Sorry, But You're Probably Going To Be Disappointed By How 'Game Of Thrones' Ends

by Tolly Wright
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

With the upcoming Season 8, the end is nigh for Game of Thrones. Though you might be excited to see whatever grand finale the HBO fantasy series has in store, be forewarned: You'll likely be disappointed by the end of Game of Thrones. Sure, hopefully you won't be, but it's probably better to enjoy the ride than assume the ending will be the kind of closure to the epic story you've been hoping for. Spoilers ahead for all seven seasons.

There are a few reasons why it's likely to disappoint. To begin with, Game of Thrones has seen a lot of deaths, and it's certainly been assumed that more will be gone before the final credits roll. While most TV watchers can accept that fictional people living in a war-torn universe often have to die — if for no other reason than to serve as an important plot point — it seems inevitable that there might be some characters who meet an end you don't agree with. (Anyone else suspicious that the series may have killed Wun Weg Wun Dar Wun to make room in the CGI budget?)

If a beloved character receives a death that doesn't seem fitting to their personality — for instance if a hero dies from an illness in a castle, as opposed to on the battlefield or making a political stand — that will likely annoy people. Likewise, if a death seems too convenient, like a villain deciding to introduce herself to an angry dragon for no reason, other fans will become distraught by the poor storytelling. While Game of Thrones is normally known for its strong plotting, it's dabbled in storylines that many fans found to be gratuitous or less-than-great occasionally.

Then there's the issue of concluding the story in a way that seems fitting for all three storytelling styles Game of Thrones uses. As Rowan Kaiser argued in Vox in September 2017, GoT is all at once a heroic fantasy, a subversion of a fantasy story, and a historical drama. If it were to stay true to its heroic fantasy roots, then most likely Jon Snow or Daenerys Targaryen — characters who have come of age and fought evil — would end up on the series victor (think Luke Skywalker). They could even share the throne as incestuous husband and wife.

However, there's a case to be made that GoT became more like a traditional fantasy once the Night King emerged as the evil to beat, making this ending likely. But the show has always subverted expectations of a fantasy series before: Noble hero Ned Stark didn't die on the battlefield, but instead was beheaded by a king; Jaime Lannister threw a child from a window, yet unlike a true villain he lives by his own code; and some characters defy all expectations of good and evil, like the Hound. For people who love this unexpected quality, the only good ending would be one where destinies are thrown out the window, and the problems with the universe are reflected in it. In this case, imagine Gendry, a minor character, ending the series on the throne just because he was King Robert Baratheon's illegitimate son. Or maybe no good guy wins, and the Night King rules the Seven Kingdoms.

A history-based ending, one that relies on family lineage to explain the winner of the throne, could go to do Dany or Jon Snow as Targaryens, but it could also lead to some descendent we've never seen on the show before getting the crown as a matter of principle.

Any one of these endings — especially if you're a watcher hoping for another kind of ending — will be disappointing.

That brings us to the last point: You can't please everyone. As Isaac Hempstead Wright (aka Bran Stark) told The Hollywood Reporter earlier last December, there's bound to be some people who are disappointed, so all the creative team can do is try to do the story justice. The actor explained:

"As long as we can reconcile with ourselves that we're happy with how it ends, it won't matter what anyone else thinks, really. As long as we feel we've done the story justice, and have done justice to George [R. R. Martin's] universe and [series creators] David [Benioff] and Dan [D. B. Weiss'] vision, then that's really all we can hope for. It won't go the way some people want. It will be too happy for some people, or too sad, or too whatever. That's the nature of an ending."

The tone (happy, sad, violent) might just not be to your liking, which could ruin the ending for you. But all you can really hope for is that the creative team will at least deliver an ending that makes sense to the universe and offers some sense of closure.