Game of Thrones’ 8 Most Gruesome Deaths: From The Mountain’s Exploding Head Kill to Rat Torture

‘Game of Thrones’ returns for its seventh (and penultimate) season on Sunday. Here are the most jaw-dropping deaths in GoT history. [Warning: Violence]

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1. The Red Wedding’s Symphony of Carnage

Season 3, Episode 9: “The Rains of Castamere”

With all due respect to The Mountain, no sequence in Game of Thrones’ ultraviolent history will probably ever match the sheer insanity of The Red Wedding. Robb Stark, the King in the North, was set to marry the daughter of Lord Walder Frey, but reneged and married Talisa, a healer. The beef was presumably quashed, and the Stark clan—including Robb, his very pregnant wife, and mother Catelyn—are invited over to the Twins by Frey to plot their attack on House Lannister. After Robb’s intended, Roslin, is married off to another man, the “celebration” begins. The doors are locked to the hall, and “The Rains of Castamere,” a Lannister cautionary tune, is played. Catelyn notices Roose Bolton is wearing chain mail under his robes and tries to warn her son, but it’s too late. Lothar Frey sneaks up behind Talisa and stabs her pregnant belly repeatedly, and then all hell breaks loose. A Lannister always pays his debts.

2. The Red Viper’s Head-Explosion

Season 4, Episode 8: “The Mountain and The Viper”

All Oberyn “Red Viper” Martell wants is the head of Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane, the terrifying mega-warrior who raped and murdered his beloved sister, Elia, during the sacking of King’s Landing. So, the slick sexpot offers to defend Tyrion against Cersei’s pick, The Mountain, in a trial by combat showdown. Things are going remarkably well for the spear-flipping Red Viper who, after several impressive flips and twirls, manages to spear The Mountain in the chest. He stands over the body, gloating, and then demanding a full confession. “Say her name: Elia Martell!” he shouts, pointing toward Tywin. “Who gave you the order!” Bad move. The Mountain flips over, punches out all of the Red Viper’s teeth, and shoves his thumbs deep into his eye sockets while crushing his head until it explodes. Everyone absolutely lost it.

3. Ser Rodrik’s Botched Beheading

Season 2, Episode 6: “The Old Gods and the New”

Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), the heir of Lord Balon Greyjoy and longtime “hostage” of House Stark, has some serious issues. He burns a couple of children to send a message, accidentally goes to second base with his sister while on horseback, and is eventually tortured, castrated, and brainwashed by the psychotic Ramsay Snow, who renames him “Reek.” He’s also a coward. In order to prove his Ironborn status, he decides to lead a mini army to sack a depleted Winterfell when they least expect it. Theon emerges victorious. But following the sacking, he’s publicly mocked by Ser Rodrik Cassel, the elderly Master-at-Arms of Winterfell and loyal ally of House Stark, who calls the young man a “traitor.” So Theon’s men pressure him into making the old man pay the ultimate price for his words—by beheading him. It takes the reluctant Theon four gruesome hacks with his sword—followed by a kick—to get the job done. Pathetic.

4. Rats!

Season 2, Episode 4: “Garden of Bones”

At Harrenhal, after Arya, Gendry, and Hot Pie are taken prisoner, they witness Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane’s henchman, Tickler, interrogating a prisoner. They want to know the whereabouts of “The Brotherhood,” as well as the location of any booty. So, they randomly select a poor villager and strap a bucket of rats against his chest. When the young man says he doesn’t know where anything is, Tickler commands Weasel to heat the end of the bucket with fire, forcing the rats to claw their way into the prisoner’s chest cavity. Gross.

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5. The Hound’s Knife to the Eye

Season 4, Episode 1: “Two Swords”

This is one of the more overlooked gnarly deaths on Game of Thrones. At the end of the fourth season premiere, Arya and The Hound stumble upon a tavern in the woods. They’re starving, and the place has chickens. It also has Polliver, the Lannister lackey who stole Arya’s sword, Needle, which he used to kill Lommy. But The Hound is just hungry, and no one gets between the scarred warrior and a meal. So, when Polliver starts giving him lip service, he tells him: “I understand that if any more words come pouring out your cunt mouth, I'm going to have to eat every fucking chicken in this room.” Then, he tears the place apart and, while lying on the floor, grabs the back of the head of one of Polliver’s cronies and spikes it repeatedly into a dagger, stabbing the man’s eye out.

6. Viserys and the Golden Crown

Season 1, Episode 6: “A Golden Crown”

You do not cross Daenerys Targaryen. Just ask the crucified men of Slaver’s Bay. During the very first season of HBO’s fantasy epic, the Mother of Dragons was constantly fondled, abused, and manipulated by her beyond-creepy brother, Viserys, who eventually forced her into marrying Dothraki Khal Drogo to supply him with an army big enough to capture the Iron Throne. But, after a drunken Viserys threatens Dany, Khal Drogo, and their unborn child, Drogo melts several gold medallions from his belt in a pot and, after getting the OK from Dany, pours the molten gold onto Viserys’ head, killing him. “Fire cannot kill a dragon,” says Dany, who asserts her claim as the rightful Targaryen heir to the Iron Throne.

7. Ros Meets Joffrey’s Crossbow

Season 3, Episode 6: “The Climb”

That evil lil’ bastard. When the sadistic boy-king, Joffrey, is about to kill his bride-to-be, Sansa Stark, with a crossbow in the throne room, Tyrion decides to diffuse the situation by sending the product of incest a pair of prostitutes to relieve him of whatever hormonal issues he’s going through. Instead of sleeping with them, however, Joffrey forces Ros to beat Daisy with a whip… and then a giant club. Later, when Littlefinger discovers that Ros has been holding daily meetings with spymaster Varys where she spills on the goateed schemer’s cycle of treachery, he arranges to have Ros visit Joffrey again, since the ass is interested in trying something “new and daring.” In Joffrey’s thoroughly twisted world, this means using Ros as a live target and firing several arrows from his crossbow into her, pinning her bloody body to his bedpost.

8. Mago Steps to Khal Drogo (Big Mistake)

Season 1, Episode 8: “The Pointy End”

In Essos, the Dothraki army is marching toward the Narrow Sea, conquering villages (read: raping and plundering) along the way. One of these is the peaceful village of Lhazar. When Daenerys sees that these poor women are all about to be raped by the Dothraki, she pleads with her husband, Khal Drogo, to spare them. He enjoys witnessing his wife’s fierceness, and agrees. But Drogo’s second in command, Mago, won’t have it, and challenges Dany’s husband to a fight for Dothraki leadership. “A Khal who takes orders from a foreign whore is no Khal,” he tells him. Bad move. Drogo drops his daggers and slits Mago’s throat wide open with his own blade, and then proceeds to yank the whole damn thing out. Yikes.