As much as Game of Thrones leans on effects-heavy battle sequences and brutal bits of unexpected death, the show’s secret weapon has always been its sharp tongue.
From the earliest moments of the very first season, Game of Thrones made a case for itself not by thrusting viewers into dragon fire and gory war (although the very first scene does involve frozen zombie creatures …), but by having its whip-smart characters exchange equally smart words with one another. Whether it’s something snappy like “Winter is coming,” or “You win or you die,” or a throwaway line from a spoiled little brat (“Make the bad man fly!”), Thrones has always been as quotable as it is action-packed.
Season seven was no exception, of course, even as the most action-packed year of the show to date. With the season fully in the books at this point, here are 15 of the best quotes from the latest year in Game of Thrones.
It doesn’t matter that we’ve heard this High Valyrian word for “fire ze missiles” before. (And yes, that’s an exact translation.) All that matters is that we heard it for the first time on Westerosi soil, as Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) commanded Drogon to unleash his fury on the Lannister army, a moment that solidified “The Spoils of War” as season seven’s very best episode.
14. “What does ‘annulment’ mean?”
Gilly (Hannah Murray) casually revealing the truth about Jon Snow (Kit Harington) being a secret Targaryen stands out as one of the most simultaneously frustrating and amusing moments in recent Thrones memory, and deserves a spot on this list for the sheer ridiculousness of dropping such pivotal information in the most relaxed fashion possible.
13. “When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything.”
The King in the North’s reasoning for why he refused to lie about bending the knee holds special resonance in 2017’s political landscape, a powerful message that should be emblazoned on many a banner. With that said, it doesn’t make up for the fact that in the context of his situation, Jon’s false promise would have gone a longway.
12. “Dragons are where our partnership ends.”
Bronn of the Blackwater (Jerome Flynn) enjoyed a few standout moments this season, especially in the moment and aftermath of the fiery Loot Train Battle. After pulling Jaime from the lake, he all but offers up his resignation, describing the Drogon situation in a way that’s so perfectly Bronn.
11. “We fight and die, or we submit and die. I know my choice.”
All season long, Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) proved time and time again why she should not be crossed or underestimated. Even in the face of overwhelming defeat, the Queen of King’s Landing refused to back down from her war against Daenerys, summarizing her current place in the story with a tense line that echoes one of her most famous bits of dialogue: “You win or you die.”
10. “I have to die in this strange country. Just like you.”
Even though it was a relatively quiet season for Melisandre (Carice van Houten), the Red Priestess of Asshai made a heck of an impact when she offered this ominous omen to Varys (Conleth Hill). Should we start writing our obituaries for both characters now? Probably a wise move, if not one we’re exactly eager about.
9. “Chaos is a ladder.”
Normally, these words belong to Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), but in the context of season seven, they belong to Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead-Wright), whose chilly Three-Eyed Raven mannerisms turned this famous phrase into one of the most unsettling lines of season seven.
8. “This is Jon Snow. He’s the King in the North.”
The entire first scene between Jon Snow and Daenerys Taragyren is so good, viewers could rank all of the best moments from their initial interactions all on their own. (In fact, we did!) But it’s Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) who gets the single best line read of the scene, when he introduces Jon in the simplest manner possible, following Dany’s epic introduction.
7. “You’re the one they call the Dog!”
There are few lines in Game of Thrones that have elicited a louder laugh than this one, when Tormund Giantsbane (Kristofer Hivju) meets the Hound (Rory McCann) for the first time. Granted, it might not have landed quite as hard with everyone else, but for personal preferences alone, this one killed me.
6. “He really was a cunt, wasn’t he?”
The Queen of Thorns (Diana Rigg) did not go quietly into that good night. Before she died, Lady Olenna made sure to spit all over the grave of the wicked Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson), not only confessing to murdering the boy king, but also insulting the kid’s limited creativity right in front of his still-grieving father. A great exit for a great character.
5. “You know who’s coming for you. You’ve always known.”
Hype for the Cleganebowl has officially never been higher, as the Hound and his undead brother met again for the first time in seasons at the top of “The Dragon and the Wolf.” If anyone doubted that the brothers Clegane would meet again on the battlefield at some point down the line, the Hound’s ice-cold words to his towering sibling should very much clear things up indeed.
4. “Fight every battle, everywhere, always, in your mind.”
They weren’t his final words, but they were certainly among his best words: Littlefinger perfectly articulating the lonely life philosophy that guides his every move, effectively laying out the playbook for his eventual death at the hands of Sansa (Sophie Turner) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams).
3. “Death is the enemy. The first enemy, and the last.”
The Lightning Lord Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) certainly knows a thing or two about this great enemy, and he imparts his lifetimes (and death-times) of wisdom upon Jon Snow in this quietly wonderful scene from “Beyond the Wall.” Bonus points for the fact that Dormer’s Dondarrion voice is quite possibly the single greatest voice currently active on Game of Thrones, which is a heck of a feat, and also a great idea for an off-season ranking. Someone remind me to get on that in a month or two.
2. “Tell them the North remembers. Tell them winter came for House Frey.”
Many fans would argue that the first scene from season seven, in which Arya avenges the Red Wedding by wiping out the Freys, is one of the single most satisfying scenes in Game of Thrones history, and it’s punctuated with one heck of a closing line.
1. “The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives.”
Sansa uttered these words in the promos for season seven. Who knew they would end up being some of the final words of the season, not to mention the most powerful words of the season? It primes fans for what we can expect when Game of Thrones returns for its final run: death and destruction for several individuals, of course, but hope and survival for those who stick together and make it through. That’s a ray of sunshine we can hold on to until winter arrives one last time in season eight.