The Red God of Death is no stranger to Westeros. Or Essos, for that matter.
When we talk about the Game of Thrones characters who have shuffled off (or, more accurately, been shoved off) this mortal coil, we tend to focus on the show’s most shocking demises — which often strike GoT‘s most noble, likable characters. (Think of the Red Wedding, or Ned’s brutal decapitation, or even the end of Qhorin Halfhand, which admittedly has more oomph in A Clash of Kings than it did on the show.) But those gut-punching sequences are only one piece of the puzzle. As anyone who’s watched “The Lion and the Rose” can attest, Thrones also excels in meting out justice to despicable folks in spectacular ways.
So on the occasion of The Big Thing That Happened Sunday, let’s take a look back at the Thrones deaths most likely to have viewers pumping their fists — instead of clutching their faces in sorrow.
On one hand, it’s immensely gratifying to watch Arya exact vengeance on the man who murdered her pal Lommy by reciting the very words he used while committing that heinous act — then stabbing him with the very sword he stole from her back in season 2. On the other hand, this moment could mark the point of no return for Arya, who’s gradually transforming into a cold-blooded killing machine at the age of 14. What would Catelyn say?!
The mayor of Incest Point was thoroughly unpleasant, not to mention responsible for the deaths of who knows how many newborn boys. So even if his murder helped catalyze a major schism in the Night’s Watch, it was still pretty neat to watch Craster face down the business end of a dagger.
7. Xaro Xhoan Daxos
Daenerys’s season 2 interlude in Qarth was far from her most interesting storyline — but when the wealthy merchant (and Dany’s treacherous handmaiden Doreah) got locked within his empty vault, Thrones literally and metaphorically closed the door on that whole boring episode.
6. The Tickler
Mysterious assassin Jaqen H’gher’s second victim (Amory Lorch) was killed in haste, and his third was only a “death” in a metaphorical sense. (Still pretty damn awesome, though.) His first, however, was this torturer, pushed from a walkway in the haunted castle of Harrenhal. The best part here isn’t actually the death itself: It’s when Arya looks up to find Jaqen, who subtly holds up a single finger — indicating that he’s begun paying off the debt he owes her. Sweeeet.
5. Pyat Pree
4. Sam’s White Walker
Aww yeah, Tarly — you go get your moment of glory! (Jon killing the wights is also fairly great, but since those are reanimated corpses rather than actual “living” beings, I’m going to leave them off on a technicality.)
3. Kraznys and the slave masters
DRACARYS! If we had known the crass slaver Kraznys better, this may have been number one. As it is, I’m sticking it at number 3, since the first two folks on this list are 1. more important to the narrative of Thrones as a whole and 2. even more loathsome.
As EW’s own James Hibberd points out, there’s a certain element of anticlimax to this death; don’t you wish we could have watched Arya stick Needle deep into Joffrey’s scrawny little chest? (Man, watching this show makes a person bloodthirsty.) Because of that, Joffrey’s demise doesn’t belong in this list’s very top spot. However: After three-plus seasons of absolute monstrosity, Thrones‘s most evil figure finally got what was coming to him. And in a humiliating way, too. Hooray!
Hands down still the best villain death in the history of GoT, both because of the person getting killed (hmm, another cruel, snotty, blond would-be king — am I sensing a pattern?) and its extraordinary poetic justice; the whole scene is like George R.R. Martin’s very own Twilight Zone homage. Even though a bunch of other stuff happened that week, the episode in question is named after this very sequence — indicating that the Powers that Be also know what a crowning moment of awesome this is.