ByEmily Browne, writer at
Twitter: @emrbrowne
Emily Browne

Game of Thrones is now one the most expensive television series ever made, and it's easy to see why. The whole show is a spectacle — from the authentic locations, intricate costumes and insane special effects, it's easy how each episode can cost upwards of $6 million on average. And that's just Seasons 1–5, episodes for Season 6 now cost around $10 million each.

While each moment of the show comes with a hefty price tag, some episodes push the boundaries in the hope of blowing our minds. So which episodes of Game of Thrones have cost the most dollar?

5. 'Mother's Mercy' (S05E10)

The finale episode of Season 5 was insanely expensive, but not for the reasons you might imagine. Cersei's walk of atonement was actually the most costly and complicated scene to shoot. Why? Well, shooting a naked woman walking through the streets of Dubrovnik, Croatia (where much of King's Landing is set) is tricky.

Instead, filming had to be moved to the other side of the city, and 200 security guards were hired so that nobody could catch a glimpse of Lena Headey's naked body. Permits were required to shoot the scene outside, which add up to approximately $50,000 per day, for four days of shooting. So $200,000 was spent on permits alone, and that's not including the usual filming costs and money spent to pay off the locals for their absence over those four days. It was likely the most expensive scene without any VFX.

4. 'Hardhome' (S05E08)

From no VFX to the most VFX-heavy episode to date. The last 20 minutes of Season 5, Episode 8 took four weeks to shoot. When this episode aired, it was one of the most expensive to date, budgeted somewhere between $7 and $10 million. Kit Harington explained to Entertainment Weekly how grueling "Hardhome" was to shoot:

“It was three to four weeks of shooting for a sequence that should add up to [more than] 20 minutes. We shot less than a minute a day! It’s so CGI-heavy it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done on 'Thrones.' I’ve always been proud of the way 'Thrones' doesn’t go overboard with special effects, but in this sequence they had to…”

3. 'Blackwater' (S02E09)

The ninth episode of Season 2 showed us what Game of Thrones was capable of with the insanely dramatic Battle of Blackwater. Joffrey's King's Landing finally came under siege from Stannis's forces for the hour-long event, which included ships ablaze with wildfire. The episode was the most expensive to date, hitting $8 million to complete. Writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss actually had to beg HBO for the money, telling EW:

“We went down on bended knee. ‘Just this once. Please.’ We were genuinely nervous about it for the whole time until we finally wrapped it.”
David Benioff and D. B. Weiss
David Benioff and D. B. Weiss

Because of this, the the Battle of Blackwater almost happened off-screen, but Weiss and Benioff knew it was crucial to the story to film it:

“To our minds, the entire season builds to this clash, and if we didn’t see any of it, we were undercutting the story and shortchanging the audience.”

2. 'The Watchers on the Wall' (S04E09)

Directed by Neil Marshall, who also directed the "Blackwater," "The Watchers on the Wall" is set entirely during the Battle of Castle Black, and reportedly also cost more than "Blackwater" did to film. The shoot took four weeks, and until last week was the most expensive episode of Game of Thrones ever made, thanks to copious amounts of CGI, giants, mammoths, The Wall and over 200 extras.

1. 'Battle of the Bastards' (S06E09)

Image: Frolic Dust
Image: Frolic Dust

Although specific figures have not been released for last Sunday's episode, it's easy to see why "Battle of the Bastards" is presumed to be Game of Thrones's most pricey episode. Let's break it down, "Battle of the Bastards" had:

  • 600 crew members
  • 500 extras
  • 160 tons of gravel
  • 70 horses
  • 25 stunt people
  • 4 camera crews

Like we mentioned before, each episode of Season 6 costs upwards of $10 million — on average. "Battle of the Bastards" is the exception, as seen from those painfully realistic and brutal scenes. Plus, that was $10 million for just THAT battle, it doesn't include the attack on Meereen and Dany's dragons.

The final episode of Game of Thrones Season 6 airs this Sunday, and is titled "Winds of Winter."

Which episode of Game of Thrones is your favorite?

Source: EW, EW 2, EW 3, Frolic Dust, The Daily Beast


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