And now our watch has ended. We have officially shut the door on Game of Thrones in what has become one of the greatest fantasy shows of our time. It’s a show that kept viewers at the edge of their seats and provided the most shocking and brutal twists to ever grace our screens. It’s a show that, in recent years, has also become divisive in its treatment of characters and its narrative. This is my ranking of every season of Game of Thrones.
8. Season 7
This was basically the start of Game of Thrones’s downfall and most of those issues come down to pacing. Sure, there were some visually stunning moments, but it also saw plotlines being rushed and underdeveloped. The focus was obviously going to be on Jon and Dany’s budding relationship, but it felt forced. While they spent so much time trying to convince us of Jon and Dany romance, other storylines suffered. In Winterfell, we finally got the pack together again, but it felt cold and clinical. Littlefinger’s death was inevitable, but they went about the shock value all wrong. It was brilliant for Sansa and Arya to play the game and fool him into thinking he had the upper hand, but the moments that see Arya threatening Sansa in a very private setting did nothing to further this deception. It was unnecessary and rushed, basically the summary of this entire season.
7. Season 5
Let’s start with the bright spot, shall we? Hardhome was an incredibly choreographed battle sequence and it culminated in that epic display of power from the Night King demonstrating his sheer dominance and threat to the realm. However, the rest of the series was just one bad move after the other. The entire Faceless Men story was uneventful and pointless, the sand snakes had no lasting impact whatsoever, and we got unnecessary character sacrifices that did nothing for the plot or the characters. The Night Watch storyline being the exception, but season 5 just felt pointless.
6. Season 8
Truth be told, this was going to be number 8 on the list. The only reason it landed higher up was because of the dedicated performance of the cast. Season 8 started on a brilliant note, with ‘A Knight of Seven Kingdoms’ serving as the most meaningful episode of the entire season. However, it is clear that the narrative was rushed and not all that logical. As epic as The Battle of Winterfell was, the tactical narrative was weak and the Night King was reduced to nothing more than a quick obstacle for our characters to defeat. The biggest issue was how the show planted seeds that would lead to certain twists and turns but didn’t give the narrative enough care and respect to let those seeds fester into something credible and believable. This issue came to the forefront in season 8 and left many fans disappointed in the conclusion to what had been an epic saga.
5. Season 2
Truthfully, season 1 and 2 closer to equal in the ranking than the other season. This season gave us the first major Game of Thrones battle, Blackwater, established new contenders for the Iron Throne, and provided a closer insight into the political mechnaisms and manipulations within the seven kingdoms. It was a series that saw the Stark’s face some of their toughest trials and tribulations and continued to build on the fallout of the first season while laying the groundworks for the shocking events in the seasons to follow.
4. Season 1
The start of it all. The first season was primarily used to set the scene. With an extensive cast of characters and a lot of world building to be established, it’s understandable to see why the first season was slow at times, but the build-up to the finale set off a chain of motions that had a lingering effect on our characters and universe for years to come. The first season also reminds us of how far our characters have come in their individual journeys. The naivety and innocence of a lot of these characters are a striking contrast to where their journeys end.
3. Season 6
What made this season so special was the way it ignited a sense of hope for our favourite characters. Kicking off with the most moving Stark reunion, season 6 introduced us the brilliant dynamic between Jon and Sansa. It also further established Sansa’s role as a political powerhouse with her understanding of the many power dynamics in Westeros playing a vital role in the Battle of the Bastards. The battle itself is undoubtedly one of the most striking sequences the show has every executed as the sense of claustrophobia and confusion on the battlefield made you feel like you were right there with them. Season 6 also ignited interest in Bran’s storyline as key moments in Westeros’s history revealed itself through his eyes and gave one of the most beloved characters a heartbreaking sendoff. The season also set major players of the show on a trajectory that would inevitably bring them together in what fans hoped would be an epic showdown in political and military prowess.
2. Season 3
You cannot think about this season without the Red Wedding immediately coming to mind. The Red Wedding was the culmination of political choices led by the heart. In hindsight, these choices were made by noble men clouded by their honour. It’s what got Ned Stark killed and his eldest son fell into that same trap. It was horrific but brilliant in the subtle way they laid the groundworks for this moment that, looking back, felt inevitable, thus reminding us that no one is safe on this show.
1. Season 4
Season 4 had everything going for it. It felt like the peak of the narrative construction as every fine detail had substance to it. The season kicked off with the death of the most hated character on the show, Joffrey Baratheon, whose death dealt a major blow to Cersei, but also served as a way of heightening tensions within the Lannister family. Peter Dinklage stole the show in season 4 with his trial giving him the platform to deliver one of the most haunting and powerful speeches of the series, addressing all of his resentment at being the “monster” everyone sees him be. It was a powerful moment that led to one of the most brutal trials of combat to ever grace our screens. With that, came a stellar performance from Pedro Pascal as the charismatic Oberyn Martell who made a memorable impact on the season in every possible way. Season 4 was the peak of Game of Thrones intricately crafted narrative that balanced well with its meaningful action sequences.
What would be your rank order of every Game of Thrones season?
Who was your favourite character?
What did you think of the final season?