How ‘Game of Thrones’ Spoilers Get Out — and How HBO Tries to Stop Them

Game of Thrones

How ‘Game of Thrones’ Spoilers Get Out — and How HBO Tries to Stop Them

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How ‘Game of Thrones’ Spoilers Get Out — and How HBO Tries to Stop Them

The industry behind Game of Thrones spoilers is a cat-and-mouse game between HBO and the same dogged fans the network wants to watch the show every week.

A new Vulture article describes how one site figures out so many plot points in advance… and how HBO tries to thwart them.

Click through the slides above to discover which casting decision was too far-fetched to be believed, which new tech makes set photography easier than ever, and which actress made fans think she was coming back from the dead!

Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres in either 2018 or 2019 on HBO.

How ‘Game of Thrones’ Spoilers Get Out — and How HBO Tries to Stop Them
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Kit Harington couldn’t keep a low-enough profile

Kit Harington couldn’t keep a low-enough profile Credit: Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

Jon Snow’s resurrection wasn’t much of a secret when Season 6 premiered — Kit had been spotted in Belfast, and paparazzi even snapped photos of him filming the Battle of the Bastards.

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Kit Harington couldn’t keep a low-enough profile

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Jon Snow’s resurrection wasn’t much of a secret when Season 6 premiered — Kit had been spotted in Belfast, and paparazzi even snapped photos of him filming the Battle of the Bastards.

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Many spoiler hounds have other jobs

Many spoiler hounds have other jobs Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Finding spoilers may not pay the bills, but the small staff of Watchers on the Wall knows fans rely on their scoop, so they religiously follow local news from the filming locations, casting notices, and social media activity.

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Many spoiler hounds have other jobs

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Finding spoilers may not pay the bills, but the small staff of Watchers on the Wall knows fans rely on their scoop, so they religiously follow local news from the filming locations, casting notices, and social media activity.

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Their sources are friends of friends of friends

Their sources are friends of friends of friends Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

“They’re casual friends who someone got drunk and bragged to,” WOTW editor-in-chief Susan Miller tells Vulture.

“Or a neighbor who lives near a set and they become good at noticing the comings and goings.”

Their sources are friends of friends of friends

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“They’re casual friends who someone got drunk and bragged to,” WOTW editor-in-chief Susan Miller tells Vulture.

“Or a neighbor who lives near a set and they become good at noticing the comings and goings.”

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They double-check what they can

They double-check what they can Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Susan and her team try to independently verify all the scoop that comes in, though they have good instincts for what is and isn’t real.

“A lot of times you get these long and very detailed fantasies that are clearly fanfiction.”

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They double-check what they can

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Susan and her team try to independently verify all the scoop that comes in, though they have good instincts for what is and isn’t real.

“A lot of times you get these long and very detailed fantasies that are clearly fanfiction.”

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They protect their sources

They protect their sources Credit: Helen Sloan/Courtesy of HBO

When someone said the Boltons would crucify two named characters on burning crosses during the Battle of the Bastards, Susan thought the specificity of the intel meant it was an HBO trap.

So to protect the identity of the informant, WOTW ran the info but omitted the character names.

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They protect their sources

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When someone said the Boltons would crucify two named characters on burning crosses during the Battle of the Bastards, Susan thought the specificity of the intel meant it was an HBO trap.

So to protect the identity of the informant, WOTW ran the info but omitted the character names.

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They don’t read all the spoilers

They don’t read all the spoilers Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

For example, only two WOTW writers read that massive Season 7 plot outline that surfaced on Reddit.

“I do believe there’s such a thing as too many spoilers,” Susan says. People will read them and go, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that.’”

They don’t read all the spoilers

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For example, only two WOTW writers read that massive Season 7 plot outline that surfaced on Reddit.

“I do believe there’s such a thing as too many spoilers,” Susan says. People will read them and go, ‘I wish I hadn’t done that.’”

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They didn’t believe Tommen was being recast

They didn’t believe Tommen was being recast Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO © 2015 Home Box Office

They thought someone was trolling them by saying that Dean Charles Chapman, who played a different Lannister child back in Season 3, was taking over the part of Tommen.

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They didn’t believe Tommen was being recast

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They thought someone was trolling them by saying that Dean Charles Chapman, who played a different Lannister child back in Season 3, was taking over the part of Tommen.

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They had to search for Pilou Asbæk’s name

They had to search for Pilou Asbæk’s name Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO

Susan says a source of hers spotted the actor playing Euron Greyjoy and recognized him from Borgen, a Danish TV drama that GOT casting director Nina Gold loves.

The trouble was, the source couldn’t remember the actor’s name, so Susan went through the Borgen cast list with him, one actor at a time, until they reached Pilou Asbæk.

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They had to search for Pilou Asbæk’s name

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Susan says a source of hers spotted the actor playing Euron Greyjoy and recognized him from Borgen, a Danish TV drama that GOT casting director Nina Gold loves.

The trouble was, the source couldn’t remember the actor’s name, so Susan went through the Borgen cast list with him, one actor at a time, until they reached Pilou Asbæk.

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HBO isn’t too worried

HBO isn’t too worried Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc.

“The record viewership this past season would suggest that even when details emerge it has minimal to no impact on the audience,” says HBO exec Jeff Cusson.

“We of course continue to work with production to limit to the best of our ability the release of information but also believe fans of Game of Thrones have very little appetite for it.”

HBO isn’t too worried

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“The record viewership this past season would suggest that even when details emerge it has minimal to no impact on the audience,” says HBO exec Jeff Cusson.

“We of course continue to work with production to limit to the best of our ability the release of information but also believe fans of Game of Thrones have very little appetite for it.”

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Sometimes the actors have to ride on buses to nowhere

Sometimes the actors have to ride on buses to nowhere Credit: Macall B. Polay/courtesy of HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Ever since the production team realized paparazzi follow the buses that drive cast members from Belfast to various filming locations, they instructed the buses to drive in circles until the paps knock off.

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Sometimes the actors have to ride on buses to nowhere

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Ever since the production team realized paparazzi follow the buses that drive cast members from Belfast to various filming locations, they instructed the buses to drive in circles until the paps knock off.

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The crew seals leaks very quickly

The crew seals leaks very quickly Credit: Macall B. Polay/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Susan recalls how she got a photo of cast members on a smoke break at the Belfast studio… and how a partition went up a day later to obscure the view.

“Every time we get information, they learn how to block us,” she says.

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The crew seals leaks very quickly

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Susan recalls how she got a photo of cast members on a smoke break at the Belfast studio… and how a partition went up a day later to obscure the view.

“Every time we get information, they learn how to block us,” she says.

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Now the cast and crew are being surveilled from the air

Now the cast and crew are being surveilled from the air Credit: Courtesy of HBO

Drone photography has made it harder and harder for the production team to contain spoilers, and rumor has it the Daily Mail hired a plane to fly over the show’s outdoor filming locations.

Now the cast and crew are being surveilled from the air

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Drone photography has made it harder and harder for the production team to contain spoilers, and rumor has it the Daily Mail hired a plane to fly over the show’s outdoor filming locations.

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The show stages fake scenes as red herrings

The show stages fake scenes as red herrings Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc.

For example, paparazzi photos showed Jon Snow petting a dragon head prop on a beach, but Susan didn’t fall for the misdirection — she knew the show uses tennis balls as stand-ins for the dragons.

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The show stages fake scenes as red herrings

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For example, paparazzi photos showed Jon Snow petting a dragon head prop on a beach, but Susan didn’t fall for the misdirection — she knew the show uses tennis balls as stand-ins for the dragons.

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Sibel Kekilli fooled paparazzi

Sibel Kekilli fooled paparazzi Credit: Adam Berry/Getty Images

Tyrion murdered Shae at the end of Season 3, and when actress Sibel Kekilli visited the set a season later, she put on her old costume, making people think Shae was coming back somehow.   

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Sibel Kekilli fooled paparazzi

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Tyrion murdered Shae at the end of Season 3, and when actress Sibel Kekilli visited the set a season later, she put on her old costume, making people think Shae was coming back somehow.   

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That Reddit leak got some things wrong

That Reddit leak got some things wrong Credit: Helen Sloan/HBO © 2016 Home Box Office, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

That aforementioned plot online Redditors posted before Season 7 wasn’t totally accurate, and Susan thinks it may have come from an early plan for Season 7 plot.

Just goes to show you, you can’t trust everything you see online!

That Reddit leak got some things wrong

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That aforementioned plot online Redditors posted before Season 7 wasn’t totally accurate, and Susan thinks it may have come from an early plan for Season 7 plot.

Just goes to show you, you can’t trust everything you see online!

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The industry behind Game of Thrones spoilers is a cat-and-mouse game between HBO and the same dogged fans the network wants to watch the show every week.

A new Vulture article describes how one site figures out so many plot points in advance… and how HBO tries to thwart them.

Click through the slides above to discover which casting decision was too far-fetched to be believed, which new tech makes set photography easier than ever, and which actress made fans think she was coming back from the dead!

Game of Thrones Season 8 premieres in either 2018 or 2019 on HBO.