Why Game Of Thrones Episodes Are So Dark You Can Barely See The Characters

Emily Brown

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Game of Thrones is very darkHBO

There’s no denying that Game of Thrones is great television, but you have to admit, sometimes the lighting – or lack of it – causes some issues. 

I mean, I know it’s a dark time for many in Winterfell, but come on.

There’s been some very dark scenes in the show over the past few years, both metaphorically and literally, but I was really made aware of the dim lighting just before the Battle of Winterfell, when HBO released a teaser trailer for the upcoming epic showdown.

Watch it here:


The clip certainly did the job of getting fans hyped up, but I can almost guarantee a lot of people, like myself, had to turn their brightness all the way up in order to catch a glimpse of what was actually happening.

The situation wasn’t any better during the actual episode, causing a few people to turn to Twitter to air their frustrations:

However, there is actually a reason for the very dim scenes, and it’s something that’s been alluded to many times over the course of Game of Thrones; Winter.

Robert McLachlan, who works as one of the directors of photography on the show, explained to Insider that the show is so dark in order to make it look as authentic as possible.


As the early seasons of the show were set during the Long Summer, scenes were lighter and brighter, making it much easier to see what was going on.

On top of the natural lighting, the cinematographers were also using extra lighting on the set. However, McLachlan, who first worked on the show in season three, and some of the other crew members decided to go for a more natural approach in the later seasons.

Game of ThronesHBO

The cinematographer said:

If you watch season one again, there’s a lot of unmotivated backlight. Even day exteriors, you can tell that they’ve been lit.

The cinematographers who’ve been doing it since then, I think we’re all very much on the same page where we’re trying to be as naturalistic as possible.

[We wanted] to make these sets and locations feel as if they’re absolutely not lit by us, but only by Mother Nature or some candles, so that it feels more naturalistic, albeit enhanced in some cases.


McLachlan went on to explain how scenes only got darker with the arrival of Winter, which finally came at the end of season six. However, the natural light sources were limited, making lighting difficult for the crew members.

He continued:

In season seven, of course, winter is here. In the past, we had the shutters open out of necessity for the day interior [scenes] in Winterfell or Castle Black or Eastwatch, so that some daylight could make its way in.

That was your primary lighting source. There was this rule there that nobody in this world would burn candles in the daytime because they’re a luxury item, they’re far too expensive.

Daenarys TargaryenHBO

McLachlan went on:

What’s happened is now, with winter really here, there was a consensus that it would seem daft for them to have the shutters open when it’s so bitterly cold out.

Why would they do that? But on the other hand, it really makes it a lot harder for a cinematographer to justify some naturalistic light in there without so overdoing the candles or the fire or what have you.

Admittedly, it seems like life would be easier for both the creators and viewers if there was at least a little bit more lighting involved, but it’s safe to say the epic storylines make up for it.

Just make sure you always have your brightness turned up!

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]

Topics: Film and TV, Battle of Winterfell, Game of Thrones, GoT, HBO, Sky Atlantic


  1. Insider

    Why 'Game of Thrones' has become so dark you can barely see the characters sometimes

Emily Brown
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