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The Oberyn Martell Scene In Game Of Thrones That Went Too Far

There's no doubt that "Game of Thrones" is one of the most popular TV shows of the 21st century so far. According to Forbes, 13.6 million people tuned in to watch the series finale live, breaking HBO's record set by "The Sopranos." Over the show's eight seasons, "Game of Thrones" generated $2.2 billion in profits for the premium cable network (via Decider).

There's also no denying that "Game of Thrones" sometimes took things too far. Early in the show's run, critics coined the term "sexposition" to describe "Game of Thrones'" tendency to throw in unnecessary sex and nudity. While the show did appear to listen to that complaint and tone down the sexposition in later seasons, there were still plenty of moments that viewers found problematic, like the moment when Jaime sexually assaults his sister Cersei next to their son Joffrey's body.

One of the most controversial "Game of Thrones" moments involved Oberyn Martell (played by Pedro Pascal). Oberyn was a popular character who joined the cast of "Game of Thrones" during Season 4. Yes, he was another rich noble embroiled in the Game of Thrones, but he was also charismatic, loyal, and possibly even a decent human being. That's why this moment was so hard to watch.

Yep, it's THAT scene

When Oberyn Martell arrives in King's Landing at the beginning of Season 4, it seems like they've come to try to raise their influence at court. As a representative of Dorne, Oberyn is appointed to King Tommen's small council and gets involved in Westerosi politics.

But in the episode "The Mountain and the Viper," Oberyn's true purpose becomes clear: he wants to avenge his sister Elia. During Robert's Rebellion, Gregor Clegane, a.k.a. "The Mountain," (played by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson) brutally assaulted and murdered Elia, then-wife to King Rhaegar. At the end of the episode, Oberyn finally challenges the Mountain to one-on-one combat. Oberyn gets the upper hand, but before delivering the coup de grace, he monologues about revenge. That allows the Mountain to overpower and kill him, crushing his head with his bare hands.

On one level, Oberyn's death was just hard to stomach, for obvious reasons. But it was also tough because Oberyn was so easy to root for. At this point in the series, the show's villains, the Lannister family, had completely outplayed the much more likable Starks and Baratheons in the struggle over the Iron Throne. The Lannisters were long overdue for a comeuppance, and since the Mountain is their champion, seeing him cut down would have been satisfying.

Then there's the way Oberyn dies. Yes, it's gratuitous and shocking, but it's also the exact same way the Mountain murdered Elia, adding insult to injury. Oberyn's death was a major downer that was difficult to get over for some fans. In any story, a great hero needs a great villain. But on "Game of Thrones," sometimes the villains were a little too great.