It’s hard out there for a Game of Thrones character. Peasant or king, you’re likely to suffer through such tragedies as losing a limb, being assaulted or dying under a mosh pit of ice zombies before finally facing your own bloody and violent demise. Five seasons in, watching Game of Thrones is more an exercise in masochism than in entertainment.
That’s why it’s important to remember that this show isn’t all doom and gloom. There have been some happy moments between the hard-to-watch scenes—when two people find love, victims become heroes and Joffrey finally, finally dies. So before you embark on yet another torturous journey through Westeros when season six premieres Sunday, remind yourself of these ten happy moments.
Finding the Direwolves
Cuddly creatures are few and far between on Game of Thrones. Sure, the dragons have their moments, but they’re not exactly great snuggle buddies. That’s why the Starks discovering six adorable direwolf pups—one for each of the children!—stands out as a warm and fuzzy moment for the show. Better yet, the wolves turned out to be great guardians.
Of course enemies found ways to circumvent the dogs and kill certain Starks anyway. Oh, and two of those dogs have since been ruthlessly murdered. Good things never last.
Dany and Drogo Fall in Love
True, their relationship was far from ideal (especially in the books). But Daenerys, who started the show a pawn sold against her will, did eventually fall for Drogo and he for her. In doing so, she not only became the Khaleesi to his Khal. She also found the inner strength to order molten gold poured over her brother’s head. (Perhaps not merciful, but definitely badass.)
They were ready to take on Westeros together, until Drogo got that darn infected flesh wound. Dany tried to save him using blood magic, which of course backfired because anything called “blood magic” is going to be unreliable. She also lost her baby in the process.
Daenerys Survives the Fire
What could have been an act of madness or suicide turned out to be one of the most empowering Game of Thrones scenes yet. With her husband and baby dead, Daenerys walks into a funeral pyre with three eggs and emerges unscathed with three baby dragons, her new children. I know I said they weren’t that cute before, but just look at the little guy.
While the dragons are a powerful weapon, they’ve also been a big headache for Khaleesi. Remember when they were ornery teenagers and going around burning up children? Not great.
Robb and Talisa Get Pregnant
There’s hope for the Stark line yet! Rob rejects an arranged marriage in favor of true love Talisa. After a quick marriage, the two get pregnant with the next King of the North and possible King of all of Westeros.
Or he would have been the heir, anyway, had Robb and Talisa not been assassinated at the Red Wedding. And just to make sure that the baby didn’t survive in his mother’s womb, that despicable Lothar Frey stabbed Talisa in her pregnant belly.
Jon and Ygritte Get Together
Ah, young love. These two were basically the Romeo and Juliet of those snowy lands North of the Wall. From their steamy cave scene to the ever quotable line, “You know nothing, Jon Snow,” audiences spent a season rooting for these two crazy kids.
And like Romeo and Juliet, these two met a very dismal end. First, the vengeful Olly shot Ygritte, who died in Jon Snow’s arms. And then Olly—again, seriously dude?—helped stab Jon to death in a Night’s Watch coup.
Perhaps it’s unfair to call anyone’s passing “happy” but Joffrey’s assassination had audiences chorusing, “The King is dead! The King is dead!” Many of Game of Thrones nominal villains, including Cersei, Jaime and even the Hound, have had sympathetic moments on the show. But when it comes to Joffrey, it’s hard to think of a single instance when the audience wasn’t rooting for his demise.
So seeing the man responsible for the death of Ned Stark turn purple was supremely gratifying. What’s more, his replacement was a cat-loving boy who may be clueless, but at least he’s not downright evil.
Be careful what you wish for, though, since Joffrey’s death led to the trial of Tyrion.
Stannis Saves Jon Snow
Stannis wasn’t the most popular character among diehard fans: he killed his brother with a ghost baby, he chopped off his loyal right hand man’s fingers and, more recently, he sacrificed his own daughter. But for one shining moment, Stannis got to play hero when he saved Jon Snow from a very dicey meeting with the Wildlings. Jon Snow returns to the wall and becomes Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch.
Of course, Jon and Stannis might both regret their decision to return to the Wall. Stannis later loses his battle with the Boltons for the North and (presumably) is killed by Brienne. Jon is assassinated.
Daenerys Mounts a Dragon
Never agree to host gladiatorial matches. They’re just dangerous. That’s what Dany learned at the end of last season when the Sons of Harpy took the opportunity to try to slaughter her and the unsullied. Luckily, Drogon (not the most creatively named Dragon in the world) swoops in to save her and Dany manages to mount him—a rare skill in modern Westeros.
Unfortunately, Drogon and Dany haven’t had a lot of steering practice, so the dragon ends up dropping her off in the middle of nowhere, at which point she is of course taken captive.
Myrcella Accepts Jaime As Her Father
All right, so this one’s a little twisted. After Jaime saves Myrcella from Dorne—or so he thinks—the two have a heart to heart during which Jaime tries to tell her that he is her father, as well as her uncle. She admits that she knows, adding, “I’m glad that you’re my father.” Gross, yes, but also sort of sweet.
As soon as that happy music swelled, we knew Myrcella was in trouble. A poisoned Myrcella dies in Jaime’s arms immediately after she embraces him as her kin. At least she had a happy final memory.
Sansa Escapes the Boltons
Hallelujah! After two suffering through two twisted and sadistic relationships, Sansa is finally free. At the end of last season, she and Theon leapt from the walls of Winterfell to escape the Boltons. It would have been better if Theon, a.k.a Reek, had snapped out of his trance earlier during Sansa’s marriage to Ramsay—say, when Ramsay was about to rape her.
It’s unclear how long Sansa and Thoen will be able to evade the new wardens of the North, but at least we know they didn’t die in the fall as some fans speculated they might.