From a sea slug that looks like Daenerys to a death toll that takes your breath away, Rebecca Hawkes and Amy Blumsom lift the lid on some of the fantasy show’s secrets
1. It’s been banned by the Turkish military
In 2014, it was reported that Game Of Thrones had been banned in military schools in Turkey to protect young people from “sexual exploitation, pornography, exhibitionism, abuse, harassment and all negative behaviours”.
2. There’s a real-life equivalent to Valyrian steel
In Westeros, the very best blades are forged from a super-strong yet incredibly light substance known as Valyrian steel. Intriguingly, it seems George RR Martin based Valyrian steel on a real-life alloy known as Damascus steel. It was also known for its super-strong, super-sharp qualities, and for its distinctive rippled surface.
3. In 2013, HBO and Firebox teamed up to sell life-size replicas of the Iron Throne
Made of fibreglass and resin, the 159kg replicas were 7 feet 2 inches tall, 5 feet 11 inches deep, and 5 feet 5 inches wide – and were priced at £20,000 (€23,180).
4. The houses have been turned into “brands”
Ever imagined what it’d be like if Game Of Thrones was set in the modern day world, and all the warring Westerosi families were corporations?
Stock photography company Shutterstock has taken the idea and run with it, creating ‘A Game Of Brands’. The dragon-riding Targaryens have now become an airline; the debt-paying Lannisters are envisaged as an investment company; and the worthy, resilient Starks run an outdoor clothing line.
5. Daenerys is also the Mother of Sea Slugs
In 2013, three marine biologists discovered a new species of sea slug off the coast of Brazil. They were struck by the similarity between its yellow fronds and the silvery braids of Daenerys Targaryen. In honour of the warrior queen and her title among the Dothraki, the team named their new find Tritonia khaleesi.
6. The swords all have ‘blood grooves’
All of the hand-forged steel blades are given the same lengthways grooves as real-life swords; the dips are commonly known as ‘blood grooves’ or fullers.
According to popular belief, these grooves allowed blood to escape from an enemy’s body, making it easier for the sword to be pulled out. However, some historians suggest that the innovation was instead simply designed to make the sword lighter.
7. George RR Martin had his post stolen
Back in 2011, Martin complained that a postal worker had apparently stolen some scripts that had been mailed to him. Referencing a character from the series, Martin appealed to his readers to look out for copies on eBay: “Like Bloodraven, I have a thousand eyes and one. So let’s keep ’em all peeled, boys and girls.” But the stolen scripts have never turned up.
8. The dragons were inspired by geese and cats
As anyone who has been attacked by a flock of them can attest, geese can be pretty threatening. Speaking about how he created the movement for Daenerys’s dragons, effects supervisor Sven Martin said: “We looked at big goose animals when they are on the ground, how they play with their wings.”
For the scenes where the giant lizards are more relaxed, Martin explained that he wanted Daenerys to seem almost maternal towards her favourite dragon, Drogon.
“When she’s stroking him”, he said, “he should be a little bit like a cat”. Aww.
9. Jon Snow wouldn’t really be able to climb The Wall
Experienced mountaineer and Game Of Thrones fan Katie Mills has criticised the poor execution of the scenes in season three in which Kit Harington’s character Jon Snow and a group of Wildlings climb The Wall. Speaking about the moment where Jon slips and falls, Mills said: “Jon would yank the person above him off, who would in turn yank the next person off, and then the leader off, and they’d all be dangling from the ice hook with the rope taut.”
10. It’s the most pirated show in the world
According to the filesharing website TorrentFreak, more people are illegally downloading Game Of Thrones than any other show. In 2012, public BitTorrent trackers showed that one episode was illegally downloaded about 4,280,000 times.
11. There have been 150,966 on-screen deaths (so far)
The show isn’t exactly known for being a gentle, violence-free zone – but you might still be surprised at just how many on-screen deaths it has managed to squeeze in. According to one YouTube video-maker, who has made a compilation documenting all the carnage, there have been 150,966 to date. This includes, we hasten to add, not just all the extras but animals, too.
12. You can take a Game Of Thrones course at Harvard
Want to make like Samwell Tarly and immerse yourself in the history of the Seven Kingdoms? You can now study Game Of Thrones at Harvard University.
That said, it’s worth noting that the introductory course is less about immersing yourself in Westerosi lore, and more about using Game of Thrones as a lens to explore the public perception of Medieval history.
13. Jon Snow met Jon Snow
To clarify, Jon Snow, man of the Night’s Watch, has met Jon Snow, man of… Channel 4 news. In a video interview, the veteran news anchor dons a cloak and sword and comes face to face with Kit Harington, who plays his Game Of Thrones namesake.
The pair discuss how George RR Martin might have chosen the name: “I don’t know … it might very well have come from you, Jon,” says Harington.
14. Adult movie stars have joined the cast
For season four, the show’s producers cast a number of porn actresses, including Jessica Jensen and Samantha Bentley, who both played prostitutes on the show. Australian amateur porn actress Aeryn Walker was also cast as one of the loathsome Craster’s many wives.
15. There were 70 ways to say “Hodor”
According to Kristian Nairn, the 6ft 10in actor (and club DJ) renowned for playing the gentle giant who can speak only his own name, there are about 70 different ways of saying “Hodor”. In an interview with Vulture, Nairn said: “There’s angry Hodor, happy Hodor, sad Hodor, frightened Hodor, curious Hodor, bashful Hodor, sheepish Hodor … and naked Hodor.”
16. Madonna once stole the Khaleesi’s real costume
In 2014, Madonna decided to dress as Daenerys for Purim, a holiday dubbed the ‘Jewish Halloween’.
Being Madonna, she contacted the show’s producers to see if she could borrow the actual Khaleesi costume, rather than having to go to all the trouble of making her own. Producers were happy to oblige.
17. Kit Harington’s buttocks are fake
Remember when the show gave us a glimpse of Jon Snow from behind, back when he and Ygritte were exploring the caves – and, ahem, each other – in season three? Well, that wasn’t Kit Harington’s real bottom.
In an interview, Harington revealed: “The only time you saw my ass, it wasn’t my ass.”
It wasn’t a prosthetic bum either, but a crew member, who gamely stepped in after a broken ankle left Harington unable to film.
18. The Mountain eats a whopping great 11,489 calories a day
The character, who returned to the show last season in super-creepy Frankenmountain form as Cersei’s probably not-quite-alive protector, is played by Icelander Hafthor Julius Bjornsson. He eats almost three dozen eggs, 1.5kg of potatoes and nearly a kilo of beef a day to maintain his 6 feet 9 inches, 17-stone build.
19. What do George RR Martin and Beyonce have in common? They both have dragon eggs
When George RR Martin married long-term partner Parris McBride in 2011, prop designer Gemma Jackson gave him one of Daenerys’s dragon eggs as a wedding gift.
According to Emilia Clarke, Jay Z bought one of the other prop dragon eggs for his wife Beyonce.
20. Jon Snow’s fur comes from Ikea
Game Of Thrones may have a budget of around $10m (€8.9m)per episode, but just like the rest of us, it still relies on that mainstay of frugality – Ikea.
Designer Michele Clapton revealed in a 2016 interview at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles that several of the fur capes worn by men of the Night’s Watch are actually Ikea rugs.
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