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From ‘Winter is Coming’ to ‘Hodor,’ they’re all here.
With HBO’s Game of Thrones now officially over, it’s time to take a look back at everything we loved about the hit fantasy series. Sure, we could recap all the important plot points. We could talk about all the great characters that we’ve lost along the way. We could do a review of the many shocking and amazing moments. But instead, we’ve gathered the best Game of Thrones memes to discuss.
Best Game of Thrones memes
Forget about reading all the books (and books about the books). The mark of a true Game of Thrones fan is understanding all the memes. While there are far too many memes to discuss them all, here are some of the best to get you pumped to finally see Podrick Payne take his rightful place on the Iron Throne.
Note: This article contains spoilers for Game of Thrones seasons 1-8.
1. Winter is Coming
“Winter is Coming.” The words of House of Stark have become nearly synonymous with the series itself. It’s been spoken often by various characters throughout the books and television series. It’s meant as a warning to prepare for the worst, and naturally, people online took that ball and ran with it. The first known instance of the phrase becoming a meme was when it was added to a picture of a tiny owl wearing a tinier orange knitted cap.
But it really took off when it got paired with a picture of Ned Stark holding a sword. The phrase “Brace Yourself” was added, and it became a fill-in-the-blank style meme, where users replaced “Winter” with whatever it is they were warning people about. At this point, it also became known as “Imminent Ned.”
Things took a turn for the surreal in November 2018 when noted narcissist and U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted an image that replaced Ned Stark with a picture of himself and added “Sanctions are Coming” using the Game of Thrones font. This was a reference to reimposing sanctions against Iran.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 2, 2018
This probably ruined the show for more people than the Red Wedding. Speaking of which…
2. Red Wedding reactions
Few, if any, moments in television or film could rival season 3, episode nine of Game of Thrones in terms of “holy shit” reactions. The episode was officially titled “The Rains of Castamere,” but is commonly called “The Red Wedding.” In the span of a few minutes, several major characters were killed off in a surprising twist that fans never saw coming—unless those fans had already read the books. Some clever viewers knew exactly what was coming and decided to film their friends and loved ones reacting with shock and horror to the scene. As a testament to the scene’s power, these reactions videos are practically indiscernible from the reactions videos for “Two Girls, One Cup.”
There are countless videos of people reacting to the blood bath that was the Red Wedding, but here’s a nice compilation to get you started.
Actress Maisie Williams, who plays Ayra Stark on the show, even uploaded her own reaction video (originally to Vine), which helped lighten the spirts of otherwise heartbroken fans.
3. You know nothing, Jon Snow
In A Storm of Swords, the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, Jon Snow falls in love with a Wildling woman named Ygritte. Ygritte feels Jon doesn’t know anything and has no problem telling him so every chance she gets in both the books and on the show.
Here’s a quick compilation of Ygritte reminding Jon Snow of what an idiot he is.
She utters the phrase “you know nothing, Jon Snow” so often that there was a 100 percent chance of it becoming a meme.
A fan theory that ultimately turned out to be true, R+L=J stands for Rhaegar Targaryen plus Lyanna Stark equals Jon Snow. So the supposed bastard Jon Snow was really the secret child of Ned’s sister Lyanna and heir to Iron Throne, Rhaegar, meaning that Jon is in fact the rightful king.
Although a few people probably came to this conclusion, a user named Rodrick Su has the honor of being the first known person to publish the theory online. He posted the idea, along with a few others, to the Usenet group rec.arts.sf.written back on Sept. 18, 1997. He even guessed correctly that Jon and Daeneys would end up hooking up.
4. Jon Snow’s parent. It is wholely consistent that Jon Snow is the offspring of Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark. Ned probably keep this a secret because Rober Baratheon is obsess with killing off all Targaryen, especially any offspring of Rhaegar.
5. If Jon Snow is a Targaryen, then by tradition, he is the most likely mate to Daenery, being that she is his aunt…
Fans loved this theory as it meant two of their favorite (and hottest) characters would wind up together. Plus, they were so used to incest at that point, the whole aunt/nephew thing barely bothered anyone.
It spawned a ton of fan art and much rejoicing when it was finally revealed to be true in the final episode of season 7 of the show (which is now far ahead of the books).
5. Joffery Bieber
Until Ramsey Bolton came along, Joffery Barathoen was easily the most hated character on Game of Thrones. He wasn’t just sadistic and evil; he was also a whiney brat, which people just found irritating.
Nobody is saying Justin Bieber is evil. In fact, he clearly has a huge legion of adoring fans, but older people remember a time when his music and face were inescapable, especially if you had a child who was obsessed with him. That, combined with a more than passing resemblance, was enough to give rise to the Joffery Bieber meme.
On April 3rd of 2013, Brett Michael Dykes, founding editor of Uproxx, posted a now-deleted tweet saying, “Justin Bieber is Canadian for Joffrey Baratheon.” Two weeks later, on April 17, 2013, someone started a Tumblr devoted entirely to pictures of Joffery with Justin Beiber’s head Photoshopped onto his body.
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6. “The Game of Thrones Theme” and “Death and Boobies”
The opening music for Game of Thrones (known simply as “The Game of Thrones Theme”) has become so iconic that the second you hear it, you expect someone to either get beheaded or start having sex. Speaking about the song on the Song Exploder podcast, composer Ramin Djawadi said he chose to have the song switch repeatedly between minor and major keys because he wanted it to mirror the “backstabbing and conspiracy” of the show. He pretty much hit the nail right on the head.
With a song this good, on a show with this many seasons, it’s not surprising that people have created a mountain of parodies and covers.
There was a South Park version.
An 8-bit version.
And naturally, a ton of people of tried it on guitar.
But no covered it better than Maisie Williams.
The theme song to Game of Thrones doesn’t have any lyrics—so the cast made them up (with interpretive dance)!
Posted by Entertainment Weekly on Tuesday, April 26, 2016
7. Hello, this is Daenerys
The second episode of season 7 ends with possibility of Jon Snow meeting Daenerys Targaryen for the first time, which was obviously exciting for many fans.
On July 23, 2017, Twitter user @tharcarys posted pictures of actors Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington talking on their cell phones on the set, along with the caption: “‘E aí, já saiu de casa?’ ‘Calma tia, já to chegando.'”
Translated from Portuguese, this means roughly: “So, did you leave the house?” “Calm down, Aunt, I’m on my way.”
— juli (@thracarys) July 24, 2017
This led people imagining more phone calls between Jon and Daenerys.
Me: "Bend the knee!"
— Daenerys Targaryen (@Daenerys) July 31, 2017
Most importantly, it led to this great, corny joke.
— Hitesh Vashisht (@hitsvash) August 1, 2017
8. Valar Morghulis
The words “valar morghulis” are taught to Ayra Stark by her mentor/tormentor Jaqen H’ghar. In the fictional language of High Valyrian, they mean “all men must die” and are traditionally answered with “valar dohaeris,” which means “all men must serve.” Basically, it’s a badass, Samuel L. Jackson-type of thing to say, so of course it became a meme.
9. King in the North
The title “King in the North” was given to rulers of the Northern part of Westeros way back when it was an independent kingdom. After the Targaryens conquered the seven kingdoms, a Stark continued to rule as “Warden of the North.” After Joffery has warden Ned Stark beheaded, Ned’s son Robb goes to war and is declared the new King in the North. That didn’t end well, and eventually the Boltons became the new Wardens of the North. After they were defeated, Jon Snow very briefly became the King in the North. It didn’t take him long to bend the knee to Daenerys Targaryen after he got one look at her… um, dragons.
Anyway, much like “valar morghulis,” it’s just a cool phrase. Whenever someone on the show becomes King in the North, there are a bunch of rough looking bearded men shouting and waving swords around, making it obvious meme material.
10. A girl has no name
When Ayra arrives in Bravos to train with Jaqen H’ghar, one of the first things he teaches her is that she must lose her identity and become no one. Whenever she is asked, “Who are you?” Ayra replies, “No one.” When asked her name, she replies, “A girl has no name.”
People have found all sorts of uses for the phrase.
It’s been contrasted with the full name of Daenerys, aka Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, First of Her Name, the Unburnt, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea, Breaker of Chains, and Mother of Dragons.
Not to mention other people who seem to have a few too many names.
It can also be used as a way to get rid of unwanted suitors.
Someone even created a parody song set to the tune of America’s “A Horse With No Name”
Hodor, who’s real name was Wylis, was a beloved Game of Thrones character who made it through almost all of of season 7. He’s a normally gentle giant of a man, being second in size only to The Mountain. Hodor received his nickname from the peculiar trait of only being able to say the word “Hodor.” This isn’t explained, or even really questioned, until the end of season 7 when it’s reveled that “Hodor” is short for “hold the door,” which the big guy does better than anyone has ever held a door in the history of door-holding *sniff*.
This has made Hodor one of the most-quoted characters on the show and a bit of a meta meme.
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12. Creepy Bran Stark
The first big meme from season 8 was Bran Stark looking creepy and intense the entire first episode, called “Winterfell”. These memes are often combined with the “nobody/no one” meme. And some of these memes reference Bran’s reunion with Jaime Lannister at the end of the episode.
13. Daenerys’ passive-aggressive smile
Daenerys and Sansa sitting down for a heart-to-heart talk before the big battle with the Night King was possibly tenser than for the battle itself (not to mention easier to see). Dany’s passive-aggressive smile during their talk was something that pretty much everyone could relate to. When Twitter user @reallyhalalfood posted a screenshot of the meeting along with the simple request “Caption this,” people had no problem finding moments from their own life that fit perfectly with the queen’s facial expression.
this how white people smile at all minorities https://t.co/RhIKwLMZ8H
— I’m baby (@_kurlykay) April 22, 2019
Per my last email face https://t.co/xKjuwR94u8
— Matthew A. Cherry 🏁 (@MatthewACherry) April 23, 2019
Given how things turned out, it’s easy to see that Sansa’s instincts were spot on, although at the time it really seemed liked she could have lightened up a bit.
14. Kings Landing was an inside job
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, conspiracy theorists began claiming that the destruction of the Twin Towers was actually an inside job pulled off by the United States government. The best known, and most mocked, rallying cry for this theory is that “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams”.
Naturally, people couldn’t help but draw parallels to the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones.
Dragon fire can’t melt stone pillars. King’s Landing was an inside job.
— James Alvarez (@ObscureGent) May 13, 2019
Kings Landing was an inside job. The Deep State up to their shenanigans again. Dragon fire does NOT melt mortar and stone #QAnon #WWG1WGA #GameofThrones #GOT #KingsLandingWasAnInsideJob pic.twitter.com/2W5NNV3vLN
— Frankie B [LISTED] (@yourboyfrankieb) May 18, 2019
15. Daenerys ignores the bells
Another big meme from the second to last episode was Daenerys deciding to ignore the bells that indicated that her enemies were surrendering. Instead of accepting the surrender, Dany decided to go full “mad queen” and destroy the entire city, in what has become one of the show’s most controversial moments.
— sir, (@yourealobster) May 13, 2019
— Cris (@TbhImJustCris) May 13, 2019
The moment also gave rise to a whole subset of memes about how Jon and Tyrion probably felt like real chumps for defending Daenerys the whole time.
— bitter sunshine (@connor_254) May 13, 2019
16. Brienne writing Jaime’s history
In one of the final moments of the series we see Brienne of Tarth, now captain of the King’s Guard, writing Jaime Lannister’s history in the Book of Brothers. There’s a lot of things Brienne could have written about the disgraced knight, but she chose to end his entry with “died defending his queen,” which brought some fans to tears.
BRIENNE WROTE ALL OF JAIME’S GOOD DEEDS BC SHE KNEW HIM SHE KNEW THE REAL JAIME SHE KNEW SHE COULD DO HIM JUSTICE AND SHE KNEW ANYONE ELSE WOULD PAINT HIM IN A NEGATIVE LIGHT AND DESPITE ALL OF HER PAIN SHE REALLY DID THAT I’M- pic.twitter.com/qeM2ctVRq3
— jaime lannister’s hype girl (@und0milk) May 20, 2019
Even though not everyone felt it was the best choice. People had a lot of other suggestions for things Brienne might have written.
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) May 20, 2019
— Kristy Puchko (@KristyPuchko) May 20, 2019
17. It will be safe in the crypts
Before the battle with the army of the dead, we’re told repeatedly that “it will be safe in the crypts” beneath Winterfell. Some fans saw a little bit of a problem with hiding in caves filled with dead bodies when your enemies main power is to raise the dead and turn them into killing machines. It turned out their predictions were right on the money and Winterfell’s crypts turned into a total horror show before the battle ended.
The crypt at Winterfell going to be real cozy until the Night King raises his arms and all the dead Starks start killing everyone down there
— Austin Anfinson (@austin_anfinson) April 22, 2019
#GOT Let’s go to the crypts, they seem really safe. The crypts are where we should all go. If I want to be safe I’ll definitely go to the crypts. Have you heard? The crypts are where we will be safest. Definitely nothing bad will happen in the crypts. Let’s all gather in the cr
— Gabby Pascuzzi (@gabbypascuzzi) April 22, 2019
— alex ⛓ (@ghostlikecrime) April 22, 2019
18. Horny Tormund
As big and fierce as he can be, Tormund Giantsbane ended up providing a lot of the shows comic relief. His feelings for Brienne, whom he refers to as “the big woman,” became a huge meme, especially since it seemed to distract him from seemed to be more important issues.
— Ryan Beckman (@BeckmanRyan) April 22, 2019
Whole of Winterfell: "We are all going to die"
— Joker (@OkThenIshyy) April 22, 2019
Of course, Tormund wasn’t the only one with amorous ambitions.
— C U L8R (@ahmedrehan155) April 22, 2019
— Mphahlele🐐 (@LordTebz_) April 22, 2019
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David Britton is a writer and comedian based in Rhinebeck, New York who focuses on internet culture, memes, and viral news stories. He also writes for the Hard Times and is the creator of StoriesAboutWizards.com.