'Game of Thrones' scenes that spiked your heart rate

Jaime's big moment from Sunday's episode leads the list of chest-clutching scenes, according to an Apple Watch app that measures viewer heart rates.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
3 min read

Warning: " Game of Thrones " spoilers ahead.

Want to send your heart racing? Tune in to HBO's hit "Game of Thrones," where each episode usually features one or more chest-clutching, heart-pounding moments.

An Apple Watch app called Cardiogram measures user heart rates, and recently collected 2.3 million heart rate measurements from 300 volunteer users who watch the show.

Fans who watched the most recent episode, last Sunday's "The Spoils of War," won't be surprised to learn that the top moment was Jaime Lannister's brave-but-maybe-stupid charge against Dany and her dragon in the last moments of the episode. 

That moment was dramatic even for the actor who plays Jaime. 

"Jaime's not a complete idiot," Nikolaj Coster-Waldau told the New York Times after the episode aired. "He knows that this is a long-shot. But he also knows that there is no way that they can beat this woman. They cannot beat these dragons. The only way would be to somehow kill her, and for a brief second, he sees that opening. It's like a Hail Mary."

Here are the top five moments from the show's current season as tracked by Cardiogram.

1. Jaime's charge: 91 beats per minute


Jaime Lannister's charge topped the list of moments that spiked "Game of Thrones" viewer heart rates.

Macall B. Polay/HBO

Tyrion may not have been a fan of Jaime's courageous attempt ("Flee, you ... idiot," he muttered as he watched his big bro), but it certainly amped up the drama -- and our heart rates. The fourth episode, "The Spoils of War," ended on a cliffhanger, but come on, we all know Jaime's got more to do.

2. Arya avenges the Red Wedding: 83.2 beats per minute


Arya-as-Walder got the Freys to stop whining.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

In episode one, "Dragonstone", winter came for House Frey indeed, when Arya took Walder Frey's face and got her bloody revenge. (If there was an app to measure gross-out moments, Sam's poopy job montage would have won.)

3. Euron Greyjoy proposes to Cersei tied with Davos and Jon asking Daenerys for help: 83 beats per minute


Euron Greyjoy is hoping to make Cersei his bride, but neither she nor Jaime looked too thrilled about that prospect.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

"The data confirms that drama rather than action is what makes 'Game of Thrones' viewers' heart rate race," Cardiogram cofounder Brandon Ballinger said in a statement. Jaime's action-packed charge may have topped the survey, but these two purely dramatic moments, from episode one and episode three ("The Queen's Justice") respectively, also ranked heart-beatingly high.

The Cersei scene in episode one didn't seem that cardiocentric to us, but that bit at the end where Euron promises her a mysterious gift might have upped the ante. (Spoiler: The gift turned out to be Ellaria Sand, who's presumably still watching her daughter rot in Cersei's dungeons.)


Davos and Jon make a pitch for the Mother of Dragons to join their team.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

In the episode three scene, it's once again drama, not action, that stokes heartbeats. Jon and Davos need Dany's support in the North, and she in turn wants Jon to "bend the knee." But as Davos points out, they'd better all come together soon to defeat the army of the dead, or else "it doesn't matter whose skeleton sits the iron throne."

5. Daenerys threatens Varys: 76 beats per minute


Dany's sudden pounce on Varys was a long time coming, and made for a juicy moment.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

What's that line from the musical "Chicago?" He had it coming. Seldom is the eunuch Varys at a loss for words, but when Daenerys in "Stormborn," episode two, demanded to know who ordered her death, he had to stammer a second before swearing his allegiance and relating the tale of his own sad childhood. Dany seemed placated, but also warned that if he betrays her, "I will burn you alive." Foreshadowing? Chekov's dragon? Watch your back, Spider.

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