The Stark family is one of the most significant houses in the “Game of Thrones” world. They dutifully rule the North and are known for their bravery and loyalty. However, Season 1 of the show sees the Stark family ripped apart when Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy), the King of the Seven Kingdoms, asks his trusted friend Ned Stark (Sean Bean) to move to Kings Landing and become his Hand. Once Ned brings his family to King’s Landing, he becomes part of a deadly political game that results in his head being removed in the season finale. After that, the Starks go to war against the Lannister family, with most of the Stark children displaced or killed throughout the series.
Maisie Williams gives a breakout performance as Arya Stark, the younger daughter in the Stark family who quickly became a fan favorite. From the moment audiences are introduced to Arya, it’s clear that she’s a risk taker and destined for greatness, as she’s more interested in learning how to fight than anything else. Throughout the show, Arya achieves this goal, becoming one of the deadliest characters in “Game of Thrones.” Part of what makes her so formidable is that she’s trained by a number of lethal people throughout the story, from the Hound to the Faceless Men. Arya has some legendary moments throughout the series, many of which change the course of life in Westeros entirely. So, without further ado, let’s count down Arya’s most epic “Game of Thrones” moments.
11. Arya tricks Tywin Lannister
After Arya’s father is murdered right before her eyes, she must escape Kings Landing before she’s found by the Lannister family. Luckily, Arya has a few allies she can count on to help. It’s during this time that Arya decides to embark on a path of revenge, whispering the names of people responsible for her father’s death and vowing to kill them when she has the chance.
The beginning of Season 2 sees Arya on the run and pretending to be a boy in order to avoid detection. Unfortunately for her, she’s captured and taken to the castle stronghold of Harrenhal. There, Arya comes face to face with Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance), who immediately recognizes her as being a girl who’s more intelligent than the rest of the prisoners. He makes Arya his cupbearer, which allows her to learn more about him. And while it’s clear that Tywin knows Arya is hiding something, he’s never too worried or suspicious of her, as he gives her certain privileges above others.
This is a huge moment for Arya, as Tywin is considered to be one of the most intelligent and observant characters in “Game of Thrones.” Being able to trick him is no small feat. Plus, during her time as Tywin’s cupbearer, Arya works with the Faceless Man Jaqen H’ghar (Tom Wlaschiha) to assassinate people right under Tywin’s watchful eye. This is one of the first times that viewers get to see what Arya is truly capable of.
10. Arya kills Polliver
Right before Arya is taken to Harrenhal, the group she’s traveling with gets attacked and tortured by Polliver (Andy Kellegher) and his crew. They’re responsible for trapping Jaqen H’ghar by starting a fire near the cages he’s being kept in. Arya risks her life in order to free him but gets her sword, Needle, stolen by Polliver. This disrespect is enough for Arya to include his name on the list of people she wants to get revenge on. And two seasons later, she finds the opportunity.
During this time, Arya is traveling with the Hound (Rory McCann) — another person on her list. However, the two develop something of a bond during their travels together. Arya reminds him that he’s still on her list, and that one day she’ll enact her revenge, but he doesn’t seem too worried.
At one point, the Hound and Arya cross paths with Polliver and his crew at a tavern. She recalls the part he played in torturing her old group and stealing Needle. In the time since, it seems that Polliver has done well for himself, as he’s now dressed in the King’s colors. This doesn’t sit well with Arya, and she supports the Hound as he starts a fight with the men. She comes across a wounded Polliver and takes advantage of the situation, throwing the same words he once said to her back at him before slowly stabbing him with the very sword he once stole from her.
9. Arya outsmarts Jaqen H’ghar
When Polliver sets fire to the cages that Jaqen H’ghar is locked in, Arya comes to his rescue. Because of this, he claims to be in her debt. In order to repay her, he tells Arya that she can select three people for him to kill. This is during the time that Arya is working as a cupbearer for Tywin Lannister at Harrenhal. The first name she selects is the Tickler (Anthony Morris), who tortured the group she was traveling with. The second name she selects is out of necessity, as Ser Amory Lorch (Fintan McKeown) catches her stealing a letter from Lord Tywin. Luckily, Jaqen manages to kill him before Amory tells Tywin of Arya’s actions.
For her third name, Arya plans on selecting Tywin to prevent him from launching an assault on her brother Robb (Richard Madden). At the time, Robb is amassing an army to take revenge on the Lannisters for murdering their father. However, she misses her opportunity to do so and opts instead to have Jaqen help her escape Harrenhal. Initially, Jaqen refuses, as that was not their arrangement, but Arya uses her wit to trick him by picking the third name on her list as his own. She says that if he helps her escape, she’ll take it back. He’s impressed by her resolve and agrees to the terms. Once they escape, he offers to train her and gives her the coin that later takes her to Essos.
8. Arya lets go of her need for revenge on Cersei
In “Game of Thrones” Season 2, Arya decides to go down a path of revenge. This is something that drives her throughout “Game of Thrones,” until she’s finally ready to let go of her quest in the final season. And while audiences get to see Arya take out quite a few names on her list, the name that she harbors the most resentment for is Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey). So when she has the chance to enact her revenge in Season 8, she doesn’t hesitate to travel to King’s Landing. Unfortunately, Arya arrives just in time to experience the city being burned by Daenerys and Drogon. She manages to make it to the castle before she’s stopped by the Hound. He tells her that she doesn’t need to kill the Queen, and that she shouldn’t let vengeance consume her life.
This sentiment directly reflects what Arya is told by Yoren (Francis Magee) in Season 2 when she decides to make her list in the first place. Yoren says that he once let vengeance consume him, reciting the name of the man who killed his brother over and over every night. However, once he finally got his revenge, it cost him immensely. He urges Arya not to take that same path, but it’s not until Season 8 that she finally learns the lesson he was trying to teach. This is an epic moment of personal growth for Arya, especially in a show where many characters don’t have positive moments of change.
7. Arya kills Meryn Trant
Meryn Trant (Ian Beattie) is one of the most detestable characters in “Game of Thrones.” He’s likely responsible for the death of Arya’s sword-fighting teacher Syrio Forel (Miltos Yerolemou), and he’s repeatedly seen brutalizing Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) on the orders of King Joffrey (Jack Gleeson), her betrothed. Meryn is shown to be incredibly loyal to the Lannisters, but he’s particularly fond of Joffrey as they both seem to enjoy sadistic violence towards women.
In Season 5, Arya spots and immediately recognizes Meryn when he arrives in Braavos and attends a brothel. The next night, she infiltrates the establishment and disguises herself as one of the girls called to Meryn’s room. He begins brutally beating them, but when Arya makes no sound, he sends the others away. Once she recovers, she pulls her face off and reveals her true identity. Arya then stabs Meryn in the eye while telling him that her name is Arya Stark and that she’s doing this as revenge for him taking the life of her teacher. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN’s National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
6. Arya leaves the Hound to die
Arya and Sandor Clegane are an unexpected duo given that his name is on her list. While they end up getting to a good place in the final season, they experience some massive hiccups along the way.
In Season 4, Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) stumbles upon Arya and Sandor. Once she discovers that Arya is a Stark, Brienne tells Arya to come with her, promising to reunite her with her family. Unfortunately for her, the Hound isn’t having it, as he sees her carrying a sword with the Lannister crest. The two fight while Arya runs away to hide. Brienne wins the battle but is distraught to find that she’s lost Arya in the process. When she leaves to go looking for her, Arya returns to find Sandor on his last breath. He begs her to put him out of his misery by outlining all the terrible things that he’s done to her family. but instead of killing him like she always promised to do, she quietly steals his silver and watches as he slowly bleeds out before walking away and leaving him to die. Luckily, he doesn’t expire from his injuries, and the two reunite once more in Season 8.
5. Arya shows her skill while sparring with Brienne
Eventually, Arya Stark makes her way back home to Winterfell in “Game of Thrones” Season 7. Her reunion with her siblings Sansa, Jon (Kit Harrington), and Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) is a bit tense, as Arya has clearly changed a great deal over the years. She’s become a formidable fighter and strategist, which makes her bump heads with her siblings who think they have all the answers. Most people don’t seem to take Arya all that seriously, until she proves herself while sparring with Brienne.
Brienne is considered to be one of the greatest fighters in all of Westeros. So when Arya is able to easily hold her ground against her, people start to take notice. A fun callback that longtime viewers will enjoy is how Arya incorporates all of the fighting styles she’s learned from her various instructors. From the cold, calculated moves of the Faceless Men to the water-dancing style she learned from her Syrio Forel, this spar shows just how far Arya has come over the years — and that she’s not one to mess with.
4. Arya kills the Waif
Once Arya leaves the Hound, she travels to Braavos in order to train with the Faceless Men. After she saved Jaqen H’ghar and escaped Harrenhal with him, he told Arya that he would train her to become “Faceless,” just as he is. Initially, she turns him down, so he offers her a coin, saying that she could use it if she ever changed her mind. In Season 5, she cashes in.
The Faceless Men instruct Arya to throw her identity away, stating that to be Faceless is to be no one. During her time with them, she learns how to masterfully lie in a cold and calculated way. However, she still has ties to her old life and is unable to let go of the vengeance that consumes her. Arya is given a final chance to prove her skill as an assassin, but she realizes that she can’t kill people without a cause. Therefore, the Faceless send one of her teachers after her — the Waif (Faye Marsay). The Waif is a skilled Faceless warrior who’s been waiting to kill Arya since day one. The two have an epic fight, but Arya comes out on top because she’s just that good. Before leaving to return home, Arya confronts Jaqen to tell him that she’ll never be no one — that she’s Arya Stark of Winterfell. Mic drop.
3. Arya cuts Littlefinger’s throat
After leaving the Faceless, Arya Stark returns home to Winterfell. And much like she has changed, so have her siblings. For starters, she finds that Petyr Baelish, AKA Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), has grown close with her sister Sansa, and that Sansa is wary of the deadly warrior that Arya has become. Similarly, Arya worries that Sansa is too soft on her subjects. However, her biggest concern is Littlefinger, as she knows that he’s manipulative and power-hungry. Arya decides to follow him in order to see what he’s up to. However, Littlefinger is on to her, and he works to drive a wedge between the two sisters by manipulating them both.
Luckily, the sisters discover the truth and decide to work together to hold Littlefinger accountable for all his actions throughout the series — including betraying their father to the Lannisters. Once Littlefinger discovers this, he begins to beg for his life. However, Arya quickly silences him by slitting his throat in the throne room before he can utter any more pleas. It seems that he messed with the wrong Stark kids.
What’s ironic is that he dies in the same way that Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) does during the Red Wedding. Littlefinger always loved Catelyn and was jealous when she married and fell in love with Ned Stark, making things even creepier when he began to develop feelings for her daughter Sansa. Suffice it to say, we’re happy Arya finally killed him.
2. Arya murders Walder Frey and his sons
On Arya’s journey back home to Winterfell, she makes a pit stop at the Twins, the castle of House Frey that’s also known as the Crossing. Walder Frey (David Bradley) and his men are on Arya’s list, as they’re responsible for the death of her brother Robb and mother Catelyn during the Red Wedding.
Arya sneaks into the castle wearing the face of a servant girl. She kills two of Walder’s sons and bakes their body parts into a pie. She then proceeds to serve that pie to their father and watches as he eats it. After he has his meal, she reveals who she is and slits his throat in true Arya fashion. And as if that weren’t brutal enough, Arya later steals Walder’s face and poses as him to the rest of his family. She poisons the wine and watches as the men all perish from it. But to prove that she’s not completely heartless like the Faceless Men wanted her to be, she stops the women from drinking the wine, believing them to be innocent.
1. Arya kills the Night King
The “Game of Thrones” Season 8 episode “The Long Night” is a divisive one among fans. On the one hand, it’s an epic battle with most of the show’s main characters fighting against the White Walkers, which the series had been building up to since Season 1. On the other, the episode feels rushed and is incredibly dark. And while Season 8 was a general letdown for fans, we do get at least one epic moment thanks to Arya.
The Night King brings his zombies and ice dragon with him to attack Winterfell. While Jon and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) were thought to be the heroes, it’s really Arya who saves the day by killing the Night King, resulting in all his followers dying immediately after. This is something that Arya was apparently destined to do, as her brother Bran provided her with the only dagger that could kill the Night King. Melisandre (Carice van Houten) also tells Arya that she’s destined to shut the eyes forever of someone with blue eyes. Equipped with that knowledge, Arya goes to battle the blue-eyed king, and just when it looks like she’s about to lose, she plunges the dagger into his heart and saves everyone.