The Ruined Legacy of Game of Thrones: How House of the Dragon Might Redeem It

Game of Thrones is without a doubt the most influential TV show of the 2010s. Premiering in 2011, the series immediately grabbed the attention of viewers from all around the world for over 9 years, ending with its final season in 2019. 

I didn’t watch Game of Thrones when it first aired as I was far too young to watch it, and for the next several years I just didn’t care enough to pay attention to it. Then, in the summer of 2018, one of my best friends and I were walking around in a book shop when we came across the series of books. I remember my friend saying she had heard so much about it and should probably watch it. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but that small interaction led to my friend binging the series in the span of a week.

You know how it is, when a friend is obsessed with a show they will urge you to watch it too, so that you can talk about it together. So, after avoiding the show for years, I settled on my couch, turned on my TV and pressed play on the first episode of Game of Thrones.

And it was good. I quickly became engrossed in the show, watching all the – at the time – seven seasons in just a couple of weeks. Suddenly, the world’s obsession with this fantasy TV series made sense. The show had great acting, well-written characters who you hated or loved (or both) and, most of all, amazing plot. The story was an adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, a series of novels written by George R.R. Martin. It was enthralling, with enough suspense and action to keep your eyes glued to the screen while still developing the characters enough to make you care about them. 

Soon enough I became one of the millions of people speculating about the show’s eighth and final season. I consumed hours and hours of media – whether it was podcasts, videos or articles – theorising what was going to happen in the much anticipated ending. When the trailer came out I watched and rewatched it, to understand every possible hint. Finally, the season was released in April of 2019 and, despite the broadcast being at 3 AM, my friend and I watched every episode as it aired each week. 

If you have spent any amount of time on the internet since the eighth season came out, you probably already know how poorly it was received. Even more casual fans of the show were shocked by how bad the season was. It was immediately criticised by seemingly everyone, and it was coined as the worst series ending in TV history. Millions of people expressed their anger loud and clear, and thousands of videos detailing every single mistake of the show were created and uploaded on Youtube even before the show’s last episode was aired. Upset fans even created a petition on to convince HBO (the studio responsible for the franchise) to remake the last season with “competent writers”. The petition quickly gained supporters and is still receiving signatures to this day, with over 1.8 million people signing it. 

Game of Thrones Season 8 official poster

Now, I don’t intend to go over why the season failed in this article. Frankly, enough people have done so already. I actually wasn’t planning on writing an article about Game of Thrones at all. However, last week the trailer of HBO’s House of the Dragon was released and it got me thinking about the legacy of Game of Thrones.

For those who are unaware, HBO is currently working on multiple Game of Thrones spinoff shows, based on different George R.R. Martin stories. House of the Dragon will be the first to come out, premiering this August. The show will be set 200 years before the events of the original series and will deal with the infamous Dance of the Dragons, the civil war which tore apart the Targaryen family.

As more details of the show come out, it is particularly interesting to see how people are reacting to it. Some fans of Game of Thrones are still angry and disappointed because of the serie’s finale and they don’t seem to care much about this new spinoff. Rather, they are actively against the show as they believe it will be ruined just like Game of Thrones was. Though that mentality seems to be the majority (on social media at least), there are also many who are excited about the show, already theorising about what is going to happen in it. 

Personally, like many others I stood in between these two groups, at least until the trailer came out. After the last season of Game of Thrones ended, I was disappointed for a few weeks and then I simply forgot about the show. That seems to be a common motif on social media. People obsessed with the series at the time, now find themselves not thinking about it at all. Game of Thrones went from being the most famous TV show in the world for a decade to being mostly forgotten by the general public, seemingly because of one bad season. In retrospect, this is not strictly true of course. It is clear to many that the show had been on a decline for the past several seasons, particularly from season 6 onwards. Still, aside from a few fans complaining about the awful dialogue and the invention of teleportation in season 7 (if you know you know), most watchers of the series seemed happy with it before the last six episodes in 2019.

House of the Dragon official poster

This leaves many wondering if House of the Dragon is going to be successful when it premieres this year, especially since it will be released almost simultaneously as the new Lord of the Rings spinoff show, The Rings of Power. It will surely be interesting to see which one will do better between the two. If you ask me, House of the Dragon will surely be popular. Its connection to Game of Thrones is undeniably the biggest draw to the show and both fans and haters will most likely watch it. Whether it will be well received, that’s another story. Its link to the original show will bring lots of scrutiny and distrust from the fans. Still, many clues would point towards the series being better than the last Game of Thrones seasons. 

First of all, the material which the show is based on is complete. The biggest problem with Game of Thrones was that the books it was adapting were (and remain) incomplete. In fact, George R.R Martin has been working on the next instalment of the series since 2011 and he still hasn’t finished writing it. This of course became an issue when the show caught up to the books in season 5 and was forced to continue without a book to base the story off of, having received only a few hints from Martin. On the contrary, House of the Dragon is based on a section of Fire and Blood, a 2018 book detailing the history of the Targaryen family. The story is finished, therefore the writers won’t have to invent the plot as the original show was forced to do. 

It is also encouraging to know that George R.R. Martin himself is working on the show as an Executive Producer. This, together with the director of the series having directed some fan-favourite Game of Thrones episodes, has made many fans hopeful and excited for the show. The cast is also excellent (not that the original show’s cast wasn’t) and includes some big stars like Matt Smith and Eve Best. 

The trailer is also extremely promising and is seemingly succeeding in creating interest around the show. As of the day I’m writing this, it has gained 11 million views and will likely gain more as time goes on. As someone who didn’t particularly care about House of the Dragon, this teaser trailer reminded me of why I used to love Game of Thrones and especially how much I miss the show. After the release of this teaser I’ve been rewatching some of my favourite episodes and clips of the original series and I’ve been overcome by nostalgia for what used to be my favourite TV show. 

It’s upsetting to see how quickly Game of Thrones was forgotten and how little it’s talked about merely four years after it ended. Even with the first 5 seasons being some of the best ever in the history of TV, the whole show has been ruined by the last one.  Still, I am confident this new show will bring new life to the franchise and redeem the ruined legacy Game of Thrones has left behind. And if not, it could never be as bad as season eight. Right?

Written by Elisa Paci

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