Why do people hate the final season of Game of Thrones?
It’s no secret that the latest season of Game of Thrones is controversial. On IMDB, which allows fans to rate shows on a scale of 1-10, the series has an average rating of 9.4, but the Season 8 episodes “The Last of the Starks" and “The Bells” currently have ratings of 5.6 and 6.2, respectively. The final episode, “The Iron Throne,” has an abysmal rating of 4.3.
The main criticism is that Game of Thrones has ignored its characters' established traits, instead rushing through plot points in an effort to wrap the show up. The final season consisted of a mere six episodes, and the series' ending feels rushed to some fans—and to George R.R. Martin, who wrote the A Song of Ice and Fire books that the series is based upon.
"We could’ve gone 11, 12, 13 seasons,” Martin said at the 2018 Emmy Awards. “[Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] have been saying for like five seasons that seven seasons is all they would go.”
“We got them to go to eight but not any more than that. There was a period like five years ago when they were saying seven seasons and I was saying 10 seasons and they won, they’re the ones actually working on it."
Perhaps as a result, some of the Game of Thrones plotlines wrapped up in odd ways.
Jaime Lannister’s arc is an excellent example of this issue. In both the books and the television show, the character begins as a villain—in fact, the first thing he does is throw the young Brandon Stark out of a window, which sets a number of plot events in motion.
Over time, Jaime becomes a more likeable character. He’s shown to be an honorable man who’s truly in love with his sister, Cersei (yes, it’s gross), but willing to go against her when necessary.
After meeting Brienne of Tarth, Jaime seems to change into a more ethical person. When he returns to King’s Landing, he fights for what he believes is right, and eventually abandons Cersei to stand with the Northerners during their battle with the White Walkers. After winning the battle, Jaime professes his feelings for Brienne, which completes his transformation to a truly good person.
Except...it doesn’t. In the fourth episode of the final season, Jaime confesses to Brienne that he’s still in love with his sister, and he heads to King’s Landing to save her. The siblings end up dying together, but to many fans, this isn’t a satisfying ending. Jaime has no reason to defend Cersei, and his final moments don’t really make sense as part of the narrative.
Daenerys' recent turn is another great example. Long considered the ultimate hero in the Game of Thrones universe, Daenerys betrayed the common folk in episode 5 (“The Bells”), burning King’s Landing to the ground to put fear into the hearts of her enemies. Both the books and the show have hinted at this transformation—Daenerys is a Targaryen, and many Targaryen rulers have gone insane.
"Ultimately, she is who she is and that's a Targaryen,” Benioff explained in a behind-the-scenes feature after the episode. “She has said repeatedly throughout the show, 'I will take what is mine with fire and blood,' and in this episode, she does it."
It’s a logical place for Daenerys to end up, but according to some fans, the show didn’t effectively show why Daenerys changed. That’s an important distinction, since, well, she’s arguably one of the show’s most well-recognized stars.
And Daenerys' lover-nephew (ew), Jon Snow, ends the show on a decidedly low note: After killing Daenerys, he’s banished to the Wall. Nevermind the fact that he’s also a Targaryen, and by all accounts, the rightful king of Westeros—the showrunners decided to ignore that plot point in the final episode. Bran ends up ruling the realm, which is a strange choice, given that he’s spent much of the last two seasons as a weird, slightly creepy mystic.
According to many professional critics, the main problem was with pacing. The Telegraph’s Michael Deacon wrote that the final episode “somehow managed to seem both rushed and sluggish, with a final twist that was both puzzling and underwhelming.” Writing for The Muse, Julianne Escobedo Shepherd said that the finale “ended up being exactly as expected: Rushed, weird, inexcusably corny.”
Would the show have ended in a more satisfying manner if it had 10 or 11 seasons? Possibly, although fans will never know. It’s somewhat ironic that the HBO megahit had the exact opposite problem of the A Song of Ice and Fire book series: The show rushed the ending, while the books might never be completed.