Whether or not you’re a fan of fantasy, if you could go back in time to 2010 and explain that for the next decade, people would come together in record numbers to watch an epic fantasy series, anxiously waiting months or years for new seasons to come out, a lot of people would’ve laughed. But here we are, years later, with dozens of awards, hundreds of viewing parties, thousands of Halloween costumes, and countless fans.
George R.R. Martin really hit one out of the park when he wrote A Song of Ice and Fire. When the epic fantasy was brought to the mainstream by an equally amazing HBO TV series, it captured millions of hearts around the globe… and then subsequently crushed them with a clenched fist. Although Game of Thrones has been an emotional rollercoaster for many of its loyal fans, we always seem to keep coming back for more. Unfortunately for us fans, the next season always seems a winter away, so to tide you over, here are 48 fiery facts about Game of Thrones.
48. Never Attempt to Climb the Wall
During filming for Game of Thrones season 3, the crew faced an interesting problem when actor Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow, broke his leg. The actor got locked out of his own apartment in London and decided to attempt to climb into it. Predictably, he fell and broke his leg. The crew had to come up with creative ways to film around the injury. Primarily, they had to use Jon Snow stand-ins wearing matching costumes and wigs.
47. All in the Details
Noble characters are often seen wearing intricately designed clothes with motifs of their house’s sigil. Sometimes these designs are almost impossible for viewers to see. A few examples of these amazing small details are the lion-headed jewels Cersei seems to always be wearing and Daenerys’ blue dress that features dragon designs.
46. Two (or Three) Becomes One
There are a few characters in the show that are combinations of lesser book characters. One of the most notable composite characters is the prostitute Ros who is based on several named (Alayaya, Chataya, Kyra) and unnamed prostitutes who appear in the books. Additionally, Gendry is believed to be a composite of the young Aegon Targaryen and Edric Storm, although this is unconfirmed.
45. U Remind Me Of a Snow
The actor of Jon Snow, Kit Harington, was once approached in a bar by a stranger who told him that he looked exactly like Jon Snow. When Harington then revealed that he was, in fact, Jon Snow, the stranger told him that he was too short to really be Snow.
44. A True Warrior
Many of the Game of Thrones stars had interesting audition situations but Jason Momoa, who plays Khal Drogo, had one of the wildest auditions by far! The audition ended with him performing a Maori haka without a shirt because he had ripped it off in the middle of it. If you are unsure what a haka is, you should watch the New Zealand All Blacks before a rugby match.
43. Girl Power!
Emilia Clarke originally had written into her contract that she wouldn’t do any more nude scenes (post-season 1). So what made her want to change her mind and emerge from that flaming hut as naked as the day she was born? Emilia said: “It was just a wonderful, strong moment I wanted to own, a real empowering, girl-power wow scene […] I was so thrilled with it. It’s not a sexy scene, she’s not naked for no reason, it’s not gratuitous. She’s naked because she’s just destroyed her enemies in this almighty blaze after they underestimated her—how could I say no?”
42. Real Accents
Game of Thrones is a truly international television show and only has two American born actors: Jason Momoa, who played Khal Drogo, and Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion. A lot of the different accents you hear characters using are due to the differences in accents of the actors who play them. The slight difference in accent adds to the depth of the characters from the various regions of the world.
41. We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Wall
One of the show’s most important and impressive structures is the Wall. It defends the people of Westeros from the magical dangers of the North. In the show, it’s said to be around 700 feet tall but in reality, the wall is mostly CGI. There is a real wall and its height is only 17 feet.
40. Award Tour
In the year 2015, Game of Thrones cleaned up at the Emmys, taking home a total of 12 awards. This was the most awarded single season of any TV show ever. If that was not impressive enough, they repeated this feat in 2016. They’ve only kept going since then, racking up a total of 47 Primetime Emmys, making it the most awarded scripted TV show ever. Sorry, Frasier.
39. In the Beginning
Author George R.R. Martin had written a television series prior to Game Of Thrones but disliked the limitations of TV broadcasting standards. The A Song of Ice and Fire books were meant to be impossible to film for TV—considering how much it costs to make a single episode, he was kind of right, even if HBO did manage to do it.
However, after The Lord Of The Rings movies came out and charmed everyone, Martin was contacted by producers that wanted to adapt his books to screenplays.
38. Dreams? What Dreams?
When the show first started, its executive producers promised that there would never be dream or flashback scenes. This promise didn’t last long after the character Bran was seen to dream about a three-eyed raven and the series showed us scenes from Cersei’s childhood. With a world that expansive, how else were they supposed to show us stuff?
37. The Silver Hair of a Targaryen
The beautiful blonde hair of character Daenerys Targaryen is created using wigs hand-crafted by sophisticated and talented hairdressers. The actor who plays Targaryen, Emilia Clarke, is a natural brunette and the use of wigs ensured she did not have to change or damage her hair for the show—at least for the first seven seasons! For the final season of the show, Clarke finally gave in and bleached/dyed her hair platinum blonde to match her character, but not without giving an Instagram shoutout to the two Game of Thrones crew who had created her famous blonde wig.
36. Just a Little Bit of History Repeating
In Game of Thrones, the major war becomes known as The War of the Five Kings, those kings being Stannis Baratheon, Renley Baratheon, Joffrey Baratheon, Robb Stark, and Baelon Greyjoy. Surprisingly, this battle was partly inspired by real-life events. In 15th century England, rivaling houses fought for the throne in a series of wars called the War of the Roses.
The Stark and Lannister feud is similar to two very real noble families involved in the War of the Roses, the Yorks and the Lancasters. Certain characters like Joffrey, Sansa, Cersei, and Robb have similar characteristics to children from both of these families and share similar stories. The War of the Roses is remembered as one of the most horrific conflicts in British history: The 1461 Battle of Townton, for instance, is said to be the bloodiest battle ever fought on British soil.
35. Psst, Who’s That?
To avoid confusion some character names had to be changed in the television series. For example, Yara Greyjoy is originally named Asha in the books and Lysa Arryn’s child Robin has name Robert. Their names were changed because Asha sounded too much like Osha while Robert could have been mistaken to Robert Baratheon.
Considering that on the TV show, we see just a fraction of the universe that Martin created, which spans generations on generations (with, of course, children repeatedly being named for the ancestors), it makes sense. It makes even more sense for those of us who are forgetful, considering that you may see some less prominent characters just once or twice a season and then not see them again for literal years!
34. Passing the Torch
When George R.R. Martin started writing the A Song of Ice and Fire series he was hugely influenced and inspired by The Lord of the Rings story. Of course, Martin is now the inspiration for a new generation of fantasy writers, as most recent fantasy books are structured in the POV chapter framework. If they’re even a tenth as good as A Song of Ice and Fire, here’s hoping they get TV adaptations too.
33. Things Change
When Thomas Brodie-Sangster was casted to be part of the Game of Thrones series he was almost ten years older than Jojen Reed, the 13-year-old character he plays.
32. Loved and Lost
Game of Thrones is known for its desire to kill the characters that are loved by the fans. Usually these deaths happen without warning and compeltely crush your soul. During the first six seasons, 45 main characters have died. There have only been two episodes of the series that don’t have any death in them: Lord Snow (2011) and The Bear and the Maiden Fair (2013). Guess it’s true what they: when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die.
31. Valyrian Steel Is Real
In the Game of Thrones world, the best swords are made of Valyrian steel. There is no such a thing as Valyrian steel in the real world but it has been said that author George R. R. Martin based this incredible metal on Indian Damascus steel. Both alloys have similar qualities: it’s a strong yet lightweight material. The recipe for Damascus steel was lost in the 18th century, so nowadays you can only make a Damascus object out of another Damascus object—just like Valyrian swords.
30. Hybrid Creatures
The dragons are some of the most beloved characters/creatures in the Game of Thrones series. One may wonder how the production team made these majestic fairytale creatures seem so real. The dragon’s movements were rendered from animals that are much more familiar to us, including cats, geese, and even bats.
29. Those Lyin’ Eyes
Emilia Clarke was originally supposed to wear violet contact lenses, as Daenerys Targaryen has violet eyes in the original story—as do most Targaryens, descending as they do from Valyria. However, it was decided that the contact lenses would be scrapped as they were making Emilia uncomfortable and were preventing her from acting to her full potential.
28. Burn ‘Em All
Some of the characters that the television show has killed off during its many seasons are still alive in the George R.R. Martin’s books. This includes everyone killed in the Sept of Baelor by wildfire, Stannis Baratheon, Shireen Florent (Baratheon in the show), and Ramsay Bolton.
27. Lady’s Redemption
Game of Thrones character Sansa Stark and her dire wolf Lady had an extremely close bond. This was made all the more real by the relationship Sophie Turner (Sansa), had with the Northern Inuit dog Zunni, who played her dire wolf, behind the scenes. The bond between them grew so strong that after Lady was killed off in the show, Turner and her family adopted Zunni for real.
26. Anha Vazhak Yeraan Thirat
Producers of the show hired linguist David J. Peterson to create two new languages for the show. The languages of Dothraki and Valyrian were both featured briefly in Martin’s books, but thanks to Peterson, have since been expanded to full languages with real words and grammar. Peterson had even published 4,000-word long dictionary for Dothraki. That phrase above? It means “I will let you live” in Dothraki. Probably something they get to use a lot.
25. A Pretty Penny
It’s often asked why producing the Game of Thrones series costs so much. Much of the cost can be attributed to the difficulty surrounding filming in so many desolate yet scenic locations. The series has been filmed in several countries including Ireland, Iceland, Croatia, Malta, and Canada, and now fuels tourism to many of those areas.
24. Stick to My Girls Like Glue
Game of Thrones actors have shared many funny behind-the-scenes stories from the sets. A favorite was a story told by Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen) on Jimmy Kimmel. During the scene where she had to eat a horse’s heart, she was completely covered in sticky fake blood. At one point, Emilia disappeared from the set and no one could find her. Apparently, this was because of the sticky blood, which temporarily glued her to a toilet.
23. Valar Morghulis
Arya Stark is a strong-minded character who has an unusual habit: before going to sleep she chants the names of people who have hurt her or her family who she wants to kill. Actor Maisie Williams, who plays Arya, tells that fans consistently ask her to act out this scene and add their name to the list.
22. Mixing Business and Pleasure
Before the show started, actors Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) and Jerome Flynn (Bronn) were in a relationship that didn’t end in the best possible way. Because of that. the duo are always separated on set and will not appear in same scenes. Few fans may have noticed Bronn’s absence at the meeting where Cersei met Daenerys and Jon Snow, but logically, in the story, he should’ve been there.
21. Washing Your Hands Won’t Cut It
In Game of Thrones, the disease known as greyscale is contagious through touch. It causes the skin of those who contract it to scale up and turn stonelike, and while people can live for years with the disease, they quickly lose their minds and turn into what is referred to as “stonemen.”
This terrifying disease actually has eerily similarities to some real-life conditions. The thickness and scaliness of the skin of those affected is a type of hyperkeratosis, where the skin thickens due to an excess of keratin. The presence of pus below the scales, as in the case of Ser Jorah, indicated a viral or bacterial infection like herpes, molluscum, or impetigo.
20. Gone Rogue
One would think that the television seasons follow the books but this is not the case. The first two seasons go with the first two books A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings in order. The third season covers the first half of the third book A Storm of Swords. The fourth season starts with the ending of third book and has some chapters from the fourth A Feast for Crows and fifth A Dance with Dragons books. The fifth season covers the rest of the fourth and fifth books and even some parts of the unreleased sixth book The Winds of Winter. For the sixth and seventh season, the writers of the show went rogue, as it were, although they work off of details given to them by George R. R. Martin. For the eighth and final season, they’ll do much of the same.
19. Shae is Bae
Martin has revealed that in his opinion, some of the television series’ characters are much better than the ones in his books. He has specially mentioned the roles of Natalia Tena as Osha and Sibel Kekilli as Shae. Quite a high compliment from the man himself!
18. Khal Drogo: a True Gentleman
Game of Thrones is well known for its freely shown sex scenes in which some are quite wild, raw, and even cruel. Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen and Jason Momoa as her arranged husband, Khal Drogo, have had a few not-so-nice sex scenes together. Clarke has said that even if the scenes were quite scary, her co-star helped her feel at ease. Momoa, for his part, revealed that he frequently apologized to Clarke after the scenes had been filmed.
17. Sorry, George…
Author George R.R. Martin is 68 years young and some fans have brought to light their—extremely self-centered and generally terrible—worry that Martin may die before he finishes writing the books. Martin has, on many occasions, shown his discontent with questions on this topic.
However, don’t worry! Martin has shared the ending of his story with the producers of Game of Thrones so that even if something were to happen to him, the fans would get to see the ending they have been waiting for, even if we don’t necessarily deserve it.
16. In the Game of Thrones, You Watch or You Download
Game of Thrones has earned the title of most illegally downloaded television series for several years after its initial release. For example, in the year 2015, the show was illegally downloaded approximately 14,4 million times while the second most downloaded series, The Walking Dead was downloaded only half of that, 6.9 million times.
15. A Lannister Says Updog
House Lannister’s official motto is “Hear me roar!” However, this sentence is rarely heard in the series, where the unofficial motto “A Lannister always pays his debts” reigns. It means that the Lannister family repays unkindness with unkindness is heard frequently, often in a bad context.
14. Do You Even Winterfell?
Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), Richard Madden (Rob Stark) and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) are seen in the first episode of the series shirtless getting ready for King Robert’s welcome in Winterfell. They all later admitted to doing push-ups and flexing before that scene to look more muscular on camera. A little competition never hurt anyone!
13. Ballin’ on a Budget
Game of Thrones has enormous budgets for its every episode. Average production cost for all episodes until season 6 has been $6 million, while for season 6 the budget was about $10 million per episode. This makes the show one of the most expensive TV productions ever.
Long before it was explicitly shown on the show—and explained by Sam Tarly, bless him—Martin confirmed that one of the most persistent fan theories was in fact correct. That would be R+L=J, AKA Rhegar and Lyanna equals Jon Snow. Before Ned Stark left for King’s Landing, he promised Jon Snow that they would talk about Jon’s mother the next time they met (I’m not crying, you’re crying). Obviously, a man without a head can’t keep his promises. Ned led his family to believe Jon was his illegitimate son, and even implicitly led Robert Baratheon to believe he had conceived the boy with a woman named Wylla.
Of course, it was eventually revealed through Sam’s research and Bran’s visions that Jon is the son of Ned’s sister Lyanna and Prince Rhaegar Targaryen—and a legitimate one at that, as Rhaegar had his marriage annulled to secretly marry Lyanna. Far from the kidnap and assault their union was made out to be, their union was one of real love, and while Lyanna died in childbirth at the Tower of Joy, she made her brother promise to protect her son from a jealous Robert and anyone else who would target a Targaryen heir. He did his best, but he died before he could warn him not to sleep with his own aunt…
11. Renly’s Not-So Secret
In the books, King Renly Baratheon’s private guard detail is known as the Rainbow Guard. HBO decided to change that name to King’s Guard, because the original name seemed to explicitly point out the character’s homosexuality, which was only subtly mentioned in books. Because this was shown explicitly in the TV series, there was no need for such a perceived subtle hint.
10. Lost and Found
The long Game of Thrones opening credits features a little secret that may make you want to stop skipping them. The maps seen in the pre-show credits feature different cities and towns around the GoT world. The cities chosen for the intros are places that are going to be significant in the episode they’re attached to.
9. The Pope of Thrones
The main religion of Westeros is the Faith of the Seven. You may be surprised to hear that the religion is loosely based on Catholicism. Both include one God and seven aspects.
In the North and beyond the Wall, the religion is that of the Old Gods, which is heavily tied to nature and isn’t structured in the same way the Faith of the Seven (or most Christian religions) are.
The religion that we see Melisandre practicing, along with many in Essos, is that of R’hollor the Red God. It’s a monotheistic religion with absolute beliefs, meaning that its followers considering those who follow the Faith of the Seven blasphemers. With the Lord of the Light fighting for good against an evil figure, the Great Other, it’s similar to a God. vs. Satan situation. They believe that a figure named Azor Ahai will come and fight the agents of the Great Other, the White Walkers. It looks like Sam and Gilly have begun to look into the legend of Azor Ahai, so this might just be a really important plot detail in the final season.
8. What Lies Beneath
The crypts below Winterfell can be creepy, but it’s also a sacred place for the family, as many Starks are buried there. Ned had two statues built and placed in the crypts to honor his sister Lyanna and his brother Brandon. A rumor is that many of the dead Starks will rise from the dead to fight the Night King and oh yeah, dragon eggs are said to be buried there as well.
Now, be aware that this is only a fan theory, based on the fact that Winterfell was actually built on top of hot springs. This explains how it’s able to withstand the long winters. Some fans believe that the secret dragon hiding underneath Winterfell and fuelling the hot spring will be the way that the war against the White Walkers is won. Other think that references to a “hidden dragon ” refer to Jon Snow’s true background.
7. Warging Powers
We know one Stark child can Warg, but another far-fetched theory that we wish was true is that Ned Stark is still alive. He is believed by many die-hard fans to have warged into Ilyn Payne right before the axe fell. Could this be true? If so, that would add a whole other layer to the already interesting things we’ve seen throughout the series. Sadly, as this one is maybe the most “out there” of the fan theories, it’s also the most unlikely to be true.
6. Night King A Stark?
Yes, Westeros is full of terrifying and cruel characters, but obviously, no one holds a candle to the Night King. As previously mentioned, the Children of the Forest accidentally unleashed the White Walkers, but the original one, the Night King, was made from a man, and that man may have been a Stark. In the book A Storm of Swords, Old Nan says that the Night King was, according to legend, the brother of the original Bran Stark. To add a touch more irony, he was also the 13th Commander of the Night’s Watch.
5. Good Intentions, Bad Results
Although left out of the show, Sansa inadvertently made it easier for Cersei and company to leverage a coup against her father, Ned Stark. Let us explain: in the books, Ned has a ship waiting to take the Starks out of the city. Sansa is aware of his plans to escape King’s Landing—mind you, she’s not aware that her father has uncovered Cersei’s treason and Joffrey’s incestuous origins. Not willing to give up her engagement to Joffrey, she tells Cersei of her father’s plan. The rest spirals into unfortunate history.
4. A Serious Spat
The sack of King’s Landing infuriated Ned, but what really pushed him over the edge was when Tywin Lannister presented Rhaegar Targaryen’s children to Robert. The children were killed by Tywin’s soldiers (quite brutally, it would turn out), and their bodies were wrapped in scarlet Lannister cloaks. Ned and Robert argued over whether that was murder or justice, with Ned leaving the capital in cold fury. Not even Jon Arryn could settle their argument, and it wasn’t until Lyanna’s death that they were reconciled.
3. Get it Right
George R.R. Martin says that the proper pronunciation for Arya’s name is two syllables: “ARE-ya.” However, most people pronounce it with three syllables, like a musical term “Aria.”
2. The Prince Who Was Promised
In season 2, Melisandre prophecized a “Prince Who Was Promised,” alternately referred to Azor Ahai. He would be a hero who is revived in the cold following a long summer, who would wield a sword called the Lightbringer and who would save the Seven Kingdoms from the ‘Others.’ While there has been much speculation that either Dany or Jon Snow could be Azor Ahai, fans have also noticed clues that point to a resurrected Drogo as a possible Azor Ahai. Even in season 1, the very woman who orchestrated Drogo’s death may have prophecized his return. When she said “When the sun rises in the west, sets in the east, when the seas go dry and the mountains blow in the wind like leaves,” it may have sounded like a “He’ll come back when pigs fly”-type statement, but many of the events she mentioned in her prophecy (not to mention Melisandre’s) have come to pass. There are many different tiny plot points that have gone into the whole of this area of speculation, but in one of the prophecies, Azor Ahai has to plunge the Lightbringer into his love’s chest in order for it to become the powerful weapon that takes on the White Walkers. Will Drogo eventually have to kill his love Dany, as she once did for him?
1. Fire and Blood
Many fans love the strong-willed and powerful Mother of Dragons, but a darker, more violent side has led George R. R. Martin to hint that she may not actually be a true hero in A Song of Ice and Fire. In fact, she has a lot in common with the Mad King, Aerys Targaryen. Dany has shown a capacity to be violent and merciless, especially to those who oppose or defy her. Examples of this include burning the witch named Durr, who had killed Khal Drogo and Dany’s unborn son; crucifying 163 Great masters of Mereen; scorching the khals, who had abused her in Vaes Dothrak; and even threatening to incinerate members of her own council.
If Dany too-closely abides by the creed of “fire and blood,” her character could take a villainous turn. This has led many fans to theorize that Jon Snow, not Daenerys Targaryen, will be the true hero of the series. We’re still rooting for Dany, but it remains to be seen which side of the coin landed when she was born.