Quick Answer: Game of Thrones' arsenal of shock and awe runs deep, much deeper than just "The Red Wedding." Here are some episodes that demonstrate why Game of Thrones is one of the best shows on TV.
To choose the best ten episodes Game of Thrones (2011 - ) is a near impossible task, one that, frankly, I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. Here is an attempt to highlight the most intense, thrilling and heartbreaking episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones, in chronological order.
Ned Stark Faces His Punishment
In this key episode, we see the terrible beheading of Ned Stark. Not only do we lose a main character, but we realize just how awful and cruel Joffrey is. This is the first of many heartbreaking, shocking scenes for Game of Thrones fans. In addition to the wedding, "Baelor" is an action-filled episode: Robb takes Jaime Lannister prisoner and Jon Snow is given the Lord Commander’s Valyrian steel sword, Longclaw; Mirri Maz Dur performs blood magic to save Khal Drogo’s life at the behest of Daenerys; and after Qotho attacks Daenerys and is slain by Ser Jorah, Dany goes into labour.
"Fire and Blood" (S1E10)
Daenerys Rises From the Ashes
In the Season 1 finale, the Starks learn of Ned’s death and Robb is declared the King in the North. But this is truly Daenerys' episode; she makes the heartbreaking decision to kill her husband and lights a funeral pyre, stepping into it with her three dragon eggs while Mirri Maz Dur burns to death. The season ends with an iconic scene: Dany emerging from the ashes the next morning, unscathed, with three dragons surrounding her.
The Wildfire Explosion
Set completely in King’s Landing, "Blackwater" is centered around the battle between Stannis Baratheon and the Lannisters. While Cersei gets drunk, torturing the girls with ideas of what will happen to them if the city is sacked, Tyrion leads the charge and saves the city (with no reward or gratitude).
"And Now His Watch Is Ended" (S3E4)
Daenerys Exchanges a Chain for A Whip
Jaime Lannister is weak, delirious and distraught after losing his sword hand. Margaery introduces Sansa to the idea of marrying her brother, the Knight of Flowers. Arya is taken to Lord Beric Dondarrion and Theon Greyjoy is cruelly betrayed. Daenerys takes control of the Unsullied and exchanges a chain for a whip, killing the slavers and raising an army.
"The Rains of Castamere" (S3E9)
Catelyn Stark at the Red Wedding
One of the most shocking and horrifying episodes of the show, "The Rains of Castamere" features the now-infamous Red Wedding. Catelyn and Robb are brutally murdered, in addition to countless other casualities. I haven't felt comfortable at a wedding since.
"The Lion and the Rose" (S4E2)
Joffrey is Poisoned at His Wedding
A lot happens in this episode, from Ramsay hunting a peasant girl and having her torn to shreds to Bronn teaching Jaime how to swordfight with his left hand. Most importantly, "The Lion and the Rose" has yet another violent wedding and another death of a king. While the show lost an amazing villain, it was a fantastic scene.
"The Laws of Gods and Men" (S4E6)
Tyrion Faces Judgement
In "The Laws of Gods and Men," Daenerys is realizing how hard and painful it can be to rule. The crux of the episode, though, is Tyrion’s trial, which showcases some of Game of Thrones' most suspenseful scenes. The fact that he is on trial is shocking enough, but when Shae gives her testimony, we're left almost as angry as Tyrion.
"The Mountain and The Viper" (S4E8)
Oberyn and The Mountain Battle
In an otherwise action-packed episode, Tyrion’s trial by combat is the highlight. The intense matchup between Mountain and Prince Oberyn only makes Oberyn's death more disheartening.
The Night's King
As the title suggests, the most compelling part of this episode is the massacre at Hardhome. Seeing Tormund and Jon work together to fight the Walkers is thrilling. The dialogue is fantastic, but the fight is the most terrifying and beautiful battle to date on Game of Thrones.
"The Dance of Dragons" (S5E9)
Drogon Joins Daenerys
The events that unfold in Meereen are both violently chaotic and gloriously uplifting. Seeing Ser Jorah in the fighting pit is downright terrifying for the viewer and for Daenerys. When he emerges victorious and throws the spear in her direction, there's a moment of disorienting terror, until we see it land in the Harpy behind her. All hell breaks loose as the Harpys begin to murder everyone and Drogon joins the fight. The battle ends with the moment we've been waiting for since the Season 1 finale: Daenerys mounts Drogon and becomes a dragon rider.
These ten episodes are, of course, only a slice of what Game of Thrones has to offer. Here's hoping Season 6 brings us more moments that are brimming with chaos, heartache and intensity.