Why Game of Thrones season 8 was rushed? Exploring why the critically acclaimed fantasy drama ended so abruptly

Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones' Season 8 was widely criticized. (Image via HBO)

With the conclusion of HBO’s Game of Thrones, its fans firmly believed that GOT was the best TV series ever created. A potent combination of high-quality storytelling, incredible twists, genius characters, and a range of magical, fantastical elements, Game of Thrones won 59 Primetime Emmies. It featured a range of iconic characters that have since become household names.

However, one persisting argument that has often been made about the final season of the show is that it was simply too rushed. Over the years, fans have come up with various arguments about the reason behind this trend, most revolving around the writers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

D&D struggled with Game of Thrones as Martin kept delaying forthcoming books

One of the main reasons cited for the drop in quality in the later seasons of Game of Thrones is the absence of source material from George R.R. Martin’s books. The showrunners, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss (often called D&D), had successfully adapted Martin’s novels for the earlier seasons. However, as the series progressed beyond the published books, D&D struggled to maintain the intricate pacing and storytelling that fans expected.

The fifth book of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, A Dance with Dragons, was released back in 2011. The forthcoming novel, The Winds of Winter, was initially expected to be released in 2023. However, the book has yet to come out, meaning the writers had to depend on Martin himself and his ideas and notes to create season 8.

Still, instead of season 8 being rushed with many stories and character threads being abruptly pushed toward a conclusion, a customized storyline could have been created. That, in turn, is said to have something to do with the lack of time on D&D’s hands.

The duo had acquired the offer to write a Star Wars trilogy around the same time, which was why they decided to finish the entire story with Season 8. After the airing of the last episode, R.R. Martin himself claimed that the series needed at least two more seasons to be given a satisfactory conclusion.

While the plan to villainize Daenerys Targaryen is said to be how George R.R. Martin envisioned the ending, the way it was pulled off in the series was the problem. Played by Emilia Clarke, the character’s downfall from an idealistic young leader played too quickly for fans to believe in it.

With memories of her visionary leadership still fresh in fans’ minds, she was seen wreaking havoc and killing thousands of people as she burned down King’s Landing in the final season. Several plotholes and story threads were left alone; for example, the Night King, the series’s principal antagonist, met a rather underwhelming end at the hands of Arya Stark.

D&D had issues working with George RR Martin

A lack of source material for Game of Thrones aside, the inability of the writers to work for the time required, and tensions with Martin led to the season being rushed. While HBO might have realized that there has been a dropoff, the network also had an incentive to bring an end to the series.

The immense production demands, the escalating costs of retaining a star-studded cast, and the ever-increasing expectations of fans made it clear that the show could not continue indefinitely. This pressure was exacerbated by the desire of key production team members, including D&D, to move on to other projects.

The opportunity to work on a beloved franchise like Star Wars was undoubtedly enticing, but it also meant that Game of Thrones had to be wrapped up quickly. Finally, fans of Game of Thrones over the years had grown accustomed to intricate character development, political intrigue, and the slow burn of complex narratives. However, as the final season approached, it became apparent that the storytelling was becoming rushed.

Major character arcs were resolved hastily, and plot points that once would have unfolded over multiple episodes were condensed into mere minutes. The pacing of the narrative proved highly problematic in the final episodes of Game of Thrones, with many unexplained trends and plotlines bringing criticism from all corners.

Still, the series has an overall rating of 9.2 on IMDB and will forever be cherished by fans as one of the classics. Game of Thrones’ legacy has also continued with the subsequent release of the House of the Dragon series, which takes place around 200 years before John Snow is born. While fans were undoubtedly left unsatisfied with how season 8 ended, Game of Thrones still cemented its place as one of the best of all time.

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Edited by Sankalp