We’re at the closing stages of Game of Thrones and that means that we still have one more battle to go. Season 8 has already seen a big battle and over the years, we’ve come to witness quite a few intense ones. The makers touted that the Battle of Winterfell would be one of the very best battle scenes ever. So that leads us to the question: how do the battles in Game of Thrones stack up to one another? Let’s take a look. We’ll start the ranking from the worst to the best. Fair warning, this post has spoilers ahead.
The Battle of Castle Black
This one’s a pretty standard Game of Thrones battle as people are dying left, right and centre, things catching on fire and the loud clang of steel swords. Episode 9 of season four shows Mance Rayder attacking the Night’s Watch. There’s not a lot to say about this battle though it does have its high points. The most moving moment is when Ygritte dies in Jon’s arms.
Battle of Winterfell
This was one of the most anticipated battles in GOT. Unlike the others, season eight’s third episode was fully dedicated to battle and dragged over an hour. There’s plenty of killing, but since most of the episode is filmed is full darkness, it is hard to make out what’s going on. After a few initial moments, the Battle of Winterfell became boring and predictable. Theon and Ser Jorah’s heroic deaths were the only high points here. Arya killing the Night King felt out of the blue and slightly meh.
The Battle beyond the Wall (Season 7, Episode 6)
The best warriors of the kingdom get together to nab a live Wight from beyond the Wall. Jon Snow, Gendry, The Hound, Jorah Mormont, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros fight a horde of zombies just to catch one of them alive. The undead army surrounds the team as they try to run for their lives. Daenerys comes to their rescue and sprays fire on the undead. In the ensuing commotion, the Night King targets Viserion with an ice javelin, killing him instantly. He then resurrected him, effectively making him a zombie dragon. It was a decisive moment in the story, one which makes the episode important.
Hardhome (Season 5, Episode 8)
This is where Jon finally learns of the Night King’s abilities and the power of the White Walkers. A lot goes down here as key members of the squad are killed. Tormund kills the Lord of Bones, one of the leaders of the Wildlings. The battle of Hardhome reveals that dragonglass and valyrian steel are the only weapons against the White Walkers. From a strategic standpoint, this was an important revelation.
Battle of Bastards (Season 6, Episode 9)
Shot with shaking camera movements, this episode is the epitome of GOT battles. The organised, chaotic development truly shows what war actually is like. Reportedly, there were 600 crew members, 500 extras and 70 horses for the shot. It took 18 days’ worth of filming to get this episode right. An emotional turmoil ensued when Ramsay fired arrows at Rickon and lured Jon into a trap, and it suddenly turned itself to a carnage. The filming made it look like the viewer was at the scene of the battle and not an onlooker. It was also the first time when it looked like Sansa had grown as a leader.
Game of Thrones is all about character development and politics. A lot of the battles in GOT focus on those aspects. It is one of those things that keep people hooked to the show.