While Game of Thrones was known for its collection of shocking deaths jam-packed into episodes, Sunday night's series finale had one major death, and it was a big one. A week after going mad during her sack of King's Landing, Daenerys Targaryen was killed before she could finally sit on the Iron Throne.
The finale picked up right after the shocking and controversial events of last week's "The Bells." In that episode, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) successfully swept into King's Landing on the back of Drogon, with the Unsullied and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) on the ground. While the invasion was successful, Daenerys had a chance to capture Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) as her forces chose to surrender. Then, the bells rang, signaling there was no need to keep the violence going.
However, Daenerys, already feeling burned by Jon's decision to tell his Stark siblings that he has a real claim to the Iron Throne, suddenly changed her nature and began attacking innocents. King's Landing was left in rubble, while Jon could only watch as the woman he kneeled before suddenly became unfit to rule.
In the finale, Jon and Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) began to understand the cost of Daenerys' actions. Jon saw Grey Worm and the Unsullied poised to kill the trapped Lannister soldiers and tried to stop them, but they refused based on the Queen's orders. Dany later told Tyrion he committed treason because he freed his brother.
"I freed my brother... and you slaughtered a city," Tyrion said as he ripped off his hand pin. Dany put him in prison.
Jon later met Tyrion in prison, where he tried his best to convince Jon to turn on Dany. Tyrion also pointed out that Dany will continue fighting, and there will never be an end to the war. He insisted Dany must be killed, but Jon appeared to remain steadfast. It was not until Tyrion reminded Jon that his sisters will be in danger, especially Sansa (Sophie Turner), who is not likely to bend the knee.
After thinking things over, Jon decided to go to Dany himself in the throne room, where he told her about Grey Worm killing the Lannister soldiers. Dany insisted it was something that needed to be done for the people. Jon lets her get her guard down, telling her he understood. Then, came his shocking move. He stabbed Dany with a dagger, killing her as they kissed. Jon cried with Dany in his arms, as blood ran down her face.
Drogon then swept into the throne room, burning the Iron Throne with fire. The dragon picked up Dany's body and flew away from King's Landing.
Dany had been a beloved character on Game of Thrones since the beginning. The role earned Emilia Clarke three Emmy nominations and made her an international star, leading to roles in the blockbusters Solo: A Star Wars Story and Terminator Genysis.
Dany's turn towards evil in "The Bells" proved so controversial that it inspired fans to create a petition calling for HBO to film a new final season of Game of Thrones. While there was some foreshadowing throughout the series that Dany might forget about her desires to help free people, the turn felt sudden as we saw her kill innocent people in King's Landing.
Even Clarke told Vanity Fair last year she was deeply effected by Dany's final moments.
"It f– me up," she said at the time. "Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone's mouth of what Daenerys is..."
Clarke will next be seen in Paul Feig's Last Christmas, which opens on Nov. 8.
Photo credit: HBO