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Game of Thrones episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 8
Directed byMiguel Sapochnik
Written byDavid Benioff
D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byFabian Wagner
Editing byTim Porter
Original air dateMay 31, 2015 (2015-05-31)
Running time60 minutes
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
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"The Gift"
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"The Dance of Dragons"
Game of Thrones (season 5)
List of episodes

"Hardhome" is the eighth episode of the fifth season of HBO's fantasy television series Game of Thrones, and the 48th overall. It was written by the series' creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, and directed by Miguel Sapochnik. It premiered on May 31, 2015.

The episode features a battle between the living and dead at the eponymous Wildling village, which is mentioned, but not seen, in Martin's novel, A Song of Ice and Fire. It was hailed by many reviewers and fans as one of the series' best episodes. Filming of the battle took nearly a month.

Nielsen ratings suggest it reached 7.01 million American households in its initial broadcast. It earned Game of Thrones several nominations at the 67th Primetime Emmy Awards, and was Peter Dinklage's pick to support his nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series.


In Braavos

Arya takes the identity of Lanna, an oyster seller, and is sent by Jaqen to assassinate the "Thin Man", a dishonest insurance salesman.

In Meereen

Tyrion convinces Daenerys to allow him to advise her and to spare Jorah's life, but points out that Jorah cannot be trusted and he is exiled again. Tyrion warns Daenerys that she will not succeed in taking the Iron Throne without a powerful Westerosi house backing her; Daenerys compares the rise and fall of the Great Houses to spokes on a wheel, and declares that she will "break the wheel".

Jorah returns to Yezzan and asks to fight in the fighting pits.

In King's Landing

Cersei continues to refuse to confess to her crimes. Qyburn visits her and informs her that she is being charged for incest and Robert's murder and that Pycelle has summoned Kevan to serve as Hand. He also reassures her that "the work continues".

At Winterfell

Reek tells Sansa that there is no escape from Ramsay and admits that he didn't kill Bran and Rickon, and that he actually killed two farmboys, burning their bodies so that no one would know they were not the Stark boys. Roose and Ramsay plan for battle with Stannis' army. Ramsay wants to take the fight to Stannis, and asks for twenty men.

At the Wall

Olly expresses misgivings about Jon's alliance with the wildlings. Sam explains that the alliance is necessary to defeat the White Walkers, but Olly appears unconvinced.

At Hardhome

Jon and Tormund arrive at Hardhome and meet the Lord of Bones, who is killed by Tormund after a tense standoff. Tormund summons the elders and Jon offers to let the wildlings settle south of the Wall if they help the Night's Watch against the White Walkers. 5,000 wildlings are convinced, but as they prepare to set sail the town comes under attack from wights. Jon and the Magnar of Thenn, Loboda, enter a hut to retrieve the dragonglass blades, but a White Walker kills Loboda and throws Jon outside. Jon kills the White Walker with his Valyrian steel sword, but Hardhome's walls fall to the wights and Jon and his remaining allies are forced to flee. As they escape, Jon turns back in horror and awe as the Night King revives the dead as wights.



This episode was written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the series' creators. It contains content from George Martin's novels A Feast for Crows, chapters Cersei X and Cat of the Canals and A Dance with Dragons, chapter The Ugly Little Girl.[1]

Like other episodes this season, "Hardhome" contained a large amount of original material that does not appear in Martin's novels. This includes the battle scene in which the Wildlings and Night's Watch are ambushed by the White Walkers and army of the undead,[2] as well as the meeting of Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister. According to Erik Kain of Forbes, "We have now fully parted ways with the books. If the rest of Season 5 hadn't convinced you that the show was forging its own path, this episode is the final nail in the coffin."[3]


Birgitte Hjort Sørensen was cast as Karsi,[4] a wildling chieftain originally written as a male character.[5] Zachary Baharov appeared as Loboda, a Thenn leader,[6] and Ross O'Hennessy replaced Edward Dogliani as the Lord Of Bones in this episode.[7] Ian Whyte, who had previously been cast as a White Walker, played the giant.[8] Members of the metal band Mastodon acted as wildlings at Hardhome in a cameo appearance.[9]


"Hardhome" was directed by Miguel Sapochnik. He joined the series as a director in the fifth season. He also directed the previous episode, "The Gift". [10] The sequence at Hardhome was filmed at the Magheramorne quarry and took nearly a month to film.[11]



"Hardhome" was watched by an estimated 7.01 million American viewers during its first airing.[12]

With Live+7 DVR viewing factored in, the episode had an overall rating of 9.94 million viewers, and a 5.1 in the 18–49 demographic.[13] In the United Kingdom, the episode was viewed by 2.383 million viewers, making it the highest-rated broadcast that week. It also received 0.211 million timeshift viewers.[14]

Critical reception

The episode received universal acclaim from both critics and viewers, with critics calling it the best episode of the series.[15] It received a 100% rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes from 52 reviews with an average rating of 9.74 out of 10 and the critics' consensus reading "Following several episodes of setup, 'Hardhome' blends a sharp script with spectacular blockbuster action to offer viewers a powerful, game-changing payoff."[16]

The Atlantic named "Hardhome" one of the best television episodes of 2015.[17] Erik Kain of Forbes called this "one of the best, most exciting episodes I've seen in the entire show's run, let alone this season," citing "High action and a series of pretty crazy revelations."[3] Matt Fowler of IGN gave the episode 10/10, labeling it a "masterpiece". He praised the Tyrion/Daenerys scenes but predominantly the final sequence, which he described as "edge-of-your-seat exciting" and also "quite terrifying". This made "Hardhome" the first episode in season 5 to receive a 10/10 rating from IGN.[18] Matt Fowler also named it the best episode of the entire series.[19] Both Myles McNutt and Erik Adams of The A.V. Club gave the episode the website's highest grade, "A". They called it "a welcome reminder that [the show is still unpredictable]," with McNutt citing it as his favorite episode of the series thus far.[20][21] Bridle Roman of SFX gave the episode a perfect five stars, and highlighted the character of Karsi, played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, as a great addition and "her death hits hard" even if "we have only seen her for a few scenes".[22] The episode received praise even from some of its usual critics: Madeline Davies of Jezebel wrote, "I feel like I haven't said this in a long time, but last night's Game of Thrones was ...cool?" Davies cited the quality of the battle scene and unifying theme of hope in desperate situations as the episode's key strengths, specifically that the abused and tormented Sansa learns that her brothers may still be alive and that though Jon faces "the seemingly impossible task of defeating a constantly growing army of White Walkers, he at least possesses a sword that can kill them."[2] Kirsten Acuna of Business Insider reports that this is the single most popular episode to date as rated by fans, noting that the "tremendous reaction is in complete juxtaposition with reactions to an episode that aired two weeks ago," which received one of the series' lowest fan ratings. Acuna credits this response to the quality of the battle scene, which featured "a fighting army of the walking dead which would easily give the AMC series of the same name a run for its money."[23]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2015 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister Won [24]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series Fabian Wagner Nominated
Outstanding Production Design for a Fantasy Program Deborah Riley, Paul Ghirardani, Rob Cameron Won
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series Jane Walker, Barrie Gower, and Sarah Gower Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Tim Porter Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Tim Kimmel, Paula Fairfield, Bradley C. Katona, Peter Bercovitch, David Klotz, Jeffrey Wilhoit, Dylan T. Wilhoit Won
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Series Ronan Hill, Richard Dyer, Onnalee Blank, Mathew Waters Won
British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography in a Television Drama Fabian Wagner Nominated [25]
ACO/BSC/GBCT Operators TV Drama Award David Morgan, Sean Savage, Ben Wilson, David Worley Won [26]
Gold Derby TV Awards 2015 Best Drama Episode[27] Nominated [28]
Hollywood Professional Alliance Outstanding Sound Tim Kimmel, Paula Fairfield, Bradley Katona, Paul Bercovitch, Onnalee Blank, Mathew Waters Nominated [29]
Outstanding Color Grading Joe Finley Nominated
Outstanding Editing Tim Porter Nominated
IGN Awards Best TV Episode Won [30]
IGN People's Choice Awards Best TV Episode Nominated
2016 ADG Excellence in Production Design Award One-Hour Single Camera Fantasy Television Series Deborah Riley Won [31]
Shorty Awards GIF of The Year Come At Me Bro Nominated [32]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing - Television Series – One Hour Ronan Hill, Richard Dyer, Onnalee Blank, Mathew Waters, Brett Voss Won [33]
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Regular Series Fabian Wagner Nominated [34]
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited One-Hour Series For Non-Commercial Television Tim Porter Nominated [35]
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: FX/Foley Tim Kimmel Won [36]
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Dialogue / ADR Tim Kimmel Won
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Music David Klotz Nominated
USC Scripter Award Best Adapted Screenplay David Benioff and D.B. Weiss Nominated [37]
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project David Ramos, Antonio Lado, Piotr Weiss, Félix Bergés Won [38]
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode Eduardo Díaz, Guillermo Orbe, Oscar Perea, Inmaculada Nadela Won


  1. ^ Garcia, Elio; Antonsson, Linda (May 31, 2015). "EP508:HARDHOME". Westeros.org. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Davies, Madeline (June 1, 2015). "Game of Boners: I Go White-Walking After Midnight". Jezebel. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Kain, Erik (June 1, 2015). "'Game of Thrones' Season 5, Episode 8 Review: 'Hardhome'". Forbes. Retrieved June 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Robinson, Joanna (June 1, 2015). "Birgitte Hjort Sørensen Hints That We May Not Have Seen the Last of Her Game of Thrones Character". Vanity Fair.
  5. ^ Murphy, Shaunna (June 1, 2015). "'Game Of Thrones': 'Hardhome' Director Takes Us Behind The Scenes of Jon Snow's Epic Battle". MTV.
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External links