Game of Thrones writer Bryan Cogman names his 21 favorite episodes


Lots of people have put together lists of their favorite Game of Thrones episodes — why, someone ranked every single one right here — but rarely do we get such a list from someone who’s actually worked on the show.


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New York Mets Michael Conforto Game Of Thrones Night's Watch Bobblehead /

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Until we do! Writing on Entertainment Weekly, writer Bryan Cogman — who’s been working on the show since the very first season and started writing episodes in season 2 — named his 21 favorite episodes…not including anything from season 8, of course, although he may drop a hint or two in there. How closely does your list match his?

Season 1: “Winter Is Coming” and “The Kingsroad”

Cogman considers the first and second episodes of the series to be “a mega-pilot,” with “Winter Is Coming” familiarizing viewers with the characters and “The Kingsroad” making you care about them. “I remember watching a rough cut of the opening sequence (in which Jon bids farewell to his family and heads for the Wall) on my laptop in Belfast and thinking: This works! We have a show!”

Season 1: “Baelor”

It’s the one where Ned dies. Enough said. “Sean Bean’s Ned Stark still looms large over this story — there are very few subsequent episodes in which a character doesn’t mention his name.”

Season 1: “Fire and Blood”

“Baby dragons,” Cogman writes. “Need I say more?” No.

Season 2: “What Is Dead May Never Die”

This is the first episode Cogman wrote, so of course it’s gonna be on there. “I’m particularly proud of the sequence where Tyrion plays the various council members against each other and roots out a spy.”

Season 2: “The Old Gods and the New”

High points: Theon Greyjoy’s botched execution of Rodrik Cassel, the introduction of Ygritte, Tyrion slapping Joffrey during the riot in King’s Landing. Low point: “WHERE ARE MY DRAGONS!?”

Season 2: “Blackwater”

As the show’s first big battle episode, this is another landmark entry for the series. “I love this episode (written by Grand Maester George himself) for its intimacy and the rare opportunity we had to zero in on one location and a smaller group of characters.”

Season 3: “Walk of Punishment”

Chop chop, Jaime.

Season 3: “And Now His Watch Is Ended.”

I mean, how can you forget Daenerys sacking Astapor and freeing the Unsullied?

Season 3: “Kissed by Fire”

“This is my favorite of the episodes I’ve written, partially because the finished product most closely resembles its very first draft,” Cogman writes.

"But it’s also one of our best “smaller,” character-focused episodes. I put “smaller” in quotes as we still found room for a big sword fight (Beric vs. The Hound). The episode’s centerpiece is the long, impeccably acted two-hander between Jaime and Brienne – quite possibly the best thing I’ll ever be associated with. Well… it’s a toss-up between that scene and Selyse’s dead babies in the jars."

Season 3 really was Jaime’s season, wasn’t it?

Season 3: “The Rains of Castamere”

Well, obviously.

Season 4: “The Laws of Gods and Men”

Take it away, Cogman: “I’ve been obsessed with courtroom dramas ever since I memorized practically every word and frame of Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution and I’ll be forever grateful to David & Dan for entrusting me with adapting this powerful segment of George’s book.”

Photo Credit: HBO
Photo Credit: HBO /

Season 4: “The Mountain and the Viper”

See above, re: obviously.

Season 4: “The Children”

This is a very eventful episode, but Cogman’s favorite scene is Arya leaving the Hound for dead on that hillside. “[I]f you want to see the most awkward talk show host ever check out the special feature on the season 4 Blu-ray where I attempt to channel Andy Cohen and interview all the actors killed off that season. I’m serious. That happened.” Will do.

Season 5: “Hardhome”

This is only season 5 episode on Cogman’s list. We all remember it for the spectacular action scene at the end, but Cogman also gives it credit for “a sensational two-hander between Sansa and Theon (two of my favorite characters to write played by two of my favorite actors in the world) and Dany’s famous ‘break the wheel’ speech.”

Season 6: “The Door”

Once again: duh.

Season 6: “Battle of the Bastards”

Cogman calls this landmark episode a “game-changer for our crew and production team.” Let’s hope they can top it in season 8.

Season 6: “The Winds of Winter”

Cogman calls this episode, which is my personal favorite from the series, “[a]nother tour de force from Miguel Sapochnik,” who may be the best director on the show’s roster. “[A]nd it’s far from his last,” Cogman adds. Sapochnik is directing two episodes of season 8, and my head is already buzzing with the promise of how terrific they could be.

Helen Sloan – HBO
Helen Sloan – HBO /

Season 7: “The Queen’s Justice”

I like what Cogman writes about this one so I’ll just quote the whole thing:

"Many of the best scenes in GoT are simply people talking in rooms. This episode has three blockbusters in that vein: Jon and Dany meeting for the first time in the Dragonstone throne room (my favorite of Deb Riley’s many spectacular sets), Cersei exacting brutal revenge on Ellaria in the black cells, and Lady Olenna (all hail, Dame Diana!) informing Jaime it was she who murdered Joffrey all those years ago… just before she succumbs to poison herself."

Season 7: “The Spoils of War”

As Cogman notes, the best thing about this episode is that “you don’t know who to root for” in the confrontation between Daenerys and Jaime.

Season 7: “The Dragon and the Wolf”

Gather does the cast, dead drops Littlefinger, and down comes the Wall.

What do you think of Cogman’s list? The only episode I really expected to see but didn’t was season 4’s “The Lion and the Rose,” where Joffrey drops dead at his own wedding feast, but it’s not like I can fault any of this.

Bring on season 8!

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