Game of Thrones’ twisting, clockwork world map is one of the most iconic opening credits sequences in television – which is why it’s a BIG surprise to find the smash-hit fantasy series has completely changed the design for its final series.
Yes, we’re still zooming around clockwork castles while that iconic theme tune plays (they’re not quite mad enough to change that) but for the first time this new version (that debuted with season eight’s first episode) takes us inside the locations we’ve spent so long getting to know.
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Starting beyond the (now-collapsed) icy Wall, the new sequence then spins us round House Umber’s ancestral seat The Last Hearth, then careens (slightly) further south to Winterfell, a key part of the credits since season one.
Now, though, we get taken inside Winterfell to see the clockwork model transform into various familiar locations within the castle, such as the great hall, courtyard, Stark family crypts (seemingly an important spot this year) and the godswood.
Further south, when we approach capital city King’s Landing, we spiral down through the Tower of the Hand, into the dungeons where the Targaryen dragon skulls (and the anti-dragon ballista) are still kept, then up into the iconic throne room to end on the series’ most enduring symbol – the Iron Throne itself, fanning out and re-forming like the building around it as the model takes its final shape.
(It’s also worth noting that the whirling astrolabe, previously showing scenes that represented Robert Baratheon’s conquest of the throne, has been changed to another design).
Overall, then, it’s a rather big change to make to such a beloved part of the series for its final six episodes – but it also makes a lot of sense. While in years past every episode of GoT would find our heroes spread across Westeros and Essos in multiple locations that’s no longer really the case, with an awful lot of characters situated in either Winterfell or King’s Landing and less need to illustrate the continent.
Instead, we’re going into the inner workings of the world we’ve grown to know and love over the last few series, just as it all comes to an end. Hard to argue with that.
Game of Thrones airs on NOWTV and Sky Atlantic at 2AM and 9PM on Mondays