For just a brief moment, before he gets an arrow directly in the eye (ouch, grim), that was, indeed, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia creator and star Rob McElhenney who graced your screen during Sunday night’s Game of Thrones Season 8 premiere. (The same fate befell Silicon Valley star Martin Starr; Westeros is no place for comedy.)
Midway through the episode, picking up directly on the heels of Theon Greyjoy’s Season 7 come-to-Jesus moment, Theon and a small contingent of Iron Islanders mount a campaign to free Yara Greyjoy, his sister and the heir to the Salt Throne, from their usurper uncle, Euron Greyjoy. While Euron is distracted by a newly hired mercenary army (sans elephants, who apparently don’t travel the ocean especially well) and Cersei Lannister, they board the ship, handily dispatch a couple of soldiers on board, and free Yara. (Theon receives a head butt for his efforts.) Among those soldiers are McElhenney and Starr, both of whom receive sharp objects to the eye socket, taking them down. “Don’t blink,” McElhenney captioned a super close-up image of the gruesome moment on his Instagram.
So how, exactly, did they end up in the Seven Kingdoms? McElhenney is a longtime Game of Thrones fan; more than five years ago, he recruited Game of Thrones masterminds David Benioff and D.B. Weiss to write an episode of Always Sunny, and both made cameos in a Season 12 episode. He moderated a 2013 panel featuring the Game of Thrones team, and he's a frequent attendee of the show's premiere parties. Director Matt Shakman, who’s helmed numerous Always Sunny episodes, also directed a couple of Game of Thrones episodes, per IGN: “Eastwatch” and “The Spoils of War,” both last season.
McElhenney has also been known to share a drink with Jason Momoa, alias Khal Drogo, zombie, expert equestrian, and one-time spouse of Daenerys Targaryen. “If you value your life, do not try to go beer for beer with this man,” McElhenney captioned an Instagram of the two, ostensibly alluding to Momoa’s capacity for beer but potentially also hinting at his Game of Thrones fate. If you value your life, you know, don’t hang out on the fringes of the Game of Thrones universe. You might take an arrow in the face—or worse. It was also revealed during Sunday night’s premiere that Ed Sheeran—“Eddie,” who serenaded Arya Stark during the show’s seventh season—had his eyelids burned off by the Targaryen dragons. Cameos on Game of Thrones are pretty thankless.