Game of Thrones is one of the most popular shows on television. It is arguably the prime, current example of “event television,” sparking theories, debate, and discussion with every episode.
Much of this success stems from George R.R. Martin’s gripping source material. The show brings to life these memorable characters within a fully realized world that introduces extensive mythology. Even as the showrunners move further past the books and into uncharted territory, the show is as lively and engaging as it has ever been. Characters move like chess pieces in a game of world-conquering, and with season eight coming next year, it remains to be seen who will come on top.
Because Game of Thrones isn’t afraid to dive into the gritty and violent details within all these storylines, it often creates controversy surrounding certain moments on the show. Some of these involve tragedy and violence, while others involve scenes that are simply difficult to watch on screen.
While a few of these moments are quick and fleeting, others have more lasting repercussions on the characters that have affected them negatively. That can be a consequence of more mature television like this, but that still doesn’t justify some of these events.
Here are 16 Times Game of Thrones Went Way Too Far.
16. Arya Stark goes blind
Arya largely forges her own path throughout the series. She’s a survivor and a fighter, and will stop at nothing to accomplish her goals — which mostly include checking off names on her list.
She eventually heads to Braavos to learn from Jaqen H’ghar, the Faceless Man. Her hubris comes back to bite her when she steals one of the faces from the House of Black and White in order to take out Ser Meryn Trant, a former knight of the Kingsguard under the Baratheons. To punish Arya for taking the face, Jaqen H’ghar takes away her eyesight.
This is an interesting development for Arya, but it never goes anywhere.
15. Sansa Stark and Tyrion Lannister getting married
Before Sansa was forced to marry Ramsay, she was forced to marry Tyrion. Tyrion may have been a better “husband,” but Sansa feels like a foil to further Tyrion’s own humiliation.
In season one, Sansa had eyes for a different man of Lannister heritage: Joffrey Baratheon. After her father, Eddard, dies, Sansa remains more or less a prisoner within King’s Landing, subject to the mercy of Joffrey and the Lannisters.
The show seems to use the marriage to deter Tyrion’s happiness, as he is romantically involved with Shae at this time. In reality, this affects Sansa much more. Not only is this marriage psychologically manipulative to her, but it also foils her own plans to leave King’s Landing.
14. Samwell Tarly peeling off Jorah Mormont’s Greyscale
There are moments in Game of Thrones that are controversial, and then there are moments that are just plain gross to watch. The latter occurs during Samwell and Jorah’s brief interaction in the Citadel when Sam treats Jorah for Greyscale.
Greyscale is a deadly disease that makes a person’s skin flaky and stone-like to touch. In season five, Jorah and Tyrion are attacked by Greyscale-infected men as they sail into Old Valyria. They infect Jorah in the process.
In a show where anyone can die without warning, Jorah seemed all but confirmed to be on the chopping block. However, Sam discovers a technique that saves Jorah, which involves peeling off the Greyscale from the skin. The camera gets up-close and personal with this process, showing the diseased skin. That’s not a sight any fan needs to see.
13. The High Septon Storyline
Season five is one of the more rocky runs of the series. Part of that is due to the heavy focus on the Sparrows, a religious sect of the Faith of the Seven that rises to take control over King’s Landing.
It’s no secret that Tommen is not a strong leader, and his rule allows for this rise to occur. The High Septon, leader of the Sparrows, recruits new members like Lancel Lannister, who have the religion’s symbol scratched into their foreheads. This leads to the imprisonment of Queen Margaery for keeping her brother Loras’ true orientation a secret, and Cersei for her affair with Lancel (and her alleged affair with Jaime).
Cersei then endures the infamous “walk of atonement” where she must walk through the streets of King’s Landing while being publicly shamed. All of these events feel extreme and off-base with what came before on the show.
12. Daenerys’ horse heart snack
Before Daenerys became a conqueror (First of her name, Unburnt, Queen of the Andals, etc), she endured a lot of challenges in the first season.
A victim of her brother Viserys’ desire for the throne, Dany reluctantly enters into a marriage with the Dothraki leader Kahl Drogo. While their love does become genuine, she must complete different trials to prove herself. This includes eating a raw horse heart — and being able to keep it down, no less.
Game of Thrones doesn’t shy away from gruesome imagery, and this scene is inarguably hard to watch.
The Dothraki watch and cheer her on as she kneels in the center of a tent with the heart in her hands. It proves that she is a stronger person than Viserys ever could have been, but the mere thought of completing such an act is enough to make someone shudder.
11. Margaery Tyrell’s marriage to Tommen Baratheon
Margaery possesses more empathy for others than Queen Mother Cersei ever could. Despite this, it was always clear that what Margaery wanted most was the crown, and she willing to do what it took to make that happen.
Initially, this included marrying Joffrey, but when Joffrey died, Margaery set her sights on Tommen, who was next in line.
Margaery emotionally manipulates Tommen at every turn, beginning mere moments after Joffrey’s death.
This marriage proves more fruitful than Margaery’s previous ones, because she succeeds in becoming queen for a short time. However, the predatory nature of their relationship feels completely wrong. Maybe that’s the point, but for Tommen, his feelings for Margaery become deep-rooted, so much so that he ends his own life after Margaery dies. This relationship is awkward, inappropriate, and emotionally abusive.
10. Arya vs the Frey family
What House Frey did to House Stark at the Red Wedding is enough to make anyone want revenge, but Arya takes things to the extreme.
At the end of season six, Arya infiltrates Walder Fray’s home using one of her faces. As Walder dines in his hall, Arya, disguised as a servant, serves Walder a meat pie made of his two sons’ flesh. Walder reacts in horror as Arya reveals herself before killing him.
The Freys were not good people, and fans should theoretically root for Arya to get her revenge. However, the way she goes about it is so excessive and so stomach-churning that it undermines the weight of this death.
9. Myrcella Baratheon’s fate
There are many things that went wrong during the Dorne storyline, and Myrcella’s death is just one of them. In season two, Tyrion plans a marriage between Myrcella and Trystane Martell to unite the Martells with House Lannister in the War of the Five Kings.
Myrcella more or less sails to Dorne and out of the show at this point. However, she resurfaces in season five looking alive and well in Dorne just as “Uncle” Jaime arrives to bring her home. Before they reach King’s Landing, though, we learn that Ellaria Sand poisoned Myrcella to punish the Lannisters for Oberyn’s death.
Myrcella collapses and dies in Jaime’s arms.
8. The Mountain vs the horse
Ser Gregor Clegane, better known as “The Mountain,” is a knight who eventually aligns with Cersei. He has a violent past that extends back a long time, to where he stuck his brother’s face into a fire.
If that story isn’t enough to deter someone from messing with the Mountain, his stature and barbaric demeanor surely would. However, during a celebration for Ned Stark’s appointment as Hand of the King, Ser Loras Tyrell challenges and bests the Mountain in a joust. The Mountain, furious by this defeat, decapitates his own horse and lashes out at Loras.
The show was likely going for shock-value with this act to show how insane and formidable the Mountain is.
7. The Mountain vs Oberyn Martell
If the horse beheading in season one doesn’t illustrate the extremes the Mountain will go to, his battle with Prince Oberyn Martell surely will.
When Cersei accuses Tyrion of killing Joffrey, he demands a trial by combat. Cersei appoints the Mountain to be her champion. Oberyn, whose sister Elia was killed by the Mountain, agrees to be Tyrion’s champion to avenge her death.
Oberyn seems to best the Mountain in combat with his agile fighting abilities, but when he gets cocky, the Mountain trips Oberyn and gains the upperhand. Rather than end things gracefully, the Mountain crushes Oberyn’s head in with his bare hands.
6. Rickon Stark’s fate
Oh, Rickon. What does it say when Jon Snow, the alleged bastard son, plays a bigger role in the Stark family than a true-born son?
Rickon is the forgotten Stark, a background character whose role is quite literally to fill out the background. For the most part, Rickon is a largely unnecessary character — that is, until he meets his memorable death in “The Battle of the Bastards.”
Before the battle actually begins, Ramsay, who has captured Rickon, releases him and shoots arrows at him as he runs to meet Jon. After three arrows, it seems like Jon may reach Rickon in time, but a fourth arrow strikes him down.
It seems strange to give such an impactful ending to a useless character.
5. Bran Stark becoming the Three-Eyed Raven
Bran Stark is a perplexing character. The beginning of his storyline sets up some mysterious elements and points of intrigue – particularly his dreams involved a Three-Eyed Raven.
Through a lengthy, winding journey (one that is completely absent for all of season five, but picks back up in season six) Bran meets the Three-Eyed Raven and learns the power of Sight. This grants him the ability to see all of time — past, present and future.
This ability sounds awesome and interesting, but ultimately, Bran’s transformation makes him a boring, disengaged character and reduces him to a plot device. He is more or less an exposition machine, spitting out plot information where necessary — including the revelation about Jon Snow’s heritage.
4. Talisa at the Red Wedding
After his father died, Robb Stark took a central role in the War of the Five Kings, representing his house with honor. His journey leads him to Talisa, a healer on the battlefield with whom he falls in love.
Talisa is strong and kind, and her relationship with Robb is sweet and among the more organic and “normal” on the show. They marry, and she becomes pregnant with his child. This occurs to the chagrin of Walder Frey because Robb was supposed to marry his daughter. These tensions eventually lead to the Red Wedding, where Robb, Talisa, Catelyn, and many other characters die.
Ramsay is a reprehensible character for many reasons, but it all starts with his treatment of Theon Greyjoy.
After sacking Winterfell and taking it out of Theon’s control, Ramsay’s men lock him in the Dreadfort and subject him to torture. To further psychologically manipulate Theon, Ramsay sets him free before leading him back to the torture chamber.
Ramsay then emasculates Theon and tortures him so much that Theon begs for death. Being the twisted man he is, Ramsay renames Theon “Reek” and punishes him until Theon acknowledges his new name.
Not only are these events difficult to watch, but they are far too excessive.
While it does lead to Theon’s redemption arc, there are more compelling, less gruesome ways to create character development.
2. Jaime and Cersei Lannister near Joffrey’s body
In the season four episode, “Breaker of Chains,” Cersei grieves for the loss of her child in the Great Sept of Baelor, when Jaime approaches his sister. He initially tries to comfort her — this is his son too, after all — but Cersei rejects him. Jaime becomes angry and assault Cerseis next to Joffrey’s altar.
For starters, it is completely inappropriate to engage in such behavior next to their recently deceased son. The more pressing issue, though, is that the scene depicts a lack of sonsent. Cersei repeatedly tells Jaime to stop, but he persists.
This scene degrades Cersei and damages Jaime’s redemption arc.
1. Ramsay Bolton’s marriage to Sansa Stark
Sansa Stark seems to draw the short end of the stick in nearly every storyline she takes part in. While she plays an important role in reclaiming Winterfell for House Stark, there was a key player standing in her way: Ramsay Bolton.
Formerly known as Ramsay Snow, the bastard son of Roose Bolton, this is a psychotic character who will stop at nothing to take what he feels is owed to him.
When Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish arranges a marriage between Ramsay and Sansa in the season five episode, “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, Ramsay assaults Sansa on their wedding night while Theon Greyjoy watches.
Even for a show like Game of Thrones, Sansa’s abuse was appalling and unnecessary. Critics widely consider this episode to be the worst of the series; it is the only episode with a “rotten” rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Sansa’s treatment factors heavily into that rating.
Are there other times Game of Thrones crossed the line? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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