If You Ever Wished To See A President's Head On A Pike, "Game Of Thrones" Already Made Your Dreams Come True

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If You Ever Wished To See A President's Head On A Pike, "Game Of Thrones" Already Made Your Dreams Come True

By Rob Payne | Trade News | June 14, 2012 | Comments ()


We've all been there, haven't we? When we've gotten so infuriated with somebody -- usually for not sharing our political/religious beliefs or our taste in pop culture ephemera -- that we'd like to pull an Engineer and rip the head off the dastardly offender for daring to speak to us? Then place that head on a wooden spike in front of our home/apartment/cubicle to let everyone else who hates what we cherish as a overt and bloody warning? Come on, I know I can't be the only one. Well, if you've ever had those feelings for a certain former U.S. President (and don't tell me about it if you have, we're probably being watched), the producers of "Game of Thrones" have seen your Vision Board and made your fantasy a reality. Sort of.

Naturally, it would be uncouth, at the very least, for a television show to use the real thing, so they merely used a replica of former U.S. President George W. Bush's head for set dressing in an early, memorable scene from the season one finale. Though there is a satisfying amount of violence on the show, there are actually relatively few severed heads on display, but fans will immediately know to which scene I refer. If they're like me, they totally didn't see the uncanny resemblance the first (or second, or third) time, but now that you know what to look for, queue up episode 10, "Winter is Coming," to about 12 minutes on your DVD, Blu-ray, HBOGo, or head over to IO9 for a clip of that scene, and see for yourself. It's relatively mindhole blowing. And if you're reading this and haven't watched the HBO series, yet, a) What is wrong with you? Find a way!, and b) The IO9 video is refreshingly devoid of spoilers.

Or, I guess I could provide a still image here:

Hm. Let's sharpen 'er up a little bit...

Okay, now let's raise the contrast...

Not bad, but we can probably see more if I zoom in...

Just a smidg' more...

That's probably good enough, but let's go ahead and take a second look at that header pic, shall we?

And one more at a similar angle...

Yep, that looks like our most recent (as of this writing) ex-President sporting dirty auburn locks and a painful grimace. Or, more accurately, Bush II's latex doppelganger made a cameo in HBO's hit sword & sorcery & politics series. I'd say he has a good head on his shoulders, but he doesn't have any! Thank you, thank you, I'll be here all week. Literally.

So, why, exactly, when "Game of Thrones" is one of the most popular shows on television, would the producers choose to include this possibly controversial, troll-baiting, and kind of unnecessary Easter Egg? Surely it couldn't be something as simple as using whatever leftover props from some other project happened to be around? Here's a quote from showrunner David Benioff on the episode's commentary tackling the question at hand:

"The last head on the left is George Bush. George Bush's head appears in a couple of beheading scenes. It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever head we had around."

Oh. That's it? Huh. Well, I stand corrected. I wonder what other beheaded cameos might there be in the first two seasons? Get on it, Internet!

Rob Payne also writes the comic The Unstoppable Force, tweets on the Twitter @RobOfWar, and his wares can be purchased here and here (if you're into that sort of thing). He doesn't condone any calls for the severed heads of current or former political leaders, or anybody else for that matter, just to be clear to whomever may be reading.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • zeke_the_pig

    Seems to me this just proves what we all knew: Bushy's just a shaved neanderthal. And hey, the man's gotta keep busy after holding office, so why not grow his mane back and do what he does best - looking gormless and dead?

  • David Sorenson

    Explains why Joffrey had a "Mission Accomplished" banner hanging behind the iron throne. Wakka wakka!

  • Wake up, oversensitive Americans. Your Presidents, to whom forelock tugging seems to be SOP are nothing more than a winner of a popularity contest. Everyone is open to a little piss-taking and satire.

  • Jezzer

    I liked Bush until Gavin married Gwen Stefani and suddenly was all puffy and less hot.

  • John W

    That was completely stupid and unnecessary.

    I'm not a fan Bush but show some respect.

    If that were Obama's head up there or Pelosi's people would have been justifiably upset.

  • splinter

    hi, john w.

    i read all these comments but had to come back to yours. i understand that you are not a fan of bush, but why do you think he deserves some respect? is it because he was president of these united states? does that automatically mean we have to respect him?

    i think people should be treated with respect myself, especially those we don't necessarily agree with. when i meet people i don't know, i am civil and polite and respectful. actually, i'm that way with people i don't like as well. i'm just a nice guy! ;)

    seriously though, when you are a public figure, you enter a different realm. don't you? i don't think bush is owed respect simply because of his position. i think it's perfectly fine to critique him.

    i wouldn't like obama or pelosi's head on a spike. their actions haven't merited such a harsh critique but bush's actions certainly have imo. though if someone did put obama or pelosi's head on a spike, i would have to put up with it.

    just my two cents.

  • Up until Watergate, people did automatically respect (and to some degree, trust) the president because of his office. Kennedy was not a universally popular president (he was generally hated in the south) and yet across the nation his death was considered a touchstone tragedy in the same ballpark as Pearl Harbor or later, 911.

    Today, American politics has become little more than a glorified horse race in which winning is the only priority. Ideology has completely replaced governance as the purpose of political office. Honestly, if Obama were to be assassinated tomorrow (or Bush was during his administration) I would be very surprised if a vocal minority didn't emerge claiming that he deserved it.

    Personally, I think respect is exactly what is lacking from the current political process. For the President, for the government, and for the American people. None of the aforementioned parties should be exempt from reasonable criticism, but I think that respect absolutely necessary if you are going to objectively analyse anyone's performance.

    That being said, I the photo in question is just an example of an inside joke being blown way out of proportion by media exposure. To me, this is on par with the golden dicks on the vhs cover of the Little Mermaid.

  • Serpentlord

    I respect the good things even our shitty presidents have done, but don't even pretend that blind trust to the president was anything other than the product of rose colored glasses, and maybe a country in constant fear of nuclear annihilation and communist tyranny.

    When Woodrow Wilson was widowered and remarried while in office, tabloids accused him of poisoning and murdering his first wife. When FDR was in office, the Pat Buchanan's of the day accused him of instigating Pearl Harbor. Even LBJ, a Cold War President, was despised by ill informed hippies and right wing racists at the height of blind trust. There were even a few dumbasses who thought he took out Kennedy, these same dumbasses would breed the people who thought George W. Bush planted explosives at the World Trade Center.

    It's true that tragedies and threats bring people together on loving public figures, but there's no such thing as a world where they get one hundred percent of the support even during the worst disasters. When 9/11 happened, idiots like Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Oliver Stone were talking like it was retaliation for Clinton's bombing of Sudan, an action they ignored completely during Clinton's time in office. Likewise, there were probably plenty of people back in 1963 who were happy and boastful about Kennedy being capped, but people mostly ignore things like that, just as people nowadays mostly ignored Noam Chomsky's comments justifying 9/11.

  • John G.

    why is either due respect? Isn't that something you have to earn?

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Rented from a Tussaud's perhaps, that no longer needed it after his presidency ended? Or from a terrible mishap at the Hall of Presidents?

  • Jezzer

    Okay, that would be hilarious if the head suddenly "woke up" and started droning on about his "accomplishments" during his term.

  • QueeferSutherland

    His severed head appearing in a popular TV show is a more significant accomplishment than anything he achieved in eight years as president.

  • lowercase_ryan

    I would love that in my yard too. If I had a yard. And if I wanted the house behind it burned to the ground. Welcome to Arizona y'all.

  • BierceAmbrose

    So,they have latex heads of ex-presidents lying around. (Or at least one.) How many? What are they doing with it / them? Only US heads of state, or can we get, like, Evita and Chairman Mao?

    Wait, I get it. It's a left over prop from a previously unknown Becket play "Famous people you'd invite to Dinner" except it's only the heads sitting on the plates, but they can't eat, they can only talk. (Oh, the layers of deep, deep symbolism.)

    And they've been beheaded or similar ... Mary Queen of Scots, the Horseman from Sleepy Hollow, Dr. Guillotin, The Green Knight & Sir Gawain (who totally got together, after), Einstein's Brain and the Kurgan.

  • I think I love you.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, I thought that one of my better surrealist excursions. It even cleans up easily, like it knows where it wants to go.

    And yet, I score an EE #2 for a rant about omitting Monica Bellucci's boobs from the Freebies Hall of Fame. (Granted, I also name-checked Alison Brie & her "talents.")

    Ah, well. I appreciate you work, sir. If I can kick in some amusement in turn, all the better.

  • It was the Beckett play idea. I mean, I feel like I've seen that exact play, only it was anonymous heads and not deceased (or otherwise) world leaders. It was like, man, Beckett must be kicking himself for dying before he got to THAT one.

  • BierceAmbrose

    You might be thinking of "Play" - three characters inside urns with only their heads exposed. They're each reciting their own idea of the same events, so sort of like Rashomon in that way.

    I saw bits of the play in an retrospective on Alan Rickman's career. (He was the urn on the left.) Soak in that obscure awesomeness for a bit. No idea where a tape of the whole thing can be found.

    Here's how my riff cleans up ...

    have latex heads of ex-presidents lying around. (Or at least one.) How
    many? What are they doing with it / them? Only US heads of state, or can
    we get, like, Evita and Chairman Mao?

    Wait, I get it. It's a prop from a previously unknown
    Becket play "State Dinner" that's only heads sitting on plates. They can't eat, they can only talk while courses come and go.
    (Oh, the layers symbolism, like cake, which is served.)

    And, they've all been beheaded or similar ... Mary Queen of Scots, the
    Horseman from Sleepy Hollow, Dr. Guillotin, The Green Knight & Sir
    Gawain (who totally got together, after), Einstein's Brain and the
    Kurgan. Einstein's Brain has the answer, but can't even talk, so just sits there.

  • John G.

    I would pay so much money for a george bush head to mount in my yard. I would pay so much more for the real thing.

  • Jezzer

    When you say stuff like that, you pretty much confirm the things conservatives like to say about liberals. It's playing right into their hands.

  • John G.

    I don't give a fuck what conservatives think, and I aint no spineless liberal. George W. Bush is a murderer and a war criminal who believes so much in the death penalty he murdered retarded children as governor of Texas. As a mass murder, by his own belief system, he should be murdered too.

  • You could make an argument that every president since WWII has been responsible for war crimes. It is extremely naive to think that a leader can protect and maintain an empire the size of America without dirtying his hands. Murder and war crimes have been part of governance since the dawn of civilization, being democratically elected just means that the leader in question has to be able to smile and lie about it, then divert all attention by accusing their opponent of trying to raise taxes. Criticism of Bush for his incompetence and corruption is wholly valid, but don't act like he invented being a murderer and war criminal.

  • John G.

    You could make the argument that every president since the Nuremberg trials would be guilty by the very rules they set up and tried the Nazis with. i only mentioned Bush, because he was the one under discussion. I would never suggest that he invented war crimes or that he was the only perpetrator. I don't see why your acknowledgement of the crime makes it irrelevant, though. Gangsters have murdered forever too, to defend their crime empires. We don't excuse them just because it's common.

  • Roger

    No John, you're a brave and wise soul....not a blithering, deranged and cowardly partisan.

  • Elise

    I object to the 'spineless liberal' quip. I think you'll find that people who are left-wing in countries other than the United States have far more intestinal fortitude than you give liberals as a whole credit for.

  • John G.

    Then why do they let right-wing governments sell their countries to bankers? Why do they curse the US out of one side of their face while buying the spoils of their dirty wars with the other? Just because Europe hasn't dirtied its hands for 60 years, letting the US do it for them, doesn't give them the moral high ground.

  • Elise

    There is literally no way to phrase anything that I could possibly say to not sound anti-American. That is why I hate those sorts of messages - they provoke ugly statements. The only thing that I *will* say is that there has been no military situation in the last sixty years where American forces have done any good at all. None. At all.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    You're only assuming he's a liberal. Perhaps he's a conservative irate at Bush's military ineptitude and excessive spending.

  • Elise

    So... not a conservative at all, then? Last I checked, they like military inepitude that they can swallow as victory when spun correctly, and wars cost hella ducats...

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I don't think any conservative genuinely likes military ineptitude. I think people who use conservatism as a cover for various business concerns might, but that's a different story.

    For various reasons, people tend to root for their team - or hell, even a famous, hot & talented actor - even when terrible deeds are done. Part of a human trait against admitting errors or ceding ground.

  • Elise

    There are conservatives who don't use conservatism in an attempt to make money or harm other people?


  • John G.

    Nope. Not conservative or liberal. Amazing isn't it? It's like the stupid football game that involves two identical team made up of nothing but rich assholes is not the full picture of political belief.

  • John G.

    I don't have time to get to "ineptitude", because I'm so busy counting the people who died for his lies.

  • L.O.V.E.

    So they have a budget of over 6 million an episode but they were forced to use a George Bush head they found in the broom closet?


    And is the other one George Bush Sr.? Looks like him.

  • Guest

    It looks like the actress who plays Sansa's septa (Mordane?), whose head it's supposed to be. Poor Sansa's septa.

  • mswas

    It's the other head

  • L.O.V.E.

    The show's producers made a joint statement as well: "We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can't afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush. Inthe DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise."

    If that is truly the case then I would give them a pass and the benefit of the doubt.

  • Guest

    They likely made Septa's and Ned Stark's (since they are perfect likenesses), and used the rentals for the others. That answers my earlier question about whether the Dubya likeness was accidental or intentional. Thanks!

  • L.O.V.E.

    You are very welcome!

  • Guest

    I'm only seeing two heads--the one that's GWB, allegedly, and Septa Mordane's. Which looks like Septa Mordane's. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time my eyes are crossed.

  • Just when I couldn't love GoT anymore, I learn this...

  • space_oddity

    Well HBO said they're gonna remove it (not clear if they mean the shot of the head or the commentary referring to it) from future DVD/Blue-ray releases. So now my copy becomes a collector's item! Woohoo!

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Let's be honest, Dubya was not a particularly beloved president, but in 2012 (or 2011), this seems like a bizarre form of extreme, retroactive political commentary. Also, pointless.

    And please don't tell me anyone's buying Benioff's comments about it just being there. What was it there for before, guarding the punch at krafty?

  • Strand

    As far as I'm aware, GoT is run on a strict budget so a lot of their props are bargain basement leftovers. The Ned Stark head doesn't particularly look like Sean Bean either. So the creators just picked up some cheap rubber body parts in bulk, some of which resembled George Bush (I'm guessing novelty rubber president heads a la Point Break).

  • Serpentlord

    If he was looking to make a political statement, he would've used Gingritch, Romney, or Palin's head for these scenes. Those heads would be almost as easy to get as a Bush head.

    Not that it matters, even if they just used a William Shatner head like John Carpenter, a news story probably would've broken today about how Whitney was secretly a show set in the future about Sarah Palin's retarded baby as an adult.

  • Guest

    Trying to think of an earlier project that required a full mold of Bush's head, but I'm at a loss. Was it actually GWB's head or just some random prop-head that happens to look like him? So many questions.

  • RPM

    The one to the right looks like FDR? Now if we could get Hoover, LBJ, Nixon, Ford and Carter up there if would be a complete grouping of dolts.

  • Serpentlord

    Fuck you, LBJ was an awesome president.

    He was mean as a mule and half as good looking, but he's the chief reason Pookie gets to see Tyler Perry movies in his local multiplex instead of in a basement in between Kung-Fu pictures and grade D popcorn.

    Yeah, he was one of the Vietnam presidents, but do you really think Kennedy of all people would've taken us out of Indochina after he launched a Central American invasion that made the Iran/Contra affair look ethical?

    I'm not the kind of guy who thinks presidents are above criticism, usually anyone who tells you so is just waiting for the right party to enter office before they start blasting them. I just think presidents should be hated for the bad things they actually did, and admired for the good things they actually did. Ronald Reagan definitely broke the law to an impeachment worthy degree, but he didn't engineer AIDS in a South African laboratory, and he helped save the world from nuclear annihilation even though Gorbechav deserves the larger share of credit.

  • QueeferSutherland

    Huh, I spent eight years wondering where his head was at. I was just about to settle on "up his ass," and then this goes and happens.

    That "common sense" guy is going to downvote the shit out of this.

  • TYPICAL LIBERAL HOLLYWOOD BS!!!! Or something something outrage.

  • eman

    Have you no shame?

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