By Nicholas Sathi ’20
Over the many decades in which television has existed and grown in popularity, countless shows and programs have captivated the interests of viewers around the world. Few, however, have had as much success and acclaim as HBO’s Game of Thrones. Created by David Benioff and Daniel Brett Weiss, this critically acclaimed show has set records and forever altered the television industry.
Based on George R.R. Martin’s hit novel series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones tells a creative, complex story filled with fantasy, action, mystery, violence, love, and many other intriguing elements. The action, set in an Earth-like realm with civilizations similar to those of medieval Europe, features kings, queens, nobles, knights, squires, apothecaries, and other characters who dominate the plot. In addition, various elements of magic and mysticism add an escape-from-reality experience for viewers. The story is divided into several major sections involving different characters pursuing their own individual goals. Over the course of the series, these characters from the different sections interact, creating new storylines that involve new conflicts, which often have totally unexpected resolutions. Ultimately, as conflicts become dissolved, only one problem will truly matter for everyone as the story progresses towards its end. Since this point his been reached, the story’s characters will be facing the ultimate challenge. How they work together to combat this problem will determine the fate of the entire world. On May 19, 2019, fans will finally view the show’s long-awaited conclusion, seeing whether or not good defeats evil. Running since its premiere on April 17, 2011, the show has been extremely successful and its finale will truly mark the end of an era.
The final season is very different from previous ones. To start, while the first six seasons have ten episodes, and the seventh season has eight episodes; the eighth season only has six. In addition, the individual length of the majority of the episodes is significantly longer than in previous seasons. The longest episode in the show’s history, the seventh season’s finale, is 79 minutes. Four of the six episodes in this coming season will be just about the same length. Lastly, fans cannot know what will happen before watching as George R.R. Martin has not published additional books that would have concluded the epic tale. This absence makes the season all the more exciting as people will have to watch to find out what happens, unless they wish to wait for Martin to publish his newest book.
Like many successful shows, Game of Thrones has increased in viewership over its eight years. While approximately 2 million people viewed episodes in the first season, over 12 million people, not including those who use HBO Go and other non-television platforms, viewed the finale of the seventh season within one day of its release. The ratings are remarkable, proving the saga has dominated broadcast storytelling.
Another testament to the show’s success is the awards it has garnered over the years; earning over 300 various awards for acting, musical, visual, and technical excellence. One of its greatest achievements is winning the second most amount of Primetime Emmy Awards in history, 38 to this day. It has also won a Golden Globe Award. Out of the show’s individual award winners, Peter Dinklage, who plays the role of Tyrion Lannister, has won the most awards out of the entire cast–eight so far. Not only has the show garnered awards for acting, but it has been recognized for its musical excellence in addition to its other creative qualities. Composer Ramin Djawadi has earned several accolades for his contributions.
While the story itself obviously engages an audience with gripping drama, the show is made much more appealing due to its incredible artistic qualities, computer-generated imaging, scenic shots, and other embellishing features. Excellence, however, does not come cheap. The first season had a total budget of approximately $50-60 million. As the show progressed, becoming more popular, the budget allocation grew substantially. The total budget for the eighth season is $90 million, but with only six episodes in the last season, each episode cost $15 million to produce, whereas each episode of the first season cost only around $5-10 million to produce. Nevertheless, seeing Daenerys Targaryen fly away on the back of one of her dragons with stunning clarity, the audience’s reaction is worth the price. While $15 million per episode seems steep, the amount of money the show generates easily covers these expenses. Through HBO subscriptions, DVD sales, merchandise sales, and other methods, the show has earned billions of dollars in revenue.
Although the show’s ending will sadden its loyal fans, the telling of the story will not end just yet. While there may not be any more story left to tell of the current characters, there is much untold history of Westeros and Essos before the times of characters. HBO confirmed that it will produce a prequel series to Game of Thrones, similar to how AMC produced Fear the Walking Dead, a prequel to The Walking Dead. Little is known about the anticipated show as of now, but it will likely start being filmed this year as a cast and production crew have already been announced. Thus, while the end of Game of Thrones happens in Season 8, the story will continue.