Wiki of Westeros


Wiki of Westeros
Wiki of Westeros
This page is about the episode. For the short, see: You Win or You Die (short)

"You Win or You Die"[3] is the seventh episode of the first season of Game of Thrones. It is the seventh episode of the series overall. It premiered on May 29, 2011 on HBO. It was written by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and directed by Daniel Minahan.


Ned confronts Cersei about her secrets; Jon takes his Night's Watch vows; Drogo promises to lead the Dothraki to King's Landing.[5]


At the Lannister camp[]

Lannister camp

The Lannister army, poised to invade the Riverlands.

On the borders of the Riverlands, Lord Tywin Lannister has assembled an army of sixty thousand men, with which he plans to oppose the Starks and punish Catelyn's capture of his son Tyrion Lannister.

Tywin and Jaime

Tywin discusses the future of House Lannister with his son Jaime.

As he stands in his tent skinning a dead stag, he tells his elder son, Jaime, that this conflict will decide the fate of their family; they will either forge a dynasty that will last a thousand years or cease to exist, as the Targaryens had done. He orders Jaime to become the man he was meant to be, and to take thirty thousand men and besiege Riverrun, Catelyn's childhood home and the seat of House Tully. Jaime ponders why Tywin would risk so much for the ugly, stunted son that he hates, but to Tywin a Lannister is a Lannister - even though he considers Tyrion the least worthy member of their family, any affront to their family must be punished or it makes them look weak.

At Winterfell[]

Theon and Osha

Theon attempts to intimidate Osha.

In Winterfell, Theon Greyjoy attempts to bully Osha, the wildling woman captured in the recent raid. He insists that she refer to him as "My Lord", but she is unimpressed with his antics. She points out that he is not entitled to this, as his father is still alive. Maester Luwin dismisses Theon and questions Osha about why her band crossed the Wall and were fleeing "as far south as south goes". She claims that the White Walkers have awoken after a millennia asleep and are coming south, to Luwin's skepticism.

At the Wall[]

Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly are standing watch atop the Wall when Benjen's horse is spotted returning, but, to Jon's horror, there is no sign of Benjen himself.

Later on, Lord Commander Jeor Mormont names the trainees as men of the Night's Watch. He hands out assignments, but to Jon's disgust he is being sent to the stewards, not the rangers. He will work directly for the Lord Commander as his personal steward. His attempts to plead his case to Maester Aemon (who has selected Sam as his own steward) are met with indifference. However, Sam suggests to Jon that while this move was possibly orchestrated by Ser Alliser Thorne to punish Jon, it is also an opportunity for the Lord Commander to groom Jon directly for command. Both are surprised when Pypar admits that he was sent to the Watch for refusing to give sexual favors to a lord, not for stealing a wheel of cheese to feed his sister as he had previously claimed. Nothing about being sent to the Wall is fair.

Jon and Sam oaths

Jon Snow and Samwell Tarly swear their oaths to the Night's Watch.

Convinced, Jon, as a worshiper of the Old Gods, is allowed to say his oath of fealty to the Night's Watch in front of a heart tree just inside the eaves of the Haunted Forest. Sam decides to take the oath with Jon, as the Seven gods his father worshiped have never seemed to answer him. Accompanied by Othell Yarwyck and three more brothers of the Watch, Sam and Jon take their oaths, then they are acknowledged by the others as members of the Watch. Ghost finds a severed hand in the woods and brings it back to Jon and a horrified Sam.

In Vaes Dothrak[]

Drogo and Dany

Daenerys tries to convince Drogo to invade Westeros.

In Vaes Dothrak, Daenerys attempts to convince Khal Drogo about the benefits of an invasion of the Seven Kingdoms, but Drogo is reluctant to cross the Narrow Sea, despite the thousands of ships they could find in the Free Cities to do the job. He says that a man doesn't need an "iron chair" but only a horse. Daenerys travels to the marketplace with Ser Jorah Mormont and her handmaidens. She asks Jorah to help convince her husband since the Seven Kingdoms are hers by birthright, but he reminds her that her ancestor Aegon the Conqueror took six of the Seven Kingdoms because he was capable of doing so with dragons. A little bird gives Jorah a message from Varys, a royal pardon for his crimes; he quickly realizes that this news would only come if he was no longer needed as a spy. Seeing Daenerys with a wineseller who is keen for her to try a particular vintage from the Arbor, Jorah realizes that the wine has been poisoned; this is the assassination attempt. Having second thoughts, he steps in and stops Daenerys from drinking it. The wineseller attempts to flee, but Rakharo brings him down with a bolo tangling his ankles.

Wineseller captured

The wine seller is captured after trying to poison Daenerys.

With the wine seller captured, Ser Jorah tells Daenerys that Robert Baratheon will never stop trying to kill her and her future children. Drogo quickly arrives in the tent. He glares at the seller and then goes to Daenerys to ensure she is okay, before offering Jorah the reward of any horse he chooses for foiling the assassination. Enraged, he begins to yell out in Dothraki that his army will cross the "poison water" as no khalasar has done before and take the Iron Throne for his son. Drogo's khalasar departs Vaes Dothrak the next morning, with the wine seller tied naked to the saddle of Daenerys' horse, forced to walk until he eventually falls of exhaustion and is dragged to his death.

In King's Landing[]

Lord Eddard Stark meets with Cersei Lannister. He tells her that he knows the secret that Jon Arryn died for: that Cersei's three children are not Robert's, but the product of incest between her and Jaime. Cersei does not deny the charge and in fact is proud of it, comparing their love to the old Targaryen practice of marrying brother to sister; she also admits to having despised Robert ever since their wedding night, when Robert drunkenly stumbled into Cersei's bed and called her "Lyanna". Eddard angrily tells her to take her children and leave the city immediately. When Robert returns from his hunt, he will tell him the truth of the matter and Cersei should run as far as she can before that happens, lest Robert's wrath find her. Cersei icily calls Ned a fool for turning down the throne himself after the sack of King's Landing. Eddard tells her that he has regrets, but that isn't one of them. Cersei departs with a chilling warning: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Robert's last act

Robert Baratheon signs a document confirming Eddard Stark as Protector of the Realm.

In one of his brothels, Littlefinger instructs the newly-arrived Ros and another prostitute, Armeca, on how to please their customers and make them happy. When they ask him to join them, he refuses, saying that he only ever had eyes for one woman. He tells them about his past, how he loved and fought a duel for a woman. He lost and subsequently realized that he could never beat those in power by honorable means, as they would never let him compete on equal terms. When Ros asks him what he wants, he says, "Oh, everything."

In the Red Keep, a blood-stained and shaken Renly finds Eddard and tells him that Robert has been badly mauled by a boar and is not expected to survive. Eddard finds Robert telling Joffrey that he wishes he could have been a better father to him. Eddard chooses not to tell Robert about his discoveries to spare his final hours from pain. Robert instructs Eddard to make a letter naming him as the Lord Protector of the Realm, to rule until Joffrey comes of age. Eddard does not write Joffrey's name, instead saying "the rightful heir". Robert also asks him to cancel the attempt on Daenerys Targaryen's life.

Leaving the chamber, Eddard talks to Varys and Ser Barristan Selmy; Selmy laments that Robert insisted the others stand aside to let him take on the boar alone and blames himself for failing in his duty, though Ned gently reassures Barristan no one could protect Robert from himself. By asking Selmy a seemingly-innocent question about the wine, Varys slyly points out that Lancel Lannister ensured the King kept "refreshed" with alcohol during the hunt, meaning his reactions were slowed and unreliable. Varys also says it is far too late to stop the attempt on Daenerys' life.

Eddard's letter

The letter Ned sends to Stannis Baratheon, informing him of his findings.

At King's Landing, Renly confronts Eddard and offers him a hundred swords to take Joffrey into custody, insisting that any delay will only serve Cersei's schemes, but Eddard refuses to dishonor Robert's last hours by shedding blood in the Red Keep and taking frightened children hostage. Renly suggests that he could make a good king, but Eddard angrily points out that Stannis is Renly's older brother and the true heir. In his study he writes a letter laying out his findings to Lord Stannis and instructs a courier to take the message to Dragonstone, Stannis's island fortress. Littlefinger then arrives and talks to Eddard, who tells him the truth about Joffrey's parentage. Littlefinger suggests that they keep quiet, acknowledge Joffrey as king and make him their puppet. If he proves intractable, they can reveal the truth and crown the more malleable Renly instead. Eddard considers this treason. Littlefinger realizes that even though Lord Eddard has Robert's edict naming him Regent and Protector of the Realm, he doesn't have the men he needs to seize control from Cersei. He needs the loyalty of the City Watch, as only their numbers can give him the force to overwhelm Cersei's loyalists. Littlefinger understands that the honorable Eddard Stark can't come right out and ask him to bribe them, but agrees to do what needs to be done.

Cersei & Joffrey 1x07

In King's Landing, Eddard is summoned to the throne room by "King Joffrey"; Robert has died. He arrives to find Littlefinger and Varys waiting for him, along with Commander Janos Slynt and a detachment of the City Watch. Varys tells him that Renly has fled the city, along with Ser Loras Tyrell and a number of retainers. The party enters the throne room, where Joffrey sits on the Iron Throne. He demands oaths of fealty from his councilors and subjects. Instead, Eddard gives Ser Barristan Selmy the proclamation naming him as Lord Protector of the Realm. To Barristan's shock, Cersei takes the "paper shield" and tears it up. Instead, she suggests that Eddard bend the knee and swear allegiance.

Eddard and Petyr 1x07

Littlefinger betrays Eddard Stark.

In return he will be allowed to return to Winterfell. Eddard responds that Joffrey has no claim to the Iron Throne and commands Slynt to take the Queen and her son into custody. Instead, the City Watch kill Eddard's bodyguards and Littlefinger holds a knife to his throat, saying, "I did warn you not to trust me."


Main page: You Win or You Die/Appearances





Guest starring[]

Also starring[]




Cersei Lannister: "Jaime and I are more than brother and sister. We shared a womb. We belong together."

Cersei: "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground."

Littlefinger: "You know what I learnt losing that duel? I learnt that I'll never win. Not that way. That's their game, their rules. I'm not going to fight them. I'm going to fuck them. That's what I know, that's what I am, and only by admitting what we are can we get what we want."

Ros: "And what do you want?"
Littlefinger: "Oh, everything, my dear. Everything there is."

Robert Baratheon: "I hereby command Eddard of House Stark to serve as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm until my son Joffrey comes of age."

Eddard Stark (writing): "I hereby command Eddard of House Stark to serve as Lord Regent and Protector of the Realm until my rightful heir comes of age."

Maester Luwin: "The things you speak of, they've been gone for thousands of years."

Osha: "They wasn't gone, old man. They were sleeping...and they ain't sleeping no more."

Eddard: "I will not dishonor Robert's last hours by shedding blood in his halls and dragging frightened children from their beds."

Eddard: "What you suggest is treason."

Littlefinger: "Only if we lose."

Littlefinger (to Eddard): "I did warn you not to trust me."

Eddard Stark: "You've always hated him."
Cersei: "Hated him? I worshipped him. Every girl in the Seven Kingdoms dreamed of him, but he was mine by oath. And when I finally saw him on our wedding day in the Sept of Baelor, lean and fierce and black-bearded, it was the happiest moment of my life. And that night, he crawled on top of me, stinking of wine, and did what little he could do. And whispered in my ear, 'Lyanna.' Your sister was a corpse, and I was a living girl, and he loved her more than me."

Drogo (in Dothraki): "And to my son, the stallion who will mount the world, I will also pledge a gift. I will give him the iron chair that his mother's father sat upon. I will give him Seven Kingdoms. I, Drogo, will do this. I will take my Khalasar west to where the world ends and ride wooden horses across the black salt sea as no Khal has done before. I will kill the men in iron suits and tear down their stone houses. I will rape their women, take their children as slaves and bring their broken gods back to Vaes Dothrak. This I vow. I, Drogo, son of Bharbo. I swear before the Mother of mountains as the Stars look down in witness. As the stars look down in witness. As the stars look down in witness."

Behind the scenes[]

  • The series and episode take their names from Cersei's phrase "When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die".
  • This is the only episode in which the phrase "game of thrones" is spoken on-screen.
    • In the novels, the phrase is mentioned not only by Cersei in the parallel book scene, but by other characters as well, among them: Varys, Jorah Mormont, Littlefinger, Stevron Frey, a Liddle, septon Meribald, Tyrion, Doran Martell and Barristan Selmy.
  • Some HBO subscribers were able to watch the episode a week early on the HBO Go digital platform.
  • The revelation that Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen are not Robert's children means that Robert's younger brother, Stannis Baratheon, is the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Stannis appears in the second season.
    • Renly correctly points out that the line of succession is not the only that counts for becoming a king; Robert was not the Mad King's rightful heir (Rhaegar was), yet he became a king because he seized the Iron Throne by force.
      • According to the novels, Robert's grandmother was Targaryen (princess Rhaelle, Aegon V's youngest daughter); this fact meant only that he had a better claim than the other two leaders of the rebellion, had there been a dispute over the question who should have been the new king. It did not make Robert Aerys's rightful heir.
  • Ned mentions that Stannis led men into war twice, presumably referring to the Siege of Storm's End and a sea battle off Fair Isle.
  • Renly asks Ned "Do you still believe good soldiers make good kings?". In view of Robert's very poor conduct as a king, the answer is clearly "not necessarily". Robert has been a great military commander, but, as Ned has witnessed firsthand, he has been a very incompetent king: he used to spend most of his time whoring, drinking, feasting and seeking other entertainments, rather than taking care of the realm affairs; he recklessly spent the royal treasure, to the point that the Crown owes about six million Gold Dragons to various creditors; he allowed corrupt people like Littlefinger and Janos Slynt to serve at key positions in his administration.
    • In the book, on his deathbed, Robert himself admits "What a wrecthed king I've been. Bad as Aerys". Obviously, Robert was not as bad as the bloodthirsty psychopath tyrant Aerys was, not even remotely, but ruled the realm very poorly.
  • The establishing shots of the Lannister camp, at 3:28, show Timett and Chella in error. The footage was taken from scenes shot for the next episode, "The Pointy End".
  • The stag shown being skinned by Charles Dance (as Tywin Lannister) was real. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (as Jaime Lannister) enjoys venison, and he hoped that, after the scene, the stag could be sent to Craft Services, but that didn't happen. The books never portray Tywin skinning a stag. The books do introduce another character this way - Lord Randyll Tarly, Sam's father, who is doing this in A Game of Thrones during a flashback in which Sam tells Jon Snow about how his father made him join the Night's Watch (chapter 26, Jon IV). Randyll Tarly had yet to be cast when this scene was filmed, so the show's writers gave this introduction to Tywin.
    • Since a stag is the sigil of House Baratheon, Tywin's act is perhaps a foreshadowing of Robert's death, caused by two Lannisters - Cersei and Lancel.
  • To date, this is one of only six episodes in which Tyrion Lannister has not appeared. The other five are "The Rains of Castamere", "First of His Name", "The Watchers on the Wall", "Blood of My Blood", and "The Broken Man".
  • In the book, Eddard sends Stannis a letter telling him that he is the rightful heir, but the letter is intercepted. Stannis already suspected that Cersei's children were not Robert's, as he was investigating it with Jon Arryn. Since Arryn's death, Stannis has been building his forces on Dragonstone.
  • Littlefinger would never support Stannis's claim to the throne: Stannis has despised Littlefinger ever since the latter protected City Watch Commander Janos Slynt from prosecution and dismissal, after the discovery that Slynt was receiving bribes. Moreover, Stannis is a strict adherent to law and order, and he has banned prostitution on Dragonstone, so Baelish's livelihood would end if Stannis came to power. Ned should have realized that; typically for him, he has not.
  • Renly claims that Stannis "inspires no love or loyalty". Indeed, one of Stannis's main flaws is the lack of popularity and charisma. Stannis himself admits that in the novels: "My brother made them [his foes] love him, but it would seem that I inspire only betrayal".
  • The scene between Tywin and Jaime, and the scene between Theon, Osha, and Maester Luwin, were written at the last minute because the rough cut of the episode was running short. Both scenes were filmed in post-production reshoots, and they contain only interior shots which didn't need to be filmed on location.[6]
  • Jorah accurately states that Aegon conquered "six of the kingdoms". The seventh, Dorne, successfully resisted the invasion during the First Dornish War; a century and a half later, one of the Targaryen kings managed to conquer Dorne, but only temporarily. Dorne eventually accepted the Iron Throne's rule, peacefully and voluntarily, two centuries after the first Targaryen invasion, through marriage.
  • In "The Wolf and the Lion", Ned firmly objected to assassinate Daenerys. In view of this episode, it seems that he was right: the attempt on Daenerys's life has made Drogo change his mind about crossing the sea to Westeros. As things turned to be, however, Ned was wrong as a matter of principle; Daenerys's death would have saved countless innocent lives, as Pycelle and Varys claimed.
  • It was cunning of Cersei to get Robert drunk during the hunt, but how could she be certain that Robert would encounter a boar and get killed or fatally injured? While it is typical for Cersei to plot extremely half-baked schemes (she does that very often in "A Feast for Crows"), even the lamest of her schemes never rely on blind luck; she had no reason to act so negligently when her children's lives were at stake.
    • In the book, Varys heavily implies that Cersei has positioned henchmen at the wood, assigned to perform an "unfortunate accident" (like shooting a stray arrow) which might happen during a hunt, to make certain Robert would not survive. There is no mentioning of that in the show.

In the books[]

Main page: Differences in adaptation/Game of Thrones: Season 1#"You Win or You Die"
  • The episode is adapted from the following chapters of A Game of Thrones:
    • Chapter 26, Jon IV: A father skins a deer while speaking to his son about the importance of family name and legacy, and the disappointment he feels toward his son.
    • Chapter 45, Eddard XII.
    • Chapter 47, Eddard XIII.
    • Chapter 48, Jon VI.
    • Chapter 49, Eddard XIV.
    • Chapter 54, Daenerys VI.
    • Chapter 56, Tyrion VII.





  1. GAME OF THRONES (HBO). The Futon Critic. Retrieved February 23, 2023.
  2. Game of Thrones: Season 1, Episode 7: "You Win or You Die" (2011).
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 You Win or You Die. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Game of Thrones. HBO. Retrieved February 22, 2023.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Game of Thrones: Season 1. HBO. Retrieved February 25, 2023.
  6. Bryan Cogman Q&A,, April 24, 2013.


  1. In "You Win or You Die," Jorah Mormont receives a pardon stating that the current year is 298.

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