The violent world of Game of Thrones is not without death. Scratch that, it’s almost entirely about death, considering that nearly 150 characters meet their doom before the series ends. And this doesn’t even include the thousands of extras murdered by the Freys, the Lannisters, and Daenerys, what have you.
Creating a list like this is not a simple task, because one comes across four major problems: What constitutes a valid death? Do the characters have to be named? Are they important players in the story? Do their conclusions shift the flow of narrative? Taking all these into account, here are the first ten deaths to occur in the series (a few of them merged into individual entries.)
10 Night’s Watch Brothers
Will, Gared and Ser Waymar Royce, members of the Night’s Watch, travel to the Haunted Forest on the other side of the Wall, trying to solve the puzzle of the gruesome “sacrifice” made out of a few Free Folk. Waymar is the first to be killed, and Gared soon follows suit while trying to flee the scene.
Will is the only survivor, but he is unfortunately captured by Stark soldiers and brought to Ned to receive the punishment meted out to any fugitives from Castle Black: a clean, honorable beheading. Little does anyone know of what the fates have in mind for them at this point?
9 Jon Arryn
Although King Robert Baratheon’s Hand passes away before the show actually begins and his corpse is displayed a little later. Nobody suspects foul play, considering that Jon Arryn was not quite a young man, but the fact that his investigation might expose Cersei’s for having inappropriate relations with a family member is considered to be a motive for murder.
However, the real killer turns out to be his wife, Lysa, who poisons her husband’s wine and instigates a public inquiry regarding the Lannisters (all at the behest of Petyr Baelish.)
Poor Mycah, the first child to be killed in the show (a statement this abhorrent should never be made, and yet…) When Joffrey invades Arya’s sparring match with him, he mocks Mycah over his status as a butcher’s son, going so far as to torture him with the edge of his blade.
Arya’s instant and justified response hurts the Crown Prince’s delicate feelings, and Joffrey orders the Hound, Sandor Clegane, to find Mycah and gut him like a fish. Which, given his family tendencies, is probably exactly how it happens.
7 Ser Hugh
Ser Hugh is shown being commended by the King for his devotion to Jon Arryn, whom he serves for many years as his personal squire. His death is slightly anticlimactic because all his fancy armor and steed pedigree do nothing to stop the Mountain’s broken lance from piercing his neck and tearing his windpipe out.
Interestingly, Ned and Varys place their skepticisms (regarding Jon Arryn’s death) on Ser Hugh; his sudden increase in wealth and proximity to the crime makes him the prime suspect.
6 Kurleket & Willis Wode
Both Kurleket and Willis Wode belong to minor houses pledged to House Tully; they travel with Catelyn Stark and her entourage all the way to her sister’s home. However, the group is ambushed by a band of Hill Tribe fighters (a wildling-like set of clans that occupy the regions around the Vale.)
These two men perish in the battle, but only after it is fought with every pound of determination they can invoke. Their loss is not in vain, because they successfully protect Catelyn in the process.
5 Wyl & Heward
Wyl and Heward are sentries belonging to House Stark — they tag along with Lord Ned to King’s Landing (after his new position as Robert’s Hand is enforced.) Here, Jaime Lannister seethes about the “mistreatment” of his little brother, that is, when he gets taken into custody by Catelyn, having been accused of trying to kill Bran.
Therefore, he tells his own men to murder Wyl and Heward as they stand guard outside a Petyr Baelish brothel. So much for cold and calculated revenge plans.
4 Jory Cassel
Almost immediately after Wyl & Heward, Jaime orders his guards to finish Jory Cassel off as well, but this opponent isn’t as weak as he believes. Jory takes down two Lannister warriors but is ultimately killed when Jaime shoves his weapon into the man’s head (through his eye, no less!)
These three deaths in quick succession infuriate Ned to the point of attacking the Kingslayer. In the North, Robb is asked to avenge the spilling of “Stark” blood by Theon, but the former has neither stomach nor spirit to make any move.
3 Wallen & Stiv
Stiv and Wallen are Night’s Watch defectors, having chosen to stay with the wildlings over their own kind. However, they, along with Osha, reenter Westeros to avoid being killed by White Walkers. They meet Bran in the Northern forests, where they consider taking him instead of just his steed, but later agree that it wouldn’t be a viable plan.
However, Robb Stark and Theon Greyjoy come charging in to rescue their little brother: the former murders Wallen, while the latter kills Stiv. After this, Osha has little choice but to give herself up to her new captors.
2 Vardis Egen
Having grown tired of pleading his innocence, Tyrion requests a “trial-by-combat”, choosing Bronn as his champion. Lysa Arryn tells Vardis Egen to fight on her behalf, which the man accepts with pride. The battle itself is clearly in Vardis’ favor, being an accomplished knight, and he keeps Bronn on his toes for a large fraction of the match.
Nevertheless, the sly sellsword has considerable more stamina (also because he isn’t weighed down by massive armor), finally outmaneuvering his opponent through a combination of trickery and audacity. Bronn then decides to finish his victory with a flourish and shoves poor Vardis out the Moon Door.
1 Viserys Targaryen
One of the most appalling deaths in Game of Thrones is that of Viserys Targaryen, who has the gall to demand a seating arrangement next to Khal Drogo. For this, he is scorned by everyone in the room, but he refuses to let up, continuing to demand his army in exchange for his sister — who should have technically married him according to Targaryen tradition.
Drogo ends it once and for all, by melting a purse of gold medallions and dumping the gleaming liquid (at approximately 2000 °F) over the young prince’s head.
NEXT: Game Of Thrones: 10 Ways Sansa Got Worse & Worse