The anticipation for the final season of the HBO fantasy behemoth Game of Thrones has been like no other show in recent memory. The palpable excitement in the leadup to the series finale has been unparalleled and once more proved that while Netflix may be storming ahead, the gold standard of box office TV still lies with the American cable giant, HBO.
But like all good things, even groundbreaking tv series come to an end, and with only six episodes left before the long-running fantasy drama draws to an end, we've listed some fascinating trivia about the series that even hardcore Thrones fans may not have known.
If you think we've missed any, be sure to let us know in the comments below!
1. George R.R. Martin was supposed to appear in the pilot
Even those who aren't in the loop about HBO's incredible adaptation will know that the series is based on fantasy author George R.R. Martin's blockbuster novels.
He even had a cameo in the original pilot as a guest at Daenerys and Khal Drogo’s wedding but the scene was deleted when Daenerys was recast.
2. Many well-known performers were almost cast
The Game of Thrones pilot was a big project among Hollywood insiders, but no one was to know quite how big it would become which may be one the reasons why The Wire's Dominic West turned down a prominent role. His reason? It involved shooting in Iceland for 6 months...
Other well-known actors almost cast included The Hunger Games' Sam Claflin and the British actress Gillian Anderson.
3. Peter Dinklage almost turned down the role of Tyrion Lannister
In a revealing Reddit AMA, one of the show's leading stars admitted that he had to take some convincing to take on the role as he wasn't particularly impressed with the fantasy genre.
"I had one hesitation, because of the fantasy genre, I told [showrunner David Benioff] I didn't want a really long beard and pointy shoes," Dinklage said. "[Benioff and D.B. Weiss] assured me this character and this world wasn't that. They told me about his complexity, the fact that he wasn't a hero or a villain, that he was a womanizer and a drinker, and they painted a flawed and beautiful portrait of him, so I signed on."
4. Kit Harrington auditioned for the role of Jon Snow with a black eye
After finding himself in a physical brawl the night before the biggest audition of his life following a stranger's crude comments about his girlfriend at a local McDonald's, Harrington probably didn't think it would go too well. But on reflection, Harrington believes his bruised appearance may have helped him stand out.
I got battered," Harington recalled. "I think that man who punched me in the face may have helped me get the job. So if you're watching, thank you."
5. Richard Madden refused to know about his character's fate until he read the books
While it may sound odd that an actor hadn't read all the books in the series, the Bodyguard star Richard Madden still wanted to get through them in peace- but the nature of the Internet meant he found it impossible to find out without eventually being told.
"A thousand people spoiled it for me before I had a chance to pick up the third book," Madden said to Entertainment Weekly. "I read [the books] season-by-season. I don't want to preempt where Robb is going, and that's what I've done since the show started. I also made the fatal flaw of Googling. So that kind of reinforced what people were hinting—saying that something terrible was going to happen and giggling."
6. One of the most expensive series ever made
In 2017 it was reported that the immensely popular fantasy series cost $10m per episode to film. However, due to much higher viewing figures, it had a much longer tenure having had 6 seasons already, so that was kind of to be expected. However, the budget for season 8 is genuinely insane.
Now in its 8th and final season, Variety recently wrote that the last six episodes would each cost $15 million.
7. More than just nudity
Unless you've been living under a rock the last decade, you'll know that Game of Thrones is synonymous with graphic sex scenes, something Emilia Clarke had to grapple with in the intial phases of shooting. "Once, I had to take a little time out," she said in an interview with Esquire. "I said I needed a cup of tea, had a bit of a cry and was ready for the next scene."
However, speaking to the Press Association earlier this year, she seemed to have become more comfortable with that aspect of the show. "Kit's ass, someone else's ass, my ass, it doesn't matter! It's not what the show is about; it's not what any bit of acting is about.
"As for my character, I can count on one hand the amount of times I've been naked. can talk about the importance of women in this show until the cows come home. It has gone a way to changing the landscape of the industry as we see it, which is really vital and really important."
The British actress added: "I tried to throw some things under the wig, hide them in my bag, nothing. Apparently the throne itself you can't... I was there pushing it, trying to get it in the car. It didn't fit, so what are you gonna do?"
8. There have been 71 sex scenes (so far)
Excluding the inevitable romps that will come in the concluding series, a GQ journalist with too much time on their hands revealed in an article that there are 71 scenes that included nudity or sex.
Talk about being committed to the craft of responsible reporting!
9. Daenerys Targareyn's dragons are real...
Emilia Clarke's stunning character is argubally the show's most prominent star, and her dragons are just as popular with Thrones devotees. So it was of great pleasure to millions of her fans when she revealed in a recent Instagram post that she had inked her three fictional dragons, Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viserion onto her a wrist.
"MOD 4 LYFE!!!! Made sure this mamma ain't NEVER forgetting her babies...." the caption read.
10. Dothraki: A real language?
Living Language released a language course that is narrated and taught by renowned linguist David J. Peterson who also created the fictional language on the HBO show.
So what are you waiting for? Start learning and you'll be speaking like Khal Drogo's twin before you know it!
Jason Momoa's looks are sadly not included.
11. Kit Harrington needed therapy after intense media scrutiny surrounding his character's future
Actors often push themselves to the limit for specific roles, and sometimes they can require intensive therapy after.
Kit Harrington, the British actor who plays Jon Snow on the global behemoth HBO show Game of Thrones admitted to Variety that after being killed off in season five the attention he got proved overwhelming.
"When you become the cliffhanger of a TV show, and a TV show probably at the height of its power, the focus on you is fucking terrifying.
"You get people shouting at you on the street, 'Are you dead?' At the same time, you have to have this appearance. All of your neuroses - and I'm as neurotic as any actor - get heightened with that level of focus."
Feeling that he could no longer deal with the intense scrutiny by himself, he decided to turn to a therapist.
"It wasn't a very good time in my life," he added. "I felt I had to feel that I was the most fortunate person in the world, when actually, I felt very vulnerable. I had a shaky time in my life around there - like I think a lot of people do in their 20s.
"That was a time when I started therapy and started talking to people. I had felt very unsafe, and I wasn't talking to anyone. I had to feel very grateful for what I have, but I felt incredibly concerned about whether I could even fucking act."
12. Brad Pitt offered a lot of $ to watch Game Of Thrones with Emilia Clark
Brad Pitt has wracked up his fair share of wonga over the years, but he was still outbid in his quest to watch Game of Thrones with Kit Harrington and Emila Clarke.
Bidding at Sean Penn's Haitian relief charity dinner gala in Milk Studios, the beautiful thespian was engaged in a rather amusing bidding war with an unnamed bidder as fellow A-listers watched on with sheer amusement.
Speaking to People, an onlooker revealed, “During the first auction, Brad was on his phone. When the auction announced Emilia Clarke, they called her out in the crowd and Brad literally turned his whole neck to find and look at her and enthusiastically clap. He offered $80,000 in the auction to watch Game of Thrones with Emilia.”
Sharing the dreams of many GOTH obsessives, the eligible bachelor was visibly delighted at the prospect of watching the show with Clarke, who rose to fame playing the dragon queen Daenerys Targaryen in the hit show.
However, it soon transpired that Pitt wasn't willing to pay over the odds for the experience. “Emilia was covering her mouth and giggling. Leo [DiCaprio] enthusiastically watched the whole auction, turning his head back and forth between Brad and Emilia,” the onlooker added. “[Pitt] later offered $120,000 and raised his arms in excitement but was out at 150,000. He laughed hysterically when he gave up and they called him out for it.”
No doubt a tad annoyed that she wouldn't be watching the show with the dreamboat, Clarke can at least sleep easy at the prospect Pitt was willing to part with $150,000 to spend time with her.
13. Emilia Clarke was happy to strip off
Emilia Clarke has admitted to feeling "genuinely happy" about stripping off for a scene in the popular HBO series, Game of Thrones.
The actress was referring to the most recent episode which saw her character, Daenerys Targaryen, appear from a sea of flames with no clothes on.
Speaking to EW, the gorgeous actress said, "I'd like to remind people the last time I took my clothes off was season 3.
"That was a while ago. It's now season 6. But this is all me, all proud, all strong. I'm just feeling genuinely happy I said, 'Yes.' That ain't no body double. It's so exciting, very tingly-making. Every season I get at least one spine-chilling moment."
14. Emilia Clarke would prepare for important scenes by listening to rap music
It's common knowledge that athletes get into the zone by listening to high-tempo music in the locker room, but it appears actors are no different when preparing for a pivotal scene. According to Emilia Clarke, she attributed her confidence in challenging scenes to her love of rap music. "A lot of gangster rap before 'Thrones.' So Tupac. Biggie. But then some Florence. And Beyonce obviously," she said.
"I tried Eminem once, but that was too much. For me, it's like, you wake up and think, 'I'm not feeling particularly badass this morning. Coolio, Biggie, can you help me?' When you're doing a huge scene, trying to empower hundreds of extras, you've got to get me to a G."
15. The show's lead actors have made a lot of money
Four of the show's biggest stars, Kit Harrington, Emilia Clarke, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Peter Dinklage, earned more than $500,000 per episode in the last two seasons according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Being the hottest property on TV right now, it is of little surprise that HBO splashed the cash to keep the actors (and their agents) happy.
However, due to the intense filming schedules, Harrington and co are made to work for their big paycheques, as co-star Sophie Turner revealed. "For the last series (Kit Harrington), he had something crazy like 70-night shoots, and I didn’t have that many," she said to Harper's Bazaar magazine. “I was like, ‘You know what... you keep that money.’”
16. What happened to Joffrey Baratheon?
Everyone's favorite tv villain was so convincing in his role that he was despised by hardcore Game of Thrones fans that they actually believed an affable, young Irish actor was the living embodiment of King Joffrey!
The hate got so intense that Gleeson reportedly retired from acting after GoT fans continuously took to social media to call him out! The price you pay for being a good actor? Well, not quite. Gleeson is now a student in his native Dublin and has said in past interviews that he is enjoying studying having fallen out of love with acting.
17. Emilia Clarke's sticky toilet situation
Who could forget that infamous horse heart scene in season 1? Well, after filming ended, Emilia Clarke found herself with sticky fake blood all over her body, so much so that she found herself stuck to the toilet!
Talk about finding yourself in a sticky situation...
18. Geroge RR Martin wrote the books with climate change in mind
Symbolism in popular tv shows is something we all try and spot at times, mostly because we have too much time on our hands but also because it adds a more complex, layered viewing experience next time we sit down and watch an episode and Game of Thrones is no exception to this.
Whether it's the political aspect, the philosophical musings, the sociological landscape or a combination of all three, there's no doubting that creator George R.R. Martin has some serious smarts, as he revealed yet again in a revealing interview with the New York Times. In fact, the legendary fantasy author compared a 'certain parallel' between his original book, A Game of Thrones to the pressing threat of climate change.
"It's kind of ironic because I started writing Game of Thrones all the way back in 1991, long before anybody was talking about climate change. But there is - in a very broad sense - there's a certain parallel there. And the people in Westeros are fighting their individual battles over power and status and wealth. Those [battles] are so distracting them that they're ignoring the threat of 'winter is coming', which has the potential to destroy all of them and to destroy their world.
"And there is a great parallel there to what I see this planet doing here, where we're fighting our own battles."
The New Mexico-based writer added: "We're fighting over issues, important issues, mind you - foreign policy, domestic policy, civil rights, social responsibility, social justice.
"All of these things are important. But while we're tearing ourselves apart over this and expending so much energy, there exists this threat of climate change, which, to my mind, is conclusively proved by most of the data and 99.9 percent of the scientific community. And it really has the potential to destroy our world.
"And we're ignoring that while we worry about the next election and issues that people are concerned about, like jobs. Jobs are a very important issue, of course. All of these things are important issues. But none of them are important if, like, we're dead and our cities are under the ocean.
"So really, climate change should be the number one priority for any politician who is capable of looking past the next election. But unfortunately, there are only a handful of those."
"We spend 10 times as much energy and thought and debate in the media discussing whether or not NFL players should stand for the national anthem than this threat that's going to destroy our world."
19. Parents are naming their kids after the show's favorite characters...
The show has many mythical, and beautiful names, so it's little surprise that parents have been inspired to name their newborns after Martin's famous characters.
The Social Security Administration revealed in 2014 that the name Khaleesi was the United States’s 755th most popular baby name for girls.
20. ...And pets, too
This Game of Thrones naming phenomenon extends to pets. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, America's most extensive veterinary practice, records found that names Khaleesi and Arya have seen a surge in popularity.
But the two most popular names? Lady and Ghost.
21. Isaac Hempstead- Not a "normal" college kid
The British actor who played Bran Stark made the good decision to juggle his acting career with a course at university. But as he revealed to Esquire, balancing a healthy student life with his level of fame wasn't easy.
"I couldn't walk out of my halls without having to take a selfie,” the actor said. "I had the nicest flatmates," he added, "But it made it quite difficult to make friends. I don't think I'll ever be able to have a normal university experience, which is kind of sad. I couldn't relax and go out and have a drink or get drunk or whatever, because if I did someone would be like: 'I saw Bran and he was all f***ed up.'"
22. George R.R. Martin wouldn't tell showrunners who Jon Snow's mother was
The prolific author made them guess, just like the rest of us had to, David Benioff (right) revealed to Vanity Fair in 2014. “Who is Jon Snow’s real mother?” “It was very much like a test question,” Benioff said.
“Basically, it was like: ‘Guess. I want your guess to be intelligent and I want it to be based in the facts of the world. We had already discussed it. We’d had like a two-hour conversation about it. It was pretty well-trammeled territory for us.”
The bitter hatred between Cersei and Tyrion has to be one of the most compelling relationships on the show, somewhat ironic considering Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey are extremley close.
"Sometimes we have to avoid eye contact so we don’t crack up," Dinklage revealed in a Reddit AMA from 2014.
24. Peter Dinklage was the only choice for Geroge R.R. Martin
While we have covered Peter's initial hesitancy at taking on the role, George R.R. Martin stated from the get-go that he had only one actor in mind for the part of Tyrion and that was Peter Dinklage so we can see why producers were so persistent.
In fact, The Song of Ice and Fire writer then made it pretty clear to showrunners from the get-go that he wanted Peter and no one else.
Talk about putting pressure on the showrunners!
25. The Monty Python and Holy Grail connection
Many scenes take in some of Britain's most famous castles, one of which appeared in the iconic British comedy, Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
A Meereenese warrior in season 3 even shouts the famous "Your mother was a hampster" line when he is taunting Daenerys.
26. Some of the show's deceased characters are still alive in the book
Quite a lot of the characters that are alive in Martin’s books are dead in the series; such has been the show's perpetual bloodbath.
Those wiped away in the series but still alive in the book vary from Shireen and Stannis Baratheon to Night’s Watchmen Pyp and Grenn. There's also Barristan Selmy, Myrcella Baratheon, and Mance Rayder.
27. Peter Dinklage mistakenly believed the show was cancelled
Showrunners are among some of the busiest, and most serious players you will come across in Hollywood, so we can't blame Peter Dinklage for believing David Benioff when he phoned him up an said the pilot hadn't been picked up.
It took Dinklage 6 hours before he would learn the truth.
28. Different actors portraying different characters
While actors such as Kit Harrington are synonymous with their Thrones' characters, bit-part characters can come and go- some even change faces. Examples include Daario Naharis (Ed Skrein plays him in season three, then Michiel Huisman in seasons four, five, and six), Tommen Baratheon (Callum Wharry in seasons one and two before Dean-Charles Chapman took the reigns for seasons three through six).
The character of Myrcella is another notable example. Aimee Richardson played her in seasons one and two before Nell Tiger Free portrayed her in season five.
29. King Tommen's cat is dead
King Tommen's royal cat melted hearts in season 4 and proved an excellent companion for Margaery Tyrell but after Tommen’s suicide, the cat disappeared too, and it left viewers a tad depressed.
But all was explained by showrunner David Benioff, and it's pretty tragic. "Cersei hated the name ‘Ser Pounce’ so much she could not allow him to survive," Benioff told Entertainment Weekly of the feline's untimely demise. "So she came up with her most diabolical [execution]. Ser Pounce’s death was so horrible we couldn’t even put it on the air."
R.I.P. Ser Pounce!
30. The Battle of the Bastards scene was shot 60 times
60 times. Let that sink in. 60 times... for one scene! It's of little wonder such attention to detail has led to such extraordinary, global success.
The scene itself sees Lyanna Mormont pull a-now legendary facial reaction towards Ramsay during the "Battle of the Bastards" and it sent social media into meltdown. Director Miguel Sapochnik admitted that Bella Ramsey gave the "Lyanna Face" in every single take.