Game of Thrones has cemented its status as one of the most shockingly brutal television series of all time, but just like a bunch of rubberneckers driving by the scene of an accident, we just can’t seem to look away.
After last night’s filicidal barbecue, in which Stannis Baratheon sacrifices his own daughter at the stake for a shot at the throne, we decided to compile a list of the 10 most gruesome moments from the cruel world of Westeros.
1. The Tower of Twincest and the Fall of Brandon Stark
The show’s first “did that just happen?” moment occurs in the very first episode, when a young Brandon Stark catches Jamie Lannister and his twin sister Cersei getting it on at the top of a bell tower.
As if walking in on that scene wasn’t traumatic enough, Jamie proceeds to shove Bran out the window, hoping the boy will fall to his death. “The things we do for love …”
2. A Crown for a King
Khal Drogo wasn’t the most talkative guy, but when he did speak, he had quite a flair for irony.
When Viserys Targaryen drunkenly demands the Khal deliver on his promise to crown him King of Westeros, the Horse Lord memorably obliges his whiney brother-in-law – with a pot of molten gold to the head.
3. Ned Loses His Head
Perhaps the most jaw-dropping, unthinkable moment of the series: the demise of the ostensible hero before the end of the first season.
Although to be fair, maybe we should have seen it coming: Sean Bean’s characters don’t exactly have the best track record for not dying.
4. Need a Hand?
Game of Thrones has a knack for making us empathize with even the most evil villains.
As sweet as it was watching the high and mighty Jamie Lannister taken down a few notches by his Northern captors in season 3, even the biggest King Slayer haters had to cringe when the best swordsman in Westeros lost his fighting hand.
5. Theon Loses His Favorite Toy
Speaking of feeling sorry for traitorous dirt bags …
Theon Greyjoy was one of the most loathsome characters on the show, but watching his transformation into Reek was almost too painful to bear.
Talk about paying the iron price. (Just so you know, that’s a breakfast sausage that Ramsay is holding in the image, context notwithstanding.)
6. The Red Wedding
Easily the most infamous and heartbreaking episode in the series, the King of the North’s downfall was epically hard to swallow.
The scene left audiences speechless, and then sent the Internet into an uproar.
7. The Purple Wedding
Of all the gruesome moments on Game of Thrones, none were as satisfying as watching King Joffrey turn into a bloated eggplant and finally kick the bucket.
8. Tyrion’s Revenge
Almost equally satisfying was Tyrion turning the tables on his seemingly invincible father.
But hey, at least the power hungry Tywin died on a throne … of sorts.
9. Sansa’s Wedding Night
If you haven’t picked up on this already, weddings aren’t usually happy occasions on this show – especially for the Starks.
Just when she thought it couldn’t get any worse than marrying Joffrey, Sansa now finds herself sharing a bed with the other biggest psychopath in Westeros.
10. The Ultimate Sacrifice
The most recent bummer in George R.R. Martin’s twisted universe came on Sunday, when Stannis Baratheon burnt his adorable, stone-faced daughter to death.
It was a brutally depressing scene – but at least we finally got to watch Daenerys fly around on her dragon!