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Foreshadowing / Game of Thrones

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Many scenes in the show foreshadow future events:

  • One of the earliest establishing scenes for Ned Stark has him beheading the Night's Watch deserter in Robert's name. Right when he says, "[...] rightful King of the Andals and the First Men [...]," the camera cuts to Jon Snow and Bran Stark. Jon really is the rightful King, Aegon Targaryen VI, and Bran Stark is crowned king in the Finale. That's some incredible foreshadowing right there.
  • The identity of Jon Arryn's killer is foreshadowed in the first episode. When Ned Stark learns about Jon's death, a snippet of Littlefinger's Leitmotif plays in the background.
  • The discovery of stag-direwolf Mutual Kill in "Winter Is Coming" is obviously a bad omen even in-universe.
  • Theon is all too eager to kill a direwolf, the sigil of House Stark, in the series' first episode "Winter Is Coming".
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  • Also foreshadowed in that episode is Bran's arc... a camera shows a raven in closeup, then tilts up to Bran practicing archery.
  • "You may not have my name, but you have my blood." Jon does have Stark blood. However, it's not from his "father" Ned, but from his mother, Lyanna — Ned's sister.
  • The conversation between Jon Snow and Jaime Lannister in the second episode about Jon joining the Night's Watch is treated as an oddly significant conversation despite seeming to have little connection to what happens afterwards — until the finale. Failing to dissuade his love Daenerys from further destruction after she razed a surrendered King's Landing, Jon reluctantly kills her to stop her carnage and is exiled back to the Night's Watch as punishment, becoming a "queenslayer". Jaime killed Daenerys's father, Mad King Aerys II, and became the "Kingslayer" as a result. Jon kills Aerys's daughter Daenerys after she goes mad and commits the very atrocity that Jaime stopped her father from committing. The entire conversation is Jaime foreshadowing Jon's fate after committing the exact same crime that he got away with.
  • The fates of the Stark children's direwolves in Season 1 all foreshadow the fates of the children themselves over the next few seasons. Lady is killed after Cersei has her executed out of spite, foreshadowing Sansa's deception and betrayal by the Lannisters. Nymeria is set free to roam the forests of Westeros, foreshadowing Arya being forced to go on the run and ultimately trying to reject her Stark name. Meanwhile, Grey Wind, Summer, Shaggydog and Ghost all stay loyally by their masters' sides, just as Robb, Bran, Rickon, and Jon (after he leaves the Watch) all keep the Stark cause alive against all odds. And appropriately, Shaggydog's execution in Season 6 foreshadows Rickon's impending death.
    • Double subverted in the case of Summer's death in Season 6. Logically this should foreshadow Bran's death. It doesn't; Bran survives to the end of the series. However, Bran later admits that after becoming the Three-Eyed Raven he's not really Brandon Stark anymore—so in a sense Bran did die.
  • Cersei's mention of her black-haired firstborn in "The Kingsroad" draws some attention to her three blond children.
  • Cersei tells Joffrey in Season 1 that his idea to send an army to conquer the north would likely be bogged down in winter, exactly what happens to Stannis and the remnants of his forces in Season 6.
  • In "The Kingsroad", Jaime tells Tyrion, "But even if the boy lives he would be a cripple, a grotesque. Give me a good, clean death any day." In "Walk of Punishment", Jaime loses his sword hand and briefly his will to live.
  • Jon feels insulted when, after completing his training and taking his oath as a member of the Night's Watch, Mormont assigns him to the stewards rather than the rangers as he had desired. Sam points out that Mormont, by making Jon his personal steward, is actually grooming him for future command himself. In Season 5, Jon is elected Lord Commander.
  • When Doreah talks of what she's seen, she mentions a dragonglass dagger (like those Sam finds) and a man who can change his face (like Jaqen H'ghar).
  • Arya must shoo her direwolf Nymeria to save her from the Lannisters in "The Kingsroad". In "The Pointy End", Arya herself must also flee to escape the Lannisters.
  • In "The Wolf and the Lion", Ned comments that if the king did as he liked all the time, he'd still be fighting a rebellion. He was speaking specifically of Robert's delight for battle, but in a different context accurately presages the outbreak of civil war in part due to Joffrey's capricious actions as king.
  • Cersei justifies her incest in "You Win Or You Die" by invoking the precedent of the Targaryens, several of whom went mad, which, when paired with Joffrey's Royal Brat behaviour, foreshadows the kind of uncontrollable lunatic Joffrey becomes.
  • In "The Pointy End", Bran assures Rickon, "They'll be back soon. Robb will free Father, and come back with Mother," but Rickon eerily replies, "No, they won't.
  • Fire cannot kill a dragon. Daenerys taking scalding hot baths without flinching and picking her dragon eggs out of a lit brazier foreshadow what she does in "Fire and Blood". In the books, Dany isn't immune to fire, confirmed by GRRM (Daenerys's immunity to fire was a one-time occurrence when she walked into the fire from which her dragons were hatched and even then, her hair burns off), although she does show some resistance towards heat and flame in general.
  • In the deleted scene from Season 2 where Pycelle and Tywin have their conversation on the beach while Pycelle admits to Tywin that his old-fool thing is really just an act to get people to underestimate him, Pycelle tells Tywin that his loyalty to the Lannisters will continue as long as the Lannisters remain strong. Tywin asks him when he thinks that will happen, and Pycelle says that when it does he will probably be rotting under the floor of the Great Sept, which is where he is killed four seasons later.
  • Loras' suggestion that Renly could claim the throne with the support of the Tyrell armies and wealth becomes a reality by "Fire and Blood".
  • Melisandre tells Selyse that flesh is just another illusion of the Lord of Light, foreshadowing her Older Than She Looks reveal in Season 6.
  • In "The North Remembers," Tyrion whistles "The Rains of Castamere," an in-universe song that appears more fully in "Blackwater" and becomes the series' leitmotif for whenever a Lannister does something particularly awesome, evil, or both.
  • That same episode, Melisandre makes a chilling prophecy that after the long summer, darkness shall fall heavy on the land, the cold breath of winter will freeze the seas, and the Dead shall rise in the North. Switching forward to the season finale...
    • She herself, in Season 6, will actually raise one dead person in the North.
  • During her brief stint in the House of the Undying, Daenerys sees a vision of the Iron Throne as snow falls all around it. Come Season 8 and it becomes obvious that this is not snow, but ash, ash that Daenerys herself creates when she unleashes her dragons on King’s Landing.
  • In "The Climb", Jon and Ygritte climb the wall, foreshadowing the wildlings' use of that tactic in "The Watchers on the Wall", where Ygritte will end up dying in Jon's arms just as she ended up in Jon's arms at the end of the earlier episode.
    • Also in that episode, Tywin threatens Olenna that he will make Loras a member of the Kingsguard, removing him from the line of succession in his family and making him unable to inherit the title. In "The Winds of Winter", before everyone at the trial gets blown up, Loras will renounce the title and his family himself as penitence for his sins.
  • In "Garden of Bones," Melisandre says, "Look to your sins, Lord Renly. The night is dark and full of terrors." By the end of the episode, she gives birth to a terrifying shadow that assassinates Renly.
  • In "The Old Gods and the New", Xaro speaks of doing some unpleasant things to become what he is, then opens the doors to his estate to find the guards killed and Dany's dragons stolen. In "A Man Without Honor", it is revealed that Xaro is an accessory to this crime.
  • When Jon first captures Ygritte, expecting that he will kill her, she asks only that he make it quick and burn her body afterwards. Jon and Ygritte later fall in love. When Ygritte is shot by Olly during battle in Season 4, Jon honors Ygritte's initial request after a talk with Tormund and burns her body upon a funeral pyre.
  • Jaime Lannister holds some very serious grudge against Ned, shown by their snarking battle, his skirmish against the Stark men, as well his mocking of Ned's memory. With the revelation of Jamie's true reasons as the Kingslayer, suddenly everything makes much sense.
  • In "Walk of Punishment", Theon's torturer uses his last words to call Theon's rescuer a "little bastard." It is later revealed in "Mhysa" that the rescuer is Roose Bolton's bastard son Ramsay Snow. That the rescuer is not who he says is also foreshadowed by his use of the phrase "my lord." Tywin Lannister points out to Arya Stark during the previous season that the smallfolk use the wording "milord."
  • Throughout Seasons 2 and 3, much is made of guest rights: we see that even the wildlings respect them and hear that the gods will eternally punish even someone who kills a thoroughly deserving guest under his own roof. This makes the Red Wedding as shocking to the audience as it is in-universe.
  • In "The Rains of Castamere", Walder Frey promises that "wine will flow red," the hall doors close ominously, and the band starts playing the pro-Lannister song "The Rains of Castamere", all as a prelude to a bloody slaughter.
  • In "The Lion and the Rose", Lord Mace Tyrell presents the groom with a goblet and the words "May you and my daughter Margaery drink deep, and live long." Later that day Joffrey drinks from a cup and drops dead.
  • In that same episode, Olenna sympathetically tells Sansa how sorry she is to hear about the deaths of her brother and mother at the Red Wedding and tells her how horrid it was to happen at a wedding. Twenty minutes later, Joffrey is poisoned at his own wedding and a few episodes later we learn it was Olenna who helped plot his murder.
  • When he first becomes Master of Coin in Season 3, Tyrion mentions that the Iron Bank of Braavos will fund the enemies of anyone who doesn't pay them back. In Season 4, even though the Lannisters have not yet ceased repayment, the Iron Bank agrees to provide one such enemy Stannis with enough coin to keep his claim alive just in case.
  • Olenna Tyrell's line to Cersei in "And Now His Watch Is Ended" takes on new meaning in light of her conspiracy with Littlefinger to murder Joffrey in "The Lion and the Rose".
  • When Tywin asks Tommen about the qualities of a good king, Tommen's first answer was 'Holiness?'. Tommen will later ally the Crown with the Faith.
  • In Season 4 Tywin outlines to Jaime the rarely-used process by which he can leave the Kingsguard, which Jaime wants no part of, thus inducing his father to disinherit him. Two seasons later Tommen uses it to remove his uncle as Lord Commander and dispatch him to shore up the Freys at Riverrun.
  • Bronn refuses to be Tyrion's champion against The Mountain, noting that while he could outmaneuver the big guy and wear him down, just one slip-up on Bronn's part and he'd be a dead duck. This is a pretty accurate description of what eventually happens when Oberyn takes Gregor Clegane on.
  • Tyrion tells Shae he would kill for her and suspects that he will before everything's said and done. The final straw that causes Tyrion to murder his own father is Tywin repeatedly insulting Shae by calling her a whore. Ironically, Tyrion had already killed Shae herself at this point.
  • Tywin's warning to Tyrion that he cannot take any of his whores to court, and the reasons Tyrion's and Varys's unsuccessful exhortations to Shae to take the money offered and leave King's Landing, anticipate Daenerys's explanations to Daario as to why she must leave him behind in Meereen while her armies cross the Narrow Sea at the end of Season 6.
  • Petyr tells Robyn Arryn: "People die at their dinner tables. They die in their beds. They die squatting over their chamber pots." The first example applies to Joffrey and the guests at the Red Wedding (who had already died), but the other two examples seem to foreshadow the deaths of Shae and Tywin two episodes later.
  • In "Sons of the Harpy," after Selyse Baratheon refers to Jon Snow as "a bastard by some tavern slut," Stannis says, "Perhaps. But that wasn’t Ned Stark’s way." Stannis is right.
  • In "Blood of my Blood," Bran has visions of Aerys II Targaryen, a.k.a. The Mad King, shouting, "Burn them all!" and of wildfire raging through a tunnel. The latter seems to have been a premonition of Cersei destroying the Sept of Baelor in "The Winds of Winter".
    • The latter event is also foreshadowed during Cersei's discussion with the High Sparrow in the chapel, where he speaks disparagingly of the sept as a monument to Baelor's vanity and she responds that that's not a reason to tear it down. For good measure, though, she observes that the Faith and the Crown are the twin pillars of the realm: "If one falls, so does the other" ... just as Tommen jumps to his death after seeing the destruction of the High Sept.
  • When Jojen begins having the same visions of the heartwood tree as Bran, he tells Bran that he realizes that the whole group doesn't have to get there, just Bran. Indeed, he dies just short of the tree.
  • "Oathbreaker" officially establishes that Ned Stark and Howland Reed had to personally fight two knights of the Kingsguard who stood in their way when they went to the Tower of Joy to rescue Lyanna. During the flashback to that moment, Ned points out that King Aerys and his son Prince Rhaegar are already dead at that point. So what were two knights of the Kingsguard doing at the Tower of Joy, and why weren't they guarding their king and his family? They were guarding the king's family: Lyanna was in labor, giving birth to Aerys' grandson.
  • The aerial view of Stannis's cavalry crushing the wildlings north of the Wall is echoed later when Ramsay's cavalry closes in on Stannis's ragtag infantry and finishes his bid for the crown off.
  • In "Kill the Boy", Maester Aemon laments " A Targaryen alone in the world is a terrible thing", and then Jon suddenly walks in. Which is a hilarious foreshadowing of Jon's Targaryen origins and a terrible foreshadowing of Jon's assassination once Maester Aemon dies.
  • In Season 4 Roose Bolton cautions Ramsay that their allies the Lannisters have "never sent their army this far north", so it would not be a good idea to be too harsh and foment rebellion. At the end of Season 7, when Jaime appears to be drawing up plans for how to deploy the Lannisters' army to the Wall to help Jon and Danaerys battle the White Walkers, Cersei tells him he need not since she never intended to keep her promise.
  • At the end of Season 5, Jon's assassins lure him to his temporary death by telling him Benjen has returned. The next season, Benjen does indeed return, albeit as a freed wight.
  • At the end of "The Broken Man", Brother Ray and all the other members of the religious group Sandor had taken up with are found massacred ... just as the season will end a few episodes later with another massacre of a group gathered for a larger religious purpose.
  • Throughout Season 6, there are many closeup shots of candles that have burned down, sometimes almost to their end. These anticipate what Lancel sees when he realizes it's almost too late to avert catastrophe.
  • The anger voiced by the actress playing Cersei in The Bloody Hand, following the death of "Joffrey", added to the play at Arya's suggestion, foreshadows the turn the real Cersei takes at the end of the season following Tommen's suicide and her own ascension to the throne.
  • In "Mhysa", Bran tells the legend of the Rat Cook, who got his revenge on an evil king by killing the king's sons in a pie and making him eat it, and was cursed by the gods for violating Sacred Hospitality. Three seasons later, Arya does exactly this to Walder Frey as payback for the Red Wedding.
    • And the way she gets close enough to Frey, by disguising herself and posing as a servant, is foreshadowed by the arc with her as Tywin's cupbearer in Season 2.
  • In the pilot episode, the first mention of Jon's bastard status comes when he bluntly tells Bran "I'm not a Stark". As we later find out, that statement is true on the paternal side. As the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen, Jon is of Stark heritage matrilineally and Targaryen heritage patrilineally.
  • In "Home", Balon Greyjoy dies. This is pretty significant by itself, but also foreshadows that, even if she might not believe it herself anymore, some of Melisandre's powers are still active, as this death completes the curse she cast three seasons earlier using Gendry's blood. Indeed, by the end of the episode, her ritual to revive Jon Snow succeeds.
  • One of the shortest foreshadowings occurs when Trystane Martell is seen in his shipboard cabin painting eyes on stones, part of the Faith's funeral rite. Seconds later the Sand Snakes come in and kill him.
  • Mance Reyder's refusal to bend the knee to Stannis foreshadows Jon's reluctance to do so to Danaerys three seasons later.
  • In the very first episode, Robert excitedly talks to Ned about the possibility of joining their houses, and says "I have a son; you have a daughter." He's talking about Joffrey and Sansa's betrothal (unaware that Joffrey isn't really his son), but he unintentionally foreshadows Arya eventually shacking up with Gendry—who actually is his son.
  • When Theon is giving a Rousing Speech to his fellow Ironborn at the end of Season Two, he cites a bloody battle that will be remembered long after the Ironborn die, "with spears in our guts." Guess how he is killed in the Long Night when he attacks the Night King?
  • Maester Luwin asks Robb and Theon if there's going to be a battle in the Godswood after Catelyn reveals Lysa's letter - turns out, there is.
  • As Tormund and the Wildlings prepare to head back North of the Wall, Jon asks them to take Ghost with them, stating that he belongs North of the Wall. Tormund replies that Jon does as well, telling Jon he has the true north within him. All this hints at Jon's final fate.


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