The Game of Thrones Season 8 intro credits foreshadowed every major death in order

Game of Thrones Season 8 -- photo: Helen Sloan/HBO -- Acquired via HBO Media Relations Site
Game of Thrones Season 8 -- photo: Helen Sloan/HBO -- Acquired via HBO Media Relations Site /

Focusing on important locations, the shiny new Game of Thrones Season 8 intro credits sequence was trying to warn us from the jump. Spoilers. Obviously.

The Game of Thrones intro credit sequence has always been magical. For the first two and a half minutes of the HBO series, viewers swoop and soar over detailed, living maps, inviting us to the fantasy world we’re about to inhabit for the next hour. Accompanied by Ramin Djwadi’s powerful theme song, it’s quite honestly one of the best intros in TV history.

One of the reasons the intro is so beloved is because it breathes and evolves with the story. It changes from episode to episode, not only visiting different locations, but also often marking the impact of tragedy and power shifts on various cities and structures. For example, when Winterfell was taken by the Boltons back in Season 5, a flayed man served as the sigil for the ancient castle for many episodes. After the Battle of the Bastards, the Stark direwolf sigil was finally back in its rightful place for the last episode of Season 6, giving eagle-eyed fans a reason to cheer.

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Whereas other seasons jumped around on the map throughout any given episode – a fifteen-minute sojourn to Essos, a twenty-minute jaunt north of the Wall, etc – Season 8 tended to stick with just one location at a time. In the final hours of the story, the players had converged, distilling the vast expanse of land that once separated them to just two major locations on a single continent.

The Game of Thrones team made good use of the change, eating up the time once used for flying from city to city instead by exploring the interiors of King’s Landing and Winterfell in depth. When the Game of Thrones Season 8 credit sequence originally premiered, fans were smitten with the new design. But little did we know that it was actually a chronological list of all the most major deaths that would occur throughout the final episodes.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

(Aside: Note that this is video of the credit sequence from the very first episode of Season 8. For a detailed breakdown of all the subtle changes to the intro throughout each of the subsequent episodes, you can check out author Kim Renfro’s fantastic article over on Insider here.)

The credits begin to roll at the top of the map. As viewers know from the conclusion of Season 7, the Night King has damaged a large portion of the wall, and the focus pulls through that gap. Icy blue tiles begin to creep along the ground, marking the march of the dead as they approach the Last Hearth.

Now the majority of the first episode wasn’t death-heavy, instead devoting time to preparations for war in both Winterfell and King’s Landing, but the very first violent event of the season occurred at the Last Hearth. Little Ned Umber certainly wasn’t a major character, but the circumstances of his death were a shocking horror show that certainly left a lasting impression.

As the credits pan through the woods and towards Winterfell, they linger on the Northern battlefield. Here the perspective switches from the approach of the army of the dead to that of the living at Winterfell. It’s where the group would make their last stand against humanity in the third episode of the season, “The Long Night”. It’s also where Jorah Mormont, Eddison Tollett, and eventually Melissandre would take their last breaths.

The credits track through to the Godswood, which is a place that the intro had always been sure to showcase before, but in the wake of events during the Battle of Winterfell, it takes on even more significance. It’s not only where Theon Greyjoy gave his life for the living, but it’s also where Arya Stark took on the Night King and won.

Panning through the remainder of Winterfell, the credits take time to explore the courtyards, the great hall, and even the crypts – all places where major damage and loss of life occurred during the battle.

However, the death foreshadowing really kicks into high gear as the credits leave Winterfell for King’s Landing. Perspective twists up to the front gates of the city. It’s the place where Cersei Lannister cruelly beheaded Missandei of Naath at the conclusion of episode 4, “The Last of the Starks”.

Game of Thrones Season 8 intro credits
Acquired via Game of Thrones PR. /

The view sweeps over the city, entering the castle from above through a twisty staircase. Now, when this was first introduced, it seemed like nothing more than a cool effect. In keeping with the twisting cogs and raised cities of the GoT intro maps of yore, the staircase could have easily been perceived as simply a device to get into the meat of the castle. Nope. It’s where the Hound and the Mountain fought to the death in episode 5, “The Bells”, as the city collapsed and burned to ash around them.

Here’s where things get really real. After a twisty roundabout in the staircase, the camera exits us out into the cellar of the Red Keep. Of course, this is where Jaime Lannister and Cersei Lannister died, cradling one another in sweet twincest love.

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That just left the moving image of the Throne room for the finale. All roads led here, and the Throne room was the last and final location for the most brutal and consequential deaths of the series: Daenerys Targaryen and the Iron Throne.

The best foreshadowing is something that’s not fully realized until after a shocking event occurs. We had no way of knowing that the Game of Thrones Season 8 intro credits would end up being a literal road map through all of the heartbreak that occurred in the final episodes of the series, but in retrospect, we’d have it no other way. Valar Morghulis.

Game of Thrones Seasons 1 – 8 are available for streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.