We laughed, we cried and we yelled at the television. Farewell, Game of Thrones, you wonderful TV series. We’ll miss you.
The year was 2010. The hair was regrettable. Shutter Island was screaming through cinemas, and my friends and I had taken to shouting “We are duly appointed federal marshals” at each other, apropos of almost nothing.
I just wanted to paint a picture of the year for you, the year when my brother announced to our shocked family that he had read a book, and that he thought we all should read it too. That book was George RR Martin’s A Game of Thrones, the first in the author’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The song it sang was one of dragons and war, witches and castles, incest and eunuchs, and a young woman named Daenerys who dreams of power. My brother was obsessed, and he thought my parents and I would be, too. He urged us to read the books before the forthcoming television series was released in 2011.
Loath as I am to listen to my brother on any subject, for some reason I listened to him on this one and I read A Game of Thrones. And then, in 2011, I watched the television series.
That was nine years ago and in those nine years I have thought about Game of Thrones approximately once a week – more when the show is on air. Something about its melodrama and its intrigue and its truly reprehensible characters was so compelling to me.
I remember in 2013, when I was a university student with lots of plans I used to keep Monday nights free so I could rush home and watch Game of Thrones. (The third season will always be my favourite. Robb Stark!)
I feel strange now that the show is over. I spent most of the last few months rewatching the series from start to finish in advance of the final season, which meant that I spent most of the last few months marinating in a Game of Thrones nostalgia soup of my own making. I wrote so many words about this show with Kayleigh, my fellow superfan, that I thought my fingers would fall off from exhaustion. I interviewed Nathalie Emmanuel for this very magazine and I cried on the phone to her when she told me about her last day on the show and the gift that Game of Thrones’ creators David Benioff and DB Weiss gave her – a storyboard of her very first scene in the series.
How could the final season possibly live up to all that? For so many fans the series is wrapped in so many memories, and it’s impossible to stick the landing when ten years of obsession are on the line.
I am of the opinion that, sad though I am that Daenerys’ descended into madness without enough track laid down to get her there, or that Jon is being sent North of the wall unceremoniously, we have to take the bad with the good.
And there has been so much good in this final season. Think about episode two! Oh, episode two. Think about Brienne becoming the first female Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, and Arya and Gendry going for a little tumble in the hay, and Sansa and Theon embracing one final time, and Podrick singing his sweet little song. Think about Jaime coming North to fight for the living (and don’t think about him going back to Cersei and breaking Brienne’s heart). Think about how the finale ended on a note of hope for Sansa and Arya, independent at last and freed from the trauma of their past. Valar Morghulis – all men must die. But they are not men.
I’m thinking of all that good right now. I’m thinking of Jorah Mormont, the character I loved, and I’m thinking of Littlefinger, the character I loved to hate. I’m thinking of how much I cried watching Shireen die. I’m thinking of how I cheered at the screen and texted an all-caps screed to Kayleigh when Gendry and Arya kissed.
Thanks for the memories, Game of Thrones, even the bad ones. Game of Thrones was just a television show, but what a television show! We shall not look upon its like again.
Here, Stylist’s resident superfans weigh in on what Game of Thrones means to them:
Kayleigh Dray, digital editor
My love affair with Game of Thrones has been my longest relationship to date. I started watching when I was but a 20-year-old university student, tentatively considering a career in journalism. And, for almost a decade of my life, I have spent hours, days and weeks obsessing over every little moment, every cliffhanger, every oh-so-quotable quote. I have cheered my favourite characters on, and sobbed over their bodies when they’ve been ruthlessly killed off on screen. I have pored over the books, searching for clues about what’s to come. I have even become, despite my best intentions, a Cersei apologist.
Now, as I enter the next decade of my life, GoT has come to an end… and not in the way I wanted it to. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the writers (it is): I have poured my heart and soul into this series for such a long time, and my expectations were skyscraper high. How could I have ever hoped for anything but disappointment? I will never forget the sharp sting I felt when ‘Bran the Broken’ somehow managed to piggyback over the likes of Daenerys, Arya, Sansa and Jon Snow to the Iron Throne.
I will never forget the flames of rage that burned in my heart when Bronn – an unscrupulous sellsword with a penchant for brothels, and no clue how banks work – was named Master of Coin. And I will never forget the awful yearning for closure when those final credits started rolling – what happened to Meera? Have Brienne and Pod taken vows of celibacy now they’ve joined the King’s Guard? If Bran admits he can warg into dragons, why the fuck didn’t he stop the massacre at King’s Landing? AND WHAT WERE THE NIGHT KING’S MOTIVES, DAMN IT?
Ahem. You know what? I’m over it. I’m moving on with my life, and I have no regrets. But thank god for all those memes: bad break-ups have never been so hilarious…
Gareth Watkins, acting production editor
Don’t get me wrong, I will miss Game Of Thrones, but only in the same way I miss the Pret toasted tortillas. We shared some great times together, but I will get over you. Soon, another thing will take your place (toasted baguette/The Handmaid’s Tale). GoT gave us some incredible TV moments – capturing so perfectly, in scale and tone, an epic world with all its political machinations, fantastical mysticism and terrifying wars – and I suspect we may never see the like again.
But in the end, as Dany might say, it is just another spoke in the wheel – first this one’s on top, then that one. And if there’s one learning we need to take away from ‘A Song Of Ice And Fire’ (buddum tsssh, that’s Samwell Tarly folks, he’s here all week) the wheel cannot be broken.
Moya Lothian-Mclean, writer
Goodbye Game of Thrones. You turned a TV commitment-phobe into a devoted – and at times, deranged – stan. Thanks for the thrills but also for teaching me to cut my losses and bail out when the script tanks. And to hire more female writers. Two very important lessons. Valar Morghulis.
Regan Okey, social media editor
I only started watching Game of Thrones a few years ago but as soon as I saw season one I was an instant fan. My big problem with the show is how everything just seemed to happen at break neck speed. It was too quick.
As a complete Daenerys Targaryen Stan, I found watching my favourite character’s decent into ‘~madness~’ quite difficult, mainly because it all happened too quickly and didn’t make much sense. Boo hiss.
If I arrived in a foreign land after coming to support a huge war, only to be pretty much ignored / instantly disliked. I’d be pretty miffed. We’ve all felt that nervousness of arriving in a new place, and Daenerys has always longed to be liked/loved, so when the North was completely ungrateful, despite without Dany’s army and dragons…. They’d have lost, I sympathised with her.
If I had lost my closest advisor in a battle against the undead, then lost (another) one of my children/dragons to a hipster pirate and lost my best friend to a horrific beheading, I think I’d be mad too, as in angry. Can we all let her LIVE?!
If Tyrion and Varys had actually done their jobs, I’d be more inclined to sympathise with them, but instead all I did was sympathise with Dany because absolutely everybody around her was useless, and yet the show for some reason wanted us to think she was descending into insanity?! The bells moment in King’s Landing made pretty much zero sense because the set up wasn’t there, because it was all so bloody rushed.
I have loved Game of Thrones because of the rich storytelling, the clever character development and I always loved seeing how characters would end up paired with someone they hadn’t met before and a blossoming (there must be a better word for that?) relationship. Arya and The Hound? I stan.
If we could have our time again, I just wish it had gone on much longer. We could have easily had *at least* 10 seasons here, to set up these events much, much better.
I’m just glad my boy Drogon made it until the very end, although I’m still haunted by his screams when he feels the moment his mother is murdered. Justice for Drogon.
Hollie Richardson, writer
Catching up with the first four seasons of GoT within a couple of months just a few years ago was either the worst or best decision of my life. Sure, I barely left the house. But I had Robb Stark, for a short and precious time. Sometimes, I YouTube Joffrey’s death after a hard day – just because it brings me so much joy. And if I need a little cry, Hodor holding the actual damn door always does the trick.
I do feel let down by the rushed last series (we deserved more Cersei), and preferred the Twitter meme scroll afterwards. But I must admit that it provided some ace moments – the Battle of Winterfell, Tormund’s tall tales, Drogon being a top lad with the Iron Throne, ARYA.
I guess I was just ready to wrap things up by the last episode and let everything slide because… well, I wanted to part on good terms. I also actually got a warm fuzzy feeling when the Stark siblings ended up in the places they were always meant to be. I was also very into Sansa’s crown. Anyway, so long GoT – I’ll look out for the adventures of Tormund and Ghost spin-off.
Lucy Robson, SEO Executive
I can’t claim to have the same level of investment in the fates of the characters as my fellow Stylist super fans, since I came to Game of Thrones rather late. Or I should say come back to, as I actually started watching the first series with a housemate - and that ended badly, so then did my relationship with GOT (she owned the DVD’s).
Since then, I had no real burning desire to go back to it. But, over the past couple of months, I was started to feel intense FOMO at not being able to contribute my five penny worth to the never ending debate in the office.
Also, because I look after SEO, I spent a lot of time looking at the main search terms people were smashing frantically into their keyboards, desperately in search of answers to, “will Jon kill Daenerys???” And “Is Bran evil?” As a result, my interest was piqued and I thought, right, lets have another bash at this, then.
So, less than two weeks ago I started watch Game of Thrones full throttle, dedicating every waking (non working) moment of my free time (and all of my data) to the show everyone cannot / will not stop talking about, and I can’t deny feeling bereft and yet also relieved now that its over. Not unlike a relationship that ended too soon, even though deep down I knew it probably wasn’t right for me.
It is an intense series, and not something I necessarily recommend binge-watching. Despite it being 100% self imposed, I resented the drain on my time. That being said, I was definitely invested by the time I reached season 6. I couldn’t help reluctantly falling for Jon Snow and his unwavering moral compass, Daenaerys amazing hair, the evolution of Sansa Stark. Being a sucker for fantasy, I especially enjoyed the lore elements, for instance the “hold the door” episode (SO clever), as well as analysing what the prophecies might mean. I am so glad that I went back to it and my life is forever enriched.