10 Years Ago, Game of Thrones Gave Joffrey What He Had Coming

10 Years Ago, Game of Thrones Gave Joffrey What He Had Coming

Back in its heyday, Game of Thrones looooooved killing off characters. Whether they were sad, hilarious, or kind of dumb, those ends have been memorable in their own ways, the mark of a good show filled with great actors. And who can forget the death of Jack Gleason’s Joffrey Baratheon, one of the show’s most disliked (in a mostly good way) antagonists?

On April 13, 2014, HBO aired the second episode of Game of Thrones’ fourth season. At the end of “The Lion and the Rose,” Joffrey and Margaery Tyrell get married and celebrate their new union at the Red Keep. Everything seems to be going well—relative to the show’s last wedding, I guess—and then in the middle of insulting Tyrion, Joffrey starts choking before blood runs down his nose as he seizes up and dies in his mother’s arms, but not before silently accusing Tyrion of poisoning his wine. Cersei puts Tyrion under arrest, and the episode lingers on Joffrey’s bloody, colorless face. Musical crescendo, cut to black, the audience cheers.

In real life, “Lion and the Rose” received critical acclaim at the time of its airing, with many calling it one of the series’ best episodes ever. Come awards season, it received five Emmy nominations, with two in the acting categories for Lena Heady (Supporting Actress in a Drama) and Diana Rigg (Guest Actress, Drama), and winning one for best costuming. Moreover, this episode set up some plotlines from the books…some of which ended up not getting used. Whoops. And within the show itself, Joffrey’s death caused a domino effect for the rest of the season, resulting in even more deaths and Tyrion getting hell out of dodge to avoid getting his head chopped off. It also paved the way for some of the show’s big moments later on and other members of his family to get some wins of their own. (Well, until they died.)

With Joffrey dead, Gleason used his character’s exit to take a break from professional acting, which he’d been doing since he was 8 years old. Despite that, he wasn’t gone for too long: after appearing in the 2016 short film Chat, he’s gradually returned in the last several years, appearing on a few episodes of Sex Education and Out of Her Mind. Along with his appearance in last year’s The Famous Five on BBChe was in 2021’s Rebecca’s Boyfriend and 2023’s In the Land of Saints & Sinners.

Even if you didn’t watch Game of Thrones back then, you probably knew who Joffrey was and how much folks wanted him to get got. “The Lion and the Rose” gave audiences what they wanted and then some, and it’s still one of the most satisfying moments in the show. RIP Joffrey, but at least you went out on such a nice day.

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