The Game of Thrones cast took to the Hall H stage at Comic-Con in San Diego for the very last time tonight. (The showrunners backed out.) Laughs were had, secrets spilled, but most of all there was a sense of an ending permeating every reaction.
What was also different this year was the fact the cast was able to talk openly about spoilers for the first time, and some of the major cast members took the opportunity to talk about their feelings related to the ending of Game of Thrones and specifically how fans reacted to said ending.
While a lot of people on the panel – which included Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, John Bradley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Maisie Williams, Liam Cunningham, Jacob Anderson and Conleth Hill—had thoughts about the fan reaction to the ending. Coster-Waldau, who played Jaime Lannister through most of the show's run, maybe had the most poignant thought related to the blowback regarding how Game of Thrones ultimately wrapped its HBO run. He said:
I feel so lucky to have met so many people, but also just fans of the show and realizing that this show has brought so many people together, watching it, loving it. So obviously it comes to an end, it’s gonna piss you off no matter what. Because it’s the end.
The comment was part of a larger thought that also mentioned Game of Thrones had courted controversy online numerous times in the past, and no, we’re not talking about the coffee cup incident. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also believes the fans’ gut-instinct response happened throughout the show’s run, but it’s only really being highlighted now in light of the ending. He also noted he felt the online petition was pretty absurd.
Also remember, it’s like every – yeah, it was surprising the level – the absurdity of an online petition. Of course, HBO is going to change the whole thing, yes. Because that’s the power of the internet. But every season we had huge controversies. Ned Stark being killed, ‘I’m never gonna watch that piece of shit show again. Terrible.’ And then there was the Red Wedding, ‘Never again!’ I mean, every season.
According to Conleth Hill, who played Varys throughout most of the Game of Thrones run, he maintains the faction of fans who were disappointed in the finale was very small, also noting:
I don’t think it was, you look at the amount of people here, and we’re here to thank you for watching us for all those years. We were never divisive as a cast. We didn’t fight among each other. We always did our hardest work – crew too – for you. And so we’re very grateful for your fandom over the years. I think [the hyped audience crowd at Comic-Con] is the reality. Rather than a sort of media-led hate campaign.
Ultimately, what you thought of the ending -- which characters died, which took over power, which dealt with the aftermath of the upheaval – doesn’t matter as much to Davos actor Liam Cunningham as the whole journey with the fans. He noted during the major Game of Thrones panel:
You have to remember it’s a metaphor for life. It’s not the end, that’s the point of this whole thing, it was the journey… I started on the beginning of Season 2 when it just started to create waves. To watch that grow and to be on the set when we were doing the work. The reason you guys are here is because you can recognize the amount of love we had in making this show. We and you were all on this journey together. We weren’t just delivering something we thought was nice. Or good or great even. We didn’t know where it was going to go. Nobody knew how big it was going to get.
So, there you have it. There wasn’t a ton of talk about the ending beyond the cast responding with positivity, although moderator James Hibberd asked if the cast wished anything would have been done differently, to which Liam Cunningham replied, ‘I should have been on the throne.’ The Onion Knight is apparently getting a little big for his lordly britches.
Ultimately, over a million people signed the petition asking for revisions, which does seem like a large number, but there are doubtless plenty of fans out there who felt the show wrapped up in a satisfying manner, even if it didn't hit all of the beats we would have wanted, myself included. Where do you stand?