15 Epic Moments From ‘Game of Thrones’ Season 1

We look back at some of the best moments from HBO's hit fantasy series.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Earlier this week, "Game of Thrones" wrapped up its thrilling first season in grand style.

In just ten episodes, HBO has reinvigorated the fantasy genre on television, thanks in large part to the original novel series by George R.R. Martin, showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss along with an extremely talented cast and crew.

CraveOnline has reexamined every episode of the season to choose our picks for the top 15 epic moments from the first year of "Game of Thrones." That's right, 15 not 10. Because that's the way we roll in Westros.

If you haven't seen "Game of Thrones" yet, you might want to skip this list as there are MAJOR SPOILERS from the first season throughout.

If you can deal with that, then draw your swords and read on…


15: A Cold Opening

In the first few moments of "Game of Thrones," the mysterious White Walkers made their presence known by slaughtering two members of the Night's Watch and leaving one survivor half mad in fear. While the White Walkers have remained mostly in the background throughout the first season, their brutal attack serves as a stark reminder that magic is real in Westros.

And there is something evil lurking beyond the Wall that could eventually threaten the entire continent.

 


14: The Direwolf Saves Bran

Sometimes it pays to have a direwolf around.

Thanks to an appeal for mercy by Jon Snow, the Stark children were each given their own direwolf to care for. Although Summer — the direwolf belonging to Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright) — was helpless to prevent his master from being thrown off of the castle wall, he was able to exact a measure of revenge. When Lady Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) struggled to fight off an assassin sent to kill Bran, Summer leaped into action and tore out the man's throat.

Afterwards, Catelyn looked on in astonishment as the direwolf simply curled up next to his master and watched over his bedside. The direwolves were sometimes underused during the season. But when they appeared, it was often to great effect.

 


13: Catelyn Calls Upon Her Bannermen

When Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) paid his respects to Catelyn on the road, he probably wasn't expecting this.

But when faced with the Imp that she believed had tried to murder her son, Catelyn called out several warriors in the room who were loyal or allied with the Tully's (her family) or the Starks to help her arrest Tyrion and escort him back to Winterfell.

Of course this meant that everyone's favorite Half Man was soon facing down a room full of swords pointed at his neck; And although Catelyn only wanted justice for her son, her rash action set in motion events that had unforeseen consequences for her family.

 


12: The Fall of Bran

Unknown to Catelyn, Tyrion was not responsible for either attack on her son. Instead, the younger Stark had the misfortune of spying upon Queen Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) as she was intimate with her lover, Ser Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)… who is also her brother.

Neither Lannister could afford their secret relationship to get out. So Jamie literally pushed Bran out of the tower window; which ultimately crippled the young boy and nearly killed him. As the cliffhanger for the first episode of "Game of Thrones," it underscored the idea that everyone's life is at risk in Westros… even children.

 


11: The Witch's Spell

With the life of Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) fading away, a desperate Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) put her faith in Mirri Maz Duur (Mia Soteriou), a witch from a village recently conquered by the Dothraki.

The duplicitous witch warned Daenerys that "only death pays for life" when dealing in blood magic. And the cost to Daenerys turned out to be much higher than she thought.

This sequence worked primarily because we don't see what the witch does beyond cutting the throat of Drogo's horse. But the unearthly sounds coming from the tent made it seem as if the spirits of the dead truly were truly present as Mirri worked her spell.

And perhaps they were…

 


10: The King of The North

As Robb Stark (Richard Madden) pointed out, one victory does not make an army into conquerors. But it did help make a young man into a king.

Buoyed by their unexpected victory over Jamie Lannister and his army, Robb Stark and his bannermen in the North pondered their next move and which Baratheon brother they should support in their respective quest for the crown. At least they did until Greatjon (Clive Mantle) stood up and declared that the North should rule itself and that he would only bow to one king… Robb himself.

With the bannermen proclaiming him as the new King of the North, Robb Stark took another step towards preserving the legacy of his father… and finally becoming his own man in the process.

 


9: A Good Khal Goes To War

At times, it was difficult to see if Jason Momoa was up to the task of playing Khal Drogo, as his character was largely silent in the early episodes. And when Drogo spoke, it was in the language of his own people; which forced the audience to rely on subtitles to understand what he was saying.

But when his wife, Daenerys was threatened by an assassin sent by Varys (Conleth Hill) and the rest of King Robert's small counsel; Drogo made a riveting speech in which he promised to bring his Dothraki horde across the Narrow Sea and reclaim the Iron Throne for his son.

This was Momoa's best performance as Khal Drogo and the energy he brought to his words and mannerisms made his intent clear even without the subtitles.

 


8: The White Walker Attacks Jon Snow

After remaining offscreen for most of the season, the White Walkers attempted to make a bold move and assassinate the leader of the Night's Watch.

For Jon Snow (Kit Harington), this probably couldn't have come at a better time. With his father accused of treason and his own standing within the Watch also in question, Jon needed some way to prove himself. Not that the Walker made things easy on him. Even after Jon stabbed the Walker multiple times, the undead man rose again and pursued him.

Thanks to his impromptu use of a lantern to burn the Walker, Jon survived and earned a new respect from the men on the Wall. In the seasons to come, Jon Snow may become one of the main heroes on this show. If so, his path to greatness started here.

 


7: The Last Stand of Syrio Forel

As Lannister treachery saw the slaughter of the Stark family guards and servants throughout the castle, one man stood between Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and five armed men: her sword instructor Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou).

The "Game of Thrones" TV series doesn't tell us much about Syrio, but it's clear that he must have been a great warrior. With only a wooden sword, Syrio nearly defeats all five of his attackers and allows Arya a chance to escape. When she tries to get him to come with her, he simply says "The First Sword of Braavos does not run."

Syrio also happened to say one of the best lines in the entire series: "What do we say to the God of Death?"

"Not today."

 


6: Stark vs. Lannister

From the beginning of the series, Ned Stark (Sean Bean) held Jamie Lannister in contempt for killing the previous king, despite the fact that it may have helped bring peace to the seven kingdoms. And for his part, Jamie did attempt to murder Ned's son to protect his secret.

But when Tyrion was taken by Catelyn, Jamie was surprisingly protective of his brother and he demanded his safe return from Ned. Realizing that he could not kill Ned without dooming his brother as well, Jamie ordered all of Ned's personal guards to be killed… setting up an epic duel between himself and Ned.

From the expressions on Jamie's face, he was enjoying the battle until it became clear that Ned might actually have been his equal or better with a sword. This was one of the most thrilling battles on the entire series and it came to a premature ending thanks to one of Jamie's overzealous soldiers.

However, it remains one of the highlights of the season.

 


5: The Golden Crown

Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) traded his sister, Daenerys to Khal Drogo in exchange for an army to conquer the seven kingdoms. And Drogo didn't exactly seem eager to keep his end of the bargain.

It might have been because Drogo recognized that Viserys was both foolish and insane; which his sister also came to realize after enduring his abusive behavior. And when VIserys threatened the life of Daenerys and Drogo's unborn child, he finally went too far.

Drogo kept his promise to give Viserys a crown of gold that men would fear to see… in the form of molten gold poured over his head. For the audience, it was cathartic moment to see Viseryes finally fall; while also watching Daenerys begin to realize her destiny as the dragon.

 


4: Tyrion's Trial By Combat

Once captured by Catelyn and escorted to her crazy sister at the Eyrie, Tyrion Lannister had few options to free himself.

And yet the Imp was able to trick Lyssa into holding an open court so that he could confess his crimes; in one of the most hilarious scenes on the show. Before the Tully sisters could send him back to the sky dungeon, Tyrion demanded and received a trial by combat. To his surprise, Tyrion even had the mercenary known as Bronn (Jerome Flynn) serve as his champion.

Bronn's victory over his armored opponent also served as a reminder that in this world, guile often defeats honor.

 


3: Littlefinger Betrays Ned

Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish (Aidan Gillen) was fond of telling Stark that he shouldn't have trusted him so easily. Who knew just how serious he was?

Within that same episode, Littlefinger monologued at length about how he pretended to be taken in by Ned's words and was preparing to strike at the most opportune moment. It couldn't have come at a more pivotal time for Ned, as he needed Littlefinger's help securing the loyalty of the City Watch in preventing Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) from seizing power.

But Ned didn't see it coming until the City Watch killed the rest of his men and Littlefinger had a knife to his throat. From that point on, Ned's fate was sealed.

 


2: The Dragons Rise Again

Daenerys lost nearly everything to the treacherous witch, Mirri Maz Duur. Her son was still born, her Dothraki horde abandoned her and her beloved Khal Drogo lived on only in a vegetative state.

While Daenerys had demonstrated a resistance to heat and fire earlier in the season, it's debatable whether she knew for sure that she would survive Drogo's funeral pyre. But I believe that she knew that she could, since she placed her priceless dragon eggs on the fire with her.

And hours later, Daenerys emerged from the flames naked and unharmed. She was also joined by three new born dragons, whose birth signaled both the return of the previously thought dead creatures and a significant shift in power. When those dragons reach their full size, Daenerys may become unstoppable in her quest to reclaim her father's throne.

 


1: The Execution of Ned Stark

Readers of George R.R. Martin's original "Game of Thrones" novel knew that this moment was coming. And for the most part, they did a remarkable job of not spoiling it for the general audience.

Faced with the difficult choice of maintaining his honor in death or attempting to save his daughter Sansa (Sophie Turner), Ned confessed his imagined crimes in public and declared Joffrey to be the true king. However,  the monstrous boy king rejected the clemency plans offered to Ned and ordered him immediately beheaded.

In countless Hollywood films, the hero gets a last minute reprieve or a rescue. But not Ned Stark. As Queen Cersei once said, "When you play the Game of Thrones, you win or you die."

More than any other scene in the entire season, Ned's death served notice that no one is safe in this world.

No one.

In the seasons to come, Ned Stark won't be the only major character to die… far from it in fact. But it's this willingness to catch the audience off guard that's helped make "Game of Thrones" into one of the best series on TV,

What were your favorite moments from the first season of "Game of Thrones"? Let us know in the comment section below!