We all knew that Game Of Thrones took cues from real-life politics for inspiration, but did you ever spot the brief appearance of a George W Bush figure in the first season?

As much as Game Of Thrones is a fantastical thrill complete with dragons and White Walkers, it serves up equal parts of realistic political drama. From alliance disputes to treasonous betrayals, HBO kept viewers coming back each week not only for the epic battle scenes but the tense power struggles behind closed doors. Not known for making their political views outside of Westeros, the crew made an interesting statement when using a George W Bush figurine in a particularly gruesome scene. However, before we all get ahead of ourselves, it was nothing to do with making a political statement.

The Television Academy Of Arts And Sciences' Presents An Evening With "Games Of Thrones"
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Game Of Thrones used George W Bush’s head in grisly first season

In the final episode of season 1, after the shocking execution of Ned Stark (Sean Bean), Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) takes Sansa (Sophie Turner) to see her late father’s head on a spike.

This cruel scene is made reference to throughout the series and is a pivotal turning point for Sansa’s character development. It is the moment she flips her opinion of Joffrey, previously wishing to become his queen upon Joffrey’s ascent to the Iron Throne.

But did you notice that when Joffrey shows Sansa Ned’s head, it’s not actually Sean Bean? Eagle-eyed viewers might note that the head we see in this gruesome scene is not of the British actor but actually of the former President of the United States, George W Bush.

Game Of Thrones apologizes for using George W Bush prosthetic

In the Game Of Thrones DVD commentary for the first season, the production explains why they used George W Bush’s figure in the decapitation scene.

“We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc,” co-creators David Benioff and DB Weiss said in a statement.

“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 [Bush] scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W Bush. … We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologise if anything we said or did suggested otherwise.”

They insist that there was no political motive for using the old prosthetic. It’s even hard to identify if it’s specifically George W Bush, as they’ve added long brown hair to resemble Ned Stark’s.

HBO dubs this a ‘careless mistake’

It wasn’t just the showrunners who went out of their way to apologize, as HBO swiftly got involved.

“We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste,” the network said in a statement after the fact was brought to light. “We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologised immediately for this inadvertent, careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production.”

For viewers of the first season, they may not have ever noticed the prosthetic head was based on George Bush’s, it was only when this “careless mistake” was brought to life in the behind-the-scenes commentary that the furor kicked off.

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