Winter is here. And with it, the cold and harsh reality of life without new episodes of Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones fans only have six more episodes of the most highly anticipated show of the year in Season 8 to look forward to, starting this Sunday, April 14th on HBO. It’s been predicted that close to 1 billion people around the globe will tune in to watch the season premiere. AYTM surveyed 1,000 of these Game of Thrones viewers to get their opinions on a range of topics from favorite characters to anticipated plot lines to their preference for a dragon vs. a direwolf. Read on to find out what the fans hope will happen as the show wraps up.
THE NIGHT IS DARK AND POSSIBLY FULL OF SPOILERS
If you haven’t yet watched all of the first seven seasons like 41% of the Game of Thrones viewers we surveyed, be warned that this article includes the names of some characters who die. If you have so far avoided seeing any spoilers in the media and don’t want to know, stop reading now. For the rest of you, let’s get into it.
The Premiere (Night's) Watch
Streaming is the leading way Game of Thrones viewers plan to watch Season 8, with 53% saying they will watch via HBO Go, HBO Now, or Hulu with HBO. Viewers ages 18-44 were most likely to stream the show. 37% plan to watch via cable or satellite TV and just 4% will watch via the mobile app. Other responses included waiting for the DVD to come out. When asked which category of HBO subscriber best describes them:
- 46% subscribe to HBO all year long
- 27% subscribe to HBO only when Game of Thrones is airing
- 21% are not subscribers but watch the show at the homes of subscribing friends or family members
Game of Thrones viewers were fairly evenly split regarding their episode viewing style. 39% plan to watch each episode as it airs, 31% will watch each episode when they get the chance, and 26% plan to extend the anticipation by waiting for all episodes to be available for binging.
A Party of Ice and Fire
To say that Game of Thrones fans are excited about the premiere would the understatement of the year. There is massive buzz on social media and the stars of the show have been all over the late night TV show circuit. We were curious if fans were planning to attend premiere night parties and if so, would they go in costume. Turns out that 69% of our respondents are not planning to attend a watch party on premiere night. Of the 30% who will be going to premiere parties, 15% are hosting the party in their home, 14% are going to a party at a friend or family member’s home, and 2% are going to a party at a bar, restaurant, or club. 23% of partygoers plan to go in costume. Most popular costumes include Jon Snow, Daenerys Targaryen, and a dragon.
Fandom Growing Strong
Since it first aired in 2011, Game of Thrones has become a global phenomenon with millions of viewers at all levels of fandom from casual watchers to superfans. Game of Thrones has invaded every aspect of viewer’s lives including their refrigerators and pantries. A fan can quench their thirst with a multitude of Game of Thrones themed beer, soda, and liquor. Or they can whip up a meal from the official Game of Thrones companion cookbook, A Feast of Ice and Fire.
Viewers can express their love of the show by wearing Game of Thrones clothing, playing show-inspired video games, and so much more. Here are the top 10 Game of Thrones fan activities among the viewers we surveyed:
- 34% have watched seasons 1-7 multiple times
- 18% have read all of the books in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series
- 14% have bought official Game of Thrones merchandise
- 14% have played the official Game of Thrones video game
- 13% have memorized the names of the actors who play every character.
- 11% have installed a Game of Thrones app on their phone
- 11% have read or written fan fiction related to the show
- 10% have bought the special edition Game of Thrones Oreos
- 9% have bought Game of Thrones themed beer
- 8% have dressed as one of the characters for Halloween
Fire and Blood and Favorites
When it comes to the viewers’ favorite house, House Stark takes the top spot, chosen by 47% of respondents. 23% chose House Targaryen, 10% for House Lannister, with the rest of the houses getting <4%.
Of course, viewers have their favorite characters - Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow were the most beloved among our respondents.
Top 5 Favorite Female Characters
- Daenerys Targaryen
- Arya Stark
- Sansa Stark
- Brienne of Tarth
Top 5 Favorite Male Characters
- Jon Snow
- Tyrion Lannister
- Ned Stark
- Khal Drogo
- Samwell Tarly
As far as non-human characters on the show, the Game of Thrones viewers we surveyed would much prefer to have a dragon (51%) than a direwolf (35%). Men were more likely to choose to have a dragon, while women were more likely to choose to have a direwolf. Reasons for wanting a dragon included:
- “It will shoot fire at people and fly you to places.”
- “Because really, what would top a dragon?”
Among those who preferred a direwolf, reasons included:
- “More loyal and sweet.”
- “Well, come on, best dog ever.”
***If you couldn’t help yourself and read this far, you are OK. But do not pass beyond this “Wall” if you are avoiding spoilers. This is your last warning.***
All men must die. Game of Thrones is filled with heroes and villains, but the line between the two is not always clear. Many of the characters have become fan favorites over the years, hero or villain. Alas, some of them have met their deaths too soon in the eyes of the viewers. There have been several shocking and surprising deaths during the first seven seasons. We asked viewers who’s death they found the most devastating and Ned Stark topped the list. The deaths of Hodor, Robb Stark, Catelyn Stark, and Khal Drogo were also taken hard by the fans. Viewers also have characters they love to hate and when they die it can be quite satisfying. The top three characters who viewers felt deserved to die:
- Joffrey Baratheon
- Ramsay Bolton
- Petyr Baelish (Little Finger).
Winter Is Here
And now we reach the meat of the matter. What will happen in the final season - who will live, who will die, and most importantly, who will take the Iron Throne? Among our respondents, the two front runners for the throne are Daenerys Targaryen and Jon Snow, each getting 25% of the vote. Women were more likely to choose Daenerys. Coming in at 10% is the idea that no one will be seated on the Iron Throne. 9% chose Tyrion Lannister, 7% picked Arya Stark, and just 3% chose the Night King.
Another popular theory is that Cersei Lannister will die but who will kill her? 26% of viewers are hoping it will be Arya Stark, 19% chose Jaime Lannister, and 16% think Tyrion Lannister should do the deed.
In their own words, here are some plot lines that viewers hope to see:
- “I hope that Jon and Daenerys end up together and I hope at least the two fire breathing dragons remain alive. I hope the rest of the Starks keep their lives.”
- “Defeat the Night King, restore a good ruler to Westeros, a happy ending for Brienne, resolution of Jon Snow parentage.”
- “Something surprising. I think everyone thinks the Mother of Dragons is going to end up on the throne and I really, really don't want her to.”
- “Only good things should happen to the Stark Family. Brienne should have a reunion with Jamie but end up with Tormund. Sansa for the win!!”
- “Jon’s and Dany’s relationship and him finding out his true heritage. Defeating the Night King. Cersei finally being brought down. The Hound vs. the Mountain.”
Even the cast members of Game of Thrones were caught off by the show’s ending, saying:
“It was really satisfying for us. Who knows if it will be satisfying for the fans. I think a lot of fans will be disappointed and a lot of fans will be over the moon. . ." - Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark)
"To me, [the end] was very satisfying but also very surprising and all the things that I was hoping for. It still made sense," - Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister)
“It f--ked me up ... Knowing that is going to be a lasting flavor in someone's mouth of what Daenerys is…” - Emilia Clarke (Daenerys Targaryen)
We could not be more excited!
Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken
It will be hard, but Game of Thrones viewers will survive the final season. When asked what they will do once the show comes to an end, viewers said they would:
- 46% Choose another show to binge
- 35% Start watching again from Season 1
- 33% Wait patiently for spin-offs
- 31% Sulk for a while, then move forward with life
- 17% Read all of the books in order
- 14% Read all of the books again
I suspect many fans secretly hope this isn’t truly the end of Game of Thrones, even if it comes back in a reanimated version of itself. Now, all we can do is wait and see what Game of Thrones has in store for us. Whatever happens, whether it ends as some have predicted or turns into a giant dream sequence, it is a given that the show’s ending will be something talked about for years.