*Warning for major Game of Thrones spoilers down below*
Last night was the series finale of Game of Thrones, which brought the end of both the show and a decade-long era. The eight-season show was both the most expensive ever produced, clocking in at around $10 million an episode, and the most globally popular.
However, even as the show ends with record viewership, the final two seasons left both fans of the books and of the show extremely disappointed. Episode after episode left a stream of complaints and critiques on social media, culminating in an explosion against the final two episodes.
Many fans wonder: what went wrong? It could be argued that the directors and writers of the show gained too much liberty once the show passed the point where the books have (hopefully temporarily) stopped. The writers and directors were only given a vague idea of where the author George R.R. Martin wanted to go, and had to fill in the rest while wrapping everything up by season eight. With such a colossal and complex plot to wrap up with little idea of where to go, it becomes easy to cut too many corners and create a disappointing ending.
Another argument for what went wrong can be timing. As the show progressed, the seasons got shorter, while the episodes stayed the same length. The show was attempting to eliminate major antagonists like Cersei Lannister and the Night King too quickly in order to wrap up on a planned schedule, which left fans feeling disappointed, and with the sense that wins against the villains were undeserved. It took four seasons to kill Tywin Lannister. It took six to uproot the Boltons from power and take back Winterfell. All of the sudden the Night King, who had been an important antagonist since season 2, is defeated in one single battle? And Cersei, who had been a mastermind of manipulation to maintain power, is killed by falling rocks? The wins feel completely undeserved.
Finally, and possibly the most important argument of where the show could have gone wrong, was the progression of character arcs. Before season 6, the show had the complex and already establish character arcs to work with, which allowed for incredibly interesting characters that attracted viewers. They may have diverged at certain major points, but the characters still acted how they most likely would have in the books.
Once they went beyond that point, they progressively lost sight of those character arcs. They held on pretty well for the sixth season, started getting shaky for the seventh season, and completely threw the characters away for the final season. Jaime Lannister, who had grown so much throughout the seasons, all the sudden was back to being a selfish person only interested in Cersei. All character development was thrown out just before his death, causing outrage among viewers.
The more notorious case, however, is Daenerys Targaryen. The beloved Mother of Dragons fell quickly into madness, becoming everything she tried to avoid. Which is all fine and well, if it had been properly fleshed out. Rather, her sudden fall to madness was crammed in two episodes, culminating in the final snap and turn to destruction. It was a slap in the face, both for the character and for the viewers. Perhaps if there had been more episodes the develop the madness arc, then there would not have been such an issue as there was. But because it was shoved in the span of a few episodes, it didn’t feel like a deserved fate for Daenerys.
The show overall left a bitter taste in the mouths of many disappointed fans. There have been petitions to change the final season (which is not going to happen), and constant criticisms flowing through social media. People have likened the show’s end to that of How I Met Your Mother and Lost, both of which had very disappointing endings.