The Children (Game of Thrones)

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"The Children"
Game of Thrones episode
Episode no.Season 4
Episode 10
Directed byAlex Graves
Written byDavid Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byAnette Haellmigk
Editing byTim Porter
Original air dateJune 15, 2014 (2014-06-15)
Running time65 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Watchers on the Wall"
Next →
"The Wars to Come"
Game of Thrones (season 4)
List of Game of Thrones episodes

"The Children" is the fourth season finale of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 40th overall. The tenth and final episode of the fourth season, the episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Alex Graves.

"The Children" received overwhelming acclaim from critics, with praise directed at the deaths of Shae and Tywin Lannister, Bran reaching the Heart Tree and the fight scene between Brienne and Sandor "The Hound" Clegane.

This episode marks the final appearances of Sibel Kekilli (Shae), Rose Leslie (Ygritte) and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed). It also marks the final appearance of Rory McCann (Sandor Clegane) until the sixth season episode "The Broken Man".


In Meereen[edit]

Daenerys receives a citizen who wants to be sold back into slavery because he feels his life as a high-ranking slave was better than as a freedman. An astonished Daenerys reluctantly grants his request. The next citizen in line brings her the charred remains of his daughter, who was killed by Drogon, one of her dragons. While Drogon has not returned, she tearfully chains her two other dragons, Rhaegal and Viserion, away in the catacombs as a precaution.

Beyond the Wall[edit]

Jon meets with Mance Rayder, ostensibly to discuss an end to their conflict, although Jon actually plans to assassinate him. Though Mance eventually sees through Jon's ruse and nearly kills him, their negotiations are cut short when a massive cavalry charge led by Stannis and Davos overruns the wildling encampment. Mance surrenders, and though Stannis thinks to kill him, Jon suggests taking him captive instead, as Mance once showed him similar mercy. After holding a funeral for the deceased brothers, Jon burns Ygritte's remains north of the Wall, following Tormund's request.

Further north, Bran and his companions reach their destination: the large Heart Tree seen in Jojen's vision. Upon approaching the tree, they are set upon by a group of wights. Though Jojen is killed in the attack, Bran, Hodor, and Meera are saved by a Child of the Forest. The Child takes the group into the cave under the Heart Tree to meet an old man sitting amongst tree roots, who tells Bran that while he will never be able to walk again, he will be able to fly.

In King's Landing[edit]

The Mountain lies dying from Oberyn's poisoned spear. Qyburn believes that he can save Clegane, so Cersei ousts a protesting Grand Maester Pycelle from his laboratory and gives Clegane's care over to Qyburn. Qyburn cautions Cersei that, while he may be able to save Clegane, the procedure may "change" him. He assures her, however, that his procedure will not weaken him.

Afterwards, Cersei tells Tywin that, if forced to marry Loras, she will admit her incestuous relationship with Jaime, and that her children are the issue of such. She leaves an outraged Tywin to meet Jaime in the Kingsguard's quarters, where she professes her love for him, and the two rekindle their relationship.

In the dungeons, Tyrion awaits his execution, but Jaime appears and helps him escape. They say their farewells in an underground tunnel, but Tyrion instead uses a small hidden passage to sneak into the Tower of the Hand. He finds Shae in his father Tywin's bed. Shae, who had falsely testified against Tyrion at his trial, initially thinks this is Tywin and addresses him as "my lion", as she had previously done for Tyrion. Realising who he is, she attacks him with a knife, but Tyrion manages to strangle her to death.

Tyrion then readies Joffrey's crossbow and confronts Tywin on the privy and confesses that he had loved Shae. Tywin does not believe that Tyrion would actually shoot him. He tries to negotiate, but twice dismisses Shae as a whore, despite Tyrion's warning the first time. After the second time, Tyrion kills him with Joffrey's crossbow.

Tyrion then escapes on a ship bound for Essos with help from Varys. After hearing the bells in the castle raising the alarm, Varys decides to board the ship as well.

In the Vale[edit]

Brienne and Podrick happen across Arya and the Hound. After Podrick recognises the Hound, Brienne deduces Arya's identity and tells her of her oath to Catelyn. The Hound is unconvinced of her loyalties, pointing out her Lannister sword, and the matter quickly comes to blows. After a brutal brawl, Brienne knocks the Hound off a cliff, and unsuccessfully searches for Arya. After they leave, Arya emerges from hiding and finds the Hound grievously injured. Though he begs her for death, she instead takes his money and leaves him, presumably to die. Travelling by horse to a harbor, she attempts to buy passage north, only to be told the ship is bound for Essos. Upon hearing that the captain is travelling home to Braavos, she chooses to travel there, showing him the coin Jaqen H'ghar gave her.



The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.

The episode was written by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss,[1] This episode contains content from two of George Martin's novels, A Storm of Swords, chapters Jon X, part of Jon XI, Jaime IX, Tyrion XI, and Arya XIII, and A Dance with Dragons, chapters Daenerys I, Daenerys II, and Bran II.[2]


"The Children" was directed by Alex Graves.[3] The Thingvellir National Park in Iceland was used as the location for the fight between Brienne and The Hound.[4][5]



"The Children" was watched by 7.09 million Americans during its premiere hour, a 32% increase from the previous season finale.[6] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 1.850 million viewers, making it the highest-rated broadcast that week. It also received 0.085 million timeshift viewers.[7]

Critical reception[edit]

The episode received universal acclaim. All 35 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were positive, with an average score of 9.5 out of 10. The site's consensus reading, "Capping off the best season of Game of Thrones to date, "The Children" provides enough satisfying plot developments for a finale, while its twists and turns leave you wanting more."[8]

IGN writer Matt Fowler called it a "strong seasonal send-off with tons of violent twists, and turns."[9] Sean T. Collins of Rolling Stone wrote, "Sometimes Game of Thrones is a widescreen epic fantasy, other times it's a small-scale study of violent lives. At its best – and "The Children" is certainly this show at its wide and wild best – Game of Thrones is all of these things, simultaneously."[10] TVLine named Rory McCann and Gwendoline Christie the "Performers of the Week" for their physical acting in their fight sequence, and wrote that it "was one of the finest examples of the form in recent TV history – absolutely too epic to ignore."[11]

Omission of Lady Stoneheart[edit]

After the episode premiered, some fans of the novel series voiced their displeasure over the omission of Lady Stoneheart, a character from the end of A Storm of Swords.[12][13] This was in part fueled by a photo posted to Instagram two months earlier by actress Lena Headey that many fans assumed was a confirmation of the character's inclusion in the finale.[14][15] A day later, director Alex Graves stated that the character was never planned to appear in the fourth season, and that he did not know whether she would appear in the fifth.[16][17][18]

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, actress Michelle Fairley stated that the character may not ever be included in the TV series, though she did not give a definite confirmation either way.[19]


The episode set a BitTorrent record with about 1.5 million downloads within 12 hours and set a record for 250,000 users sharing the file at the same time.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result
2014 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series Jane Walker and Barrie Gower Won
Outstanding Special and Visual Effects Joe Bauer, Joern Grosshans, Steve Kullback, Adam Chazen, Eric Carney,
Sabrina Gerhardt, Matthew Rouleau, Thomas H. Schelesny, and Robert Simon
Hollywood Professional Alliance Outstanding Sound Tim Kimmel, Onnalee Blank, Mathew Waters, Paula Fairfield, Brad Katona and Jed M. Dodge Nominated
Outstanding Visual Effects Joe Bauer, Sven Martin, Jörn Grosshans, Thomas Schelesny and Matthew Rouleau Won
IGN Awards Best TV Episode Nominated
IGN People's Choice Awards Best TV Episode Nominated
2015 Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – Television Series – One Hour Ronan Hill, Richard Dyer, Onnalee Blank, Mathew Waters, Brett Voss Won
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series Anette Haellmigk Nominated
Directors Guild of America Award Dramatic Series Alex Graves Nominated
Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: FX/Foley Won
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Dialogue / ADR Nominated
Visual Effects Society Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Broadcast Program Won


  1. ^ "Here is your season 4 writers breakdown". February 26, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  2. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (June 8, 2013). "EP410: The Children". Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  3. ^ Hibberd, James (July 16, 2013). "'Game of Thrones' season 4 directors chosen". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
  4. ^ Smith, Oliver (June 7, 2016). "Iceland's most spectacular Game of Thrones filming locations". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Amey, Katie (April 6, 2015). "From Game of Thrones to Thor: Iceland sees tourism boom as a favourite filming spot for hit TV shows and Hollywood blockbusters". The Daily Mail.
  6. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (June 17, 2014). "Sunday Cable Ratings: 'Game of Thrones' Wins Night + World Cup Soccer, 'Keeping up with the Kardashians', NASCAR & More". TV by the Numbers". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  7. ^ "Top 10 Ratings (16-22 June 2014)". BARB. Retrieved April 7, 2016.
  8. ^ "Game of Thrones: Season 4: Episode 10". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  9. ^ Fowler, Matt (June 15, 2014). "Game of Thrones: "The Children" Review". IGN. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  10. ^ Collins, Sean T. (June 16, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' Season Finale Recap: Suffer the Children". Rolling Stone. Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  11. ^ "Performers of the Week: Rory McCann and Gwendoline Christie". TVLine. June 21, 2014. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
  12. ^ Silman, Anna (June 16, 2014). "Book Fans Angered by Huge Game of Thrones Finale Omission". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  13. ^ Gupta, Prachi (June 16, 2014). ""Game of Thrones" director explains the Lady Stoneheart situation". Retrieved June 16, 2014.
  14. ^ Schwartz, Terri (June 16, 2014). ""Game of Thrones": Was Lena Headey's Lady Stoneheart Instagram a drunk tease?". Zap2it. Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  15. ^ Hibberd, James (June 15, 2014). "'Game of Thrones' finale: No Lady Stoneheart! And why that's a good thing (book spoiler)". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  16. ^ Swift, Andy (June 16, 2014). "Game of Thrones: The Story Behind 4 Finale Deaths and a "missing" lady". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  17. ^ Steiner, Amanda Michelle (June 16, 2014). ""Game of Thrones" Director: Why Lady Stoneheart Was Cut From Finale". Retrieved June 17, 2014.
  18. ^ Graham, Daniella (June 17, 2014). "Will Lady Stoneheart ever appear in Game Of Thrones?". Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  19. ^ Hibberd, James (June 25, 2014). "Michelle Fairley talks '24' shock, Lady Stoneheart chatter". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 26, 2014.
  20. ^ 'Game of Thrones' Season 4 finale breaks illegal download records. June 17, 2014

External links[edit]