‘Game of Thrones’ Finale Hits All-Time High (And Edges ‘Big Bang Theory’)

This ‘Game of Thrones’ Fan Demands A Rewrite—And 1.2 Million Sign Petition

Daenerys
Photo: HBO
Daenerys

Warning: This story contains spoilers for Game of Thrones

The creator of the notorious Game of Thrones petition calling on HBO to remake the show’s eighth and final season only learned of its success (more than 1.2 million have signed) on Thursday, days after it went viral.

HBO’s high fantasy series Game of Thrones has for years been a juggernaut, giving the network some of its highest ratings ever. But the show’s final episodes have drawn the ire of fans and some critics who say the writing has been sloppy and plot points were unearned.

After offhandedly making the petition more than a week ago as a way to vent, Dylan (he declined to give his full name to Forbes), a 30-year-old analyst for a health system in Fort Worth, Texas, hadn’t given it a second thought. That is, until a coworker approached him after work.

“Hey, is this you?” the coworker said.

And that’s how he learned his Change.org petition had blown up. After learning of his newfound internet fame, he provided an online update, where he told the world that no one from HBO has approached him. He doesn’t reasonably expect HBO to remake anything, he said, but he wants to send a message: he’s disappointed.

In an email exchange with Forbes, here is what Dylan had to say about the petition. Warning: This contains spoilers.

What exactly prompted you to start the petition? You said it was a few days after Episode 4. What in particular were you disappointed by, both in that episode and the next one?

Really it was a combination of Episode 3 and 4’s failures that brought me to the point of writing the petition. There were many, many qualms I had with the episodes, but I’ll mention a couple. The Battle of Winterfell was a strategic disgrace. I mentioned in my long update that the show suffered from “everyone is stupid” syndrome. I’m sure there is a better term for it, but when the plot is intense and dramatic simply because every character involved is an idiot, that is not great writing. You had some of the wisest, most experienced individuals in Westeros all in one room, and THAT was the defense strategy? As for Episode 4 I had many lamentations, but the specific one that made me facepalm the hardest was how Rhaegal died. Easily one of the cheapest deaths of the whole series. I could probably go on for a long time about it, but that’ll do for now.

Have you started other Change.org petitions before?

I have not. I understand that they are normally for more social and humanitarian issues, but maybe this whole thing has drawn more people to the site that can browse these other petitions.

What do you make of the overwhelming response this petition has gotten? And some of the backlash about “entitled fans” and whatnot.

Well in my long update I talked about how I started it and how surprised I was by the response when I checked back in after a week. I was mostly just chuckling at it, taking it lightly, then I learned my parents had contacted news institutions and reporters and I was taken aback. This petition isn’t about me. Any passionate nerd could have written it. Heck I clearly put like the minimum effort into the original post! I have seen a few things calling out the petition and its signers as a whole, but nothing yet that calls me out directly. I guess if we’re entitled, we’re entitled together. I hoped to clear some things up in my update post, but I may have taken too long to put some clarifying words out there.

Did your parents reach out to reporters after you found out the petition had been doing well? Are they fans of the show as well? (Author’s note: I asked this question in a follow up email).

Yeah I had called them on my way home from work after I found out myself, just to say, "Hey check this out, neat huh?" They were notably more excited than I was about the "internet fame" and started reaching out to reporters on their own. I wasn't terribly thrilled about it, but they were excited for me. Yes, I got my parents into the show maybe around season 5 or so...can't remember when, but I introduced everyone in my immediate family to the show.

Has your life changed at all since the petition blew up?

Well since I only learned of its success [Thursday] after work, the only life impact I have experienced so far is a lack of sleep for one night. I think I was too pumped to sleep well last night! I would imagine that after the finale the petition will garner more attention, but we’ll see.

What do you hope to get out of the petition now? I know you said you don’t expect HBO to actually remake Season 8 and that no one from HBO has been in contact with you.

That’s the question isn’t it? Sometimes acknowledgement of the outcry is enough, and decisions are made behind the scenes to adjust for such backlash. I am also one of the somewhat disgruntled Star Wars fans as well – relatively unhappy with the writing of the new trilogy – so seeing D&D (D.B. Weiss and David Benioff) lose their Star Wars contracts might be interesting. I have seen people call for that. I just don’t know why they should be rewarded with another beloved story after what we saw from the end of Thrones, but who knows? If we get a Star Wars trilogy from them that's as good as the first few seasons of Thrones, I might be eating my words.

Do you still think Game of Thrones  is one of the greatest TV shows of all time?

Absolutely. It is a universal cultural phenomenon. I heard someone once say something along the lines of, “This show shouldn’t even exist. It’s this crazy, convoluted fantasy epic with dragons and zombies and castles and political drama. We should be happy it was brought to us.” That’s some huge paraphrasing, but I do agree with the sentiment. In my long update, I say that D&D deserve praise for their adaptation of the books during the first several seasons of the show. Obviously the praise stops short towards the end of the rushed series.

Topline: Despite complaints from fans about the show’s last season, the Game of Thrones series finale was the most-watched episode in HBO’s history.

  • 19.3 million viewers watched the episode across HBO, HBO GO and HBO NOW.
  • 13.6 million watched it live, beating the 2002 Season 4 premiere of The Sopranos, which drew 13.4 million.
  • It’s far from the most-viewed series finale of all time (that honor goes to the last episode of M*A*S*H on CBS with 105.9 million viewers), but it blows the other premium cable networks out of the water. Showtime’s Dexter is the next highest rated non-HBO premium cable show, with the last season averaging 2.36 million viewers.
  • Game of Thrones beat The Big Bang Theory series finale last week, which averaged 18 million viewers.

Context: Here are the most-viewed series finales of all time, according to Business Insider.

  1. M*A*S*H (CBS)—105.9 million viewers
  2. Cheers (NBC)—84.4 million
  3. Seinfeld (NBC)—76.3 million
  4. Friends (NBC)—65.9 million
  5. Magnum P.I. (NBC)—50.7 million
  6. The Cosby Show (NBC)—44.4 million
  7. All In The Family (CBS)—40.2 million
  8. Family Ties (NBC)—36.3 million
  9. Home Improvement (ABC)—35.5 million
  10. Frasier (NBC)—33.7 million

Rachel Sandler, Forbes Staff

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