Perhaps the most significant cultural phenomenon of the 2010s, was HBO’s blockbuster series, Game of Thrones. With its sprawling world of Westeros, impeccable cast of characters and a narrative loaded with epic battles, dragons, and a hint of magic, the series garnered significant praise. Let’s dive to Game of Thrones Seasons ranked!
#1 Season 6
It’s not without controversy that we place Season 6 at the top of the Game of Thrones season ranking. Season 6, highlighted by the epic “Battle of the Bastards,” is where Jon Snow’s character arc reaches a zenith. His victory over the sadistic Ramsay Bolton not only avenges the Starks but also signals a momentous power shift in the North. Meanwhile, in King’s Landing, the manipulative Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) employs wildfire in a ruthless move that alters the political landscape dramatically.
Elsewhere, Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), along with Tyrion Lannister (brilliantly portrayed by Peter Dinklage), gains control of the dragons, tipping the balance of power further. Arya (Maisie Williams) continues her training with the Faceless Men, ultimately regaining her identity and returning to Westeros to fulfill her vengeance.
The ultimate episode, “The Winds of Winter,” caps the season brilliantly with Cersei’s ascension to the Iron Throne and Daenerys sailing towards Westeros, dragons in tow. This season showcased the series’ ability to balance multiple storylines while delivering massive payoffs, making it our top-ranking season.
#2 Season 4
Next in line is Season 4, which stands out with pivotal moments that redefined the series’ trajectory. The infamous episode, “The Lion and the Rose,” presents Joffrey’s long-awaited demise, satisfying many fans who despised the cruel boy-king.
Season 4 also introduced the charismatic Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal), whose quest for vengeance against the Lannisters ended in a shocking and violent death at the hands of The Mountain. His introduction added spice to the political maneuvering in King’s Landing.
This season showcases the evolution of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) under the influence of Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen), who teaches her to survive in the treacherous world of Westeros politics. At the Wall, Jon Snow (Kit Harington), now a leader in the Night’s Watch, prepares for the impending Wildling attack, culminating in the intense “Battle of Castle Black.”
#3 Season 1
Coming third in our ranking, the first season sets the stage for the intricate tale of power, betrayal, and survival. Sean Bean’s performance as Ned Stark, the honorable Warden of the North, anchors the season. His shocking execution is a game-changer, underlining the series’ reputation for killing off major characters.
This season begins Daenerys’ journey from a meek girl to a powerful khaleesi, thanks to her bond with the Dothraki and her newly hatched dragons. Meanwhile, the Lannisters, with their cunning patriarch Tywin, begin their dominance of the Iron Throne. Tyrion Lannister, one of the series’ most beloved characters, rises in prominence, proving his acumen in political and social situations despite the disdain from his family and society.
In the North, the eerie threat beyond the Wall begins to take shape, with the Night’s Watch slowly grasping the danger posed by the White Walkers. And, of course, the season leaves viewers with the iconic image of Daenerys, unburnt, with a dragon perched on her shoulder – a moment that sent chills down the spines of viewers and set the tone for the epic saga to come.
#4 Season 3
Season 3 ranks next on our list, prominently featuring the infamous “Red Wedding” episode. Robb Stark’s (Richard Madden) fatal mistake of breaking his marriage pact with the Freys results in a bloodbath, marking a tragic end for him, his mother Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) and his forces. This shocking event drastically shifts power dynamics in Westeros, making it one of the most memorable moments in the series.
Elsewhere, Daenerys gains power and followers in the east, and her character continues to evolve into the Queen she aspires to be. The engaging dynamic between Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) deepens, with Jaime’s character showing glimpses of redemption.
#5 Season 2
Despite being lower in the ranking, Season 2 had its memorable moments, including the epic “Battle of Blackwater.” The Lannisters’ hold on the Iron Throne, led by Tyrion’s strategic genius, is contested by Stannis Baratheon, setting the stage for the first large-scale battle of the series.
Season 2 also explores Theon Greyjoy’s (Alfie Allen) struggle for identity and power, leading him to betray the Starks and seize Winterfell. Meanwhile, Jon Snow’s storyline expands as he ventures beyond the Wall, meeting Ygritte, portrayed by his real-life wife, Rose Leslie, and gaining insights into the Wildlings’ world.
#6 Season 5
Season 5 is notable for exploring different areas of Westeros and the narrative expansion into the mystical realms, including Bran Stark’s journey with the Three-Eyed Raven. However, it faced criticism for its slower pace and controversial moments, such as Sansa’s marriage to the exceptionally cruel and sadistic, Ramsay Bolton.
Nonetheless, Season 5 holds pivotal moments, such as Tyrion meeting Daenerys and the shocking demise of Jon Snow (though his death was not permanent). Arya’s journey in Braavos gives her new skills and perspectives, but it’s the unrest in King’s Landing, particularly Cersei’s humiliating walk of atonement.
#7 Season 7
Season 7 sets the stage for the grand finale, though some fans argued it was too rushed. The long-awaited meeting between Daenerys and Jon Snow is a highlight, as is the revelation of Jon’s true parentage. Arya’s return to Winterfell and her reunion with Sansa and Bran are also poignant moments.
The spectacle of the dragons in full battle mode, particularly during the “Loot Train Attack,” is impressive. However, the season faced criticism for its accelerated pacing and some plot decisions that seemed more serviceable to spectacle than to character consistency.
#8 Season 8
The final season of Game of Thrones faced significant backlash from fans, reflected in its Rotten Tomatoes score. Many felt the season was hurried, with character arcs and long-standing plots wrapped up too quickly and unsatisfyingly, in just six episodes. However, read our article on the matter here. We still enjoyed Season 8, and contrary to popular opinion, there are really no bad episodes of Game of Thrones.
Notable moments include the epic “Battle of Winterfell” against the Night King and his army, Daenerys’ descent into madness, and the controversial decision to place Bran Stark on the Iron Throne. However, despite its narrative issues, the final season maintained the series’ high production values, featuring some of the most visually impressive episodes of the entire run.
Despite the controversy surrounding the final season, fans looked forward to revisiting this world in the prequel series House of the Dragon. Set 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones, the HBO series promised to unveil the history of House Targaryen and the early days of Westeros.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the standout moments from our rankings:
Season 3: The well-executed “Red Wedding” was a gut-punch that viewers didn’t see coming. Robb Stark’s demise demonstrated once again that in the game of thrones, one either wins or dies. Moreover, the Hounds’ growing bond with Arya and Jaime Lannister’s evolving relationship with Brienne of Tarth added warmth to the season.
Season 2: Tyrion Lannister, in his role as Hand of the King, truly shines in this season, defending King’s Landing in the Battle of Blackwater against Stannis Baratheon’s forces. On another note, Jon Snow’s relationship with Ygritte takes center stage in this season, showing a more human side to the Night’s Watchman as he grapples with his feelings for the Wildling woman.
Season 5: Despite its slower pace, this season contains some dramatic twists, most notably Jon Snow’s assassination by his Night’s Watch brothers. This shocking event sent ripples through the fanbase, leaving viewers hanging on Jon Snow’s fate.
Season 7: The penultimate season of Game of Thrones is a mixed bag, with Daenerys finally setting foot on Westerosi soil and the ‘Spoils of War’ episode standing out for its cinematic brilliance. However, the season was criticized for sacrificing logic and character consistency for spectacle.
Season 8: Despite the fan outcry, the final season managed to wrap up nearly a decade-long narrative. Although the journey to the conclusion was fraught with controversy, it’s still an important part of the story. The haunting image of Daenerys walking amongst the ruins of King’s Landing, the Iron Throne in her reach but her humanity lost, will remain etched in the memory of viewers.
The world of Westeros, first created by George R.R. Martin and brought to life by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, remains ripe for new stories to unfold, new heroes to root for, and new villains to despise. Here’s to a thrilling new chapter in the saga of ice and fire!