8. Season 5
Season 5 was a real transitional year for Game of Thrones. Season 4 smashed the board and cast its pieces out into the winds: Arya was in Braavos, Tyrion himself was fleeing Westeros, Tywin Lannister was dead, Daenerys' dragons were chained up, and Bran was in a tree. Maybe it's no surprise that it struggled.
This was a year with some big issues, the most notable of course being Dorne. A fairly sizeable sub-plot from the books, all of the intrigue was lost in translation to the screen - the Sand Snakes were laughable, Doran Martell useless, and Arianna didn't even appear - and to make matters worse far too much time was spent there, taking Bronn and Jaime with it.
Tyrion was as quotable as ever, but since he was travelling he was far too removed from a position of real influence, while Daenerys' struggles in Meereen didn't make for a captivating storyline until the Imp's arrival. Things did fare better in King's Landing though, as the death of Tywin left a power vacuum that both Cersei Lannister and the High Sparrow tried to fill, allowing Lena Headey and Jonathan Pryce to regularly go head-to-head (with plenty of Natalie Dormer's Margaery for good measure).
Things were perhaps strongest in the North, with the rise of Jon Snow to Lord Commander and the huge fall from grace of Stannis Baratheon. The former is a triumphant moment that sees Jon kill the boy and become a man, the latter a rather sadder affair, largely told through the eyes of one of the show's best characters, Ser Davos, and has the death of one of its sweetest.
As for the Starks, Arya's storyline shows glimpses of potential but is also quite frustrating, with too many floor-mopping scenes. The rape of Sansa is a real low-point of the show, especially as it was framed more around Reek/Theon. Bran, meanwhile, was left out completely, so at least it had that going for it.
The season ends in stunning fashion too, even if the build-up wasn't great. The Dance of Dragons finally sees Daenerys ride one of her children; Mother's Mercy gives us Cersei's harrowing Walk of Shame and the murder of Jon Snow; and episode 8, Hardhome, came out of nowhere to become one of the most incredible instalments in the show's history.
Best Episode: Hardhome
Worst Episode: Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken