How to Avoid Spoilers on Game of Thrones

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1. Recognize what kinds of information can spoil the plot.

It’s easy to forget that things that seem harmless can spoil the plot in the worst way. For example, a promo poster for season four will show characters from that season and, as soon as you see that poster, you know that all of those characters will be alive at least until the first episode of season four. Likewise, if a character who was always part of the previous seasons’ promos doesn’t appear to be in the most recent promotional materials, there’s a pretty good chance that the character met with some sort of agonizing demise. Visiting IMDb, Wikipedia, and similar sites will also tell you more than you want to know – even if you’re careful to avert your eyes from the obvious spoilers. For example, if you go to IMDb to check out the actor who portrays an important character and you see that the actor only appears in nine episodes despite having been present in the first season, you know that, before too long, the character isn’t going to be walking around with his head on his shoulders.

2. Get caught up.

Binge watch the show until you have seen all four seasons. The web is absolutely full of information intended for people who are current with Game of Thrones and doesn’t care to warn about spoilers for people who are a season or two behind. It’s pretty much a standard practice for entertainment reporting to assume that the people who are reading news about a show have at least finished all episodes from last season, so until you’re current, you need to stay off the entertainment news grid.

3. Avoid social media pitfalls.

If you can’t watch an episode as it airs in the Eastern US, avoid social media until you can view it. Even if your friends are careful to warn about spoilers, you may be subscribed to feeds that have other subscribers who do not avoid spoilers, or worse, deliberately want to give away plot details. In season four, I was on Facebook at 8:30 PST and saw a funny post from the Facebook comedian “God.” As I read the comments on the post, one of his users asked him “Why did you kill poor [name removed]?” Going into the episode, I knew exactly how it was going to end. But it gets even more tricky than that. Many memes look harmless, but then you think about them and you realize that they let on more than they appeared to. For example, I saw a meme of George R.R. Martin holding a piece of paper that said, “Be nice to me or [character name] is next.” Since that meme had come out more recently than the book that the current season of GoT was based on, I knew that character wasn’t going to die, despite a situation that made him appear doomed to meet his gods.

4. Start conversations about GoT with the words, “I haven’t read the books!” Don’t spoil anything!

Most people don’t need to be told this, but many do. Some people are particularly dense and need to be told what sorts of things are specifically going to spoil things for you because they don’t understand that a sly smile at the wrong time or a “that’s what you think” can give an astute thronie all he/she needs to figure out details that they didn’t want to know yet. If you’re a hardcore fan of fantasy literature, others may simply assume that you’ve already read the books. You can make it sound like you’ve read the books by watching the special features for the first season. The explanations contained in the documentaries about Westeros are detailed and comprehensive, giving you as much information as the books, so you may sound like you’ve read them even if you haven’t.

5. Be careful about who you discuss GoT with.

Not everyone has the brains to not spoil things – even after being warned not to. I recently had a conversation with someone who decided to tell me that he had a theory that he had come up with, but it turned out that he had gotten “his” theory off of the internet from people who had read the books and I now, not wanting to, know something about.