With over 23 million viewers on average tuning in to season six alone, it’s safe to say that Game of Thrones has a pretty solid fan base. There are some things, however, that even the most diehard Throners don’t know about the hit fantasy series. But before we separate the highborns from the lowborns, be warned – this list contains spoilers.
20. Terrible siblings or the best of friends?
Few sibling rivalries are as bitter as that shared by Tyrion and Cersei Lannister, and their mutual hatred has created some of the show’s best moments. In reality, however, actors Peter Dinklage and Lena Headey have actually been mates for years. In fact, the producers even hired Headey on Dinklage’s recommendation. Bless.
19. Smells like Meereen spirit
The reputation of rugged sellsword Bronn would undoubtedly be ruined if the Seven Kingdoms knew about his past life as a singer. Yep, back in the ’90s, actor Jerome Flynn was a sensation as one half of middle-of-the-road crooning duo Robson and Jerome, who even scored a number one hit in the U.K. with a cover of “Unchained Melody.”
18. A nice day for a Red Wedding
Season three’s infamous Red Wedding is perhaps the show’s most shocking moment – and there’s been a lot of competition. Thankfully, however, brutal moments like this only happen in fiction… right? Wrong. Unfortunately, the violent murder scene was actually based on the real-life Black Dinner of 1440, when two young noblemen were lured to their death under the pretext of a friendly meal at Edinburgh Castle.
17. “And your father smelt of elderberries”
Only fans fluent in the language of Low Valyrian will have found a hidden Monty Python reference in the season four episode “Breaker of Chains.” That’s right: believe it or not, the insults that the Meereenese fighter throws at Daenerys Targaryen translate to John Cleese’s epic “your mother was a hamster” rant from 1975’s much-loved full-length feature Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A nice, nerdy touch.
16. House Chaplin
Her character Talisa only enjoyed being a Stark for just one season, but actress Oona Chaplin can at least be comforted by the fact that she comes from a pretty prestigious house herself. As her name implies, the Spanish beauty is indeed a descendant of cinema icon Charlie Chaplin: she’s the silent star’s great-granddaughter.
15. No ruff treatment
Sansa’s direwolf Lady met a cruel fate thanks to Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones, but thankfully things ended happily for the pooch in real life. Sansona Sophie Turner adopted Zunni – the Mahlek dog who played Lady – shortly after exiting the show, and she now resides with the star at her English home. Aww.
14. Wildling heights
While we imagine Ygritte – the fiery wildling who melted Jon Snow’s heart – would be fine sleeping under the stars, actress Rose Leslie had a surprisingly plush property that she called home. Yes, the actress spent the first years of her life in Lickleyhead Castle in Scotland – a 15th-century wonder that, actually, wouldn’t look out of place in the show.
13. Straight outta Westeros
We can’t say that rap is the first thing that springs to mind when we think of Game of Thrones. However, that didn’t stop HBO releasing not one, but two mixtapes of GoT-inspired hip-hop in 2014 and 2015, with tracks featuring the likes of OutKast’s Big Boi and Snoop Dogg.
12. A backhanded compliment for the queen
Daenerys Targaryen has inspired thousands of imitators; indeed, over a thousand new parents opted to call their child “Khaleesi” in 2013 alone. It was the scientific community that bestowed perhaps the greatest – if the most backhanded – honor on the character in 2013, though, when it named a recently discovered sea slug “tritonia khaleesi.” Apparently, the creature’s silver markings reminded the scientists of the queen’s platinum hair.
11. “Bring me his head”
Eddard Stark’s shock beheading in season one was a warning to fans everywhere that no character was safe from the chop. But it seems that actor Sean Bean didn’t quite give the scene the gravitas it deserved: in fact, the Englishman admitted during a 2014 Reddit AMA that he kicked his own prop head “around like a football.”
10. A very sticky situation
In season one Emilia Clarke suffered a rather embarrassing on-set moment while filming Daenerys’ famous horse heart scene. The actress had to be completely caked in fake blood for the gory shoot, and it went everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. That meant that when Clarke later nipped into the restroom, she found herself stuck down to the toilet seat by all the sticky gloop. Rather her than us…
9. Battle of the bastards
Ramsay Bolton deservingly lost to Jon Snow in season six, episode nine’s “Battle of the Bastards.” In an alternative universe, though, actor Iwan Rheon could have been the one declared the victor. That’s because Rheon originally auditioned for the role of the former Lord Commander – and we can’t imagine what sadistic streak Snow would have had the Welshman won the part.
8. “You shall not pass”
The Game of Thrones fan base is now almost as big as that other bastion of high fantasy, The Lord of the Rings. In the spirit of competition, then, GoT showrunners struck out at the more family-friendly movie franchise by building a replica of Gandalf’s sword into the Iron Throne.
7. That’s a tad awkward…
She’s famous for playing one half of an incestuous couple on the show, but Lena Headey has her on awkward romantic encounter to deal with off camera, too. Because the actress – better known as Cersei Lannister – used to date co-star Jerome Flynn, aka Bronn. Apparently, relations between the two are now rather frosty.
6. A very lucky guess
During their initial pitch to author George R.R. Martin, GoT showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff faced a difficult question when the writer asked them to guess who Jon Snow’s mother was. And, although this information is yet to be revealed to fans, Weiss and Benioff took an on-the-spot educated guess which – amazingly – turned out to be correct. Furthermore, because of their lucky guess, Martin agreed to let them make the series. Fortunate, really…
5. Got your nose
Tyrion Lannister was left with a nasty facial injury during the Battle of the Blackwater, but things could have been a lot worse. In the books, the Imp actually loses his whole nose. This cosmetic calamity would’ve cost too much time and money for the production crew, however, and so he was given a scar instead.
4. Ahead in the polls
Game of Thrones has caused controversy due to its depictions of sex and violence; however, its most contentious moment is one most fans have probably now forgotten. Why? Well, it’s all to do with a likeness of George W. Bush’s head seen on a pike in season one – a shot for which HBO later issued an apology.
3. Pilot lite
Though most fans are up to date with every instalment of the series so far, there is one episode that viewers are never likely to see: a 2009 pilot helmed by Oscar nominee Tom McCarthy. The footage never aired and it looks likely to remain that way: in a podcast earlier this year, the screenwriters referred to it as a “piece of s**t.”
2. Fateful foreshadowing
Tywin Lannister’s toilet-based death at the end of season four shouldn’t have come as a shock to viewers had they been paying attention to Petyr Baelish. Earlier in the series, the schemer actually foreshadows the tyrant’s death by explaining to Robin Arryn that people “die squatting over their chamber pots.”
1. All men must die
Game of Thrones has one of the highest body counts in TV history, and the 704 on-screen deaths accumulated as of season five are pretty impressive. However, when including the deaths by wildfire of Stannis’ army during the Battle of the Blackwater, the figure actually passes a whopping 5,000 kills. Ouch.