It’s fair to say that Ed Sheeran’s Game of Thrones cameo in 2017 was not universally beloved by fans, with many complaining that the musician’s appearance (where he played a singing Lannister soldier who meets Maisie Williams’ Arya Stark) was distracting and out of place.
Frankly, the backlash was big – but now the series’ writers seem to have heard and recognised their fans’ pain, adding a very subtle reference to Sheeran in the latest episode revealing what befell him after his last appearance.
Spoiler alert: in classic Game of Thrones style, things did NOT end well.
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The nod to Sheeran’s cameo comes during a scene starring Jerome Flynn’s sellsword Bronn, who finds the girls at his local brothel less accommodating than usual after some of their favourite clients were killed in the previous series, specifically during episode four’s dragon attack.
And apparently among the Lannister men massacred by Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) and Drogon was “that boy Eddie,” who the girls note for his striking ginger hair and who ended the battle with “his face burned clean off.”
If this was intended to be Sheeran it may please the man himself, who previously argued that he should have been killed off shortly after his appearance.
“It was fun being in Game of Thrones, but I definitely think they should’ve killed me off in the episode," he said in 2018.
"I reckon that probably would’ve been the redemption for people that didn’t like it. No one wants to see me come back. I wanted to be a cameo in it, and I’ve done the cameo. I’m cool with it, though. I enjoyed it.”
“I know what Game of Thrones fans hoped happened to my character. I’m sure they think my character got brutally, brutally murdered, but I think my character is still out there. I think he’s chilling.”
Of course, it’s possible that we’re reading too much into this – we’re sure there’s more than one red-headed Ed in Westeros, and it might not have been intended as a nod to the Sheeran backlash – but considering just how many people suggested such a gruesome end for Sheeran’s character back in 2017, it does seem like a bit of a coincidence.
Plus, Thrones has had a history of dropping in references to internet culture, with writer Dave Hill – who, possibly significantly, also penned this new episode – including a joke referencing how long Gendry (Joe Dempsie) might have been rowing a small boat in the character’s time offscreen, just as fans had done for years.
And taking all that into consideration, it seems more than likely that the line was intended to satisfy all those bloodthirsty fans who had been demanding Sheeran face his own Ed Wedding. You horrible lot, you.
Game of Thrones continues on Mondays on Sky Atlantic and NowTV at 2am and 9pm