The intro to Game of Thrones episodes includes a model mechanical world sprouting up buildings at Kings' Landing, Winterfell, and other key locations. Does this have any significance other than something cool to look at?

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    I myself wonder about that white tree springing up in Winterfell. Do we ever see it?
    – Uticensis
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 12:36
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    @Billare I think we saw it in the first episode. The Starks had a chat beneath it.
    – user1027
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 14:57
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    Pretty sure that was the heart tree of Winterfell's godswood. The books explain more about the details of godswoods and heart trees, but they don't play a major part in the story (however there are hints that they may come into play later on in the series).
    – Beofett
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 16:41
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    Yes, it means that the best show ever is about to start. Dun dun, da da dun dun, da da duuuuuuuun!
    – Möoz
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 21:00
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    It does change depending on events that have happened. After Winterfell was sacked, for instance, the model in the intro was trashed and spewing smoke, and as the story moves in emphasis to different areas, they get shown or omitted from the sequence. Commented Jul 7, 2016 at 14:54

13 Answers 13


George R. R. Martin's blog had a link recently to a site with some information about the title sequence. It includes an interview that gives some insight into the process of building the sequence.

Game of Thrones (2011), Art of the Title

To summarize:

  • The original idea was to show a map, but this was too… flat. So the artists decided to depict intricate miniatures — denoting top-notch craftsmanship as a metaphor for GRRM's writing.
  • The style evokes the kinds of miniatures that could have been built with about the technology in the story. It's as if a talented and devoted artist from the GoT world had made them.
  • The world is shown as the inside of a sphere to make the “camera” movements look better — zoom out from a location, rotate the camera, zoom into a different location, without risking showing an edge of the world.
  • The miniatures depict locations that are seen in the episode. Thus the intro sequence varies from episode to episode: it depends on the visited locations. In addition, there are minor variations in the cuts, just to introduce a little unpredictability.

They don't explain how the title music is able to lodge in your brain and linger there for days after you watch an episode though...

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    True! I love the harpsichord(?) quietly echoing the main theme after the crescendo leading to the title drop. Commented May 16, 2011 at 23:05
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    I think the relevant phrase here is "Cities and towns rise ... their mechanical growth driven by the gears of politics and the cogs of war"
    – johnc
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 23:15
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    I have heard that it will also show the House symbols of those who will play a part in this episode. So if it's a Dragon it will be about Daenerys, if it's a Wolf, it will be about House Stark, etc. etc.
    – rbottel
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 9:25
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    I also find it wonderful that they include backstory in iconic form on the rings that revolve around the »sun«.
    – Joey
    Commented Jun 22, 2011 at 19:56
  • I always thought of the intro map being the inside of a sphere as a toss back to when Old Nan told Brann that the world was all the inside of a blue-eyed giant.
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 18:20

One interesting thing to note, the intro changes in each episode. It shows only the aspects of the world that will be shown in that episode. Watch episode 5 intro and you will not see anything across the narrow sea in the intro, but you will see a closer view of the Eyrie.

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    Indeed, it took me a few weeks to be sure I wasn't imagining the changes. I love that it's dynamic like that.
    – ajk
    Commented May 17, 2011 at 18:58

If you look carefully at the center of each "city", the ruling Houses' Crest/Symbols are shown. For instance, at Winterfell, you can see the DireWolf, King's Landing has the Stag of Baratheon.

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    All the actor's names also have their character's family crest in front of their name.
    – Nick T
    Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 2:16
  • Well then it will be interesting to see how the crests during the intro change as the game progresses.
    – Adam Wuerl
    Commented Oct 1, 2011 at 0:30

As far as I can tell, the only point of the intro sequence is to show the viewers the map of Westeros, so that they have some idea of what happens where. I think the mechanical castles are just there to look cool.

  • I would agree with that. Many of HBO's shows have had very flashy intros (Rome, Carnivale, Deadwood, etc.), and I don't think any of them revealed much in the way of the plot.
    – Ryan
    Commented May 16, 2011 at 17:45

One important interpretation I made from the title sequence was that how much it makes Westeros look like a little kid's build yourself kind of puzzle. That really reinforces the concept that the whole thing is a game, with different players and locations being game pieces.


It appears that the title sequence was originally intended to be used as transitions to indicate the movement of the plot to different parts of the world. Unfortunately it disrupted the narrative flow too much, so they decided to use it as titles instead. Interestingly the map is on the inside of a sphere with a light source in the centre. It would be difficult to impossible to replicate this as a real world object, so it's fairly safe to assume that any design features are there to make for a more interesting visual experience rather than any plot related reason. The proportions of the map are from original maps drawn by Martin himself.



After the Season 6 Finale we also see that the orbs and rings we see in the opening are most likely an astrolabe (aka armillary sphere, armilla, or armil).

We see the same object hanging in the Citadel at Oldtown. This can be determined by seeing the same markings on the rings.

The meaning of this is still not fully known, but there is an interesting fan theory...

"The overarching saga is called A Song Of Ice And Fire after all, and in the world of Game of Thrones songs are used to pass on heroic stories and legends. So does that mean somebody is telling this story of Dany, Jon, Arya, Cersei, and the rest to future generations?"

"If that’s how it ends, some fans might be mad about the set up of the story. But if this theory is right, does it make sense for Sam to be the one that devotes his life to passing along the heroism and cruelty of everyone in Westeros? Or could it be Sam’s son who was told the story by his father and then passes it on to his own children? If this theory is accurate, there are any number of options that would make sense. But for now it is just another theory."

Opening astrolabe GOT openining astrolabe

Citadel astroslabe citadel astrolabe citadel astrolabe close up


One thing I noticed about the way the titles were designed was that, when they showed the name of an actor, they put the sigil of the house of the character he/she is playing before it. For example, in front of Sean Bean we see a direwolf, in front of Mark Addy a stag, in front of Peter Dinklage a lion and so on.


The map is clearly westeros, and all the houses and their seats, also the free cities and such, but the important is the sun, with the rings around it, it tells the story of westeros, like aegon's conquest, or roberts rebellion..


There is also the consideration that in Book 1 of the series, when Bran is unconscious and at the tipping point of death, he takes a metaphysical journey through the 7 kingdoms, accompanied by a three eyed raven; the narrative describes scenes extremely close to this title. Also, if you notice, there is a kind of 'blinking' during the opening sequence; I see this as a 'Dragon's-eye view of Westeros.'


I think the idea behind the rising and falling elements (doors, drawbridges, walls, ladders, etc.) used around the map is to emphasize the levels of complexity in the Westerosi political system. It is a complex world.


No one has figured this out yet?

Did no one notice it seem like almost a a board game map from the sky's POV. Someone was close and thinks its from a dragons pov, but what is constantly mentioned, and never actually shown? Who is behind fate and characters coincidently being the trigger of something or another.

For example, all briennes mistakes and embarrassment led her to what she wanted the most, all the red womans mistakes landed her in the right place to bring jon snow back to life.

Who is behind the magic that gives life to the whites and the white walkers their power? the unseen force that gives magic to dragon glass, why are dragons the trigger for magics abundance in game of thrones? what is giving everyone dreams that subconsciously influence their choices? What gave life to the dragons that were turned to literal stone? Just fire? Or the magic that resides in the fire?

Cant believe people arent asking, what is creating the magic in westeros, and how do things happen that a dont seem random.

The gods. Rhllor and the great other. are very similar to kwil and rhynn. Kwil bestows his hand upon corum, another eternal champion, and rhynn gives corum his eye, and combined can raise undead slaves. Rhynn, even has a similar name to Rhllor. I mean, it cant get any more obvious.

and from what we know, there are two. The opening is like a chess game being played between two gods, the same kind of chess game being played by the lost gods kwil and rhynn in the elric story Elric: the Balance lost, and thats what the whole show is depicting. Also its very much like eru and melkor in LOTR.


With forces beyond the characters understanding moving them to make decisions, they dont understand. So all of davos time put into stannis was a waste? Or was preparation and the direction he was being pushed in by fate to end up being jon snows right hand.

Or Jon being there to be the ONLY one who could put an end to dany's tyranny before it ever begun.

Jon snow WAS the prince who was promised, but the darkness in that prophecy, wasnt the white walkers, it was dany and her dragons.

Thats why it was arya who killed the night king, and sure we wish it was jon that fought the night king & took down the white walkers, but dany was always the biggest threat, considering her first reaction was to burn anyone that didnt immediately kiss her ass. As soon as she was in a situation where it wasnt handed to her or she had people that didnt devote themselves to her based on her mere presence and bend the knee, she lost it. Because that was her fate and what her life taught her she should do. She was only doing what she would of done had she never had anyone around her to stop her from burning her enemies alive, and jon snow not questioning her and doing what everyone else did, is what cost him and allowed her to become power mad, absolute power, corrupts absolutely.

Had jon snow got on a dragon and took her down, he could of prevented the massacre of kings landing. The life dany had, was pointing her in the direction of eventually losing herself to her power. She was always going to go bad, because it was apart of the game, being played by two unseen gods.

Same with jon, his patience and willingness to forgive his enemies and make them his allies was the stark in him, and the very thing that directed him to being the only one who could take dany down, and both were where they needed to be because of the way the gods used them in the game.

With the characters being the game pieces themselves, like in The balance lost, whih shows all the characters of moorcocks multiverse, as game pieces, and its alot like SW in that a select few are directed by the force to either oppress or save the entirety of the galaxy and its people.

The ice devil, and the fire god. Opposite in element toour own gods, They are two opposing gods or forces forever playing a chess match with the lives of these people. forever in eternal war. They even tell you. Which is why they go to the darkness when they die, its limbo for waiting to be brought back in another form, an absence of life, a waiting room, once their physical bodies die. Probably to be brought back in another vessel to go through the same thing all over again, which is why events constantly repeat themselves in westeros. I mean what gave bran and the green seers their power? I think all the gods in westeros, the old gods, are merely vessels for the two actual gods, to play their games and sew chaos, orde, and create division, or unity, and start wars, to play their game.

I like to imagine GOT is in a pocket dimension, its two omnificent beings created to wage their war, forever at odds using their creations and world to go to war instead of directly fighting each other.

With jon snow and his side being the avatars of light, and the night king and his minions and power the avatars of darkness ice and death. The night king was death, a necromancer, powered by the same force that makes up the other. with a similar power to corum and kwil.

Theres actually precedence for this in work that highly influenced GRRM, even to the point that they mentioned elric of melnibone's swords name in the episode joffery gets widows wail. The sword name of elric was called out, storm bringer, when joffery was taking name suggestions from the crowd, which is coicidence, considering storm bringer, i bring the storm, is a term used multiple times in game of thrones, to give us a int at a larger picture. Its meant to give us reference to the micheal moorcok stories, that delve even deeper into the expanded universe of the novels, Its a deliberate arrow pointing at the back story behind the eternal war of the elric multiverse and the eternal champion, which is the champion who takes many forms through out the multiverse, but is simply the avatar for waging war on the behalf of the two gods Kwil & Rhynn.

the targaryens are actually based on Elric in terms of their appearance: silver hair, pale skin and purple eyes. For Elric has pale skin, white/silver hair and red eyes.

In one of the books, elric goes to another dimension, a realm behind the multiverse he inhabits, where he witnesses two gigantic gods of order and chaos playing a chess match, and each piece is character from the multiverse and multiple books that connect to the story of elric. His being there, is the characters defiance of these gods will.

And to stop them, he has to figure out a way to stop them from engaging in their war, to turn their attention on him, and stop using the eternal champions as their pawns.

The opening sequence, is a visual representation of the game of thrones, being played by two great gods who either reside in the darkest parts of westeros, or outside of it.

Maybe the blue eyed giant named macumba, is the name of one of these gods? and it really is outside of their perception, playing a game with the fire god or the ice god, using the lives of the beings who inhabit planetos.


Elric has white hair, like the targaryens, jon has black hair, he has a white wolf companion, elric is called the white wolf, he names his sword, elrics sword is alive and has a name. even speaks to him.

Jon snow is strong, elric is weak. But hey are both called the wite wolf. Plus the opening sequence, IS a game board, the writers D&D had referenced this tons of times during their interviews in the earlier seasons. Elric is an emperor, who doesnt want his throne, jon snow is a king, who doesnt want his throne.

Maybe you should read the elric of melnibone series, and find out for yourself.

But the world of ice and fire, talk tons of times, about the lore and rumors of where the actual gods reside in westeros, from the yellow hp lovcraft dream king of fire, and the other, maybe residing in pace. Also theres refences in the 1000 worlds novels.

its honestly way to much information to cite here. Try to figure it out yourselves. But it is two gods playing a game, not just because visually its telling you, but because melisandre comes right out and tells you. We are meant to think she is an unreliable sorce of information, but thats how they misdirect you, when they tell you exactly what is happening.

Plus you can see theres divine power at play, its not just speculation. WHy does the magic of the white walkers glow blue? what is animating them?

What animated jon from the dead? Just nature?

No, it tells you their are two gods, and like in real life, people assume because what they see is physical, theres no meta physical aspects of the nature of the thing.

When there are elements to ours and asoiafs worlds, that can not be quantified by simple explanations.

If you pay attention, and I can speak personally having died, the universe is conciousness, and consciousness itself, is a unexplainable phenmenon, we can define energy, matter, atoms. But what gives it life, what powers it? the power behind the power?

Consciousness, the universe. the cosmic nature of reality. or cosmic force. While we can be sure if theres some kind of metaphysical being behind it, in westeros, there is, because the fire god, talks back through the visions in the flames, and answers the red witch, with everything she is able to do for jon snow. the whtie wolf.

Elric, is even called the kin slayer. Almost everything from the elric series, was taken by GrM and put through a filter of his own world. Considering the two gods eternally at war, was actually explored in the elric series. It provides more evidence then is needed that that is what is perpetuating war and conflict on planetos.

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. There's a lot of detail here, and you've obviously put a lot of thought into it, but without some evidence that this is intended it seems a bit speculative. If you have any support for a chess game between the fire and ice gods you should edit it into your answer.
    – DavidW
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 23:37
  • I added more, check out the comic elric:the balance lost, and research GRMs comments on his love for elric. and check out the moments i mentioned in the show. specially the mention of storm bringer, the nickname of elric, the white wolf, and read the eternal champion and elric series. You will find tons of similarities between the two series. Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 20:52
  • And pay attention when the red witch is talking to princess shereen. After reading the balance lost, and research the parallels between the thousand world GRRM novels and their baring on game of thrones. Game of thrones, could be very similar to elric series, in that theres a science ficiton basis, for everything in the series, and its blended with magic. Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 20:53

I think the music is the actual Song of Ice and Fire. Think about it. It starts with slow, cold cello notes interspersed with fiery violins. Then the two elements dance for awhile, before reaching a climax and petering out into a harpsichord.

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    Do you have any sources to support your viewpoint? Commented Jun 21, 2015 at 1:59

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