TV: we watch it weekly, binge it, and catch up on back catalogs. But even though you let their characters into your living room, how well do you know your favorite TV shows? Here are 44 facts on everything from Game of Thrones to Gilligan’s Island.
44. Kids, Did I Ever Tell You…
All of the scenes with Ted’s kids in How I Met Your Mother were shot in 2005, the year of the first episode. While the rest of us waited nine seasons to find out the mother’s identity, the actors playing the kids knew and kept the secret for years.
43. How I Almost Killed Your Father
Josh Radnor, who played Ted in How I Met Your Mother, is so allergic to dogs that a scene with Robin’s Dalmation ended up with a call to the paramedics.
42. I’ll Be There For…Who?
The show we know and love as Friends today could have been called Insomnia Café or Six of One.
41. This is Brand New Information!
Lisa Kudrow was cast as Phoebe, but only after she was cast as, then fired from, the part of Roz on Frasier. Kudrow said it was one of the best things that ever happened to her.
40. How You Doin’…For the Past Decade?
Friends almost ended with the revelation that Phoebe and Joey had been secretly having an affair throughout the show’s whole run. The idea was pitched to re-shoot the show’s famous scenes, with the added detail of Phoebe and Joey stumbling out of a closet together while adjusting their clothes—but the show didn’t follow through.
39. Sugar High
Walter White’s famous, ultra-pure methamphetamine on Breaking Bad is known for its blue color, and the substance used as a prop might be nearly as addictive. The show’s drug was actually made of cotton-candy flavored rock candy. During shooting breaks, the actors would snack on it for a much-needed sugar buzz.
38. Tattoo You
Brian Cranston has a tattoo of the Breaking Bad logo on his finger.
37. Dental Dilemma
Creator Vince Gilligan has said that his one regret about Breaking Bad is that Jesse’s teeth were too perfect for a drug user who has been beaten up so many times.
36. Walter White’s Day Off
The network wanted Matthew Broderick—yes, Ferris Bueller himself—to play Walt.
35. Killer Instincts
When Walt kills someone, he takes on some of that person’s characteristics. After killing Krazy-8, he starts cutting the crusts off his sandwiches. With Mike, he starts drinking whiskey on the rocks.
34. But I Play One on T.V.
Speaking of killing people, actor Brian Cranston was once a suspect in a real-life murder case. He was a potential suspect in the murder of a chef named Peter Wong. Cranston admitted that he genuinely hated Peter, but he wasn’t alone.
The investigating officers asked the restaurant staff, ”Did anybody ever talk about hurting or killing Peter Wong?” Allegedly, the waiters responded, ”Yeah, all of us’.’
33. The Tale of a Fateful Trip
In the opening credits of Gilligan’s Island, all of the flags can be seen at half-mast. That’s because the pilot was shot right after the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
32. Homeland Haters
Apparently, an artist hired to write Arabic graffiti on a set for Season 5 of Homeland wasn’t impressed with the show. When translated, the graffiti says “Homeland is a joke,” “Homeland is racist,” and “It didn’t make us laugh.” Producers evidently couldn’t read the criticism, perhaps demonstrating the artist’s point.
31. Carrie, Claire, C.I.A…
Halle Berry was originally cast as Carrie Mathison in Homeland—except the character was then named Claire. When Claire Danes took over the role, the character’s first name was changed to avoid confusion.
30. Who Dies This Week
In order to make their reactions as realistic as possible, most of the Game of Thrones cast hasn’t read the books.
29. Leg of Soybean
In all of the Game of Thrones scenes where Tyrion eats meat, actor Peter Dinklage, a strict vegetarian, is actually eating tofu.
28. Don’t Despair Mon Frere
Alfie Allen, who plays Theon Greyjoy, is the brother of singer Lily Allen. Her song “Alfie” is about her brother’s laziness, and in the video he appears as a puppet.
27. Technically It’s a Title
In the US in 2012, there were 146 babies born named Khaleesi. That’s more baby Khaleesis than Betsys or Nadines.
26. Joey the Vampire Slayer?
Sarah Michelle Gellar beat out Selma Blair and Katie Holmes for the title role in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (Both Blair and Holmes went on to get their own lead roles in WB shows.)
25. Body Swap
Gellar actually originally auditioned for the role of Cordelia—and Charisma Carpenter tried out for Buffy.
24. Mean Girls
Carpenter was hesitant to take the role of Cordelia, since she had just played a similar snobby character on a short-lived Aaron Spelling show. Her agent informed her that you can’t be typecast if no one knows who you are.
23. The Werewolf, the Witch, and an Alien Too
Even though they didn’t end up together, Buffy‘s Willow and Oz were initially meant to be. Alyson Hannigan’s character also dated Seth Green’s in the 1988 movie My Stepmother is an Alien.
22. High School Hell
Sunnydale High was also West Beverly Hills High in Beverly Hills, 90210. Maybe the Hellmouth explains some of that show’s bad behaviour too?
21. Undead and Undressed
David Boreanaz reportedly had a habit on the set of Angel of pulling his pants down between takes to see if he could get his co-stars to break character.
20. All in the Family
Joss Whedon got his start writing for the TV show Roseanne.
19. Jack, Off
Jack was supposed to die in the first episode of Lost, and Michael Keaton was considering playing the character.
18. Previously, In Charge of ABC
Speaking of that Lost pilot: the episode was so expensive to shoot that Lloyd Braun, the chairman of ABC, was fired for greenlighting it. He left his mark, though; Braun’s voice can be heard before every episode saying “Previously, on Lost…”
17. The Truth is Out There
Fox Mulder and Dana Scully may seem like a perfect pair on The X-Files, but in one way they didn’t quite match up. Actress Gillian Anderson is so much shorter than her co-star David Duchovny that she filmed many of the show’s scenes standing on a box.
16. A Story All About How
We owe The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—and maybe Will Smith’s fame—to the then-little-known rapper’s troubles with the IRS. Smith took the part because he owed $2.8 million in back taxes.
15. WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU
While she was already known on the European model circuit, The Fresh Prince also introduced America to Tyra Banks.
14. This Cab Was Rare
The cab driver in the opening title sequence of Fresh Prince is Quincy Jones, one of the music industry’s best-known producers (and father of actress Rashida). Jones also acted as the show’s music producer and made three guest appearances—this time, as himself.
13. Sweeney Bob
Bob’s Burgers was first pitched as a show about a family of cannibals who run a restaurant.
12. From Miniseries to Mega Opportunity
Lena Dunham was fired from a small role in the HBO miniseries Mildred Pierce in 2011—right before the network picked up Girls.
11. Dude Gets Around
The character John Munch (played by Richard Belzer) from Law & Order: SVU has appeared on 12 other shows, including The Wire, 30 Rock, The X-Files, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and Sesame Street.
10. No-Fail Snail
There’s a snail hidden in every episode of Adventure Time, usually waving at the camera.
9. Got Yourself a Gun
The producers of The Sopranos added a gun to the logo because HBO was worried viewers would think it was a show about music.
8. Mob Mentality
The Sopranos was based in part on the real-life DeCavalcante crime family of New Jersey. Members of the family were caught on an FBI wiretap talking about the show and admiring its characters.
7. Smarty Pants
Nolan Gould, who plays the dim-witted Luke on Modern Family, is a real-life genius. He’s a Mensa member with an I.Q. of 150, and graduated high school at the age of 13.
6. As Himself
The Simpsons has had more guest stars than the show has had episodes.
5. Good Hare Day
Simpsons creator Matt Groening originally intended Marge to be a character from his comic strip Life in Hell—which would have meant that she was actually an anthropomorphic rabbit hiding bunny ears under her beehive.
4. Hey Hey Hey
Krusty the Clown was originally going to be Homer’s secret identity on The Simpsons.
3. Doctor Who?
Lots of attention has been paid recently to the casting of the new Doctor in Doctor Who. In 1988, the beloved British show almost went to the big screen…starring either Michael Jackson or Bill Cosby.
2. Dodging a Bullet
An episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm cleared a man of murder. After five months in jail, Juan Catalan was released when footage of a Dodgers game cut from the show actually caught Catalan in the background, providing him an alibi. In the footage, Catalan was eating a hot dog.
1. American Idols
Americans cast more votes for Taylor Hicks in the season 5 finale of American Idol (63 million) than they did in the 1984 election for president Ronald Reagan (54.5 million).
He can run for president!
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