Game Of Thrones Season 8 Finale: 36 Easter Eggs And References You Might Have Missed
By Michael Rougeau | @RogueCheddar and Phil Hornshaw | @philhornshaw on
Game of Thrones Season 8 spoilers ahead!
Game of Thrones is over. The series finale aired last night, and Season 8, Episode 6, "The Iron Throne," is sure to be divisive among fans. Some are OK with where things ended, and others are crushed that some favorite characters turned to the dark side while others wound up not mattering much at all. But one thing is certain: The Game of Thrones series finale was absolutely full of Easter eggs, callbacks, and references to past episodes and seasons.
So whether you liked how things ended or feel like you just got hurt too badly to ever trust another TV show again, let's at least enjoy the finale's many reminders of happier times.
Photo: HBO/Helen Sloan
1. A Broken Bell
One of the earliest shots of Episode 6 sees Tyrion Lannister walk past a fallen, cracked bell, a visual representation of the destruction Daenerys has wrought on Westeros, both literally and figuratively. In Episode 5, "The Bells," Tyrion begged Dany to halt her attack if she heard the bells ringing, signaling King's Landing's surrender. Of course, she didn't heed that request, destroying the city and just about everyone who lived in it.
2. A Ruined Map
Another big symbolic visual sees Tyrion crossing Cersei Lannister's giant floor map of Westeros in the Red Keep. When Tyrion finds it, the map is in ruins, buried under rubble, making a point about the larger state of the country thanks to Dany's arrival.
3. Bye Bye Balerion
Tyrion's venture through the dungeons of the Red Keep takes him past the Targaryens' dragon skulls, including the giant one that belonged to Balerion, the dragon Aegon the Conqueror rode when he arrived in Westeros and conquered the Seven Kingdoms. We last saw it when Cersei and Qyburn tested Qyburn's giant anti-dragon crossbow on it. Pointedly, the skull is now even more destroyed, along with the Red Keep--a lot like what will happen to Daenerys in the wake of what she's done to King's Landing.
4. Jaime's Golden Hand
Tyrion knows that he's come to the right spot amid all the rubble when he spies his brother's golden hand conveniently sticking out from the debris. Jaime wears the golden hand because his real right hand was chopped off in Season 3.
5. Tyrion's Silver Hand
Like his older brother, Tyrion wore a false hand for the last couple of seasons: the hand pin that symbolized his position as Daenerys's Hand of the Queen. And like Jaime, Tyrion doesn't need it anymore after the events of the previous episode. Throwing the pin away symbolizes his rejection of Dany even in the knowledge that he was likely throwing his life away too.
6. Tyrion's Still An Alcoholic
Tyrion has struggled with alcoholism (not that the Westerosi have a name for it) the entire series, especially after murdering his father and his former lover during his escape from King's Landing. It's extremely in-character that the first thing Tyrion asks Jon for after Dany imprisons him is some wine.
7. Fire And Blood
The words "fire and blood" come up during Tyrion and Jon's conversation. Once again, these are the Targaryen House words, which Daenerys embraced in the penultimate episode.
8. Maester Aemon Shout
Jon has his own callback in the same conversation: The quote "Love is the death of duty" is from Maester Aemon back in Season 1, when the former Targaryen revealed his true identity to Jon. Jon was considering abandoning his recently uttered vows to join Robb in marching south after Ned was taken prisoner in King's Landing. Of course, if Aemon had known he was actually speaking with the trueborn heir of House Targaryen, he might not have been so zen.
9. The Throne At Last
Waaayyy back in Season 2, Daenerys visited the House of the Undying, where the warlocks of Qarth had imprisoned her then-baby dragons. She had a vision there that included the Iron Throne covered in snow and/or ash in a throne room that appeared to be partially destroyed. That vision finally came true in this episode.
10. A Mountain Of Swords
In her final scene, Daenerys describes how she envisioned the Iron Throne as a child: "a mountain of swords too high to climb." This is a subtle nod to the throne's description in the novels, where it really was made from 1,000 swords forged together by dragon fire. In a 2013 blog post, Martin pointed to one specific artist's rendering of the Iron Throne, saying it's the closest visualization of how the author envisioned it.
Jon is asked how he would treat people who conspired behind his back. Unlike in the books, the show doesn't convey the characters' inner monologues, but there's no doubt he was thinking of Olly and the other Night's Watch brothers who stabbed him to death. Jon had them hanged, but he at least felt bad about it. Jon's ability for self-reflection--and Dany's apparent inability to do the same for her actions in King's Landing--may be what tipped him over the edge in this scene.
12. The Iron Puddle
As the legend goes, the Iron Throne was originally forged with dragon fire. In the Game of Thrones finale, it went out the same way. Whether Drogon understood the symbolism of his action, or he was just really pissed off, is a question for another day.
13. The New Prince of Dorne
The Large Council held in the dragon pit after Jon's arrest featured several unexpected new and returning faces, including the New Prince of Dorne. That's both his title and his name, since besides a single vague reference to him in an earlier episode, that's all we know about the leader of the desert kingdom. He doesn't seem to be any one specific character from the books, but simply a stand-in so Dorne could have a representative at this council.
14. Howland Reed, Is That You?
Another mysterious face at the meeting of Westerosi lords was sandwiched in between Edmure Tully and Sam. He doesn't speak and sports no visible sigils or other identifying features. Some fans are choosing to believe this is Howland Reed, a character who many predict will be more important in the books; Howland, who's Meera and Jojen's father, fought alongside Ned Stark during Robert's rebellion, and was present for both Rhaegar and Lyanna's meeting at the infamous Tourney at Harrenhal, and Jon's birth at the Tower of Joy.
15. Robin Arryn: All Grown Up
There were familiar faces at the Large Council as well. That normal-looking teenager is Robin Arryn, who in previous scenes was a very not-normal-looking young boy breastfeeding on Lysa Arryn's lap way past the age where that would have been acceptable, medieval setting or otherwise.
16. Edmure Too
Edmure Tully was there too. Last we saw, he was being used as a pawn at the siege of Riverrun. Presumably, he was then returned to the Freys' dungeon at the Twins, where he presumably starved to death after Arya killed basically everyone there. Or not! We never expected to see Edmure again, but there he was. He even got a line, although Sansa quickly shushed him--you don't need to mansplain politics to us, uncle. Thanks for coming though.
17. Democracy Now?
Sam makes a pretty far-fetched suggestion during this meeting of great lords: Why can't the people choose their own leader? Some fans predicted this exact moment, although no one foresaw that Sam would be laughed out of the room. What they wind up with is somewhere in between the hereditary monarchy they've been living with and the democracy Sam suggests--more like a representative democracy.
18. Bran's Story
Tyrion's suggestion that Bran wear the crown seemed kind of random, but the Lannister dwarf is referencing their conversation in Season 8 Episode 2, when Tyrion asked Bran to tell him his story: "There's nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Nothing can stop it. No enemy can defeat it. And who has a better story than Bran the Broken?"
19. Secession Party
Just as everyone else present was voting to crown "Bran the Broken," Sansa Stark pulled a really dick move and decided to secede from the Seven Kingdoms. Bran, being extremely biased, was totally cool with it. Yara, who'd been promised an independent Iron Islands if Dany won the Throne, and the New Prince of Dorne, which famously was never technically conquered under the Iron Throne to begin with, somehow raised no objections. Sigh.
21. Our Watch Has Ended (Or Has It?)
Jon got a fitting ending when he returned to the Night's Watch and ventured north of the Wall with his friend Tormund and his good boi Ghost by his side. But the show never really addressed the crucial question: Why was there still a Night's Watch at all? The White Walkers were defeated, the Wildlings are our friends now, and the Wall is broken anyway. What's the point?
22. Pissing Off The Edge of the World
In their final parting, Tyrion reminded Jon of his quest in Season 1 to piss off the edge of the world. That was Tyrion's given reason for traveling north to the Wall in the first place--although really, the curious Imp had never been so close to the true north, and wanted to take the opportunity to see for himself what he'd been reading about in books his whole life.
23. The Isle of Naath
Once he was satisfied that Jon Snow wouldn't be walking around free after murdering his queen, Grey Worm peaced out with the Unsullied. They left Westeros and headed for the Isle of Naath, where Missandei was from. That's kind of cute, until you find out that Naath is teeming with poison butterflies that quickly kill all foreigners who land there. Whoopsie!
24. West of Westeros
Arya's ending, sailing west of Westeros just to find out what's out there, is a reference to a line from Season 6, when she told the actress Lady Crane that she'd like to see the edge of the world. Granted, it feels like the type of line that the writers jammed in just so they could eventually give Arya this ending, considering Arya had never before demonstrated any affinity for exploration, cartography, or geography. But still.
25. Lord Commander Brienne
In Episode 2 of this season, Jaime Lannister made Brienne a knight, the first female knight in Westerosi history. That also made her eligible for the Kingsguard, though her appointment as Lord Commander under King Bran the Broken happened offscreen in the finale.
26. The White Book
The White Book, or the Book of Brothers, is the large book that Brienne wrote in after assuming command of Bran's Kingsguard. The book features a page (or more) for every member of the Kingsguard throughout history, recording their sigils and deeds for posterity. The book was last seen in Season 4, when Joffrey mocked Jaime for having a short entry (i.e. he hasn't done much of note besides betraying his vow by killing the Mad King Aerys). In the novels, Jaime muses over the book, hoping to one day fill his page with great deeds. Brienne writing his page for him is a beautiful ending.
27. A Song of Ice and Fire
Everyone knows it's a big moment in any movie or show when a character says the title out loud. It must be an even bigger moment when a character in a show based on a series of books says the name of the books in the final episode. Sam didn't write the story of these events, as many fans predicted he would, but he did name them, at least.
28. Tyrion's Final Insult
After the Battle of the Blackwater, Varys told Tyrion, who had just saved the city: "The King won't give you any honors, the histories won't mention you, but we will not forget." Add it to the growing list of things Varys was right about, since Tyrion apparently wasn't mentioned in the Song of Ice and Fire book that Sam brought to King's Landing.
Never mind that it makes absolutely no sense for the maesters to forget about a character who was the Hand or Acting Hand to three separate monarchs and is the current Lord of Casterly Rock, who murdered the previous Lord of Casterly Rock, his own father, after being convicted of poisoning the King, was accused of attempting to have the current King assassinated as a boy, and was briefly married to the current Queen in the North. The show just had to slip in one last cruel joke at Tyrion's expense.
29. The Worst Master of Coin in History
At the end of it all, Bronn was somehow not only the Lord of Highgarden (which Tyrion and Jaime promised him in Episode 4 of Season 8), but also the Small Council's Master of Coin in King's Landing. This is a character who recently said to Tyrion, "I've never borrowed money before; I'm not clear on the rules." Great job so far on those Small Council appointments, Bran.
30. Drogon's Fate
Drogon was last spotted flying East, according to the latest intelligence given to Bran. For all we know, he could be heading all the way to Valyria, the Targaryens' ancestral homeland. Not that we'll ever find out, but it's fun to think about.
31. The Six Kingdoms
With the North's official secession under the biased King Bran, Westeros officially became the Six Kingdoms. That just doesn't have the same ring to it.
32. A Jackass and a Honeycomb
Tyrion's final line in the series is a joke about bringing a jackass and a honeycomb into a brothel. This is a weird one, but it's the third time Tyrion has begun to tell this story. The first was during his Trial at The Eyrie, when Lysa Arryn cut him off. The second time was during a scene with Missandei and Grey Worm, when the attack on Meereen interrupted him. We'll never get to hear the rest, but at least it sounds like Tyrion will get to tell it this time.
33. The New Hodor
As Bran's official wheelchair pusher, Ser Podrick Payne (i.e. Pod) is following in the illustrious footsteps of Hodor. All involved would likely agree that it's a fitting ending.
34. The Master of Grammar
Throughout the course of the series, Davos Seaworth had quite a character arc--including not just going from illiterate to learning how to read, but eventually becoming the grammar police, too (as inspired by Stannis). Add him to the list of characters who started out good and grew evil by the end.
35. Red Leaves on White
Game of Thrones has always featured stellar costuming for its characters, and Sansa's new dress as Queen in the North was no exception. She sported a red leaf pattern on white cloth, symbolizing the Weirwood trees with which the Starks have a special connection.
36. One Final Rhyme
The series' last scene--Jon heading north into the forest beyond the Wall--mirrors the very first scene from the pilot, when the ill-fated trio of rangers ventured into the forest to get butchered by White Walkers.