In Game of Thrones, everyone who watched the S0803 episode noticed one thing, the episode was so freaking dark, it was almost impossible to see anything.

Audiences were left confused as all hell because the screen was so dark. It was next to impossible to tell who was fighting, who just died or which side was winning the Great War.

Those checking the settings of their television in deep frustration, you are not alone. Twitter filled with responses from viewers asking what in the world was happening because they couldn’t see anything but shadowy figures fighting in the dark. Source

Did the directors make this choice just for pure ambiance? Were they aware the viewers couldn't see anything?

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    I have a pretty good feeling that the 4K Blu-ray HDR version of this episode would actually look quite good on a nice OLED TV, and I'm also willing to bet that when editing the master for this episode, it looked great, but the fact that it's being streamed means the bit rate can't handle the darks... Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 12:42
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    You don't have to pay for expensive CGI if you can't see it.
    – DeeV
    Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 15:37
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    What's the name of the episode again? Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:52
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    I think the Darkness the Night King was bringing to the world was supposed to be a bit more than just "sun has gone down for a few hours." Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 21:17
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    Just imagine how a battle in an old castle would look like during a winter night, with only a few torches here and there and thousands of people. You wouldn't know if the person 1 meter away from you is your best friend or a wight. Or both. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 6:44

3 Answers 3


This was intentional, utilized to strengthen the effect of the episode:

  • Unclear outcomes in the fighting

This reflects the idea of the fog of war and chaos that arises during battle. Like the characters in the show, the viewers have little certainty as to the outcomes of various clashes, involving characters they've come to care about.

  • Minimal lighting (cinematography)

There is a horror film aspect to this episode in particular. Both Arya and Sansa are in their house, which is a common trope in horror films--being pursued my monsters in your own house. Although the revenants of ASOIF date back to Norse and Celtic mythology, the modern conception is much more influenced by Romero and other modern horror innovators.

  • Thematic meaning

This is the "darkest before dawn" episode, and the lighting reflects that. The goal of the Night King is to end all life and bring eternal night--light of humanity is almost snuffed out forever.

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    Exactly. On a personal note, I thought it was perfect this way. I'm tired of seeing "night scenes" in movies which are just daylight minus half a stop and a blue tint. Commented Apr 29, 2019 at 20:53
  • @EricDuminil the episode couldn't have been more perfect—I'm confounded by all the complaining in response.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 1:47
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    Most people don't have calibrated TVs. Most people, unfortunately these days have LCD TVs, which are bad on well-exposed scenes & downright abysmal for stuff like this.They are hard & over-contrasty. Maybe the show-runners ought to have thought about that, but for me a) I watched it in the dark & b) I thought it was brilliantly shot. btw, I do have a calibrated TV screen, plasma not LCD. ;)
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 11:46

Compare Tormund and Beric entering Last Hearth, which I suspect was a daylight shot cast with a blue filter to make it look like night, to S08E03, which really was filmed at night. The difference is tangible. Last Hearth with color correction Last Hearth screen shot

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    Tangible how? I notice the red is indicated - should this have been less clear if it was really shot at night?
    – Joachim
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 9:52
  • @Joachim Probably? At least if you're going for realistic for human eyes. The red end of the spectrum is our worst color perception in low light conditions. It's the green-yellow end of the spectrum that's our best in low light conditions. That's why some jurisdictions use lime-yellow firetrucks rather than red ones: much easier to see at night. It's also why light-reflecting safety vests are lime-yellow. Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 10:04
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    I realize that, I just think the answer is lacking in explaining the screenshots.
    – Joachim
    Commented Apr 30, 2019 at 10:22

I saw the episode on Monday on HBO (day of release in Germany). It was very dark, and I thought it was meant to be this way. I tweaked the settings of my LED TV to light it up a little with limited success. I loved the episode so much that I viewed it again about 24h later - HBO (Sky Ticket) again. It was much lighter this time. I believe it may be a compression thing (many viewers on day 1) or HBO got complaints and tweaked the material or even corrected an encoding error. I did not find any statements from HBO on this in a quick sweep.

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