Killing off the main character — and a good guy to boot! — in Season 1 never happened on TV until this horrific moment. House Stark’s noble patriarch, Ned (Sean Bean), deserved better than a public execution on manufactured charges of treason at the hands of the deceitful Lannisters. We still want justice.
Biggest Blindside: The Red Wedding
(“The Rains of Castamere,” Season 3, Episode 9)
The massacre that made “No one is safe” a mantra for fans. During a marriage celebration, forces from House Frey cut the throat of Ned’s wife, Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley), and slaughtered her son, King in the North Robb (Richard Madden); his pregnant wife, Talisa (Oona Chaplin); and most of their army.
Scariest Threat: The Night King’s Army Unleashed
(“Hardhome,” Season 5, Episode 8)
A huge battle at the Wildling village of Hardhome pitted Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and his allies against the Army of the Dead. In an unforgettably chilling moment, the Night King (Vladimir Furdik) raised the corpses of those killed and turned them into his zombie soldiers. One glint of hope: The White Walkers could be slain not just by dragonglass but also Jon’s Valyrian steel sword.
Raddest Reversal: Jon Snow’s Resurrection
(“Home,” Season 6, Episode 2)
When a traitorous faction of the Night’s Watch murdered heroic Jon Snow in the Season 5 finale, fans were in an uproar. Two episodes later, Priestess Melisandre (Carice Van Houten), who worships the Lord of Light, worked her magic and brought him back to life. We’re hoping to see her return in Season 8, just in case.
Best Revenge: Arya’s Annihilation of House Frey
(“The Winds of Winter,” Season 6, Episode 10)
In a stomach-turning act of vengeance for the Red Wedding, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams), disguised as a serving maid, fed Lord Walder Frey (David Bradley) a pie made from the flesh of his sons, whom she’d murdered. Then she slit his throat, so he died the same way as her mom, Catelyn.
Hottest Kiss: Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen’s Night of Passion
(“The Dragon and the Wolf,” Season 7, Episode 7)
This powerful alliance turned out to be more than a military one. Romantic tension between Jon and Dany (Harington and Emilia Clarke) had been building, and the dragon and the wolf finally hit the sheets. They’d be the perfect couple…if only they weren’t related.
Game of Thrones has offered fans plenty of jaw-dropping moments over the past eight years, but none so game-changing as these.
In the gallery above, we break down six episodes that changed the way we looked at the unique series. From the biggest blindsides to the scariest threats and one rad reversal, there's plenty to reflect on.
Game of Thrones, Season 8 Premiere, Sunday, April 14, 9/8c, HBO