10 Greatest Game of Thrones Battles, Ranked!

Game of Thrones largely revolves around several different conflicts, so it will only naturally see its fair share of assaults, battles, sieges, and everything in between. Some are short and uninteresting, whereas others are quite something to behold.

10 Best Game of Thrones Battles

10. The Sack of Winterfell

The Sack of Winterfell was a substantial turning point in the show’s early going; it introduced us to Roose Bolton’s Bastard, Ramsay Snow (if only we knew then what we know now), and drastically altered the fate and virility of one Theon Greyjoy.

After hearing news of the seizure of Winterfell, Roose Bolton informed Robb Stark that his bastard son could ride on Winterfell with a modest force and reclaim the castle for the King in the North. Robb permitted him, requesting only that Theon be kept alive so he could personally see to the traitor’s execution. He suggested that Bolton forces offer amnesty to any Iron-Born forces except Theon, incentivizing them to turn on their weak leader.

That is exactly what happened – the Iron Born incapacitated Theon themselves and forfeited Winterfell to the Bolton forces. What happened next was unsurprising in retrospect. Ramsay’s forces flayed many of the Iron Born alive, Ramsay took Theon as his torture toy, and the Boltons set Winterfell aflame, seemingly killing any civilians inside the walls.

Game of Thrones Greatest Battles
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in Game of Thrones | Source: IMDb

9. Battle of the Fist of the First Men

The best Game of Thrones conflicts are jaw-dropping because of stunning visuals and because they advance the story in an unforeseen way. Earthshattering revelations in the show are almost always accompanied by bloodshed.

When it began, Thrones had all the hallmarks of a straightforward medieval(ish) drama, for all its quality storytelling and character development. Five seasons later, it transformed into a full-fledged fantasy, complete with magic, resurrection, undead armies, and dragons.

Battle of the Fist of the First Men was the first open confrontation between men and White Walkers we had ever seen, and showed us for the first time the true scale of the army of undead north of the Wall. The Walkers overran the Night’s Watch at the Fist, killing hundreds in the process – although Ghost, Jon’s dire wolf, did kill a White Walker during the battle.

This might not have been much of an even fight, but it was the moment the White Walkers stopped being a vague, unquantified thread and became something much more inevitable. And terrifying.

8. Assault on the Dreadfort

In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the entire series, Yara Greyjoy led a band of fifty or so Iron-Born to rescue her brother Theon from his captor, the sadistic Ramsay Snow.

She was successful, at least at first, until we saw how broken and hopeless Theon (now Reek) had become when he refused to flee with his fellow citizens. We also learned during the assault that Ramsay wasn’t just a psychopathic torturer but also a capable brawler when he handled himself outstandingly in a vicious melee, wearing nothing but slacks.

The assault on the Dreadfort furthered the development of the Ramsay character but also showed us just how insane Theon had become at that point. By any metric, Yara successfully rescued her brother – but thinking it could only be another mind game, Theon bit his sister and returned to his cage among the other (actual) hounds.

Game of Thrones Greatest Battles
Alfie Allen and Iwan Rheon in Game of Thrones | Source: IMDb

7. Battle of Winterfell

The Battle of Winterfell was supposed to be a coronation for Stannis Baratheon – his adviser Melisandre had seen visions of him walking the castle’s battlements after a great victory. We learned that visions don’t count for much after Stannis and his depleted forces suffered a decisive loss in the battle.

Despite not meaning a lot on the surface Stannis’ fumble and eventual loss changed very little in the big picture of who sits on which chair – the takeaways from the battle were numerous.

Most obviously, it was the last time we saw Stannis Baratheon, who was killed shortly after the routing of his army by the Bolton forces. While Stannis fought his losing battle, Sansa escaped Winterfell with Theon after being held there by Ramsay for much of the season.

The sequence also gave us another instance of characters coming this close to reuniting, with Brienne and Sansa missing each other by mere moments because of all the commotion.

6. The Raid at The Weirwood

The Raid at The Weirwood is worth noting if only because it gave us substantial plot foreshadowing and one of the most crushing moments in Game of Thrones history. In the raid, the White Walker’s army attacked Bran, Meera, and co. in the weirwood cave after The Night King touched Bran in a vision.

We also learned that The Night King’s marking on Bran allowed him to locate Bran’s hideout and bypass the protective magic that had kept them safe until then.

As such, the undead army quickly moves to Bran’s location and attacks. Bran and Meera escape, although the Three-Eyed Raven, Leaf, and Bran’s dire wolf suffer more gruesome fates.

During the sequence, Bran is shown warning into Hodor in the past or present, which still is the subject of some debate. In the show’s past, we watch a young Hodor’s mind shatter under Bran’s power, explaining his condition over the past few seasons.

In the show’s present, poor Hodor was being torn apart by the undead, in one of the most gut-wrenching moments this consistently gut-wrenching show has ever given us.

5. Uprising at Daznak’s Pit

After agreeing to open the fighting pits, Dany was on hand to watch the ceremonies with her then-betrothed, Hizdahr zo Loraq. The day turned sour, though, after a large number of the insurgent Sons of The Harpy attacked, murdering spectators and waging an assault on the Queen herself. Once Dany and her Kingsguard were sufficiently surrounded and outmanned, Drogon arrived just in time to roast the attackers.

It was an impressive sequence in yet another consequential ninth episode, this one of season five. And like the best of Game’s battles, the fight at the pit jumped the story along substantially. The audience saw the return of Jorah, after being previously cast out by his Queen.

We also saw the return of Drogon and just how big and fierce the dragon had become; this is crucial – we learned that Dany could ride a dragon. This last point, besides being a revealing piece of exposition, achieved something very important in the show structure – it physically relocated a character.

We have seen that the show struggles when characters are bogged down in one place for too long (think of the dilemma in Meereen). For the plot to move, characters must travel, unlock new areas, and meet other characters. At the uprising in the pit, we learned Dany could ride a dragon. Perhaps just as importantly, she rode that dragon a great distance to the Dothraki sea, where she could further her – and the show’s – story.

4. Massacre at Hardhome

If the Battle at the Fist of the First Men showed us some of why we should be terrified of the White Walkers, the Massacre at Hardhome terrified us completely.

Jon Snow and Tormund sailed to the wildling outpost to recruit however many they could to return to Castle Black and take shelter on the other side of the Wall, only to be ambushed by the now overwhelming force of the undead army. A massacre it was, as the free folk suffered catastrophic casualties at the hands of the White Walkers.

Still, for something so horrifying, the battle was stunning in its execution. The episode was the second directed by Miguel Sapochnik, and what he did with the action was nothing short of masterful.

Insane, suffocating winter imagery. Long tracking shots drag viewers through disorienting action. Iconic images like a White Walker lieutenant walking through flames or a Giant erupting from a hut draped in the undead.

Thousands of wights hurled themselves off a cliff, only to rise and attack again. And finally, in one of the show’s most famous shots, The Night’s King reanimates the massacre’s casualties in front of Jon Snow – a taunt highlighting just how fruitless efforts to oppose the Walkers would be.

We learned at Hardhome that Valyrian steel can seemingly kill the White Walkers, as Jon destroys a lieutenant in combat – something we hadn’t seen on screen before.

3. The Battle of Castle Black

Oh, for those days when a bunch of Wildlings was the scariest thing north of the Wall. The Battle of Castle Black was the climax of a whole season of buildup to a confrontation between the Night’s Watch and Mance Rayder’s army of free folk.

The episode “The Watchers on The Wall” gave us Night 1 of the conflict in one of the series’ only installments set entirely in one location.

The battle despite seeming less important now than it was at the time, given the events that followed was the most epic the show had yet shown us as Mance’s considerable forces attacked the Castle from the North complete with giants riding mammoths –Tormund and Ygritte’s smaller party attacked from the south.

The battle raged through the night, with the Wildlings retreating, if only to regroup.

The conflict between Wildlings and The Night’s Watch might seem less relevant now, given the emergence of a much graver threat. But the Battle of Castle Black was important for Jon Snow, as his performance there led to him being elected as the new Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.

It eventually moved Tormund into an allied position with the Northerners, finally extinguishing the threat of Mance’s army. And it was cinematically one of the most impressive pieces in the entire series.

Game of Thrones Greatest Battles
Kit Harington and Rose Leslie in Game of Thrones | Source: IMDb

2. The Battle of the Blackwater

The Battle of the Blackwater was Game of Thrones’ first big-scale war set piece, and it was substantially breathtaking to watch. The naval conflict included more visual effects than had ever been on the show, and the episode – “Blackwater” – was the first to devote all sixty minutes to only one storyline.

The battle was between Stannis Baratheon’s army and the Lannister forces of King’s Landing. Recounting the events of the fight in this space is most likely unnecessary; the episode was a turning point both for the series—in scope—and many of the characters, and as such, it has been carved into the collective audience’s memory. Tyrion’s heroism during the battle cemented his role as perhaps the fan-favorite character on the show, and Joffrey’s cowardice only made us hate him more.

Role players like Bronn, The Hound, and Podrick Payne all had memorable action moments during the battle – and that wildfire explosion in the bay is arguably singular amongst visual effects in TV history.

More battles have come since this one, and more are to come. But the Blackwater was the first time Game Of Thrones truly flexed its muscles, showing viewers action of a magnitude unmatched by any other TV series in history.

1. The Battle of The Bastards

Sunday night’s long-awaited showdown was all but epic enough to take the number one spot.

Much was made of the resources that went into the production of this episode in terms of time, money, and raw workforce. With all due respect to the show’s budget, we aren’t sure you can put a price on catharsis and the well-earned audience relief this episode provided was worth every penny.

From a purely filmic standpoint, the Battle of The Bastards featured several stunning sequences – from Rickon’s Run (#zigzag) to the near suffocation of Jon Snow beneath a mountain of bodies, this episode framed combat in a way that not only was new for a TV show but was just plain new.

Consider the way horses were filmed in this battle. As combatants made their way across the screen, animals slammed into each other like cars out of control on the freeway.

The Knights of the Vale rode over Bolton Troops like bowling balls knocking over pins. There was a pulverizing physicality to the battle that was like nothing we’d ever seen.

As if that weren’t enough, the episode ended with one of the most satisfying deaths in Game of Thrones history and saw Sansa emerge as a true heavyweight for future wars, like other female leaders in the show.

Game of Thrones Greatest Battles
Kit Harington and Peter Rooney in Game of Thrones | Source: IMDb
Watch Game of Thrones on:

About Game of Thrones

A television phenomenon, Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama series created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for HBO. 

Set in the fictional universe of Westeros, nine dignified families fight to mark their claim to the Iron Throne and rule over the Seven Kingdoms. The HBO production is based on the A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R.R. Martin and features a number of converging arcs convoluted by political conflicts among factions.

 The series features a large ensemble cast including Peter Dinklage, Lena Headey, Nikolaj-Coster Waldau, Kit Harrington, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Emilia Clarke and many others.

Siddharth Sood

Siddharth Sood

Meet our Founder - Siddharth Sood, aka ‘MC SID’ is an entrepreneur selling official licensed Fan merchandise by day and a Wedding Rapper by night. Sharing his opinions on pop culture is his true passion. Also its worth mentioning Batman and him have not been seen in the same room at the same time ever, just saying.

Connect with me:

[email protected]
[email protected]


Leave a Reply