Season 5 of Game of Thrones was commissioned by HBO on April 8, 2014, following a substantial increase in audience figures between the third and fourth seasons. The fifth and sixth seasons were commissioned simultaneously, the first time HBO has commissioned two seasons at once for a major drama series.
The season consists of ten episodes. It began filming in July 2014 and concluded on December 12, 2014. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss return as executive producers and showrunners for both seasons five and six, having signed a new two-year contract with HBO in early 2014.
The season premiered on April 12, 2015.
Season 5 is based mostly on the fourth and fifth novels of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series, A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, respectively. The storylines of the two books run concurrently but follow different sets of characters.
The War of the Five Kings, once thought to be drawing to a close, is instead entering a new and more chaotic phase. Westeros is on the brink of collapse, and many are seizing what they can while the realm implodes, like a corpse making a feast for crows.
Tywin Lannister is dead, shot on the privy by his long-abused dwarf son Tyrion. The crazed boy-king Joffrey Baratheon, Tywin's grandson, is also dead after being poisoned at his own wedding, and succeeded by his younger and more pliable brother, Tommen. Queen Cersei Lannister succeeds her father as the head of House Lannister, and once again takes over as Queen Regent, as Tommen has yet to come of age. Cersei has been blocked by several powerful men over the years, including her husband King Robert Baratheon and his friend Eddard Stark, but due to her betrayals they are both dead. Now with even Tywin and Joffrey dead, and Tyrion fleeing the realm, there are no more checks on Cersei's power, and she is essentially the Ruling Queen of the Seven Kingdoms in all but name. However, Cersei is neither a master strategist nor a skilled diplomat (unlike her father and brother) and she faces mounting crises that would have strained even their abilities.
House Lannister and its allies have managed to crush House Stark, but in many ways it was a pyrrhic victory. The Iron Throne was already in massive debt to foreign banks before the war even began, and the Lannisters' immense wartime spending increased the crown's debts to crippling levels. The Lannisters must now desperately attempt to placate the Iron Bank of Braavos, by far the largest of the foreign banks, and the one which the crown owes most of its huge debts to.
The game of thrones is, unfortunately, not a simple game of cyvasse in which the pieces can be quickly reassembled: vast swathes of Westeros have been devastated by civil war, and it may take a full generation for them to rebuild. The Riverlands, where most of the war was fought, have been reduced to a burned out husk. Nominally the Lannisters and their House Frey allies control the Riverlands, but it has been reduced to a lawless and corpse-filled devastation, hardly controlled by anyone. Winter is fast approaching, but instead of stockpiling harvests the past few years, the great lords have been busy destroying one of the main breadbasket regions of the Seven Kingdoms. Combined with the realm's massive debts to foreign banks, starvation level conditions are starting to set in for the smallfolk across the realm. Outraged by the willful indifference of their rulers to their well-being for so long, commoners are starting to fall back onto old cultural touchstones, channeling their frustration into religious fanaticism. A popular disgust movement spreads across Westeros, and makes its way to the capital.
Adding to these woes is the increasing rivalry between the Lannisters and their Tyrell allies, specifically between Cersei and Margaery Tyrell. The Lannisters only managed to win on the battlefield with the armies and food resources won by their alliance with the House Tyrell of the Reach. Now that Tywin is dead, and Margaery is soon to be King Tommen's queen, the Tyrells are no longer pretending to be polite to the Lannisters, but openly demanding greater concessions and key positions of power. With half of the Lannister armies slaughtered by Robb Stark during the war, their financial resources depleted, and the Tyrells controlling the only major breadbasket region untouched by the war, the Lannisters are having to face the reality that the Tyrells hold numerous advantages over them. Just as Robert Baratheon became king only to become dependent on the support of the Lannisters, the Lannisters have now become dependant on the Tyrells.
Without the political acumen of Tywin or Tyrion, Queen Regent Cersei struggles to address these major challenges. Adding even further to her woes is that the king's Small Council has been gutted, with Hand of the King Tywin dead, Master of Coin Petyr Baelish leaving for the Eyrie, and both Tyrion and Master of Whisperers Varys fleeing the capital city. Of the original Small Council when the Lannisters first seized power, only Grand Maester Pycelle remains.
Besides the Reach, only the regions which have remained neutral so far still have all of their armies and resources intact: the Vale, ruled by House Arryn, and Dorne, ruled by House Martell. With nearly all the other Great Houses defeated or half-exhausted, the fresh armies of the Vale and Dorne can drastically alter the political playing field, depending on which side they choose to join.
The ultimate result of the war was to exhaust the Starks, Lannisters, and other Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms - exactly as Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish had planned. The secret architect of the conflict, it was Littlefinger who was responsible for poisoning Robert's Hand, Jon Arryn, by conspiring with his own wife Lysa Arryn. Littlefinger then engineered the betrayal of Eddard Stark, only to later assist Olenna Tyrell in assassinating King Joffrey at his own wedding. Baelish has now murdered Lysa, mere days after wedding her, and seized power over the Vale as regent for her young son. For the moment, Baelish remains in the Vale, consolidating his new hold over the Vale lords through his stepson Robin and his position as Lord Protector of the Vale. Alongside Baelish is the black-haired "Alayne", his ward and "niece" - secretly, Sansa Stark, who fell into Littlefinger's custody after he helped her escape her long imprisonment at Joffrey's royal court.
In the deserts of the deep south of Westeros, the people of Dorne demand vengeance for the death of Prince Oberyn, who died in a trial by combat at the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane. Leading the call to enter the war against the Lannisters are Oberyn's paramour, Ellaria Sand, and the eldest of his eight daughters: Obara, Nymeria, and Tyene. But Doran Martell, the Prince of Dorne and Oberyn's older brother, continues to urge restraint. Further complicating the matter is that early in the war, the Lannisters bribed the Martells into staying neutral by offering a marriage-alliance, sending Cersei's daughter Myrcella to Dorne to betroth her to Doran's son Trystane. Myrcella is still a ward living in Dorne's capital, Sunspear.
The most dire situation in Westeros, however, is in the North and at the Wall. The massive assault against Castle Black by the wildling army of Mance Rayder was defeated at the last moment by the surprise arrival of Stannis Baratheon and his remaining forces. Stannis withdrew from his island stronghold Dragonstone to reach the Wall by sea, to defend the realm of which he feels he is the only rightful king. With his home territories in the Stormlands overrun, Stannis needs to win the allegiance of Robb Stark's defeated bannermen, to rally the North again as a springboard against Lannister rule, as well as the support of Jon Snow, who therefore must walk a political tightrope between Stannis and his vows, since the Night's Watch is sworn to strict political neutrality. Though the battle against the wildlings is all but over, the Night's Watch is in its own dire conditions. With almost all of the Watch's top officers either killed or missing, among them Lord Commander Jeor Mormont and First Ranger Benjen Stark, the organization has been left leaderless during this time of crisis, and therefore will have to navigate a contentious election for a new Lord Commander. All the while, the White Walkers and their ever-growing army of the dead are bearing down on the Wall itself, intent on spilling over it to destroy the lands of men beyond, who remain ignorant of the long-forgotten but all-too-real danger.
The main armies of the Northern Houses, however, were slaughtered in the south at the Red Wedding, and the large main army of House Bolton has just returned to the North following the recapture of Moat Cailin. The Boltons switched to the Lannister side during the betrayal at the Red Wedding, during which their leader Lord Roose Bolton personally killed Robb Stark, and they have been installed as the new rulers of the North in the name of King Tommen and the Lannisters. With the other Northern Houses defeated and weakened, the Lannister-backed Bolton army can now suppress any feeble opposition to their rule. Meanwhile, Roose's sociopathic bastard son Ramsay Snow - now legitimized as Ramsay Bolton - is the new Lord of Winterfell under his father, reoccupying the castle which he personally burned out previously. With the Boltons in power, Ramsay is now free to commit numerous atrocities throughout the North, such as flaying men alive and hunting and killing young women for sport.However, the struggle for the North is not yet over. Various areas of the North's western coast are still held by ironborn invaders under Balon Greyjoy, who chose to crown himself as King of the Iron Islands and attack the North during Robb Stark's march south rather than ally with him against the Lannisters. Balon's son and heir, Theon, who himself was a ward of Lord Eddard Stark and one of Robb's closest advisors, turned on the Starks and led the assault himself but was betrayed by his own men and is now a prisoner of the Boltons, having been brutally flayed, tortured, and psychologically broken by Ramsay himself, who has reduced Theon to his personal slave, "Reek".
East of Westeros, after murdering his own father, Tyrion Lannister has fled across the Narrow Sea to the Free Cities, his future intentions unknown even to himself. Accompanied by Varys, he arrives in the east, unaware that the erstwhile Master of Whisperers might yet have secrets to reveal. Further north, meanwhile, representatives from the Iron Throne travel to the Free City of Braavos to assuage the Iron Bank's frustrations about all of the money the Lannisters owe. Unbeknownst to all, Arya Stark has also fled to Braavos, due to a favor she was owed for saving the life of one of the mysterious guild of assassins in Braavos known as the Faceless Men.
Further east in Slaver's Bay, Daenerys Targaryen's hold over Meereen has become very precarious, as ruling the city is becoming much more difficult than conquering it was. Sectarian violence is rampant between the former slaves and former slave-masters, revenge attacks are on the rise, and the resurgent slavers at Yunkai are rallying all those who oppose her. Daenerys's three dragons, now growing to dangerous size, have become uncontrollable and she can no longer rely upon them to defeat her enemies on the battlefield. Drogon burned a child to death while he was hunting and fled the city, forcing Daenerys to chain up the remaining two dragons in the caverns underneath the city. In addition, Daenerys is still distraught over the recent revelations concerning her once-trusted advisor Jorah Mormont, whom she exiled from the city as punishment. Her remaining advisors Ser Barristan Selmy, Missandei, and the sellsword Daario Naharis attempt to help hold her reign together.
But unbeknownst to Daenerys, word has finally spread to Westeros that the last living Targaryen heir has hatched three live dragons. No longer a mere curiosity halfway across the world, several different factions in Westeros are now pondering how Daenerys and her dragons will factor into the already confusing and multi-sided civil war still tearing the Seven Kingdoms apart. Envoys are beginning to head east to court Daenerys's allegiance: but those who try to dance with dragons run the risk of being burned.
Location scouting for Season 5 took place in Croatia and Spain. Filming in Croatia would continue in and around Dubrovnik, Split, and Žrnovnica, and expand to new locations around Imotski and Šibenik. The Spanish locations which were scouted are in Andalusia, namely the Alhambra of Granada, the Alcázar of Seville and the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos of Córdoba.
On July 2, 2014, U.S. ambassador to Spain James Costos confirmed at an economic forum meeting that Game of Thrones would be filming in the country. HBO later confirmed the same day that Seville was selected as the primary filming location, as well as other sites in the surrounding province of Seville. The Alcázar of Seville served as the Water Gardens, the seaside palace of House Martell located just outside of Sunspear, the capital of Dorne. The Alcázar is the oldest palace still in use in Europe, acting as a part-time residence for the present Spanish royal family. The site was first fortified in 712, and the Almohads expanded it in the twelfth century, making it a royal residence in 1248. Extensive additions were also made in subsequent centuries. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987. The Alcázar was previously used in Ridley Scott's 2005 film Kingdom of Heaven as the filming location for the court of the king of Jerusalem.
Locations were scouted in Seville as well as the nearby town of Osuna. Fresco Film Productions put out an open casting call via Facebook for extras in the area. Rosario Andújar, the mayor of Osuna, stated in El Mundo that the scouted locations include the Plaza de Toros (a bull ring with sandstone walls, over a century old), the university (built in 1548, with four towers and influenced by the Italian Renaissance, La Colegiata (a church founded in 1535), and the Canteras de Osuna (the old quarries that supplied stone for the town).
On July 3, 2014 it was reported that filming would briefly return to Iceland, but would not feature any major characters, instead focusing on landscape shots. Line producer Snorri Þórisson confirmed that the show intended to film a battle in Iceland in the month of November, but that with rewrites, the scene grew too large. It is difficult to film protracted battle scenes in Iceland during the fall due to the very limited daylight hours. It is unclear if this was a reference to the Massacre at Hardhome or the Battle of Winterfell.
On July 13, 2014, it was confirmed that filming would begin in September in the town of Šibenik, Croatia, which largely represented Braavos. St. James Cathedral was used as the basis for the headquarters of the Iron Bank of Braavos. The cathedral is the center of Croatia's Catholic Church and the see of the Šibenik diocese. The basilica, which is in the UNESO World Heritage list, is widely considered to be the most important example of Renaissance architecture in the country.
On July 27, 2014, in an interview with Sophie Turner, she confirmed that she would start filming in Belfast on Wednesday July 30.
On August 9, 2014, it was confirmed that the production team in Spain would be filming in one of Osuna's active bull-fighting rings, the Plaza de Toros, but that actual filming in the ring might not take place until October. Bull fights are held at the Plaza de Toros annually, events which end with bulls actually being killed in the arena.
On August 11, 2014, WatchersOnTheWall.com reported that 86 year-old actor actor J.J. Murphy died a matter of days after filming his first scenes as Denys Mallister, the commander of the Shadow Tower, the westernmost active castle on the Wall. The same day, Benioff and Weiss made an official statement via HBO's twitter account that the role would not be recast: "We will not be recasting J.J. Murphy. He was a lovely man, and the best Denys Mallister we could have hoped for. And now his watch is ended." In the end, Murphy's role was brief and Mallister had no lines of dialogue. This makes Denys the second posthumous character appearing in the TV series (as well as the second cast member who has died): actress Margaret John, who played Old Nan, died only two months before Season 1 premiered, though all of her scenes had already been completed.
On August 24, 2014, WatchersOnTheWall.com reported that filming would again return to Diocletian's Palace in Croatia. This site was an ancient Roman palace built by emperor Diocletian in the fourth century. Despite the name, it resembles a fortress more than a palace (in fact, only half of it was Diocletian's residence, and the other half housed a large military garrison.) The cellars of the palace were previously used as the underground passageways in Meereen during Season 4, and they were used for this purpose again.
On September 3, 2014, Kristian Nairn (Hodor) revealed that he would not be returning in Season 5: "We're not actually in Season Five, by the way. We have a season off. We have a year’s hiatus...Solely because, I imagine, our storyline is up to the end of the books. - So I get a year off now." Although Isaac Hempstead-Wright, who plays Bran, seemed to imply he would be back, it was later confirmed Bran would indeed not be in the fifth season. On October 6, 2014, Art Parkinson (Rickon) confirmed that he and Natalia Tena (Osha) would not be returning in Season 5.
On October 14, 2014, Game of Thrones production units were observed filming in Córdoba, Spain, at the Roman Bridge of Córdoba, a famous landmark in the Historic Center of Córdoba built in the first century BC. The bridge has been restored and renovated several times across the ages, and now only two of the arches are from the original Roman construction. Benioff and Weiss confirmed the bridge would represent the Long Bridge of Volantis.
That same week, Benioff and Weiss spoke in a special event at the Teatro Central de Sevilla. They confirmed that there would be flashbacks in Season 5, despite their previous assertions that there would never be flashbacks on the TV show. They did experiment with using flashbacks in the unaired pilot episode, but afterwards felt that it broke up the dramatic pacing. The books themselves do not have straightforward "flashback scenes", but POV narrators will remember or recall past events at length (i.e. when Jaime explains why he actually killed the Mad King, in "Kissed by Fire"). In the end, season five featured a single scene of this sort: the first episode opened with a flashback to when Cersei was young and visited Maggy.
There are so many standing sets built for the show in Season 5 that the production is starting to run out of space. Increasingly, new sets are built in smaller areas, making it more difficult for Directors of Photography to set up lighting and backings. The smaller interiors are filmed at Banbridge, while the larger spaces are housed at Titanic Studios.
- See main article on "Game of Thrones (TV series)#Future seasons, and catching up with the books"
While developing Season 4, Benioff admitted that "Season 5 gives him nightmares". However, once they actually had outlined the season, Benioff and Weiss revealed "the fear started to dissipate." They also claimed the season would be "drawing heavily" from A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, the fourth and fifth books of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga.
The book series was originally planned as a trilogy (A Game of Thrones, A Dance with Dragons and The Winds of Winter), but Martin realized his plot of "book one" would have to be expanded into three novels (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords), which means the first three books are "Act One" of a three Act story. In fact, the climax of A Storm of Swords concludes many of the plot lines begun in A Game of Thrones. Furthermore, what Martin originally planned as the middle novel grew too vast to be published as a single tome, so he cut it into two books that take place concurrently: in very rough terms, the fourth one (A Feast for Crows) follows all of the characters in the Seven Kingdoms while the fifth one (A Dance with Dragons) covers the storylines that take place elsewhere (such as the Night's Watch at the Wall, Tyrion as he escapes to the Free Cities, and Daenerys in Slaver's Bay). Season 5 will present the events featured in these two books in chronological order, intercutting between the two clusters of storylines.
On the one hand, this combination of novels could easily span two seasons, since it would be longer than A Storm of Swords, which was adapted into the third season and most of the fourth one. On the other hand, whereas the Red Wedding happens around the middle of the third novel and provided a convenient climax for Season 3, there are no similarly game-changing or climactic events in the middle of A Feast for Crows or A Dance with Dragons —both of which are slower-paced than the previous novels anyway.
Some of those two novels had already been advanced to Season 4 (everything after Daenerys took Meereen, everything after Brienne left King's Landing to look for Sansa, Sansa's story after Lady Lysa's death, Bran's whole story and the Fall of Moat Cailin), while other storylines were delayed to Season 6 (the Ironborn and Riverlands subplots, Arya's blind period and Sam arriving at Oldtown.) Ultimately, however, the bulk of these books was still adapted into Season 5. Despite some condensations, Jon Snow at the Wall, Cersei and the Tyrells in King's Landing, Tyrion heading to Meereen, and Daenerys in Meereen cover most of the major plot points which happened to each of them. The Stannis and Bolton storylines in the North, however, was extremely condensed. Both were reasonably close to what happened in the novels until about the second half of Season 5. In the novels, Stannis leaves the Wall to begin his campaign in the North only about one third of the way into the fifth book, after which it and the Boltons at Winterfell become one of the primary focuses of the narrative. The Sansa and Brienne storylines (entirely separate in the novels, both from each other and from the Bolton storyline) were also condensed. The writers also adapted some of the Dorne subplot, but with such limited screentime dedicated to it that the main parts of it didn't appear, nor did several major characters, such as arguably the storyline's main character —Doran's daughter and heir, Arianne Martell, who is actually a POV narrator. Tyrion's storyline as he was heading east to Meereen introduced a major new subplot involving a major political shakeup in the Free Cities, but this was cut completely from Season 5, and it will probably be omitted in the future.
- Main article: Season 5 cast
- Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister (10 episodes)
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister (7 episodes)
- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister (8 episodes)
- Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen (8 episodes)
- Kit Harington as Jon Snow (9 episodes)
- Aidan Gillen as Petyr Baelish (6 episodes)
- Charles Dance as Tywin Lannister ("The Wars To Come")
- Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell (5 episodes)
- Stephen Dillane as Stannis Baratheon (8 episodes)
- Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth (7 episodes)
- Carice van Houten as Melisandre (6 episodes)
- Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand (5 episodes)
- Alfie Allen as Reek (6 episodes)
- Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark (9 episodes)
- Maisie Williams as Arya Stark (6 episodes)
- John Bradley as Samwell Tarly (9 episodes)
- Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane (5 episodes)
- Hannah Murray as Gilly (6 episodes)
- Conleth Hill as Varys (4 episodes)
- Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth (6 episodes)
- Jerome Flynn as Bronn (6 episodes)
- Michiel Huisman as Daario Naharis (7 episodes)
- Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei (7 episodes)
- Dean-Charles Chapman as Tommen Baratheon (5 episodes)
- Tom Wlaschiha as Jaqen H'ghar (6 episodes)
- Michael McElhatton as Roose Bolton (4 episodes)
- Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton (6 episodes)
- with Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont (8 episodes)
Selected guest starring cast
- Brenock O'Connor as Olly (9 episodes)
- Ben Crompton as Eddison Tollett (8 episodes)
- Owen Teale as Alliser Thorne (7 episodes)
- Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant (6 episodes)
- Tara Fitzgerald as Selyse Baratheon (6 episodes)
- Joel Fry as Hizdahr zo Loraq (6 episodes)
- Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne (6 episodes)
- Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow (5 episodes)
- Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm (5 episodes)
- Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Mace Tyrell (5 episodes)
- Keisha Castle-Hughes as Obara Sand (5 episodes)
- Julian Glover as Pycelle (5 episodes)
- Jessica Henwick as Nymeria Sand (5 episodes)
- Kerry Ingram as Shireen Baratheon (5 episodes)
- Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand (5 episodes)
- Anton Lesser as Qyburn (5 episodes)
- DeObia Oparei as Areo Hotah (5 episodes)
- Eugene Simon as Lancel (5 episodes)
- Nell Tiger Free as Myrcella Baratheon (5 episodes)
- Finn Jones as Loras Tyrell (4 episodes)
- Faye Marsay as the Waif (4 episodes)
- Ian McElhinney as Barristan Selmy (4 episodes)
- Toby Sebastian as Trystane Martell (4 episodes)
- Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell (4 episodes)
- Will Tudor as Olyvar (4 episodes)
- Charlotte Hope as Myranda (4 episodes)
- Dominic Carter as Janos Slynt (3 episodes)
- Ian Gelder as Ser Kevan Lannister (3 episodes)
- Peter Vaughan as Aemon (3 episodes)
- Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella (3 episodes)
- Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell (2 episodes)
- Paul Bentley as the High Septon (2 episodes)
- Ciaran Hinds as Mance Rayder ("The Wars To Come")
- Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Gregor Clegane ("Mother's Mercy")
- Richard Brake as The Night's King ("Hardhome")
- Lino Facioli as Robin Arryn ("The Wars To Come")
- Mark Gatiss as Tycho Nestoris ("The Dance of Dragons")
- Rupert Vansittart as Yohn Royce ("The Wars To Come")
Regular directors Neil Marshall, Alex Graves, Alik Sakharov, and Michelle MacLaren are not returning for Season 5. Notably, this is also the first time since Season 2 that no episodes are directed by the executive producers, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. MacLaren's departure also makes Season 5 the first since Season 2 with no female director. MacLaren is the only female director who ever worked on the TV series, producing two episodes in Season 3 and another two in Season 4.
George R.R. Martin stated he would not be writing an episode, as he has done in every previous season, because he wants to focus on finishing The Winds of Winter, the sixth novel in the book series. Meanwhile, Dave Hill, the former assistant for Benioff and Weiss and the writer of the Histories & Lore short videos, was brought forward to write an episode after Benioff and Weiss were impressed with his story ideas involving Olly and Ygritte in the fourth season.
The entire production crew that worked on Season 5, spread across several countries, consisted of roughly 1,000 people. Of them, about 750 worked in Northern Ireland - that is, about 250 worked exclusively in other countries, but many of those who worked at the production's home base in Northern Ireland also visited filming locations in other countries. Of these, the entire costuming department includes about 100 people (including major designers, embroiderers, hairstylists, cleaners, cloth-agers, sorters and fitters, and metal armor forgers). As for the cast in Season 5, the show employed 166 actors who had speaking roles, and another 5,000 extras for crowd scenes.
- David Benioff: executive producer & showrunner
- D.B. Weiss: executive producer & showrunner
- Bernadette Caulfield: executive producer
- Frank Doelger: executive producer
- Carolyn Strauss: executive producer
- George R.R. Martin: co-executive producer
- Vince Gerardis: co-executive producer
- Guymon Casady: co-executive producer
- Greg Spence: producer
- Chris Newman: producer
- Bryan Cogman: producer
- Lisa McAtackney: producer
- Michele Clapton: costume designer
- Deborah Riley: production designer
- Ramin Djawadi: composer
- Nina Gold: casting director
- Robert Sterne: casting director
- David Benioff & D.B. Weiss: episodes 1, 2, 3, 7, 8, 9 and 10
- Dave Hill: episode 4
- Bryan Cogman: episodes 5 and 6
- Michael Slovis: episodes 1 and 2
- Mark Mylod: episodes 3 and 4
- Jeremy Podeswa: episodes 5 and 6
- Miguel Sapochnik: episodes 7 and 8
- David Nutter: episodes 9 and 10
|41||"The Wars To Come"||April 12, 2015||8.00|
|Tyrion learns of a conspiracy; Jon is caught between two kings.|
|42||"The House of Black and White"||April 19, 2015||6.81|
|Arya arrives in Braavos; Stannis tempts Jon.|
|43||"High Sparrow"||April 26, 2015||6.71|
|Cersei does justice; Tyrion walks the Long Bridge of Volantis.|
|44||"Sons of the Harpy"||May 3, 2015||6.82|
|The Faith Militant grow increasingly aggressive; Jaime and Bronn head south; Ellaria and the Sand Snakes vow vengeance.|
|45||"Kill the Boy"||May 10, 2015||6.56|
|Dany makes a difficult decision in Meereen; Jon recruits the help of an unexpected ally; Brienne searches for Sansa; Theon remains under Ramsay's control.|
|46||"Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken"||May 17, 2015||6.24|
|Arya trains; Jorah and Tyrion run into slavers; Trystane and Myrcella make plans; Jaime and Bronn reach their destination; The Sand Snakes attack.|
|47||"The Gift"||May 24, 2015||5.40|
|Jon prepares for conflict; Sansa tries to talk to Theon; Brienne waits for a sign; Stannis remains stubborn; Jaime attempts to reconnect with family.|
|48||"Hardhome"||May 31, 2015||7.01|
|Arya makes progress in her training; Sansa confronts an old friend; Cersei struggles; Jon travels.|
|49||"The Dance of Dragons"||June 7, 2015||7.14|
|Stannis confronts a troubling decision; Arya encounters someone from her past; Dany reluctantly observes a custom.|
|50||"Mother's Mercy"||June 14, 2015||8.11|
|Stannis marches; Dany is surrounded by strangers; Cersei seeks forgiveness; Jon is challenged.|
Comparison with the novels
The season generally follows the fourth and fifths novels "A Feast for Crows" and "A Dance with Dragons", and also consists of scenes based on the last chapters of the third novel "A Storm of Swords", and a few scenes based on the first novel and on sample chapters of the upcoming sixth novel. For a full list of differences between the season and the novels, see Differences between books and TV series - Season 5.
Season 5 became available for direct digital download (via iTunes) starting on August 31, 2015. This included the free behind-the-scenes featurettes previously released on the HBO Viewer's Guide website. The full season download was priced at $38.99 for HD, and $28.99 for SD (in US dollars).
Season 5 Blu-ray and DVD box sets were released on March 15, 2016. They are available for pre-order from Amazon.com, which prices the Blu-ray set at $72.98 and the DVD set at $53.99.
Features on the DVD release include:
- Anatomy of an Episode: "Mother's Mercy"
- The Real History Behind Game of Thrones – In a two-part series, historians and George R.R. Martin discuss the era known as “The Wars of the Roses” and other historical events that served as inspiration for his novels
- Audio Commentaries – Twelve audio commentaries with cast and crew:
- Episode 1: Michael Slovis, David Franco, Ciarán Hinds
- Episode 2: Daniel Portman, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gwendoline Christie
- Episode 3: Deborah Riley, Anette Haellmigk, Michele Clapton
- Episode 4: Natalie Dormer, Dean-Charles Chapman, Dave Hill, Mark Mylod
- Episode 5: Michael McElhatton, Iwan Rheon, Gregory Middleton, Jeremy Podeswa
- Episode 6: Maisie Williams, Tom Wlaschiha, Bryan Cogman
- Episode 7: -
- Episode 8:
- Rowley Irlam, Kristofer Hivju, Kit Harington, Miguel Sapochnik
- Steve Kullback, Joe Bauer, Christopher Newman
- Fabian Wagner, Sean Savage, David Morgan
- Episode 9:
- David Nutter, Iain Glen, Peter Dinklage
- Robert McLachlan, David Worley, Ben Wilson, Bernadette Caulfield
- Episode 10: Lena Heady, David Nutter, D.B. Weiss, David Benioff
- Four deleted scenes
- The behind-the-scenes featurettes for Season 5 already released for free online, including new character and location profiles, and the "A Day in the Life" production documentary.
The Blu-ray release with Digital Copy includes all of the features on the DVD set, plus:
- A digital copy of the entire season
- An "in-Episode Guide" will also be included (possibly a copy of the online version).
- Histories & Lore Season 5 - the next installment in the series of animated featurettes exploring the mythology a
- The Dance of Dragons - an "in-depth featurette" on the civil war that tore Westeros in half 170 years before the TV series, in which Targaryen fought Targaryen and dragon fought dragon (as Shireen explained in episode 5.9).nd backstory of Westeros and Essos. Consists of 14 separate videos.
The "Dance of Dragons" featurette is actually a super-sized animated featurette, like the regular "Histories & Lore" series, but 20 minutes long to summarize the entire narrative of the civil war. Moreover, numerous cast members whose characters died before Season 5 and didn't appear in it are returning to reprise their roles, providing in-universe voiceover narration:
- Pedro Pascal as Prince Oberyn Martell
- Harry Lloyd as Viserys Targaryen
- Mark Addy as King Robert Baratheon
- Michelle Fairley as Catelyn Stark
- Jack Gleeson as King Joffrey Baratheon
- Kerry Ingram as Princess Shireen Baratheon
Four separate deleted scenes from Season 5 are included in the DVD box set release. None of them contain significantly new information, and have little to no impact on longer story arcs - with the exception of the longest of the four, a scene from the Season 5 premiere between Missandei and Grey Worm which provides substantially more setup for their ongoing romantic relationship subplot.
- Missandei tells Grey Worm she fears for his safety (1 minute 30 seconds long) - an extended version of the scene from episode 5.1 "The Wars to Come" in which Missandei talks to Grey Worm while he's suiting up in his armor with the other Unsullied, it fits in between when Missandei says "I wanted to speak to you" (then the other Unsullied leave) and she says that White Rat's body was found in a brothel. Missandei cautions Grey Worm that the Unsullied are trained not to feel fear, but the Sons of the Harpy are insurgents who wear masks, ambushing from the shadows then retreating to the shadows so they don't even have to face the Unsullied's combat prowess. She urges that she is afraid for his life, that he will be killed in a random attack. They exchange many knowing looks throughout, their mutual attraction unspoken through the awkward words they exchange. Missandei tells Grey Worm he must be careful and fight to protect himself: he looks concerned but he says he fights for Queen Daenerys. Then the scene continues as in the aired version, she asks why many Unsullied like White Rat have been visiting brothels (as they are eunuchs), but he says he doesn't know and leaves.
- Daario mocks Grey Worm (1 minute long) - from episode 5.2 "The House of Black and White": Daario Naharis had just returned to Meereen and is joining Grey Worm and some of his Unsullied in the narrow alleys of the city. Daario asks if he's happy to see him and Grey Worm admits yes, he can help them patrol the streets. Daario then begins lightly mocking Grey Worm by asking how Missandei is doing, and given Grey Worm's status as a eunuch, implies that he'd have problems satisfying her sexually - but as a friend, Daario would always be willing to step in to fulfill her needs which Grey Worm cannot satisfy. Grey Worm pauses and glares at him as the other Unsullied stop, but Daario finally gets the hint that his joking isn't funny, so he sheepishly changes the subject and says yes, it is good that the queen has him and his men back helping the Unsullied. The scene then proceeds to the portion that actually aired, with Daario saying that the Unsullied to too conspicuous for rooting out an insurgency in a city, they're meant for pitched battles, and their lack of fear means they aren't good at guessing where frightened rebels would try to hide.
- Jaime and Bronn en route to Dorne (1 minute long) - A longer version of the scene from episode 5.4 "Sons of the Harpy" in which Jaime Lannister and Bronn are discussing their mission. Instead of starting with Bronn asking "Why are we on a merchant ship?", it starts with Bronn cleaning his sword when Jaime comes below. Jaime criticizes that Bronn isn't being thorough enough and the blade needs more oil, but Bronn says a lowly sellsword like him isn't usually in a position to be sentimental about weapons; he says he once saw a man in the Stormlands go back onto the battlefield to retrieve his lucky sword and he got an arrow through the eye for his troubles. Jaime counters that Bronn would care more if he had a proper high quality sword. Bronn sardonically agrees that yes, if he were wealthy enough to afford an expensive sword, he's probably focus more time on caring for it - which he finally was on the verge of being rich, living at Castle Stokeworth, before Jaime dragged him along on this voyage. Jaime insists that a man like Bronn would get bored with a life of leisure and no fighting: Bronn says that's easy for Jaime to say, but he was rather looking forward to having a life of leisure. The scene then proceeds as it did in the aired version, with Bronn changing the subject to ask why they're on a merchant ship, and Jaime explaining they will leave the ship by rowboat in the night to sneak in to Dorne as it passes.
- Tormund and Alliser Thorne meet again (1 minute long) - apparently from episode 5.5 "Kill the Boy", a stillshot of the scene was actually released as a promo image for that episode when it aired. The scene follows up on how Tormund nearly killed Ser Alliser Thorne during the Battle of Castle Black. Now, Tormund is being lead in chains through the courtyard of Castle Black. As Ser Alliser Thorne walks past he coldly confronts him. Alliser scornfully notes that they're keeping him alive, giving him food and a roof over his head, and asks Tormund if he knows what they'd be doing to Tormund if it were his decision. Tormund dryly guesses it would be something unpleasant - but because that isn't happening, Thorne must not be in charge anymore. Alliser silently looks annoyed then leaves.
Game of Thrones Season 5 won a record-breaking 12 times in the 2015 Emmy Awards, including Best Drama.
Season 5 won awards in four major categories:
- Outstanding Drama Series
- Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series – David Nutter for the Season 5 finale, "Mother's Mercy"
- Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series – David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for "Mother's Mercy"
- Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister (who previously won in this category for his work in Season 1).
Season 5 also won in eight technical categories, awarded at the Creative Arts Emmys:
- Outstanding Special Visual Effects – "The Dance of Dragons"
- Outstanding Makeup For A Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) – "Mother’s Mercy"
- Outstanding Production Design For A Narrative Contemporary Or Fantasy Program (One Hour Or More) – "High Sparrow" – Deborah Riley, Production Designer
- Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Drama Series – "The Dance of Dragons"
- Outstanding Casting For A Drama Series – Casting Directors Nina Gold, Robert Sterne, and Carla Stronge
- Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series – "Hardhome"
- Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour) – "Hardhome"
- Outstanding Stunt Coordination For A Drama Series, Limited Series Or Movie – Rowley Irlam, Stunt Coordinator
Many major critics and review sources, however, reacted to the wins by expressing that Season 5 was probably the weakest season of Game of Thrones to date - compared to its own prior seasons. This led to discussion about whether the Emmy voting system was skewed or out of touch. Two general positions developed:
- The first group of critics felt that Season 5 did not deserve these Emmy wins (particularly Best Drama) in and of itself, but it has become common practice for the awards to be given to series that are "due" - series that should have won in prior awards years but were overshadowed by competition from other series. Game of Thrones never won Best Drama in its first four seasons - even after the climactic and critically very well received events of the third and fourth seasons, when it was competing against other shows such as Breaking Bad or Mad Men which were also considered to be in their prime. While Season 4 of Game of Thrones gained widespread praise, it competed at the Emmys against the universally praised final season of Breaking Bad (even Benioff and Weiss have said they are massive fans of what Breaking Bad achieved). These critics argued, in short, that Season 5 was not Emmy-worthy material but the win was meant to make up for past seasons when they should have won. This led to further criticisms of the broader pattern of voting for series that are considered to be "due" for a win even if their current material doesn't deserve it.
- The second camp of critics, while feeling that Season 5 was the weakest season of Game of Thrones to date, expressed that this was only in comparison to the very high standard set by its own prior seasons - and moreover, because many other critically praised shows such as Breaking Bad were no longer airing, Season 5 of Game of Thrones simply faced weaker competition - in which case, these critics felt that Season 5 indeed deserved to win on its own merits, given that the awards are relative to other shows that are airing in a given year.
Either way, many post-Emmy critical reviews felt the need to express their view that Season 5 was the weakest season of the TV series so far (by its own standards), and ponder if it deserved such accolades in and of itself. These included: The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Rolling Stone, Vulture, Vanity Fair, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, Deadline, TheGuardian.com, Collider, BusinessInsider, io9, BuddyTV.com, Bustle, and HitFix, among others.
TechInsider was bewildered that Benioff and Weiss won the Best Writing for a Drama Series award for the Season 5 finale "Mother's Mercy", given that it contained the strange and non sequitur line from Tyene Sand, "You want a good girl, but you need the bad pussy!" - which while not from the novels, is now officially part of a script that won an Emmy award for Best Writing.
No major critical reviews of record expressed a view that Season 5 was actually better than the prior four seasons that did not win such awards.
Season 5 was nominated for two Writer's Guild of America Awards: the first for Drama Series, and the second for Episodic Drama (specifically Benioff and Weiss for the Season 5 finale, "Mother's Mercy").
Season 5 was nominated in the 2016 Producer Guild Awards, for the Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television (Drama). The specific nominees are David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bernadette Caulfield, Frank Doelger, Carolyn Strauss, Bryan Cogman, Lisa McAtackney, Chris Newman, and Greg Spence.
Season 5 was nominated in two categories at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards. The first nomination is for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. The second nomination is Peter Dinklage (Tyrion) for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series.
Season 5 was nominated at the 2016 American Society of Cinematographers Awards. Cinematographer Fabian Wagner (BSC) was nominated in the "Episode of a Regular Series" category for the episode "Hardhome".
Season 5 was nominated at the 2016 Golden Globe Awards for Best Drama Series.
Season 5 won the 2015 Screen Actors Guild award for Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series.
Season 5 won the 2016 Art Directors Guild Award for Art Direction in a One-Hour Period or Fantasy Single-Camera Series - specifically nominated for art direction in the episodes "High Sparrow", "Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken", and "Hardhome". The entire art direction team was nominated, and the award was accepted by lead Production Designer Deborah Riley.
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- ↑ Game of Thrones wraps filming for Season 5
- ↑ The Hollywood Reporter
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- ↑ HBO confirms Seville as filming location for Game of Thrones season five
- ↑ Spain confirmed as a location for Game of Thrones Season 5
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- ↑ Game of Thrones season five filming in Spain rumored to have already begun ; Portstewart filming completed
- ↑ Westeros.org Twitter account (Warning: graphic video of bulls being stabbed to death)
- ↑ Actor J. J. Murphy dies after beginning filming for Game of Thrones season 5
- ↑ Official statement from the creators of GameofThrones
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- ↑ Kristian Nairn not to appear in Game of Thrones Season 5
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- ↑ Art Parkinson Confirms Rickon, Osha Still AWOL
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- ↑ Season 5 Blu-ray commentary
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- ↑ TV & Satellite magazine, April 2015
- ↑ Season 4 Blu-ray commentary.
- ↑ TV & Satellite magazine, April 2015
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- ↑ First Look at Game of Thrones: The Dance of Dragons Animated Feature
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- ↑ Alliser and Tormund deleted scene
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- ↑ Game of Thrones nominated for two WGA Awards!
- ↑ Game of Thrones nominated for two WGA Awards! Game of Thrones nominated for PGA award and Jon Snow among the most influential characters of 2015
- ↑ Game of Thrones nominated for 3 SAG Awards!
- ↑ Game of Thrones nominated at the ASC Awards
- ↑ Game of Thrones nominated at the Golden Globes!
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