By Ailin Liang
The eighth and final season of the popular television series Game of Thrones, produced by HBO, premiered on April 14th. HBO has announced that Episode 1 drew 17.4 million viewers, which sets a new franchise record, eclipsing the 16.5 million people who tuned in to watch the Season 7 finale. That makes the GoT season 8 premiere the biggest telecast in HBO’s history and the most-watched scripted entertainment program of the year (the prior record holder was CBS’ The Big Bang Theory with 14.1 million viewers).
The show also blew up Twitter, racking up 5 million tweets, a record for the show (Sam Tarly revealing the truth about Jon Snow’s parents was the most tweeted about moment). The premiere aired in 170 countries and was filled to the brim with heartwarming reunions, intertwined with one of the most gruesome deaths of the whole entire franchise.
Game of Thrones is set in the fictional Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and the continent of Essos. The series chronicles the violent dynastic struggles among the realm’s noble families for the Iron Throne, while other families fight for independence from it. Powerful families — kings and queens, knights and renegades, liars and honest men — playing a deadly game for control of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, and to sit atop the Iron Throne.
Episode budgets were in excess of $15 million each, unheard of in the industry previously. These costs went towards manufacturing weaponry, sets in a dozen countries, cast and crew salaries and dozens of special effects houses needed to bring some of the show’s more fantastical elements — like fire-breathing dragons — to life.
Anticipation for the final season has been high ever since filming began on October 23th, 2017 and concluded in July 2018. With only 6 episodes for the eighth season, viewers are anxious to find out what happens next. Who ends up on the Iron Throne? What happens with Jon and Daenerys’ relationship now that Jon is revealed to be her nephew? And will Jon Snow and Daenery Targaryen’s combined forces defeat the Night King and his Night Walkers?
Tune in to HBO every Sunday from now until May 19th to watch the final season.