Top 10 Controversial Game of Thrones Moments



Top 10 Controversial Game of Thrones Moments

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton
Written by Nathan Sharp

Even the most popular show on television isn't immune to controversy. Welcome to, and today we're counting down our picks for the top 10 controversial “Game of Thrones” moments.

For this list, we're looking at moments from the HBO show that caused an uproar among critics, fans and general audience members alike. Since some of these moments are from later in the series, there will be spoilers if you aren't caught up.

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Even the most popular show on television isn’t immune to controversy. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 controversial “Game of Thrones” moments.

For this list, we’re looking at moments from the HBO show that caused an uproar among critics, fans and general audience members alike. Since some of these moments are from later in the series, there will be spoilers if you aren’t caught up.

#10: The Red Wedding

The Red Wedding is arguably “Game of Thrones”’ most iconic sequence, and even those who don’t watch the show know the general outline: Tywin Lannister allies with Walder Frey and Roose Bolton to betray the North, and all hell breaks loose. The scene features incredibly graphic images, including a one-take throat slitting. Perhaps the most traumatizing moment, however, is when a pregnant woman is stabbed in her stomach – a move that wasn’t in the book, btw. These images shocked some viewers, who declared the scene to be TOO violent and disturbing. While the show is famous for its graphic content, the Red Wedding pushed it too far for some.

#9: Ed Sheeran’s Cameo

Ed Sheeran is a pop singer; he can’t cameo on “Game of Thrones” because… reasons. When Arya comes across a band of Lannister soldiers on their way to the Twins, they share a calm and humanizing moment before Arya moves on. Of course, everyone’s favorite ginge is one of these soldiers. However, what was meant to be a nice little appearance from a popular artist became a point of contention for many of the show’s fans, who called his appearance ‘jarring’ and said that recognizing him pulled them out of the show. Critics took to Twitter to express their outrage and shortly after the controversy went viral, Sheeran deleted his own Twitter account.

#8: Ramsay Torturing Theon

Sometimes the show does things the novels only hinted at. Case in point: the torture of Theon and his transition into Reek. In the novels, these incredibly graphic moments occur off-screen – or page, as the case may be. However, they are in full HD glory on the show, and feature all the gratuitous nudity and graphic violence that HBO is known for, causing some people to call the torture exploitative. Also, it was around this time that many began to question Ramsay’s development, as they saw him as a one-note psychopath in a sea of more three-dimensional characters – and his torture of Theon is part of the reason why.

#7: Oberyn Martell’s Death

Oberyn Martell, aka the Red Viper of Dorne, went out in a way that’s probably at the very top of the list of worst ways to die. To avenge the death of his sister Elia, Oberyn fights for Tyrion in a trial by combat, only for his eyes to be gouged out and his skull crushed beyond recognition by the Mountain. As is the case for most “Game of Thrones” deaths, some critics called foul, declaring the scene to be far too graphic. The sequence was allegedly cut short because it was too violent to be shown, but what we got was still incredibly difficult and disgusting to watch.

#6: The Sand Snakes

We suppose even great TV shows have moments like this. Season 5 is often considered the worst season of the show, and one of the biggest reasons for that is the infamous group known as the Sand Snakes, the daughters of Oberyn Martell. Fans complained a lot about these women, most notably about how easy it was for their TV versions to do things like kill powerful and influential characters with no repercussions. The southern kingdom of Dorne has always had a bit of an odd place in the story; in the TV show especially, Dorne and its people seem to flip between “insignificant” and “vital” on a near-constant basis. As a result, nobody really knows what to make of them.

#5: The Head of George W. Bush

Yeah, we can see how it would be upsetting to witness an ex-President’s head on a spike. To film the scene where Joffrey shows Sansa his collection of decapitated prizes, the showrunners rented prosthetic heads in bulk since they couldn’t afford to sculpt them all themselves. One of the heads bore a striking resemblance to George W. Bush, and some fans immediately took notice. While there was no political commentary intended, some people were still outraged, forcing HBO and the showrunners to quickly issue an apology and remove the episode from streaming services.

#4: Shireen Being Burned Alive

“Game of Thrones” is undoubtedly a bleak and depressing show. But did they have to show the burning of a child? Especially since this was ANOTHER scene that wasn’t in the books? Some people immediately took issue with this moment, where Shireen is sacrificed to the Lord of Light and burns to death on a pyre while her mother and father watch. It was certainly a gut-punch; critics and audiences alike began fervently discussing the scene, debating if it was too horrifying or whether it was even needed in the first place. Regardless of your stance on the matter, there’s no denying that it left one hell of an impression.

#3: Joffrey’s Sadism

Did they take Joffrey’s sadism too far? As was the case with fellow fiend Ramsay Bolton, some people began arguing against Joffrey, declaring the character to be too one-dimensional in a series with higher standards. The scene where Joffrey has Ros beat Daisy to a pulp is a prime example, as it sparked discussion not only about his character, but also about the show’s overt sexuality and violence as a whole. Things take an even darker turn when he uses Ros as target practice. This was early in the show’s run, and while it may seem tame today, these were things that were never seen on TV before, and they shocked viewers to the core.

#2: Jaime Raping Cersei

They couldn’t just leave it at incest, could they? In this incredibly odd scene, Jaime and Cersei mourn their dead son, only to get a little frisky and share a kiss. Frustrated at Cersei’s subsequent reluctance, Jaime forces himself on her over their son’s corpse. Many viewers saw this as a painfully pointless scene and one that was shown simply to stir up controversy. Others argued it was far too out of character for Jaime and that it ruined seasons’ worth of character development. Well, for once, we have to agree with Cersei. This is just weird, especially since it was never spoken of or brought up again.

#1: Sansa’s Rape and Overall Victimization

And here we have an amalgamation of everything that’s controversial about “Game of Thrones”: rape, needless sexuality, extreme violence, and Ramsay Bolton. In the scene, Ramsay rapes Sansa while a completely petrified Theon is forced to watch, and while we don’t see much, it’s still immensely disturbing. Many critics pounced on the scene, calling it shocking for the sake of shock, overly gratuitous, and completely unnecessary. In fact, it was not only critiqued as a disgusting scene, but also one that completely undermined Sansa’s development. And it sparked an outrage that “Game of Thrones” has yet to match – although that’s certainly not an invitation.