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'Now our watch is ended': history-making 'Game of Thrones' wraps

  • 20 May 2019

HBO says the record-breaking final season drew 43 million viewers on average for each episode in the United States alone, an increase of 10 million over Season 7 in 2017.

Dragon skulls on display during the launch of The Game of Thrones Touring Exhibition at the Titanic Exhibition centre in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Wednesday, April 10, 2019. ( AP Archive )

After eight seasons and 73 episodes, HBO's long-running smash series, "Game of Thrones", wrapped up on Sunday.

The last episode of the medieval fantasy based on the novels of George R.R. Martin ran roughly an hour and 20 minutes to conclude the storyline of more than a dozen characters and intertwining plots.

The fierce competition for the fictional Iron Throne - the seat for the show's ruler, made of hundreds of swords - ended with a death and an unexpected choice to rule the fictional kingdom of Westeros.

The series had become the cornerstone of HBO's primetime offerings, but its final season was also its most divisive, with both fans and critics finding specific plot twists, particularly the handling of one primary character, troubling.

HBO says the record-breaking final season drew 43 million viewers on average for each episode in the United States alone, an increase of 10 million over Season 7 in 2017.

From its ragged beginnings - its original pilot was never aired, instead undergoing substantial re-shoots and recasting of several characters - the series became a cultural phenomenon.

Its budgets grew, with the last season's cost running as high as $15 million per episode, Variety says. It also won numerous primetime television Emmy Awards, including three for "Best Drama."

It became known for unexpected, nerve-wracking moments, including the first season's death of Eddard Stark, the nobleman played by Sean Bean, highlighted in a marketing campaign, and Season 3's "Red Wedding," a massacre in fictional wars that author Martin based on medieval Scottish history.

HBO, owned by AT&T's WarnerMedia, is already planning a prequel series, set thousands of years earlier, while creators Dan Weiss and David Benioff are scheduled to make the next series of "Star Wars" films.

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