Game of Thrones’ Final Season Is Destined to Disappoint You
This has felt like a very long year for many reasons, but the fact that it was the first year we didn’t get a new season of Game of Thrones didn’t help. The fantasy phenomenon wrapped up its penultimate seventh season the summer before last, and the show’s tens of millions of fans still have to wait until April of next year to know the fates of Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, Tyrion Lannister, and the other remaining survivors. I’m dying to see the story’s end as much as anyone — but I’m also kind of afraid, because I don’t think there’s any possible ending that will be truly satisfying.
Endings are hard to do well, period. Even just sticking to modern TV dramas, there are plenty of excellent shows that left their viewers either wanting more (The Sopranos), wanting something different (Mad Men), wanting their proverbial money back (Lost), or wanting to have never wasted their time in the first place (Dexter). There are always a few series that stick the landing (Breaking Bad), but they’re the exception, not the rule. And the more time and attention fans have invested in a story, the more anticipation they have for the story’s end, continually raising their expectations — and their chances of being disappointed, too.
Game of Thrones is most like Lost in that it is a cultural phenomenon, a series with a huge audience that transcends any specific group as a proverbial “water cooler” show. (If you had told me 10 years ago that my mother, who’s never picked up a fantasy book in her life, would be calling me on Sunday nights, desperate for answers about that night’s episode of a show with dragons in it, I never would have believed you.) The immense popularity of the show gives it more real estate in the modern pop culture consciousness, which inspires fandom and media coverage and merchandising, which attracts more viewers, which increases pop culture landholdings, etc.
To be fair, it will be genuinely difficult for Game of Thrones to pull out an ending that is as unsatisfying as that of Lost, if only because Martin has had a basic plan for how his story would end since he kicked off the A Song of Ice and Fire series with A Game of Thrones back in 1996…