HBO’s Game of Thrones has produced some of the most memorable TV over the past few years and season 6 will likely go down as one of the show’s best. There were deaths, secrets, battles, back-stabbing, and a happy moment or two during the ten-episode run, culminating in a big, beautiful cliffhanger for season 7. If you thought it got crazy in season 6, Game of Thrones fans haven’t seen nothing yet.
What was particularly special about season 6 is that it didn’t have George R.R. Martin’s books to follow. Sure, the legendary author gave showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss some great pieces to work with. But, by and large, many of the big moments were new to Game of Thrones fans, making these past few months quite the experience.
Really, this list could extend to a few dozen moments—the Hound returns, Ned’s brother is a zombie hybrid, Tommen commits suicide—but we’ve narrowed it down to just ten. These moments had big impacts when they were revealed and should continue to reverberate throughout the remainder of the series.
After arriving at the Wall, many expected the Red Woman to immediately resurrect Jon Snow. However, before she got down to business, Game of Thrones revealed something I don’t think anybody was expecting: Melisandre is actually an old woman. Not just old but an ancient crone. It was a shocking revelation considering the Red Woman often uses her sexuality to manipulate men. Will anyone actually find out her secret? Now that’s she’s been banished from Winterfell, anything could happen.
Jon Snow resurrected
It wasn’t really a matter of if, but when. After being murdered by his brothers of the Night’s Watch, many people expected Jon Snow to be resurrected by Melisandre. Well, it didn’t happen right away but he officially brought back to life at the end of episode 2, “Home.” Jon wasted no time sentencing those who betrayed him to death, which was then followed by his departure as Lord Commander. But don’t feel too bad for what happened to Jon because he’s now King in the North.
Hold the door
Was there anything more tragic than the story of Hodor, whose fate was sealed at an early age thanks to Bran? Turns out, before Hodor was only capable of muttering the same word over and over he was a normal young man named Wylis in Winterfell. In a crucial moment during episode 5, Bran’s travels back through time inadvertently creates a feedback loop that affects Hodor for the rest of his life. Hodor had one job and he performed it admirably but it was still a tragic and chilling ending to the character’s life.
The most hated man on television finally bit the bullet in “Battle of the Bastards,” and in a fitting way, too. After being defeated by Jon Snow’s army, the evil Bolton is chained to a chair and locked in the kennels. He arrogantly tells Sansa that his loyal beasts wouldn’t dare harm him, but having been starved for days, the hounds start ripping him to shreds. It was a satisfying end that finally brought his terrible reign of terror to an end. Good-bye, Ramsay, we won’t miss you.
Arya becomes an assassin
After coming close to death, Arya was finally deemed “no one” by Jaqen H’ghar. But realizing she did not want to service the Many-Faced God, the young Stark rejected her newfound persona and instead reclaimed her identity as Arya Stark. “A girl is Arya Stark of Winterfell, and I’m going home.” Not only did she reject the assassin cult but she immediately crossed her name off her s*!# list, slitting the throat of Walder Frey.
Bran the Three-Eyed Raven
After disappearing for an entire season, Bran played a major role in season 6, becoming a disciple of the Three-eyed raven. While under his tutelage, Bran explores his visions, learning that Hodor wasn’t always a simpleton, the White Walkers were created by the Children of the Forest, and Jon Snow isn’t actually Ned Stark’s bastard son. What else is he going to find out in season 7?
Jon Snow isn’t a bastard
The most prominent theory in Game of Thrones has always been R + L = J. While the theory wasn’t 100 percent confirmed in the season 6 finale, it’s essentially a foregone conclusion. We know who Jon Snow’s mother is, now it’s just a matter of learning about his father, who many people theorize is Rhaegar Targaryen. Don’t know who that is? You might know his sister, Daenerys Targaryen.
Cersei uses Wildfire
Following Cersei’s walk of atonement, she essentially became a prisoner in her own home, watching from afar as the High Sparrow took over King’s Landing. But we know that Cersei Lannister always has the last laugh, and after confirming there were barrels of Wildfire beneath the Sept, she set King’s Landing on fire. In the process, she eliminated all of her enemies (and a lot of innocent bystanders), becoming the first ever Queen of Westeros in the process.
Game of Thrones hasn’t introduced a new character to root for in a while, so when Lyanna Mormont showed up in season 6, people quickly fell for the fierce leader. Not only is she unafraid to speak her mind but she has also proven to be intelligent beyond her years. She put Jon Snow in her place in “The Broken Man” and then shamed the Northern lords after the Battle of the Bastards. While characters like Joffrey and Tommen failed to wield their power, Lyanna is proving just because she’s young doesn’t mean she can’t be a competent leader.
Jon Snow may be the King in the North but his ascension among the ranks was overshadowed by the show’s many powerful women. We already talked about how awesome Lyanna Mormont was during her time onscreen, but she wasn’t the only one to display her power. Sansa’s quick thinking won the Battle of the Bastards, Cersei’s evil plans wiped out half of King’s Landing, Yara has left the Iron Islands, and Daenerys is leading an enormous army straight to Westeros. Men may rule on the battlefield but women run the show.