There’s no shortage of hidden symbolism in Game of Thrones. This stretches from the names of their houses to their “occasionally” violent deaths. A brief look at the new gods and an umpteenth watch of the series shows us that some of the most profound deaths in Westeros happen to line up with their most popular religion.

Eddard Stark, The Father

Ned Stark Execution Death Ice Sword

The Father is often depicted as a stern, bearded man who is prayed to by those seeking justice. He protects his “children” by granting them strength and wisdom as needed. Fitting then, that this father suffered among the first unjust deaths in the series.

This scene hearkened back to the first episode of Game of Thrones. Remember? Ned passes the sentence on Will, the deserting ranger sticking to his story of White Walkers, despite imminent execution. Like a real man, Ned swung the sword himself, while his young child, Bran, was kept from looking away. Interesting that when Joffrey sentenced Ned for treason, Ned dropped his story and falsely confessed to avoid execution. However, the sword (Ned’s own sword, Ice) was swung anyway by Ser Ilyn “Not-the-twerp-who-passed-the-sentence” Payne. Meanwhile, another young child of his, Arya, was forced to look away, a clever reverse on the situation.

Catelyn Stark, The Mother

Game of Thrones Catelyn Stark Red Wedding Death Graphic

The Mother is the loving and protective aspect of the new gods. Representing compassion and mercy, she is often called upon to ensure fertility and protect loved ones. She can be more fierce than even The Warrior when her children are in danger, so the stories say. Nobody embodies these aspects more than the greatest mom in Westeros, Catelyn Stark.

Forget Cersei. Catelyn Stark is a mom willing to do anything for her kids right until the very end. She was the first to notice something fishy at the Red Wedding (while peeping a seven-pointed star, wink wink). The hero of the scene, if one existed, she put her child’s safety above everything else immediately. Taking Joyeuse Erenford(that’s her name?) hostage and promising to forget everything, she offered herself as a prisoner before Robb’s killing. With a final, maddened scream, she slit the throat of Walder Frey’s eighth wife before suffering the same fate moments later. Little did they know that mama didn’t raise no fool, and another nearby wolf would remember this.

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Oberyn Martell, The Warrior

Oberyn Martell Game of Thrones

Boy or girl, the Warrior is a sword with a person attached. Resembling a suit of armor, the Warrior watches over soldiers, guiding winners to victory and comforting the dead and abandoned. Often called upon during trials by combat, no warrior fits the bill more than the Red Viper, Prince Oberyn Martell.

In Tyrion’s second trial by combat, Oberyn chose to fight The Mountain, seeking a confession for the murder of his sister. This match began with a bad omen, as Grand Maester Pycelle’s prayer went unfinished before he could beseech the Warrior(!) to guide the champion.

However, Oberyn’s victory in Game of Thrones seemed absolute, as Ser Gregor’s sword never managed to even nick Oberyn’s armor. Conversely, Oberyn spent the 3-minute fight taunting his opponent before landing several killing blows. Sadly, this warrior should’ve taken his win when he had the chance. The Mountain caught the showboat by the leg and crushed his head while taunting him with a confession. I guess he got what he wanted.

Hodor, The Smith

Game of Thrones Hodor

The Smith, often likewise called the Farmer, the Fisherman, the Carpenter, and the Cobbler, represents workers and their crafts and labors. He is prayed to for strength and believed to have gifted horses to humanity. Similar to Animal Farm’s workhorse, Boxer, nobody takes more pride in his labors than Bran Stark’s loving servant, Hodor.

Want to make a Game of Thrones fan cry? Tell them to hold the door. Always loyal and unquestioning in his service to the Starks, Hodor did everything from carrying Bran everywhere on his back to killing a man with his bare hands while warg-possessed by Bran(although unwilling). His immense strength allowed him to protect Bran from any threat, culminating in Bran and an army of wights separated by a single wooden door. Even as the wights tore him apart, this friend of the Starks stood unyielding and that door stayed shut. If strength and devotion had a name, it would be Hodor.

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Shireen Baratheon, The Maiden

Game of Thrones Shireen Baratheon

The Maiden’s traditional depiction shows a beautiful, innocent-looking, young woman. Primarily prayed to for protection of women and mentioned specifically by parents wishing to lend courage to, and protect the innocence of, their daughters. It’s a such a shame that poor, little Shireen Baratheon didn’t have parents like that.

No, the Stannis branch of the Baratheon family are followers of the Lord of Light, who will absolutely have a fit if you don’t burn people alive when he asks. What’s worst about this scene (apart from the immolation of a child) is the irony of everyone knowing what’s about to happen except Shireen. Even the writers comically placed her toy deer in front a fire and had her say, “Aren’t you cold?” to her father, the sickos. She only gets the hint when she spots Melisandre and tries to flee, but for naught. Over five-thousand people watch a little girl who likes reading scream as she burns to death. But don’t worry, they got theirs soon enough.

Olenna Tyrell, The Crone

Game of Thrones Olenna Tyrell

The Crone appears as an old, wizened woman, often sought out for wisdom and guidance. If you didn’t know the Crone was one of the Seven aspects of the Faith, you’d think I was just describing Olenna Tyrell.

Not many people get to die on their own terms, certainly not in Westeros, but this lovely woman died as she lived, drinking wine, espousing knowledge, and talking shit to a Lannister.

Even with Highgarden taken by the Lannister army and her death imminent, Olenna took the opportunity to warn Jamie that his loyalty to Cersei would eventually be his undoing. After clarifying its painlessness, the unflappable Olenna downed her poisoned glass of wine without so much as a shudder, and proceeded to taunt Jaime about killing his oldest bastard, Joffrey. Strange how often people in Game of Thrones die by their weapon of choice. Huh.

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Some Drunk Guy, The Stranger

Game of Thrones Drunk Death Flasher

The Stranger is neither male nor female, nor fully human. Usually depicted as a hood with the face of death, it represents the unknowable and the outcast. No single death in Game of Thrones represents these aspects as much as this random drunk guy. I’ll level with you, I know you were expecting the Night King or one of the Cleganes, but here me out.

We don’t know this guy’s name, nor what brought him here. We only know that this no-name drunk swore to the gods on the veracity of an untrue story(impressing Cersei with his “blessing”). He soon realized, while pissing on the Mountain, that his story pissed off the Mountain. In a short, memorable scene, the undead knight taps the drunk’s head against the wall behind him, blowing the man’s mind with his strength. This gruesome and sudden death actually had a mimic make its way to the final season, with Maester Qyburn’s death, and an episode of Family Guy, with a woman who cuts Lois in line. Nothing rivals this massive zombie unaliving this boisterous civilian, though. You just gotta love it.

Did we miss anything? Was there a Game of Thrones death you think should have been here instead? Leave a comment and let us know!

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