The only thing more certain in Westeros than the coming of winter is the imminent death of whichever resident you love the most. Many of our favorite Game of Thrones characters are not likely to make it through season six with their lives intact, and their deaths will leave us once again questioning why we willingly put ourselves through such agony.
George R.R. Martin loves to play against fan expectations and typical fantasy tropes, meaning that any character, at any time, may meet the Many-Faced God…no matter how crushing it might be.
To prep for the inevitable miseries of Game of Thrones‘ sixth season, here are the 10 characters whose passing would be the most upsetting. (Note: This is based solely on the show, without any consideration for the book versions of the characters. If we were to bring the novels into the equation, a certain overweight Northern Lord would surely make the list.)
Even after he took a full season off, Hodor‘s death would crush fans. You can imagine this one invoking the same feelings we experienced at the end of Old Yeller. Hodor might not be complicated, but he is lovable.
9. Podrick Payne
When Brienne and Podrick met Littlefinger’s men on the road last year, it looked like Podrick was about to meet his awful end. Game of Thrones‘ Podrick deserves to be ranked simply because he’s been one of the few truly good people in Westeros. With the constant danger he finds himself in, this possibility always seems too real, unfortunately.
8. Samwell Tarly
Speaking of constant danger, Sam the Slayer has come close to death many times before. Each time, we have felt our chests cave in over the fear of losing this beloved character. We hope Sam lives a long life, if only because someone has to read all those books for all of Westeros.
7. Brienne of Tarth
Sometimes it feels like there are few truly good people in the Game of Thrones world, but the Maid of Tarth is one of the rare noble ones. An inherently sad person, Brienne has proved to be brave, loyal, and willing to risk her life in the service of others. That’s a perfect recipe for a crushing death.
6. Sansa Stark
Maybe this is too low, but you almost wonder if Sansa’s living fate has been worse than her deceased brother Robb’s. Isolated, scared, and abused, Sansa is continually punished for her naïve and accidental betrayal of her family in King’s Landing. Any Stark death would hurt, but this would be very sad in the truest sense of the word.
Good of heart, courageous, caring, faithful, and smart, Davos might be the most wonderful person in Westeros. If this were a list based only on my personal attachments to these characters, then he’d be number one. No matter whose opinions are factored in, he still deserves a spot this high.
4. Daenerys Targaryen, Mother of Dragons, Khaleesi
On the other hand, here’s the first person that I kinda, sorta wouldn’t really feel all that badly about losing. I’m not really a fan of the Mother of Dragons. (Stop yelling, I know you’re angry.) I never really got over Daenerys‘ decision to banish Jorah, and her shortsighted governing leaves a lot to be desired. However, I can’t deny how important she is, and how well intentioned her actions are, so she does deserve to be in the top five. If nothing else, losing Emilia Clarke’s performance would be a downer.
3. Jamie Lannister
Go back to the first time you experienced pretty boy Jamie Lannister throwing little Bran out of a window and ask yourself if you ever thought you’d love this man as much as you do. He has had, arguably, the most compelling arc of any character, becoming more nuanced and layered with each season. As a complex anti-hero who consistently inspires unexpected emotions, Jamie’s death would be awful. This is made doubly true considering the fact that Westeros would celebrate it, leaving us to mourn in silence.
2. Tyrion Lannister
I don’t even want to talk about this one, or even to imagine what this would do to all of us. As a character, Tyrion is one of the best in television history for myriad reasons. As a person, it all goes back to the fact that he is truly kind and just. No death would change the show more; his would have an even greater impact than Ned’s back in season one, and would rank on par with Jon’s from last season (but without the hope of a return).
1. Arya Stark
Arya‘s death often feels like the one people fear the most. So what if she has become a cold-blooded murderer,? We love her more for it, not less! While her sister’s story has had of her a passive victim, Arya has done what she can to extract revenge and take some measure of control. She has earned our empathy in her suffering, but has also earned our respect and admiration. Plus, she’s still a young girl. One who should never have found herself in this position. I don’t think any character’s death would upset people as much as this one. Unfortunately, the joining of murder cult doesn’t exactly bode well for someone we want to see live a long time.
Varys: No one loves a spider, but one of the smartest, funniest characters on the show—one of the few that seems to understand the bigger picture—would still be a big loss. You might not be sad, but you’d be bummed out.
Jorah Mormont: If Ser Jorah were not already dying from greyscale, he’d make the Top 10. However, since his is the only death we know for sure is coming eventually, coupled with the fact that the former Lord of Bear Island already had his moment of redemption, he ends up here. (Personally, this one is going to destroy me. I love Jorah. I couldn’t even handle his banishment. I don’t know how I’ll deal with his passing.)
Theon: Few have suffered for their sins the way Theon has. If his potential redemption progresses, he might even earn a spot in the Top 10. For now, though, most people would celebrate the traitor’s demise, or at the very least feel relief for him instead of sadness. Theon is a complex character, worthy of scorn and pity. The confusion over what he deserves gets him here.
Bran: Fellow book readers, I assure you Bran’s failure to make the Top 10 is resultant of the show alone. In addition to giving Bran an entire season off, HBO never developed his story as well as the books have. We’d be bummed out to lose him, but I’m not sure TV Bran has earned anything more than an honorable mention.
Cersei: Yes, she deserves consideration. I’m a Stark man, but she does love her children and her family, and she, too, has suffered. I wouldn’t shed any tears, but I’d feel some sympathy over Cersei‘s death…even if a bigger part of me would derive joy from it.
Grey Worm: The loyal, tough, and brave Grey Worm would probably earn a death a lot like that of Barristan Selmy’s. And that hurt.
Missandei: Much like Grey Worm, Missandei is a good and loyal friend who would be missed.
Jon Snow: If (I know, “when”) Jon does return, we can put him on the list, but dead people can’t be put on a list about how sad their eventual passings will make us feel. If that were the case, a big ol’ dog would have made it on here too. In case you are wondering, that other character of this sort (you know, the one we can’t spoil for people) would not make us feel sadness in our hearts.
So what did we get right and what did we get wrong? It won’t kill you to tell us in the comments below.