The sixth season of the fantasy drama television series Game of Thrones premiered on HBO on 24 April 2016, and concluded on 26 June 2016.
It consists of ten episodes, each of approximately 50-60 minutes long.
Much of the season is made up of content not yet found in George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, although a significant amount of material was used from A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons and the upcoming sixth novel The Winds of Winter, which Martin outlined to the show-runners. The series was adapted for television by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
HBO ordered the season on 08 April 2014, together with the fifth season, which began filming in July 2015 primarily in Northern Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Iceland and Canada. The entire season cost over $100 million to produce.
Game of Thrones features a large ensemble cast, including Peter Dinklage, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Lena Headey, Emilia Clarke, and Kit Harington. The season introduced new cast members, including Max von Sydow, Pilou Asbæk, and Essie Davis.
Critics praised its production values, writing, plot development, and cast. Game of Thrones received the most nominations for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards, with 23 nominations, and won twelve, including that for Outstanding Drama Series for the second year in a row. US viewership rose compared to the previous season, and by approximately 13% over its course, from 7.9 million to 8.9 million by the finale.
The season follows the continuing struggle among the noble families of Westeros for the Iron Throne.
The Starks and allies defeat the Bolton forces in the “Battle of the Bastards”, culminating with Sansa Stark feeding her tormenting husband, Ramsay Bolton – who had murdered his father, Roose; his stepfamily; and Rickon Stark – to his starving hounds, and Jon Snow is proclaimed the King in the North.
Tyrion rules Meereen while Daenerys is held captive by the Dothraki.
At King’s Landing, Margaery capitulates to the High Sparrow, who becomes more powerful by influencing King Tommen. But on the day of Cersei’s trial, Cersei destroys the Great Sept with wildfire, killing the Sparrows, her uncle, and the Tyrells. Tommen commits suicide, and Cersei is crowned Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.
Ellaria Sand and Oberyn Martell’s daughters kill Doran and Trystane Martell and seize control of Dorne.
Arya Stark finishes her assassin training, escapes Essos, and returns to Westeros to resume her revenge list.
Bran Stark becomes the Three-Eyed Raven, escapes the White Walkers, and returns to the Wall.
Daenerys Targaryen burns the Khals, emerges from the flames of their temple alive, and the Dothraki pledge her their loyalty.
Yara Greyjoy fails to be chosen queen of the Iron Islands, so she and Theon ally with Daenerys.
Varys secures an alliance for Daenerys with Olenna and the Dornish.
- Main Cast:
- Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister.
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Jaime Lannister.
- Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister.
- Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen.
- Kit Harington as Jon Snow.
- Liam Cunningham as Davos Seaworth.
- Carice van Houten as Melisandre.
- Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell.
- Indira Varma as Ellaria Sand.
- Sophie Turner as Sansa Stark.
- Maisie Williams as Arya Stark.
- Conleth Hill as Varys.
- Alfie Allen as Theon Greyjoy.
- Gwendoline Christie as Brienne of Tarth.
- Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow.
- Michiel Huisman as Daario Naharis.
- Michael McElhatton as Roose Bolton.
- Iwan Rheon as Ramsay Bolton.
- Iain Glen as Jorah Mormont.
- Nathalie Emmanuel as Missandei.
- Kristofer Hivju as Tormund Giantsbane.
- Tom Wlaschiha as Jaqen H’ghar.
- Dean-Charles Chapman as Tommen Baratheon.
- Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark.
- John Bradley as Samwell Tarly.
- Hannah Murray as Gilly.
- Aidan Gillen as Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish.
- Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane.
- Jerome Flynn as Bronn.
- Guest Cast:
- The recurring actors listed here are those who appeared in season 06.
- They are listed by the region in which they first appear.
- In the North, including the Wall:
- Daniel Portman as Podrick Payne.
- Natalia Tena as Osha.
- Art Parkinson as Rickon Stark.
- Owen Teale as Alliser Thorne.
- Ben Crompton as Eddison Tollett.
- Brenock O’Connor as Olly.
- Charlotte Hope as Myranda.
- Elizabeth Webster as Walda Bolton.
- Paul Rattray as Harald Karstark.
- Dean Jagger as Smalljon Umber.
- Tim McInnerny as Robett Glover.
- Bella Ramsey as Lyanna Mormont.
- Sean Blowers as Wyman Manderly.
- Tom Varey as Cley Cerwyn.
- Richard Rycroft as Maester Wolkan.
- Michael Condron as Bowen Marsh.
- Brian Fortune as Othell Yarwyck.
- Ian Whyte as Wun Wun.
- Murray McArthur as Dim Dalba.
- Beyond the Wall:
- Max von Sydow as the Three-eyed Raven.
- Ellie Kendrick as Meera Reed.
- Kristian Nairn as Hodor.
- Joseph Mawle as Benjen Stark.
- Kae Alexander as Leaf.
- Vladimir “Furdo” Furdik as the Night King.
- In the Riverlands:
- David Bradley as Walder Frey.
- Clive Russell as Brynden Tully.
- Tobias Menzies as Edmure Tully.
- Richard Dormer as Beric Dondarrion.
- Paul Kaye as Thoros of Myr.
- Tim Plester as Black Walder Rivers.
- Daniel Tuite as Lothar Frey.
- Jóhannes Haukur Jóhannesson as Lem.
- Ricky Champ as Gatins.
- Ian Davies as Morgan.
- Ian McShane as Brother Ray.
- On the Iron Islands:
- Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy.
- Patrick Malahide as Balon Greyjoy.
- Pilou Asbæk as Euron Greyjoy.
- Michael Feast as Aeron Greyjoy.
- In Dorne:
- Alexander Siddig as Doran Martell.
- Toby Sebastian as Trystane Martell.
- Jessica Henwick as Nymeria Sand.
- Keisha Castle-Hughes as Obara Sand.
- Rosabell Laurenti Sellers as Tyene Sand.
- DeObia Oparei as Areo Hotah.
- In King’s Landing:
- Diana Rigg as Olenna Tyrell.
- Julian Glover as Grand Maester Pycelle.
- Finn Jones as Loras Tyrell.
- Anton Lesser as Qyburn.
- Roger Ashton-Griffiths as Mace Tyrell.
- Eugene Simon as Lancel Lannister.
- Ian Gelder as Kevan Lannister.
- Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella.
- Nell Tiger Free as Myrcella Baratheon.
- Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson as Gregor Clegane.
- Josephine Gillan as Marei.
- Nathanael Saleh as Arthur.
- Annette Hannah as Frances.
- In the Vale:
- Lino Facioli as Robin Arryn.
- Rupert Vansittart as Yohn Royce.
- In Braavos:
- Faye Marsay as the Waif.
- Richard E. Grant as Izembaro.
- Essie Davis as Lady Crane.
- Leigh Gill as Bobono.
- Eline Powell as Bianca.
- Rob Callender as Clarenzo.
- Kevin Eldon as Camello.
- In Meereen:
- Jacob Anderson as Grey Worm.
- George Georgiou as Razdal mo Eraz.
- Eddie Jackson as Belicho Paenymion.
- Enzo Cilenti as Yezzan zo Qaggaz.
- Ania Bukstein as Kinvara.
- Gerald Lepkowski as Zanrush.
- Meena Rayann as Vala.
- In Vaes Dothrak:
- Joe Naufahu as Khal Moro.
- Andrei Claude as Khal Rhalko.
- Tamer Hassan as Khal Forzho.
- Staz Nair as Qhono.
- Chuku Modu as Aggo.
- Deon Lee-Williams as Iggo.
- Souad Faress as the High Priestess.
- Hannah John-Kamen as Ornella.
- In the Reach:
- James Faulkner as Randyll Tarly.
- Samantha Spiro as Melessa Tarly.
- Freddie Stroma as Dickon Tarly.
- Rebecca Benson as Talla Tarly.
- In Flashbacks:
- Robert Aramayo & Sebastian Croft as Eddard Stark.
- Matteo Elezi as Benjen Stark.
- Aisling Franciosi & Cordelia Hill as Lyanna Stark.
- Wayne Foskett as Rickard Stark.
- Fergus Leathem as Rodrik Cassel.
- Annette Tierney as Old Nan.
- Sam Coleman as Hodor.
- Leo Woodruff as Howland Reed.
- Luke Roberts as Arthur Dayne.
- Eddie Eyre as Gerold Hightower.
- David Rintoul as Aerys II Targaryen.
The writing staff for the sixth season includes executive producers and showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, producer Bryan Cogman, and Dave Hill. Author George R.R. Martin, who had written one episode for each of the first four seasons, did not write an episode for the sixth season, as he was working to finish writing the sixth A Song of Ice and Fire novel, The Winds of Winter. The directing staff for the sixth season was Jeremy Podeswa (episodes 01 and 02), Daniel Sackheim (episodes 03 and 04), Jack Bender (episodes 05 and 06), Mark Mylod (episodes 07 and 08), and Miguel Sapochnik (episodes 09 and 10). Sackheim and Bender were first-time Game of Thrones directors, with the rest each having directed two episodes in the previous season.
With the end of the fifth season, the content of the show has reached the plot of the latest novel in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons. Season 06 director Jeremy Podeswa said in August 2015, “Right now in season six, what we’re shooting currently isn’t based on anything in the book. It’s fully based on discussions the writers have had with George Martin, because the series has now surpassed the books in terms of what’s available.”Actress Natalie Dormer, who plays Margaery Tyrell, later added that the show’s writers “know where it’s got to go and what [George Martin]’s intentions for the characters are. But they are just filling in the gaps.”
The season premiere starts off right where the fifth season ended. A plot from The Winds of Winter regarding a travelling theatre troupe located in Braavos that stages a play called “The Bloody Hand”, about the events that have taken place in King’s Landing since the beginning of the series, is included in the sixth season.
Filming for season six began in July 2015 and ended on 17 December 2015. The budget for the sixth season increased compared to the previous seasons as each episode cost over $10 million, totaling over $100 million for the full season and setting a new high for the series. The season filmed in five different countries: Northern Ireland, Spain, Croatia, Iceland, and Canada.
Like the previous seasons, a large amount of production took place in Northern Ireland, mainly in Belfast and on the Causeway Coast, including film locations in the Binevenagh, Magilligan area, which was used to film scenes for the Dothraki Grasslands, and Larrybane Quarry and Ballintoy Harbour, both used for scenes in the Iron Islands. For the siege of Riverrun, the small village of Corbet was used. As in previous seasons, some of Castle Black was set at the abandoned Magheramorne quarry.
From 03 September to 23 October 2015, the show also filmed in Spain, specifically in Girona, Navarre, Peniscola, and Almería. Some filming locations in Spain included the Castle of Zafra in Guadalajara, the Bardenas Reales Natural Park in Navarre, the Alcazaba in Almería, and the Castle of Santa Florentina in Canet de Mar.
In August 2015, HBO announced that for the first time since season 01 the show would not be filming any scenes in Croatia. The Croatian city of Dubrovnik has stood in for King’s Landing since the beginning of season 02; nearby cities such as Klis, Split and Šibenik have been used to depict various other locations. Contradicting the statement by HBO, cast of the show were seen in costume in Dubrovnik in October 2015.
Only a very small portion of the season was filmed in Canada (north of Calgary, Alberta): the scenes featuring Jon Snow’s wolf, Ghost (played by animal actor Quigly). However, some of the special effects were created at Montreal’s Rodeo FX studios which has won Emmy Awards previously for its work on the series.
The sixth season saw the return of Isaac Hempstead Wright as Bran Stark, Kristian Nairn as Hodor, Ellie Kendrick as Meera Reed, Gemma Whelan as Yara Greyjoy, and Rory McCann as Sandor “The Hound” Clegane, who did not appear in the fifth season. Clive Russell, Tobias Menzies, Patrick Malahide, Richard Dormer, and Paul Kaye also returned to the show as Brynden Tully, Edmure Tully, Balon Greyjoy, Beric Dondarrion, and Thoros of Myr after not appearing since the third season. Jonathan Pryce as the High Sparrow was added to the series main cast after appearing in a recurring role in the previous season.
Across the Narrow Sea, Melanie Liburd plays a Red priestess from Asshai who is in R’hllor’s service. At the Reach, House Tarly is introduced, with Freddie Stroma joining the cast as Samwell Tarly’s brother Dickon Tarly, a character who was mentioned in the novels but has yet to appear in them. Other members of House Tarly that were introduced were Randyll Tarly, played by James Faulkner; Melessa Tarly, played by Samantha Spiro; and Talla Tarly, who was portrayed by Rebecca Benson.
Veteran actor Max von Sydow was cast to play the Three-Eyed-Raven, who is training Bran. The character was previously played by Struan Rodger in the fourth-season finale, “The Children”. David Bradley confirmed in August 2015 that he would be returning to the show as Walder Frey after last appearing in the third-season finale, “Mhysa“, but he did not confirm when he would be returning. After the second official trailer was released, it was confirmed that Bradley would appear in the sixth season. Danish actor Pilou Asbæk joins the show as Theon Greyjoy’s uncle, pirate captain Euron Greyjoy. Ricky Champ played Gatins, an outlaw who is a part of a band using religion to justify extorting the people of the countryside. A young Ned Stark was portrayed by Sebastian Croft in a flashback scene.
The sixth season also included a traveling theater troupe located in Braavos that stages a play called “The Bloody Hand”, about the events that have taken place in King’s Landing since the beginning of the series. Essie Davis and Kevin Eldon joined the cast in this theater troupe, portraying actors playing Cersei Lannister and Ned Stark, respectively, while Richard E. Grant was cast as the troupe’s manager. Members of Icelandic indie band Of Monsters and Men appear as the musicians of the Braavos theatre group.
The soundtrack for the season was digitally released on 24 June 2016, and was released on CD on 29 July 2016. The album reached #27 on the Billboard 200, #1 on Soundtrack chart and #79 on the Canadian Albums chart on its digital release, with the track from the season finale “Light of the Seven” reaching #1 on Billboard’s Spotify Viral 50 chart.
The season received highly positive reviews, with special praise directed at the episodes “The Door”, “Battle of the Bastards”, and “The Winds of Winter”.
The season was simulcast around the world by HBO and its broadcast partners. In some countries, it aired the day after its first release.
The season finale had 8.89 million viewers on its initial airing on HBO, up ten percent from the previous season’s finale, which was the most-watched episode prior to this episode. The average gross viewing figure per episode for the show, which includes streaming, DVR recordings, and repeat showings, reached over 25 million for this season, and it was described as the last consensus show on television. The figure went up by 25% compared to the previous year, and viewing figures of the show for this season on its on demand services HBO Now and HBO Go went up by over 90%, which were new records for HBO. Almost 40% of viewers of the show watched this season on HBO digital platforms. The show also broke records on pay television channels in 2016 in the UK with an average audience of more than five million across all platforms and in Australia with a cumulative average audience of 1.2 million viewers.
For the 32nd TCA Awards, the series was nominated for Programme of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Drama. For the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards, the series received 23 nominations, the most of any series. It won 12 awards, including Outstanding Drama Series, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for “Battle of the Bastards”, and Miguel Sapochnik for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for “Battle of the Bastards”. For the 7th Critics’ Choice Television Awards, the series won for Best Drama Series.
The season was released on Blu-ray and DVD on 15 November 2016. The set includes extra background, behind-the-scenes material, and deleted scenes.
After the Thrones
After the Thrones, a live aftershow in which hosts Andy Greenwald and Chris Ryan discussed episodes of the series, aired on the stand-alone streaming service HBO Now on the Monday following each episode of the show’s sixth season.
Game of Thrones Series
You can find an overview of the Game of Thrones franchise here.
You can find a full index of the Game of Thrones TV Series here.
- Episode 01: The Red Woman.
- Episode 02: Home.
- Episode 03: Oathbreaker.
- Episode 04: Book of the Stranger.
- Episode 05: The Door.
- Episode 06: Blood of My Blood.
- Episode 07: The Broken Man.
- Episode 08: No One.
- Episode 09: Battle of the Bastards.
- Episode 10: The Winds of Winter.
Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Daniel Sackheim, Jack Bender, Mark Mylod, Jeremy Podeswa, Miguel Sapochnik.
- Writer(s): David Benioff, D.B. Weiss, Bryan Cogman, and Dave Hill.
- Release Date: 24 April 2016 to 26 June 2016.
- Running time: 50-60 minutes (approximate, per episode).
- Rating: 15/18 (depends on season).
- Country: US.
- Language: English.