vulture lists

The First and Last Appearances of Game of Thrones’ Most Memorable Characters

Photo: Helen Sloan/HBO

What is dead may never die, but then again, all men must die, depending on whom you ask. And nowhere does that paradox hold more truth than with our favorite fallen characters from Game of Thrones, who live on long after their (gruesome, so, so gruesome) deaths in rewatches, late-night sketches, and articles like this. In anticipation of Game of Thrones final chapter, we used our Three-Eyed Vulture abilities to locate the first and final appearances of the series’s most memorable players. (We will update as the body count rises, counting down from the most recent final appearances.)

Oh, and obviously, the most spoilers.

Cersei Lannister

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), queen of hairpieces, hubris, and (true fans’) hearts, had the worst Mother’s Day of anyone during the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. Her earliest moments in the show’s first episode were loaded with portent, as she whispered in King’s Landing with her brother-lover about how best to secure their futures and safety in the castle. She was crushed by that same toppling castle, crying with that same brother-lover, turned to dust alongside dragon bones — other victims of Targaryen madness — complicated and Emmy-worthy (hi, Academy) as ever.

Jaime Lannister

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) rolled up to Jon Arryn’s funeral in the series premiere looking suspiciously handsome — almost “handsome,” in quotation marks — not unlike the prince from Shrek 2. He and Cersei were crucial to setting the story in motion, as so much of the overarching plot was initially based around their secret, incestuous love and Joffrey’s legitimacy as a Baratheon heir. The Kingslayer had moments of humbling, redemption, and growth since pushing Bran out of a window, but ultimately was drawn back to Cersei in time to hold her golden-handedly while they were smothered by the castle she fought so desperately to keep.

Sandor ‘the Hound’ Clegane

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

All dogs go to heaven, but Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) ended up plunging blindly to his fiery demise … and bringing his brother down with him. The show first introduced Sandor as Joffrey’s dutiful and imposing lackey, and he certainly didn’t gain any fans by killing Arya’s friend Mycah at Joffrey’s behest. Child murder aside, Sandor still turned out to be one of the less abhorrent men of Westeros, and became a fan favorite to some over the course of the series, especially as we got to see his rapport with Arya grow. And sure, he went down in flames with his eyes gouged out, but he finally got his revenge, so like Sandor during Cleganebowl, we have to laugh.

Gregor ‘the Mountain’ Clegane

First appearance: season one, episode four
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

The elder Clegane made his mark on the series when he ruined what was supposed to be just a chill, fun, joust-y party in season one, slaying another knight and almost taking down Loras as well. After killing Oberyn and becoming Qyburn’s version of Frankenstein’s monster, Sandor finally challenged him to the long-awaited Cleganebowl as the tower crumbled around them. Sure it ended in a draw, but getting engulfed by flames is honestly a fitting, full-circle ending for the Mountain, considering what he did to his brother.

Qyburn

First appearance: season three, episode one
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

Farewell, you cowl-neck freak! Qyburn (Anton Lesser) was one of the most intriguing secondary characters on Game of Thrones for how he walked the genre line between high-fantasy alchemist and straight-up mad scientist. Qyburn, a disbarred Citadel maester, was found in the wreckage of Harrenhal in season three. His unique hobbies, which included human experimentation and assembling child armies, served him well in Cersei’s court. But then he tried to move the Mountain and got his head smashed against the Red Keep stones. His wildfires blazed on without him.

Euron Greyjoy

First appearance: season six, episode two
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

Drowned God? More like downed God. Euron Greyjoy? More like you’re off, Greyjoy! In the later seasons, Pilou Asbæk really sold the mixture of battle-ready prowess and chaos that’s central to this Ironborn vier for the Iron Throne. He first showed up in season six to throw his brother off of a bridge and claim the Iron Islands, but the series thankfully did away with him before the finale. We seriously weren’t going to end up with Euron on top, were we? Still, he felled a dragon and stabbed a Lannister along the way, so he died at Jaime’s hand with a smile on his face.

Varys

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season eight, episode five

RIP to one of the five collective brain cells in Westeros. The eunuch (Conleth Hill) was one of the series’s most compelling characters from his first introduction on the king’s small council, trading stares and secrets with the other social-climbing schemers of the realm. Unfortunately, his genuine concern for the fate of his adoptive kingdom led to his downfall, as Tyrion ratted him out to Daenerys, who sentenced him to death by dragon fire.

Missandei

First appearance: season three, episode one
Last appearance: season eight, episode four

Missandei from the Isle of Naath (Nathalie Emmanuel) first appeared in season three as an enslaved and gifted translator who helped facilitate Daenerys’s freeing of the Unsullied. It would have been enough for Dany to finally have a female adviser/companion on her team, but Missandei was a standout character who went on to have one of the series’ only genuinely nice romances, with Unsullied captain Grey Worm. Emphasizing how important she became to Dany’s camp by season eight, Euron Greyjoy kidnaps her for Cersei to hold as a hostage against Dany and Jon’s army. Cersei orders Gregor Clegane to execute her, and Grey Worm looks away as she utters her final word: “Dracarys.”

Theon Greyjoy

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season eight, episode four

Of all the deaths that we predicted (and mostly got wrong) leading up to the Battle of Winterfell, Theon’s played out closest to what we expected. Theon was raised at Winterfell alongside Robb and Jon and was introduced in the series premiere when the family finds the direwolf pups. He notes that there is one for every Stark child — even Jon — but it goes unspoken that none is marked Greyjoy. Theon has spent the whole series paying the price for his revolt against the Stark family, and following his sweet vow to fight for Sansa and Winterfell, this episode projects his sacrifice from his first moments in the Godswood with Bran. Before he makes one last attempt at taking down the Night King and bleeds out in the snow, Bran calls him a good man. He is lain to rest with a pin of the Stark family sigil. How’s that for closure?

Beric Dondarrion

First appearance: season one, episode six
Last appearance: season eight, episode four

Beric first popped up in King’s Landing, sent by Ned to track down Gregor Clegane, who was ravaging the Riverlands. He went on to lead the Brotherhood Without Banners and pull a Russian Doll as the seasons went on, thanks to Thoros of Myr. At the Battle of Winterfell, he fulfilled the Lord of Light’s purpose, defending Arya so that she could bring down the Night King. She lights his funeral pyre.

‘Dolorous’ Edd Tollett

First appearance: season two, episode one
Last appearance: season eight, episode four

Don’t let Dolorous Edd get lost in the Battle of Winterfell memorializing. This loyal sourpuss died in fittingly emo fashion — fighting for Winterfell, getting iced by the wights, and dying again offscreen after Arya Infinity Stone–d them into dust. He came a long way from auspicious beginnings as the resident grump of Castle Black in season two. Pour one out for the Edd-heads!

Jorah Mormont

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season eight, episode four

We’re learning more and more about dragons by the day! It would seem that, like elephants, they have the ability to mourn. Drogon curls his wings about Dany and her fallen liege, the disgraced Mormont who swore to protect her from the series premiere onward. He dies protecting Daenerys with Heartsbane, the sword of House Tarly. RIP, Stepfather of Dragons.

Lady Lyanna Mormont

First appearance: season six, episode seven
Last appearance: season eight, episode four

The tiny, stubborn Lady of Bear Island first appeared in season six, a paragon of true Northern integrity and precociousness. She decided to battle alongside her sworn men, and when she died, the Mormont bloodline went with her — but not before she felled a zombie giant by stabbing him in the eye, and then getting (very briefly) reanimated herself. Jon Snow lights her funeral pyre.

Melisandre

First appearance: season two, episode one
Last appearance: season eight, episode three

Melisandre’s return to season eight in “The Long Night” was an excellent illustration of how, in the battle against encroaching, all-consuming death and darkness, human squabbles and divisions can be cast aside to unite against a much larger evil. The Red Woman who was introduced in season two leading a ritual burning on Dragonstone went on to sacrifice Shireen Baratheon in one of the most devastating deaths Game of Thrones ever dreamed up (which is saying something). Still, at the Battle of Winterfell, she met the purpose the Lord of Light intended for her, bringing Arya to the Night King (or maybe the other way around). She died far more glamorously than what she deserved: casting her enchanted choker into the snow and collapsing into a pile of dust. A Disney villainess move if we ever saw one.

The Night King

First appearance: season four, episode two
Last appearance: season eight, episode three

The Big Bad has fallen! Since Bran first got an ominous glimpse of the Night King in his season-four weirwood vision quest, the Cold One has loomed large as the series’s most frightening boss-level challenger: seemingly undefeatable, backed by an army of the undead, and the owner-master-creator of a reanimated ice dragon. His downfall, it turned out, was a (very flattering) chain-mail peplum top and a girl with a pointy thing.

Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season seven, episode seven

Petyr Baelish (Aidan Gillen) first appeared in King Baratheon’s court, the very image of the sort of slippery cunning that gets you far in King’s Landing. He died by Sansa’s command and Arya’s sword in Winterfell, where those sorts of fools aren’t suffered.

Ned Stark

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season seven, episode seven

Game of Thrones set up Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) to be the protagonist of the series, appearing as Lord of Winterfell in the first episode. His saga shockingly came to an end in the first season, as Joffrey ordered his head on a pike. But the three-eyed raven doesn’t obey the laws of timelines, and so the last viewers saw of Ned (played here by Robert Aramayo) was a flashback to when he began to learn the true meaning of R+L=J.

Benjen Stark

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season seven, episode six

The season one arc for Uncle Benjen (Joseph Mawle) almost functioned like Ned Stark training wheels: introduce a beloved older role model and confidante for our young hero, and then unceremoniously off him. Benjen was long believed to be dead north of the Wall until he reappeared in season six as a frostbitten half-Walker. We last see him engulfed by an army of White Walkers after sacrificing his horse to save Jon.

Ellaria Sand

First appearance: season four, episode one
Last appearance: season seven, episode three

Ellaria (Indira Varma) accompanied Oberyn to King’s Landing for the wedding, and King’s Landing is where she may or may not remain: In season seven, as revenge for the death of Myrcella, Cersei kissed Tyene Sand with poison and left Ellaria chained up in the Red Keep to watch her daughter die.

Olenna Tyrell

First appearance: season three, episode two
Last appearance: season seven, episode three

When Lady Olenna (that’s Dame Diana Rigg to you) first appeared in King’s Landing with her cap and veil and one-liners, many viewers declared for House Tyrell on the spot. She died in season seven getting the upper hand on her poisoner, Jaime (doing Cersei’s bidding), which is the best we could have hoped for.

Lancel Lannister

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

The Lannisters’ cousin (Eugene Simon) initially served as King Robert’s squire, which more or less required pouring wine, suffering verbal abuse, and sleeping with Cersei. In season six, he died the way the Ninja Turtles were born: on his tummy, in a sewer, watching a horrible green ooze spread.

Loras Tyrell

First appearance: season one, episode five
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

The Knight of Flowers (Finn Jones) first appeared in a tourney charming the crowd, and Sansa in particular. We last saw him in the Sept of Baelor, debased, punished, and attempting to escape the wildfire explosion.

Margaery Tyrell

First appearance: season two, episode three
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

Margaery (Natalie Dormer) arrived in court in season two, to be wed to her brother’s lover, King Renly Baratheon. She died with her brother in the sept explosion.

Grand Maester Pycelle

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

Grand Maester Pycelle (Julian Glover) first appeared as a member of the King’s counsel in King’s Landing, in simpler political times. He died before the sept explosion, horrifically stabbed by Qyburn’s demonic child-warriors.

Tommen Baratheon

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

Wanna talk parallels? This series has boxes full of parallels. Tommen Baratheon (Callum Wharry), the baby of the family, first showed up in the season premiere, when his funcle (we’ve been over this) pushed Bran Stark out of a window for watching him and Cersei engage in taboo, illicit affairs. Five seasons later, Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman), himself the product of Jaime and Cersei’s relationship, witnesses the Tyrells and Sparrows explode in the sept and throws himself out of a window.

Walder Frey

First appearance: season one, episode nine
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

Walder Frey (David Bradley), icky from the get-go, was first introduced in all his creepo glory surrounded by his many upsetting children, most also named Walder. After orchestrating the Red Wedding, he got his just desserts: fed his own son in a pie, and murdered as an item on Arya’s hit list.

Daario Naharis

First appearance: season three, episode eight
Last appearance: season six, episode ten

The dashing Tyroshi swordsman met Dany as a long-haired Ed Skrein, and parted ways a rugged Michael Huisman. Character growth?

Rickon Stark

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season six, episode nine

Rickon (Art Parkinson) sits on a hobby horse in the Winterfell courtyard in the show’s first episode, watching his brother’s archery practice. He died during the Battle of the Bastards as a running target in Ramsay’s twisted version of target practice. No you’re crying.

Ramsay Bolton

First appearance: season three, episode two
Last appearance: season six, episode nine

Ramsay Snow/Bolton (Iwan Rheon) first showed up as Theon’s own personal tormentor, introducing a new level of body horror to the series. Sansa made sure to have his own hounds eat him alive.

Jaqen H’ghar

First appearance: season two, episode two
Last appearance: season six, episode eight

Arya’s worst role model (Tom Wlaschiha) traveled along with Arya in a paddy wagon through the forests of Westeros, and bid her farewell (after sending the Waif to kill her) from the House of Black and White in season six.

Hodor

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season six, episode five

Hodor (Kristian Nairn) started out as one of many of the workers at Winterfell, before becoming Bran’s companion and protector. He died holding the door. :(

Osha

First appearance: season one, episode six
Last appearance: season six, episode four

Osha (Natalia Tena) first appeared south of the Wall as a wildling who attempted to ambush Bran. When she tried to seduce and kill Ramsay Bolton at Winterfell, he slashed her throat instead.

Alliser Thorne

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season six, episode three

Alliser Thorne (Owen Teale) was introduced doing what he loved most, berating and lording his power over the frightened young men at the Wall. Jon Snow sentenced the traitorous Thorne to death by hanging in season six.

Roose Bolton

First appearance: season two, episode four
Last appearance: season six, episode two

We first saw this absolute maniac (Michael McElhatton) playing his cards close to his chest, counseling Robb after their battle against the Lannister army. We last saw him stabbed by his awful freak-son Ramsay.

Myrcella Baratheon

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season six, episode two

Viewers first saw Myrcella (Aimee Richardson) in the first episode, looking every bit the southron Disney princess from the Stark girls’ point of view as she arrived at Winterfell with the Lannisters, including her defenstrative funcle (father-uncle) Jaime. Four seasons and one new actress (Nell Tiger Free) later, her funcle couldn’t save her from Ellaria’s poison; we last saw her dead in a sept, with stones on her eyes.

Stannis Baratheon

First appearance: season two, episode one
Last appearance: season five, episode ten

Stubborn Stannis (Stephen Dillane) first showed up on Dragonstone, at a ceremonial burning held by Melisandre. He died at Brienne’s sword in season five, getting what he absolutely deserved and helping Brienne fulfill an oath to avenge Renly.

Shireen Baratheon

First appearance: season three, episode five
Last appearance: season five, episode nine

Viewers first met Stannis’s greyscale-afflicted daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram) locked away in a tower, singing to herself. Over the course of the series, she’s generally sweet and teaches lowborn characters how to read. It’s all very fairy tale until she’s sacrificed to the Lord of Light and burned at the stake. Not cute, House Baratheon!

Barristan Selmy

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season five, episode five

Ser Barristan (Ian McElhinney) first appeared as Lord Commander of the Kingsguard, before defecting overseas to Daenerys’s camp. We last see his body laid to rest in Meereen, as Dany avenges his death at the hands of the Sons of the Harpy.

Tywin Lannister

First appearance: season one, episode seven
Last appearance: season five, episode one

The Lannister paterfamilias (Charles Dance) first appeared doing some pretty sharp object work (not to mention pretty blunt visual metaphor work), skinning a stag and offering counsel to his favorite child, Jaime. We last saw him at his wake, with Jaime overlooking. The corpse-eye stone budget for the Lannister family must be massive. They must know a guy who does it wholesale.

Shae

First appearance: season one, episode nine
Last appearance: season four, episode ten

Tyrion’s lover Shae (Sibel Kekilli) was discovered by Bronn in season one, and died in season four when Tyrion found her in Tywin’s bed and strangled her in a murderous rage. This is one of Tyrion’s darkest moments, where he stoops as low as his siblings. #justiceforshae

Ygritte

First appearance: season two, episode six
Last appearance: season four, episode ten

We first saw Ygritte (Rose Leslie) in the closest Westeros has ever gotten to a meet-cute: getting forcefully captured and almost killed by Jon Snow. We last saw her looking like Laura Palmer after the battle at Castle Black. This one hurt!

Grenn

First appearance: season one, episode three
Last appearance: season four, episode ten

Grenn (Mark Stanley) was a nuisance turned friend of Jon’s, first seen in training at the Wall. He died trying to defend it against the wildlings and their giant, and was burnt alongside his fallen brothers

Jojen Reed

First appearance: season three, episode two
Last appearance: season four, episode ten

Jojen Reed (Thomas Brodie-Sangster, of Love, Actually fame) first appeared to Bran in a dream, and spent the next few seasons guiding him through his powers. We last saw him stabbed by a wight and killed, mercifully, by his sister Meera.

Oberyn Martell

First appearance: season four, episode one
Last appearance: season four, episode eight

Prince Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) arrived on the scene as something of an understudy for his older brother Doran at Joffrey’s wedding, and he burned hot, bright, and quick: He died that same season at the hand of his foe Gregor Clegane, largely on account of his own bravado.

Joffrey Baratheon

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season four, episode three

We first saw Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) through Sansa’s naïve eyes, trotting on horseback all princely-like into Winterfell. We last saw him as a corpse, stone eyes watching his father sexually assault his mom.

Robb Stark

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season three, episode ten

Robb Stark (Richard Madden) first showed up in the premiere alongside his brothers, future heir to Winterfell. He last appeared as a corpse on a horse, with Grey Wind’s head where his should be.

Catelyn Stark

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season three, episode nine

Lady Catelyn (Michelle Fairley) first appeared in her element: at Ned’s side, watching over her children, casting side-eye at Jon. She died at the Red Wedding after watching Roose Bolton kill Robb, and unfortunately never had her Lady Stoneheart moment.

Khal Drogo

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season two, episode ten

Drogo (Jason Momoa) first rode in on horseback, all oiled-up and shirtless, to let us know that Dany’s plotline — far from the main action though it may be — was probably the one to follow. We said good-bye to him at the end of season one when Dany mercy-smothered him and burnt him in a funeral pyre. But we were treated to one last tender moment of bittersweet fan service at the end of season two, when he appears again in a vision — a trap in the Mirror of Erised House of the Undying — along with Dany’s unborn son Rhaego.

Robert Baratheon

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season one, episode seven

Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) ambled into the premiere as Ned Stark’s kingly and jocular best bud. He made an early exit from the series, last seen on his deathbed after being “gored” by a “boar.” A likely story …

Viserys Targaryen

First appearance: series premiere
Last appearance: season one, episode six

Viserys Targaryen (Harry Lloyd) set a lot of precedents on Game of Thrones. His first appearance in Essos established him as Dany’s creepy, possessive older brother, and his last set a gold standard for gruesome death spectacles, as he received the traditional Dothraki “golden crown.”

The First and Last Appearances of Game of Thrones Characters