Faced with the Queen's order condemning Nettles to death, the Lord of Maidenpool baulks at violating Sacred Hospitality. His loyal maester solves the problem by tipping off Prince Daemon, then telling his lord to arrest him for treason. Instead of handing him over for execution, the lord declares they're both traitors and changes sides.
Anytime Davos Seaworth opens his mouth long enough to deliver a speech of awesomeness! The following two stand out:-
"I don’t doubt Lord Celtigar bent the knee to the boy Joffrey. He is an old done man, who wants no more than to end his days in his castle, drinking his fine wine out of his jeweled cups.” He turned back to Stannis. “Yet he came when you called, sire. Came, with his ships and swords. He stood by you at Storm’s End when Lord Renly came down on us, and his ships sailed up the Blackwater. His men fought for you, killed for you, burned for you. Claw Isle is weakly held, yes. Held by women and children and old men. And why is that? Because their husbands and sons and fathers died on the Blackwater, that’s why. Died at their oars, or with swords in their hands, fighting beneath our banners. Yet Ser Axell proposes we swoop down on the homes they left behind, to rape their widows and put their children to the sword. These small-folk are no traitors."
“Death,” he heard himself say, “there will be death, aye. Your lordship lost a son at the Red Wedding. I lost four upon the Blackwater. And why? Because the Lannisters stole the throne. Go to King’s Landing and look on Tommen with your own eyes, if you doubt me. A blind man could see it. What does Stannis offer you? Vengeance. Vengeance for my sons and yours, for your husbands and your fathers and your brothers. Vengeance for your murdered lord, your murdered king, your butchered princes. Vengeance!”
Tyrion becoming a Magnificent Bastard (arguably) in his own right: He manages to escape certain execution by demanding a trial by combat and turns Bronn, a dangerous and highly skilled mercenary, to his cause. And when Lysa Arryn makes him go down a mountain pass inhabited by Proud Warrior Race Guys who have been the scourge of the Vale of Arryn for centuries, he manages to convince them to let him safely go through the pass and serve him as bodyguards and enforcers. And he actually upholds the promises he made to them instead of saying "Suckers!" once he's safely in his own army.
It gets better. The Promise he made was to ARM the Mountain Clans with steel armor and swords who then go back and use them to raid the Vale of Arryn. So he gets through the pass, gets body guards and enforcers, and his payment gets revenge on the woman who imprisoned him, all at the same time!
Joffrey boasts about how intends to torment Sansa by stripping her naked for the bedding ceremony with her new husband. Tyrion, now Sansa's husband, threatens to geld Joffrey, and tells him that he'll have to service his betrothed with a wooden prick. He does all of this in front of Tywin and Cersei, and Tywin seems to almost approve of Tyrion's intolerance of Joffrey's cruelty.
Saving the life of Aegon Targaryen VI by bodily ramming a Stone Man off their boat.
Which comes right after he convinces Aegon to abandon the plan he's been coached in for his entire life, pointing out that it clearly hasn't been working. And that is after he discovers Aegon's true identity in the first place, wagering the reveal of the secret over a cyvasse game, with the implication that he'd deliberately lost several earlier games to get his opponent confident enough to accept that bet.
And, even better, when he hears that Aegon has actually taken his advice, his inner reaction is along the lines of "Ha, the idiot actually fell for it." He not only convinced him to abandon his lifelong plan, he convinced him to abandon his lifelong plan FOR A WORSE PLAN — and he did it while playing a cyvasse game with him that ended with Aegon losing BECAUSE HE TOOK TYRION'S ADVICE ABOUT HOW TO PLAY.
YMMV on that one. First Tyrion's surprised (he nearly chokes on the food he's eating when he hears the news). Second, Accidental Truth/Backup plan is in full effect here: Jon Connigton and the Golden company arrive just to find out that the Lannister/Tyrell powerblock eroding/on the verge of collapse.
Escaping slavery to buy the help of an entire sellsword company. No, not the other way around, he signed with a sellsword company and bought their wares after escaping his master.
Daenerys Frakkin' Targaryen. Dany is like a Crowning Person of Awesome all on her own after about the midpoint of A Game of Thrones, but here are a few highlights:
First, when she kills Mirri Maz Duur and hatches her dragon eggs, and WALKS INTO THE FIRE TO PULL THEM OUT and comes out unscathed (except for her hair)at the end of A Game of Thrones
Then, when she burns down the House of the Undying AND outwits the Qaartheen to escape after leading her people through a desert death march mostly intact during A Clash Of Kings
Finally, she turns her small group of Dothraki into a large group of warriors by freeing the Unsullied she just bought by ordering them to kill the men who owned them five minutes ago, then leading them on a rampage through the East, freeing slaves and leaving burning ruins of what had once been decadent, immoral, evil cities in her wake during A Storm of Swords. Put simply, she is the most badass fourteen-year-old in, well, EVER.
And this is after she shredded half his face off with the whip he just gave her.
Of course, this being a World Half Empty, after Daenerys accomplishes the events described above, it falls apart. But instead of pulling a Karma Houdini—or letting the author throw one on her behalf—she decides to stay and learn from her mistakes. For a girl of sixteen, that's another Moment of Awesome right there.
Drogon in A Dance with Dragons. If you've gotten to the scene, no further explanation will be necessary.
When Brienne hopped off the boat while transporting Jaime Lannister out of Riverrun, scaled up a cliff, then dropped a boulder off of it on top of the boat pursuing them. Then she jumped off the cliff, almost landing in the boat.
And her killing Shagwell the fool - "Laugh!" but Shagwell could only moan and cry.
"Sapphires." Finally, Rorge gets what is coming to him. Also qualifies as a CMOA for Gendry, who rids the world of Biter a few minutes later
Discouraging Vargo Hoat from raping her. By biting off his ear.
Even better, Jaime later learns that the wound festered and drove him so mad that he didn't even noticed his fortress getting stormed.
Seeing Podrick Paynereveal that he is in fact a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass by killing a member of the Kingsguard and then getting Tyrion to safety.
Podrick gets better, he's still loyal after all this time to Tyrion, long after Tyrion left him behind.
Later, he distracts Shagwell by throwing rocks at him, so that Brienne only has to face one of the Bloody Mummers at a time.
"I told you I could fight!"
Hodor breaking out of the crypt at the end of A Clash of Kings. Really makes you glad he's a Gentle Giant.
Kevan Lannister's Refuge in Audacity telling off of Cersei after she asks him to become the new King's Hand. Then he leaves her with a hint that he believes the accusation of incest between her and Jaime.
Ser Kevan also flat out calls her a poor ruler and when she argues that Joffrey was alive she ruled through him and intends to do the same through Tommen he simply points out that she is also a bad mother. Cersei is so enraged that she throws her wine in his face.
Robb's continuing victories over the Lannisters, culminating to the King of the North! moment at the end of the first book
Donal Noye: A one-armed smith defeating Mag the Mighty, King of the Giants in a tunnel beneath the Wall. There'll be songs about that one.
Doran Martell reveals his master plan to destroy the Lannisters and put the Targaryens on the throne, complete with those chilling words: Vengeance. Justice. Fire and Blood.
In the next book, he gets wind of Cersei's plan to kill his son, with himself as a witness that she wasn't involved, and quickly alters his years-long plan by sending three of the Sand Snakes out to further keep an eye on everything in King's Landing. The man is officially a Magnificent Bastard to rival Littlefinger; not bad for someone who's long been crippled by gout.
Oberyn may be the deadly viper, but as Doran rightly boasts, he is the grass that hides the snake, and thus far more dangerous. He's been patiently plotting against the Lannisters for years, hiding this even from his own family.
How have we gotten this far without mentioning everything Eddard Stark did in a single book that could make him awesome! I mean, the first thing he is seen doing is proving that hands on justice is the greatest. He has the honor to accept his bastard child in Jon Snow, and my personal favorite parts, his What the Hell King speech to King Robert when he orders that Dany and her brother are killed to protect the Seven Kingdoms from the dragons and voluntarily giving up what could be considered the strongest political position in the entire world just to prove a point that he wouldn't go along with it!
The latest High Septon, as of A Feast For Crows, gets one when talking to Cersei:
High Septon: No.
Cersei proceeds to get imprisoned and unable to invoke a trial by combat she might actually win, guarded by the militant orders of the church against any rescue attempt. Her own actions are directly responsible for the restriction on her champions and the existence of said militant orders.
The one-chapter character Thistle deserves one for stopping an evil skinchanger from using her body, by biting off her tongue and clawing her eyes out when she feels him taking over. And then she gets to kill him for good as a wight.
She doesn't actually. Varamyr lives on in One-Eye, as we find out when Summer takes over his pack.
Followed by Bran taking over that skinchanger's wolf pack while inside Summer.
Anytime in Game of Thrones that Dany humiliates Viserys, first by shoving him away and forcing him to walk behind the Dothraki khalasar for an entire day, then hitting him with a gold-plated belt. Considering that when we first see her she's merely a scared fourteen-year-old girl, this is some majorly quick character development.
Bronn's ever more jaw-droppingly brazen rise to power.
To elaborate, Cersei arranges for Bronn to have an unfortunate accident with his underlings, Ser Balman and Lady Falyse. Instead, Balman challenges to a jousting match on horseback (thinking that Bronn, not having any jousting experience, will get knocked off his horse and can be killed while he's lying stunned on the ground), only for Bronn to kill Balman's horse instead and kill him while he's lying stunned on the ground. Bronn then kicks out Lady Falyse. Note that this is after Bronn has named his adopted son "Tyrion" when it would be suicide to do so, and has gotten away with it.
Even earlier than that, Bronn begins life as just a normal sellsword, smart enough to believe that when Tyrion says A Lannister always pays his debts he means it. He then kills a seasoned knight in single combat, traverses bandit-filled country unscathed (in no small part with Tyrion's help, granted), fights in several battles, saves a city, THEN does the above jousting trick then, to top it all off, declares himself lord protector of his wife's lands with no protest from anyone.
Surely Stannis Baratheon deserves some kind of nod on this page? His determination in spite of repeated blows and failures is nothing short of impressive. His biggest moment has to be his Big Damn Heroes moment in the battle of the wall against the wildlings. To clarify, Stannis at this point is very much the underdog in the war of the five kings, and yet he is the only one who recognizes that it's his duty as king to protect the realm against the greater threat and sends reinforcements to the wall with some encouragement from Davos.
Margaery Tyrell gets an amazing moment in A Feast for Crows. After Cersei, in a fit of staggering paranoia, frames her for adultery and treason and has her arrested by the Faith. She goes to visit Margaery in her cell to show support (i.e., stealth gloating), but Margaery is having precisely none of Cersei's bullshit:
Cersei donned a look of hurt. “You wrong me, daughter. All I want—”
The scenes in ADWD that show Arya Stark isn't the only Plucky Girl in the North. We have ten year old Lyanna Mormont sending a message to King Stannis that her family will only bend their knee to a Stark, Wylla Manderly being the only member of her house willing to stand up and say what everyone's thinking about the Frey's and Ramsey Bolton, and Alys Karstark escaping from a forced marriage to her Evil Uncle by riding an exhausted horse to the Wall, and then calmly agreeing to marry a wildling lord, who's more scared on her than she is of him.
No love for Sansa? In book one after realising what Joffery really is she almost pulls a Taking You with Me and is only stopped by the Hound. Book two she saves Ser Dontos life which allows for her eventual escape from Kings Landing. And in book four she's showing real signs of Magnificent Bastard potential.
Her defiant refusal to kneel at her forced wedding to Tyrion was a brave bit of resistance in a scenario where she had virtually no capacity to refuse her captors anything.
The backstory featured a confrontation between Aegon the Conqueror's sister-wife Rhaenys and the Ruling Princess of Dorne, Mariya "The Yellow Toad" Martell. The Dornish had used guerilla tactics to destroy the invading Targaryen armies little piece by little piece, at the same time negating them a target for their dragons. When Rhaenys got fed up and flew straight to the Dornish capital the following (paraphrased) exchange took place:
Mariya: This is Dorne. You are not wanted here, return at your peril.
Made even more awesome by the fact that Mariya was an 80 year old woman, nearly blind, and she still dared to spurn a freaking dragon rider who had burned an army to cinders a few days back. The Dornish (even women)must have balls of Valyrian steel!
"You raped her! You murdered her! You killed her children!" Made no less awesome by the fact that he lost the duel and died. Died *first*, anyway...
When naive, green boy Tris Botley, who is looked down upon by other Ironborn for his southron sensibilities (especially by Asha, who disapproves of his fawning over her), kicks crazy ass at the fall of Deepwood Motte, very clearly willing to give his life for the sake of Asha and his comrades, and to die like a true ironborn.
The taking of Deepwood Motte is one for Stannis as well.
From "The Hedge Knight", many moments relating to Dunk's Trial of Seven:
The smallfolk all being on Dunk's side even though his opponents include three princes of the blood and three members of the Kingsguard because he was "a knight who remembered his vows".
Baelor Breakspear himself, Hand of the King and heir to the Iron Throne, volunteering to be Dunk's final champion, even though it means going against his own brother and two of his nephews.
Ser Humphrey Hardyng fighting at Dunk's side even though he already had a broken leg from his earlier clash with Aerion.
Raymun Fossoway being knighted on the spot to take Dunk's cause after his treacherous cousin Steffon betrays Dunk to fight for the other side. During the battle he gave his cousin a few bruises to remember and afterwards went on to found the cadet branch of House Fossoway based on his repainted "green apple" banner which would grow to become the equals of the main "red apple" branch.
Finally, his acceptance of Prince Maekar's offer to let him take his son Aegon as his squire- on the condition that the two of them roam the country living the low life a simple hedge knight and his common squire. When Maekar incredulously reminds Dunk that Egg is a prince of the blood, Dunk points out to the prince and now heir to the throne that neither of his other two sons ever learned humility or decency, so maybe it's time to try things a different way. Maekar doesn't answer, but Dunk gets his way. (And if you know about the history of the series, you know Aegon V grows up to be a fair, honourable and beloved ruler, so Dunk knew what he was talking about.)