Sure it’s just fiction. But given the intensity with which fans have been debating and arguing over the possible scenarios of HBO’s Game of Thrones series finale, you’d think many had a personal stake in the Emmy Award-winning drama. Well, they do. Eight years is a long-term commitment and ample time for characters well-written to become familiar, three-dimensional personalities. Emotional investment is just one of the possible side effects of immersing yourself in a compelling television show.
Ask Emilia Clarke, the actor who has channeled Game of Thrones favorite Daenerys (aka Dany) for almost a decade. Hours before the series finale on May 19, 2019, she posted on Instagram.
“Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me. The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart…”
Fans have shared that same intense connection, tuning in on Sundays and binge-watching old episodes in between and during current seasons. It is estimated that 10.7 million people might actually take a sick day or vacation day because of the finale. Some have avidly studied the Game of Thrones family tree as if there was an upcoming reunion in their future, others demanded a remake of Season 8 when episodes failed to meet their expectations. It may sound silly, but it is not surprising, as is the swirling audience desire for the show to end the way THEY want it to end.
When viewers take characters on as family, or if a show has become their family ritual or an anticipated positive event, most will experience a sense of loss when the show ends. Like real life, most people want their favorite characters to succeed and their least favorite to be brought to justice.
But if viewers aren’t given that, they at least want to know what happens. The biggest water cooler frenzy on May 20, 2019 would be if the final scene cut to black The Soprano’s style. For most people, not knowing is worse than knowing the dreaded outcomes. That is because the mind can often create far worse scenarios. Family members might be on a need-to-know basis, but when it comes to most things, including television endings, they usually want to know.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss recently shared their thoughts about the Game of Thrones finale in a Rolling Stone interview.
“It’s hard to encapsulate 10 years of our lives spent with so many of the best people we know, doing something we were all proud to be a part of. We’ll probably be dealing with the end of the show long after the show is actually over.”
Isn’t that the truth. Game of Thrones— it’s a family affair. And families are rarely quiet.