Why has season 8 of Game of Thrones been so popular?

Game of Thrones ends in a controversial but successful way.

Game of Thrones feature image
Game of Thrones season 8 feature image/ HBO
8 family flags in Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones families’ banners/ThinkGreek

By the time HBO ended its epic series Game of Thrones on May 19,  GoT had broken the premium network’s rating records. This last season has been controversial for many people are unsatisfied about the ending. However, there are 19.3 million people watched finale of Game of Thrones, according to the BuzzFeed news.

Game of Thrones is an American fantasy TV series which revolves around the ups and downs of several major families, such as the House Targaryen, House Lannisters, House Stark, House Baratheon, House Greyjoy, House Tyrells, House Bolton and, House Martell. GoT has 8 seasons that began its first episode on 2011, which is based on George R.R. Martin’s book series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Paradoxical plot

The contradiction of the plot laid the success of the TV series. “Characters in the show are built in circumventing traditional fantasy archetypes due to the conflicts in the plots,” Professor Aleksandr Wansbrough, the University of Sydney says, “for example, the original playing tricky dwarf character Tyrion Lannister develops into a trusted advisor to the king or the queen and the original villain character Jaime Lannister becomes a hero in the end.”

the character Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones
Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones/ HBO
the character-Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones
Jaime Lannister, Game of Thrones/ HBO







The paradoxical plot also enriches the multifaceted nature of the characters. “Actually, there is not a clear good character and not always a bad guy in Game of Thrones,”  Sam David Harris, DDB Sydney producer, says, “everyone’s motivations are different and follow the story as it develops.” The character’s development mobilises the audience’s emotions and their desire to explore and understand the characters in the show.

Although the ending of Game of Thrones didn’t satisfy every fan and stirred up a lot of debates on different social media platforms, the controversy further contributes to its success. Yellowballs, a viewer commenting in the Guardian, said that “Dany’s death would possibly be the worth death on the show, killed by the person she loved the most and unexpectedly. I did feel genuine sadness when Dany was killed.” Whereas, another Guardian user Summerbabe disagreed, saying, ”each character also felt like they ended up in a place true to the person they had become. It is a generous and fitting end which has been a remarkable achievement in television series.”

Daenerys Targaryen's Death in Game of Thrones
Daenerys Targaryen’s Death in Game of Thrones/ HBO

However, instead of caring about the audience’s satisfaction with the plot, the enthusiasm of the audience and the ratings are the aspects more of the producer’s concerns. “For a big and sprawling show which has a passionate fan base, I don’t think there is any way that all fans would’ve been happy,” Casey Bloys, the HBO programming president says, “some people are going to love the ending while some people hate it but the point is to make audiences feel really passionate about it.”

Grave of the House Stark
Grave of the House Stark/ Foxtel

Nostalgic complex

The final season creates a sense of nostalgic feelings to draw the audience attention. In Sydney, one of the marketing events for nostalgia is Grave of Thrones, which happened on April 12-14 in the Centennial Park Sydney. It is a celebration event that presents the graves of the characters who have played the game and lost during the last seven seasons.

Grave of the Hodor, Game of Thrones
Grave of the Hodor/ Foxtel


According to the Foxtel, this events provides the final resting place of some of the characters being most beloved or most despised and the cemetery captured the world of Westeros in an unexpected way. “We just want to remind people how much joy a show like this can bring to the audience and also give something back to the world,” said Sam David Harris, the event organiser of Grave of Thrones.


The nostalgic complex is also conveyed by the plot and theme of the TV series. Game of Thrones depicts the violent dynastic war fighting for the “Iron Throne” among different noble families while the other families for struggling for independence. Professor Wansbrough says, “The plot keeps track of the changes of history, wars, and religions, which would make audiences interested in pondering the mysteries of whether it is true or not.” 

Fast rhythm of the plots’ development 

The fast-paced development of the plot in the final season of Game of Thrones gathered some controversial reviews from the public, particularly showed in the death of the character “Night King”, who had been built an unbeatable image of the “Night King” for the previous seven seasons but was killed in the just one episode in season eight in Game of Thrones.

However, to summarise a TV series with such a grand worldview drama within six episodes during the final season, this kind of fast-paced plot development is, to some extent, unavoidable. “Although the rhythm of season eight is somewhat far-fetched, this is hard to avoid due to the huge worldview in Game of Thrones,” said Professor Wansbrough.

“We need to balance everything to set up for the ending and sometimes we had to speed things up within episodes,” explained in an interview with Entertainment Weekly by Dave Hill, the writer of Game of Thrones. Not only the writer, but some users in the Guardian also show their positive attitudes about the plots’ development, such as Summerbabe says, “For all the misgivings about this season’s pacing, I thought it was a confident and extremely moving episode.” 

About Jovy Fan 3 Articles
I am a graduate student majoring in Master of Media Practice at the University of Sydney. My Twitter account is @FanJovy.

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