Tribute To A TV Titan: Mourning 'Game Of Thrones' After The Series Finale

Game of Thrones Arya Stark Maisie Williams Jon Snow Kit Harington HBO

“Game of Thrones” is gone. An experience eight years in the making has completed its final chapter. When the series actually ended, a storm of emotions flowed to the surface. Not everything unraveled as I wanted it too. Nor did it go as expected. That sort of sums up my relationship with the entire series.

It is because it did not always give its audience what they wanted that it probably drew some of them into its mythos even more profoundly. “Game of Thrones” was not a show known for crowd-pleasing moments, as much as its tragic ones. Affection for it was built on tough love, not the tender kind.

Viewers’ patience and effort did pay off at times. Glory came, and in some cases, it was fleeting. It was those brief glimpses at euphoria and the hope to feel it again that kept this fan glued to the screen.

Hoping that some horrible plot twist would get justice. As in life, not everything was sunshine. Nor did viewers experience non-stop thunderstorms.

Having watched a lot of television, it is safe to say that few shows have meant as much to me as “Game of Thrones.” That is something I was not always aware of throughout its run. That realization came into focus at the beginning of Season 6.

The takeaway was clear. It had gotten under my skin in a way few others have. A lot of my past six years have been spent writing, commentating, thinking, and theorizing about its next move. Getting the chance to do that has caused a honing process that meant zeroing in on its various characters and their possible trajectories.

Contemplating it on an excessive level has been exhausting and exhilarating all at once. “Game of Thrones” has been a source of creativity, personal reprieve, and limitless emotional investment. Hence, watching it come to an end, stirred a tidal wave of sadness. This was the farewell no one could have really braced themselves for.

Goodbyes are not one of life's best moments. They hurt. Yes, even when they are said to television shows.

If you are mourning the end of this magnificent story, you are not alone. It is okay to feel sad and highly emotional over it. “Game of Thrones” has been a very immersive experience that has lasted for nearly a decade.

It has been a part of most of my twenties. A thread that has been sewn through a substantial segment of life. Almost an entire decade of adulthood has been running parallel to characters that are close in age. A personal first. That it possessed that reference point could explain the heightened level of attachment the show received.

Game of Thrones Sansa Stark Sophie Turner Jon Snow Kit Harington Bran Stark Isaac Hempstead Wright Arya Stark Maisie Williams HBO
Image by Helen Sloan / HBO
“Game of Thrones” was about these characters coming of age at a time when yours truly was too. Art imitating life as heartbreaks, betrayals, triumphs, and unexpected plot twists filled real and reel life.

Life is very different than it was eight years ago. Something the characters in “Game of Thrones” also experienced in a much different way. By the end, they were forever changed. Their battles, while taking place in a surreal universe, in many ways related to viewers’ lives in a real way. It touched a chord.

I had a lot of feelings about the way the show ended. Some of them not exactly happy. The final montage of the Starks going on to their respective paths remained untouched by those sentiments though. It was at that moment, “Game of Thrones” solidified a long-time feeling.

That the show’s heartbeat had coursed through Jon Snow, Arya, Sansa, and (yes) Bran Stark. They were the last of their House, and they had done what no other noble family managed to do with more than one member remaining. They endured, and they rebuilt.

Despite a tremendous amount of tragedy, they found their way back together, fought to get back on top, and survived to tell the tale.

Every Stark had different strengths, but the one they had in common was their resilience. They never gave up.

Spoilers for the series finale are discussed below.

In the series finale, the Starks were all grown up and headed in different directions. Jon saying goodbye to Arya, Sansa, and Bran was the hardest part. By the end of the show, the siblings had lost a lot, yet gained each other in a new way, only to lose each other indefinitely.

After periodically thinking one of their fellow siblings were dead, they knew those they reunited with were alive. The Stark siblings were no longer alone in the world.

Still, nothing could have prepared me for the wave of emotions that sensing the certainty of their farewell brought. As Ramin Djawadi’s sensational score played, it would take many tears with it. This was the end. Not only of an era but of a monumental contribution to television history. It was also achingly personal.

No other show has captured the investment that “Game of Thrones” has, and it earned that distinction. The joy, sorrow, and frustration that it took with it by the end proved demonstrative of a viewing history that was hard fought. It was complicated and intense. Not always easy, but undoubtedly worth staying loyal too.

Game of Thrones Sansa Stark Sophie Turner Arya Stark Maisie Williams  Bran Stark Isaac Hempstead Wright Jon Snow Kit Harington HBO
Image by HBO
It is a testament to “Game of Thrones” that personal focus was not on all of the plot points as that score played to them with intrinsic fervor. Instead, I was caught up in the stunning grief that comprised those final moments. The sense the show was slipping through my fingers despite a firm grip.

The Starks that made it to Season 7 alive were okay as Season 8 ended. Not entirely as hoped, but safe. All that really mattered as the credits rolled.

If you had told me eight years ago how sad that moment would have made me, I would have probably doubted it. There was no anticipating how emotionally driven this journey would become. How it would captivate and enthrall to the degree, it has.

Summing it up keeps going back to the word “experience,” which partially comprised the name of the show’s fantastic concert tour. “Game of Thrones” was just that. The thought of knowing that another season does not await the world, and the book is closed on these characters is hard to wrap my mind around.

I keep thinking about the characters' future before realizing, their story is over. After eight years, that is a first. No more debating upcoming plot points with those experiencing it right along with me. Or enjoying those twists play out together.

It is going to take a while before it all sinks in. The goal had been to cherish the last six weeks. Let them overtake my imagination without focusing on the inevitability of the end. That has been tough to do as it has cast a shadow on everything.

As the final minutes of “Game of Thrones” swept by, this viewer grieved what was and what would never be. There was a time, I got anxious about certain things on the show not happening quick enough. A period, which was the equivalent of wishing time with it away.

It was amid that earlier frustration that I came to an important realization. “Game of Thrones” was not going to last forever. Getting upset over those stories would not make them happen sooner. It provided a lesson worth applying in real life.

Live in the moment. Treasure what is without focusing on what isn't. Before you know it, eight years will have gone by, and you will have wondered where the time went.

I am grateful to have been on and shared this marvelous ride alongside fellow fans and loved ones. In my lifetime, I do not expect to experience another show as intensely as this one.

It is scary to think of investing in another series to this extent, ever again. The thing is, there will never be another “Game of Thrones,” so it is probably not something worth getting too worried about.

[Featured Image by Helen Sloan / HBO]