The Iron Throne wasn’t the only thing incinerated during the series finale of Game of Thrones. Ratings were as well, as a record 19.3 million tuned in for the divisive series finale.
Across HBO’s platforms (linear, HBO GO and HBO NOW), the finale easily beat the previous week’s record setting episode, “The Bells” 18.4 million viewers. In addition, the episode scored the most-watched single telecast record on HBO ever, with 13.6 million viewers for the 9:00 p.m. airing. The previous high (13.4 million) was held by The Sopranos season 4 premiere (9/15/02).
Despite fan complaints of feeling rushed, season 8 averaged 44.2 million viewers per episode in gross audience, an increase of more than 10 million viewers when compared to season 7.
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Many on social media, as well as critics viewed the ending as a let down. Although fans never seem to offer some sort of alternative as Tuesday morning, the episode had a user rating of 4.8 out of 10 on IMDB and a 48% score on review site Rotten Tomatoes.
With this final entry, the season’s current score is well below the 75% score needed to be Certified Fresh, marking the first season in the series’ history that will not receive the honor.
But not all saw it that way. CNN’s Brian Lowry, said the episode, “wasn’t a one-for-the-ages finale” but wasn’t “an unworthy one either.” He added, “Flaws and all, ‘Game of Thrones’ rewrote the rules for a TV epic, providing a brilliantly cast serialized storyline, produced with a scope and scale that rivaled theatrical blockbusters,” Lowry wrote.
Other critics said:
“After showing us a nightmare for eight seasons, Game of Thrones finally dares to dream of spring.” — Sean T. Collins, Rolling Stone
“A stupendous end that the series deserved.” — Mikel Zorrilla, Espinof
“The series finale, proved largely satisfying after eight seasons of incredible drama.” — Todd Gilchrist, Birth.Movies.Death.
Others weren’t as kind.
“As a fan of the TV show, I felt battered into submission. This season has been the same story over and over again: a lot of tin-eared writing trying to justify some of the most drastic story developments imaginable, as quickly as possible.” — David Sims, The Atlantic
“Game of Thrones has lulled us into believing that its women would end up in charge. In the end, it’s only Sansa, by sheer force of will, who wears a lesser crown. The wheel hasn’t broken; the patriarchy is still alive and well in Westeros.” — Anne Cohen, Refinery29
“The kindest thing I can say about the Games of Thrones series finale is that it might have satisfied Plato.” — Judy Berman, TIME Magazine
“Gotta say this episode felt more like a season finale than the series finale it was, if only because this last season seemed so isolated from what went before.” — Glen Weldon, NPR
“It’s hardly an exit cry of triumph.” — Steve Johnson, Chicago Tribune
However, you feel about the finale it is what it is. As a writer and a devout fan of the series, I found some things rushes (how they travel around Westeros) but I found the finale mostly satisfying.
Then again I really dug Lost’s finale as well. Shoot me.
Contact Colin Costello at email@example.com.