Why The Ending Of Game of Thrones Didn’t Work

Sayde Scarlett
15 min readSep 13, 2022

Transcript: The following video essay contains spoilers for the Game of Thrones TV show and the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels.

Game of Thrones Title Card / ©HBO

Valar morghulis, dear friends!

Game of Thrones premiered in April 2011. The show was created by David Benioff and DB Weiss for HBO. It was based upon the successful high fantasy novel series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by American author and screenwriter George R. R. Martin.

The show was an immediate popular and critical success for eight seasons until its end in May 2019. Game of Thrones drew in over ten million viewers per episode not including the millions who were estimated to be watching the show illegally.

There is no doubt that Game of Thrones was a decade defining, game-changing show. Just look at the shows being produced today. I don’t think that Netflix’s ‘Shadow and Bone’, Amazon Prime’s ‘Wheel of Time’, or even ‘The Witcher’ would have ever got further than the pitch meeting if it weren’t for the success of Game of Thrones.

By its final season, HBO spent roughly $15million per episode making it the most expensive TV show of all time. Game of Thrones also proved that subscription TV services could compete with the big boy Hollywood production companies in terms of scope and quality.

But to say the show’s finale was widely regarded as a flop is an understatement. I’ve never seen a show disappear from the zeitgeist so fast. I still see more ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Wire’ memes around even though those shows ended years before Game of Thrones.

Even now it’s remarkably absent from public cultural discourse despite its obvious success, merit, and impact.

Many were disappointed by how the show ended, myself included, but I don’t think a lot of people understand why it failed so spectacularly. If you’re interested in storytelling Game of Thrones is worth looking into as a cautionary tale.

To understand the problems with the Game of Thrones finale, we must first consider the Hero’s Journey story structure. This deserves another video all to itself — but [very] briefly, the Hero’s Journey goes as follows…

The main character of a story receives a ‘call to adventure’, in other words a…

Sayde Scarlett

Author and poet by day; artist by night. Loves to tell stories and create art; loves to talk about stories and creating art.