Looking Back on 8 Seasons of Game of Thrones Greatness

Daenerys overlooks her legion of Unsullied, while King's Landing smolders in the background.

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clark) before her army. HBO

On May 19, 2019, millions of viewers worldwide tuned into the series finale of HBO’s Game of Thrones, shattering previous HBO viewing records. After those 82 minutes, feelings on how it ended aside, I realized something that struck me. For several years now, I have proclaimed Game of Thrones as my favorite show on television, but once it ended, I think it became the greatest show of all time. Some may object to such a proclamation. “What about M*A*S*H or The Sopranos?” some may ask. However, think for a moment about what Game of Thrones accomplished. We could look at the numbers for analysis: over 18 million people tuned into the finale. That greatly exceeds M*A*S*H, which finished at a time when there were far fewer channels. Today, it is considered amazing when prime-time television shows reach 10 million viewers. This is HBO! People pay extra to watch this show. I think that says a lot.

Daenerys & Jon Snow lock eyes in the ruins of the Red Keep during the series finale.

Daenerys (Emilia Clark) & Jon Snow (Kit Harington) gaze into each other’s eyes. Helen Sloan/HBO

There will be a lot of heat with this opinion, because in case you haven’t heard, there are those who are less than thrilled with not only how the show ended but how the entire final season turned out. There is even a petition out there asking for the whole season be redone. I would be remiss if did not address this. Folks, with all due respect, suck it up. What did you expect to happen? Were there mistakes? Yes—that coffee cup should not have been visible. Should “The Long Night” have been lit better? I’ll definitely give you that one! But in regards to the quality of the season, I see things differently. Was the writing, for lack of a better word, different? I’d say so, but in its shorter six-episode season, think about how much of that was spent covering a battle or some kind of destruction. More than previous seasons. I saw it as necessary to prepare for where the show would eventually go.

Arya shouting as she fights to protect the residents of King's Landing.

Arya (Maisie Williams) fighting in King’s Landing. Helen Sloan/HBO

Speaking of the end, let’s just get there. Did Game of Thrones end how I predicted? No. Was I disappointed? Actually, not really. I would’ve liked certain things to be different, but in retrospect, most things made sense—which isn’t always the case when a show ends. Did the end of Dexter make any sense or make one person happy? Thrones at least flowed and made some sense, in comparison. I think the best way to sum up how I feel comes from the character Chuck from Supernatural during the season 5 finale, originally planned as the series finale:

Endings are hard. Any chapped-ass monkey with a keyboard can poop out a beginning, but endings are impossible. You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There’s always gonna be holes. And since it’s the ending, it’s all supposed to add up something. I’m telling you, they’re a raging pain in the ass.

If that that doesn’t sum the Game of Thrones finale and its backlash, nothing else possibly could. There is all this outrage over how things were not up to par, or that things didn’t go the way they should have. To that I say, Game of Thrones was a show designed to upset and devastate its audience. By that statement alone, the writers succeeded in exactly what they tried to do: upset the audience. Could things have ended differently? Sure. But then we’d risk being upset about that as well. Endings are hard, and television historically has had problems with them. Not many shows have had that perfect ending. What’s the saying? It’s not the destination, it’s the journey? I think that’s how Game of Thrones should, and ultimately will be, remembered by its audiences.

Cersei and Jaime share an emotional reunion in the finale

Cersei (Lena Headey) and Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) embrace while the Red Keep is assaulted. Helen Sloan/HBO

Despite this season’s controversy, Game of Thrones was one of the most popular shows in history, was always unpredictable, and carried great emotion with the relationships between characters and viewers. It was a show that shocked and devastated us all on a constant basis, but always entertained. To me, it could go down as the greatest of all time. Whether you agree or protest, try to remember what the show gave you over these past eight seasons. Love or hate the conclusion, this great show’s watch has ended.

Tyrion drinks while pondering the future of Westeros.

Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) drinks and knows things. Helen Sloan/HBO

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