Game of Thrones and death go hand in hand and we've seen more characters die on screen than we could even attempt to count.

While every death mattered, there are some that have really shaped the landscape for the series and had a lasting significant impact on the characters that have survived (so far).

Here's our run-down of the major deaths that, though they didn't always upset us, put the wheels in motion for something bigger down the line.

Jon Arryn

Ah, Jon Arryn, we barely knew you. In fact, we never knew him at all with his character only appearing as a corpse in the pilot episode. His death happened both off-screen and before the beginning of the series, so it elicited no emotional response from the audience. However, it did set the bloody wheels in motion.

Had Jon Arryn lived, Ned Stark would never have had to become King Robert Baratheon's Hand and his family would never have been uprooted and moved to King's Landing - where let's face it, everything that could've gone wrong for them did go wrong. Also, Ned would never have embarked on a mission to find out the secret his old friend and, in turn, Ned himself, died for. Jon Arryn's death was the catalyst for everything.

Ned Stark

The first cut is the deepest. When Game of Thrones began, Sean Bean's Ned Stark was the main character; everyone else was introduced by their relationship to him. He seemed untouchable, especially as Bean was one of the biggest stars on the show before it made household names of the rest of the cast, and your average show wouldn't kill off its big name star in the first season. At least that's how our logical minds worked pre-Game of Thrones.

This was the first major character death in an ever-growing list, and one that taught two valuable lessons to the viewers; nobody is safe and don't get too attached.

Ned was the moral backbone of the show and his own honour was his downfall. After his death his family splintered off in different directions, painting the landscape for the seasons to come and expanding the world of the show physically and narratively.

Had Ned lived and the truth about Cersei and Jaime's incestuous relationship become common knowledge, a lot of the events that have taken place would not have come to pass.

Khal Drogo

When we were introduced to her, Daenerys Targaryen was merely a pawn in her brother Viserys' plot to take back the Iron Throne. She was sold into marriage to Khal Drogo in exchange for his Dothraki army's support of Viserys' claim.

While at the start she was frightened of him, Daenerys opted to make the best of a bad situation and eventually they grew to really love and respect each other, with her in turn earning the respect of his people. His death was devastating to watch but had he not died, she never would've become the Mother of Dragons.

Daenerys arose unburnt with three baby dragons from Drogo's funeral pyre

Losing her husband and her child and developing her leadership skills and way with people, this whole period was instrumental in building the foundations for the Queen we see today, one who has built an army and is set to stake her own claim for the throne.


Easily one of the most gut-wrenchingly emotional scenes in Game of Thrones, the ever-loyal and loveable Hodor died in an honourable, head-melting and incredible way.

One of the many questions that lurked in the minds of fans was the reason why Hodor only ever said 'Hodor' and it's a question I wish I still didn't know the answer to.

Hodor's death raised so many questions about Bran's time-travelling. While travelling back to a Winterfell of the past, Bran warged into a young Hodor which led present-day Hodor to protect current Bran and Meera from the attacking White Walkers.

As Meera rushed off into the snow with Bran, she told Hodor to hold the door to keep the White Walkers inside so they could escape. Meanwhile, in Winterfell, Wyllis/Hodor's eyes glazed over as they do when Bran wargs into him, and he collapsed on the ground as though having a seizure. As he lay there he repeatedly said 'hold the door' frantically until it simply sounded like 'Hodor'. It was absolutely tragic.

The Three-Eyed Raven told Bran that the past was already written, but the death of Hodor raises a huge question about the present and future. If Bran could affect Hodor in such a way, what else has he affected? How many of the events that have already come to pass were as a result of Bran's time-travelling?

Jon Snow

The death that thankfully wasn’t permanent. After being killed, nobody wanted to believe that Jon Snow was actually, properly dead. Unlike those that had gone before him, it seemed as though Jon's story wasn't finished, he had more to achieve and there was too much mystery surrounding him for him to go in such a way and at such a time.

His death and subsequent resurrection allowed him to be freed of his Night's Watch duties, forging his path as the new King in the North, with his sister Sansa by his side.

Defeating the Bolton's in one of, if not the best episode of the show so far, Battle of the Bastards, Jon reclaimed Winterfell for the Starks and has rallied major support from the other northern houses.

Now that we know the truth about Jon's parentage, thanks to one of Bran's flashbacks, his storyline is going to be one of the most exciting in the coming season.

Oberyn Martell

When Oberyn Martell came into the show he was an instant favourite, he was like a Dornish Tyrion in a lot of ways and wasn't afraid to show his hatred for the Lannisters to their faces. His hatred stemmed from Ser Gregor Clegane killing his sister Elia Martell and her two children with Prince Rhaegar Targaryen, by order of Tywin Lannister at the end of Robert's Rebellion.

It was Oberyn's need for vengeance that eventually resulted in his death as he offered to be Tyrion's champion in his trial by combat against Clegane. A skilled fighter, Oberyn entered the fight with confidence and appeared to best his opponent until a shocking, sad and gruesome moment that left him having his head literally squashed in the hands of the Mountain.

His death was momentous enough, he was a great character that we had grown to really like and one we wanted to see stick around – so of course, he had to go – but the fire it lit under his partner Ellaria to get revenge had a massive impact on the events that followed.

Returning to Dorne, Ellaria rose up against Oberyn's brother Prince Doran, killing him and his son Trystane as payback for their lack of action against the Lannisters over Oberyn's death.

They also poisoned Myrcella Lannister, who was set to marry Trystane, in what was a truly heartbreaking scene between her and Jaime, and an event that further played into Cersei's prophecy.

Oberyn's death eventually lead to Ellaria joining forces with Daenerys Targaryen's quest to take back the Iron Throne.

Lyanna Stark

She formed part of one of the show's greatest mysteries – the identity of Jon Snow's mother - and until Bran travelled back in time we never got to see her. She was loved by Robert Baratheon and Rhaegar Targaryen, but most of all she was loved by her brother Ned, who, after finding her almost dead after giving birth to Jon, promised to protect her newborn son and raise him as his own.

This came at great personal expense to Ned as he had to return from battle with a baby to the wife he loved and have her believe that he had been unfaithful.

Had Lyanna lived, it would never have been a secret that she and Rhaegar were Jon's parents, but the chances are Jon wouldn't have been allowed to survive once King Robert found out, which is the reason Ned pretended he was his son in the first place.

Tywin Lannister

There was a certain triumph in watching Tyrion kill his father Tywin, but you'd miss Charles Dance on the show, and while he was a horrible person, after his death things went absolutely mad in King's Landing.

If Tywin had lived, the High Sparrow and the Faith Militant never would've become so powerful, and there would probably be a few more Tyrells knocking about. 

Tywin was always pretty good at reining Cersei in; since his death she has gone mad with power, driven only by her personal vendettas, and she lost it all but gained the throne. Cersei's children were always her driving force, the only things that kept her humanity intact, and now they are gone. She only has Jaime left, and it was clear at the end of the last season that he is concerned about her actions, so it'll be interesting to see how that one plays out.

Sinead Brennan