The Game of Thrones title sequence introduces every episode and changes depending on the locations visited in that particular episode.
The title sequence consists of a three-dimensional map of the world, with the continents of Westeros and Essos located on the inner surface of a sphere. At the center of the sphere is a light source, effectively a sun surrounded by an astrolabe-like arrangement of rotating rings. The details of the title sequence change each week depending on the locations visited. The following description is how the sequence appears in the first episode of the series, "Winter is Coming".
The sequence opens with a close-up of the sun and the astrolabe surrounding it. Relief details are visible on the astrolabe, showing a volcano destroying a city while a dragon watches on and several people escaping in a boat, a reference to the Doom of Valyria. The camera then pans to a wide-shot of Westeros and Essos before zooming in on the city of King's Landing, in particular the sigil of House Baratheon on what appears to be a large gear in the middle of the city. The gear begins turning, moving other cogs, and then three-dimensional buildings start rising out of the ground, such as the Red Keep and the Great Sept of Baelor.
Once the city is assembled, the camera moves north across Westeros to Winterfell, which similarly rises out of the ground while a gear bearing the sigil of House Stark rotates. The camera pays particular attention to the godswood of Winterfell and its heart tree as it rises out of the ground before panning up to the sun and astrolabe. There is then another close-up of the detail on the astrolabe, this time showing the Stark direwolf, Lannister lion and Baratheon stag engaging the Targaryen dragon in combat, a reference to Robert's Rebellion.
The camera returns to Winterfell and then pans north to the Wall, where more gears start turning and Castle Black emerges from the ground, while the pulley lift emerges from the face of the Wall. The camera pulls all the way back to King's Landing before moving across the Narrow Sea to the Free City of Pentos, which similarly emerges from the ground while gears rotate.
The title sequence ends with a return to the relief detail of the astrolabe, now showing the animals representing the various noble houses of Westeros bowing to the triumphant Baratheon stag. The Game of Thrones logo then appears over the astrolabe, with the heads of a dragon, wolf, lion, and stag emerging from the side of the logo.
The title sequence was inspired by the maps of Westeros that precede each novel in the series (and maps in fantasy novels in general). The creators decided to place the map on the inner surface of a sphere with an astrolabe-sun object at the center. The camera would then visit different parts of the map, while illustrations on the astrolabe covered some of the backstory to the series. The turning gears and cogs were meant to be reminiscent of Leonardo da Vinci's inventions.
The Simpsons episode "Exit Through the Kwik-E-Mart" features a homage to the Game of Thrones title sequence, with famous buildings in the town of Springfield rising through the ground as characters watch on, dressed in Game of Thrones-style costumes. The Wall is replaced by the monolithic "Couch" at the end of the sequence.
- Game of Thrones - A Q&A with Creative Director Angus Wall of Elastic. May 12, 2011, WRITER: Will Perkins, INTERVIEW: Ian Albinson, LAST UPDATE: June 29, 2011 at Art of the Title
- Secrets Behind 'Game of Thrones' Opening Credits (Video) - An interview with the creators of the title sequence 1:24 PM 4/19/2011 by Tim Appelo at HollywoodReporter.com