HBO’s hit fantasy drama Game of Thrones juggled an impressive narrative of political intrigue, medieval mystery, and epic dragon versus zombie action sequences. Thrones covered a scope of characters from across Westeros and Essos, culminating with a final battle for the Iron Throne — and the emergence of an unlikely new king from the North.
In the midst of this fantastical fight for the throne, many storylines sadly fell short of expectations. The acclaimed show gave fans incredible moments, such as Hardhome, the Red Wedding, and Daenerys Targaryen’s fiery attack against the Lannisters. But for every Battle of the Bastards, however, there was a Meereenese Knot. Thrones dazzled audiences at its peak, but these underwhelming storylines ultimately worked better on paper than they did on the small screen.
10 The Battle Of Whispering Wood
The first battlefield clash between House Stark and House Lannister takes place off-screen during the show’s first season. In recompense for his father’s arrest, Robb Stark rallies the Northerners and marches south against the Lannisters. Tywin looks to crush the Young Wolf early in his conquest and is shocked when Robb outmaneuvers the opposing army and captures Jaime Lannister the Kingslayer.
Unfortunately, Robb’s victory at the Whispering Wood sounds more impressive than it is. The battle is never fully presented on-screen in the same vein as other epic Game of Thrones clashes such as the Battle of the Bastards and the Battle at Castle Black, denying fans of a showdown between the wolves and the lions.
9 Daenerys Targaryen’s Stay In Qarth
Despite ending season 1 on a high note with the birth of her dragons, Daenerys Targaryen’s story underwhelms during the HBO show’s second season. Dany wanders through the Red Waste for a few episodes before taking sanctuary in Qarth. The city offers a rich and vibrant culture that is left mostly unexplored as the young queen flounders thousands of miles from the show’s main story.
Dany does little in Qarth besides learning of King Robert Baratheon’s death and temporarily losing her dragons. Her prophetic visions in the House of the Undying provide intrigue, but the Khaleesi’s Qartheen plight remains one of the low-points in her arc.
8 Stannis Baratheon’s Conquest For The Iron Throne
Many fans considered him the rightful heir to the Iron Throne, yet Stannis never received such respect from the rest of Westeros during his conquest. Initially, Stannis’ story had potential. The Baratheon king leads an assault on King’s Landing during season 2’s Battle of Blackwater Bay; if not for Tywin and the Tyrells, Robert’s true heir could have sat the Iron Throne early in the story.
Stannis’ arc underwhelms after the wildfire battle, however. Despite the intrigue of Melisandre and her fiery red religion, the rightful king remains dormant at Dragonstone before his last battle against the Boltons during season 5.
7 Daenerys Tries To Bring Peace To Meereen
Qarth isn’t the only city to stall Daenerys Targaryen in her journey back to Westeros. In season 4, the Mother of Dragons continues her conquest against slavery by taking Meereen, the third city in the Slaver’s Bay trifecta. The consequences of her actions start to catch up to her while in Meereen, prompting Daenerys to postpone her voyage home in favor of resolving the city’s crisis.
Unfortunately, Dany’s story as Queen of Meereen begins to drag as she faces countless threats from outside and inside the city. Though pivotal, her storyline in Essos suffers due to her isolation from the other characters in the series.
6 The Story In Dorne
Season 5 made several controversial diversions from the source material. One of the primary arcs to be altered was the story in Dorne. Book POV character Arianne Martell was omitted from the show, while the focus was given to Oberyn Martell’s paramour, Ellaria Sand, and his bastard daughters, the Sand Snakes.
Jaime Lannister, whose arc was also drastically changed, journeyed to Sunspear with Bronn to rescue Princess Myrcella. The Kingslayer has an underwhelming clash with the Sand Snakes before Ellaria kills his daughter with a poisonous kiss.
5 Theon Rescues Yara From Euron Greyjoy
Season 7 sets up a final fight between uncle and nephew when Euron Greyjoy takes Yara as a hostage following his ambush on her fleet. The Queen of the Iron Islands is forced to rely on her brother, who, after initially fleeing, vows to rescue his sister with his Ironborn allies.
Yara’s rescue is brief, however, failing to live up to its hype. Theon sneaks aboard the Silence with ease to free his sister. Neither Greyjoy sibling shares a final clash with Euron, who is instead killed by Jaime during the destruction of King’s Landing.
4 Arya’s Training With The Faceless Men
The Faceless Men of Braavos remain shrouded in mystery. Who were they? What did they really want with Arya Stark? In season 2, Arya meets Jaqen H’ghar in season 2, and they strike up a friendship after she saves his life. Jaqen tells her to come to Braavos one day, and the two reunite in the House of Black and White.
Arya’s training held promise initially, though several elements soured its success. The lost daughter of House Stark spends most of her time washing bodies and falling victim to the Waif’s attacks before departing Braavos for the Riverlands.
3 The Starks And Targaryens Face The Army Of The Dead
For a moment, it seemed as though Thrones was giving fans of House Stark and House Targaryen a reason to celebrate. The two factions join forces in season 7 when Jon swears fealty to Daenerys and the two fall in love. Dany temporarily abandons her war for the throne to defend the North from the Night King with her armies and dragons.
“The Long Night” features the final fight against the Army of the Dead, another moment that proved underwhelming to some fans. The Night King is defeated in one episode, while the rest of the season sees the Starks turn on Daenerys and the Dragon Queen’s rapid descent into madness.
2 Bran Becomes King Of Westeros
Few suspected that, when the battles were fought and won, Bran Stark would emerge from the ashes as the new King of Westeros. Following the burning of King’s Landing, Queen Daenerys reigns for mere moments before she is killed by Jon Snow. Drogon destroys the Iron Throne in grief and Jon is sent to the Wall for his crime.
With both Targaryens gone, the monarchy of Westeros is determined by a council of lords and ladies. Bran Stark is chosen for the coveted role, while his sister Sansa becomes the new Northern queen.
1 Sam’s Training At The Citadel In Oldtown
Like Arya, Sam seemed set to undergo vital training that would assist in the final war for the dawn. Samwell Tarly journeys to the Citadel in Oldtown to become a maester for the Night’s Watch. The Citadel teases extensive knowledge and secrets, though they remain mostly unknown.
Instead, season 7 features a shuddering montage of Sam’s daily tasks and an impromptu meeting with Ser Jorah Mormont. Sam’s time at the Citadel becomes instrumental to the series endgame, though, like many of GoT’s storylines, it underwhelms in comparison to the show’s golden days.
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