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Some ‘Game of Thrones’ Deaths Are Tragic. Others, Not So Much.

Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley)

Season 3

The Red Wedding — a betrayal where you would least expect one — was painful to watch. The celebration was actually a trap meant to lure the Starks and their bannermen into an enclosed space without their weapons, where they would be caught off guard. One by one, the Starks fell — a pregnant Talisa was stabbed in the belly; a stunned Robb shot by crossbows, then stabbed in the heart; and an anguished Catelyn robbed of her eldest son. By the time her throat was slit, she had already given up — not knowing, as we did, that her other children were still alive.

Ygritte (Rose Leslie)

Season 4

The Wildling warrior Ygritte saw Jon Snow, her former lover, across a crowded battlefield and paused, unable to shoot her arrow at him. He smiled. And then the young fighter Olly ruined the moment by shooting Ygritte instead. She died in Jon Snow’s arms as the battle raged on around them, a poignant moment that seemed to stop time. Ms. Leslie had read the books in advance and knew she was doomed from the start, but she still got emotional when she was given Ygritte’s bow “as something I could remember my experience by.” She credits the show with getting her in the door with casting directors “who would never had given me the time of day” otherwise.

Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal)

Season 4

The Red Viper, the avenging prince from Dorne, seemed as if he were going to win the trial by combat, as the Mountain, the sadistic strongman loyal to the Lannister clan, was down for the count. But in Westeros, whenever we get overconfident, our legs can be swept out from underneath us, leaving us in the hands of a villain who can squash us like a bug. Or a watermelon, in Oberyn’s case.

Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig)

Season 6

Doran Martell, the ruling prince of Dorne, wanted to keep his country from going to war but was overruled by the warrior women in his family. They let him know their decision by assassinating him. On execution day, his last day on set, Mr. Siddig felt the temperature shift. “People weren’t rude or anything, but no one was as nice as they were before,” Mr. Siddig said. “No one really wants to chat with a condemned guy. What do you say? Awkward.” He opted not to read fan reaction. “Bad for the soul,” he said.

Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale)

Season 6

Alliser Thorne, the former master of arms promoted to First Ranger of Castle Black, was a thorn in Jon Snow’s side, taunting him throughout their time together at the Wall, during which they were meant to guard the realm of men against White Walkers but spent most of it fighting Wildlings. Snow’s move to save the Wildlings led to Thorne’s murderous mutiny against him. He got his comeuppance upon Snow’s resurrection, when the Lord Commander decided to execute the man who had executed him. “I knew something was up when I felt the rope around my neck,” Mr. Teale joked. Snow’s return, he said, was about the death of Death. “It causes us to imagine that perhaps Death really shall have no dominion.”

Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson)

Season 4

Let’s face it — if Littlefinger and Olenna Tyrell, the status-seeking self-made man and the matriarch of one of the richest noble families, hadn’t conspired to poison Joffrey at his own wedding, he would be tormenting everyone in sight. It was a public service. But choking in the arms of his mother turned the little monster back into a little boy, and his suffering was needlessly prolonged.

Roose Bolton (Michael McElhatton)

Season 6

Though he had been Robb Stark’s bannerman, Roose was the one who killed him at the Red Wedding by stabbing him in the heart. Roose’s death, at the hands of his own son, mirrored that kill, seeming to provide some justice. “I had a friend who was visiting on set that day,” Mr. McElhatton said,: “and he reminded me, ‘Do you remember when the crew were told?’ Because they didn’t know I was doing to die. So the whole crew reaction when I was shooting my last scene was, ‘Oh my god, oh my god.’” Mr. McElhatton also skipped reading fan reactions. “Do they miss me?” he asked, chuckling.


Iwan Rheon in “Game of Thrones.”


Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon)

Season 6

The most terrible person appropriately had arguably the most terrible death. Ramsay — who castrated one poor captive for kicks, who hunted and raped women for sport, who gave his dogs a taste for human flesh — provided one last meal for his beloved pets, served up by Sansa, his abused wife. No wonder she smiled.

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