Well, it’s over.
One of the most groundbreaking and beloved series in the history of television came to an end on Sunday night.
And for many fans — possibly even the majority — the final assessment is that Game of Thrones ended not with the bang they had hoped for but with a whimper befitting a newly orphaned dragon, one whose grief encapsulated the profound disappointment of fans all over the world.
While we’re sure the finale has some ardent defenders, it’s not easy finding positive feedback on social media.
Even those who supported the show during its rocky final season seem to have accepted defeat in the end, as the Thrones series finale offered little in the way of dramatic surprises, instead focusing on wrapping up the series’ many dangling plot threads in a perfunctory and largely unsatisfying fashion.
Yes, Jon Snow killed Daenerys Targaryen.
(Sorry for the lack of a spoiler alert, but if you got this far into an article about an episode you haven’t watched yet, perhaps the blame doesn’t lie entirely with us.)
But after the events of “The Bells” was anyone really stunned by that development?
As for the other big plot twist that failed to elicit much in the way of an emotional response, Bran was named to the Iron Throne, which was satisfying in some respects — characters with profound physical disabilities rarely get to enjoy heroic moments on TV — but maddening in others.
(He has a better story than his sister, the shape-shifting, ultra-stealth assassin who just saved the freakin’ world? Really?!)
On Twitter, memes expressing the profound disappointment of millions was evident in the endless barrage of hot takes and disparaging memes.
Some took the opportunity to reflect on the series as a whole, and many of those fans concluded that GoT began to falter when showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss ran out of source material and began expanding on George R.R. Martin’s story without the aid of his novels to guide them.
But are we simply demanding too much from a series whose most egregious sin may have been setting the bar too high in its early seasons?
It’s tempting, at this point, to draw parallels between GoT and previous acclaimed series whose finales were better received.
Breaking Bad seemed to have been the favorite standard-bearer on Twitter last night, but that’s an unfair comparison for a number of reasons.
For starters, Bad — while a fine show in its own right — never attempted anything nearly as ambitious as Game of Thrones.
Furthermore, it’s important to bear in mind that Walter White’s last stand was not universally well-received back in 2013.
(Many rightly argued that the character got off far too easy, given all the atrocities he’d committed over the course of his transformation from likable every man to villainous kingpin.)
The point here is not to disparage a deservedly acclaimed series like Bad, but to point out that it’s always been difficult for beloved series to stick the landing, and that challenge may have become even more daunting in the prestige TV era, as showrunners attempt to subvert tropes and offer something new to increasingly sophisticated audiences, while at the same time being burdened by greater-than-ever expectations.
In the case of Thrones, those expectations were compounded by the fact that no series has ever prompted quite so much debate and dissection on social media.
As a result, the best way to stand out when tweeting about Game of Thrones is to lean heavily on hyperbole.
Thus, a disappointing finale quickly becomes the worst series finale in television history.
It’s just the nature of the social media beast in 2019.
As we said, very few are arguing that Game of Thrones delivered a finale that lived up to the unprecedented hype that surrounded the show’s final season.
And we’re certainly not making that argument here.
But it’s worth remembering that over the course of its eight-season run, GoT accomplished things that no other series ever even attempted.
And many of the complaints about its final episodes were not about the plot developments themselves (although Daenerys’ conversion to war criminal understandably did not sit well with many) but with the hurried and hasty fashion in which they took place.
There’s been much debate over who’s primarily at fault for this rushed conclusion, though the consensus seems to be that Benioff, Weiss, Martin, and HBO all share some of the blame,
No Game of Thrones finale would have left every viewer feeling satisfied, but fans were right to expect a show that’s killed off so many characters to be a bit more skillful in its final execution.
Even so, we’re doing our best to move on from this bad breakup focus on the many, many highlights of one of the most transformative series of all time.
And now our watch is ended. What a time we had.