10 Brilliant Details Hidden in Game of Thrones
I love callbacks like this.
10. Tywin Lannister’s words echo from beyond the grave
If you had to describe all the characters in Game of Thrones in one sentence, it would be something like “Dozens of people who make terrible decisions and never learn anything.” Even some of the smartest people in Westeros are more mistake-prone than Mr. Magoo. Tywin Lannister was a genius strategist, but he also insulted his son when he had a crossbow drawn on him.
Undignified toilet deaths aside, Tywin usually had important things to say. Above we see him slam his shitty grandson Joffrey, whose big comeback was stating his position in the monarchy. Tywin knew that a ruler’s dominance over the populace would only be complete if that reign was implicit and unspoken. The fact that you have to say out loud that you’re the boss means that not everyone agrees in the first place.
But since Lannisters are often more impetuous than wise, future rulers of Westeros did not take their former patriach’s words into consideration.
To be fair to poor Tommen, he wasn’t in the room to hear Tywin roast Joffrey at the time. But Queen Cersei doesn’t have that excuse when she ascends in season seven.
9. Gandalf’s sword is hidden in the Iron Throne
According to Westeros legend, the Iron Throne is made up of hundreds of swords, hammered for months while heated by dragon fire. But, as I’m sure you’re aware, it’s only a model. In reality, the Iron Throne was cobbled together by a bunch of sweaty dudes and ladies using plastic and probably a little paper mache; there are like six different Iron Thrones that tour the country, built to hold up the sturdiest of nerds posing for photo ops at Comic Cons. All those swords that are supposedly from the the great King Aegon’s vanquished foes are actually a bunch of plastic props the production team had laying around.
As it so happens, one of the swords that makes up the Iron Throne happens to belong to Gandalf of Lord of the Rings fame. You can clearly see the sword, named Glamdring because people in fantasy name their swords more often than their genitals, right smack dab in the middle of the throne. Here, it’s right next to the royal shitstain:
The spired handle and the curvy hilt definitely give it away. The only real question is whether it was put there intentionally, as a nod to Lord of the Rings, or whether it’s there by happenstance. Others have pointed out that you can see a sword from medieval epic Kingdom of Heaven in the throne, which seems more like it could be in the “Whatever We Had in the Sword Shed” category. Still, the prime placement of Glamdring and its relative fame leads me to hope it was put there on purpose.
Then again, Gandalf’s sword being in the throne means he was defeated by King Aegon. Or maybe he just died of old age after a really long dwarven dinner party.
8. Littlefinger predicts all the major deaths of Season 4 in one sentence
It’s hard to take anything Peter Baelish says at face value. I mean, dude’s nickname is Littlefinger; at any given time he’s only a facial scar and a fluffy white cat away from becoming a Bond villain. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen closely to everything he says, even the lies. Especially the lies.
In late season 4, Littlefinger consoles an oblivious Robin Arryn right after his mom got dunked down the Moon Door, and explains the important lesson/popular catchphrase for ill-advised tattoos: All Men Must Die. What’s interesting is how specific Littlefinger gets about the places people can die: their dinnertables, their beds, and their chamberpots — which all correspond to major on-screen deaths in season 4.
…and just after that, Tywin shot by a crossbow on ye olde shitter, also known as a chamberpot.
If you want to split hairs, Littlefinger says this line after Joffrey’s death, but it’s still before Shae or Tywin meet their demise. And Tyrion was acting in the heat of passion, so it’s just a coincidence, right? Or did Littlefinger conspire with Varys to release Tyrion from his cell, knowing full well what would happen after he finds Shae in his father’s bed? And then tell little Robin for no reason?
7. Monty Python is everywhere
George R.R. Martin wrote a pretty clear Monty Python nod in Dance with Dragons when someone mentions that the Unsullied “don’t break and run when someone farts in their general direction,” but the show is even more explicit with its references to the classic Holy Grail.
In a scene you probably remember, Daario defends Daenerys from a Meereenese champion by cutting his head off using only his rugged good looks. But just before the confrontation, the surly champion hurls a few insults in the fictional language of Old Ghiscari. It sounds like gibberish to us, but according to the staff linguist, the champion is reciting familiar lines from Monty Python’s French Knight, like “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries.” I tried putting the same words into the Klingon version of Google translate, but it just came out as “I would like to take your stepmom to SeaWorld.”
Though that one was pretty obscure, you didn’t have to have a decoder ring to catch this Python reference during one of Davos’ reading lessons.
Hearing her say “ka-niggit” like the French Knight would be funnier if it didn’t seem like something you shouldn’t say out loud in public.
The show creators’ love for Monty Python extends even to the sets; the Winterfell scenes in the first episode were shot at Scotland’s Doune Castle, which doubles as the infamous Castle Anthrax.
So fans may want to keep an eye out for more Python eggs in the coming seasons. If the keeps going as is, there’s not going to be anyone left alive but the killer rabbits.
6. George W. Bush’s severed head made HBO mad (and then the show made fun of it)
Everyone was pretty thrilled with Joffrey’s death. Like, there was a parade. Every year on April 13, we celebrate Evil Boy King Death Day because Joffrey was that much of an irredeemable prick. It even dates back to the very first episode. Right after Ned was beheaded, Joff forced Sansa to gaze up at her own father’s disembodied head, impaled on a spike next to a bunch of “traitors.” If you look up “dick move” in the dictionary, this is right there in the examples, right below “Adding one dollar to someone else’s bid on The Price is Right.”
Though the head Sansa stares at is an off-center facismile of Ned Stark actor Sean Bean, the other heads are just sort of anonymous people who pissed off the Lannisters. Well, all except for one.
Yep, as confirmed in the DVD commentary, that is in fact a fake head made to resemble former President George W. Bush, plus a sweet wig. To hear the creators tell it, it was just one of the heads they happened to have around, like a prop sword in the Iron Throne. You know how it is — everyone has a James Garfield or Warren G. Harding mask that’s just sitting in the closet, gathering dust. No sense in letting the severed head of a U.S. President go to waste.
It was just a matter of utility and no political statement was intended, but that didn’t stop people from getting pissed off that W’s head was on a pike in a TV show watched by millions of people. HBO edited the head for later pressings of the DVD and Blu Ray, but they made it clear that it was totally not cool, guys.
One part of their angry apology sticks out, in retrospect:
Anyone paying attention to Game of Thrones by now will know that this was no coincidence.
5. A wink to Harry Potter fans
Everyone in Game of Thrones has been in everything, but Harry Potter might be the most prevalent example. Michelle Fairley plays Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones, and also Hermione’s mother in Harry Potter. David Bradley plays Red Wedding engineer Walder Frey in GoT, and also Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch. Maybe most notable is Natalia Tena, who plays wildling Osha in the HBO series, and fan favorite Nymphadora Tonks in the Potter movies. Here’s hoping Dobby shows up as one of the ice zombies.
Not only is Osha making brooms with straw in this scene, but there’s a broom featured prominently in several shots, including the one you see up there on the right. Yeah, there are brooms anywhere in the world where you can find dust and cat hair, but peep that sweeper and tell me that’s not a witch-ass broom if you ever saw one. It couldn’t get any more magical if you stuck a rainbow Lisa Frank sticker on it.
4. Never tell Jaime Lannister you *almost* got stabbed in the eye
Remember when Jaime Lannister was a huge dick and you kind of hated him? It seems like so long ago that he was a repellent narcissist — nowadays he’s a repellent narcissist that you kind of like. The former was true especially early in the show, like the scene where Jaime doesn’t even pretend to remember meeting one of Stark’s men, Jory. The dude nearly lost an eye fighting beside Jaime, but the Kingslayer acts like M. Bison on any given Tuesday. To be fair, Jaime keeps it in mind for the next episode, when the Lannisters turn on the Starks.
Oh Jaime, you scoundrel. Too bad Jory didn’t see that coming! I guess you could say he didn’t have an eye for foreshadowing! Could these puns get any cornea? Okay, I’ll stop.
But really, that’s Breaking Bad levels of groundwork. Though I guess it wasn’t really necessary, given that you have a better chance of winning the lottery while being struck by lightning under Haley’s Comet than surviving Game of Thrones as a minor character.
Speaking of minor characters you might not have noticed…
3. Cameos from musicians that aren’t Ed Sheeran
Though the show has attracted a lot of big-name actors for various roles, it’s not really huge on guest stars. It would sort of take you out of the carefully-crafted world if Jeff Goldblum walked onto the set as a wisecracking Hollywood agent. The reason Ed Sheeran made a stink with his appearance had more to do with how his role was handled than any real fault of his own. But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been sneakier, more subtle cameos.
Then there’s Will Champion, a drummer in Coldplay most often seen in photos standing behind the only guy you know from Coldplay. In the Red Wedding episode, Champion put his acting chops to the test to play a percussionist who presumably later suffers several stabs in his pregnant belly. A few episodes beforehand, you can catch Snow Patrol member Gary Lightbody on a snow white horse in another small musical moment.
There’s your lesson, kids: If you ever want to have a walk-on role on Game of Thrones, you have to get in a time machine and find success in the crumbling music industry of 10-15 years ago.
2. The actor who plays Oberyn Martell was hinting at his death on social media for weeks
This is sort of cheating because the easter egg extends out into real life, but it was so well-done that I have to mention it. See, a guy named Pedro Pascal plays everyone’s lady and mancrush Oberyn Martell; when he signed on, there’s no doubt he knew that his character was going to die a horrific death. While he respected the part of his audience that hadn’t read the books and didn’t go as far as to spoil anything, that didn’t stop him from dropping serious hints in a Reddit AMA.
Looks a tad familiar, right? Here, let’s refresh your memory.
We’re plunging deep into spoiler territory for #1, but we saved the best for last…
1. The truth about Jon Snow’s parents is written on the wall
Once Game of Thrones’ most famous fan theory, “R + L = J” isn’t really a fan theory anymore. Pretty much everyone outside of the show knows that Jon Snow is the secret lovechild of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.