Game of Thrones title sequence

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Game of Thrones title sequence
Game of Thrones title card.jpg
Game of Thrones title screen as of 2011
Directed by Angus Wall
Music by Ramin Djawadi
Rock Paper Scissors/Elastic
Distributed by HBO
Running time
90 seconds
Box office
Music video
Video on Vimeo

The title sequence of the HBO fantasy television series Game of Thrones introduces every episode and changes depending on the locations visited in that particular episode. The title sequence was created by Elastic for HBO, and is accompanied by a theme tune composed by Ramin Djawadi.

The sequence depicts a three-dimensional map of the series' fictional world, projected onto a concave earth,[1] and lit by a small sun contained within an armilla that metaphorically depicts major events in the history of the fictional world at the sphere's center. As the camera swoops across the map and focuses on the locations in which the episode's events take place, complicated clockwork mechanisms cause buildings and other structures to emerge from the map and unfold. Meanwhile, the names of the principal cast (with the symbols of the characters' families next to the names) and creative staff are displayed. The sequence concludes after about one-and-a-half minutes with the title card and brief opening credits indicating the episode's writers and directors.

Creative director Angus Wall, art director Robert Feng, animator Kirk Shintani and designer Hameed Shaukat received the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design for their work on the sequence.[2] In 2017, James Charisma of Paste ranked the show's opening sequence No. 10 on a list of The 75 Best TV Title Sequences of All Time.[3]


The title sequence consists of a three-dimensional map of the world, with the continents of Westeros and Essos located on the inner surface of a sphere. The maps used are those of Westeros and Essos that precede the novels in the book series.[4] At the center of the sphere is a Copernican (heliocentric) armillary sphere (spherical astrolabe). The details of the title sequence change each week depending on the locations visited, and new locations may be added in each season.

The sequence of every episode opens with a close-up of the sun and the astrolabe surrounding it. Relief depictions of the fictional's world's history are visible on the astrolabe, such as the Doom of Valyria and Aegon's Conquest, which appear at varying points in the sequence. The camera then pans to different parts of the map, on which different locations in the fictional world are shown. Many of the cities and buildings on these locations appear out of the ground using clockwork mechanisms. Other elements such as the weirwood tree at Winterfell and the Horse Gate at Vaes Dothrak are also added at the various locations. The locations shown varies depending on the locations visited in that particular episode, and three or four variations of the title sequence are shown in each season.[5] However, due to the limitation on time for the title sequence, no more than 6 locations may be shown in any episode. Also because of their importance in the show, every episode features King's Landing, Winterfell, The Wall and wherever Daenerys may be regardless of whether any of these locations are featured in that episode.[6]

The sigils of the reigning families are added to each location; for example, the Baratheon's stag sigil on King's Landing, the Stark's dire wolf at Winterfell.[7] The names of the cast are also shown together with the corresponding sigil of the character they portray.[8] The sigil may change depending on the storyline, for example the flayed man sigil was displayed over Winterfell when it was taken by the Boltons, but reverted to the dire wolf sigil when it was recaptured by the Starks.[9] The Game of Thrones logo appears over the astrolabe at the end.

An interactive 360-degree video of the title sequence was released by HBO in season 6.[10]

Conception and production[edit]

The title sequence was created by The Rock Paper Scissors production firm, and three branches of the group. The design of the title sequence, which forms the bulk of the project, was done by Elastic, while the computer graphics handled by a52, and Rock Paper Scissors edited the title sequence.[11] Elastic had previously created the title sequences for Rome, Big Love and Carnivale for HBO,[12] and they were approached by Carolyn Strauss of HBO with whom they had worked on these shows to create the title sequence for Game of Thrones.[4]

When the pilot was first made, it was felt that the geography of the imaginary world of Westeros and Essos may be confusing to the viewers, and that maps may be useful as navigational guides for the viewers. An early suggestion was to use animated maps as a transition between scenes to orientate viewers, but that idea was dropped as it was felt that it would interrupt the narrative flow.[13] The idea of the map was therefore moved into the title sequence as the navigational aid for the viewers.[4] For the original pilot, the showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss initially wrote the title sequence as a crow's flight from King's Landing to Winterfell, however the production team at Elastic thought the idea too flat, and came up with the idea of using a 3-D models within a sphere that represents the world of the show.[7] The sphere was used to obviate the question of what might lie beyond the horizon of the map, and the whole sphere lit by the sun in the middle.[4] According to Angus Wall, the head of title design firm Elastic, the title sequence had "a concrete function in the world of the show, in that it serves as a legend the way the map at the beginning of a fantasy book orients you."[14] The title sequence informs the viewers of the locations of the show relevant to each episode, and changes to reflect the storylines of the show and changes within this world.[7]

On the use of an astrolabe and models with moving parts, producer Greg Spence explained that Angus Wall at Elastic came up with "a vision of a mad monk, in a tower somewhere," who was somehow keeping track of all this action, "and creating as he went. He would then fashion little automatons out of the materials that would be available in his world. They would be stone, or tin, or wood, and everything would feel very hand-crafted."[6] The idea is therefore that everything in the title sequence could be created with hammer, saw and chisel, and operated with gears and cogs.[7] The turning gears and cogs were meant to be reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions.[15]

The concepts, including details such as the machinery used, were first sketched by hand, and the models were then created with computer graphics.[4][16]

Game of Thrones theme[edit]

The theme music that accompanies the title sequence was composed by Ramin Djawadi.[17] The production team showed the title sequence they were working on to Djawadi, who was then inspired to create the music for the "Game of Thrones Theme", and finished the theme music three days later.[18][7] Djawadi said the show runners Benioff and Weiss wanted the theme music to be about a journey that reflects the variety of locations and characters in the show.[19]


The Simpsons episode "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart" features a homage to the Game of Thrones title sequence, with famous buildings in the town of Springfield rising through the ground as characters watch on, dressed in Game of Thrones-style costumes. The Wall is replaced by the monolithic "Couch" at the end of the sequence.[20]


The title sequence won a Creative Arts Emmy Award on September 10, 2011.[21]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2011 63rd Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Main Title Design Angus Wall, Hameed Shaukat, Kirk Shintani and Robert Feng Won [21]
2016 68th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Interactive Program Game of Thrones Main Titles 360 Experience Nominated [22]


  1. ^ Perkins, Will (11 May 2011). "Game of Thrones (2011)". Art of the Title. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  2. ^ Fernandez, Sofia M. (10 September 2011). "Emmys 2011: 'Game of Thrones' Title Sequence Gives Series Its First Emmy". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  3. ^ Charisma, James (January 4, 2017). "The 75 Best TV Title Sequences of All Time". Paste (magazine). Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Game of Thrones (2011)". Art of the Title.
  5. ^ Justin Rocket Silverman (May 24, 2015). "Few realize map shown during 'Game of Thrones' title sequence changes per season". New York Daily News.
  6. ^ a b "Why doesn't the 'Game of Thrones' map always match up with where the story is?". HitFix. Retrieved 24 July 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e C.A. Taylor (November 6, 2014). "Creating the Title Sequence". Inside HBO's Game of Thrones II: Seasons 3 & 4. Gollancz. ISBN 978-1473206182.
  8. ^ Bonner, Mehehra (September 8, 2017). "Fans Noticed Something Super Weird About Sophie Turner's Name in the 'Game of Thrones' Credits". Marie Claire.
  9. ^ Bruk, Diana (June 27, 2016). "Bet You Didn't Notice This Clever Detail In the Opening Credits of the Game of Thrones Finale". Esquire.
  10. ^ Loughrey, Clarisse (April 14, 2016). "Game of Thrones season 6: watch the opening titles in 360-degree video and look up the Titan of Braavos' skirt". The Independent.
  11. ^ Axelrod, John (March 30, 2013). "How The Innovative Game Of Thrones Opening Credits Were Built". Forbes.
  12. ^ "Home". Elastic. Retrieved February 5, 2017.
  13. ^ Houghton, David (August 25, 2017). "The evolution of Game of Thrones' title sequence - from basic map, to a deceptively deep part of the show's journey". Games Radar.
  14. ^ Thurm, Eric (January 25, 2016). "Transparent to Game of Thrones: how TV perfected the title sequence". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Appelo, Tim (April 19, 2011). "Secrets Behind 'Game of Thrones' Opening Credits (Video)". Hollywood Reporter.
  16. ^ Frei, Vincent (October 22, 2011). "Game of Thrones: Kirk Shintani – CG Supervisor – A52 / Elastic". Art of VFX.
  17. ^ Renfro, Kim (July 7, 2016). "Meet the musical genius behind the Game of Thrones soundtrack who watches each season before anyone else". Tech Insider. Archived from the original on July 8, 2016.
  18. ^ "Composer Interview: Ramin Djawadi". December 22, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2013.
  19. ^ Hirway, Hrishikesh. "Song Exploder 40: RAMIN DJAWADI ("Game of Thrones")". Soundcloud.
  20. ^ Davis, Lauren. "Watch the Simpsons' amazing Game of Thrones intro".
  21. ^ a b Antonsson, Elio M. García and Linda. "Game of Thrones: News - Game of Thrones Take Home Emmy".
  22. ^ Ling, Thomas (September 19, 2016). "Game of Thrones just won more Emmys than any other show EVER". Radio Times.

External links[edit]