Crying over spoiled milk? The Game of Thrones spoiler controversy


There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love spoilers and those who hate them.

Embellished with some of the most shocking deaths and reveals in television history, the spoil-worthiness of Game of Thrones seems to be on a whole different level than other popular series. David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, the show’s producers, go through ridiculous extremes every year in order to prevent major plot points from being leaked. Now that GoT has raced ahead of its source material, George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, Benioff and Weiss have an even harder time keeping developments quiet. The persistence of hardcore fans is not to be underestimated.

D B Weiss and David Benioff
Producers of GoT, D. B. Weiss and David Benioff

Though interior scenes may be easy to conceal during filming, there is nothing the production team can do when filming exterior shots in places like the beaches of Northern Ireland, where enthusiasts flock for the sole purpose of capturing a fated meeting between two characters or the return of a long-awaited loved one.

Though there are these two kinds of spoiler-loving or hating people, they come in stages. There are the casual lovers/haters: they are mildly thrilled and angered by spoilers. Then, of course, there are the desperados, who would sell their souls for the most insignificant plot details, and the purists, who would commit murder at the mere whisper of “Jon Snow isn’t dead.”

Because the GoT fanbase is made up of these ever-changing and turbulent designations of devotion, the release, or lack thereof, of spoilers has to enrage one party or another. In this world, no one is ever happy, and, considering the series is now nearing its close (season eight will air in 2018), the kind of information leaked is bigger than ever.

Natalie Emmanuel, who plays Daenerys Targaryen’s right hand woman Missandei, expressed her distaste at the leaks whilst filming last month.

She tweeted: “It’s really disappointing there are people who are determined to ruin season 7 for everyone…. #spoilsports” and “I’m simply saying I don’t see why we can’t focus on making a great season for the fans in peace… it’s a shame. #notangryjustdisappointed.”

Clearly it’s not just fans who are vexed by the continual bombardment of material on Reddit forums and sites such as This is understandable when actors and production team members have worked so hard to live up to the show’s own reputation and expectations. What some feel is telling, though, is that Emmanuel has inadvertently revealed some of these rumours are at least half true. As they always do, fans have taken apart and analysed her tweets, just as they have countless others, to try and piece together a broken story.

Photo: Forbes
Ramsay Bolton, a character on the beloved show. Photo: Forbes

These fans should count themselves lucky. Annual content is but a dream for fans of the original books. George R. R. Martin is no JK Rowling (that is to say, he doesn’t turn out text like a machine). In fact, he is infamous for his snail’s pace and missed deadlines. Martin is currently approaching the sixth year of writing his next tome, The Winds of Winter.

Though Rowling’s world is vivid and imaginative, it just does not compare with Martin’s almost inconceivable sense of scale: over two thousand named characters, including chapters from the point of view of 31 different individuals; a planet-sized world with its own comprehensive map;  and books up to 1,000 pages long each. In order for Westeros and Essos to come out well on screen, the show’s creators called for a production of previously  unheard of proportions.

Essentially, the greater the scope of the story from which the TV series stemmed, the more is at stake when spoilers are outed. A whole world is up for grabs. It has been built up, word by word, only to come crashing down with a misspelled Facebook post or grainy smartphone picture. You could blame Martin for selling his life’s work to HBO, all for it to surpass his progress and carry on without him, but at the same time there is no telling just how much money he has made and how far his book sales have increased because of the show.

GoT’s vulnerability to spoilers is troubling for some, but Martin has created a legacy that will go down as one of the greatest fantasy sagas and television series in history. No single “spoiler” can take that away from him. What it can take away, though, is the story’s value to you, the watcher. At this point no one knows who will sit on the Iron Throne or if there will even be one, but if the same leak issue happens next year, seven years (or 20 if you’re a book reader) of wondering and theorising will be gone in the flash of an iPhone’s shaky blur. Winter is coming.


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