Winter is coming, and so is the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones. It has been a long and tumultuous journey for fans, and there is a part of us that simultaneously can’t wait for the story to come to a close and won’t know what to do with ourselves once it is finished. But the complex fantasy tale is coming to an end, and we all just have to deal with it.
Throughout the course of the show, there have been plenty of up and down moments. Given how successful the show is, the highs definitely outweigh the lows. There are moments in Game of Thrones that have you at the edge of your seat, holding your breath. However, there are also moments that make you want to close your eyes and walk away.No television show is perfect, but Game of Thrones comes quite close. Even the “inexcusable” storylines in the show are only marginally bad.
Plus, when you look at the show as a whole, one of the most fantastic things about Game of Thrones is that every storyline so far has contributed to where the story is now. Every moment has led to this upcoming season, and it makes the show one of the most cohesive stories ever told on television. That said, we better review all these good and bad storylines before the new season pops out on April 14. We have to prepare our souls for the triumph and heartbreak to come. Read on if you want to review the storylines that hurt the series and the storylines that saved it.
20 HURT: Daenerys At Qarth
Daenerys Targaryen’s introduction in the first season was riveting. We saw her rise from being sold to a Dothraki Khal to emerging from a fiery pyre with three newly hatched dragons. After that season finale, fans could not wait to see what lay in store for her next.
Imagine our disappointment when the second season of Game of Thrones took Daenerys to Qarth, the most boring city that was or ever will be. Dany’s time there felt uninspired, and we couldn’t wait for her to get the heck out of there. Beyond seeing her dragons learn the word, “Dracarys,” we could find no enjoyment in this storyline.
19 SAVED: Tyrion’s Tenure As Hand Of The King
Tyrion ingratiated himself to fans with his sharp wit and dry humor. In no other season did these attributes of his shine so much as during the second season. Tyrion came to King’s Landing to rule as Joffrey’s temporary Hand of The King.
No one can deny that he was in his element there. He put those corrupt politicians in their place. We got to see Tyrion play the game, and he was definitely good at it. Thanks to this storyline, we got to know Tyrion as a person better, and we got to see him prepare for his future role as Hand of the Queen for Daenerys.
18 HURT: Ros’ Entire Story
Ros was a character we met back at Winterfell, before Ned Stark made his fateful journey to King’s Landing. She moved to the capital as well and became one of Littlefinger’s ladies. Her tale tragically ended when Joffrey had his way with her using his favorite crossbow.
Ros, though spunky and delightful in her own way, was just a fountain of exposition. Her character was only ever truly used to convey information to viewers in a “visually pleasing” manner. All of these things combined made for a rather “meh” storyline.
17 SAVED: The Red Wedding
Before we’re lambasted for saying the Red Wedding is one of Game of Thrones saving graces, just hear us out. The Red Wedding was a major storyline that had lasting effects throughout the rest of the show.
Arya’s time with the Hound and quest for vengeance would not have happened if the Freys had not slain her family at the Twins. That’s just one of the storylines affected by the Red Wedding. There are countless more. Without the Red Wedding as a kind of fulcrum for the story to swing on, the rest of the seasons would not have turned out the way they did.
16 HURT: Melisandre And The Power Of King’s Blood
Stannis, Davos, and Melisandre’s introduction in the second season was riveting. They were major players in the fight for the Iron Throne. But in the third season, their storylines just floundered.
Stannis hid on Dragonstone licking his wounds, and Melisandre did nothing helpful. Sure, she invited Gendry over to the castle so that she could take some of his blood with leeches and use that blood to get rid of some kings, but beyond that, Melisandre and Stannis did nothing of note in the third season. Maybe they should have pulled a Bran and disappeared for an entire season.
15 SAVED: Daenerys Takes Control Of The Unsullied
Daenerys’ story needed a boost after her languid time at Qarth, and she got that boost in Astapor. Viewers were initially worried that Daenerys was going to sell Drogon, her biggest dragon, to one of the masters of Astapor in exchange for an Unsullied army, but Daenerys took the upper hand in this situation.
Her betrayal of the masters and her leadership of the Unsullied left fans of the show cheering, feeling exulted by the Mother of Dragons and her actions. While Qarth may have soured our feelings toward Daenerys, her acquisition of the Unsullied and maintained ownership of her dragons heightened them.
14 HURT: Training In The House Of Black And White
Arya stood out from the other Stark children in her desire to ignore tradition and become a skilled fighter instead of simply a lady. Fans of the show could get behind that, but confusion erupted when Arya elected to train at the House of Black and White.
This place is home to the Faceless Men, servants of the Many-Faced God. To a Faceless Man, identity is a thing of the past. In order to train as a Faceless Man, Arya Stark had to become no one, and that never sat right with fans of the show. We were all ecstatic when she left the gloomy confines of that mausoleum of faces.
13 SAVED: Joffrey’s Doom
Joffrey made for a great antagonist. While we all despised the petulant and sadistic prince, you have to admit, disliking Joffrey was one of the joys Game of Thrones afforded us. The scheming and pitfalls that occurred before and after Joffrey’s poisoning were some of the highlights of the show.
The mystery surrounding this storyline was finally disclosed in the show’s seventh season, when Olenna Tyrell admitted that she was the one who had orchestrated the entire thing. There was a satisfaction to be found in Joffrey’s demise, but there was even more satisfaction to be found in the reasons behind it.
12 HURT: The Mutineers Of The Night’s Watch
Normally, any storyline having to do with Jon Snow and the Night’s Watch was an engaging one to follow. Not so with the mutineers holed up in Craster’s Keep.
After stabbing their Lord Commander in the back, several brothers of the Night’s Watch stayed behind north of the Wall, living lawless lives with no order. Jon Snow has to take a band from Castle Black to rout the mutineers from the place. It felt like a time-waster of a storyline. Plus, it included a moment where Bran could have reunited with Jon and didn’t.
11 SAVED: Oberyn Martell At King’s Landing
While Oberyn Martell’s time at the capital ended…explosively, his actions, while he was still amongst the living, were a delight to watch. He brought a slight amount of chaos to the equation with his presence. He was an unknown player to the game; we didn’t know what he would do next. All you knew for sure was that he wanted justice for his sister and her children.
He was only around for a single season, but Oberyn will never be forgotten by the group mind as being one of the most riveting storylines in Game of Thrones to date.
10 HURT: When Shae Turned On Tyrion
Shae and Tyrion’s relationship in the book is different from their relationship in the show. The show took their romance to a whole other level, clearly showcasing that they both had a deep and abiding affection for each other.
This was great in the first couple of seasons, but when Shae inevitably betrayed Tyrion and partnered up with his father, it backfired. How could a couple so in love with each other have ended up the way Shae and Tyrion did? Not only did their break from each other hurt more than we could have thought, but it was also tinged with a vibe of insincerity.
9 SAVED: Bran’s Lessons From The Three-Eyed Raven
You know, we did not have high hopes for Bran’s storyline after he left Winterfell. When he was joining up with Jojen and Meera and trekking north of the Wall, we were checking our watches waiting for another storyline to take over.
That all changed once Bran started taking all-seeing lessons from the Three-Eyed Raven. Suddenly, Bran’s storyline became the one we wanted to spend more time with. Nothing seemed to beat Bran’s travels to the past as he uncovered more of his father’s secrets. Who would have thought Bran would have pulled ahead this late in the game, right?
8 HURT: The Sand Snakes
While Oberyn was the Many-Faced God’s gift to the world of Game of Thrones, his daughters fell short of that mark. Being the offspring of Oberyn should have meant these characters had a leg-up on other new characters viewers might have fallen in love with.
Instead, their storylines felt added-on, and there seemed to be absolutely no character development between the three of them. Plus, since their big plan revolved around poisoning the innocent Myrcella Lannister, it was hard to feel any sort of sympathy for them. The Sand Snakes were forgettable, as was their entire storyline.
7 SAVED: Hardhome
Hardhome. ‘Nuff said. Seriously though, this storyline blew viewers out of the water. This single episode accomplished so much in so little time. It showed us how far Jon Snow was willing to go to rescue the Wildlings. It showed us how many people were still trapped north of the Wall.
And most important of all, it shoved in our faces how dire the White Walker situation really is. We all lost our minds when the wights started attacking. And that moment when Jon uses Longclaw to parry a blow from a White Walker’s weapon? Our jaws are still on the floor, and it’s been a few years.
6 HURT: Daenerys Back With The Dothraki
Daenerys’ struggles with ruling Meereen, while heart-wrenching, were interesting to watch because they were new. We had never seen Daenerys try to rule before, only conquer. However, after her first flight on Drogon, instead of ending up somewhere new, Daenerys seemed to end up in a place she had been before: with a Dothraki horde.
Her emerging from the fire at Vaes Dothrak felt like a repeat moment of her “Unburnt” glory. Instead of giving us something fresh and exciting to contend with, Daenerys’ sixth season storyline felt rehashed.
5 SAVED: Hodor Holds The Door
The storyline that reveals the reason behind Hodor’s name has got to be the biggest payoff in the history of payoffs. For countless episodes, we all heard Hodor mumble a friendly, “Hodor” whenever he opened his mouth.
We just shrugged it off as the only word this kind man knew. It became silly fodder for memes. And then Game of Thrones did what it does best and ripped our hearts out with the revelation of what “Hodor” really means. This storyline is one of the most legitimately tragic in the series, and it saved the character of Hodor from being relegated to the role of comic relief.
4 HURT: Sansa’s Marriage To Ramsay
Of all the characters in Game of Thrones (aside from perhaps Theon Greyjoy), Sansa Stark has undergone the most character development. She went from whiny teenager to a calculating adult.
However, her fifth season storyline left much to be desired. Instead of moving forward in the direction we all wanted, i.e., becoming a major player in the game of thrones, Sansa regressed. She married the psychotic Ramsay Snow and became a plaything in his twisted ways. This storyline hurt Sansa’s character development, and the only good to come of it was the eventual Battle of Ramsay and Jon. Oh, and Theon’s return to the light side.
3 SAVED: Sansa’s Triumph Over Littlefinger
As if to make up for Sansa’s treatment at the hands of both Ramsay and Littlefinger, the creators of Game of Thrones gave her an excellent storyline in the seventh season. For nearly the entire season, they played with our emotions, making us think that Sansa and Arya were going to turn on each other thanks to the machinations of Lord Baelish.
To our delight and surprise, Sansa learned from Littlefinger’s teachings and ensnared him in a trap of his own making. We got to see the three younger Starks team up to bring down the conniving Petyr Baelish. It was glorious.
2 HURT: Daenerys’ Flight North And The Rescue
Look, none of us wanted to see Jon Snow, Jorah Mormont, Tormund, or the others become part of the White Walkers’ army. We are all glad that they got rescued. But the manner in which they got rescued severely hurt the seventh season, which was an otherwise strong season.
In order for Daenerys to rescue the group trapped north of the Wall, Gendry would have had to run to the Wall in a matter of hours. Then a raven would have had to have flown from Eastwatch to Dragonstone in a similar span of time. Then Daenerys and her dragons would have had to have flown back in the same fashion. This storyline muddled the timeline of the show, and it could have been fixed with some slight alterations.
1 SAVED: Jon And Daenerys Meet
Problematic romance aside, Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen meeting is, without a doubt, the most compelling storyline of the series. Why? Because the entire show has led up to that moment. Both Jon and Daenerys have had their characters built up separately, gearing up toward this conversation.
When they meet, the tension in the throne room is palpable as these two powerful characters finally speak to each other. Whether we knew it from the beginning or not, the show has been about the eventual union of these two people. This storyline has been years in the making. And only the eighth and final season will show us if it has been truly worth it.