The Red Wedding is one of the most shocking events of the entire series. Just when it looks like Robb Stark is going to take Westeros for himself, his choice to abandon a marriage contract leads to his end and the slaying of his entire wedding party. This includes himself, his pregnant wife, his mother, and dozens of other people close to the Stark family.
Shireen is a sad figure on Game of Thrones from the very beginning. She survives Greyscale but is forever scarred, which leads to her being housed in a tower for most of her life. Eventually, she's taken across the lands with her father, who decides it's best to sacrifice his only daughter (whom he loves dearly) to the Lord of Light. It's an attempt to gain the Lord's favor to help save his army, but it ultimately fails. Shireen is strapped to a post in the forest and burned, and Stannis still loses.
Jon Snow is the Lord Commander of the Night's Watch who helped lead his men in the struggle to hold the Wall. His reward for doing so is a disloyal end that sees the men he trusted thrusting their swords into his belly. He perishes in the snow and is left there. He's returned to life thanks to the Lord of Light, but his initial end is unforgettable.
The dragons on Game of Thrones seemed near-immortal and unstoppable, but that belief comes to an end when Viserion is taken down by the Night King. Moments later, the Night King resurrects Viserion to become a formidable asset in his army. The whole thing's a complete shock to the viewers, but also to Daenerys, who believes her "children" are relatively safe from harm. Ultimately, it's a well-placed ice spear that leads to the demise of the dragon who goes on to tear down the Wall, allowing the Night King and his army into Westeros.
Hodor's passing reveals that he's been, in a way, predicting his end the whole time. During his life, Hodor is only able to say "Hodor" and nothing else. The episode that features his demise tells the story of how this happened, and it's all thanks to Bran. "Hodor" turns out to be a mashed up version of "Hold the door," which is what he's doing the moment he perishes - allowing Bran and the others to escape.
Oberyn Martell is chosen to fight the Mountain on Tyrion Lannister's behalf, and it looks as if his skills will ensure his victory. The Mountain is a monster who anyone would likely cower in front of, but Oberyn doesn't. He teases and taunts him as he jumps around, demanding he admit to the slaying of his sister. When it looks as if he's won, though, the Mountain grabs Oberyn by the sides of the head, sticks his thumbs through his eyes, and smashes his skull.
Petyr Baelish spends his entire life plotting behind the scenes. He sets off the events that led to the fight for the throne after Robert's passing, which includes the demise of Eddard Stark, among others. When his plans are finally uncovered, he's called forth in a meeting at Winterfell in front of everyone. He thinks he's driven a wedge between the Stark sisters, but he's failed. Sansa announces several charges levied against Baelish and asks if he denies them. Finding him guilty of the acts listed, Arya walks up to him and quickly slices his throat.
Khal Drogo seems like an unstoppable force who's on the cusp of taking his army across the sea to strike Westeros when he's harmed. As a result, he falls ill due to an infection and is barely saved by a witch who puts him in a catatonic state at the cost of his unborn child. Daenerys smothers him in his sleep, leaving him to pass in his bed, not atop his horse. Not the ending you would expect for such a warrior, but his demise helps give birth to the Mother of Dragons.
Myrcella Baratheon is the only daughter of Cersei, sent away to live with the Martells for most of the early seasons of the series. When Oberyn is slain, putting her life in jeopardy, her father/uncle goes to rescue her. Moments before she's placed on a ship to leave, she receives a kiss on the lips from Ellaria Sand. It turns out to be a venomous one, and Myrcella perishes after the vessel departs the port.
Tyrion Lannister takes to Shae almost immediately, but he knows his father won't approve of him getting too close to a woman in her line of work. When he finds her in his father's bed, he ends her life. It's shocking given the love he feels for her up until that point.
Tywin Lannister was never a great father to Tyrion, and that doesn't do him any favors - he's ultimately slain while sitting on the privy. Tyrion, fresh from offing Shae, approaches Tywin, has one final, bitter father-and-son chat, and then fires a bolt at him. The first projectile doesn't end him, but his protests fall on deaf ears as his son lands a second - and final - shot.
After taunting his uncle and making everyone's life a living hell, Joffrey Baratheon ends up getting his comeuppance at his wedding thanks to the machinations of Petyr Baelish and Lady Olena. Up to his end, it seems he's going to rule Westeros forever, but just as things are looking up for the boy-king, he clutches desperately at his throat, his face turns purple, and his many enemies (both in Westeros and in the audience) quietly rejoice.
The war was all but lost for the living. The Night King was making a move toward his target - Bran, and all the history the Three-Eyed Raven contains - and Jon Snow was cornered by Viserion and all but powerless. The erstwhile Aegon Targaryen had seemingly even accepted his fate. And then Arya, Westeros' finest miniature assassin, leapt to the rescue, giving her dragonglass dagger its destiny and wiping out the army of the dead with a single thrust.
Just as it seems the battle for the Iron Throne has finally - and conclusively - been decided, Jon Snow throws Westeros a curveball. After being permitted entrance by Drogon, Jon (nee Aegon Targaryen) confronts Queen Daenerys about the bloodbath she delivered to King's Landing, and pleads with her to show mercy. When she makes her case, and refuses to back down from the path she's chosen, Jon sticks a knife into her and gently lays her lifeless body on the ground, leaving the Seven Kingdoms, albeit temporarily, without a ruler.
Lysa Aryyn entertains her son by throwing people through her "Moon Door," an oculus hidden within the floor of her throne room that leads to a drop of 600 feet. It's used as the primary means of capital punishment at the Eyrie, and it eventually sees Lysa pass through it when she's pushed by Petyr Baelish, the man she trusts as her husband.
Stannis Baratheon is considered one of the greatest commanders in all of Westeros. He ultimately perishes in the woods after Brienne of Tarth finds him grievously harmed, laying up against a tree. She slays him because he's responsible for taking the life of her former master - and Stannis's brother - Renly, whom Brienne had sworn an oath to avenge. Despite all of his cunning, Stannis passes alone, afraid, and abandoned by everyone, including the Lord of Light.