The “Game of Thrones is Dead” Narrative Should Finally Die

The final season of GoT was rather controversial, to say the least. Many naysayers tried to spread the narrative that the final season “ruined the show’s reputation”, and that after the show concluded “no one talks about Game of Thrones anymore”. Is that really the case? Absolutely not.

9 min readJul 19, 2023
Game of Thrones dominating the 2019 Emmy Awards

The consensus regarding the final season of Game of Thrones is surely divided. Many people hated how things ended up, but many also liked it and consider the ending of the show a proper, if not a very good, conclusion to the saga. However, right around the time the show ended, a social-media narrative started to prosper, that the reputation of the Game of Thrones franchise is tarnished, and that, quote, “No one talks about Game of Thrones anymore”.

Absurdly enough, even now in the later half of 2023, you still see this type of Tweets popping up every now again, serving as bate for engagement, ironically sparking another heated conversation about the show no one talks about anymore. Back in the early days, for many people this narrative was rather easy to buy into, since the ending of the series was for sure not very popular, and the show left a bad taste in many viewers mouths. But over 4 years later, is it really the case? Is the GoT franchise really done and over? If you asked us back at 2019, our answer would be the same. But now, by the ending of 2023, we think the answer is a very obvious no.

The first indication must be the 2019 Emmys awards. Despite the social-media backlash to the final season, the Television Academy didn’t seem to pay any attention to any of the hoard mentality at all. Acknowledging it as the crowning achievement in television it was, the season gained a record-breaking 32 nominations, more than any show in history. That including, a writing nomination for Benioff and Weiss for the ever-divisive (yet excellent, in my opinion) series finale “The Iron Throne”, and three directing nominations for three divisive episodes (on social media)— “The Long Night”, “The Last of the Starks” and “The Iron Throne”, for directors Miguel Sapochnik, David Nutter, and Benioff & Weiss, respectively. The show ended up with winning 12 whopping awards, tying the record set by seasons 5 and 6 of Game of Thrones of the most Emmy wins in a single year, including the most prestigious award of Outstanding Drama Series. So is the Game of Thrones name really tarnished? It seems not. The season continued to win several additional awards in several guilds, and received an astounding number of nominations across the different outlets, just as much (if not more) as in any other year when people still liked the show. Seems like the professional outlets, outside of the social media echo-chambers, didn’t pay heed to any of the negative buzz, and it seems like GoT was doing just fine.

But then, award seasons has ended, and it was left for the test of time to examine the show’s longevity. Thankfully, it didn’t disappoint.

Parrot Analytics 2020 Awards
Parrot Analytics 2020 Awards

Parrot Analytics for example is a site that monitors demand of different shows according to several outlets online. Ever since we started to follow the Parrot Analytics weekly analysis back in 2020, we noticed Game of Thrones remained prominent there in the top spots during most of the time, beating newer and more “relevant” shows at times that popped up at the charts when they aired and disappeared as quickly when the season was finished. A year after GoT ended, in 2020, Game of Thrones won the Parrot Analytics award for most In-Demand show in said year. In the following years, Parrot adjusted the rules to the yearly awards to include only shows that came out in the same year, so GoT wasn’t eligible to participate. But according to our inspection during the following years, GoT remained as present at the top 10, more than more recent shows that you would expect would make better numbers according to what Social Media dictates.

TV series demand across all television platforms for the U.S. (10–16 June, 2023) According to Parrot Analytics, Roughly ~2500 Days after GoT ended

The ultimate test came perhaps when the first spin-off series in the Game of Thrones universe was announced, House of the Dragon. The demand the first season of this show would have ultimately determine how much interest the general audience still has in the Game of Thrones brand. And the results didn’t disappoint.

According to HBO, the House of the Dragon Premiere Drew 10 Million viewers, the biggest HBO premiere of all times at the time, which is pretty incredible. I think if anything, it shows the interest in the GoT franchise and brand certainly still exists and is even pretty dire, and people want more, despite how divisive the final season of the original show was. The ratings for HotD remained strong throughout the entire season, and it even won the Golden Globe award for Best Drama series, something the original Game of Thrones show never managed to do. This of course says more about HotD’s own strength, but it also shows the GoT brand is as strong as ever.

House of the Dragon winning Best Drama Series at 2023 Golden Globes Awards

During HotD promotion period, In 2022, knowing streaming and viewership data, HBO’s head of content Casey Bloys claimed in reality things were not exactly as they seemed on the internet, and that he believes the negative reaction for the final season and the ending of the show mainly came from social media.

It was a social media backlash” Bloys said. “I think in multiple parts of our society, we are reminding ourselves that Twitter is not real life. We knew it was going to be divisive and, of course, you want all fans to be happy, but that’s never going to happen. There weren’t a lot of people walking around despondent or upset. It’s a take that reads well but probably doesn’t fully reflect viewer feelings”.

Around the same time, in the context of promoting the spin-off series, Author of A Song of Ice and Fire book series George R. R. Martin also commented on the backlash. “The f**king toxic internet and these podcasts out there saying that Season 8 left such a bad impression that people say, ‘Oh, I’m never going to watch them again,’” Martin said. “I don’t trust them anymore.”

Most Popular Shows on MAX Streaming Service During 2022, According to FlixPatrol
Most Popular Shows on Max Streaming Service During 2022 and the First Half of 2023, according to FlixPatrol

Every metric possible supported what Bloys claimed. According to FlixPatrol, Game of Thrones was the most searched TV show on Google during 2022 and 2023, and was also the most popular TV show on MAX streaming service in those years. According to Bestsellers Archive, Game of Thrones was in the top 10 best-selling TV shows of each year since it ended. On the other side of the law, Game of Thrones was also announced as the most pirated show during COVID-19 period. On IMDb’s MovieMeter, GoT remained at the top 20 titles in the TV category for the better part of all the 4 years that passed since it’s ending. The various GoT-related subreddits on Reddit remained popular through that entire time as well, indicating discussions around the show is still strong. Social Media profiles centred at GoT remained as popular as ever on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with terms related to the show trending on said platforms every other week, and for example was the #8 most talked about show on Twitter during 2020. and most importantly, viewership data at HBO and HBO Max of the original show remained as strong as ever, as supported by CEO Bloys.

This was also supported very early on, with all the Emmy Awards wins, but it was harder to believe listening to the social media echo-chamber climate. Later on, seeing the success of HotD and the longevity of the GoT brand, HBO has announced several other spin-off series in the Game of Thrones universe, namely the adaptation of the Dunk and Egg books and the possible ‘Snow’ sequel series to the original show.

Putting aside silly poor writing arguments, the conclusion to Game of Thrones is a rather complicated one, that is open to many interpretations and analyses, as presented in some other articles in my profile. If it’s Daenerys’ dark turn, Jaime’s heel-turn back to Cersei after his alleged “redemption arc”, Cersei’s surprising demise, the head scratching decision to make Bran the endgame King, or the generally subversive nature of the ending — many of these subject open doors to many discussions which only increases the longevity of Game of Thrones. While the “poor writing” arguments still unfortunately control the social-media climate, we believe in the future they will be diluted with more mature approaches, and that the conversation around Game of Thrones will only keep living on, with an improved seriousness.

Interest in Game of Thrones Compared to Stranger Things, Breaking Bad, Dexter and House of the Dragon Worldwide During the First Half of 2023, According to Google Trends
Interest in Game of Thrones Compared to Stranger Things, Breaking Bad, Dexter and House of the Dragon in the United States During the First Half of 2023, According to Google Trends

On a more personal note, those who read other of our articles know we were very satisfied with how GoT ended, and thought it was a very fitting ending to the show. However in my opinion, no matter what one’s personal opinions on the ending are, the fact the writers chose to end the show in such a controversial way, that sparked endless conversations, analyses and even memes online was exactly one of the reasons the popularity of the brand remained strong for such a long time. No such thing as bad publicity. Had they chosen to end the show in a more safe manner perhaps more people would have loved how thing wrapped up, but besides compromising the integrity of the story, they would have given the show just another ordinary ending that people would have raved about on Twitter for a few weeks and then move on with their lives. The paradox many of the naysayers hate to admit is that the type of ending they chose is the kind of ending that encourages the audience to go back and re-watch the show to put things in new context, as it is very evident on social media that people who binged the complete show after it ended (for the first time or for a re-watch) had slightly, if not significantly, more positive reception towards the final season. This makes the show with one of the most dividing conclusions in history to actually be the one people are returning to and still discussing even years later, perhaps more than other shows that left their audience 100% satisfied.

Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke in a Fan Convention, 4 Years after GoT Concluded

I think the success of the show speaks for itself- the countless awards, high acclaim from casual viewers and critics alike, the major fan following, it’s influences on the television landscape and on culture in general — and apparently also its longevity- it’s a winner in all fronts. In my personal opinion it’s the greatest television series ever made, but generally speaking I think it’s safe to say this show is for the ages and I think it will be remembered for a long time as one of the greatest cinematic works ever produced.

But going back to strictly objective data, the evidence is all there. GoT remains one of the most talked about shows in the world, and the “cinematic universe” of Westeros has only begun. Just this year, HBO announced a concert experience led by composer Ramin Djawadi, preforming the original score of the original GoT show, 4 years after it ended. Non surprisingly, the concert was a huge success, and many people was still eager to experience the world of Game of Thrones back again. Fortunately I was present at the concert and it was amazing to see GoT fans united again after all these years, cheering at our favorite musics, characters and scenes. This was just another single indication, but for a betting man GoT still looks like a winning horse in every front. On top of breaking ratings and awards records, GoT proved itself as the next big franchise in Hollywood, and the narrative of it “dying” due to a non-conventional final season should finally die. GoT is still one of the most successful IPs in the world, and it’s only left for history to show what will happen next. But for now, the brand surely seems rather strong.

GoT Franchise making numbers at the WB Shop Homepage




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