Game of Thrones is an American fantasy drama television series created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. It is an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, George R. R. Martin’s series of fantasy novels, the first of which is A Game of Thrones. It is filmed in Belfast and elsewhere in the United Kingdom, Canada, Croatia, Iceland, Malta, Morocco, Spain, and the United States. The series premiered on HBO in the United States on April 17, 2011, and its seventh season ended on August 27, 2017. The series will conclude with its eighth season premiering in 2019.
Set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, Game of Thrones has several plot lines and a large ensemble cast but centers on three primary story arcs. The first story arc centers on the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms and follows a web of alliances and conflicts among the dynastic noble families either vying to claim the throne or fighting for independence from the throne. The second story arc focuses on the last descendant of the realm’s deposed ruling dynasty, exiled and plotting a return to the throne. The third story arc centers on the longstanding brotherhood charged with defending the realm against the ancient threats of the fierce peoples and legendary creatures that lie far north, and an impending winter that threatens the realm.
Game of Thrones has attracted record viewership on HBO and has a broad, active, international fan base. It has been acclaimed by critics, particularly for its acting, complex characters, story, scope, and production values, although its frequent use of nudity and violence (including sexual violence) has been criticized. The series has received 38 Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Drama Series in 2015 and 2016, more than any other primetime scripted television series. Its other awards and nominations include three Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation (2012–2014), a 2011 Peabody Award, and four nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama (2012 and 2015–2017).
The series begins as Ned Stark is asked to become the chief advisor (known as the Hand of the King) to lecherous King Robert Baratheon. Ned and his wife Catelyn receive a letter from Catelyn’s sister Lysa that gives them reason to believe that rival House Lannister – to which the King’s wife Cersei belongs – was the cause of the previous Hand’s death. Ned must travel south to help the king and find out who killed the previous Hand of the King, Jon Arryn, while trying to protect his family from the Lannisters. As he tries to uncover the reasons behind Jon Arryn’s death he uncovers the dark secrets about the Lannisters that Arryn himself died trying to expose.
Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea in the continent of Essos, the exiled, arrogant Viserys Targaryen, son of the former king whose throne was usurped, believes he still has the rightful claim to the throne. He marries off his younger sister, Daenerys Targaryen, whom he has psychologically and physically abused for years, to the leader of the Dothraki warrior tribe, Khal Drogo, in an exchange for an army to return to Westeros and take the throne. However, Daenerys’ growing love for Drogo and newfound mental strength as the Khaleesi of the tribe mean Viserys’ plans go unexpectedly and powerfully awry.
At the Wall, Ned’s bastard son Jon Snow joins the Night’s Watch, an ancient brotherhood sworn to watch over the massive wall that separates the Seven Kingdoms from the dangerous unknown beyond. But an ancient force, long believed dead, threatens the land.
Episode 1 Winter Is Coming
In the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, a soldier of the ancient Night’s Watch order survives an attack by supernatural creatures known as the White Walkers, thought until now to be myth. He rushes to Castle Winterfell, which is ruled by Eddard “Ned” Stark, Warden of the North, who decapitates the soldier for deserting his post. In King’s Landing, the capital, Jon Arryn, the “Hand of the King”, dies under mysterious circumstances. King Robert Baratheon, Ned’s longtime friend, travels to Winterfell, offering the position to him and also proposing marriage between his firstborn son Joffrey and Ned’s older daughter Sansa. Ned’s wife Catelyn receives a letter from her sister Lysa, Jon Arryn’s widow, saying that she has escaped King’s Landing and that Jon was murdered by the Lannisters, Queen Cersei’s family. Catelyn burns the letter and tells Ned about it, believing that the Lannisters are plotting against Robert. Ned’s 10-year-old son, Brandon, climbs a tower, where he witnesses Cersei having sex with her twin brother, Jaime, who then pushes him out the window from a presumably fatal height. Meanwhile across the narrow sea in Essos, the exiled Prince Viserys Targaryen makes a deal with the Dothraki warlord Khal Drogo, who marries Viserys’ younger sister, Daenerys, in exchange for an army to conquer Westeros and reclaim the Iron Throne.
Episode 2 The Kingsroad
Having accepted his new role as the Hand of the King, Ned leaves Winterfell with his daughters Sansa and Arya, while Catelyn stays behind to tend to Bran. The unconscious Bran is attacked by an assassin, but his direwolf saves him. Catelyn decides to go to King’s Landing to tell Ned about the attempt and suspected Lannister involvement. Jon Snow, Ned’s illegitimate son, heads north to join the brotherhood of the Night’s Watch, protectors of the Wall that keeps the White Walkers and the wildlings from entering civilized Westeros. Tyrion, Cersei’s brother, decides to forgo the trip south with his family and instead accompanies Snow’s entourage to the Wall. When Joffrey threatens Arya and her friend, Arya’s direwolf defends her and escapes, provoking a conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters. To resolve the insult, Robert orders Ned to execute Sansa’s direwolf. In Winterfell, Brandon awakens from unconsciousness. Meanwhile, Daenerys focuses her attention on learning how to please Drogo.
Episode 3 Lord Snow
Ned joins the King’s Small Council at King’s Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms, and learns just how poorly Westeros is being managed. Catelyn tries to covertly warn her husband, but is intercepted by an old friend, Councillor Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish. Bran learns he will never walk again. He does not remember the events leading to his fall. Jon struggles to adapt to life on the Wall, as he trains with a number of low-born recruits who are not impressed by his bloodline. Lord Commander Mormont asks Tyrion to plead with the King to send more men to the Night’s Watch. Daenerys learns that she is pregnant, and begins to stand up to Viserys.
Episode 4 Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things
Tyrion shares saddle modifications for Bran that will allow the paraplegic boy to ride before heading south. Ned searches for clues to the unexplained death of his mentor and predecessor Jon Arryn and in the process uncovers King Robert’s illegitimate son. Robert and his guests witness a tournament honoring Ned. Jon takes measures to protect Samwell Tarly, an awkward and friendless boy, from the abuse of the Night’s Watchmen. A frustrated Viserys clashes with his newly empowered sister. Sansa dreams of life as a queen, while Arya envisions a far different future. At a chance encounter in a roadside tavern, Catelyn rallies her father’s allies and has Tyrion arrested for conspiring to murder her son.
Episode 5 The Wolf and the Lion
Ned refuses to participate in Robert’s plan to assassinate the pregnant Daenerys Targaryen, and resigns as Robert’s Hand, angering him. Catelyn and Tyrion (who she has taken as her prisoner) arrive at her sister Lysa’s home in the Eyrie. News of Tyrion’s capture reaches King’s Landing where Jaime Lannister, the Queen’s twin brother, demands answers from Ned. A vengeful Jaime fights Ned until his man stabs Ned in the leg from behind, leaving him wounded as his forces leave the capital.
Episode 6 A Golden Crown
Robert reappoints Ned as Hand and tasks him with running affairs until he returns from hunting. Villagers from Riverrun arrive in the throne room with news of atrocities committed by raiders, who Ned deduces were led by Gregor Clegane, a Lannister retainer. Ned sentences Gregor to death and sends a message to Tywin Lannister, summoning him to a trial. Ned decides to send Sansa, (now reconciled with Joffrey), and Arya back to Winterfell. Ned finds out that Joffrey is not Robert’s biological son. While out testing his new saddle, Bran is attacked by outlaws. Robb, Ned’s oldest son, and Theon, the fostered son of a fallen rebel king, save him. In the Vale, Tyrion demands a trial by combat, which Lysa accepts. She chooses Ser Vardis and Tyrion asks for a champion. The mercenary Bronn volunteers, killing Vardis and thereby obtaining Tyrion’s release. Meanwhile, Viserys becomes enraged with Drogo for not honoring his promise and threatens to kill Daenerys’ unborn child. Drogo kills Viserys by pouring molten gold on his head.
Episode 7 You Win Or You Die
In King’s Landing, Ned tells Cersei he knows she is involved with Jaime and none of her children are Robert’s. They soon learn that Robert has been critically wounded by a boar while hunting. A dying Robert names Ned as the “Protector of the realm” to rule until Joffrey reaches the legal age. Ned sends a message to Stannis, Robert’s brother, intending to enthrone him since Robert has no true heirs. Ned tells Petyr Baelish about his plan and asks him to gain the loyalty of the City Watch, the only force capable of overpowering Lannister forces loyal to Cersei. After Robert’s death, Ned, Baelish and the City Watch confront Cersei and Joffrey in the throne room, where Baelish and the City Watch betray Ned and attack his men. At the Wall, Ned’s younger brother Benjen goes missing during a foray beyond the Wall. Snow and Tarly are picked as stewards, with Jon assigned to Lord Commander Mormont. The duo swear their loyalties to the Night’s Watch. In Essos, Robert’s assassin is captured before he can poison Daenerys. Drogo vows to conquer the Seven Kingdoms and give it to his son. He starts marching towards Westeros.
Episode 8 The Pointy End
Arya manages to escape the Red Keep after her Braavosian sword master delays the guards sent to arrest her; Sansa is captured however. Robb hears the news and prepares the Northern armies to fight the Lannisters, leaving Bran behind to rule Winterfell. Lysa refuses to fight the Lannisters; and Catelyn leaves, joining Robb’s camp. Tyrion and Bronn are surrounded by Shagga and his men. Tyrion convinces them to escort him to Tywin to repay them. They arrive at Tywin’s camp, where the latter asks Shagga to help them in their confrontation with the Starks in exchange for payment. Joffrey appoints Tywin as the Hand. Sansa begs the former to show mercy upon Ned. Joffrey agrees if the latter recognizes his reign. At the Wall, some bodies affected by the White Walkers are found. In Essos, Drogo’s soldiers begin attacking nearby settlements, enslaving locals in order to sell them and gain the money to buy the ships necessary to pass the Narrow Sea.
Episode 9 Baelor
The Stark army arrives at the Twins castle; and Catelyn convinces Lord Frey to let them pass and assist them by agreeing for marriage of Robb and Arya to Frey’s children in the future. Robb sacrifices 2000 soldiers in a confrontation with the Lannister army to capture Jaime. In a public hearing, Ned confesses to treason and publicly affirms Joffrey as rightful heir. However, rather than sentencing him to the Wall as had been negotiated, a vengeful Joffrey has him decapitated, while Cersei and other counselors object futilely. Sansa and Arya watch their father die: Sansa from the royal party and Arya from the crowd. At the Wall, Jeor Mormont gives his family sword to Jon in gratitude; Maester Aemon also reveals to Jon that Aemon is a Targaryen. In Essos, Drogo’s wound becomes septic and his death imminent. Daenerys convinces a slave woman to use blood magic to save him. The woman tells everyone to leave the tent and stay outside until the spell is over. Daenerys begins labor, and Jorah brings her into the forbidden tent seeking aid.
Episode 10 Fire and Blood
The North secedes from the Seven Kingdoms and proclaims Robb as their king. With Jaime captured by the Starks and Robert’s brothers challenging Joffrey’s claim to the throne, Tywin appoints Tyrion as King’s Hand. Jon plans to desert his post at the Wall to avenge Ned, but his friends convince him to stay and he instead joins a Night’s Watch expedition to find Benjen beyond the Wall. Yoren, a Night’s Watch recruiter, helps Arya escape King’s Landing disguised as a boy while Joffrey plans to make Sansa his queen despite her father’s execution. Daenerys learns that her unborn son is dead and Drogo has been left in a vegetative state due to the witch’s treacherous magic. Daenerys ends Drogo’s life and lights a funeral pyre. She burns the witch alive alongside Drogo’s body and her three dragon eggs, and walks into the flames herself. When the embers die the following morning, Daenerys rises, unharmed, flanked by three newborn dragons. Jorah and other witnesses kneel before her.
Game of Thrones season 1 Starring
- Sean Bean as Eddard “Ned” Stark
- Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister
- Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark
- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
- Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen
- Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont
- Aidan Gillen as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish
- Harry Lloyd as Viserys Targaryen
- Kit Harington as Jon Snow
- Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark
- Maisie Williams as Arya Stark
- Richard Madden as Robb Stark
- Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy
- Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark
- Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon
- Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane
- Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister
- Jason Momoa as Khal Drogo