Game of Thrones has myriad scary characters—in fact, just about every character on the show is capable of being incredibly frightening. But when a teenaged girl on the show has killed more people than Greyscale, she tends to stand out as being scarier than most. It’s not just the fact that Arya Stark has killed dozens of people that makes her scary. It’s the way she offs them that makes her kills range from deft and satisfying (“Something wrong with your leg, boy?”) to grisly and unnerving (pie, anyone?). In fact, we think Arya is solely responsible for some of the show’s most alarming and chilling scenes, and, at times, she has scared us more than even the White Walkers have.
Played by the inimitable Maisie Williams, Arya manages the tricky feat of being both scary bad and scary good—very often at the same time. But the skill set that she has amassed thus far may just be the scariest thing about her. Note: of course we know one tiny girl from the North isn’t as intimidating or as scary as the series’ ultimate big bads. The Night’s King and his herd of amassed dead things are totally scarier. But be honest: who has had more scary moments throughout the series? Here are 16 Times Arya Stark Was Scarier Than White Walkers.
16 Killing the Waif
Sure, it happens off camera, but still. It happens. We saw how formidable the Waif was as an opponent. She owned Arya for what felt like forever before Lady Stark finally snagged Needle and hit the lights. The Waif had undeniable skills. She was fierce and single-minded and agile af. And Arya killed her in a one-on-one fight, removed her face from her head, and added it to the House of Black and White’s shrine to the dead.
Arya gets the approval she has been seeking from Jaqen H’ghar afterwards, but she no longer cares. The smooth nonchalance with which she reclaims her identity was scary cool, and coupled with the knowledge that she has officially finished her training as a Faceless Man, this was one of Arya’s better being scary-good-and-scary-bad-at-the-same-time moments.
15 "Something wrong with your leg, boy?"
At the end of the season four premiere came an instant classic scene that set the tone for Arya and The Hound as traveling companions. When they stop outside an inn and Arya sees Polliver, the man who took her to Harrenhal and stole Needle—and thus earned a spot on her list—she goes after him. The Hound is forced to follow, and the ensuing altercation produces one of Thrones’ finest moments.
After some talk of chickens, Clegane takes out several of Polliver’s men himself, but things really get good when Arya gets involved. She kills a man with his own sword before taking Polliver’s legs out from behind him with the same blade. She then repeats his own words back to him—words he used before he killed her friend Lommy and stole her beloved Needle. “Fine little blade,” she tells him before putting it through his throat. “Maybe I’ll pick my teeth with it.” It really is cold in the North.
14 Sneak attack
Remember when Arya and The Hound were making the excruciatingly sad trek back from the Twins post-Red Wedding, and they came across a smattering of Freys telling campfire stories about stabbing Starks? Her response was as swift and deadly as any the show has seen.
Before anyone (including the Hound) knew what was going on, she had gotten off her horse, distracted the Freys with her cool Braavosi coinage, and stabbed one man fatally multiple times. The Hound, dumbfounded, scrambled to help her kill the rest of them, which he did handily before growling at her to warn him next time she’s going to go killing someone out of the blue like that. Vengeful, bloody, murderous Arya was born then, and she hasn’t looked back since.
13 Sparring with Brienne
The scary part here is clear: this girl is still just a teenager, and she seemingly embodies certain characteristics of each of her teachers, from Syrio Forel to the Hound to the Waif. Arya has been learning little else than how to fight and kill for years now, and seeing the culmination of her training in the scene where she spars with Brienne in “Spoils of War” definitely fell into the draw droppingly awesome category.
Arya clearly surprised and legitimately challenged Brienne with both sword and dagger in their first session. But Brienne wasn’t the only one surprised by Arya’s strength: Sansa looked a combination of scared and uncomfortable watching her little sister go toe to toe with Westeros’ most formidable lady knight, and we don’t blame her. Arya is beyond scary-good now, and there's a very real chance that the Lady of Winterfell could be in her sights soon enough.
12 “Someday, I’m going to put a sword through your eye, and out the back of your skull.”
Arya and the Hound’s relationship is complicated, to say the least. He was on her must kill list, but she had the chance to end him but chose not to (more on that later). Arya initially hated Sandor Clegane because he killed her friend on Joffrey’s command, and he worked as Lannister muscle. But she saw how human he was during their time trekking across the country, and their pairing was a fan favorite. It also came with the occasional smackdown or death threat.
Perhaps the most unsettling moment between them came on their way to the Red Wedding. The Hound makes an unwise (and insensitive) comment about the way Ned died, and Arya, calm and collected as ever, tells him how her sword will meet his skull someday. We believed her, and the Hound certainly looked more than a tad unsettled when he heard it.
11 Initiating the takeover of Harrenhal
Book Arya is a bit more clever than TV show Arya, and this was one moment early in the series in which we see how smart and stealthy the little Stark could be. In A Storm of Swords, Arya doesn’t just leave Harrenhal with the help of Jaqen H’ghar. She helps the North (and the Boltons) take it back from the Lannisters first.
Remember in the show when she had three kills promised to her by Jaqen H’ghar, and in an argument, she gave Jaqen his own name? In the books, she also gives him his own name, but she does so in a more cunning and manipulative fashion. She refuses to unname him until he agrees to kill MORE than one last dude for her, and oh, can he help her free the castle’s imprisoned Northmen too, while he’s at it? He helps her, and the North retakes Harrenhal as a result. When Roose Bolton arrives, her skills seem to impress him. Scary, indeed.
10 Executing a deserter
In A Feast For Crows, when Arya is peddling oysters at the beginning of her Faceless Man training in Braavos, she comes across some men of the Night’s Watch: Dareon, a prostitute-loving singer, and Samwell Tarly, on his way to Oldtown. Dareon clearly rubs Arya the wrong way. She overhears him badmouthing Jon Snow, and she also hears him admit to being a deserter, as he brags about never going back to the Wall. Ned Stark beheaded men for such acts. Arya’s methods were…different.
She walks with a drunken Dareon one night and slits his throat in an alley, taking his boots with her and disposing of his body in the water. It was the first time she killed anyone in the books who hadn’t directly or physically harmed her or someone she loved, but Dareon was a deserter, and she simply couldn’t abide that.
9 Killing Raff the Sweetling
We know a few things about the still unreleased Winds of Winter that we’ve gleaned from the few chapters George R.R. Martin has released early. In one chapter, a girl named Mercy wakes after dreaming of wolves and starts her morning routine in Braavos. Of course, fans of the show and books know already who Mercy really is—and that name may be meant to be a tad bit ironic.
Mercy sees a familiar face while she is working as an actor—an old blast from the past who also happens to be on Arya Stark’s list. Mercy sees Raff the Sweetling hanging around the performance area, and she lures him to a private area via flirtation, before slitting his femoral artery and then his throat as retribution for his former service as one of the Mountain's henchmen.
8 The art of lying
In the books, Arya’s lessons in Braavos go much further than physical tests. In addition to learning how to fight minus a sense or two, Arya is taught the arts of deception and lying by the Waif. The Waif in the books is more of a neutral servant and instructor than the antagonistic jerk she was on the show, and Arya gleans much from her.
The Faceless Men basically learn everything about the ways people deceive one another, from nonverbal tells to how to read every situation. So Arya’s skills of deception match her physical skills in the book, whereas on the show...not so much. Book Arya would have never been fooled by any of Peter Baelish's tricks—she would have seen right through his deception.
7 Killing a guy without touching him
The show alludes to this moment very briefly in season 5, but it doesn’t do Arya’s skills as an assassin justice. In the book series, while training in Braavos, she is tasked with killing an old man who always has armed guards next to him—he’s never alone. So she studies him for weeks, learns his idiosyncrasies and his daily habits, and soon enough, she finds a way to kill him without even touching him.
She notices that he has a tendency to bite down on every coin he is given, so she laces a coin with poison during a seemingly innocent exchange, knowing he’ll likely gnaw on it. He does. The White Walkers are terrifying, but we’re not sure they’re capable of such deadly meticulousness.
6 Arya becomes the wolf
Another book-only happening is Arya’s ability to warg. She’s not like Bran, however—she can only do so in her dreams, so it comes and goes and happens at random times. One night, after escaping Harrenhal, Arya finds Nymeria in a dream, and through her direwolf’s eyes, Arya sees the beast kill a few of the Brave Companions who have been chasing after her. And she relishes the crap out of that experience!
Arya also comes across her dead mother while warging into Nymeria in a dream, so her warg dreams are usually terrifying or traumatic in some way. After their recent reunion on the show, the thought of her and Nymeria reuniting in any way, shape, or form is a marvelous thought—and also a pretty terrifying one.
5 Taking Ser Meryn’s eyes, then his life
Ser Meryn was a gross child rapist and abuser who also used to hit Sansa at Joffrey’s command, so he definitely got what was coming to him. But again, the scary part here is how grisly his death was at the hands of a girl who weighs as much as a roasted fowl.
Utilizing a face from the wall of the House of Black and White, Arya’s method was nothing short of ghastly: after revealing her real face, she pounces, and stabs out each of Ser Meryn’s eyes, one at a time. She then gives him a few extra knife-punches to the gut for good measure, all the while informing him why he’s meeting his maker here, in this way. She concludes by calmly telling him he’s no one before slitting his throat. The satisfaction in her eyes alone warrants the scene’s inclusion on this list.
4 Murdering her way out of Harrenhal
On the show, Arya escapes Harrenhal with a little help from her friends, namely Jaqen H’ghar. But in the books, Jaqen doesn’t help her. Instead, she murders her way out, committing a formerly taboo act in the process: she kills Northmen—men who were currently her brother Robb’s bannermen—in order to escape.
The scene, as described in A Clash of Kings, is equally comical and horrifying. After murdering the man guarding the exit, she meets up with Gendry and Hot Pie, whom she helps free in the process. She meets their surprise with a more surprising nonchalance: “You killed him!” Hot Pie gasped. “What did you think I would do?” Her fingers were sticky with blood, and the smell was making her mare skittish. It’s no matter, she thought, swinging up into the saddle. The rain will wash them clean again.” Watch out for the wolf girl!
3 Leaving the Hound for dead
This was scary largely because of how icy and indifferent Arya was to her companion and protector at what they both thought was the end. She’s cold blooded in that scene, and she showed him absolutely zero mercy—let’s call it her Cobra Kai moment. Perhaps he deserved none; we get that coming from her perspective. But mercy was something Ned Stark was heavily in favor of, and Arya’s rejection of it showed how her character was growing apart from the other Starks.
Sure, it all worked out for the best in the end—the Hound is alive and well and off seeking redemption for his past sins along with Jon Snow and co., while Arya just returned home to Winterfell. But that doesn’t change how completely unsettling this moment was.
2 Smell ya later, House Frey
The cold open to season 7 was another instant classic. Some thought it was a flashback when the episode began with a dinner party at Walder Frey’s house, as Arya had killed him at the end of last season. Others knew exactly what was going on: Faceless (Wo)Man Arya was wearing the face of the deceased Walder Frey while addressing the men of his house. When the voice of Walder starts rather sarcastically noting how these brave men before him “Butchered a woman pregnant with her babe…slit the throat of a mother of five…” we know some fecal matter is about to hit some fans.
Arya pulls off Frey’s face, and watches with glee as his entire house dies in front of her after she had them poisoned. She then tells his surviving girl-wife that winter just came for house Frey before walking off with a grin a mile wide. Bottoms up!
1 Two words: Frey pie
Has there been a more gruesome or disgustingly terrifying moment on the series so far? If so, we’re not sure what it is. In a scene given to House Manderly in the books, Arya gets some fresh baked revenge on the house that was largely responsible for the Red Wedding.
Once again masquerading around with a face not her own, she appears in front of Walder Frey with a meat pie, serving him seconds. He asks her if she has seen his sons, and she gestures at the pie and says: “They’re already here, my lord.” When Frey sees one of his sons’ fingers amidst the pie filling, he, and audiences, about lost their dinners. “They weren’t easy to carve…especially Black Walder,” Arya notes, before slitting Walder’s throat and smiling a huge, satisfied grin. The White Walkers are scary and all, but once we see them serve a man his own sons for dinner, maybe we’ll find them as scary as we find young Arya.
Did we miss any of Arya Stark’s most terrifying moments? Let us know in the comments!