One year ago, Game Of Thrones came to an end.
Initially seen as a great risk for HBO, Game Of Thrones, based on George R.R Martin’s A Song Of Ice And Fire novels, soon became one of the most successful TV series of all time. For eight seasons, fans were on the edge of their seats as they watched to see who would win the Iron Throne.
Though there is no disputing the show’s status among the greats, it’s ending divided fans. Even now, a year after the last episode aired, debates rage on.
Despite this controversy, Game Of Thrones Final Season gave us plenty of iconic moments to remember.
1. Daenerys and Jon Snow Ride Dragons Together
Sometime after arriving at Winterfell, Jon Snow and Queen Daenerys Targaryen take a brief trip away from the castle to check on her dragons, Drogon and Rhaegal. Noticing that Rhaegal seems to have taken a shine to Jon, the Queen suggests he climb on the dragon’s back to join she and Drogon on a quick flight. Although nervous, Jon does as Daenerys asks.
After a frightening period after take-off in which he struggles to hang on, Jon eventually settles into a safe position on Rhaegal’s back. He ultimately enjoys the flight, happily declaring that Dany has ruined horses for him. Arriving at their destination, a secluded waterfall, it soon becomes apparent that ‘checking on the dragons’ was an excuse for Jon and Dany to embark on a secret romantic rendevous.
The scene was a hit with fans. Soon after the episode aired, videos emerged editing the scene to Aladdin’s ‘A Whole New World’, and the score from How To Train Your Dragon’s iconic ‘Test Drive’ sequence.
2. Jaime Lannister Knights Brienne Of Tarth
‘A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms’, the second episode of Game Of Thrones final season, is a character driven affair. With preparations complete, the Starks and their allies settle within Winterfell’s walls with nothing to do but await the Night King’s arrival.
In one room, Tyrion, Jaime, Pod, Davos, Brienne, and Tormund, huddle around the fire, sharing drinks and war stories. Wildling Tormund is left baffled when Brienne informs him that she cannot become a Knight because she is a woman. Facing almost certain death, the group chooses to do away with tradition, and Jaime Knights Brienne anyway.
The scene by the fire was equal parts humorous and heartwarming, a final moment of joy before things go downhill.
3. Arya Stark defeats the Night King
All hope seems lost. Dragon fire failed to destroy the Night King, Drogon and Rhaegal are down, the wights are overwhelming Winterfell’s forces, and the Iron Born guarding Bran have been obliterated. The Night King raises his weapon to kill Bran.. and Arya Stark appears, saving her brother and ending the Night King’s reign.
While some argued that Arya killing the Night King was a case of fan-service over good storytelling, the evidence suggests otherwise. The scene brings Arya’s story full circle, as the dagger trick she uses to take the Night King out was taught by her beloved first swordmaster, Syrio, in Season One. It is a television moment that will be remembered forever.
4. Daenerys Burns King’s Landing
Though many of Daenerys’s advisors begin showing concern for her mental state after the deaths of Rhaegal and Missandei, Jon refuses to betray her by staking his own claim on the Iron Throne. He and Tyrion talk to Dany, believing they have the situation under control.
If the King’s Landing’s bells were to ring during the upcoming attack on the city, Daenerys would take this as a sign of Cersei’s surrender and halt any further assault. Instead, the bells seem to strip Daenerys of the last remaining shred of her sanity, prompting her to take flight with Drogon and burn the city, including it’s many innocent inhabitants, to the ground.
While many see the scene as an assassination on Dany’s character development, many see it as the tragic fall of a once great hero.
5. The Mountain v The Hound
Arriving in King’s Landing with Arya just before the worst of the attack begins, Sandor Clegane, aka The Hound, has only one goal: To kill his undead brother Gregor, The Mountain. After a brutal battle, he achieves his mission, taking his brother with him to a fiery death as they tumble over the castle wall.
The confrontation was one fans had been waiting for since season six, and the moment did not disappoint. As well as defeating his brother, Sandor managed to conquer the fear of fire that had plagued him since the beginning of the series.
6. Arya escapes on a pale horse
Before his final confrontation with his brother, Sandor Clegane convinces Arya Stark to give up her self-destructive quest for revenge on Cersei Lannister. Unfortunately, she leaves too late to avoid being caught up in the burning of King’s Landing. Miraculously, though slightly battered and covered in ash, Arya survives the assault. She then escapes on the back of a white horse she finds in the ruins.
At the time this episode aired, fans theorised that the white horse represented death, foreshadowing Arya as the one to end Daenerys’s reign of terror. Though she does not ultimately do the deed, Arya’s advice is the first that Jon Snowtruly takes on board when deciding what he must do about his wayward Queen.
7. Jon Snow kills Daenerys Targaryen
Despite his horror at Daenerys’s actions at King’s Landing, and the urging of others to end her madness, Jon Snow is torn. He is an honourable man, who swore an oath to Dany as his Queen. And, of course, he loves her.
When Jon first visits his Queen in the throne room, he carries hope that he can convince her of the error of her ways. Once it becomes clear that she intends to go on ‘liberating’ Westeros with dragon fire, Jon realises he has no other options. A heartbroken Jon then distracts Dany with a kiss as he ends her life.
The most tragic element of Dany’s death comes in one heartbreaking detail. For most of the final season, other characters try to turn Jon against Daenerys with dire warnings that he will be next on her hit-list. However, watching the above scene unfold, it is tragically clear that Dany never intended to hurt Jon. She simply wanted him to share her dream.
8. Drogon burns the Iron Throne
As Jon weeps over Dany’s body, Drogon arrives. Finding his Mother dead, Drogon gives a horrible grief-stricken shriek, and Jon fully expects that the dragon will kill him in retaliation for Dany’s death. Instead, Drogon turns his flame on the Iron Throne, melting it beyond recognition.
The scene is rife with symbolism. Drogon knows that it was not Jon, but the quest for the Throne that truly killed his Mother.
9. Bran Stark is crowned King of Westeros
Daenerys’s death leaves the throne of Westeros empty, with no heir apparent. So, the surviving Lords and Ladies of the Seven Kingdoms gather to discuss a solution. After Tyrion Lannister delivers a stirring speech about how people are united by their stories, the Westerosi elite elect Bran Stark as their new King.
While some fans claimed this came out of nowhere, there were actually a few hints along the way that this would be the case. Either way, we should have known to expect the unexpected when it comes to Game Of Thrones.
10. Sansa Stark is the Queen in the North
Fittingly, the closing scenes of Game Of Thrones final season focus on the fate of the surviving Starks. Bran, of course, is now the King of Six Kingdoms. Arya sets off on a ship to explore whatever lies west of Westeros. As ‘punishment’ for killing Daenerys, Jon is sent back to the Wall, soon departing for the true North with Tormund and the Wildlings. And finally, Sansa Stark is crowned Queen in the North.
Though the show’s ending was divisive, most agreed that it was satisfying to see Sansa gain her crown. After all she suffered, she deserved something good in the end.
Whether you loved it or hated it, the final season of Game Of Thrones gave us plenty to remember. Fans are sure to be talking about it for years to come.