Game of Thrones winners:
Daenerys Targaryen: Raised an army, found love
Season 3 ended with Daenerys crowd surfing a multi-cultural army as they chanted the word Mhysa - meaning mother. It marked another step toward her becoming a true contender for the Iron Throne.
Daenerys' first action in Game of Thrones was getting pawned off by her brother to a Dothraki Khal in exchange for an army. Now her brother is dead, his face encased in a crown of boiling gold, and Daenerys has built an army of her own through cunning, bravery and a good amount of ruthlessness. Mhysa was a clue as to how she will lead it: Not through fear like Tywin Lannister, but by inspiring love and loyalty in her followers.
Inspiring so much love can have it downsides though. Her oldest ally Jorah Mormont is bristling at the mutual attraction between his queen and the sellsword Daario Naharis.
Best moment: Conning the evil slavers of Astapor into giving her a eunuch Unsullied army and then loosing her dragons on them as repayment.
Tywin Lannister: Ended a war, conquered Westeros, intimidated everyone
Charles Dance was born to play Tywin Lannister. The English acting veteran steals every scene as the Lannister patriarch, including those with his son Tyrion (Peter Dinklage).
Season 3 saw Tywin single-handedly winning the Seven Kingdoms for the Lannisters. In his final masterstroke, Tywin manipulated Walder Frey and the cunning Roose Bolton into murdering Robb Stark, his mother Catelyn and their northern army at the Red Wedding.
However, he may have won a Red Wedding and lost a war. Tywin is ruthless with military threats but prone to underestimating those he thinks are lesser beings. He is ignoring the growing dragons across the Narrow Sea. Closer to home, he cannot look past Tyrion's dwarfism to see the only Lannister who is truly a match for him.
Best moment: Sending Joffrey to bed for misbehaving at a meeting. The evil little Lannister could only muster a half-hearted shout of 'I am the king'.
Sam Tarly: Killed a zombie, fell in love with a wildling
Sam spent much of the season wandering around with his wilding love interest Gilly in search of a 700-foot wall of ice. Then a single moment of heroism put him down in Game of Thrones history.
When one of the White Walkers came for Gilly's baby in the dead of night, Sam lashed out in desperation with some dragonglass he'd found buried under the snow at the Fist of the First Men. The glass unexpectedly melted the Walker, meaning Sam may have found a way to save Westeros from the coming zombie apocalypse.
Sam ended up getting Gilly and her baby back safely to Castle Black. He's now in the service of Maester Aemon and charged with sharing the bad news about what's brewing north of the wall with the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. Will anyone listen?
Best moment: Being told Gilly's son will be called Sam.
Bran Stark: Learned he can control animals with his mind
Bran Stark also spent much of the season wandering, his story building to a single moment of action. He learned he can control the minds of humans and animals while stranded in a tower surrounded by wildlings. It was a timely discovery, as he promptly entered the minds of two direwolves and helped save Jon Snow from execution. Bran's going north of the wall where his story will hopefully get a bit more interesting.
Best moment: Going into Hodor's brain to stop him Hodoring.
Joffrey Baratheon: Fell for one woman, killed another
Joffrey found something like love with his fiance Margaery Tyrell. He's still on track to rule the Seven Kingdoms. And thanks to Petyr 'Littlefinger' Baelish, he got to kill one of the show's best characters - the prostitute Ros. Joffrey loves killing things with his crossbow.
However, the detestable boy-king has troubles too. He's justifiably terrified of his grandfather Tywin and may have lost the 'Most Evil Man in Westeros' title to Roose Bolton's bastard son Ramsay, who spent the entire season gruesomely torturing Theon.
Best moment: Standing before a jubilant crowd on the balcony of the Red Keep. Admittedly, they were mainly cheering for Margaery.
Stannis Baratheon: Dithered over Davos
Stannis spent most of his time licking his wounds at his castle in Dragonstone, dithering over whether to imprison, promote or execute his only friend and most loyal servant Davos. In the end, Davos won a victory for good by saving Robert Baratheon's bastard son Gendry from the fires of the kingsbloodthirsty red priestess Melisandre and persuading Stannis to look into addressing that White Walker problem.
Best moment: Deciding not to execute Davos.
Theon: Lost his freedom, his manhood and his name.
Theon was first seen tied to a crucifix with a hood over his head and things didn't get better from there. The prince of the Iron Islands went on to have his foot drilled, his fingers flayed and, in one of the season's most cringe-inducing scenes, his penis cut off. His one moment of hope was a brief escape attempt that turned out to be a cruel trick.
It wasn't until episode 10 that Theon's torturer was revealed to be Ramsay Snow, the bastard of Bolton. Ramsay's last cruelty was destroying Theon's identity, hitting the once-proud prince until he shouted: "My name is Reek".
Worst moment: Any time you get gelded, that's your worst moment.
Jon Snow: Fell in love, got shot several times by his lover
Jon Snow abandoned the sacred Night's Watch chastity vow to be with the feisty wildling woman Ygritte in the snowy hills north of the Wall. So why did it all end with Ygritte shooting him with three arrows as he tried to get away on horseback?
It turned out Jon (Kit Harrington) could never fully honour the great ranger Qhorin Halfhand's dying wish for him to do all the wildlings asked of him. He balked at having to execute an elderly horse breeder and was forced to run away from his red-headed lover without a goodbye.
When she caught up with him, the emotional reunion turned violent. Those arrows were Ygritte's way of saying love doesn't conquer all. She will always be a wildling, and Jon will always be a brother of the Night's Watch.
Worst moment: Riding away from Ygritte for the last time.
Jaime Lannister: Lost his hand, had to start again
Even though it only took his right hand, one strike of a cleaver killed Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). His entire identity was tangled up in that sword hand. When it was cut off, he stopped being the arrogant, uncaring warrior who pushed Bran Stark from a tower window. Being powerless and afflicted meant Jaime started developing empathy for those caught in the same position. Losing his hand might have started Jaime on a path to redemption.
Worst moment: When that cleaver came down.
Tyrion Lannister: Forced into an awkward and unhappy marriage
Tyrion spent most of his time getting drunk, berating Joffrey and being berated by his father. It was a far cry from last season, when the quick-witted dwarf had most of King's Landing bending to his will. Making matters worse, Tywin forced him to marry Sansa Stark in an effort to secure the North. The situation is awkward for a number of reasons. First, Tyrion's family is responsible for the death of his wife's father, mother and brother. Tyrion is also still in love with Sansa's maidservant, the former prostitute Shae.
On the plus side, his relationship with sister Cersei is much improved. She is also facing an unhappy forced marriage with Loras Tyrell, who was once in a gay relationship with her former husband's brother.
Worst moment: Being told his father wanted to drown him when he was a baby.
Arya Stark: Became an orphan
First Arya was captured by a band of outlaws. She saw their leader sliced almost in two and brought back to life. Her best friend was sold to a witch. Then she was captured by the maimed warrior known as The Hound. He took her to a castle, where she saw her dead brother being carried around with his wolf's head stitched to his neck.
No wonder Arya eventually went a little crazy and repeatedly stabbed one of Walder Frey's soldiers. Maybe soon she will start working her way through that kill list she recites before she goes to sleep each night. King Joffrey, Queen Cersei, Ser Ilyn, The Hound...
Worst moment: Seeing her beheaded brother stitched to a dead direwolf.
Robb Stark: Watched his pregnant wife die before being stabbed through the heart
Enough has been said about the Red Wedding. It was one of the most shocking TV scenes ever. Major characters were killed suddenly and violently. There was no heroism in their deaths or hope rising from their ashes. The Red Wedding affirmed once and for all that life in Westeros is not fair, and Game of Thrones is not going to follow normal TV show rules.
Robb (Richard Madden) watched as his pregnant wife Talisa was stabbed in the belly. He crawled to her side. When he saw she was dead, he gave up. He stood, looked at Catelyn, said "mother" and was stabbed in the heart by Roose Bolton. So ended the rebellion of the King of the North.
Worst moment: Seeing Talisa die.
Catelyn Stark Lost her family
Catelyn's end was even more gut-wrenching than her son's. She had already lost her husband. As far as she knew, her mission to get her daughters out of captivity had failed and her two youngest sons were missing, presumed dead. Robb was all she had left. So when she saw him die, she lost all hope. It was almost a mercy when her throat was cut.
The scene was played perfectly by British actress Michelle Fairley. Her anguished scream of grief at seeing Robb die and exhausted ambivalence at her own end will be etched in millions of minds for good.
Worst moment: Seeing Robb killed.
Scenes from the Red Wedding: