With a new season of Game of Thrones on the horizon, avid fans are clamouring for a rewatch in order to catch up with the series and reimmerse themselves in George R. R. Martin’s world.
Another benefit of a rewatch is noticing all those little things that you may have missed on the first, second, or tenth time around. Yet, even the most devoted of binge-watchers may not have noticed all of the entries on this list.
George R R Martin is well-known for his use of foreshadowing, where each line may hold significance later on in the story. The show uses this technique as well-- some taken from the books, and some of HBO’s own creation.
It’s easy to miss foreshadowing if it’s done well enough, but it’s not the only thing that can slip by. Recasting and brief character appearances can be difficult to notice, and with so many different background details in order to create the show’s incredible world, it’s more than likely that some will slip through the cracks.
You think that you know all there is to know when it comes to your beloved show? Well, in the words of Ygritte herself: “you know nothing.”
Here are the 15 Things You Completely Missed In Game Of Thrones.
15 Arya's Frey Pie Was Foreshadowed 3 Seasons Earlier
In the season 6 finale "The Winds of Winter", Arya bakes Walder Frey a pie that would have Julia Child rolling in her grave-- and not just because of dry pastry.
Disguised as a servant girl, Arya urges Walder to open up the crust, revealing his two sons-- Lame Lothar and Black Walder-- baked into the filling, fingernails and all. It’s gruesome, triumphant, and we should have seen it coming.
Back in season 3’s finale "Mhysa", Bran is sheltered with his group of Hodor, Meera, and Jojen. Trying to create conversation, he tells the story of the "Rat Cook." According to the legend, a cook who felt that the King had wronged him killed the King’s son and served him in a pie to the King.
The King liked the taste so much that he asked for a second helping. The gods end up turning the cook into a rat-- not for murder or for serving the pie, but for killing a guest beneath his roof.
The parallels are obvious, the foreshadowing clear: Walder Frey, who killed the Stark guests beneath his roof, now plays the part of the King, wronging Arya and having his sons minced into pie.
14 The Night King Had Been Recast
"Winter is coming" and, with it, the White Walkers. Led by The Night King, their role in Westeros' proceedings has been steadily increasing.
They haven’t been featured too much, but when they have-- such as in "Hardhome" and "The Door"-- they’ve been an unstoppable force, consistently dispatching their massive army. What hasn’t been consistent is the Night King himself, however.
Played in season 4 and 5 by Richard Brake, he was dropped for season 6 in favor of Vladimir Furdik. While there’s no official reason for the recast, the fact that Furdik is a professional stuntman may have swayed the casting director, considering the potential for more physically demanding scenes in season 7 and 8.
However, a season 7 poster of the Night King does closely resemble Brake’s interpretation over Furdik’s. Perhaps the character’s casting has been reverted back to its original actor-- perhaps pointing to work scheduling difficulties as the reason for the season 6 recast.
13 Theon Killed Varys' "Little Birds"
In season 2 episode 7, aptly titled "A Man Without Honor", Theon unveils to a group of Stark loyalists the bodies of two young children, burned to a crisp.
Obviously, Theon wanted the loyalists to believe they were the bodies of Bran and Rickon Stark, and obviously, as we didn’t see the killing take place, they weren’t. However, these bodies hold more significance than you might think.
These bodies belonged to the two unnamed orphaned farmer boys that were seen in Winterfell throughout the season. Upsetting, yes, but not quite as impactful or as important as killing the Stark boys. However, that's not to say that they weren't crucial characters.
In the very next episode, Varys remarks that “I have many little birds in the North... but I haven’t heard their songs since Theon Greyjoy captured Winterfell.”
It is revealed in season 6 that Varys’ "little birds" are orphaned children that he uses as spies. It all adds up: Theon killed the two boys that Varys had hired to provide information about Winterfell to King’s Landing.
12 Robert Foreshadowed The Death of Joffrey And Tywin
Over to the books now, where a phrase passed around in King’s Landing bears huge significance concerning the following events that take place in the city.
While the line in the show-- “the King s**ts and the Hand wipes”-- is used by Jaime as a way of conveying his wit and disdain for Westeros politics, the books also use a line that, while similar, is much more foreboding.
In the books, King Robert reinterprets the saying “what the King dreams, the Hand builds” as “the King eats, and the Hand takes the s**t,” which becomes a phrase more common among the citizens of King’s Landing.
This line, in the end, is proven right in a literal sense. King Joffrey dies while tucking into a slice of pigeon pie at his wedding banquet. His Hand, Tywin Lannister, dies rather unceremoniously while on the toilet.
King Robert and the commoners lived by the phrase, and Joffrey and Tywin died by it.
11 Beric Dondarrion Was In Season 1
Beric Dondarrion took center stage in season 3 as the leader of the Brotherhood Without Banners, the group that captured Arya, Hot Pie, Gendry, and Sandor Clegane.
Reformed as a follower of the Lord of Light, Dondarrion takes part in a fiery brawl with The Hound, is slain, and thereafter resurrected by Thoros of Myr. He, along with Missandei and Tormund, is one of the many new and exciting characters introduced in season 3, right?
Well, not exactly. Dondarrion was actually introduced in season 1, in a brief appearance played by David Michael Scott rather than Richard Dormer. He is sent by Eddard Stark to take a hundred men and attempt to locate and execute Ser Gregor Clegane, otherwise known as The Mountain.
How he ends up as the Brotherhood’s leader isn’t explained in the show, but in the books, his team are ambushed at the Battle at the Mummer’s Ford. The survivors first form the brotherhood to antagonize Lannister troops, but over time, they lose any alliances they have, forming the Brotherhood Without Banners.
10 The Flayed Corpses In The Battle Of The Bastards Were Distance Markers
It’s a terrifying sight: staring down at thousands of Bolton men, and, in front of them, the flayed corpses of their enemies. As "Battle of the Bastards" demonstrated, Ramsay Bolton is an adept tactician, and those flayed corpses weren’t just used as a scare tactic.
No, they were expertly placed to give the Bolton army the best chance of winning the battle. Wanting to goad Jon into attacking first, Ramsay lets Rickon Stark loose to make his way back. Armed with a bow and an arrow, Ramsay was always going to kill Rickon-- the important part was how long he was going to wait to do so.
Using the flayed corpses as distance markers, and their flames as a way to check the wind speed and direction, an expert archer like Ramsay couldn’t miss. He waited until the right moment to execute, leaving Rickon dead and Jon Snow in range of his army’s arrows.
The procedure also let Ramsay know exactly when Jon’s army would be in range, giving him the tactical advantage that would have won him the battle, had it not been for Littlefinger’s intervention.
9 There Was More Than One White Walker In The Show's Prologue
If viewers didn’t know what they were getting into when they started watching Game of Thrones, they certainly did by the end of the show’s prologue.
In it, we watch three members of the Night’s Watch get attacked by a White Walker, and when two of them lose their heads, so do we. It’s dark, grisly, and a menacing harbinger of what’s to come. Which makes it all the more unsettling to discover that this wasn’t the only White Walker roaming the forest.
As the picture above just about makes out, the White Walker that lops off the heads of the Night’s Watch members has company. Cast in shadow by the canopy of branches, his friend is hard to make out, but knowing they’re there is a terrifying thought.
In the books, the White Walkers actually circle the men, a sight that, while horrifying, wouldn’t translate to screen as well as the dark lighting. It’s the fear of the unknown, and the lurking threat, that makes Game of Thrones’ prologue so effective in its intensity.
8 The Unsullied Were Also In Season 1
In season 3 episode 4 "And Now His Watch is Ended", Daenerys sets free the army of the Unsullied from the tyrannical control of their owner, the slave master Kraznys mo Nakloz. It’s the Unsullied’s refusal to flee, and subsequent loyalty to the woman who liberated them, that sets them up as a fearless and heroic force to be reckoned with. Their first appearance wasn’t in season 3, however. It was actually in season 1, and they looked ridiculous.
Kept as guards by Magister Illyrio Mopatis, and present at Khal Drogo’s wedding, their depiction is very faithful to the book’s description: they wear a spiked helmet and their armor is minimal. While fitting for the books, they were never going to translate as well on screen.
This iteration was changed for season 3 and onwards, where the producers cited the new version being easier for the visual effects team to duplicate as the reason. With a get-up as silly as season 1’s, the Unsullied were always going to be redesigned.
7 Varys Had Reason To Hate Weddings
In the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die. The Starks were met with the latter option during the infamous Red Wedding, and Joffrey suffered the same grisly fate during his Purple Wedding. However, while both weddings ended in tragedy, it wasn’t totally unexpected. There were hints dropped, including one a whole season earlier.
In season 2 episode 9 "Blackwater", Tyrion and Varys are sharing a fleeting moment of conversation before the battle commences. The bells sound for war, and an irritated Varys exclaims that “I always hated the bells. They ring for horror, a dead king, a city under siege.”
“Or a wedding,” retorts Tyrion. “Exactly,” replies Varys.
On first viewing, watchers would be forgiven for thinking that this is just Varys’ weary cynicism revealing itself again. Yet, throughout the series it becomes very clear that Varys has every reason to hate weddings-- they’re a terrible event that, as the Red and Purple Wedding prove, lead to death.
6 Ned's Death Was Imminent From The Start
With the shocking beheading of Ned Stark, Game of Thrones stood out as a narrative that takes risks. It’s been hailed many times before, but we’ll say it again: what other show in 2011 would set up a character to be its main protagonist, and then tear him down with one swift blow of an axe?
This isn’t how a series is meant to work-- yet it did, and from then on, every viewer knew that nobody was safe in the show.
The series’ defining moment was made inevitable all the way back in episode 1, with a nifty bit of foreshadowing that carried huge import. The Starks, on their way back from beheading a deserter, stumble upon a dead direwolf. Its cause of death? A stag’s antler pierced into its side. The stag was also killed, mauled by the direwolf.
The stag is the sigil of House Baratheon. The direwolf is the sigil of House Stark. Therefore, Stark and Baratheon are each other’s downfall, resulting in the deaths of both Ned and Robert. The fact that the adult Direwolf had five cubs further substantiates its relation to Ned Stark, and indeed his death.
5 The Sky Cell Had Writing On Its Wall
In the season 1 episode "A Golden Crown", Tyrion is thrown into the terrifying sky cell. Unlike a regular cell, there is an escape, but this escape involves plummeting down to your death. What you may have missed is that a previous prisoner in the cell did exactly this-- and there's the writing to prove it.
As Tyrion stands up to look at the view, we can just make out some writing on the wall behind him. The statement reads “time to fly” and is scrawled several times in what looks like blood. It’s a little bit of extra detail that helps to establish how horrifying the conditions in the sky cell are, and why exactly Tyrion wants to get out of there as soon as possible.
In the books, it’s a similarly foreboding “gods save me, the blue is calling” etched in blood instead. With a drop that steep, windy conditions, and a floor that’s sloping ever so slightly to the edge, it’s easy to see why the cells would lead a prisoner to jump.
4 Jon Arryn's Murder Was In Plain Sight
In season 4 episode 7 "Mockingbird", it is disclosed that Littlefinger persuaded the unhinged Lysa Arryn to murder her husband Jon Arryn.
It’s a huge reveal, as Jon Arryn’s death is what set the whole plot in motionl after all, and the four-season mystery of how exactly he died has now ended. A good mystery, of course, has clues, and there was quite a huge one given to us in season 1 upon the knowledge of his death.
Way back in the first episode of Game of Thrones, a raven arrives at Winterfell with news of Jon Arryn’s death. The score that plays alongside it is very prominent and significant. It is the theme associated with Littlefinger, established in his iconic "chaos is a ladder" speech.
With the simple use of melody, it is made blindingly obvious who is to blame for the death of Jon Arryn. Even with its music, the show manages to make every little detail hold significance for future episodes.
3 The Mountain Was Recast... Twice
Up until season 4, The Mountain had always been the less loved and important Clegane brother, playing second fiddle to the fan favourite Hound. While his act of crushing the head of one of the most likable characters in Game of Thrones, Oberyn Martell, may not have won him any new supporters, we certainly felt his presence.
Jis return as a zombified personal guard to Cersei in season 5 and 6 also made it clear that he wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Though maybe his actor will, if the character’s casting history is anything to go by.
Gregor Clegane hasn’t just been recast once, but twice. So we’ve seen three different iterations of him. He first arrived on screen in season 1 played by Conan Stevens. While his stature was perfect for the role, he left after the season to star in The Hobbit. Season 2’s The Mountain was played by Ian Whyte.
Wanting a more physically imposing actor to take on the role from season 4 onwards, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson was cast, and has suited the role as a silent villainous henchman ever since.
2 Theon Predicted His Own Future
Theon Greyjoy’s is one of Game of Thrones’ most developed and tragic characters, undergoing torment of his own creation after betraying the Starks, before slowly working his way towards the goal of redemption.
He’s a sorry figure, never made to feel like he belonged with the Starks, and never able to make the right decision under pressure when in control of Winterfell. His downfall was inevitable-- while viewers may have initially cheered at his torture, nobody deserves the amount he was put under.
What makes it all the more tragic is that Theon himself predicted it. In season 2's "A Man Without Honor", Theon tells Lupin that “I’m looking at the rest of my life being treated like a fool and a eunuch by my own people.”
Of course, he’s made a fool after being left for his captors by his own men, and Ramsay’s method of torture leaves him as a eunuch, just like he predicted.
1 Jon Snow Is Alive Because Of Karl Tanner
It turns out that the disgusting, sexist, foul-mouthed, and jealous Karl "The legend of Gin Alley" Tanner may just be Jon Snow’s saviour. As rhe leader of the Night’s Watch mutineers that took refuge in Craster’s Keep, he comes face to face with Snow in season 4 episode 5 "The First of His Name".
Trading blows, Tanner gains the upper hand. “You learned how to fight in a castle. How to fight with honor” he jeers. “You know what’s wrong with honor?” Tanner spits in Snow’s face, blinding him and allowing Tanner to push him to the floor. If not for one of Craster’s daughters, he wouldhave won the battle.
Four episodes later, during the battle between the Wildings and the Night’s Watch, it’s clear that Snow has learned from his mistakes. He’s fighting against A Thenn, Styr, and losing badly.
Up against the wall, both figuratively and literally, there’s little way out of it. However, learning from Tanner, Snow dishonorably spits in Styr’s face before delivering the final blow with a hammer. It’s the exact same move, and because of Tanner’s valuable lesson, Snow is alive, and now the King of the North.
Can you think of any other foreshadowing moments or other scenes that other fans may have missed in Game of Thrones? Let us know in the comments!
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