If you're going to chronicle multiple families waging war with one another using swords and dragons while also showcasing hordes of the undead set on complete annihilation, it's going to cost you a pretty penny.
Games of Thrones has taken the scope of what can be accomplished on a TV show to levels that might not ever be seen again, constantly raising the bar for fantasy storytelling. Luckily, with the show airing on HBO, the network can not only afford to meet the show's budget, but with the show being the network's most successful series, the show can increase their demands as each season goes by.
Approaching its seventh season, Game of Thrones has regularly followed the trend of using its penultimate episode each season to show off the scope of battle, annually blowing audiences away with shocking twists or action sequences that get more and more lavish as each year passes.
Through its use of practical effects, CGI, incredible performers, lavish sets, and exotic locations, the dollars for each season can add up pretty quickly, resulting in some pretty hefty price tags.
Refinery 29 recently compiled a list of some of the series' most expensive episodes, despite HBO keeping a tight lid on exactly how much each episode cost. Scroll down to see which episodes of Game of Thrones broke the bank!
S2E9 - "Blackwater"
As the second year of the series came to a close, fans had seen plenty of massive set pieces and battle sequences, but "Blackwater" gave fans combat on a scale that hadn't yet been seen in the show, blowing audiences' minds with its production value.
In the episode, Stannis Baratheon aimed to take King's Landing back from the son of his brother, Joffrey Baratheon, by force using a fleet of ships. Using strategically placed, explosive "wildfire," many of the ships were blown away, leaving Stannis' army to launch an assault that felt like the battle of Helm's Deep from The Two Towers.
With the series being in only its sophomore season, its budget was much smaller than it is today, it didn't have as much money to play with forcing the producers to ask HBO for an extra $2 million to bring its budget up to $8 million for the one episode.
One of the show's creators, David Benioff, revealed to Entertainment Weekly in April of 2014, "For budgetary reasons, we came very, very close to having all the action take place off-screen, the way plays have handled battle scenes for a few thousand years."prevnext
S5E8 - "Hardhome"
As its fifth year drew to a close, fans began to take note of the series' tendency to save the year's most epic confrontation for the second-to-last episode, which is what made the huge scale of "Hardhome" so enjoyable.
With the episode coming to a close, Jon Snow arrived to help shepherd the Wildlings through the wall to avoid the White Walkers, but the small squadron of the Night's Watch were thrown in over their heads as the White Walkers descended upon the community, killing and maiming Wildlings by the thousands.
Much like all the other individual episodes in the franchise, the budget for this specific episode is unknown, but Kit Harington's explanation to Entertainment Weekly in 2015 about how he shot his role of Snow hints at how complicated the shoot was.
"It was three to four weeks of shooting for a sequence that should add up to [more than] 20 minutes," Harington revealed. "We shot less than a minute a day! It's so CGI-heavy it's unlike anything I've ever done on Thrones."prevnext
S5E10 - "Mother's Mercy"
The penultimate episode of each season might typically feature the most impressive action sequences, but with Season 5, it was a specific effect featured in the season finale that pushed the budget over the top.
When speaking at a panel at SXSW 2017, Game of Thrones creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff revealed that this episode featured the most expensive single death in the whole series.
Throughout Season 5, Arya Stark was training to become a faceless assassin, but she turned her back on her duties to fulfill a personal vendetta to kill Meryn Trant, using the old "fingers into the eyeballs" trick.
Benioff made sure to stress, "She couldn't really poke out his eyes," while speaking at the convention, with the death requiring practical effects, CGI, and elaborate choreography to pull off the brutal sequence.prevnext
S6E9 - "Battle of the Bastards"
Many of the most brutal villains in pop culture over the past decade have been the stars of Game of Thrones, with Ramsay Bolton being one of the most sadistic.
With Jon Snow and his army descending on his former home of Winterfell to take on Ramsay Bolton and his army, the stage was set for a massive conflict that promised to be the biggest battle the show had ever seen.
When speaking with Entertainment Weekly in March 2016, writer-producer Bryan Cogman confessed, "It's definitely the biggest [action sequence yet]." He added, "We've always wanted to get to a place — story-wise and budget-wise and time-wise and resource-wise — where we would be able to do a proper battle, with one army on one side, one army on another side."0comments
Reportedly, the show's producers attempted to cut the budget from the season's other nine episodes to bulk up this episode as much as they could. The season had a budget of $100 million and ran ten episodes, so if other episodes were trimmed, it's more than likely this episode cost far more than $10 million, making it the most expensive episode of the series.
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