Lots of familiar faces have popped up in Westeros across the eight seasons of “Game of Thrones.” From musicians to comedians to the severed head of a former U.S. president, the HBO series has a habit of throwing in easter eggs for eagle-eyed viewers to spot. Many of the hidden celebrities meet grisly ends, so let’s revisit some of most memorable cameos before the series wraps for good this month.
Ed Sheeran (Season 7, Episode 1)
Sheeran’s cameo nearly spoiled the Season 7 opener as fans questioned the overt and random appearance of the “Shape of You” singer. Arya Stark stumbles upon a group of friendly Lannister soldiers after poisoning all the men in House Frey and hears the golden voice of the famous redhead singer. She shares some food and wine and reminisces about home with the squad, then sets off, saying she’s “going to kill the Queen.” Creator David Benioff said the “Thrones” team had been trying to get Sheeran to cameo for a while because Maisie Williams was a huge fan, but many fans questioned the decision. The cameo wasn’t so much blink-and-you-miss-it as Sheeran was right there in viewers’ faces for a full four minutes.
George W. Bush (Season 1, Episode 10)
In a controversial, now-removed scene, producers used a prosthetic head of the 43rd U.S. President George W. Bush impaled on a spike in a row of decapitated noggins at King’s Landing. After ordering the execution of Ned Stark, King Joffrey forced his betrothed Sansa Stark to look at the heads of her fellow Winterfell companions in a grotesque act of emotional abuse. In the Season 1 DVD commentary, the creators said using Bush’s head wasn’t a political statement, rather they just happened to have it sitting around the prop room that day. HBO later apologized for the scene and digitally altered it for future releases.
Rob McElhenney and Martin Starr (Season 8, Episode 1)
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and “Silicon Valley” fans were in for a treat as McElhenney and Starr appeared briefly — only to get arrows shot through their faces. The two comedians cameoed as sailors on Euron Greyjoy’s ship who met a swift end as Theon Greyjoy and his men boarded the vessel to rescue his sister Yara. Showrunners Benioff and D.B. Weiss had written an episode of “It’s Always Sunny” years ago and had their own cameos as lifeguards in “The Gang Goes to a Water Park” in 2017.
Richard E. Grant (Season 6, Episodes 5, 6 and 8)
Nominated for best supporting actor in 2018, Grant got the leading role in the parodical and self-referential theater production of the events of “Game of Thrones” in Season 6. He played Izembaro, the professional thespian and playwright of “The Gate” that Arya watches while stalking Lady Crane, her assassination target in Braavos. He portrays King Robert Baratheon and Tywin Lannister in the production, and is not too friendly toward his castmates or the audience. After the Waif killed Lady Crane, he would’ve had to find a new lead actress and might still be out trawling the Braavosi theater scene. The band Of Monsters and Men also cameoed in two of the episodes, serenading the crowd above the stage.
Ian McShane (Season 6, Episode 7)
The “Deadwood” actor made the jump to another HBO hit series in his outing as Brother Ray, the leader of a Riverlands village. The episode also marked the return of the Hound, who was nursed back to health after Brienne of Tarth and Arya left him for dead in the Season 4 finale. A former warrior turned septon, Ray became a pacifist and refused to prepare for a confrontation with some Brotherhood Without Banners raiders despite being warned. His new friend the Hound returned one day to find every villager killed and Ray hanged, then set out for revenge.
Chris Stapleton (Season 8, Episode 3)
In the most recent cameo, the country star played a slain wildling during the Battle of Winterfell who became resurrected by the Night King. His appearance was especially hard to find as the episode was particularly dark, which many fans were quick to point out. (Or maybe our TVs weren’t calibrated well enough, like cinematographer Fabian Wagner countered.) The Night King took all of his wights down with him in the epic conclusion, so Stapleton won’t be returning to the series.
Sigur Rós (Season 4, Episode 2)
The first band to appear in an episode, the Icelandic musicians performed at King Joffrey’s fatal Purple Wedding in “The Lion and the Rose.” In a bit of foreshadowing, they played “The Rains of Castamere,” the title of the iconic Season 3 episode and song played during the Red Wedding, where the Lannisters engineered the deaths of Robb Stark, his mother and his pregnant wife. The singers were interrupted by Joffrey during their performance, but made sure to pick up the gold he threw prior to exiting before the chaos.
Mastodon (Season 5, Episode 8, and Season 7, Episode 7)
The heavy metal band joined the two-timers club as members appeared in two epic episodes, “Hardhome” and “The Dragon and the Wolf.” Brent Hinds, Bill Kelliher and Brann Dailor play wildlings in the tragic battle at Hardhome, but they must have met gruesome ends as Hinds and Kelliher later joined the Night King’s undead army in the Season 7 finale. The band also created the song “White Walkers” that appeared on the second volume of “Catch The Throne,” a free mixtape commissioned by HBO to promote the fifth season.
Will Champion (Season 3, Episode 9)
The drummer from Coldplay banged away with the band at the Red Wedding, playing the last music that Robb, Catelyn and Talisa Stark would hear before their shocking deaths. As the Starks and their bannermen were the only characters to lose their lives, there’s a chance that the drummer could still be out their freelancing for other royal weddings. Champion was the second musician to cameo in the series, following Gary Lightbody, the lead singer from Snow Patrol, who appeared in the third episode of the same season.
Noah Syndergaard (Season 7, Episode 4)
The New York Mets All-Star pitcher put his arm to use as a Lannister soldier who launches a spear at the oncoming Dothraki warriors in “The Spoils of War.” As Daenerys and her dragon burnt most of the Lannister forces to a crisp in the fiery loot train attack, it’s unlikely the athlete survived to fight another day. Before filming his cameo on the “Thrones” set in Spain, Syndergaard had appeared on episodes of “Impractical Jokers,” “Kevin Can Wait” and “Uncle Grandpa.” With Sheeran already in their ranks, the Lannisters must really have a lot of gold to be able to afford two celebrity cameos.