From grizzly deaths to brutal torture, here we chronicle Game of Thrones' most teeth-clenchingly violent scenes in its first five seasons.
When Arya is held captive at Harrenhal, she sees a man interrogating a prisoner by strapping a metal bucket full of rats to the man’s stomach. They hold a fire to the outside of the bucket, causing the panicking rats to do anything to escape – even if it means clawing through flesh and muscle. Needless to say it proves quite effective.
Daenerys’s brother met his maker after insulting the Dothraki horse lords. After demanding a golden crown, he’s held down while molten gold is poured over his skull, hardening and killing him instantly.
Just when the golden-haired charmer thinks he’s talked his way out of danger, his captors cleave his sword-hand off. And, this being GOT, the subsequent infection and wound close-ups get plenty of attention.
Stannis’s slightly misguided attempt to please the Lord of Light results in him burning his daughter Shireen as a sacrifice to the fiery god. Shireen’s screams for help and mercy from her own parents – who insist on watching as she is slowly consumed by fire – is pretty traumatic stuff, especially given that her sacrifice doesn’t stop her father’s demise.
While the details surrounding Theon’s torture were left off the page in the books, the show implied that Theon, Winterfell’s cocksure ward, lost that cock, and his balls, at the hands of Ramsay Snow, as part of a psychological campaign to mould him into an obedient prisoner. The episode was written by GRRM himself, which cements his standing as an evil Captain Birds Eye.
Season 5 is known among fans as GOT’s darkest yet, piling on more violence, gore and distress at the expense of nuance. Sansa’s storyline – in which she is raped by her new husband – was criticised for exactly that reason, because it was written specifically for the show and didn’t achieve anything character-wise.
Oberyn Martell’s fight against Gregor Clegane was a brilliantly choreographed, excruciatingly shot battle. But when the Red Viper of Dorne celebrated too early he was decimated by his opponent, who smashed his skull like a melon and burst his eyes like bubblewrap. A kick in the stomach for anyone expecting justice.
The Red Wedding took GOT’s macabre levels up many, many notches, as House Stark is all but extinguished. Characters are killed in the most violent ways, and the shot of Catelyn’s throat seeping blood is GOT at its most harrowing.