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Game of Thrones is awash with so many characters, confusing beasts and countless Houses that you need to study Wikipedia for hours after each episode.
Because of this, you’ve potentially missed out on loads of mini in-jokes, pop-culture references and fun Easter eggs hidden inside the vast world of the Seven Kingdoms. Here are a handful of our favourites so far:
1. THE OPENING CREDITS SHOW WHERE THE EPISODE TAKES PLACE
Sort of. You’re forgiven if you skip the long intro each week (even with that awesome theme tune), but in doing so you’ve missed out on finding out which areas (and thus which characters) are going to be focused on that week. It’s not the same every time!
However, there is a specific rule: Every episode’s map must contain King’s Landing, Winterfell, The Wall and ‘wherever Daenerys is at the moment’ (even if she doesn’t appear).
2. GEORGE W BUSH’S HEAD IS SEEN ON A SPIKE
The show has become known for re-using old props from other projects. And in season one, episode 10, you can briefly see the 43rd President’s head impaled on a wall in King’s Landing.
Showrunners David Benioff and DB Weiss explained: “George Bush’s head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It’s not a choice, it’s not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around.”
HBO wasn’t pleased with this, later saying: “We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologised immediately for this inadvertent, careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.”
3. LITTLEFINGER CAN PREDICT THE FUTURE
Did sneaky Littlefinger have a secret power we were unaware of? In season 4 episode ‘The Mountain and the Viper’, he told Robin Arryn: “People die at their dinner tables. They die in their beds. They die squatting over their chamber pots. Everybody dies sooner or later.”
Although Joffrey’s death at his wedding had already happened at this point, this still clearly foreshadows the deaths of Shae (killed by Tyrion in her bed) and Tywin (killed by Tyrion on the toilet).
4. DAARIO LOVES MONTY PYTHON
George RR Martin had already written a funny nod to Monty Python in A Dance with Dragons, when a character mentioned that the Unsullied “don’t break and run when someone farts in their general direction”. (A reference to a line in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.)
In the show, Daario – back when he was played by Ed Skrein – defends Daenerys from a Meereenese champion by cutting his head off, but not before he’s offered a classic John Cleese insult. Speaking in the fictional language of Old Ghiscari, he apparently says: “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries,” just like the French Taunter from The Holy Grail.
Not only that, but Winterfell scenes in the very first episode were shot at Doune Castle in Scotland, which stood in for the Python boys’ own Castle Anthrax.
5. GANDALF’S SWORD IS IN THE IRON THRONE
The Iron Throne is said to be made up of hundreds of swords and heated together using dragon fire. In reality, the prop was pieced together using lots of old swords the production team found nearby.
Among these swords is Gandalf’s actual trusty Glamdring from the Lord of the Rings movies. You can clearly see it in the background.
Plus, swords from the medieval epic Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves have also been spotted hiding in the Throne. Not as cool, but still.
6. PETER DINKLAGE GAVE A NOD TO DESTINY
Okay, this one hasn’t been officially confirmed, but it’s interesting nonetheless. In a season 5 episode, Tyrion is seen sitting in front of a window which looks rather familiar. In fact, it looks exactly like Dinklage’s character Ghost from the Destiny video game (before he was replaced after critical players said he sounded bored).
Dinklage is seen staring directly out of the window, with the only source of light pouring through from the outside. Surely that was deliberate? Or are we just being silly?
7. THE R+L=J THEORY WAS CONFIRMED EARLY ON
The producers were clearly aware of the huge fan theory (since confirmed) that Jon Snow is actually the son of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark: in an early scene featuring Jon and Sam, if you squint your eyes (or brighten your laptop), you can see the equation letters right next to Jon. Coincidence? We think not.
OK, this is probably just the production team playing a joke, but we’d like to think Jon’s uncle Benjen Stark (who left the Wall and never returned) etched the letters as a clue for his nephew. You never know.
8. COLDPLAY’S WILL CHAMPION PERFORMED AT THE RED WEDDING
Coldplay drummer Will dropped some sick beats in the unforgettable Red Wedding episode.
It’s presumed this percussionist also bit the dust alongside everyone else in that horrendous scene. Still, better than the Super Bowl, right? Eh?
9. AND SIGUR ROS PERFORMED AT THE PURPLE WEDDING
The Icelandic trio can be seen playing the Red Wedding anthem ‘The Rains of Castemere’ at Joffrey’s request.
Sadly for them, Joffrey wasn’t so impressed by their progressive folk style, and proceeded to pelt them with food.
10. AND SNOW PATROL’S GARY LIGHTBODY SANG A DITTY
There’s only one indie band frontman who sings like that.
11. OH, AND MASTODON POPPED UP AS WHITE WALKERS
Remember that epic episode where Jon Snow and the Wildlings took on the White Walkers? And some of those said Wildings became part of the army of the dead? Well, three of them were played by Mastodon members Bill Kelliher, Brent Hinds and Brann Dailor. (Where are you going to find a ready supply of big, hairy, authentically medieval-looking men? Metal bands.)
Brann Dailor later said of the experience: “I watched my best friends Brent and Bill, murdered right in front of me as I myself was stabbed in the stomach and had my throat slit multiple times, and I didn’t mind at all. It made me love being in Mastodon even more.”
12. GEORGE RR MARTIN SLIPS IN LOTS OF FOOTBALL REFERENCES
The author is a huge American football fan, and has placed a couple of cheeky references to his beloved New York Giants into the books.
In A Dance With Dragons, he writes: “The galley was also where the ship’s books were kept… the fourth and final volume of The Life of the Triarch Belicho, a famous Volantene patriot whose unbroken succession of conquests and triumphs ended rather abruptly when he was eaten by giants.” This is a reference to the New York Giants’ Super Bowl victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots (and their head coach Bill Belichick).
Also, the giant Wun Wun gets his name from former Giants quarterback Phil Simms, who wore number 11 on his jersey.
13. THE THREE STOOGES GET A NOD
In the first book, A Game of Thrones, Catelyn arrests Tyrion with the help of three knights from House Bracken.
Their names? Lharys, Mohor, and Kurleket. Clearly a Westeros take on Larry, Moe, and Curly.
14. OBERYN’S DEMISE WAS TEASED WAY IN ADVANCE
If you had read the books, then you knew full well that the crushing end of Oberyn Martell was coming at the hands of The Mountain.
For the rest of us, we still had no idea, even when actors Pedro Pascal and Lena Headey essentially gave away the ending:
15. DRAGONSLAYER AND GAME OF THRONES ARE IN THE SAME UNIVERSE
Of course not really. But according to Viserys, there was a dragon bearing the same name as the evil beastie from the 1981 fantasy epic.
While waffling on about the skulls of dead dragons that were once ridden by brave men in the past, he mentions Vermithrax. In the film, it’s called Vermithrax Pejorative.
16. THE SHOWRUNNERS ARE IN THE HALL OF FACES
In the creepy Return to Oz-style Hall of Faces belonging to the Faceless Men, the production team hid a couple of familiar heads in the mix.
Co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss were among the countless faces, while the head that Arya touches belonged to the mother of Barry Gower, the prosthetics supervisor for the show.
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