Most uncomfortable Game of Thrones scenes ever

Game of Thrones has treated fans to plenty of pulse-pounding action, well-written dialogue, and crafty royal intrigue—as well as more than a few scenes that forced viewers to watch between splayed fingers. In honor of the show's unique ability to put its characters through the wringer while viewers just can't look away, we're taking a look back at all the most squirm-worthy moments in Game of Thrones history. Whether the characters were tugging on our heartstrings, our gag reflexes, or our sense of morals and decency, these are the scenes that were almost too much to bear.

The sacrifice of Shireen

When Shireen Baratheon told her father Stannis she wanted to help him, she really should have asked him how, because his idea of "help" was to let Melisandre light her on fire. Grabbed by Stannis' guards, Shireen's confusion quickly turned to terror—and then the screaming started. It got so bad that Shireen's mother Selyse, who'd been pleading for this very thing to happen, lost her faith and tried to break through the crowd to stop it.   

It was a horrible moment made even worse because it had been teased for so long, with Selyse and Melisandre insisting repeatedly it was the only way to go; though Stannis initially refused, viewers could see his willpower going down with his prospects. And when it came down to the choice of giving up the siege of Winterfell—and his ambitions of being king—or his daughter, he played his last card. And it still didn't save him or his family in the end.

Perhaps the most troubling part of the scene is that child sacrifice is still very much a modern problem in certain parts of the world. The only thing worse than seeing Shireen burn is knowing that there are more suffering the same fate, for reasons just as futile and foolish.

Ramsay and the sausage

It's good to know that Ramsay Bolton/Snow won't be coming back for season 7, because the biggest joy of the previous season was seeing him become dog food after the Starks regained Winterfell. It's fair to say that the prayers for his death started when he chopped Theon's….little Greyjoy off, and sent it to his dad.

Showing a true sense of empathy, Ramsay was later shown chowing down on a pork sausage and making small talk. Of course, Theon could only stare in horror, which prompted Ramsay to mockingly act like Theon was accusing him of cannibalism and quip, "You think I'm some sort of savage?"

Considering that his next move was to torture Theon into becoming his slave with a synonym for awful smell as a name, yeah, Ramsay, it's pretty hard not to say that cavemen look like paragons of class and decency compared to you.

The church rape scene

Viewers were creeped out by the Lannister twins, Cersei and Jaime, from the first episode—due in no small part to the fact that they were also lovers, and Jaime had secretly sired Cersei's royal heirs Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen. And when Jaime seemingly raped Cersei within spitting distance of Joffrey's corpse, the whole relationship turned into a hurricane of emotional horror. We hear Cersei saying it's not right, and Jaime growling that he doesn't care. End scene.

It sparked a lot of outcry, especially because it was radically changed from the book, where there at least was a degree of consent on Cersei's part. Author George R.R. Martin argued that it's still a grey issue there, but still. Alex Graves, the director of the episode, was asked why in the world this went through, and he offered a labored explanation that wasn't entirely comforting—or even arguably logical.

Robin Arryn and his mommy issues

Even as early as the middle of the first season, the Arryns already needed something special to make them stand out among the power-mad dysfunctional families of Westeros—something they achieved through the creepy mommy-son dynamic between Lysa and Robin, who'd alternate between hungrily sucking milk from her breast and asking if he'd get to see somebody thrown to their death.

The scene was jarring, though it must be said that breastfeeding on its own was not the issue. What did wig people out was the fact that Robin Arryn was somewhere in the neighborhood of six to eight years old at the time in the series—an age that most mothers will tell you is way too old to still be breastfeeding (although there are exceptions to every rule). Being a sadistic creep may have been less shocking in comparison, because at least then he was acting like a grownup.

Oberyn's Death

To say Game of Thrones fans are jaded over death, mutilation, and blood is probably an understatement. So the show writers jacked the gore needle fully into the red when it came time for Oberyn Martell, prince of Dorne, to meet his maker.

Oberyn had seemingly pulled off the upset of a lifetime by defeating his mortal enemy Gregor Clegane in a death match, but before he killed him, he wanted a confession that Clegane murdered his sister and her children on Tywin Lannister's orders. Unfortunately, Oberyn forgot the dictum that wounded animals are the most dangerous, wandered within arm's reach of the Mountain, and was grabbed by the leg and knocked down. Then Gregor gave Oberyn the confession he wanted (though he didn't finger Tywin) and jammed his fingers into Oberyn's eyes, pulping his head like an orange. As you can imagine, public reaction to this was…..surprised, to say the least.

Melisandre's blood magic

After he managed to evade the Lannisters and escape to Storm's End, Gendry—blacksmith and illegitimate son of the late King Robert Baratheon—had every reason to believe things were going his way when he made it to his uncle Stannis' castle at Storm's End thanks to the red witch Melisandre. When she invited him to the bedroom, it looked like Gendry was about to have the most exciting night of his life.

And then the leeches came out. First, she dropped a couple on his chest to collect the blood of a king. Then, whether for fun or for full effect, she sent the next one down his pants. And just as she finished up, Stannis and Davos Seaworth come in, adding the embarrassment of public nudity to Gendry's list of woes. 

It turns out that Melisandre needed Gendry's blood to invoke a dark ritual that would let Stannis kill his rivals to the crown. Whether where the blood came from really mattered is anybody's guess, but it can be assumed Gendry won't be letting anyone leech him at all in the future.

Sansa and Ramsay's wedding

While Sansa's first wedding to Tyrion Lannister was an undoubtedly awkward affair, her second wedding to Ramsay Bolton in season 5, episode 6 was in a league of its own. Effectively sold off to the Boltons by Littlefinger, Sansa found herself facing an impossible situation: marry into the family that helped the Lannisters destroy hers, or die for no purpose. For that matter, even if she went along with the marriage, dying was still a distinct possibility. While the wedding itself was cringe-inducing enough, what came afterwards was positively horrible to watch.

Up in Sansa's chamber, Ramsay starts to question her about her virginity, and then things take a sinister turn when he directs her to remove her clothes. When Theon turns to leave, Ramsay stops him. "You've known Sansa since she was a girl," Ramsay says. "Now watch her become a woman." Theon (and the viewing audience) can only look on in horror as Ramsay rips open Sansa's dress and rapes her. And just when we thought we (and Sansa) had gotten past that bad memory, Bran brings it up again in season seven, when he tells Sansa she "looked beautiful" that night. *shudders*

Jorah's surgery

In search of a cure for his extremely advanced case of greyscale, Jorah Mormont has ended up at the Citadel in Oldtown in season seven. There, Archmaester Ebrose basically tells him that there's nothing to be done, and his best bet is to put his affairs in order before falling on his own sword. Luckily for Jorah, the stubborn Samwell Tarly is bound and determined that the son of Lord Commander Jeor Mormont isn't going to die on his watch. Late at night, Sam enters Jorah's room with a cart full of ointments and pointy implements. Naturally, viewers might be excited by this: if anyone can cure Jorah, it'll be Sam.

That excitement turns to shock and horror as Sam digs in (literally), using a knife to slice away the top layer of Jorah's skin. The operation is positively disgusting, marked by sawing and squelching noises as pus oozes from Jorah's wounds. If that wasn't bad enough, the showrunners troll us all by transitioning out of the scene into a gag-inducing shot of a man tucking into a hot meat and cheese pie.

Sam's training montage

Samwell Tarly finally arrived at Oldtown in season six to start his education at the Citadel—with the goal of becoming the next Maester for Castle Black. In season seven, we check in on him to see what he's been up to and what new things he's learned. Sam even gets his own training montage, but let's be perfectly clear—this is not an inspirational "Rocky" moment. If you have a sensitive stomach, prepare to have it turned as a series of quick cuts shows us what life is really like at the Citadel for a trainee.

Sam shelves books, pushes carts, collects disgustingly full bedpans, empties and scrubs those bedpans, and dishes out bowls of brown stew to the Maesters. As the cycle continues, the bedpans, bowls, stew, and sewage all become practically indistinguishable, leaving us wondering how any of the acolytes at the Citadel ever put up with it long enough to become a Maester.  

Grey Worm's biggest fear

This show-only romance has been building ever since season four, but fans of Missandei and Grey Worm got a little more than they expected when the pair had an intense farewell in season seven. On the eve of Grey Worm's journey to Casterly Rock, Missandei comes to say goodbye, and the scene starts out awkwardly when he tells Missandei that she is his weakness. Just when Missandei looks ready to walk out on him, he explains himself in a touching story about how he never used to be afraid of anything, but now he is: of never seeing her again.

After just the perfect amount of hesitation, the two embrace and kiss passionately—which would have been the perfect place to end the scene. But this being HBO, the showrunners don't stop there. Missandei pulls the "instant nudity" ripcord on her dress, and she starts to undress a protesting Grey Worm—he doesn't want her to see him, and we're pretty sure we don't want to, either. Thankfully, they don't actually show us what it looks like to be cut "root and stem" as the pair tumble into bed.

The Field of Fire

In what is probably the most jaw-dropping battle scene of the entire series to that point, Daenerys takes to the sky with Drogon in season seven, leading her Dothraki into battle when they face off against Jaime Lannister's army near King's Landing. While we got a taste of what her dragons could do in the Battle of Meereen, seeing her roast scores of Lannister soldiers and wagons in moments is on another level. The reason this scene is so uncomfortable to watch is because of the parties involved: two fan-favorite characters—three, if you include Bronn—facing off in what is the ultimate "Sophie's choice" for viewers.

How do you root for Bronn and Jaime, when their success will mean the death of Daenerys and/or her dragon? How do you cheer for Daenerys, when her victory will mean the death of the one person with the best character development arc in the entire series? As Tyrion watches from nearby as his family's army is literally burned to ash on the wind by the woman he's chosen to serve, the rollercoaster of emotions is obvious on his face. In this case, Tyrion is all of us.

Theon executes Ser Rodrik

In season two, Theon took a small force of Ironborn and captured Winterfell while Robb was away in the south with his army. He found the castle lightly garrisoned, but Theon's inexperience would soon prove that he bit off much more than he could chew. Theon attempts to intimidate the people of Winterfell with a speech about serving him, but he's interrupted by the arrival of Ser Rodrik Cassel. Winterfell's master-at-arms was captured by some of Theon's soldiers, but Rodrik isn't going to besmirch his own honor by groveling to a traitor like Theon. Theon starts to argue with him, and Rodrik spits in his face.

One of Theon's lieutenants tells him Rodrik must pay the iron price for his insult, so Theon reluctantly agrees to execute him. But Theon is no Ned Stark, and his sword is no Ice. In gory contrast to the many other relatively quick and clean executions we've seen on the show, Theon botches this one badly. He misses Rodrik's neck with the first blow, catching him in the shoulders. In all, it takes four hacking strokes and a kick to separate the old castellan's head from his body.

Hodor's origin story

In the season six episode "The Door," Bran makes a terrible mistake when he goes wandering in the green dreams without the aid and guidance of his master, the Three-Eyed Raven, resulting in perhaps the saddest scene in the entire series. Bran finds himself surrounded by the Night King's army, and wakes up in shock when the Night King reaches out and grabs him by the arm. The mark left by the White Walker has broken the protective enchantments on their cave, and before long the army of the dead is upon them. Bran is taken back into a final vision by the Three-Eyed Raven: one of Winterfell years ago, when Hodor—then known as Wyllis—was just a boy.

In the real world, Bran's mistake has started to take its toll. Viewers have no choice but to watch in horror as his direwolf Summer is killed, followed by the Three-Eyed Raven himself. Spurred by Meera's cries for help, Bran is forced to take control of Hodor's mind—through the younger version of him in his dream. As they flee from the wights, the last of the Children of the Forest sacrifices herself to give them more time. Outside the cave, Hodor closes the door and holds it against the onslaught of undead, while Bran and Meera make their escape. Like Bran, we're shocked and transfixed by the sight of Wyllis, shaking uncontrollably on the ground, shouting, "Hold the door!" over and over—while Hodor is attacked and killed by the wights in the real world.

The Red Wedding

If you're a fan of the novels, you knew it was coming, but that doesn't make watching the Red Wedding scene from season three, episode nine any easier. Robb and his army are gathered at the Twins to celebrate the wedding of Edmure Tully to Roslin Frey—the girl that Robb was supposed to marry. Instead, Robb is there with his wife Talisa, who has just revealed the happy news to him that she's pregnant with his heir. Catelyn Stark gives the pair a rare smile, which quickly fades when the musicians start to play "The Rains of Castamere"—a decidedly odd song choice for what should be a happy occasion.

Old Walder Frey stands to give a toast, and that's when things start to go downhill fast. Catelyn discovers Roose Bolton is wearing chainmail under his armor, but her warning to Robb comes too late—all hell breaks loose as the Freys mercilessly attack the Stark wedding party. Talisa is brutally stabbed, Robb and Catelyn are hit by crossbow bolts, and Robb is eventually stabbed in the heart by Roose himself. Catelyn manages to take out Walder's young wife, but it's a hollow victory as she watches her son die before her eyes—followed swiftly by her own death. It's a horrifying scene, but there's no escape for the Starks or for viewers at home. Our only consolation is that Arya survived and was able to come back five seasons later to exact her revenge.