HBO’s “Game of Thrones” has notoriously been the target for spoiler-hungry fans. But over the course of its nearly 10-year run, the show’s creators and cast have found creative ways to dupe fans or troll the would-be leakers.
From teasing book readers who thought they knew what was coming to tricking interviewers with semantics, we have gathered all the most memorable times the “Game of Thrones” cast and crew tried to pull a fast one on fans.
Keep reading for a look at 11 times the “Game of Thrones” stars trolled fans.
Lena Headey (Cersei Lannister) started the hardcore trolling of fans during the fourth season of “Game of Thrones.”
Her first time wading into the “spoilers” came with a photoshoot for Hunger TV. Headey and Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell) interviewed each other for this feature, but the real kicker came from the spoiler-ific pose the pair did.
Headey placed both her thumbs over Pascal’s eyes as he made a screaming face — a gesture which book readers knew was a nod at the way his character would gruesomely die by the end of the season.
For show-only fans, this was pretty close to a spoiler given that Oberyn’s death was meant to be a shocking conclusion to his trial-by-combat fight against The Mountain.
Later that same month, Headey pulled a fast one on those same book readers who thought they knew what was coming.
Lena Headey was the master of Instagram-based trolling. Lena Headey/Instagram
In the original books, it’s revealed that Catelyn Stark was resurrected several days after the Red Wedding and is now exacting revenge on the Freys under the name Lady Stoneheart.
When the third season of “Game of Thrones”ended with no Stoneheart in sight, book readers thought Benioff and Weiss were simply holding her reveal for the fourth season.
So when Headey shared an Instagram post with the caption “my stone heart” and a photo of a heart rock formation, people thought this was once again a nod to book readers who knew what was coming.
But the fourth (and fifth and sixth and seventh) seasons of “Game of Thrones” came and went with no Lady Stoneheart. Instead, we just got confirmation that Headey enjoyed messing with fans who would inevitably pick apart her social feeds.
Headey continued getting into fans’ heads when she wore a shirt saying “I’m not sorry” for her Jimmy Kimmel appearance.
When Headey sat down for an interview on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” just after the season four finale, the “Game of Thrones” star seemed to be teasing those fans who fell for her Stoneheart troll. She wore a shirt that said “I’m not sorry” circled in a heart, but feigned ignorance when asked if she had purposefully messed with fans.
As reported by Vanity Fair’s Joanna Robinson at the time, Headey told Kimmel she wasn’t intentionally trying to rile up book readers.
“No, that was me drunk in Palm Springs going, ‘This is so pretty,'” Headey said.
The real string of language manipulation came at the end of the fifth season when Jon Snow was assassinated by Night’s Watch mutineers.
Jon Snow’s death set off a whole year’s worth of fibs. HBO
George R.R. Martin’s unfinished book series also concludes (so far) with this cliffhanger, so the question of Jon Snow’s fate was the first true test of “Game of Thrones” proceeding drastically past the written material upon which its based.
Though many, yours truly included, had pieced together fan theories about the very likely resurrection of Jon Snow, HBO and the “Game of Thrones” cast and creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss spent the better part of the year saying Kit Harington was definitely gone from the show.
“Is Jon really dead?” Entertainment Weekly’s James Hibberd asked Harington during a post-finale interview.
“This is my understanding of it,” Harington said. “I had a sit-down with Dan and David, we did the Tony Soprano walk [letting an actor know they’re being whacked]. And they said, “Look, you’re gone, it’s done […] I’ve been told I’m dead. I’m dead. I’m not coming back next season. So that’s all I can tell you, really.”
The showrunners and HBO programming president also tried to keep up the white lie, though semantics came into play.
Here’s how Hibberd reported on one of the”Game of Thrones” showrunner’s response: “When asked point-blank of Snow is firmly gone — as in, is actor Kit Harington released from his Thrones contract? — showrunner Dan Weiss told EW, ‘Dead is dead.'”
HBO executives got in on this line, too.
“Dead is dead as dead as dead,” HBO’s programming president, Michael Lombardo, said in July 2015 during the Television Critics Association press tour.
He continued: “He be dead. Yes. From everything I’ve seen, heard, read, Jon Snow is indeed dead.”
But as people began pointing out, no one was questioning if Jon had died. The real question was “Is he coming back to life?”
Of course, Jon didn’t stay dead for long. By the second episode of the sixth season, our Night’s Watch hero was reborn.
We all saw this coming from a mile away. HBO
In an interview with Hibberd once again, this time a year later and with the news that Jon Snow was very much alive again, Harington apologized for all the fibs.
“Sorry!” Harington said to the camera. “I’d like to say sorry for lying to everyone.”
Backtracking a bit to just before the sixth season premiered, Maisie Williams (Arya) captioned an Instagram photo with a curious throwback line.
Maisie Williams used her Instagram page to stoke fan theories. Maisie Williams/Instagram
After the Wall of Faces teaser for season six was released, Williams shared a promo photo on Instagram with the following caption: “I see a darkness in you. And in that darkness, eyes staring back at me. Brown eyes, blue eyes, green eyes. Eyes you’ll shut forever. We will meet again.”
This was a line spoken to Williams’ character, Arya, on the third season by Melisandre.
In the books, Arya and Melisandre never came face to face, so this line and its meaning was a big mystery to everyone. This Instagram post had many people assuming the two characters would meet once again on the coming sixth season, but Arya and Melisandre never crossed paths again (yet).
During the filming of season six, showrunners Benioff and Weiss trolled the paparazzi (and fans who followed set leaks) with a cameo appearance by Shae.
Sibel Kekilli’s character Shae was killed off at the end of the fourth season, so when she turned up on the season six set in costume many people were baffled. A photo of Kekilli standing and waving at the paparazzi taking photos made its way to the popular “Game of Thrones” news site Watchers on the Wall, where speculation took off.
People thought Shae would return for a dream or vision, or perhaps the writers planned on finding a way to say she had never died.
But it was all a big troll planned by Benioff and Weiss.
“I was just visiting them and we realized that there were some paparazzi, and [Benioff and Weiss] were like, ‘Sibel, will you do us favor? We’ll put you in the outfit and we can prank them,'” Kekilli revealed at Con of Thrones in 2018.
Sophie Turner (Sansa) got in on the fan trolling ahead of the sixth season, too. When she played “two truths and a lie,” Turner actually lied twice.
In a fun spirited interview, Yahoo News tried to get the “Game of Thrones” cast to give up some hints ahead of the sixth season. Turner whipped out three possible events, only one of which was supposed to be a lie: “Ramsay dies, Lady Stoneheart returns, [and] Arya checks three people off her list.”
This got the Lady Stoneheart hype train rolling again, but by the end of all 10 episodes it became clear that Turner had told two lies.
Ramsay did indeed die, but Stoneheart never made an appearance and Arya only checked Walder Frey off her list that season. In retrospect, this was a brilliant play by Turner, who had fan theorists going wild all season long trying to figure out which event was a lie.
By season seven, the prank techniques were at their peak. Kit Harington posed with a fake dragon head on the beach, but that scene wasn’t real.
Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke on the set of “Game of Thrones” season seven. Splash News
As reported once more by Watchers on the Wall, the season seven filming leaks included paparazzi photos of Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in costume on a beach. We would later learn that this setting was the beach of Dragonstone.
Though Jon Snow and Daenerys did have scenes together on said beach, none of them involved her precious dragons. Plus, “Game of Thrones” typically films its dragon scenes using a green pole with a ball on top— never an actual mold of a dragon head.
In all likelihood, this was just one more time when the crew decided to mess around and see if any of the would-be leakers would fall for the faked scene.
And now we’ve come to the eighth and final season, where Williams once again flirted with trolling on Instagram.
This Instagram post from Maisie William was very cryptic. Maisie Williams/Instagram
Williams was one of the last principal cast members to finish filming on the eighth season of “Game of Thrones.” As the caption to her Instagram post of bloody sneakers, Williams wrote: “Goodbye Belfast. Goodbye Arya. Goodbye ‘Game of Thrones.’ What a joy I’ve had. Here’s to the adventures to come.”
But the most cryptic and probably trolling part of her post was the first hashtag Williams used: #lastwomanstanding
Her followers began frantically wondering in the comments if this meant Arya was going to be the last surviving character, but the likely truth is that hashtag was meant to convey that Williams herself was the last woman standing on set.
And then of course, the queen of all trolls swooped in on Williams’ Instagram post and stoked the theories even more.
Lena Headey probably knew exactly what she was doing with this comment.
Fans were quick to notice that Headey replied to Williams’ bloody shoe photo with a simple message: “QUEEN” (followed by many crowns, raised hands, and kiss-face emojis).
Given Headey’s experience with Instagram pranking of “Game of Thrones” fans, she probably knew that simple comment would set off a chain reaction. And of course people were frantically wondering if her comment meant Arya Stark would somehow survive and end the series as the Queen of Westeros. Again, Headey was likely referring to Williams the actress and not Arya the character.
We’ll have to wait until the final season airs in 2019 to know for certain, but in the meantime you can read our list of 21 key predictions we have for the final episodes of “Game of Thrones.”