The eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is finally upon us, meaning that for fans of this massively epic fantasy series, there likely won’t be much else worth talking about for the next month and a half. With over a year off the air between seasons, the six-episode final season will no doubt be one of the biggest TV events of the decade. The show promises a massive showdown between the Seven Kingdoms and the Night King and his army of undead. But there are a ton of other secrets and mysteries that have yet to be revealed and explained. For instance, who – if anyone – will win the Iron Throne? Will Jon Snow finally discover his true parentage? Will Arya cross all the names off her list? Will Cleganebowl actually come to pass?
Of course, the questions don’t stop there. But while the show may be coming to an end a matter of weeks, we highly doubt that will mark the end to the Game of Thrones theories and secrets. After all, George R. R. Martin still has two more installments left in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, not to mention that a prequel series is currently in the works at HBO.
But while there are no shortage of secrets hiding within the story, which ones have been going on behind-the-scenes of the TV series? Let's take a closer look! Here are 25 Hidden Details Behind The Making Of Game Of Thrones Only True Fans Knew.
Those behind-the-scenes at Game of Thrones have gone to some pretty extreme lengths to keep spoilers from leaking out. After a number of scripts went missing and a handful of stolen episodes were released online, HBO seems to be doing everything in their power to prevent audiences from getting an inside look at the story.
For season seven, Kit Harrington said that he had to participate in three fake scenes when they knew that paparazzi were watching. That would be about 15 extra hours of work for something that wasn’t even needed for the series.
Anyone who reads the books knows that there are a lot more to the White Walkers on the page. The novels hint that the Walkers likely have their own culture, language, and may have even bred with humans centuries ago. On the show, however, they largely come across as purely evil beings who never speak.
That being said, there was originally the idea to develop a White Walker language for the series. David Peterson – who helped develop Valyrian and Dothraki for the show – also created a Walker language called Skroth. But this idea was eventually abandoned.
If you think the Iron Throne is an imposing artifact in the show, in the novels, it's said to literally be constructed from the 1,000 swords that were surrendered before Aegon Targaryen following his conquest of the Seven Kingdoms.
That being said, the Iron Throne on the show is still big enough to house a few secrets of its own. One of which is the speculation that a number of famous swords from other works of fiction are visible in the chair – the most notable of which seems to be Gandalf’s famous sword, Glamdring.
Long before a number of season five episodes leaked online, there were a couple of season one scripts that went missing. On his blog, George R. R. Martin said that when he received the envelope – which was meant to contain the two scripts – that it had been torn open before it got to him and that they were both missing.
The author said he believed the scripts were stolen on purpose, and he warned fans to look out for someone trying to hawk them online. That being said, the scripts never ended up leaking to the public.
The early seasons of the show certainly featured their fair share of feasts, many of which Tyrion Lannister happily partook in. However, while Tyrion may be a ravenous meat-eater, Peter Dinklage is actually a passionate vegetarian.
In the past, the actor has participated in a few videos for PETA, where he encourages others to give up meat and using animal products. So in order to accommodate for Dinklage’s lifestyle, the “meat” that Tyrion eats in the show is actually made of tofu and other vegetable products.
Still one of the most shocking sequences in Game of Thrones, the Red Wedding found Robb, Talisa, and Catelyn Stark all meeting their untimely demise while staying in The Twins. Robb is shot with arrows, Talisa is stabbed in the stomach, and Catelyn has her throat cut.
The Red Wedding was orchestrated by the Lannisters, Freys, and Boltons – and the heads of these houses go on to meet their demise in the same fashion as their victims. Tywin is shot with a crossbow by Tyrion, Roose is stabbed in the stomach by his son, and Walder has his throat cut by Arya.
For the first seven seasons of the show, Littlefinger was pulling the strings behind some of the biggest, tide-turning events in Westeros. However, was Littlefinger so good that he could actually predict the future?
In season four, the character accurately predicts exactly how many characters have and will meet their demise. He says that people perish at their dinner tables, in their beds, and over their chamberpots – which is exactly how we say goodbye to Joffrey, Shae, and Tywin that same season.
On the fantasy spectrum, Game of Thrones may be on the completely opposite end of the scale than Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But that doesn’t mean the show hasn’t winked at this comedy classic a number of times throughout its run.
For instance, in the first episode, the Winterfell scenes were filmed at Scotland’s Doune Caste – the same castle used for Castle Anthrax in Holy Grail. In a later scene, the iconic Monty Python line about farting in someone’s general also made it into the show – though it was disguised in the language of Low Valyrian.
Tommen Baratheon is played by two different actors in the show – Callum Wharry in season one and two and Dean-Charles Chapman in seasons four through six. While Tommen is far from the only character to be recast, interestingly enough, Chapman previously appeared as another Lannister before he was cast to play Tommen.
He shows up in two episodes in season three as Martyn Lannister, a son of Kevan and a brother of Lancel, who meets his demise at the hands of the Karstarks.
With much of the series being filmed in the U.K. and throughout Europe, it makes sense that many of the actors are British. Therefore, it’s no wonder that many performers who had previously appeared in the Harry Potter film series also show up in Game of Thrones.
Some of the most notable of these include David Bradley (Filch/Walder Frey), Ciaran Hinds (Aberforth Dumbledore/Mance Rayder), and Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonka /Osha). In all, at least 10 major actors have appeared in both fantasy series.
While the episodes have no doubt increased in quality and scope over the years, the first episode of Game of Thrones was far from a disaster – or at least, the one that made it to air wasn’t a disaster. However, fans of the series have likely heard about the unaired pilot, which was said by many to have been a total wreck.
Thankfully, the episode never ended up making it to air, and HBO allowed the show runners to largely reshoot the majority of the episode. They also recast some major parts that weren’t working out.
A number of characters have been recast twice, including Tommen Baratheon and Lord Beric Dondarrion. However, Ser Gregor Clegane – otherwise known as the Mountain – has been portrayed by three different actors.
In season one, he’s played by Conan Sevens, in season two by Ian Whyte, and in season four through eight by Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson. As the character played a rather insignificant role in the earlier episodes, it’s quite possible that many didn’t even realize the Mountain had been recast at all.
Ed Sheeran’s cameo was far from the worst thing in season seven – though it was definitely one of those moments that pulled viewers out of the fantasy world. That being said, Sheeran is far from the only musician who has enjoyed a cameo on Game of Thrones.
Ser Ilyn Payne – the knight who beheaded Ned Stark – is actually portrayed by former rock and roller Wilko Johnson from Dr. Feelgood fame. Meanwhile, Icelandic band Sigur Ros performed at Joffrey’s wedding, while the drummer for Coldplay played percussion at the Red Wedding.
Before he appeared as Ramsay Bolton, easily the most sadistic character on Game of Thrones – which is really saying something – Iwan Rheon auditioned for a very different part on the show: Jon Snow.
Obviously, it’s impossible now to imagine anyone but Kit Harrington playing the King of the North. Or anyone else playing Ramsay Bolton for that matter as well. Even Rheon has admitted that they made the right choice, as he said he would have had a very different take on the character of Jon.
For the first four seasons of the show, George R. R. Martin ended up penning one episode a piece. All of these episodes covered some very crucial events of the story, including the Battle of Blackwater and the Purple Wedding. However, the author hasn’t written an episode in years.
Apparently, now that the series is further away from the source material, writing an episode could take over a month for Martin to complete – which is time that the author said he'd rather not take away from working on The Winds of Winter.
Game of Thrones had to cast their fair share of child actors – which is no easy feat. This is especially the case when many of the characters are taken to some pretty dark places, and they needed to have the acting abilities to become someone else entirely over the course of many seasons.
When it came to the character of Arya, around three-hundred young actresses ended up auditioning for the part. Miraculously, Maisie Williams beat all of them out, which was all the more impressive considering she hadn't appeared in a movie or show before Thrones.
Game of Thrones has plenty of shocking scenes. But few were as shocking and heartbreaking as Hodor’s demise. In a hard to believe turn of events, we discover the reason that Hodor only ever says “Hodor” is due to Bran warging into him while also being able to influence events in the past. In other words, the friendly, simple-minded giant was destined to sacrifice himself to save Bran.
While Hodor is still alive and well in the novels, we do know that this sequence of events will largely play out in the same fashion as it does on the show.
Bring a fantasy epic like A Song of Ice and Fire to the small screen is certainly no easy feat. While co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss have certainly done their fair share of streamlining, most would agree that they’ve captured the essence of what makes Martin's books stand out.
But apparently, Martin wanted to make sure that the two men were up to the task before he handed over the reins of his masterwork. So Martin asked Benioff and Weiss who Jon Snow’s real mother was, which the writers apparently had no problem answering.
Unless you’re watching live, many people probably end up fast-forwarding through the opening credits of Game of Thrones. In which case, they may not have noticed that this sequence changes depending upon where the episode is going to take place.
This has been especially important in later seasons, as the characters continue to branch out further across Westeros and Essos. For instance, last season alone audiences got to visit such new locations as Casterly Rock, Highgarden, Oldtown, and Eastwatch by the Sea.
While we would expect many of the series stars to use stunt doubles for their more demanding scenes, a number of them have also used body doubles in the instances where the characters must bare it all for the cameras.
The most notable instance of this was Lena Heady, who used a double for Cersei’s walk of atonement. Emilia Clarke has also used a body double after saying she would not appear nude following season one. However, she did not end up using a double for Dany’s epic escape from the Dothraki in season six.
Despite being one of the richest men in the Seven Kingdoms, Tywin Lannister isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty. This is what makes his first scene – where Tywin skins a deer – the perfect introduction to the character.
But if this scene looked extremely real, it’s because actor Charles Dance was skinning a real deer. In fact, the actor only learned how to skin a deer the day of filming, though we never would have guessed from the looks of it. The scene's also appropriately symbolic considering the Lannisters victory over the Baratheons.
While ten Game of Thrones actors had previously appeared in the Harry Potter series, it might be even more impressive that eight stars of the show popped up in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Since much of the show and movie were filmed in the United Kingdom, a lot of the actors were no doubt nearby – making it easy for them to work on both projects.
A few of these stars included Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth/ Captain Phasam), Max von Sydow (Three-Eyed Raven/ Lor San Tekka), and Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen Reed/ First Order Officer).
Peter Dinklage has been nominated for an Emmy for ever year Game of Thrones has been on the air, and the actor has ended up winning three out of those seven occasions. So to say that the actor is the perfect fit to play Tyrion Lannister is a bit of an understatement.
While many may not have known Dinklage before his turn as the cleverest member of House Lannister, George R. R. Martin always wanted Dinklage for the part. Reportedly, Martin even wanted the actor to play Tyrion before the series was ever in the works at HBO.
Even if you’re not the biggest Game of Thrones fan, this fact may come of little surprise. With the show only continuing to grow in popularity, the budget on this HBO epic has increased with every season.
What began as around a $5 million per episode ordeal has ballooned into around a $15 million per episode series. That’s certainly not cheap, but the increased budget certainly shows – especially now that the dragons and White Walkers have taken center stage. And with many episodes now over an hour, it's like every episode is its own movie.
Even most casual fans should know that Game of Thrones has long eclipsed A Song of Ice And Fire in terms of story. But even before the paths branched, the show continued to drift further and further away from its source material.
While the series creators have talked with Martin about the future of his story, they’ve decided to take their show in some drastically different directions. For instance, some major characters in the novels are completely absent on screen – which may mean we ultimately have two very different endings for this fantasy epic.