'Satisfying', or 'a travesty'? Fans torn over Game of Thrones finale

Kate Lyons

Warning: this article contains spoilers.

Well, it is over. The show that launched a thousand memes, won 47 Emmy awards, and lasted longer than many marriages, has finished. And reaction has been decidedly mixed.

The eighth season of Game of Thrones has already proved widely unpopular, with more than a million fans signing a petition for a full rewrite. There have been complaints at implausible character arcs, specifically Daenerys’ descent into mass-murderous mania, and the show’s non-white characters getting short shrift.

Related: Game of Thrones finale: who ended up on the Iron Throne? As it happened

The final episode, which had a lot of threads to pull together, continued to disappoint some. “I’ve defended it all season but that finale was atrocious. Horrific. A travesty,” wrote journalist Rich Feloni. “The conclusion has no regard for at least three-quarters of all the plot that came before it. And the writing felt at times like a high-school play adaptation. The GoT finale will be a punchline forever. What a shame.”

Among the key criticisms was that the season concluded with an all-too-convenient ending.

Bran getting the throne – albeit obviously not the Iron Throne, which died a fitting death – was not a popular move for a lot of viewers, who didn’t think he had earned it, particularly given Tyrion’s baffling speech about everything really being about “stories” and not, as we have seen over the last eight seasons, about people’s ability to murder one another.

The not-so-subtle references in the episode, especially when Samwell presented Tyrion with a book called A Song of Ice And Fire, came in for some sniping, as did the slow pace, which had multiple moments where chairs were moved slowly, with great meaning.

But not everyone disliked the final episode. In her review, the Guardian’s Lucy Mangan said that the finale “just about delivered. It was true to the series’ overall subject – war, and the pity of war – and, after doing a lot of wrong to several protagonists last week, did right by those left standing.”

Guardian writer Stuart Heritage, who live-blogged the episode, was also positive , writing that it “was a really good episode of television. Still, quiet, reflective. This has always been Game of Thrones’ real strength, not the big buck battle scenes.”

Elsewhere Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times described the finale as “satisfying”, while Forbes’ Eric Cain declared that “it was at times brilliant” if quite rushed at others. Finally, somewhere in the middle was CNN’s Brian Lowry, who declared that “overall, it wasn’t a one-for-the-ages finale, held up against the best examples of them and the abundant hype, but it wasn’t an unworthy one either.”