Viewers don't know the episode titles for sure until after the episode airs.
Alex Van Mecl/HBO
  • Fans of "Game of Thrones" have noticed that titles for episodes this season have not been revealed until after the episode airs.
  • This is to prevent spoilers that may come from the titles.
  • The production of the show is highly secretive, so this makes sense.
  • This post contains some small spoilers for this season of "Game of Thrones."
  • Visit Business Insider South Africa for more stories.

For hardcore TV consumers in general and devoted "Game of Thrones" fans in particular, episode titles are a big deal. A few weeks ago, many noticed that not only had the season eight episode titles not been posted to IMDb, but they also didn't appear on HBO platforms until after airing.

The decision to withhold that potentially important information is frustrating for some, but here's why it's actually a smart play.

Like chapter titles in a book, what the creators choose to call each piece can reveal a lot about the puzzle

Despite lower than usual ratings, "Game of Thrones" is currently one of the last remaining examples of appointment television, with millions tuning in or streaming the series every Sunday night and talking about it on Monday morning.

Now that the series has surpassed the narrative laid out in George R.R. Martin's books, it has spawned a vast and insatiable online community that spends every non-viewing minute of the week sharing and discussing theories on Reddit, dissecting promotional material, interviews, and actors' tweets, and looking for any hint as to what's to come or what they may have missed.

By not releasing the titles of the upcoming episodes, HBO and the showrunners are able to, in the smallest way, stay slightly ahead of the fans and scholars of the series

Brienne being knighted by Jamie on "Game of Thrones" may have lost some emotional impact if we knew what was coming.

After seven full seasons, "Game of Thrones" watchers have been conditioned to catch on to certain references. For example, if an episode title mentions a wedding, we can assume that several people are going to die. Some titles are not as immediately revealing, like the season eight premiere "Winterfell," but others can be more revealing and even have a negative effect, causing fans to start theorizing and spreading those hypotheses like wildfire before the episode even airs.

The moment where Brienne was knighted by Jamie in episode two may have lost some of its emotional impact if we knew going into that episode that it was called "A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms." Similarly, if one of the final two episodes were listed as "Cleganebowl" or "Valonqar," it would ruin the excitement and anticipation that has been building since August 1, 1996, when "A Song of Fire and Ice" was first published.

On top of wanting to save fans from themselves, it makes sense that the production team behind this show, which has gone to great lengths to preserve its secrets, would want to keep these titles secret for as long as possible.

Only time will tell how dark and full of spoilers the final episodes' titles will be. There is some speculation that the title for episode three ("The Long Night") spoils more than we've seen so far, but it's not clear yet if that is true. As for the rest of the episodes? The only thing we know is that they'll likely be kept under lock and key too.

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