20 cool facts you never knew about Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones season 8 (opens in new tab) is so close we can practically taste the snowflakes of winter, but do you know your Lord Varys from your Viserion? While the lore of George RR Martin’s fantasy world is large enough to fill a small library, the trivia behind the TV show is slightly more digestible, making it all the more easy to impress your fellow Thrones fans with interesting factoids and ‘did you know’ nuggets of insightful info. 

From the rubbish pilot episode (opens in new tab) to the filming of that Ned Stark scene in Game of Thrones season 1 (opens in new tab), we’ve gathered together the best Game of Thrones trivia to download into your noggin just in time for season 8, all of which will give you a better understanding of the people and stories behind one of the greatest shows on television. Read on and get ready for the return of one of the biggest shows in the world on April 14. 

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1. George RR Martin cameo

The original, unseen pilot for Game of Thrones featured a cameo from George RR Martin as a Pentoshi nobleman. Sadly, his scene was cut from the final version of the pilot, which was drastically altered from its original form. He has never appeared in the HBO show since, although hasn’t ruled out some screen time in the final season. As an added bit of trivia… he does appear in this Game of Thrones spoof by Funny Or Die (opens in new tab), critiquing his own work and slow-writing style.

2. Total death count…

According to one, excellent YT video (opens in new tab), the death count for Game of Thrones stands at 150,966. Oh my. This figure includes all the estimated deaths in the battles, along with major and minor characters actually killed off in the normal running of the show. The biggest death scenes are the Battle of Blackwater Bay, the Battle of the Wall, and Hardhome, which swell the numbers significantly.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

3. Be more Bean

It’s unsurprising, but some of the actors hired for season 1 (opens in new tab) of Game of Thrones to play Stark roles were told to ‘speak like Sean Bean’ (opens in new tab). According to one interview, when the showrunners asked Bean if he could talk in any other accent, he simply said “No”. Kit Harington was apparently coached by the famous northern actor, who plays Ned Stark, and the pair bonded during that first season. Interestingly, none of the female Stark roles were asked to assume Bean-like accents. 

4. On the head, Ned!

During filming for the final episode of season 1, Sean Bean and the rest of the cast played football with Ned Stark’s head. During a Reddit discussion (opens in new tab) with fans after the final episode of season 1, Bean admits that the cast had a little fun with the model of his detached head. When asked ‘Was it weird to see your own head on set’ he replied: “It was a bit strange, yeah, a bit creepy. We just kicked it around like a football!”

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

5. House theft

Did you know that the Baratheon House actually stole its banner and values from another house? According to Game of Thrones lore, a chap called Orys Baratheon seized Storm’s End from House Durrandon, centuries ago. Not only that, Orys also stole their sigil and house motto. Read all about Game of Thrones sigils and banners (opens in new tab) right here.

6. Lily liar

Lily Allen, the singer, lied about turning down the role of Yara Greyjoy. Her brother, Alfie Allen, plays Theon Greyjoy and Lily claimed that she had been offered the role as Theon’s on-screen sister, Yara. Lily also claimed that she refused the role because of the incest scenes between Yara and Theon. However, Alfie spoke to Vulture (opens in new tab), quashing the rumour by stating: “The only thing I’m going to say on this is that’s not true”. So, er, that’s really all he needed to say.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

7. Bribery in Westeros

Game of Thrones is the hottest ticket on TV, and loads of actors want a piece of the action. While Jim Broadbent is the latest big-name TV star to appear (he’s playing the Arch Maester in S7) many won’t have gotten as far as the casting director. Not for a lack of trying, though. One actor sent the casting director of Game of Thrones a Stormtrooper with their face on it (opens in new tab) as a please appearing in the show, while others have sent personalised playing cards and even Kit Kats. Okaaaaaay.

8. Different Dany

Emilia Clark, who plays Daenerys, is now a household name. She’s the postergirl of the show, and the one fans think is most likely to claim the Iron Throne. But did you know she wasn’t in the original pilot? Her and Cait Stark were recast after the original pilot, likely due to poor performances or ill-fitting personalities from the original actors. It’s tough to imagine Daenerys as anyone else, or Cait Stark without Michelle Fairley.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

9. Band in certain countries

Game of Thrones has turned into a magnet for musician cameos. Ed Sheeran has appeared in season 7 (opens in new tab) already (singing a song to Arya), and Bastille (who appear later in the run) are coming soon. Previously, the show has featured appearances from Sigur Ros, Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol, Mastadon, Will Champion from Coldplay, and Of Monsters And Men.

10. Blame the pilot

I’ve alluded to this previously, but the original pilot episode really wasn’t very good. While few people have actually seen it, the Game of Thrones showrunners have spoken about it during interviews. According to them it originally featured a scene depicting the death of Jon Arryn, and of Rickard and Brandon Stark (Ned’s older brother). The original director, Tom McCarthy had his credit removed entirely from the final version of season 1, episode 1.

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