Game of Thrones has been a whirlwind adventure. Ever since it premiered on HBO in 2011, the show–based on the series of novels, A Song of Fire and Ice, by George R.R. Martin–has captured the attention of TV audiences everywhere. Every year, without fail, it becomes one of the most anticipated and talked about shows (whether it be about something good or controversial). With each season, Game of Thrones becomes more of a must-watch, but depending on who you ask, there are certainly some seasons that are better than others. Some have soared and take characters to new heights, while others have been mediocre at best.
As the seventh season draws nears (it premieres Sunday, July 16 on HBO!), The Young Folks ranked seasons one through six. Check out the list below and find out which season came in at number one!
6. Season 5
Right at its start, season five is when Game of Thrones reached a new level of popularity worldwide, which is ironic given that this was the most boring season of its current run. It’s also ironic that its worst season also won the show’s first Emmy for Best Drama. Season five is when Game of Thrones started making its first big departures from the book series. (What other choice do you have when you run out of source material?) It was a rough start since the pacing and plotting of storylines were off. New characters that had been hyped, like the Sand Snakes, were underwhelming. Then, the significant controversy over the sexual assault that Sansa experiences and the way it was filmed ended the rather dull season on a sour note. The only element that left fans excited was the long-awaited meeting between Daenerys and Tyrion Lannister. —Gabrielle Bondi
5. Season 4
In Season 4, Joffery is poisoned at his wedding, Tywin is shot on the toilet, Lysa Arryn was pushed through the moon door, Jon’s beloved Ygritte was shot in the back, and Jorah Mormont was banished by Daenerys.
Season 4 was able to hook you in every episode from Joffery’s wedding, to Daenery’s storming Meereen, to Bran being kidnapped beyond the Wall to Tyrion’s trial. It covered almost every aspect of the three seasons preceding it and featured weddings, war and, most importantly, deserving deaths. For once, a beloved character wasn’t brutally murdered and everyone who did die basically had it coming. Being one of the middle seasons, it set a lot up for what was to come later in Westeros, specifically with Daenerys storyline in Meeren and what is to come with Arya’s future in Braavos. —Savannah Brock
4. Season 3
Whether you had read the books or not, the anticipation of the infamous Red Wedding plagued the season as it reached the bloody and surprising murder of Robb Stark, his wife, and mother Catelyn Stark. It may have been one of the most talked about moment in Game of Thrones history and was executed in such a brutal fashion that even those who were expecting it felt a shade of surprise. Yet, season three put forth a number of plot points and information together that would eventually serve for future seasons, like just how powerful Melisandre (or the Lord of Light) is. In addition to that, some of the most compelling moments of the season were the burgeoning relationships between characters. Jon Snow falling in love with wilding Ygritte was a refreshing change of pace, and the reluctant friendship between Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth showed us a new side of Jamie and how fiercely loyal and true Brienne is. —Gabrielle Bondi
3. Season 2
If the first season of Game of Thrones was all about putting all the players in place, the second season was the sheer horror inherent in watching them all battle for the prize. Sure, while many of them were concerned with mounting a very uncomfortable-looking chair, others were dearer to our hearts because they were caught up in deadly events merely for trying to protect their family, loved ones, or sometimes, just stay breathing, which could seem like an impossible goal. Various would-be kings struggled for the throne and died. The Stark children tried to avenge their patriarch or protect his legacy, with Arya Stark in particular constantly struggling to stay alive and reunite with her family. But one of the most enjoyable aspects of the show’s sophomore season was watching fan favorite Tyrion Lannister take center stage and try to outmaneuver his enemies, most of whom were related to him. His rousing speech to the men at King’s Landing is one for the ages, as brutally honest as it is inspirational. —Andrea Thompson
2. Season 6
For much of season five of Game of Thrones, fans of both the television series and the books were in a constant state of incredulous agitation as aspects of the book were spoiled for us or creative changes were made that didn’t mesh with the logic of the books. The creative team who were at the point of diverging from the text were floundering with what to do with the characters – to stall or not to stall – and it showed. Season six did something miraculous, however, by finally shaking the hold of the books and storming forward by bringing together characters and building a narrative momentum that had been sorely lacking in the last two seasons.
Finally, there were stakes again. Characters didn’t just die but were also reunited. Jon came back from the dead a more intriguing character was given a true hero moment in “Battle of the Bastards”. Sansa and Jon were reunited, while Tyrion and Dany began working together. Cersei enacted her revenge, Ramsay Bolton was killed savagely by Sansa and Dany, finally, after six long seasons took sail to Westeros. It was a season that was exciting, surprising and action-packed, reigniting that thrill of watching week in and week out that hadn’t been present since season one. It was a full on epic for each episode of the season, capturing the magnetism, intrigue and fantastical elements that made it such event television. —Allyson Johnson
1. Season 1
One of my favorite episodes of season one is the pilot. This is the only episode of the series where The Starks are together, happily living their lives. Arya is teasing Bran about his shooting skills, and Sansa is dreamily thinking about marrying Prince Joffrey; it’s the closest thing to a fairy tale.
A lot of series have trouble finding their grounding in their first season, but Game of Thrones started off strong and kept the momentum going until the end. Like its novel counterpart, it wasn’t afraid to take risks and went as far as killing the main character in the end (which completely took non-book readers off guard). Season 1 takes its time establishing itself through the political intrigue and snarky dialogue. There aren’t many action sequences, but there doesn’t need to be. You fall in love with these characters because of their wit, heroism, and villainy. Even though the rest of the show is great, season 1 is particularly special because they had to create a show out of a fantasy book series that the mainstream audience had never heard of. And they succeeded. They really succeeded. —Yasmin Kleinbart