There’s a lot of death in Game of Thrones. That might be the biggest understatement of all time but, in a show featuring so many characters, it’s important to thin the herd. Happily for us, that makes for a lot of memorable death scenes in the show’s five-year run.
Ned Stark, Jon Snow, Joffrey Baratheon, all major characters who were shockingly killed off to our horror and delight. But even central characters such as they are, none were given particularly memorable final words. That is an honor saved only for a precious few.
It’s not easy to let loose a worthwhile quote before meeting your gruesome end, and those characters that make memorable exits do so through varied methods. Some are epic displays of spitting in the face of death, some are heartbreaking goodbyes from beloved characters, and some even manage to sum up the whole series in their last words. Whatever way they go out, these characters left their marks and refused to go quietly. So take some time to say farewell to the dearly departed with these classic quotes.
As they say; all men must die—but these ones did it in style.
10. Mance Rayder
The Quote: “I wish you good fortune in the wars to come.”
Mance Rayder, the so-called King Beyond the Wall, was a behind the scenes character for most of the show. His most significant act was uniting all the Wildling tribes together into one massive army. However, that army didn’t last long as they were swiftly defeated by Stannis Baratheon.
Stannis offered Mance Rayder leniency in exchange for loyalty, but the former Night’s Watch ranger politely declined, wished his foe good luck, and accepted his fate. He was then burned at the stake until getting a merciful arrow to the heart from Jon Snow.
Mance was initial thought to be a villain but soon proved to be one of the more principled characters on the show. His last words highlight those principles as he only wanted his people to be safe and wouldn’t force them to follow another man of war, even if it saved is life. He knows there is violence in Stannis’ future and his sign-off suggests he’s happy not to be around to witness it.
Game Of Thrones: 10 Most Memorable Dying Words
9. Rickard Karstark
The Quote: “Kill me and be cursed! You’re no king of mine!”
Rickard Karstark was one of Robb Stark’s chief allies in the war. He was also the first of the Northern lords to turn on the Young Wolf. After Lord Rickard’s son was killed by Jaime Lannister, he sought revenge by killing two captive Lannister children in cold blood.
For his crime, Robb sentenced Lord Rickard to death. Being a noble Stark, Robb allowed his former ally to speak his final words. Being a less-noble Karstark, Lord Rickard took the opportunity to let Robb know exactly how he felt about him.
Despite being a child-killer and an all-around jerk, Karstark goes out like a boss. He lost his faith in the Northern cause long before he lost his head. In the end, he seemed to hate the Starks as much as the Lannisters. Who doesn’t dream of telling their boss off right before they’re fired? And I’m sure Lord Rickard would take solace in the fact that his execution directly lead to the fall of the King in the North.
8. Rodrik Cassel
The Quote: “Gods help you Theon Greyjoy, now you are truly lost.”
Rodrik Cassel was the trusty castellan of Winterfell and owner of the best facial hair in Westeros. He was a brave warrior and one of the most loyal members of the Starks’ inner circle. No surprise then that he was pretty livid when Theon Greyjoy invaded Winterfell in Robb’s absence.
Rodrik refused to bend a knee to the treacherous Ironborn prince, so in a hasty decision, Theon sentenced Rodrik to death. After giving some reassuring words to young Bran and Rickon, Rodrik turns to Theon and delivers his last, haunting words.
Similar to Rickard Karstark’s execution, Rodrik’s death was the beginning of the end for Theon and the old castellan knew it. As much as he hated Theon for his betrayal, in this moment Rodrik pities him for choosing the path he did. And still he faces the death with bravery and some epic whiskers.
7. Qhorin Halfhand
The Quote: “We are the watchers on the Wall.”
Qhorin Halfhand was one of the Night’s Watch most legendary members. He practically lived beyond the Wall as a ranger, tracking Wildlings and making a name for himself as a nearly invincible foe. However, due to pretty boy Jon Snow’s incompetence, the two find themselves captives of a group of Wildlings.
Knowing he’ll certainly be killed, Qhorin convinces Jon to finish him off himself in order to gain the Wildlings’ trust and find out what they’re up to. Jon reluctantly obliges and shoves a sword through Qhorin’s gut. With his last breath, the Halfhand repeats the Night’s Watch creed.
Few characters were as committed to a cause as Qhorin was to the Night’s Watch. He sacrificed himself to not only save Jon’s life, but also help them gain insight into the massive Wildling army. Upon his death, he repeats the words he believed so strongly in to reinforce his commitment to the service. It also helps to remind Jon of his duties less he be too tempted by Ygritte’s good looks.
Speaking of that fiery ginger…
The Quote: “You know nothing, Jon Snow.”
Poor Jon and Ygritte. Did anyone really think these two would have a happy ending? Things started going downhill for the star-crossed lovers once Jon abandoned her and her Wildling friends to rejoin the Night’s Watch. After that, Ygritte was pretty dead set on killing Jon whenever she got the chance.
That chance came during the Wildling’s attack on the Wall. Ygritte had Jon dead to rights with her trusty bow and arrow, but his pretty boy looks made her hesitate long enough to get an arrow in the back from little orphan Olly (Stupid Olly!). Jon holds his dying love in his arms and promises her everything will be alright, setting her up perfectly to deliver her catchphrase one last time.
Granted, the death scene is a little over-the-top– I mean, they have a heart-to-heart in the middle of a freaking battle– but good on the show for not chickening out on giving Ygritte the dying words we were all expecting. That phrase has transcended the context of the show and made a legitimate impact in the pop culture sphere probably as much “Winter is coming”. Any other line would have been a let down.
She put on a tough face, but was a softy at heart, and yet she couldn’t resist one last opportunity to insult clueless Jon Snow. And if you thought it would end any other way, you know… very little.
5. Robb Stark
The Quote: “Mother…”
The infamous Red Wedding saw the end of a number of major characters, but most notable was Robb Stark’s demise. After the show killed off Ned Stark, surely they’d let his son get some revenge. Unfortunately, this is Game of Thrones and, therefore, a nice quiet wedding reception became a massacre. After being pelted with arrows, seeing his Northmen slaughtered, and witnessing his wife and unborn child killed in front of him, Robb turns to his mother and accepts what none of us wanted to: it’s over.
What was so painful about this moment was that it showed us a hero utterly defeated and totally given up. Robb was a strong character through the series but here he has no fight left in him. His words becomes even more tragic from Catelyn’s point of view. At this point, she believes Robb is her only living son and she is willing to do anything to protect him, including murdering an innocent girl. When he speaks his final word, she realizes she failed, and once he’s gone, she loses the last of her will to fight.
4. Tywin Lannister
The Quote: “You’re no son of mine!”
On any other show, Tywin Lannister would be a shoe-in for the title of worst dad. But on Game of Thrones he must settle for merely awful. The consistent victim of his bad parenting is his youngest son, Tyrion. Tywin is utterly indifferent to Tyrion’s well-being and even seems to actively put him in harm’s way.
After being put on trial and sentenced to death by his father, then finding out that he was also sleeping with his son’s lover, Tyrion decides to end the abuse. He finds his father on the chamber-pot and puts an arrow in his gut. Instead of seeing the error of his ways, Tywin uses his last moments to once again show what a deadbeat dad he is.
Even though this is Tywin’s death scene, it’s arguably a more important scene for Tyrion. In the whole series, Tywin was the one character that Tyrion could never stand up to. Sure, he made the occasional witty comment to anger his father, but Tywin ruled over Tyrion his whole life even while continuously disowning him. Here, we finally see Tyrion standing up to his father and making him pay for his years of mistreatment. Tyrion responds to his father’s words by asserting he is his son and always has been. Nothing Tywin says can change that or excuse how he treated Tyrion all those years. He truly deserves his humiliating death.
3. Syrio Forel
The Quote: “What do we say to the god of death?”
Despite his short time on the show, Syrio Forel made a name for himself as one of the most badass characters around. The First Sword of Braavos, Syrio served as Arya Stark’s “dancing master” in King’s Landing. Apart from the sword training, Syrio also imparted some important lessons onto the young Stark girl. Most important of all, when facing certain death you simply say, “Not today”.
When things went sour between the Starks and Lannisters, it was Syrio who stood between Arya and several armed Lannister men. He stood tall against the overwhelming numbers and seemed unconcerned that they all carried steel swords while his was wooden. When Arya begged him to run, he simply reminded her what you say in the face of death. Then he was never seen again.
Always the teacher, Syrio’s last words echo the greatest lesson he taught Arya; survive. Throughout the show, Arya has encountered many of the world’s most dangerous characters and yet, unlike many, she’s still alive. Syrio’s farewell wasn’t an overly confident view of his own predicament, but rather some encouraging words his student would need when he’s no longer there to protect her.
2. Stannis Baratheon
The Quote: “Go on, do your duty.”
Stannis Baratheon went through a pretty crazy trajectory throughout the series. We were worried about him, then were bored with him, then cheered for him, then sympathized with him, and finally outright hated him. When he made his hasty march on Winterfell to root out the Boltons, he seemed to just be going through the motions. His final charge into battle was less epic and more “Okay, let’s get this over with.”
Still, being the badass that he is, he was one of the few survivors when the battle was done. But he was pretty defenseless when Brienne of Tarth stumbles upon him seeking revenge for her beloved Renly. When Brienne unsheathes her sword, Stannis doesn’t beg, curse or protest. He tells her to “do your duty”.
In the end, that’s what really mattered to Stannis: honor and duty. Initially, he only sought the Iron Throne because by law it was his right, but along the way Melissandre’s prophecies got into his head and made him believe he was meant to be a savior. As a result, he did some terrible things – dishonorable things. Having lost everything, all Stannis has left is his sense of honor, and in this moment the honorable thing is to die for his sins.
1. Aemon Targaryen
The Quote: “Egg, dreamed I was old.”
Maester Aemon was the grandfatherly figure at the Wall with a secret, sad past as one of the few living Targaryens. He was a fair and wise man who served as confidant to Jon and Sam during their many trying times. But just as things at the Wall were becoming more tense than ever, Aemon’s health began to fade.
It’s not often that a character on Game of Thrones dies of natural causes, but that didn’t help ease the pain of Aemon’s passing. We watched as his mind begins to deteriorate and he calls out for “Egg”, his long-dead brother. His final gut-wrenching cries for his brother show that even a man of this age is scared to die.
Certainly one of the sadder moments of the series thus far. Aemon was always a kind man and spoke wisdom like a Westeros version of Yoda. To see this man lost and afraid as he slips away was a cruel end even if it wasn’t violent. Despite its the tragedy of the line, it serves fans of the prequel novels with a nice Easter (*ahem*) Egg.