Between cast leaks, Reddit threads, and the spoiler wasteland we call the internet, Game of Thrones has had a pretty hard time keeping their biggest secrets under wraps over the last eight years. Still, not every surprise death or crazy twist found its way through the cracks, and when audiences finally got a taste of what the writers were cooking up, they never saw it coming.
But even though the series is wrapped up, there are still plenty of unknown facts and set stories that even the most dedicated fans don’t know. These recently discovered photos finally bring to light all of the unbelievable secrets that the GoT showrunners have been hiding from us all these years, and they’re certain to shock you more than the Red Wedding ever could.
1. A television production like Game of Thrones has to move at a lightning pace to meet deadlines, but that never stopped the cast and crew from celebrating life’s big moments. Even as a prisoner, Jaime Lannister still got to blow out the candles on his birthday (cup)cake.
2. You probably gasped when Tommen threw himself from the Red Keep in Season 6, though, luckily, his real-life fall wasn’t a great one. Using the power of TV magic, the crew made a three-foot leap seem like a thousand-foot drop.
3. Oh, the irony! Not even the men of the Night’s Watch are immune to the blistering cold. Maester Aemon and Ser Alliser Thorne seem to be having a great time with their umbrellas, though Jeor Mormont looks like he’d rather be anywhere else.
4. What, you thought that was a real dragon? While it may seem like Daenerys is handling a real creature on TV, she’s actually just manipulating a bunch of odd-looking green-screen dummies. This one could almost pass for the head of a giant snake!
5. What kind of wildling can’t handle a little snow? Tormund may come off as tough and rugged, but with his bright-orange umbrella, he looks like a regular Mary Poppins. Maybe now Brienne will see that he’s a big softy at heart.
6. Sure, Arya saved the world when she defeated the Night King, but we can’t forget how awesome it was when Lyanna Mormont toppled wight Wun Wun with a dagger to the eye. Even with actor Ian Whyte standing 7′ 1″, CGI was still needed to create the epic scene.
7. There doesn’t appear to be any “shaming” going on here, as Lena Headey and Hannah Waddingham are all smiles in this photo. Considering how much they despised each other on screen, it’s hard to believe these two would take such a goofy pic together.
8. Most people could watch the scene of Jon beating Ramsay Bolton to a pulp over and over again, yet the way this memorable moment played out in real life wasn’t quite as satisfying. With the help of some quick camera cuts, it really looked like Kit Harrington was laying into him!
9. Not only can the Night King raise his hands, ride a dragon, and throw ice spears, but he also knows the “hang loose” sign, too! If you didn’t know any better, you’d probably think he was human — or, at least, was human…
Vladimír Furdík / Instagram
10. There’s no denying how awesome Dany looks while riding her dragons. In real life? Not so much. Instead of a giant winged beast, Emilia Clarke gets to “fly” this weird green-screen contraption when shooting her sky scenes.
11. Game of Thrones has some of the best action work on TV, but did you really think big-name stars like Emilia Clarke and Peter Dinklage were doing their own stunts? It’s probably for good reason, too: with all those pointy swords on set, someone would definitely poke an eye out.
SixthSedition / Reddit
12. Remember biting your nails in suspense as Tormund and his wildling party scaled the Wall in Season 3? Well, here’s some good news: it was all fake. If their icepicks had given way, the actors would’ve been safely lowered to the floor by tethers.
13. Maybe there was more to Bran’s relationship with the Night King than we thought. After all, why would the Three-Eyed Raven’s sworn enemy be shielding him from the cold? Time to start up the “Bran is the Night King” theory once again.
14. It looks like Jon Snow is finally embracing his Targaryen bloodline, though did anyone bother to tell him that he himself is not actually a dragon? Flap your arms all you want — Drogon’s still got you beat!
@emilia_clarke / Instagram
15. Hold the door? More like hold the rock! At least, that’s probably what Kristian Nairn was thinking when Isaac Hempstead Wright dangled this small boulder over his head.
16. Let’s hope that’s not a real baby, because any infant forced to stare into the face of the Night King is sure to be scarred for life. And to make matters worse, that ice pedestal doesn’t look like it has much back support either.
17. In light of recent events, it’s kind of shocking that Gwendoline Christie even agreed to this photo with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. You can’t just break a knight’s heart and get away with it, Jaime Lannister!
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau / Instagram
18. Even a master swordsman like Ned Stark needed a lesson or two when it came to wielding his blade. You’d think Sean Bean would’ve carried over some tips from his time shooting The Fellowship of the Ring, though after 10 years away, he was probably still a little rusty.
19. Kids will be kids — even if they’re the kids that will one day come together to save the entire realm. Hopefully, Alfie Allen isn’t hiding any aces up his sleeve, or else Maisie Williams might pull Needle on him…
20. If Sean Bean didn’t know from the beginning that his character was going to be decapitated at the end of Season 1, then they definitely told him right before this scene. The look on his face says it all: “but everybody loves me! How can I be the first to die?”
Even as we venture behind the scenes, it’s easy to forget that the characters we’ve come to know and love are real people, most of whom are also in very real relationships. Sophie Turner and singer Joe Jonas met in October of 2016 and secretly got married in Vegas 2.5 years later. She says their relationship really helped with her depression!
2. Kit Harington & Rose Leslie: While Jon and Ygritte’s passionate flame was extinguished, Kit and Leslie remained more in love than ever. They got married in 2018 with nearly the whole cast present. It’s the fairytale happy ending George R.R. Martin would have never written.
3. Maisie Williams: While the actress behind Arya was pretty open about her relationship with her former classmate Ollie Jackson, the two seem to be taking a little distance from each other. She also said that [spoiler alert] her boyfriend thought Jon should have killed the Night King. Yikes…
4. Iain Glen: We’re all very much aware of Ser Jorah’s infinite devotion to Daenerys, but in real life, he’s only devoted to his long-time partner, actress Charlotte Emmerson. He’s been fortunate enough to be with her since 2005.
5. Peter Dinklage: The man behind the witty Tyrion Lannister married the love of his life in 2005: a theater director named Erica Schmidt. Together, they have two children, although they refuse to tell the public their names.
6. Alfie Allen: The Theon Greyjoy actor and brother of singer Lily Allen has had a girlfriend since 2016. She’s an American DJ and model by the name of Allie Teilz, and they recently had a baby together.
7. Carice Van Houten: Carice, a.k.a. the red woman Melissandre may be Dutch, but she is no stranger to the American film scene. She met Australian actor Guy Pearce on the set of Brimstone and was expecting his child soon after.
8. Jason Mamoa: Who else but Khal Drogo would be best friends with his wife, her ex-husband, and the daughter they share? Somehow Jason managed to be welcomed with open arms by the Kravitzes when he started dating Lisa Bonet.
9. Iwan Rheon: We may all hate Ramsay, but you can’t hate a sweetheart like Iwan! He currently lives in London with actress and director Zoë Grisedale, with whom he has one child.
10. Natalie Dormer: After 11 years together, Natalie and Peaky Blinders director Anthony Byrne sadly called off their engagement in 2018. Well, it’s definitely better than marrying him and then poisoning his wine, right Margaery?
11. Gwendoline Christie: Brienne of Tarth may have never been with a man, but Gwen sure has! She married fashion designer Giles Deacon in 2013, and we can see the wonderful influence he has had on her bold and flawless wardrobe she dons at every premiere.
12. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Unfortunately for Brienne, Ser Jaime is married, too! Well, Danish actor Nikolaj is. His wife is a former Miss Greenland and currently a musician, with whom he shares two daughters. They must have received their daddy’s talent because they are already acting too!
13. Liam Cunningham: Others may make fun of the Onion Knight, but his wife Collette must think he’s pretty wonderful because she’s had three children of his. They seem to prefer keeping their relationship fairly private, but they still look like a happy couple.
14. Aiden Gillen: Even though Petyr Baelish no longer carries a ring on his “little finger,” he seems to be quite taken by his musical girlfriend Camille O’ Sullivan. She even pushed him out of his comfort zone by asking him to sing a duet with her for a charity, which he did wonderfully.
15. Jonathan Pryce: As one of the oldest actors on the show, Mr. Pryce, who portrays the High Sparrow, has the longest-running relationship out of everyone. He met his wife, Kate Fahy, back in ’72, although they didn’t get married until 2015, long after they had 3 children.
16. Jacob Anderson: Some know him as Grey Worm, while others know him as musician Raleigh Ritchie. Jacob met his girlfriend, actress Aisling Loftus, in 2014, and despite their careers keeping them very busy, the relationship is still thriving.
17. Gemma Whelan: We’re sorry ladies, the woman behind Yara Greyjoy isn’t actually a lesbian. In fact, Gemma Whelan gave birth to her first baby with partner Gerry Howell and even nursed her child between Game Of Thrones takes. Looks like she is just as tough a cookie as Yara.
18. Kristofer Hivju: Stop lusting after Brienne, Tormund, you’ve got a wife and three daughters back in Norway! Film producer Gry Molvær Hivju has been married to Kristofer since 2015, but they’ve had children together for much longer than that.
19. Michiel Huisman: While fellow Dutchie Carice Van Houten is dating outside of her nationality, Michiel Huisman, or Daario, has been wed to Dutch singer Tara Elders since 2008, after she gave birth to their daughter. They currently live in NYC as expats, but still often travel to the Netherlands.
20. Sean Bean: Ned Stark lives! And he’s married for the fifth time! He wed Ashley Moore in 2017, whom he met at a bar in London. Since Moore is only 33 years old, Sean claims she brings a lot of vibrancy into his life. This isn’t the first time he’s been someone’s knight in shining armor though…
While out at the bar with model April Summers in 2011, Sean Bean, who portrayed the honorable Ned Stark, honorably chased a man down the street after he made rude comments towards his date. The man fled—at first.
When the man returned, Bean sentenced him to a butt-whoopin’—as Ned Stark said, “the man who passes the sentence should swing the sword.” Though Bean was stabbed with a glass shard in the ensuing fight, he sat at the bar afterward and ordered a drink.
21. Despite her mountains of Lannister gold as Cersei, actress Lena Headey reported unbearable financial woes to courts after a 2012 divorce from her then-husband, Peter Loughran. Just how bad was her situation?
According to reports, Headey had just $5 in her bank account—even after a year on the show—during her divorce from Loughran, left, and paid for her two-year-old son’s, right, living expenses with credit cards. Surely the Iron Bank of Braavos had some collecting they could have done on her behalf!
22. Jerome Flynn also dated Lena Headey, who plays Cersei, briefly in 2002. To say the relationship ended poorly would be an understatement: the two can’t stand each other and producers keep them apart at all costs—even if it means reworking scenes.
During the season 7 finale, leaders of the Seven Kingdoms including Cersei assembled to discuss the country’s fate. Bronn opted to grab a drink with Poderick Payne instead. This was the producers’ method for keeping Headey and Flynn apart on set.
23. And while we’re talking Jerome Flynn, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater pledges allegiance to whoever pays him the most. In the mid-1990s, however, portraying actor Jerome Flynn stepped away from high-paying Hollywood for a far-from-lucrative movement…
By 1996, Flynn rebuked Hollywood high rises for a commune as he became swept up in the EnlightenNext spiritual movement led by Andrew Cohen. He traveled the world sharing Cohen’s writings with all who would listen. Eventually, he left the movement.
24. Kit Harington’s parents named him Christopher after the British playwright Christopher Marlowe, but know-nothing Jon Snow didn’t know that. Actually, for a long time, he didn’t know his name was Chris at all.
It was at age 11 he finally discovered his true name wasn’t Kit. “That was kind of a bizarre existential crisis for an 11-year-old to have,” he said. “But in the end, I always stuck with Kit, because I felt that’s who I was.”
25. Like Tyrion Lannister, early ’90s Peter Dinklage “was pretty angry” at life in general. Luckily, the future actor channeled his frustration into something healthier than a crossbow bolt to his father’s chest.
Dinklage sang and played the cornet for a punk band called Whizzy. One reviewer described the band as “a spectacle of sardonic yet optimistic folly to which you can’t help but dance.”
26. Conspirators, slave traders, and angry Dothraki couldn’t kill Daenerys Targaryen, but tabloids in 2013 reported that a secret medical issue almost did in actress Emilia Clarke.
According to reports, just as Clarke finished her run on Broadway in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” below, she suffered a brain aneurysm. “Everyone was so scared for her,” a source said. If the rumor’s true, she obviously made a full recovery—but she no doubt needed a relaxing bath afterward!
27. Brienne of Tarth dedicated a few seasons of television and an entire book in pursuit of “a highborn maid with blue eyes and auburn hair” and gutting those in her way. But actress Gwendolyn Christie doesn’t show a similar dedication to finding out… her own age.
Yeah, the woman behind the 6-foot-3 warrior doesn’t know how old she is (estimates put her in her 30s). Her mother never bothered to keep track, and she’s never tried getting to the bottom of it; she probably didn’t get those figurines pictured below at a birthday party.
28. Between the 3rd and 4th seasons of Game of Thrones, producers re-cast Daario Naharis, replacing Ed Skrein, left, with Michiel Huisman, right (despite them looking nothing alike). People assumed Skrein left because he took a role in The Transporter Refueled—but the actor claimed otherwise.
“My plan was to stay with Game of Thrones for the long haul,” Skrein said. “That was always my plan. I would have loved to… but politics led to us parting ways.” Skrein, it seems, couldn’t handle the game of thrones played on the set of Game of Thrones.