You Win Or You Die: Ranking the 99 Game of Thrones Deaths

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Image credit: HBO/Helen Sloan

Pyp, Grenn, Mag the Mighty, Styr, Karsi, Smalljon Umber, and Wun Wun

Considering Game of Thrones’ medieval setting, you have to expect a few battles along the way. The entire show is predicated upon mankind versus the White Walkers. In the meantime, humans are bound to bicker among themselves, whether with words or blades. And when it comes to the blades, you’re going to lose prominent and secondary characters alike.

Men of the Night’s Watch Pyp and Grenn meet their doom while defending Castle Black against the wildlings in Season 4. Pyp is taken down by one of Ygritte’s arrows. Grenn and various others die holding the gate against Mag the Mighty, a giant fighting alongside the wildlings, but not without first killing Mag as well.

While fans may have been sad to see Pyp and Grenn go after all they’d been through with Jon Snow, Magnar Styr’s death may be considered all well and good. His barbarism is difficult to stomach, especially when he spends so much of his time waxing poetic on his preferred diet of human flesh. Before he can make a meal of Jon, however, our favorite hero spits in his face and smashes his skull in. The epitome of class, that Jon.

We meet Karsi for the span of only one episode in Season 5’s “Hardhome.” Her fierce, honest nature wins over fans immediately. Although her fellow wildings are willing to let an ages-old feud with the Night’s Watch get in the way, Karsi sees the White Walkers as a bigger threat. As she points out, their ancestors are long dead, so what’s the point in honoring a feud they started? It won’t do any of them any good to hate each other when the White Walkers slay them. Sadly enough, this is what happens to Karsi. When faced with a group of undead children, she is at a loss too long to stop them from going all Children of the Corn on her.

In Season 6’s “Battle of the Bastards,” Smalljon Umber dies at the hands of Tormund during an argument over who has the better beard. Thankfully, Tormund wins out. As Sansa says earlier, “The Umbers gave Rickon to our enemies. They can hang.” Tormund has the better beard, anyway. Meanwhile, Wun Wun is Ramsay’s final kill before Jon and Sansa do him in, but good.

All of these deaths go to show that war is bloody, ugly, and indiscriminate. All sides suffer losses. When it comes to fiction that features war, these deaths come about regardless of fan favoritism. These characters serve as a reminder that in Game of Thrones, you don’t have to be involved in some convoluted political scheme to lose your life. It’s not all power plays and flowery monologues. It’s battles and survival, and that’s what we’re really seeing come into play as the series winds down.