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Refresh Your Memory on One of the Most Satisfying Moments in ‘Game of Thrones’

It's Purple Wedding time!

Newlyweds Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell embrace at their wedding before it turns ugly

In the words of Tyrion Lannister (back when he was still an amazing, compelling and fascinating character), “watching [that] vicious bastard die gave me more relief than a thousand lying whores”. And I have to agree with him—the moment when Joffrey Baratheon-but-really-Lannister-but-really-Waters finally kicks the bucket in Game of Thrones has to be one of the most satisfying ones throughout the show’s entire eight-season run.

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And that’s because Joffrey was one of Game of Thrones’ best villains. Absolutely irredeemable, cruel for cruelty’s sake, a monster to everyone and everything around him, and definitely one of the worst rulers to ever sit the Iron Throne—enough to rival the Targaryens, which is really saying something. A brilliantly written character, all and all, and also brilliantly portrayed by Irish actor Jack Gleeson. 

Jack Gleeson as Joffrey in Game of Thrones. Image: HBO
The kind of villain you love to hate with abandon (HBO)

It makes perfect sense, then, that such a pivotal character should have such a memorable death scene, and that death scene is so horrifyingly graphic—in true Game of Thrones fashion—to truly pay off the audience’s years of pent-up anger towards him. And that’s how we ended up with the Purple Wedding—a nickname, by the way, that was born from the fandom to emulate the even more infamous Red Wedding and ended up being accepted as canon even by George R.R. Martin himself.

What episode does Joffrey die in Game of Thrones?

So, the Purple Wedding takes place in Episode 2 of Season 4, one of the last good ones before the entire circus turns into a dumpster fire. Joffrey Baratheon marries Margaery Tyrell, the widow of the pretender King Renly Baratheon, and secures an alliance between the two richest Houses in the realm, the Lannisters and the Tyrells. A massive wedding feast is held in the gardens of the Red Keep, which noble lords and ladies of all kinds attend—including the groom’s uncle and his new bride, Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark.

The servants bring out a pigeon pie. The King and his new Queen lovingly feed each other pieces of it. It’s all very picture-perfect until Joffrey starts to choke, falls to the ground, his face turns purple, and ends up dying in his mother’s arms. And then all hell breaks loose—Tyrion is arrested for his murder, Prince Oberyn Martell (love u babe) dies fighting in a trial by combat against the Mountain, Jaime frees Tyrion from certain death, and Tyrion ends up killing his father Tywin. You know, the usual Game of Thrones shenanigans.

And of course, in true Game of Thrones fashion, we learn sometime later that the Purple Wedding was all a carefully orchestrated plot by two of the shrewdest players in the game—Petyr Baelish and Olenna Tyrell. 

While Baelish’s motivations remain vague, especially in the books, it’s easy to see instead why the Queen of Thorns would have wanted Joffrey gone—she was not about to let her beloved granddaughter climb into bed with a man everyone knew to be a monster. Once Sansa confirms it to Olenna and Margaery during their chat in the Red Keep gardens, before the wedding, you can practically see the thought of “oh well time to do him in” forming in the older Lady Tyrell’s mind.

Olenna Tyrell in HBO's Game of Thrones.
The face of someone who’s ready to do some murdering (HBO)

So that’s how Joffrey ended up being poisoned at his own wedding. The poison, a substance dubbed “the strangler,” is put into the wine that he drinks right before cutting open the pigeon pie—and it was brought into the wedding feast by none other than an unwitting Sansa Stark. 

Olenna Tyrell gives her a necklace that contains the crystallized poison in one of his gems—mid-feast, we see Olenna talk to Sansa and caress her face, retrieving the poison. However, since it’s Tyrion Lannister the one who Joffrey commands to serve him his wine, it’s Tyrion who ends up being framed for the murder—Cersei’s years-long paranoia and hatred of her younger brother kicks in immediately after Joffrey’s last breath. 

The Purple Wedding in 'Game of Thrones'
The nickname “Purple Wedding” comes from the color of the poisoned wine, but I love how they recalled the color in Sansa’s gown (HBO)

For her part, Sansa manages to escape the feast and King’s Landing altogether thanks to the help of Ser Dontos Hollard, who’s working on Baelish’s orders. What could be considered the “final act” of the Purple Wedding happens in Episode 3 of Season 7 when Olenna confesses her part in poisoning Joffrey once Jaime and the Lannister forces have overtaken Highgarden—with her infamous line: “Tell Cersei. I want her to know it was me”.

(image: HBO)

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.

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