Today is the one-year anniversary of the Game of Thrones series finale, and today’s Top Ten Tuesday counts down the best feel-good moments from the series. The criteria is kind of rough, and plenty of awesome scenes did not make the cut (like when Dany escapes the fighting pit in Meereen on Drogon, Sansa gets revenge on Ramsay, and a couple of times when Jon returned from north of the Wall), but these are some of the best moments that incited positive emotions or made many fans cheer throughout Thrones’ 72 episodes.
10. Jaime Lannister saves Brienne
Jaime Lannister obviously did not start Game of Thrones as a particularly well-liked character among most fans—after all, he pushed a child out of a tall window in the first episode. However, the Kingslayer had been through the trials and tribulations—while being humbled in a major way and losing his hand in the process—as the story progressed, and his legendary character arc was well underway. While Jaime wasn’t all good, he clearly showed redeeming qualities underneath his exterior, especially while doing his best to protect fellow prisoner Brienne of Tarth. Eventually, Jaime went back to save Brienne from a massive bear before telling Locke that he’ll have to kill him if Brienne is not allowed to come to King’s Landing—and the Lannister knight then delivered one of the best lines of the series when he told Locke he was “sorry about the sapphires.”
9. Daenerys Targaryen sails for Westeros
“The Winds of Winter” was one of Game of Thrones’ craziest episodes, but it ended with more of a toned-down moment of Daenerys Targaryen finally setting sail for Westeros, which she had been trying to do for years (and for six full seasons since the beginning of the series). The Mother of Dragons had been through a lot on the path to getting her people, her army, her advisors/allies, and three large dragons, so it was memorable to see her confidently gaze ahead at the open water toward the homeland she’d lost.
8. Jon Snow becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch
While he was the best swordsman at Castle Black and a natural-born leader, Jon Snow himself was not going to throw his hat into the ring as a candidate for Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch after Jeor Mormont’s death. But Samwell Tarly spoke up for his friend and stated the potent case of why the supposed Stark bastard should be the one to lead the men after the heroics during “The Watchers on the Wall”, and Maester Aemon cast the final deciding vote in favor of Jon. Normally a brooder, Jon cracked a smile and showed a rare (yet reserved) celebratory side when he was named 998th Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, and all viewers shared his delight early in Season 5.
7. Jorah Mormont returns
Jorah Mormont and Daenerys Targaryen had a complex relationship and a few memorable emotional moments together throughout Game of Thrones, but their top feel-good moment was probably when Jorah returned to Dragonstone fully healed from greyscale. This was yet another moment that is even sweeter because of the hardship the came before it, and the actors did a phenomenal job of portraying the sentiment the two long friends were feeling for their reunion. Theon’s return to Winterfell—and Sansa’s warm embrace of him—along with all of the Stark reunions all easily could have been listed high among Game of Thrones’ top heartfelt scenes, too.
6. Brienne of Tarth is knighted
With the end of the series just episodes away and the dead marching on Winterfell, “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” is seen as a bit of a love letter to much of the Game of Thrones cast and characters remaining in the final season. The best moment from the episode probably comes at the fireside discussion that turns into Jaime Lannister knighting Brienne of Tarth. For years, becoming a knight is what Brienne has wanted more than anything, but unfortunately it seemed impossible because she was a woman. Jaime again showed his honorable, good side—which was undeniable at this point—by making Brienne’s dream come true, and it meant more to Brienne that Jaime was the person to proclaim her a Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.
Remember, in the Season 3 finale following “The Rains of Castamere”, many Game of Thrones viewers were incredibly distraught over the stunning, sweeping deaths of main characters Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, Talisa Stark, and Grey Wind. The season finale, “Mhysa”, was able to end on a completely opposite note, with Daenerys Targaryen being fully embraced and carried off majestically by the newly freed Yunkish people while acting as somewhat of a new hope for the viewer. Like “The Winds of Winter”, the season finale ended with Dany’s three dragons flying overhead—Daenerys’ outstanding moments made her final downfall all the more upsetting. As usual, the accompanying musical score from Ramin Djawadi at the end of “Mhysa” was perfect.
4. “King in the North” I and II
We are cheating a bit here by combining a couple of scenes set far apart in the series, but both King in the North scenes had to make the list. First, Robb Stark was crowned King in the North following his victory at Whispering Wood and the death of his father Ned. The North would be independent, setting the tone and mindset of the kingdom for the remainder of the series, and Robb was the first King in the North in nearly 300 years. Later in the eventful “The Winds of Winter”, it was just as memorable when Jon Snow—who was then thought of as a bastard with no birthright—was fully accepted by the North (thanks in part to Lyanna Mormont first speaking up for him) and named King in the North after the powerful Tower of Joy flashback scene.
3. Jaime and Tyrion Lannister final meeting
Their father Tywin Lannister complicated things because of his disdain for his dwarf son, but Jaime was basically the only real friend Tyrion had for most of his life, and the two brothers had a few notable heartfelt moments together in Game of Thrones. At the top of the list for two of the last remaining Lannisters was their final farewell in the penultimate episode of the series, “The Bells”, when Tyrion took a major risk and allowed Jaime to go free and try to get Cersei out of King’s Landing before it was too late. “You were the only one who didn’t treat me like a monster,” Tyrion said in his goodbye. “You were all I had.” This is probably the most bittersweet moment on the list, but it still had to make the cut nonetheless.
2. Whispering Wood
At the time back toward the very end of Season 1, the Lannisters were the clear chief enemy after King Joffrey unjustifiably had Ned Stark executed in “Baelor”, so Robb Stark winning the Battle of the Whispering Wood was one of the biggest triumphs of the series. Viewers did not actually see the battle, but we saw things from the perspective of Catelyn Stark, who joyously watched her oldest son emerge from the forest in one piece—with an extremely valuable prize in the way of a captured Jaime Lannister. Robb was just a young unproven leader thrust into action, but he answered the call with a superb battle strategy to claim a paramount victory for the North in the War of the Five Kings.
1. Final scene/Jon Snow’s goodbye
Again, we are combining a couple of scenes here, but these were much closer together after both happening in the Game of Thrones finale, “The Iron Throne”, one year ago. While Jon Snow had to deal with the massive heartbreak of being forced to kill Daenerys Targaryen, he was able to say his emotional goodbyes to Sansa, Arya, and Bran Stark before going back to Castle Black. When Jon arrived back at Castle Black, he was reunited with Ghost and Tormund, and he was to bring the Wildlings back north of the Wall—but he would be staying, too. After years of fighting, death, grief, and dealing with politics he could not care less about, you could see a sense of major relief and freedom on Jon’s face as he rode into the fade to black to end Game of Thrones.