Game of Thrones: The Best of 2016


It’s that time of winter again, when television critics start charging toward the end of the year with their “Best of 2016” lists in hand. And as usual, Game of Thrones has made the cut on quite a few. So let’s have a look, shall we?

Leading the celebratory love for Game of Thrones this year is the American Film Institute, naming the show to AFI’s prestigious list of TV Programs of the Year for 2016. The AFI’s other choices include The Americans, Atlanta, Better Call Saul, The Crown, The Night Of, The People V. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, Stranger Things, This Is Us, and Veep.

Game of Thrones is sitting pretty at number one on TVLine‘s list of 10 Best Dramas of 2016. Of season 6, TVLine says, “Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss continue to shift the key players of Westeros around like chess pieces, but it’s the women who made the boldest moves this year.”

The Guardian has a ginormous list every year of their 50 favorites, and this year the “Still unmissable” Game of Thrones lands in the number twenty-one spot. The Guardian notes that “many of the sedentary subplots burst into life,” in the sixth season, “and the Battle of the Bastards bloodbath became a record-breaking hour of TV.”

Newsweek picks GoT as one of “Our Favorite TV Shows of 2016,”  saying that in season 6 GoT “reached a new height of brilliance that evidenced that we truly are in a golden age of television. The final two episodes of Thrones’s sixth run, including the Emmy-winning ‘Battle of the Bastards,’ were of a breathtaking scale previously unseen on the small screen.”

Game of Thrones is number seven, among Rolling Stone‘s 20 Best TV Shows of 2016. RS critic Rob Sheffield says, “Like Jon Snow himself, Game of Thrones rose from the grave. Now that the TV version has lapped George R. R. Martin’s books, it’s hitting new heights – the Battle of the Bastards was its most spine-chilling, blood-gushing pageant yet.”


TVGuide salutes the Best TV Performances of 2016, including Lena Headey‘s role as Cersei Lannister. Headey is number three on the list, for the season in which we saw “a newly hardened Cersei,” after destroying her enemies and losing her last son, “crowning herself queen, in a moment we won’t soon forget.”

The season finale, “The Winds of Winter” takes the number three spot on TVGuide‘s list of the Best TV Episodes of 2016. TVGuide says the episode “allowed the women of [GoT‘s] world to bring many long-running storylines to a close, all while expertly setting the board for show’s dramatic conclusion.”

“The Winds of Winter” also makes Time‘s list of The Top 10 TV Episodes of 2016. Time TV critic Daniel D’Addario says, “‘Battle of the Bastards,’the episode that preceded this one, was the series’s most technically accomplished ever, a splashy spectacle that nothing else on TV could hope to match. But the remarkable sequence that led to the destruction of the Sept in this episode is, for me, more memorable, marrying almost-painful tension with rapid plot development. This episode’s growing sense that the gears of Game of Thrones are finally clicking into place for an endgame was crowned by a remarkable final shot. It was spectacle enriched with real consequence.”

Entertainment Weekly chooses season 6’s “Battle of the Bastards,” for their list of The 10 Best TV Episodes of 2016. EW‘s James Hibberd says, “With an Emmy-winning script that excelled at intimate moments (Davos finding Shireen’s burned toy) as well as spectacle (that thundering horse charge!), ‘BoB’ played like a master class in coherent, character-driven action storytelling, elevating director Miguel Sapochnik (who also won an Emmy for this hour) to TV’s directorial A list.”

“Battle of the Bastards” is recognized in Paste‘s The 25 Best TV Episodes of 2016, with the episode in the number 2 spot. According to Paste, “The penultimate installment of Game of Thrones’ sixth season features the best, most engrossing on-screen battle since Helm’s Deep in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.”

And it’s lucky number thirteen for Thrones on Paste‘s list of The 25 Best TV Shows of 2016! Paste says, “Season Six was filled with instantly iconic moments from nearly all the surviving characters, in a roster that has now shrunk substantially, even as the show rakes in Emmys.”

Making an appearance on The Telegraph‘s list of The best TV shows of 2016 so far, it’s noted that “Game of Thrones has not disappointed in 2016.”


Indiewire pays tribute to The 16 Best Breakthrough TV Performances of 2016, which includes Bella Ramsey who stole hearts as Lyanna Mormont in season 6. Indiewire says, “Ramsey gives Lyanna Mormont a strong bearing that belies her age, with just enough chutzpah and earnestness for humor that springs from incongruity.”

GoT takes the number two spot on Digital Spy‘s list this year, with DS noting that “the epic, brutal Battle of the Bastards was, of course, a highlight” and GoT “upped its game even further with a climax that was quite literally explosive.”

Game of Thrones tops yet another year-end list in Empire, grabbing the number one spot among the Best TV Shows of 2016.  Empire raves about the sixth season of GoT, citing many of the year’s highlights: “the Hodor reveal was heartbreakingly constructed; the finale had more deaths than a Riverlands wedding reception; the Battle of the Bastards rivals any cinematic battle; and frankly the whole thing boasts such rich attention-to-detail, such clever long-game plotting and such richly textured characters that very little recently seen on the big or small screen even comes close.”

There will be more lists to come, no doubt, as we’re not even halfway through December. Congratulations to the cast and crew of Game of Thrones on their outstanding year, and thank you for creating another fantastic season for us to enjoy!

22 responses

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    1. Bloody awesome, Game of thrones never misses the AFI awards top of the year list, really happy about all the top spots it’s getting this year 🙂 Everyone’s seems to love Battle of the bastards and The winds of winter. Overwhelmed with joy about all the nominations and love the show is getting ^^ don’t forget about the Critics choice awards tomorrow on A&E.

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    2. The Winds of Winter is my favorite TV episode of all time, so I’m glad it gets the praise it deserves.

      Fingers crossed for the Critics’ Choice Awards tomorrow. Hopefully GoT, Westworld and The Crown win some awards!

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    3. Here’s hoping GoT and Westworld do well at the Critics’ Choice Awards, though I prefer TWOW to BtoB. It’s nice to see Lyanna Mormont and Cersei (especially her crowning) get some acknowledgement.

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    4. Shocked that EW didn’t include the show in their top 10. Still…there’s no accounting for tastes. Im grateful to EW–it seems to consistently be the publication with the most access to the show, its filming and probably its secrets. When James Hibberd says anything about GoT, I pay attention.

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    5. And coming around the last bend, it’s Bella Ramsey ahead by 22 lengths and coming in at the finish line by a safe 68 lengths. Lady Mormont takes the Triple Crown!

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    6. It was a really incredible season but sad at the same time with it having more and more characters meeting up and loose ends being tied up, it felt like the beginning of the end of the show.

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    7. LatrineDiggerBrian:
      Meh Season 6 :'(

      Eloquent. Please let me share my counter-argument with you:

      Yay season 6! 🙂

      Stark Raven' Rad,

      I enjoy Hibberd’s access to the show, but it comes with some caveats, understandably. More than once he has covered for the show, to protect his relationship with it. For example, when something D&D or HBO wouldn’t like people to know leaks, Hibberd usually offers misdirection and claims “All is not what it appears to be”… More often than not, it is exactly what it appears to be.

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    8. Mel: it felt like the beginning of the end of the show.

      As it should! This really was the first part of the final act, or the penultimate act of a 4 act presentation.

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    9. Well,I am very glad many Best Lists share my taste in shows! 😉 GOT, Westworld, Stranger Things, The Night Of, The Walking Dead…I´m overdue in watching The Americans,Black Mirror,The Crown,Night Manager… I used to watch Vikings but I found the performances over the top and many stories to be slightly incoherent 🙁

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    10. Battle of the Bastards had a lot of story problems; Rickon doesn’t talk, Jon doesn’t act intelligently, Sansa has no reason not to tell Jon about the Vale army, and …”real” military tactics were largely ignored.

      Even Sapochnik said they couldn’t do a real double envelopment *with horses* because that’s just unfilmable.

      Worst……why have Jon point out in the same episode, “Ramsay’s men will abandon him when he’s losing”, only to them show them fight to the death?

      The entire North storyline had a lot of flaws this year. Not to mention Dorne wasn’t just dropped, it was dropped ridiculously.

      …..otherwise the other storylines this year were pretty good.

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    11. This morning IMDB has the 2016 list of the 10 shows most consistently popular with their users, and GoT is #1. Also, recently Hollywood Reporter polled over 1000 film/tv movers and shakers on the 50 best ever female characters in cinema and television. GoT did very well: 8. Danerys 16 Arya 34 Cersei 38 Brienne 44 sansa

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