The new HBO series House of the Dragon debuts Sunday. The prequel to Game of Thrones is one of the hotly anticipated new series of the year. Before it debuts, I thought I’d go back and share my Top 10 episodes from the original series, which debuted in 2011 and ran eight seasons.
10. The Long Night, Episode 8.03
About: Starting off on a controversial note, I know. People didn’t love the last season, and I get it. People didn’t love this episode, and I get it. But I thought the battle was well done and there is a piece of music that undergirds it that is one of the best of the series. The Night King should have been the ultimate foe, but this was still a good episode and one of my favorites.
9. Baelor, Episode 1.09
About: Did the show just kill off the main character? I remember thinking that when I first saw this episode. I wasn’t a book reader at the time, so this was the moment that I was “all in” on the series. It was incredibly striking and well done.
8. The Spoils of War, Episode 7.04
About: By far the best episode of the seventh season, and probably the best of the final two seasons. This one featured an epic battle as Drogon and Daenerys reigned fire down on the Lannister army. It was tense and emotional, a great reminder of what the series was still capable of delivering.
7. The Watchers on the Wall, Episode 4.09
About: The Game of Thrones equivalent of the Alamo saw the Night’s Watch battling the free folk. It was one of the first epic battle episodes and a memorable turn for Jon Snow. It continued the tradition of strong penultimate episodes.
6. The Door, Episode 6.05
About: For me, Season 6 is unquestionably the best. There are many episodes I love, but I’d be remiss to have a list like this and not include The Door. Hodor was a tragic figure but this beloved episode gave him a hero’s ending. It was an incredibly emotional hour.
5. The Dance of Dragons, Episode 5.09
About: This is one of the most action-packed and emotional episodes. Stannis sacrifices his daughter for no reasons, which was hard to sit through. And Daenerys is attacked, only to be rescued in amazing fashion by Drogon. I watched it about 10 times when it first came out and I still love it today. It’s another episode with a great piece of music.
4. The Rains of Castamere, Episode 3.09
About: You might know this one by its other name, The Red Wedding. I remember sitting alone in the dark for half an hour after first viewing this episode. I was simply stunned. It’s a huge plot twist and a huge turn, especially if you’re pro-House Stark, like me. It remains one of the show’s best.
3. The Battle of the Basterds, Episode 6.09
About: Another episode that was epic in scope. Here a resurrected Jon Snow battles Ramsay Bolton. It’s a huge clash that has plenty of intense moments. It lives up to the hype that accompanies penultimate episodes, serving as the best of those episodes through eight seasons.
2. The Winds of Winter, Episode 6.10
About: The series capped its incredible sixth season with a finale that is one of its best episodes ever. The music, the tension and the long shot. It was incredible and incredibly paced. After the big battle of the previous episode, this one came in slowly and just blew you out of the water. Sometimes I waffle on whether this is the best episode of the series.
1. Hardhome, Episode 5.08
About: But, in the end, it’s about the cinematic quality brought to the small screen. Hardhome, which features Jon Snow and his allies battling the Army of the Dead, is one of the most intense and intensely cinematic episodes in the series. It’s rendered all the more meaningful by what happens two episodes later. It’s a beautifully crafted piece and is the pinnacle of the series in terms of visual storytelling for me.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.