Game of Thrones has been known for many things throughout its 8 season run, but two of the main aspects of the show have to be the battles/fights and the deaths. So before the series finale tonight I will be exploring my favourite examples of both of these from the show. This list is looking at my Top 10 Battles and Fights, whilst you can find my Top 10 Deaths here. As always this list is just my opinions, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments.
10) Bronn vs. Ser Vardis Egen – We all know about Tyrion Lannister’s other trial by combat, and we’ll be getting to that, however his first occurred in the season 1 episode A Golden Crown. Pitting Bronn against the Vale’s Ser Vardis Egen it’s a nice fight that showcase Bronn’s more underhand tactics when fighting, much to the disgust of Lysa Arryn, but as Bronn so astutely points out that’s how you survive in this world, and given that he’s still alive and kicking in the finale I’d say he’s got a point.
9) Syrio Forel vs. Ser Meryn Trant and his men – The first sword of Braavos armed only with a wooden training sword against a group of Ser Meryn Trant’s men seems like unfair odds, but watching Syrio incapacitate and disarm all of Trant’s men is a joy to behold. He manages to hold them off for long enough to allow Arya to escape capture, but not before deliver the immortal line “What do we say to the God of Death?”. Now whilst it seems as though Trant is able to get the best of him, we don’t actually see it on screen, but Syrio’s sword is broken, and it’s a sad yet heroic end for a brilliant character.
8) Battle of Castle Black – The first of the full scale battles rather than a smaller scale fight on this list, and it is Jon’s defence of Castle Black against the Wildling attack. The battle ranges from epic moments with giants and mammoths and swinging scythes to the quieter moment between Jon and Ygritte and her heartbreaking death in Jon’s arms where they reminisce about what could have been. I don’t think it quite lived up to many of the other major battles before and after, but it was quite something to behold.
7) Ned Stark vs. Jaime Lannister – Another season 1 moment, and really the first of its kind the show. Coming at the end of the 5th episode, The Wolf and the Lion, Ned is confronted by Jaime about Tyrion’s arrest by Catelyn. After a skirmish that involves the deaths of Ned’s men two of Westeros’ great swordsmen, Ned and Jaime face off. Sure the swordplay and direction aren’t quite what we’d come to expect in later seasons, but it was an incredibly cool early moment. It also gave us the first insight into Jaime’s more noble and honourable nature, as he reacts angrily to one of his men attacking Ned from behind, and then allows Ned to live.
6) Brienne vs. The Hound – Brienne, attempting to fulfil a promise to Catelyn, finally manages to track down Arya in the Vale, and engages The Hound in a brutal fight. It starts as one of the best sword fights in the show’s history, but quickly descends into a brutal fist fight, as these two incredible fan favourite warriors absolutely batter one another. In the end Brienne comes out on top, but Arya sneaks away before fleeing to Braavos. Really this was a one on one fight that had it all, great sword play, and some truly bruising and hard to watch hand to hand fighting.
5) The Battle of Blackwater – Prior to the Battle of Blackwater Bay the battles in Game of Thrones had mostly been shown offscreen, but seeing Tyrion’s defence of King’s Landing against the superior might of Stannis Baratheon’s navy was the first of many epic battles. The use of the green wildfire had such an incredible visual impact and we got some great character moments with Tyrion’s speech and with Sansa and Cersei. Sure the show went on to scale up the fighting in later seasons, but Blackwater came relatively early on, and really set the standard.
4) Battle of the Bastards – The Battle of Bastards was the first time that the show really moved to the level of a movie in terms of the scale of what was happening. This was truly like watching something out of Braveheart. The opening where Ramsey plays Jon like a fiddle, baiting him into a full charge which leaves them penned in is stunning, and leaves it to Sansa and the Knights of the Vale to save the day. Director Miguel Sapochnik is the show’s go to for these kind of battles, and the atmosphere of chaos and then claustrophobia he creates are incredible, this was true spectacle on the small screen.
3) The Fall of King’s Landing – Man people hated The Bells but for me the fall of King’s Landing was one of the single most epic moments put to screen. From a sheer technical level it a masterpiece in battle filmmaking, with the direction, cinematography, and music all on point. It certainly doesn’t help that I’m on board with where the story went in this episode. The only reason that I can’t really put it any higher is the Euron and Jaime fight in the middle of the battle which really managed to add nothing. But for the most part this was an incredible battle.
2) Hardhome – Season 5 is probably the worst season in the show’s history, but amongst that it one incredible battle sequence. Hardhome. As Jon attempts to bring as many of the Wildlings as he can south to the safety of the wall the army of the dead arrive. The build of tension into the arrival of the snow storm is perfect and the ferocity of the dead’s assault on the wall as they try to go over, under, and through is frightening. Jon’s fight with a White is great, but the hopelessness fleeing to the boats as the Night King raises the dead behind them is iconic.
1) The Mountain vs. The Viper – Prince Oberyn Martell of Dorne may only have been on the show for a handful of episodes, but he made one hell of an impact. And his final scene, taking on Gregor Clegane on behalf of Tyrion, was really something special. The choreography of the fight sequence as we see two completely different fighting styles clash is brilliant, and Pedro Pascal’s performance as he angrily demands a confession from The Mountain is raw and powerful. It also doesn’t hurt that this provided one of the most shockingly gruesome moments on the show, with Gregor crushing Oberyn’s head until it explodes. This is easily my favourite fight from Game of Thrones’ history, and one that is completely elevated by all the emotional weight given to it.