'Game of Thrones' Final Season: Every Finale, Ranked

The Hollywood Reporter ranks every finale from HBO's Emmy-winning juggernaut, from "Fire and Blood" through the end of the series.
Courtesy of HBO

[This story contains spoilers for the series finale of HBO's Game of Thrones, "The Iron Throne."]

And just like that, it's over. 

Eight seasons and seventy-three episodes are officially in the rearview mirror as David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have brought the sprawling Game of Thrones to an equally sprawling close. Who won the Iron Throne? Who lived among Jon Snow (Kit Harington), Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) and the rest? Did Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) finally find some peace, or was he at least made to feel incredibly bad about selling out his friend Varys (Conleth Hill) for no real good reason at all? (Yes, still salty.) Those questions are no longer open-ended: there is no Iron Throne but Bran is in charge; Jon and Arya are alive but Dany is not; Tyrion expressed remorse about Varys. Hey, it's a start. 

Granted, we are still in the incredibly early and immediate afterglow of Game of Thrones' conclusion, with the ending landing much better in some camps than others. (Cue the renewed petition effort in three, two, one…) Is it too soon to compare the series' final installment with the other episodes that have closed out seasons along the way? For some, absolutely. For us? Absolutely not. Ahead, The Hollywood Reporter ranks all eight Game of Thrones season finales, including the series finale, from worst to first.

8. "Valar Morghulis" 
Season 2, Episode 10
Directed by: Alan Taylor 
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

An action-packed episode (not to mention an Emmy-winning one, earning a nod for special visual effects) dealing in the fallout from the Battle of the Blackwater, featuring a brand-new war wound smacked across Tyrion's face, stumbles somewhat with a clumsy ending to the Qarth storyline, particularly at the House of the Undying.

7. "Mhysa" 
Season 3, Episode 10
Directed by: David Nutter
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

The Red Wedding permeates the entire episode, from the immediate aftermath featuring the butchered body of Robb Stark (Richard Madden), to Joffrey's outward gloating and Tywin's quiet pride in ruthlessly blindsiding the Starks — not to mention Tyrion's shame over it all.

6. "Mother's Mercy" 
Season 5, Episode 10
Directed by: David Nutter
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

Also known as "The One Where Jon Snow Died," though in time, any frustration over the apparent demise of the show's de facto hero will fade away once he returns from the grave; it is known. Beyond the Jon of it all, "Mother's Mercy" marks new beginnings and ends for many characters, including the final fall of Stannis Baratheon.

5. "Fire and Blood"
Season 1, Episode 10

Directed by: Alan Taylor
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

Magic returns to the world of ice and fire as Daenerys not only survives a massive fire, but emerges with three baby dragons, the first of their kind in more than 100 years. It's a game-changing moment for Thrones, paving the way for subsequent instances of mythical mayhem — including Dany's eventual conquest of King's Landing.

4. "The Children"
Season 4, Episode 10

Directed by: Alex Graves
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

The Hound versus Brienne, Bran's party battling an army of Harryhausen skeletons, Stannis Baratheon beating back the wildling army … the list of action-packed scenes is virtually endless, punctuated by young Arya setting sail for Braavos, finally free of her Westeros baggage, her future unknown.

3. "The Dragon and the Wolf"
Season 7, Episode 7

Directed by: Jeremy Podeswa
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

The fall of the Wall, the death of Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), the reveal of Jon's true Targaryen heritage, the first sighting of Rhaegar Targaryen, the first scene between Tyrion and Cersei in ages... really, the list of reasons why the season seven finale was a riveting episode goes on and on, even if the episode is held back a bit by the awkward Bran monologue over Jon and Dany's sex scene, not to mention Jon's incredibly frustrating decision to sabotage his own peace offering with Cersei. Forgiving those wonky moments, "The Dragon and the Wolf" was a peak episode of Thrones.

2. "The Iron Throne"
Season 8, Episode 6

Directed by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

Where will "The Iron Throne" rank in the pantheon of series finales? Too soon to say. "Ask me again in ten years," as Tyrion would reply. In the immediate aftermath, however, there's this: the finale was a slow and steady walk through the pain caused by endless quests for power, the way in which heroes quickly become villains if such things ever existed at all, and a dream of spring for the human race. Haunting work from series leads Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington and Peter Dinklage, alongside some seriously haunting imagery (basically all things Drogon), leave Game of Thrones on a melancholy note sure to stick to the skull for sometime, if not quite stick to the ribs. But if you thought this story would end with comfort food, you weren't paying attention.

1. "The Winds of Winter"
Season 6, Episode 10

Directed by: Miguel Sapochnik
Written by: David Benioff and Dan Weiss

Easily the greatest season finale in Game of Thrones history. There's not a single knock against "The Winds of Winter," from Cersei's Godfather-like slaughter of her enemies in the opening moments to Daenerys Stormborn sailing for Westeros in the closing ones. That's not even mentioning the reveal of Jon Snow's true parentage and Arya Stark's "baking bad" moment, either. The fact that season six's closing installment not only topped the seemingly unstoppable "Battle of the Bastards," but did so just one episode later, only adds to the finale's mythic quality.

Read all of THR's Final Path series, featuring character-by-character predictions:

1. Jon Snow
2. Daenerys Targaryen
3. Tyrion Lannister
4. Cersei Lannister
5. Jaime Lannister
6. Sansa Stark
7. Arya Stark
8. Bran Stark
9. Samwell Tarly
10. Theon Greyjoy
11. The Hound
12. Brienne of Tarth
13. Varys
14. Melisandre
15. Davos Seaworth
16. Jorah Mormont
17. Bronn
18. Tormund Giantsbane
19. Beric Dondarrion
20. The Dragons
21. The Night King
22. Across the World of Ice and Fire
23. Final Predictions

Follow THR.com/GameOfThrones for continuing coverage all season long.