Game of Thrones premiered its series finale yesterday and we can at last confirm the popular theory that Khal Drogo takes the Iron Throne. That’s a joke. *Ducks for cover* The truth is that the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones premieres this Sunday. Excitement for the show is at an absolute fever pitch.
Seasons one through seven are some of the best hours of television of all time. However, some seasons -even if it’s ever so slightly - are stronger than others. Check out the list to see how we rank seasons one through seven of Game of Thrones!
7 Season 5
Viewers should try something. Turn on any season five episode involving Jaime and Bronn teaming up and then mute the volume. Instead, turn on the Friends theme song and one ends up fooling themselves into thinking that they’re actually watching the opening credits to a buddy sitcom. There’s no denying that season five has some of the most iconic moments of the entire series. "Hardhome" is one of the most impressive technical achievements in the history of television. Season five gave us Cersei’s walk of shame which has become a permanent fixture within the world’s pop culture lexicon.
However, everything leading up to those moments is Game of Thrones at its most uneven. It’s almost as if audiences have collectively and unconsciously decided to ignore how the High Sparrow subplot meanders from any of the show’s bigger conflicts. Sure, it isn’t new for Game of Thrones to take its time when delivering big narrative payoffs, but this season has a few subplots that grind to a halt. Jaime and Bronn’s adventure in Dorn is pretty much static until the finale. With all of this said, season five is still miles better than anything else on television. Who can forget the deep feeling of anger and loss when witnessing the Night’s Watch betray Jon? Season five isn’t bad by any means, it just doesn’t compare to some of the next-level storytelling Game of Thrones normally offers.
6 Season 7
We won’t make any obvious jokes about how this season shows all of the characters traveling from location to location so ridiculously fast. Actually, yes we will. Season eight’s big reveal will be that everyone in Westeros has teleportation powers. Joking aside, there are a few creative choices in season seven that are sort of antithetical to some of the logistics in past seasons. It’s understandable that the writers speed up the show in order to quickly move through the plot of the last two seasons. Yet, some of the best moments in previous seasons take place when the characters travel to new kingdoms and lands. While season seven’s pacing is understandable, it nonetheless misses out on some of what has made Game of Thrones so fun.
This season feels like a bridge to something bigger. The majority of the episodes deal with characters finally meeting up and forming alliances. It’s kind of like The Two Towers without the Helm’s Deep battle. Don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty of spectacle. "The Spoils of War" is a particular highlight and offers some of the best dragon action to date. Moreover, the revelation of Jon’s true identity is executed with great narrative precision. Speaking of Jon, Kit Harrington has never been better as the character. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau’s Jaime also has some quietly affecting moments in the finale. We promise that we will riot if America’s sweetheart, Jaime, dies in the final season.
5 Season 6
Some say that Bran is the Night King, but we’re saying that this season proves he’s actually John Lennon reincarnated. Has anyone seen side by side photos of these two?! Season six doubles down on all of Bran’s warging shenanigans and it’s all the better for it. Seasons five through seven play around with flashback sequences, but season six implements them the best. Bran’s ability to witness the past is a cool way to show how his powers work while giving the narrative a natural reason to show flashbacks in the first place.
“Hold The Door” is easily one of the most heartbreaking and brilliant scenes in the entire series. The moment is vintage Game of Thrones in that it has character, thematic, and narrative growth in equal measure. There’s also a lot of other cool game-changing developments within the season. Jon’s return promises a newfound hope that’s rarely afforded to any of the people in Westeros. Cersei’s revenge against the High Sparrow is also thoroughly cathartic. There are a few things that can arguably be stronger. "Battle of the Bastards" is amazing to look at, but its actual story plays out rather straight forward by Game of Thrones standards. Regardless, this season is filled with powerful stuff. No one will ever be able to look at a door without crying.
4 Season 3
This is the one. This is the season where we find out Jon Snow DOES know something. Season three definitely attempts to subvert the audience’s expectations more than any other season. The greatest aspect of these subversions is that they come in the form of both triumph and tragedy.
There’s a lot of great subplots going on here. Brienne escorts Jaime back to King’s Landing. Jon is North of the wall being held captive by Ygritte and the wildlings. Jaime’s emotional arc of going from royal d-bag to the royal MVP is an incredible thing to behold. Jon falling in love and going all Fifty Shades of Crow in the cave is also a really cool way of showing him become his own man. Are we missing anything else? Oh, yeah… The Red Wedding. It’s simply put one of the greatest and most iconic moments in television history. What could have easily been a pretentious ploy to shock audiences ends up being a moment that perfectly redefines everything people thought they knew about the show. Anything or anyone is expendable in Westeros.
3 Season 2
Who doesn’t love Stannis The Maniss The Dude With The Planiss Whose Name Isn’t Janice. Sorry, we couldn’t think of any more rhymes. Back in 2011, it was hard for viewers to imagine Game of Thrones adding even more characters to the show’s already crowded cast. However, season two immediately proves that the series rarely adds characters just for fluff.
The addition of Stannis Baratheon makes everything that had been set up in season one even more interesting. Stannis’ fight with the Lannisters makes for some extremely compelling drama. Another great aspect of the season is that it showed how the series can produce episodes that can be just as epic as any movie. "Blackwater" is a great example of how to balance giant spectacle with amazing character moments. Peter Dinklage’s performance in the episode is nothing short of astounding. One couldn’t ask for a better sophomore season of television.
2 Season 1
Brace yourselves…here comes some Game of Thrones season one praise. The impact and importance of season one cannot be understated. The Lord of the Rings paved the way for adaptations like Game of Thrones, but no one could’ve guessed how much the show would connect with viewers. A series with ten plus principle characters dealing with dragons, castles, and magic? It was daring for HBO to believe that viewers could actually keep up. Turns out the network's paid off.
In reality, there’s not really a big secret to the show’s success. The show's endlessly rich and multilayered characters are irresistible. Even more amazing is that the pilot is immediately able to define all of these people. What also helps is that season one has a much more digestible narrative. It’s essentially a whodunit with Ned Stark in the detective role. With its twist and turns, stellar direction, and great writing, season one cemented Game of Thrones as a pop culture landmark.
1 Season 4
Season four is like eating four chocolate chip cookies for four hours at Disneyland except only four times better. In many ways season four functions as an entire culmination of seasons one through three. Character arcs and motivations come full circle in beautiful fashion.
Season four is as close as a show gets to perfect. Every single episode builds on top of each other and constantly serves up surprises. Jon taking control of the Night’s Watch, Tyrion’s trial, and Arya paving her own path are among many of the season’s incredible payoffs. Season four makes us believe that dragons can fly, that the shortest people in the room can have the biggest triumphs, and that Game of Thrones is one of the best shows ever made.