In Depth

Game of Thrones finale: what the cast liked about the ending- and what they regretted

The epic fantasy series came to a highly polarising conclusion this week after eight seasons

*Spoilers below*

Game of Thrones has ended after 73 episodes that have won the HBO show hundreds of millions of fans across the globe.

But while the fantasy series has been an undeniable hit, this week’s concluding episode proved to be “one of the most divisive pieces of media since the finale of The Sopranos”, says Den of Geek.

Viewers saw Daenerys Targaryen finally reaching the Iron Throne only to be killed by her lover and nephew Jon Snow, prompting her dragon to melt down the throne in fury. Snow was then banished to the Wall, as a new, more democratic set-up was established - with Bran Stark chosen by a roundtable of Lords and Ladies to be King.

Meanwhile, Tyrion Lannister stuck his Hand of the King pin back on, Sansa Stark was named Queen of the independent North, and Arya Stark sailed off to see what lies west of Westeros.

Some fans are applauding what they regard as a “generous, fitting end to what overall has been a remarkable achievement in television”, reports The Guardian.

However, others were thoroughly disappointed, with a petition for HBO to “remake Game of Thrones Season 8 with competent writers” signed by almost 1.5 million people in just two days.

But what did the stars of the show make of the ending?

Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plays Bran, told Entertainment Weekly (EW) that he initially thought his story arc was simply a joke by the scriptwriters.

“When I got to the scene in the last episode and they’re like, ‘What about Bran?’ I had to get up and pace around the room,” he said. “I genuinely thought it was a joke script and that [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] sent to everyone a script with their own character ends up on the Iron Throne. ‘Yeah, good one guys. Oh s***, it’s actually real?’”

Emilia Clarke, who plays Daenerys, told The New Yorker of her shock after learning her character’s fate. “I took a very long walk around London in a daze, not quite knowing how to digest the news,” she said.

EW’s James Hibberd adds that if you were “disappointed Arya Stark never confronted Cersei Lannister in the final season”, you weren’t alone - “it turns out the actors felt similarly”.

Maisie Williams, who plays Arya, told the magazine that not getting a scene with Cersei actress Lena Headey in season eight was the “biggest regret” she had for her character.

“I wanted Arya to kill Cersei even if it means [Arya] dies too,” she said.

Headey told EW that she felt the same way, saying: “I lived that fantasy until I read the script. There were chunky scenes and it was nothing that I had dreamt about. It was a bit of comedown and you have to accept that it wasn’t to be.”

Some cast members’ reactions were more mixed. Kit Harington, who played fan favourite Jon, has defended the writers’ decision to morph Daenerys from a “liberator of slaves to the destroyer of a whole city and slayer of the innocent”, the Daily Express says.

“One of my worries with this is we have Cersei and Dany, two leading women, who fall,” says Harington. “The justification is: just because they’re women, why should they be the goodies?

“They’re the most interesting characters in the show. And that’s what Thrones has always done.”

However, it remains unclear whether Harington was only joking when, during a video interview with PopBuzz in February, he summed up the season finale as “disappointing”.

Sansa actress Sophie Turner is perhaps the most staunch defender of the finale, calling the online petition to remake the eighth series “disrespectful” to everyone who “worked tirelessly” on the show.

“The thing about Game of Thrones that’s always been amazing is the fact that there’s always been crazy twists and turns, right from season one with Ned’s beheading,” she told The New York Times. “So Daenerys becoming something of the Mad Queen – it shouldn’t be such a negative thing for fans. It’s a shock for sure, but I think it’s just because it hasn’t gone their way.”

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