20 Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Episodes, Ranked According to IMDb


Arguably the entertainment title that defined the 2010s as far as film and television go, Game of Thrones rose to unprecedented, record-breaking heights throughout its eight seasons as it followed the many feuding families of Westeros battling for the Iron Throne. With a vast array of intriguing and complex characters vying for power in a merciless world of violence and magic, the series fast became famous for its many shocking plot twits and the deaths of major characters. As such, many of these episodes stand among not only the highest rated, but the most voted that IMDb has.

While the series sadly didn’t end in the manner that many fans were hoping for, it can still be fondly remembered for the many brilliant moments that cemented it as one of the greatest television shows of all time. Spanning from episodes of unbelievable tension where fans farewelled some of their favorite characters, to more action-packed entries that showcased the epic grandiosity of the show with stunning perfection, these 20 episodes are Game of Thrones‘ highest-rated according to IMDb users, and cover many of the memorable highlights the series had to offer.

Game Of Thrones

Release Date
April 17, 2011

David Benioff, D.B. Weiss



Watch on Max

20 “A Golden Crown” (Season 1, Episode 6)

IMDb Ranking: 9.1/10

Prince Viserys (Harry Lloyd) screams in agony as Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) pours molten gold over his head.
Image via HBO

While it would be too corny to describe the episode as an early crowning achievement, “A Golden Crown” was a noteworthy episode of the first season as it elevated political tensions and offered the first glimpse into the fact that no one was safe in Westeros and the Free Cities. It is most memorable for its impact on Daenerys’ (Emilia Clarke) story, as her oppressive brother Viserys (Harry Lloyd) was killed by Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) in unforgettably gruesome fashion.

The episode also saw Ned Stark (Sean Bean) tasked with governing the kingdom while healing from his run-in with Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), while King Robert (Mark Addy) went on a hunting expedition, and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) demanded a trial by combat while being held as a prisoner in the Eyrie. A pivotal chapter considering the events that would soon follow, “A Golden Crown” managed to be intense in its own right while giving audiences a sickening feeling that something diabolical was just starting to unfold (and that the shocking deaths in Game of Thrones have only just begun).

19 “Home” (Season 6, Episode 2)

IMDb Ranking: 9.3/10

The young King Tommen looks over his sister's corpse alongside his uncle Jaime Lannister.
Image via HBO

Among the busiest episodes of the entire series, “Home” saw a great many story threads unfurl across Westeros with Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon) seizing control of his house in brutal fashion, Jaime confronting the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce) regarding his treatment of Cersei (Lena Headey), while Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide) was assassinated as his long-distant brother returned to the Iron Islands. Elsewhere, Tyrion unshackled the dragons chained beneath Mereen, Arya (Maisie Williams) made a big step in her training in Braavos, and, on the Wall, Melisandre (Carice van Houten) attempted to resurrect Jon Snow (Kit Harrington).

With so much going on, the GoT episode was able to maintain an impressive pace as it floated breezily between narratives while giving every moment the weight and gravitas it required. It also had quite an impact on fans, with Jon Snow’s resurrection being a relief even though many expected it to happen, while the introduction of the iconic villain Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) left many both intrigued and uneasy about what was to come in the Iron Islands.

18 “Valar Morghulis” (Season 2, Episode 10)

IMDb Ranking: 9.3/10

Jaqen H'ghar, dressed as a Lannister soldier, hands Arya Stark a coin.
Image via HBO

It was a common, and quite ingenious, ploy for Game of Thrones to have the penultimate episodes of its seasons be the most eventful, with the season finale then presenting audiences with the immediate aftermath while also offering a glimpse at how the story would change going forward. “Valar Morghulis” was no different, with the Season 2 finale taking place after the Battle of the Blackwater as a victorious King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) took an interest in Lady Margery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer).

It saw a severely injured Tyrion removed as the Hand of the King as Tywin (Charles Dance) was appointed, while Daenerys ventured into the House of the Undying in Qarth to retrieve her dragons, and Arya reunited with Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) after escaping Harrenhal. Concluding with the foreboding image of the undead marching on the Wall, “Valar Morghulis” excelled in wrapping up many of Season 2’s intriguing threads while laying a sturdy platform for what was yet to come.

17 “The Dragon and the Wolf” (Season 7, Episode 7)

IMDb Ranking: 9.4/10

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harrington) have a private discussion.
Image via HBO

The Season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf” brought a great many story threads to a tee as it set the stage for the final season. In King’s Landing, a momentous meeting took place involving Westeros’ most powerful families concerning the return of the White Walkers, with Cersei and Daenerys both in attendance. Meanwhile, Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen) reaffirmed his loyalty to his sister, and Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya outmaneuvered Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen) in Winterfell. Additionally, it was also revealed that Jon Snow was the legitimate son of Rhaegar Targaryen (Wilf Scolding) and the rightful heir to the Iron Throne.

With a runtime of almost 80 minutes, “The Dragon and the Wolf” stands as one of the longest episodes of the entire series, a fact made all the more intriguing given its dialogue-heavy nature which was still riveting as pivotal revelations were unveiled heading into the final season. However, it still knew how to pack a shocking, heart-stopping punch with the episode’s conclusion deviating from the GoT books by showing the Night King atop his undead dragon demolishing a section of the Wall along the sea at Eastwatch.

16 “The Dance of Dragons” (Season 5, Episode 9)

IMDb Ranking: 9.4/10

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and her closest advisors stand surrounded in the fighting pits as the Sons of the Harpy launch an ambush.
Image via HBO

An episode dominated by two equally heart-pounding moments, “The Dance of Dragons” saw Game of Thrones venture to as dark a place as it ever did. This, of course, came when Stannis (Stephen Dillane) made the terrible decision to sacrifice his daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram) in an effort to appease the Lord of Light and hopefully gain an advantage in his upcoming battle. The other nerve-jangling moment came when Daenerys and her allies were ambushed in the arena before Drogon swooped in to save the day.

In other plot lines, Jon Snow and the survivors of the attack on Hardhome returned to the Wall to a hostile reception, Arya spotted an old enemy in Braavos, and Jorah presented himself before Daenerys in the arena with hopes of winning her favor. Managing to be triumphant in some stages and utterly mortifying in others, “The Dance of Dragons” presented fans of the series with one of its most emotionally tumultuous episodes.

15 “Fire and Blood” (Season 1, Episode 10)

IMDb Ranking: 9.4/10

Daenerys Targaryen stands in the ruin of a burnt tent with a newborn baby dragon perched on her shoulder.
Image via HBO

A pivotal entry in the series, the Season 1 finale was responsible for taking all the introduction framework of the previous nine episodes and setting in motion the vast story to follow. With Eddard Stark dead, the North breaks away from the Seven Kingdoms and announces Robb Stark (Richard Madden) as the King in the North, while both of the late King Robert’s brothers individually challenge Joffrey’s claim to the throne.

Meanwhile, a cruel witch’s cunning results in Daenerys’ baby being born dead, while Khal Drogo is left in a vegetative state. Daenerys plans to sacrifice herself in the funeral pyre but emerges unburnt with three newly hatched baby dragons. After the shocking events of the season’s penultimate episode, “Fire and Blood” beautifully depicted where all the central characters were at the end of the season, while teasing how some stories may unfold going forward.

14 “And Now His Watch Is Ended” (Season 3, Episode 4)

IMDb Ranking: 9.5/10

Daenerys Targaryen stands in a blue cloak before a legion of the Unsullied.
Image via HBO

A significant episode for characters north of the Wall and in the Free Cities, “And Now His Watch Is Ended” saw Lord Commander Mormont (James Cosmo) slain as a fight broke out in Craster’s Keep, while the episode was made truly memorable for the manner in which Daenerys acquired the Unsullied while dealing with the masters of Astapor. Elsewhere, Jaime struggles to come to terms with his hand being cut off, Arya and the Hound (Rory McCann) clash as they are taken by the Brotherhood, and multiple figures in King’s Landing plot to gain greater power.

A perfect encapsulation of all that made Game of Thrones so enthralling, the episode saw major characters exit the series, had plenty of political intrigue, and saw characters like Jaime and Daenerys take massive steps in their development. It was also a huge episode for two of the GoT‘ greatest duos, with Jaime and Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) starting to form something of a friendly bond, while Arya and the Hound would go on to be arguably the best pairing in the entire series.

13 “The Children” (Season 4, Episode 10)

IMDb Ranking: 9.6/10

Tyrion Lannister stands in a brick hall, holding a crossbow with an angry look on his scratched face.
Image via HBO

An aptly named episode, “The Children” marked the midpoint of Game of Thrones as a whole and brought many intriguing subplots to their conclusions while igniting new story threads in the process. Most notably, Jaime Lannister helped Tyrion escape from prison to flee King’s Landing, but Tyrion killed his father before departing. Meanwhile, Bran and his traveling party were aided by the Children of the Forest as he finally found the Three-Eyed Raven, while the Hound and Brienne had a dramatic fight over Arya Stark. Additionally, Daenerys’ rapidly growing and unwieldy dragons began to cause problems for her.

The episode is jam-packed with significant Game of Thrones character arcs being wrapped up and new ones being set in motion, as was the case with Stannis arriving at the Wall and Arya abandoning a mortally wounded Sandor Clegane to secure passage to Braavos. It was a satisfying climax to what many deem to be the greatest season of Game of Thrones, one which had the show’s tens of millions of fans eagerly anticipating what would happen next.

12 “The Watchers on the Wall” (Season 4, Episode 9)

IMDb Ranking: 9.6/10

Kit Harington as Jon Snow fighting a man in Game of Thrones.
Image via HBO

An uncharacteristic episode, “The Watchers on the Wall” dispensed with the series’ usual narrative-hopping structure and took place entirely at Castle Black as the Wildlings launched their attack on the Wall. Flourishing under Neil Marshall‘s direction, it was 50 minutes of sheer, non-stop intensity as the Night’s Watch found themselves being attacked from both sides of the Wall by an extensive army of free folk, mammoths, and even giants.

What was most impressive about the episode was that, while it excelled as a brilliant depiction of battle violence, it still found plenty of time to focus on character, with Ygritte’s (Rose Leslie) death in Jon’s arms marking one of the show’s most heartbreaking moments. It also proved to be a fantastic episode in the context of Jon Snow as a character, with the fan-favorite demonstrating his strength as a leader while many of his commanders failed to answer the call.

11 “Baelor” (Season 1, Episode 9)

IMDb Ranking: 9.6/10

Sansa, Cersei, and Joffrey witness Ned's execution in Game of Thrones.
Image via HBO

The first truly unforgettable, gut-wrenching moment in Game of Thrones came in the penultimate episode of its first season when, famously, Eddard Stark’s execution was unexpectedly ordered by King Joffrey who had promised to spare Stark’s life should he pledge his loyalty. It was amazing how such a sickening tone washed over audiences so quickly when Joffrey barked his command, a feeling that fans would become very familiar with as the series wore on.

“Baelor” is an essential episode that effectively marked the decisive turning point at which many viewers truly learned that no character was safe, and every action would bear meaningful consequences, thus cementing its brutal reputation. While that devastating twist has defined the episode’s illustrious standing within the series, “Baelor” also saw Daenerys at her weakest as she went into premature labor while Khal Drogo began to succumb to infection.

10 “Blackwater” (Season 2, Episode 9)

IMDb Ranking: 9.7/10

Tyrion Lannister talks to Joffrey during the Battle of the Blackwater while Podrick watches on.
Image via HBO

Another episode like “The Watchers on the Wall” and, perhaps coincidentally, another episode directed by Neil Marshall, “Blackwater” focused solely on Stannis’ attack on King’s Landing and the defense led by Tyrion Lannister. A cunning ploy from Tyrion involving wildfire thwarted Stannis’ sea-bound attack, forcing him and his men to mount an assault from the land. Meanwhile, in the keep with Sansa and many other noble women and children, Cersei readies herself to kill her children before Tywin, strengthened by his new alliance with House Tyrell, swoops in to secure an unlikely victory for the Lannisters.

Alongside the masterful battle sequence in “Blackwater,” the episode is defined by its palpable, atmospheric tension which covers every character it explores. It also featured some pivotal moments which included the Hound leaving King’s Landing and Sansa’s refusal to go with him, as well as the confirmation that Tywin had established what would be a costly allegiance with the Tyrells.

9 “The Laws of Gods and Men” (Season 4, Episode 6)

IMDb Ranking: 9.7/10

Tyrion Lannister stands trial in the the throne room of the Red Keep before an audience of nobles and dignitaries.
Image via HBO

A triumphant, rewarding highlight of Game of Thrones‘ fourth season, “The Laws of Gods and Men” will long be remembered by fans of the series, focusing on Tyrion’s trial as he stands accused of assassinating King Joffrey at his wedding feast. As Tyrion quickly discovers that the whole trial is all for show, with his guilty verdict pre-determined by the judges, which include Cersei and Tywin, he snaps into a glorious rant in which he levels personal attacks at everyone in the room before demanding a trial by combat.

Peter Dinklage earned universal acclaim for his striking and impassioned performance, while the result of the trial set his arc on a whole new trajectory. The episode’s other plotlines also covered Stannis Baratheon and Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) venturing to the Iron Bank, Yara Greyjoy’s (Gemma Whelan) unsuccessful attempt to rescue her brother from Ramsay Bolton, and Daenerys navigating her responsibilities as the leader of Mereen.

8 “The Lion and the Rose” (Season 4, Episode 2)

IMDb Rating: 9.7/10

Margaery Tyrell kissing Joffrey Baratheon at their wedding in Game of Thrones
Image via HBO

While Game of Thrones had a proven track record of making major character deaths as devastating as they were brutal, a rather satisfying exception came in Season 4’s second episode, “The Lion and the Rose.” Focusing on the wedding of Joffrey and Margery, it displays the hated young king at his characteristic worst, that is until he takes a sip of poisoned wine and dies in horrific fashion, with the blame quickly being placed on Tyrion while Sansa is escorted away from King’s Landing.

Other key developments in the episode saw Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton) make plans to solidify his standing as the Warden of the North by dispersing men to kill what remains of the Starks, while Bran’s journey north of the Wall found a renewed purpose. Director Alex Graves earned high praise for his efforts, with the episode building up a sense of tension from minor moments leading up to its grand crescendo in Joffrey’s demise.

7 “The Door” (Season 6, Episode 5)

IMDb Rating: 9.7/10

The Door” (Season 6, Episode 5) (1)
Image via HBO

A heartbreaking episode, even by Game of Thrones‘ standards, “The Door” saw Bran discover the origin of the White Walkers but expose his position to the Night King (Vladimir Furdik), a mistake which saw the Three-Eyed Raven’s lair attacked by wights. While Meera (Ellie Kendrick) and Bran made a narrow escape, the Three-Eyed Raven, the Children of the Forest, and Summer were slain, while Hodor (Kristian Nairn) sacrificed himself in order for Bran to escape, with the tragic origin of his speech impediment being revealed in the process.

Meanwhile, Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen) declared his love for Daenerys while revealing he had greyscale, House Greyjoy found an unlikely and dangerous new ruler, while Jon Snow devised a plan to unite the north against the Boltons. While the episode received high praise for its quiet character moments littered throughout, it was undoubtedly the devastation of Hodor that made it such an enduring hit with viewers.

6 “The Mountain and the Viper” (Season 4, Episode 8)

IMDb Rating: 9.7/10

The Mountain and Oberyn Martell fight in a courtyard in Tyrion Lannister's trial by combat.
Image via HBO

Season 4 of Game of Thrones marked one of the greatest seasons of any series in television history, with its eighth episode a heart-stopping highlight. In it, many winding plotlines were resolved in some way, with Ramsay being legitimized following his successful ploy to take Moat Cailin using Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), the Hound and Arya arrive in the Vale where Clegane receives some inconvenient news, Littlefinger is interrogated about Lysa Arryn’s (Kate Dickie) death, while Jorah is exiled from Mereen by order of Daenerys.

However, what “The Mountain and the Viper” will forever be remembered for is its titular duel to decide Tyrion’s fate. With Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) hellbent on avenging his sister, the duel had a spiteful and deeply personal venom to it which saw a mounting tension ripple throughout the episode in the lead up to the fight. The final moments of the episode, with the Dornish Prince’s violent death, are among the most horrific and squeamish in the entire series.

5 “The Spoils of War” (Season 7, Episode 4)

IMDb Rating: 9.7/10

Jaime Lannister and Bronn sit on horseback, watching on in shock and awe.
Image via HBO

One of the most gripping portrayals of war the series ever put forward, “The Spoils of War” is famous for its climactic battle sequence where Daenerys and Drogon, with the Dothraki, launch an attack on a Lannister caravan being led by Jaime Lannister. While Daenerys forces dominate the battle, Bronn (Jerome Flynn) uses a scorpion weapon to wound Drogon before Jaime, before a shocked Tyrion, mounts a daring charge at Daenerys.

Meanwhile, Arya Stark arrived at Winterfell and was reunited with her family while Queen Cersei tried to reassure the Iron Bank that the Lannisters’ debt would soon be repaid while asking for more money. The central focus on the battle was where the Game of Thrones episode truly excelled though, with characters on both sides of the conflict being represented to ensure that beloved characters were at risk regardless of which army emerged victorious.

4 “Hardhome” (Season 5, Episode 8)

IMDb Rating: 9.8/10

Kit Harington as Jon Snow fighting a White Walker in Game of Thrones.
Image via HBO

Fantasy spectacle done to perfection, “Hardhome” remains the greatest and most terrifying depiction of the threat the White Walkers posed to Westeros, thus giving Jon Snow’s story an added gravitas which audiences could connect with. Jon was the central focus of the episode, with the conflict taking place in the Wildling town of Hardhome with Night’s Watch soldiers and the free folk forming an uneasy alliance to resist against an army of the dead led by the Night King.

Showcasing Jon’s military prowess, leadership qualities, and his ability to unify people towards a common cause, it is arguably the most important episode in the character’s arc. Elsewhere, Theon and Sansa began to form a bond while Ramsay and Roose Bolton ready their army for battle against Stannis’ forces, Cersei refused to confess to her crimes, and Daenerys agreed to let Tyrion serve as her advisor while informing him of her intention to break the cycle of Westeros’ powerful families ascending to power – one of Game of Thrones‘ best quotes.

3 “The Winds of Winter” (Season 6, Episode 10)

IMDb Rating: 9.9/10

Cersei Lannister stands victorious in her chambers, with light glimmering in from her window as she wears a black dress.
Image via HBO

The Season 6 finale proved to be a major chapter for many of the ruling houses in Westeros, one which brought violent conclusions to many story lines and introduced new narrative ideas to the fold which would define the series’ ending. It is best remembered for being the episode where Cersei got her revenge, taking out all of her major enemies in King’s Landing in one swift, ultra-explosive stroke before being crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms to put a gobsmacking exclamation mark on one of the most intense episodes in television history.

Meanwhile, Jon Snow was declared the King in the North and Bran finally discovered the truth behind his bastard brother’s parentage, while the Tyrells and Martells conspired against Cersei by forming an alliance with Daenerys. The episode’s climax, with Arya taking her revenge on Walder Frey (David Bradley) in delightfully ruthless fashion and Daenerys finally setting sail to Westeros, capped off many of Season 6’s overarching stories while getting fans excited for what was to unfold in the final two seasons.

2 “Battle of the Bastards” (Season 6, Episode 9)

IMDb Rating: 9.9/10

Jon Snow (Kit Harington) facing an army in Game of Thrones.
Image via HBO

By the incredibly lofty standards of Game of Thrones, Season 6 was a little inconsistent, but when it was good it was absolutely sublime, as its final two episodes proved. A depiction of battle as technically masterful as it was sickening and grueling, “Battle of the Bastards” has become an icon of modern television as it focused on the highly anticipated battle for the north between House Bolton and House Stark, a rivalry which had been brewing ever since the Bolton’s betrayed the Starks at the Red Wedding.

With Jon greatly outnumbered, and Ramsay pressing his advantage with a calculating sadism, the most striking moment in the episode came when Jon and his allies were being pressed against a growing stack of bodies with no way to escape. However, Littlefinger and Sansa arrive with the knights of the Vale to turn the tide of the battle and see House Stark emerge victorious. Ramsay was then fed to his own hounds, to the delight of Sansa Stark, to place a divinely rewarding final touch on the hectic and confronting episode.

1 “The Rains of Castamere” (Season 3, Episode 9)

IMDb Rating: 9.9/10

Richard Madden as Robb Stark standing still and facing someone off-camera in Game of Thrones.
Image via HBO

Across eight seasons and 73 episodes, Game of Thrones presented fans with an abundance of sickening twists and completely unanticipated shocks which saw the drama climb to near unbearable levels as main characters were killed en masse, but no episode did it quite like Season 3’s notorious penultimate episode “The Rains of Castamere.” Perhaps more widely recognized as the “Red Wedding,” the episode centers on Edmure Tully’s (Tobias Menzies) marriage to Roslin Frey (Alexandra Dowling), an event that becomes a trap for the Starks.

With the Freys and the Boltons having betrayed them, the Starks are picked off in a chaotic and disturbing outburst of violence in which Robb watches his own pregnant wife being brutally murdered before he and Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) are slain. From the ominous tune of “The Rains of Castamere” being played at the wedding to the cascade of death, the episode was a masterpiece of devastating intensity and carnage which is among the most harrowing hours of television ever, and is universally viewed as the greatest episode Game of Thrones ever produced.

NEXT: The Best ‘Game of Thrones’ Characters, Ranked


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *