Game Of Thrones is a very lucky fantasy drama. Unlike many of its genre brethren, like the more sci-fi LOST or Battlestar Galactica, its episodes don’t polarize its fan-base. The series is almost universally loved by those who watch it around the world, making it a surprisingly popular part of pop culture, despite airing on a premium cable network.
Even the most popular television shows aren’t perfect. For every outstanding episode, there’s going to be one that doesn’t hit with fans. Issue of pacing, or cramming too much story into an hour, or unpopular characters taking center stage, can cause fans to turn on an episode even when it’s a critical success.
Thanks to sites like the Internet Movie Database, fans and critics alike can rate episodes on a scale of one (the worst) to ten (the best.) With tens of thousands giving their feedback for a single episode, the ratings provide a good metric for measuring which of hours of Game Of Thrones are really best - or worst.
On IMDB, the best Game Of Thrones episodes have a 9.9, while the worst have an 8.1. That’s not a huge gap in quality, so an episode of Game Of Thrones called one of “the worst” is a pretty pleasing hour of television. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up The 15 Worst Episodes Of Game Of Thrones According To IMDB (And The 10 Best.)
25 Worst: S3E07 The Bear And The Maiden Fair (8.8)
Not the absolute worst of episodes, the season three episode “The Bear And The Maiden Fair” still ranks among the lowest ten. While it doesn’t appear that anyone truly hated it, the episode doesn’t have the same punch as others in the season.
Set near the end of its season, the episode worked more as a bridge between episodes than as its own story. It followed Jaime deciding to help Brienne, Tyrion dealing with the consequences of his engagement to Sansa, and a whole lot of people trying to make decisions. Ratings among IMDB users stand at 8.8, so it’s still respectable, but not a standout.
24 Best: S4E02 The Lion And The Rose (9.7)
In season four, Margaery Tyrell and Joffrey Baratheon finally married. Their houses were joined in “The Lion And The Rose,” and many fans and critics alike labeled it as one of the best episodes of the series so far.
More than 38,000 IMDB uses rated the episode, averaging a 9.7. The episode wasn’t big on battle scenes or dragons, but instead on political intrigue. Moments that should have been boring remained tense as the audience waited for the other shoe to drop. When the episode culminated in Joffrey’s poisoning, fans couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
23 Worst: S1E02 The Kingsroad (8.8)
Most television shows can struggle to find their footing in their first few hours. While Game of Thrones had a solid first episode, it’s second misses the mark by just a tad. Like many of the episodes that fans find fall short, “The Kingsroad” is a transition episode.
A lot of the episode requires main characters to spend their time on feet (or horse) traveling to a new location. The audience was introduced to a lot of new locales, new characters, and new plot pieces moving into place very quickly. It left little time to catch up, but also didn’t grip the audience like the pilot did.
22 Best: S2E09 Blackwater (9.7)
As season two of Game Of Thrones drew to a close, the battle for King’s Landing came to a head. Stannis Baratheon’s ships came to town and battled the Lannister soldiers under Tyrion’s command. The decision to focus the storyline of the hour solely on King’s Landing proved a very positive one.
Despite so much of the episode happening in the dead of night, and in questionable lighting, “Blackwater” was a hit with many fans because of its thriller sensibilities. The stillness of the water and the confidence of Stannis’ men was dashed by Tyrion’s “wildfire.” Sansa learned what came with invasion from a blunt Cersei. Audiences were captivated.
21 Worst: S7E01 Dragonstone (8.7)
With the debut of season seven, fans knew that Game Of Thrones neared its logical conclusion. As a result, expectations for the premiere, “Dragonstone,” were very high.
While fans loved Daenerys making her homecoming and Arya getting revenge, most criticisms of the episode lie in other directions. Plenty of fans dislike that Sansa and Jon can’t see the same threats coming (which is still a concern a season later.) That, however, wasn’t what landed the episode in the worst slot. Instead, that was the result of a cameo by singer Ed Sheeran. Fans found his cameo distracting instead of adding to the episode, ranking it with an 8.7.
20 Best: S4E10 The Children (9.7)
Season four went out with a bang - or rather, it went out with several. The season finale, “The Children,” marked the end for several characters the audience grew to know over the previous four years.
The many losses proved that even this far into the series, it could still surprise people. Tyrion disposed of both his father and Shae, while Bran and Arya both made decisions about their future. A huge highlight of the episode for many was the match between Brienne and the Hound, which many fans praised as one of the best fight sequences they’d ever seen. The episode remains a fan favorite.
19 Worst: S6E07 The Broken Man (8.7)
Helping to wind down season six of Game Of Thrones, “The Broken Man” was another transition episode in a long line of mixed-reviewed transition episodes. The episode served to put pieces in place for future story-lines, but it didn’t deliver the standout sequences viewers knew the show for.
The bright spot in the episode for most viewers? The introduction of Lyanna Mormont. The young leader quickly became a fan favorite for those who worry about the uneven treatment of women throughout the series.
18 Worst: S5E05 Kill The Boy (8.7)
By and large, critical reception of the season five episode “Kill The Boy” was favorable, which is why it’s a bit surprising that it landed among the 15 worst Game Of Thrones episodes.
Though fans largely enjoy the rise of Daenerys to a capable leader and Jon Snow learning how to secure his own future, it’s likely the Ramsay Bolton of it all that drops the rating among IMDB users. Ramsay is a character the audience loves to hate, largely as a result of his treatment of Sansa Stark, and this episode only scratched the surface of how controlling he would be.
17 Best: S4E06 The Laws Of Gods And Men (9.7)
Season four still ranks highly for a lot of viewers out of all eight seasons. It featured several strong stories, but it also featured performances that could carry entire episodes. It’s one of those performances that sees “The Laws Of Gods And Men” as one of the best episodes of the series.
While the episode features other story-lines, the standout is the trial of Tyrion Lannister for the poisoning of his nephew. Though he maintains his innocence, the audience watched as character after character gave testimony against him until he finally lashed out at everyone. It was a great character driven episode.
16 Worst: S3E02 Dark Wings, Dark Words (8.7)
When a series relies on political machinations as much as it does effects spectacles, slow moving episodes can make some fans antsy. The early season three episode “Dark Wings, Dark Words” is one of them.
This episode doesn’t have those water-cooler moments to get people talking. Slower pacing of the plot also put some people off. There are important events in the episode - like the introduction of a few new characters. Most of the audience didn’t care if Theon Greyjoy was captured or if Margaery Tyrell found out the extent of Joffrey’s cruelty just yet though.
15 Worst: S1E03 Lord Snow (8.7)
Not very many season one episodes make this list. Like the episode before it though, episode three “Lord Snow,” does land among the worst. Of course, it does it with an 8.7 ranking from IMDB users, so at its worst, it’s still better than most dramas fans rank online.
“Lord Snow” primarily focused on Jon Snow’s first interactions with the men at the Wall. His deciding to train those who didn’t have his upbringing is admirable, but hardly the highlight of the episode. In an hour focused largely on backstory and exposition, the highlight was Arya getting to take sword fighting lessons. All of that exposition would eventually pay off, but for viewers first starting the series, it didn’t feel like it.
14 Best: S6E05 The Door (9.7)
If you’re a Game Of Thrones fan who wanted Hodor’s backstory, the season six episode “The Door” gave it to you, and then broke your heart. The emotional punch of the episode made many fans love it, and earned it a 9.7 rating on IMDB.
In addition to Hodor’s heartbreaking backstory, the episode also opened up more of the show’s mythology as we found out more of what Brans’ abilities allowed him to do. The threat of the White Walkers became more prominent, while Sansa, Daenerys, and Tyrion all had to make critical decisions affecting their political futures. It provided movement all around.
13 Worst: S5E03 High Sparrow (8.7)
Season five proved to be a very divisive season for fans and critics. Interestingly, while the early episode “High Sparrow” proved a hit with critics (earning a 100% in the Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores,) fans were a bit more disappointed with it. They ranked it at an 8.7 for IMDB.
The episode served to begin bringing together the stories from seemingly far reaches of the Game Of Thrones universe. Arya began her real training, Sansa plotted revenge, Jon achieved a higher standing in the Night’s Watch, and Margaery started making moves against Cersei. That wasn’t enough to satisfy everyone.
12 Worst: S5E02 The House Of Black And White (8.6)
The episode prior to “High Sparrow,” called “The House Of Black And White,” actually disappointed some fans even more. Its rating dropped to an 8.6.
This episode was all about characters making difficult decisions, but perhaps those decisions weren’t enough for some fans. A standout was actually Sam’s speech getting Jon elected to the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, but perhaps this is one episode where fans wished for more Jon Snow? There were many separate stories going on other than his, and not many of them started weaving together until the end.
11 Best: S7E04 The Spoils Of War (9.8)
With season seven, fans knew that more and more characters who were apart for years would have to interact again. After all, the series was almost over. In the fourth episode, “The Spoils of War,” those reunions, as well as some new interactions, made it one of the best episodes of the series at a 9.8.
The episode sees Jon Snow and Daenerys learn a bit of Westeros history, Arya reunite with two of her siblings, and Jaime face off against a dragon in battle. Fans waited six years to see Arya and Sansa finally in the same room, and they weren’t disappointed. Likewise, seeing Daenerys and Drogon battle Jaime Lannister’s forces was a sequence people kept talking about.
10 Worst: S6E01 The Red Woman (8.6)
While the season six premiere is a relatively solid hour of television when compared to other fantasy-dramas, it is among the worst of the Game Of Thrones fare for a particular reason. Those fans who love the novels find that the storyline for Dorne just didn’t make any sense.
Events in Dorne happened very quickly in this particular storyline, eliminating characters who actually had a large presence in the books. It confused those who used the books as a blueprint of the series. At least the reveal of Melisandre AKA “The Red Woman” being truly ancient gave fans an interesting look into her character.
9 Worst: S5E01 The Wars To Come (8.6)
The season five premiere of Game Of Thrones is another case of a solid episode with a lot of critical love that fans disagreed with. While the episode initially had an aggregate score of 100% from critics on Rotten Tomatoes, IMDB users landed it at an 8.6 rating.
It’s not entirely clear what the fans disliked about this particular episode, but as a season premiere, “The Wars To Come” did require setting a lot of plot pieces into place. It’s also possible that because so many people loved the season four finale, they were simply hoping for more when the show returned.
8 Best: S6E10 The Winds Of Winter (9.9)
The season six finale marked one of four nearly perfect episodes - at least according to IMDB users. It scored a 9.9 (as did the final three “best” episodes on this list.) “The Winds Of Winter” was like wish fulfillment for so many characters and fans.
Daenerys finally got her alliance and set sail for Westeros, Arya took her revenge on the Frey family, the North declared Jon Snow their king, and Cersei made a major play for the Iron Throne. Because the episode featured so many turning points for so many characters, fans were immediately anticipating season seven.
7 Worst: S2E02 The Night Lands (8.6)
Like many of the worst Game Of Thrones episodes, the season two episode “The Night Lands” features both a lot happening - and nothing happening. The episode was similar to the season one hour “The Kingsroad” in terms of content and pacing.
That similarity meant there were a lot of separate stories going on, and none of them seemed to link together. Daenerys waited for her messengers, Jon Snow learned what the Craster family did with their sons, but more interesting than any of that was the brief moment where Arya opened up to someone. She told Gendry her real identity after learning he knew her father.
6 Worst: S6E08 No One (8.5)
As season six wound down, there were quite a few plot points that needed to be put to bed in order for story to move forward. “No One” was the episode that attempted to do that.
The episode brought an end to Arya’s time with the Faceless Men, saw Brienne and Jaime both fail at their real missions, and had Cersei prepare to “pay” for her crimes. The episode wasn’t one of the flashier hours of the series, and perhaps that’s why people were a bit disappointed with it, ranking it at 8.5. To have so many arcs end anticlimactically was a surprise.
Of course, one of the worst episodes came before one of the best.
5 Best: S6E09 Battle Of The Bastards (9.9)
One pattern fans noticed in the tail end of the seasons is that just before the finale episode, plenty of battles and tragic losses must occur in Game Of Thrones. That’s certainly true in the season six episode “Battle Of The Bastards” as well.
While there was plenty of tragedy to go around as many characters had their final episode, there were also a lot of turning points for characters. Sansa proved herself by bringing Jon Snow reinforcements and getting revenge on Ramsay Bolton. Daenerys got to take out a major threat with the help of her dragons. Yara Greyjoy found herself a new alliance. The episode became a favorite with its cinematic action sequences and its women on top.
4 Worst: S6E06 Blood Of My Blood (8.5)
Despite some stellar episodes in season six, there were quite a few that just missed the mark. The mid-season hour “Blood Of My Blood” was one of them at an 8.5.
While there were some fans who enjoyed getting to see what Sam’s home life was like, the majority weren’t all that interested in him taking Gilly home to meet the parents. The episode also provided a lot of scenes with characters making plans and talking about what they were about to do without actually doing anything. As a result, it provided a bit of a disappointment.
3 Best: S5E08 Hardhome (9.9)
One time it seemed that critics and fans could agree on an excellent hour of television was in season five’s “Hardhome.” The episode earned perfect marks from critics at The AV Club and IGN. IMDB users ranked it nearly as high with a 9.9.
The episode followed a string of hours providing set up, so its action sequences provided some much needed payoff. The Night King and his army of White Walkers taking on the Night Watch and the Wildlings was a sight to behold.
Of course, just two episodes earlier, the show hit its low with the worst episode according to IMDB.
2 Worst: S5E06 Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken (8.1)
If there’s any episode of Game Of Thrones that is nearly universally hated, it might be this one. During the middle of season five, the series delivered fans “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken,” and the vast majority of fans didn’t like what they got, and IMDB users gave it an 8.1 as a result.
The episode itself had a lot of other things going on, but it’s most remembered for the assault of Sansa Stark. Season five began promising big things for all of its female characters, and while it delivered for some, it turned its back on others. In fact, for Sansa’s pivotal scene, the show literally did that - not even giving the audience Sansa’s point of view of her attack, but instead, focusing on those observing her, further disappointing fans.
1 Best: S3E09 The Rains Of Castamere (9.9)
While fans of the books on which the series is based expected the “Red Wedding” to happen at some point in the series, the season three episode still provided them with an emotional punch. Because of that, “The Rains Of Castamere” is a favorite for those familiar with the books, as well as those who’ve never read them.
There were plenty of other plot pieces set in motion for other characters, but the bulk of the praise for the episode lands on Catelyn and Robb Stark attending a wedding that ended in a massacre. The performances of Michelle Fairley and Richard Madden were fantastic and losing both characters (as well as numerous others) in one fell swoop proved anything goes on Game Of Thrones.
Do you agree with these IMDB rankings? Or should there be a whole different set of Game Of Thrones episodes at the top and bottom of the pack? Let us know in the comments.