Game of Thrones Season 6 lands on more Best-of-2016 lists


With little more than a week to go in the year of 2016, Game of Thrones has shown up on nearly more Best-Of-2016 lists than we can count. But we’ll try.

First up, Newsweek singled out the “Hold the Door” scene for praise, although the village idiot bit was a tad harsh.

"On Game of Thrones, it turned out that everyone’s favorite village idiot was a sacrificial lamb who’d foreseen his own death decades before it occurred. Also, we learned that for five-plus seasons we’d thought Hodor was a name when all that time it had been a command. Death is never far away in Westeros, but this one was the most painful yet because the victim was, for once, completely benevolent."

Heading a little deeper into the season, Empire (the magazine, not the tyrannical galactic government) listed Cersei’s destruction of the Sept of Baelor as one of The best TV moments of 2016.

"With her various foes gathered in one place, Cersei Lannister solved many of her problems in one fell swoop. Getting plenty of bang for her buck, it was less a case of boom goes the dynamite and more whoomp goes the Wildfire. So long, Sparrow! Move along, Margaery! There’s a new queen in town. And it was perfectly scored by Ramin Djawadi, as a haunting piano refrain built to something trailer editors will be using for years to come."

If anyone asked us, Djawadi has not received enough praise.

(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Cersei’s pyromaniacal revenge scene also impressed Vox, which made a massive list of The 39 best TV moments of 2016.

"Game of Thrones built its reputation on the kind of epic moments that television previously could only dream of, like ruthless bloodbaths and CGI dragons sweeping over smoking cities. But in its sixth season, the series pulled off a scene that felt like both a complete surprise and a natural evolution. Cersei — Lena Headey’s grimly determined Lannister matriarch — finally achieved her ultimate revenge on all those who had doubted her, blowing up most of King’s Landing with wildfire and wiping out her most pressing enemies in one fell swoop. It was a horrifying, callously executed move, but it was hard not to feel a thrill of triumph along with Cersei as she surveyed the wreckage with a sip of wine and a smirk."

Yahoo praised a different firestarter showcase on its list The 30 Best TV Moments of 2016: the bit from “Book of the Stranger” where Daenerys lights up the khals.

"She’s not called the Unburnt for nothing. Daenerys re-earned that title after her capture by the Dothraki. When the khals gathered to decide her fate, she turned the proceedings around on them. She decided their fate — death by fire. She declared that only she was fit to lead the Dothraki and then set the hut ablaze, emerging unharmed and triumphant."

When it came time for the staff members at Io9 to choose the Best and Worst Television Moments of 2016, there were so many arguments over which bits from Season 6 to include (“It got really nasty—jobs were threatened, people swore to leave if things were left off.”) that it just devoted five slots to the show. Among the five chosen: Lyanna Mormont’s nomination of Jon Snow as King in the North.

"Bella Ramsey is 12. She’s 12, and she commanded every single scene she was in—and they weren’t many—in Game of Thrones. Her first appearance she snarked about Sansa’s various marriages, but her true moment of glory was rallying everyone behind Jon and declaring him king. Mostly by telling every other lord how they’ve turned their back on their obligations."

The A.V. Club was a fan of Ramsey as well, as she landed on its list of The 35 best TV performances of 2016.

"Channeling the no-nonsense leadership style of a Maggie Smith character, Bella Ramsey portrays Westeros’ youngest noble with a stern gravitas that ignores both her very young age and her gender. But the breakout actress steals every scene she’s in not just because of her youth, but also because her small size belies a commanding presence and impressive verbal dexterity, matching (and at times arguably doing better than) the rest of the cast when it comes to stirring speech-making."

Expanding on strong performances from actors like Ramsey, The Chicago Tribune singled out the women of Season 6 in general for particular praise.

"Resurrected Jon Snow may have gotten most of the attention, but this was truly the Year of the Woman in the Seven Kingdoms, the season that Cersei Lannister, Daenerys Targaryen and Sansa and Arya Stark rose up to enact spectacularly gruesome acts of vengeance. After five seasons of misery, it felt cathartic."

Paste also went the best performance route with its list of The 25 Best TV Performances of 2016. It’s pic for best GoT performance: Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton.

"Bolton is pure black, and Rheon manages to pull the monster off like a maniac rather than a cartoon. When he sheds his convincingly sadistic smile, it’s as heavy and frightening a transformation as Andy Serkis’s Gollum. With a true human villain to face in the midst of the “force of nature” evil of the White Walkers, Rheon gave this series’ sixth season a chance to bring off some much-needed catharsis, thanks in large part to his unrelenting performance."

Comparing Rheon to Serkis is quite the praise.

GQ honored individual hours of television, and decided that “Battle of the Bastards” was one of The Best TV Episodes of 2016.

"The tense, bloody battle sequence is exceptionally well-executed by director Miguel Sapochnik—enough to rival pretty much any medieval or fantasy battle you’ve seen on the big screen. But the episode also makes time for character moments, with particularly memorable moments for Ramsay Bolton, Jon Snow, and Sansa Stark. As its best, Game of Thrones is like nothing else on television, and this episode stands alone."

When it came to its list The Best Television Episodes of 2016The Atlantic went with “The Winds of Winter,” the Season 6 finale.

"With the season-[six] finale, the Stark house words have been robbed of their ominous power: Winter isn’t coming, winter is here. Game of Thrones’s season finales always deliver, and this year was no different, with an especially epic episode that saw the (literal) fall of a king, the rise of a new queen, a shaky peace in the North, a series-defining revelation about a bastard’s birth, the poetic murder of a mass murderer, and a sea crossing that viewers waited seven years for."

TV Line awarded Game of Thrones in two categories, declaring “The Winds of Winter” as the best dramatic episode and giving “Battle of the Bastards” a nod for its CGI effects.

Going wider, Game of Thrones made an appearance on Variety’s 25 Best Returning Shows of 2016 list, although the list was in no particular order. Said Chief TV Critic Maureen Ryan,

"It can also be lacerating in quieter moments, many of which focus on a character’s pain or a long-anticipated confrontation or reconciliation. When those moments of intensity — personal, political or visual — really come together, “Game of Thrones” is often spectacular in all senses of the word."

Flickering Myth, meanwhile, named Game of Thrones its number one show of 2016, besting four other nominees.

"Season 6 shrugged off the minute season 5 dip and delivered to us the most bruising of seasons. Progressing the story in a more rewarding way than perhaps previous seasons have, while still offering the nightmarish awfulness that the show has become famous for. Revenge was served, just deserts were crammed down deserving gullets, odd character side quests were brushed away, the greatest battle committed to television was presented in stunning beauty, and the real evil of the show arrived in the most heartbreaking of ways yet."

And Nerdist named Game of Thrones as one of The 11 Best TV shows of 2016.

"While Game of Thrones didn’t take my suggestion to Weekend at Bernie’s Jon Snow’s dead body at the Wall all season long, it did deliver some of the biggest and bloodiest battles, the most shocking twists, and absolutely bonkers theories we’ve seen to date. The best part (or the worst part, depending on who you ask) is that this is the first time we have well and truly gone off book, which made each episode a visceral thrill as we plunged headlong into the unknown."

Weekend at Bernie’s Jon Snow’s body? Perhaps HBO finally missed an opportunity. Or not.

Not impressed with such small show counts, The Hollywood Reporter named Game of Thrones as one of the top 38 shows on television, where it came in at number 9.

"What do you say about a drama that has been ridiculously ambitious and dense from the jump and has dominated television for much of its existence? That its sixth season was one of its finest and that it never, even for a second, lost its magnetic watch-this-immediately pull."

Screen Crush put Game of Thrones on its list of top ten series of 2016, clocking in at number 9.

"“Battle of the Bastards” will likely prove the foremost memory of anyone’s look back on Season 6 – and with good reason, given the unpredictability and production value – but the sixth year started paying off investments in the series like never before. Not only were years-long character arcs like Arya’s training or Cersei’s humiliation finally blossoming into major shifts in the status quo, but the series seemed to recognize some of its own past missteps in the process."

Elsewhere, TV critic Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe put Game of Thrones at number five on his list of The top 10 TV shows of 2016.

"This season felt different as the story careened ahead of the book series. The cast began to shrink, the players for the endgame became clearer, and the story encompassed both epic battle moves and, with much-needed warmth, redeemingly intimate moments."

And Mashable, going all in, put Game of Thrones Season 6 at the top of its list of The 16 best TV shows of 2016.

"Season 6 was the first in which HBO’s Game of Thrones charted territory beyond George R. R. Martin’s sprawling series of books, and the result was a frequently surprising, often exhilarating, ultimately satisfying ride. As the show approaches its dreaded finish line (we only have two shortened seasons left before the series comes to an end), Thrones dispensed with any meandering plot points, barreling full steam ahead and keeping the twists coming with every installment.Beloved characters died, hated characters died, that fan theory was confirmed, battles were won — and now the stage is now set for a perfect Season 7. Winter is officially here."

EOnline also had high praise for the show when compiling its list of the 10 Best TV Shows of 2016.

"We know nothing…expect that season after season, the HBO hit manages to leave us breathless and captivated with its epic storytelling, especially in season six, which finally set the stage for the final battle (and two seasons). With some of its boldest moves yet and showstopping episodes (“The Battle of the Bastards” was a visual feast and arguably TV’s best outing of the year), GoT deservedly won the Emmy for Best Drama…and a spot on our list (which is just as important, right?!)."

Game of Thrones earned a spot on a top ten list at JoBlo as well.

"While justice is rare in the world of George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, the events that led to this season feel like the audience finally got a moment to fist pump and feel a slight tinge of victory, even if we still lost some fan favorites along the way. From Jon Snow’s rebirth to Arya completing her training to Sansa embracing her heritage to Daenerys finally rallying her army and setting sail for the throne, Season 6 sewed together the threads of their journey for what seems to have been building forever."

Over at Uproxx, Alan Sepinwall compiled The 20 Best TV Shows of 2016, and surprise: Game of Thrones made the list. We’re not sure we can agree with the show being ranked 19th, but we can overlook it this once.

"But the finale — particularly its explosive opening sequence in King’s Landing — was the show’s best-crafted episode ever, and in other moments like Tyrion talking to Dany’s dragons or Hodor’s devastating origin story, Game of Thrones felt the weight of its own history more beautifully than even its most ardent fans could have imagined. The series seems destined to always be slightly less than the sum of its parts, but there were enough spectacular parts here to make the list."

Finally, CNN just gave Game of Thrones its very own category when running through its appraisal of The Best TV of 2016, starting by simply saying, “Hail to the king.”

"HBO’s signature drama “Game of Thrones” gets its own category because even with all the worthy shows on TV, simply nothing rivals its mix of feature-film-quality spectacle and serialized storytelling. Handsome new dramas like “Westworld” and “The Crown” generated ample buzz with intriguing but somewhat flawed first seasons, but even with plenty of pretenders, “Thrones” remains in a class by itself."

All and all, not a bad year for Game of Thrones, at least if the critics are to be believed. Hopefully Season 7 delivers the goods as well.