11 Game of Thrones Easter Eggs You Might Have Missed

Helen Sloan, HBO
Helen Sloan, HBO

Game of Thrones is famous for dropping clues of things to come—and subtle nods to George R.R. Martin’s books—in casual bits of dialogue or unassuming props. As fans prepare to say goodbye to the beloved HBO series, we've rounded up 11 Easter eggs you might have missed the first time around, from the debut season all the way up to "Winterfell," the first episode in season 8. Be sure to watch and listen carefully for future references as the final episodes unfold.

1. Ser Davos Seaworth said Jon Snow’s real name in season 3.

Liam Cunningham in 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan, HBO

In season 7, the popular R+L=J theory was finally confirmed. Jon Snow is not the bastard son of Ned Stark, as nearly everyone in Westeros believes, but the legitimate son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen—and the heir to the Iron Throne. Ergo, his real name is Aegon Targaryen. So far, only a handful of characters on the show have figured it all out, but technically, Davos Seaworth called this a long time ago. When Princess Shireen Baratheon taught Davos to read in season 3, the first word Davos learned was Aegon, foreshadowing Jon Snow’s true lineage.

2. Sansa Starks’s wedding gown contained an embroidered story.

On Game of Thrones, even the clothes have hidden messages. According to the show’s costume designer Michele Clapton, the dress Sansa Stark wore when she married Tyrion Lannister was stitched with her life story. The golden gown featured a fish embroidered around the belly to honor her mother’s house sigil, as well as a Stark direwolf and a Lannister lion on the back.

3. Walder Frey’s death was outlined earlier in the show.

Arya Stark claimed long-awaited vengeance for her family in the season 6 finale, when she finally killed Walder Frey. Before she slit his throat, however, she served him a pie stuffed with the remains of his sons—Black Walder and Lothar. It’s a shocking and gruesome scheme, but it’s also one we’ve heard before. In season 3, Bran told Hodor and his companions the legend of the Rat King: According to this folklore, a cook in the Night’s Watch once killed the son of a visiting king. He chopped the body up and cooked it into a pie that he then served to the king, who loved it so much he asked for seconds. The gods punished the chef by turning him into a large rat who could only survive by eating his own children. As Bran explained, the gods were not offended by the murder or even the cannibalism—they couldn’t abide a man “kill[ing] a guest beneath his roof,” which is exactly what Walder Frey did to Catelyn, Robb, and Talisa Stark.

4. The furniture at King’s Landing reveals regime changes.

Squint hard at the wooden furniture in the Red Keep and you’ll notice a lot of dragons. The Game of Thrones production team intentionally included these pieces—which are most prominent in Tommen Lannister’s bedroom and the Small Council’s meeting room—to remind viewers of past power struggles at King’s Landing. The dragon furniture implies that the Baratheons and Lannisters kept the Targaryens' furnishings after they staged a coup, perhaps while they waited on some new bedframes with roaring lions.

5. Olenna Tyrell referenced family history in Dorne.

When Olenna Tyrell called a secret meeting with Ellaria Sand in Dorne, she admitted to being uneasy in the kingdom—and with good reason. "The last time a Tyrell came to Dorne, he was assassinated,” Lady Olenna told Ellaria. “A hundred red scorpions, was it?” This is a nod to Martin's novels, which detail the death of Lyonel Tyrell. The story goes that Lyonel liked to storm Dornish castles, then kick the lords out of their own bedrooms. One night, he wound up in a bed with a velvet canopy and matching sash, intended to summon women to his room. Except when he tugged the sash to do just that, 100 red scorpions fell from the canopy, killing Lyonel and freeing the Dornish from his tyranny.

6. The magic of Harry Potter is alive in Westeros.

Fandoms collided in season 7 when Samwell Tarly asked Archmaester Ebrose for help accessing “the restricted area of the library.” The phrase was a familiar one for Harry Potter fanatics; in the book series and subsequent movies, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has a restricted section of the library containing books on dark magic. Sam’s request felt like a wink to Harry Potter fans, especially since Archmaester Ebrose was played by Jim Broadbent, who played Horace Slughorn in the movies. But that’s not the only connection: Natalia Tena, who plays Nymphadora Tonks in the Harry Potter universe, also appears in Game of Thrones as the wildling woman Osha. In her early scenes, she is seen making brooms.

7. The Meereenese love Monty Python.

The warriors on Game of Thrones aren’t above trash talking. According to David Peterson, the show's language creator, the Meereense fighter who challenged Daario Naharis in season 4 shouted some very silly insults in Low Valyrian. His words translated to the French guard’s speech from Monty Python and Holy Grail—the one that goes, “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”

8. The Iron Throne includes swords from other fantasy franchises.

The swords that form the Iron Throne further link Westeros to other fictional universes. If you look closely, you’ll spy Gandalf’s sword from The Lord of the Rings movies molded into the back of the throne, as well as the weapon Orlando Bloom wields in Kingdom of Heaven.

9. Ed Sheeran’s fate was revealed in a sex scene.

Ed Sheeran and Maisie Williams in 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan, HBO

Fans were furious when pop star Ed Sheeran appeared in the season 7 premiere as a Lannister soldier Arya Stark encounters in the woods. The response was so negative that Sheeran later joked, “It was fun being in Game of Thrones, but I definitely think they should've killed me off in the episode.” Well, he almost got his wish. In the season 8 premiere, Bronn visits a brothel and hires three women who can’t stop talking about the Lannister men who perished in battle. They specifically reference a “ginger” named “Eddie” who “came back with his face burned off” and no eyelids. Ouch.

10. Euron Greyjoy’s fleet hides some famous faces.

Speaking of cameos: season 8 has already given us two more. When Theon Greyjoy storms his uncle Euron’s ship to free his sister Yara, his men take out the crew with arrows to the face—and, for one especially unfortunate sailor, the eye. That unfortunate sailor was none other than Rob McElhenney, co-creator and star of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Also aboard the ship? Martin Starr of Silicon Valley fame.

11. The show's co-creators are in the Hall of Faces.

Maisie Williams and Tom Wlaschiha 'Game of Thrones'
Helen Sloan, HBO

In a move straight out of Alfred Hitchcock’s playbook, Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and David Weiss have cameoed on their own show—or at least, their faces have. The two men’s visages appeared in the Hall of Faces that Arya frequents with Jaqen H’ghar. See if you can spot them on your next rewatch.

21 Fun Facts About Elf

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Everyone knows the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! But the second best way is to enjoy Elf. Revel in the giddy glow of this modern holiday classic with a slew of secrets from behind the scenes.

1. Jim Carrey was initially eyed to play Buddy the elf.

When David Berenbaum's spec script first emerged in 1993, Carrey was pre-Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and attached to front the Christmas film. However, it took another 10 years to get the project in motion, at which time Saturday Night Live star Will Ferrell was signed to star. Carrey would go on to headline his own Christmas offerings—the live-action How The Grinch Stole Christmas and the CGI animated A Christmas Carol.

2. Will Ferrell worked as a mall Santa.


Warner Bros.

And his A Night at the Roxbury co-star Chris Kattan was his elf. This was back when the pair were pre-Saturday Night Live, and part of the comedy troupe The Groundlings. Ferrell recollected to Spliced Wire, "I have some experience playing Santa Claus … Chris Kattan was my elf at this outdoor mall in Pasadena for five weeks, passing out candy canes. It was hilarious because little kids could care less about the elf. They just come right to Santa Claus. So by the second weekend, Kattan had dropped the whole affectation he was doing and was like (Ferrell makes a face of bitter boredom), 'Santa's over there, kid.'"

3. Director Jon Favreau favored practical effects.

Inspired by the Christmas specials he grew up with, Favreau explained in the film's commentary track that he employed “old techniques” instead of CGI whenever possible. This included stop-motion animation, and using forced perspective to make Buddy look like a giant among his elf peers. For North Pole scenes, two sets were built—one larger scale for the actors playing elves, the other smaller to make Buddy and Santa look big. These elements where then carefully overlaid in camera, using lighting to blend the seams.

4. Snow was often computer-generated.


Warner Home Video

Some effects just couldn't be practical. These included the snowflakes that drift over the opening credits, and many of the snowballs in Buddy's pivotal fight scene. It's probably not much of a shocker that much of these were added in post, considering Buddy's perfect aim. But to further underscore the drama that is a snowball fight in frosty New York, Favreau asked composer John Debney to give this section a Western vibe that would recall The Magnificent Seven.

5. Elf's production design was heavily influenced by Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

The classic stop-motion Christmas special from 1964 gave a memorable presentation of Santa's winter wonderland to which Favreau wanted to pay tribute. The elves' costumes in Elf were inspired by those worn by Hermey and his peers in the animated film. And Elf's workshops were modeled after the Rankin/Bass designs, as were the stop-motion animals of the area. The production did secure permission for these allusions, and was even granted the privilege of using the company's signature snowman.

6. There's a Christmas Story cameo.

Peter Billingsley, who memorably played the Red Ryder-wanting Ralphie in the 1983 holiday classic, popped in to play Ming the elf. It's an uncredited role, but between the glasses and those bright baby blue eyes, Billingsley stands out as an A Christmas Story Easter egg. This marks just one of many Billingsley and Favreau's collaborations. Billingsley has been a producer on several of Favreau's film and television projects.

7. Jon Favreau played multiple parts in Elf.

Jon Favreau directs Will Ferrell in 'Elf' (2003)
Alan Markfield, New Line Productions

As a writer/director/actor, Favreau has often appeared in his own films. He fronted Made with friend Vince Vaughn, and later found a sweet supporting role for himself in Iron Man. You may have picked him out as the doctor in Elf, but on the DVD commentary, Favreau revealed he also tapped in to his inner narwhal and provided the voices for some of the stop-animation critters who see Buddy off from the North Pole. He also voiced the rabid raccoon Buddy encounters.

8. Baby buddy was fired.

To play the bubbly baby version of the titular elf, Favreau had initially cast twin boys whose blonde curly hair made them great little doubles for the mop-topped Ferrell. However, the production ran into a problem when the boys couldn't perform. Instead of smiling and crawling as needed, they cried relentlessly. To replace them, brunette triplet girls were brought in, who were far perkier and more playful, and thereby ready for their close-ups.

9. Buddy was bullied in an early version.

In first drafts of Berenbaum's Elf script, Buddy's decision to seek out his dad was in part because he was being hassled by the actual elves for being different. Favreau pushed to take out this element. He preferred to keep the North Pole characters warm, even when Buddy bugs them. In the DVD commentary, Favreau offers, “It explained why Buddy was doing all these good things in New York if he grew up in a world where everybody was so sweet even when he’s obviously screwing everything up and doesn’t fit in at all.”

10. Elf hockey hit the cutting room floor.

Poor Buddy accidentally wreaks all kinds of havoc on his elf community because of his ungainly size. One such scene of his well-meaning mayhem featured Buddy playing hockey on a frozen pond. The friendly game becomes unintentionally violent when the too-big Buddy takes to the ice. Though it was shot, it ended up being chopped from the finished film.

11. Elf was shot on location in New York when it counted.

Like many productions, this one took advantage of the financial benefits of filming in Canada, and much of Elf was shot in sound stages in Vancouver. However, when Buddy comes to New York, it was important to Favreau to shoot on location whenever possible. This includes all the Manhattan exteriors, as well as scenes shot at Rockefeller Center, Central Park, and Central Park West, where Buddy's dad lives.

12. Some of Elf’s sets were built in a horror factory.

Okay, technically it was an abandoned mental hospital, where the production team constructed the interior sets for Walter's Central Park West apartment, Gimbels's lavish toy department, and that grim prison cell. The facility is called Riverview Hospital, and it has played host to a long list of film and television productions, including The X-Files, Final Destination 2, Jennifer's Body, and See No Evil 2.

13. Macy's stood in for Gimbels.

The sprawling department store that takes up a whole block in Manhattan was digitally altered to transform into Elf's Gimbels. A bit awkward: Gimbels was once a real department store, and a noted rival of Macy's. Though immortalized here and in the 1947 classic Miracle on 34th Street, the department store closed its doors in 1987, its 100th year of operation.

14. Will Ferrell broke James Caan.


Warner Home Video

The Academy Award-nominated star of The Godfather was hired to play Walter in part because Favreau wanted a stern persona to play against Ferrell's giddy Buddy, and Caan took the comedy of Elf seriously. He knew it was crucial for Walter to be annoyed—never amused—by his supposed son's antics. But when it came to the blood test scene where Buddy bellows when pricked by a needle, Caan cracked. Watch closely and you'll see he turns away from the camera so as not to ruin the take.

15. The studio didn't get a joke from the mailroom sequence.

This was the last set piece shot for Elf, and one that filmmakers were wavering on from its conception late in production. Grizzled Mark Acheson's casting as Buddy's drinking buddy concerned execs because of the line, "I'm 26 years old." The studio noted the actor does not look 26, to which Favreau—who had previously cast Acheson in a small role that had been cut before production—responded that this disconnect was part of the joke.

16. Will Ferrell went method with those jack-in-the-boxes.

In the scene where Buddy suffers as a toy tester, he's subjected to popping open an endless stream of menacing jack-in-the-boxes. The anxiety etched on Ferrell's face in these scenes is real. Rather than standard jack-in-the-boxes that would pop at the song's end, these were remote controlled by Favreau, who purposely manipulated their timing to toy with his star and get authentic reactions.

17. Will Ferrell frolicked all over New York City in character.

The final day of Elf's New York shooting was pared down from a massive crew to just three people: its star, its director, and one cameraman. Together, this trio traveled around the city, looking for mischief for Buddy to get into with random passersby turned background extras. This included him leapfrogging across a pedestrian walk, happily accepting flyers, and getting his shoes shined, all of which made it into the movie's cheerful montage.

18. That epic burp was real, but overdubbed.

Though uncredited, that lengthy belch came not from Ferrell, but from noted voice actor Maurice LaMarche, who might be best known for Brain of Pinky and the Brain. LaMarche shared his secret to such an impressive burp with The A.V. Club, saying, "I’ve always been able to do this weird effect, where I turn my tongue, not inside out, but almost. I create a huge echo chamber with my tongue and my cheeks, and by doing a deep, almost Tuvan rasp in my throat, and bouncing it around off this echo chamber, I create something that sounds very much like a sustained deep burp."

19. Elf made its star stick.

In the movie, Buddy is happy to gobble down an endless supply of sweets, including maple syrup-coated spaghetti and cotton balls made of cotton candy. But this sugary diet played havoc on Ferrell, who told About Entertainment, "That was tough. I ingested a lot of sugar in this movie and I didn't get a lot of sleep. I constantly stayed up. But anything for the movie, I'm there. If it takes eating a lot of maple syrup, then I will—if that's what the job calls for."

20. Will Ferrell refuses to make Elf 2.

Though the comedian reprised the role of Ron Burgundy for Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and returned as Mugatu in Zoolander 2, he flat out rejected the possibility of bringing back Buddy, even after being offered a reported $29 million. In December of 2013, he told USA TODAY, "I just think it would look slightly pathetic if I tried to squeeze back in the elf tights: Buddy the middle-aged elf."

21. Elf became a hit Broadway musical.

From November 2010 to January 2011, Elf the musical ran on Broadway, boasting songs like "World's Greatest Dad," "Nobody Cares About Santa," and "The Story of Buddy The Elf." This run was a huge success, taking in more than $1.4 million in one week, a record for the Al Hirschfield Theater where it debuted. Plus, The New York Times called it, "A splashy, peppy, sugar-sprinkled holiday entertainment." A revival hit in time for Christmas 2012, and national tours have been recurring.

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