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Here's why the internet loved that 'Game of Thrones' credits change so much

George R.R. Martin made the house names, sigils and mottos matter to fans, and that's why seeing the Stark direwolf return thrilled hearts.

Fans swooned to see the Stark direwolf back atop Winterfell in the "Game of Thrones" opening credits Sunday night.

HBO/Screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

(Warning: "Game of Thrones" spoilers ahead.)

Fans who watched the "Game of Thrones" season finale Sunday night had plenty of moments to thrill over, from Jon Snow's birth scene to Daenerys and Tyrion setting sail for their destiny.

But the cheering started early for sharp-eyed fans: As soon as the HBO show's opening credits started to roll, viewers started tweeting about a very small but very important change. As the credits swept across Winterfell, the Stark family sigil, a direwolf, was shown proudly revolving, replacing the creepy flayed man of House Bolton.

Seem like a minor change? Hardly! Nothing is minor when it comes to the symbols and banners of George R.R. Martin's universe. In the books especially, but also in the show, each house's motto and sigil have deep meaning to the various families. (Pronounced "sij-el," it's defined as a powerful symbol sometimes believed to have magical powers.) This is like seeing your favorite NFL team put up a Super Bowl championship banner, but better. It's as if the Vikings literally had to chase the Patriots out of US Bank Stadium to win the game.

The credits change shows that the heroic Starks are once again in power at Winterfell, and that the torture-loving Ramsay Bolton isn't coming back from the Alpo factory. (Believe us, you don't want the Bolton sigil flying over anything, unless it's the latest "Saw" movie.) But it also reminds us that Martin, for all the criticism he takes for not churning out a 1,000-page dense novel quickly enough to please fans, has successfully set the foundations of this series so deep in imagination that even its emblems carry weight. To thrill to a wolf head, whether slipping past in the credits or bravely waving on a banner, means that Martin's got us hooked, and got us hooked good.

This is why you can buy a set of six "Game of Thrones" sigil cookie cutters, even including the creepy kraken of House Greyjoy. There's no Bolton flayed man, because serial killers don't make cookies. And if your next Tinder date shows up wearing this T-shirt, you should run the other way.