However, despite being a hit with industry voters, it proved to be divisive among hardcore fans of the Sky Atlantic-HBO show. Many complained it felt rushed, and a lot were unhappy with the fates that befell their favourite characters. A petition, signed by over a million fans, called for HBO to remake the whole season.
And now you can now add a former cast member to the list of people disappointed by the finale.
Consisting of just six episodes, the final season finished on 19 May, and watching along at home - along with millions of other fans - was Natalia Tena who played the Wilding Osha during four seasons of the show. Like the scores who signed the petition Tena admits she was not happy with how the show ended.
Talking on Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time podcast, Tena says she was enjoying Season 8 up to the point where Maisie Williams’ Arya Stark killed the Night King in episode three: ‘The Long Night’.
“I liked up to then,” Tena says on the episode that also features Thrones star Faye Marsay, who played the Waif in seasons 5 and 6.
“But after that… I feel like… I just didn’t understand it. The calibre of writing towards the end, and the plots, and everything that happened, and how they wrapped up, compared to any other season, any other bit, it just feels like it’s been written by different people.
“It doesn’t make sense. For me.”
Tena says she binged season eight in one sitting on the houseboat she shares with her boyfriend, and admits to feeling tipsy by the time she reached the halfway point of the series.
“I was a few glasses of wine in when I watched that. I’d binge watched the whole thing, but I ended up… my boyfriend had to leave the boat, because I was ranting for an hour at him about how much I didn’t like it. Then I rang my friend to rant to him.”
Although she wouldn’t go as far as signing the petition, and says she’s made peace with the final series, she says she remains confused by the decisions made by showrunners David Benioff & D. B. Weiss who wrote the four final episodes.
“I’m cool. It’s done. I don’t think I’d go as far as petition. I think they had to end it... I don’t understand why they made those choices.”
Faye Marsay, who’s currently appearing alongside Tena in a production of David Greig’s Europe at the Donmar Warehouse, says it’s unfair to judge the show based on its last season.
“People are always going to be pissed off with how it ended though,” counters Marsay. “The fans are such fanatics, and that’s wonderful, and thank God that we’ve had jobs in that world, but I always feel like whatever you write, they’re still going to be annoyed by it.
“I know Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] - the showrunners - well and they’re wonderful talented human beings, and whether it’s pissed people off or not, Game of Thrones did the job of being an amazing piece of television.
“And so in that respect it did its job, whether they like the ending or not, it did its job.”
The cast of Game of Thrones S8 have universally defended the final season from its critics. At San Diego Comic Con in July, actor Conleth Hill, who played Varys throughout the show’s eight season run, blamed the media for the poor response to its final episodes.
“We’re very grateful for your fandom over the years and I think this is the reality rather than a media-led hate campaign,” remarked Hill.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who portrayed Jaime Lannister, was a little more diplomatic with his thoughts on the backlash to the show, according to Variety.
“If it comes to an end, it’s gonna p*** you off no matter that because it’s the end. If you hated the ending, if you loved the ending, that’s great. Just don’t call people names.”
Listen to the full episode of Kate Thornton’s White Wine Question Time with Natalia Tena and Faye Marsay when it launches tomorrow, or subscribe on Apple or Spotify to get first access to all the celebrity confessions.