The Iron Throne (Game of Thrones)

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"The Iron Throne"
Game of Thrones episode
Episode no.Season 8
Episode 6
Directed by
Written by
  • David Benioff
  • D. B. Weiss
Featured musicRamin Djawadi
Cinematography byJonathan Freeman
Editing byKatie Weiland
Original air dateMay 19, 2019 (2019-05-19)
Running time78 minutes
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Bells"
Next →
Game of Thrones (season 8)
List of episodes

"The Iron Throne" is the series finale of the American medieval fantasy television series Game of Thrones. The 73rd and final episode overall, "The Iron Throne" is the sixth episode of the eighth season, and was written and directed by series co-creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.[1] It first aired on HBO on May 19, 2019. It is the only episode of the season that does not feature the "Game Revealed" and "Inside the Episode" behind-the-scenes specials, which were recorded, yet unreleased for unknown reasons; however, a featurette on the making of the episode was included with the home media release of Season 8.

In the episode, the characters deal with the aftermath of Daenerys Targaryen's (Emilia Clarke) devastation of King's Landing and determining who will finally rule Westeros.

The episode garnered mixed responses from critics and audiences. Although most critics took issue with the episode's story arcs, pacing and tone,[2][3] some others deemed it a satisfying conclusion to the series, praising the acting and visuals.[4][5][6] Benioff and Weiss received directing and writing nominations for the episode at the 71st Primetime Emmy Awards, whilst Kit Harington and Peter Dinklage selected the episodes to support their nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, respectively. Dinklage won in his category.[7]


Jon and Davos survey the destruction that Daenerys brought on King's Landing. Tyrion finds the crushed corpses of Cersei and Jaime in the ruins of the Red Keep, and mourns them. Grey Worm and his men are executing Lannister soldiers; when Jon attempts to intervene, he responds that he is acting on Daenerys' orders. Daenerys declares to the Unsullied and Dothraki that they "liberated" the people of King's Landing, and she will "liberate" the entire world. Tyrion publicly resigns as Daenerys' Hand in protest, and she has him arrested for treason.

Arya warns Jon that Daenerys will kill him because his Targaryen heritage makes him a threat to her rule. Jon visits Tyrion in captivity, who tells Jon that despite the love they both have for Daenerys, it is Jon's duty to kill her for being the people's greatest threat. Tyrion also warns Jon that Arya and Sansa will not bend the knee to Daenerys, putting all of House Stark in danger.

Jon confronts Daenerys in the destroyed throne room. Daenerys blames Cersei for the deaths of the civilians for using them as human shields, and refuses to forgive Tyrion or the Lannister prisoners, arguing that their executions – and a continued "liberation" campaign – are necessary to establish her vision of a good world. Unable to dissuade Daenerys, a conflicted Jon reaffirms his fealty to her, then fatally stabs her as they kiss. As Jon grieves, Drogon arrives. After discovering that Daenerys has been murdered, an anguished Drogon melts the Iron Throne, and then carries her body away to the east.

Weeks later, the lords and ladies of the Seven Kingdoms convene to discuss the fates of Tyrion and Jon, still imprisoned by Grey Worm. Tyrion suggests that future monarchs be chosen by a council of lords and ladies, instead of inheriting the crown. This suggestion is agreed upon by the lords and ladies present, and Tyrion nominates Bran to be the new king of the Seven Kingdoms, dubbing him Bran the Broken. Everyone agrees with the nomination except for Sansa, who declares the North's independence from the Seven Kingdoms. Now King of the Six Kingdoms, Bran accepts the North's secession and appoints Tyrion as his Hand so that Tyrion can make amends for his various wrongs. Bran sentences Jon to rejoin the Night's Watch for life to appease Grey Worm. He and the Unsullied then depart with the Dothraki for Missandei's homeland of Naath.

A short time later, Tyrion convenes a new Small Council consisting of Bronn (Master of Coin), Brienne (Lord Commander of the Kingsguard), Davos (Master of Ships), and Sam (Grand Maester). As they begin planning to rebuild King's Landing, Bran, attended by a newly knighted Podrick Payne, briefly meets with the council before departing whilst enquiring the whereabouts of Drogon. Brienne, in her duties as Lord Commander, completes Jaime's entry in the Book of Brothers, which greatly expands his accomplishments. Sam is working on completing a book begun by a previous maester after the death of King Robert Baratheon. The book will document everything that has happened over the previous few years, and is titled A Song of Ice and Fire.

Arya decides to set sail and explore the uncharted Sunset Sea west of Westeros. Sansa returns to Winterfell and is crowned Queen in the North. Jon returns to Castle Black and reunites with Tormund, his direwolf Ghost, and the rest of the wildlings. Jon leads them to return to the lands beyond the Wall, as the millennia-long winter in that region finally begins to thaw.



The episode was written by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss. It contains original content not found in George R. R. Martin's novels, but also contains content planned for future novels: Isaac Hempstead Wright stated that Benioff and Weiss told him Bran becoming king was an idea presented to them directly from Martin.[8]


The episode was directed by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss.

During filming of the Dragonpit scene in Seville, Spain, actors Vladimir Furdik (The Night King), Faye Marsay (The Waif), Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H'ghar), and Kit Harington (Jon Snow) were brought by HBO to the city as decoys to hide plot points.[9][10] In the same scene, two plastic water bottles were spotted by the audience behind John Bradley and Liam Cunningham's feet.[11][12]



The episode was viewed by 13.61 million viewers on its initial live broadcast on HBO, making it the most watched episode of the series, surpassing the preceding episode "The Bells", as well as the most-watched HBO telecast ever, surpassing the 13.4 million viewers of The Sopranos episode "For All Debts Public and Private". An additional 5.7 million viewers watched on streaming platforms, for a total of 19.3 million viewers.[13][14]

In the United Kingdom, the episode was watched by 5.12 million on Sky Atlantic, according to the British Audience Research Board.

Critical response[edit]

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 47% of 136 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.3/10. The website's consensus reads, "If nothing else, 'The Iron Throne' is a bittersweet -- if unfortunately bland -- series finale that ensures Game of Thrones fans will linger on the fate of their favorite characters for some time. Will they ever be satisfied by the show's conclusions? Ask us again in 10 years."[15] It is the lowest-rated episode of the series on the website.[16]

James Poniewozik of The New York Times felt the story insufficiently explained why Daenerys burned King's Landing and how she arrived at her final character point, stating that "a woman, abused and traded like chattel, becomes so caught up in her zeal to do good that she sees anything but blind adoration as evil" was a solid idea, but that viewers were not taken "inside her perspective to make that change seem real and inevitable." Poniewozik said "small character moments" like Tyrion straightening chairs, Arya sailing west and Jon rejoining the Wildlings "made emotional sense".[17] Hank Stuever of The Washington Post, who watched with lowered expectations, said the series "sailed (and trotted) off to a noble and perhaps anticlimactic end...It was everything nobody wanted, but it was still quite a thing: adequately just, narratively symmetrical and sufficiently poignant. It went long on swelling imagery and somewhat short on dialogue."[18] Laura Prudom of IGN wrote that the finale was "not a disaster", but also "not quite the dream of spring we might've hoped for", "struggling to resolve many of the show's lingering plot threads in a satisfying and coherent conclusion, and once again falling victim to the season's needlessly truncated episode order."[19]

Some critics took issue with the episode's pacing and final revelations. Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic wrote that the finale was "tonally odd, logically strained, and emotionally thin" and a "drama turned into a sitcom". Lenika Cruz, also writing for The Atlantic, wrote that the episode had "pacing issues, rushed character development, tonal dissonance, the lack of attention to detail, unexplained reversals, and weak dialogue".[2] Kelly Lawler of USA Today wrote, "Tragedy and injustice were as baked into the series' identity as dragons and battles," but the finale was "unrecognizable. It was hacky; it was clichéd. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda...It didn't gracefully swerve into another lane, it careened off a cliff."[3] Inkoo Kang of Slate wrote that "We know governance is complicated, and the show’s depiction of those complications is one of the reasons why it initially felt so refreshingly relatable – but the finale’s argument that an abdication of responsibility is the best we can hope for in a leader – feels lazy and false."[20]

Conversely, TV Guide's consensus concluded that the Game of Thrones finale "finished strong," ranking it #33 on the list of all 73 episodes.[4][5] Richard Roeper, writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote that "over all, the finale was a solid and largely satisfying wrap-up to one of the most exciting and enthralling TV series ever," and was "melancholy, bittersweet, twist-filled and at times surprisingly humorous."[6] Hugh Montgomery of BBC also rated the episode 4/5, writing that the finale largely satisfies "on the terms the creators have [previously] set out" in the "ruinous" penultimate episode. Bran becoming king was "true to the show’s sense of realpolitik" as a "contingently happy ending", whereas the show "provides an efficient, if disappointingly uncontroversial, ending" for Jon, Arya and Sansa.[21] Karl Quinn of The Age wrote that the show "may have resolved itself" too quickly in dramatic terms, but Bran's ascension "made perfect sense" thematically according to the show's "anti-war and anti-despot themes...After all the bloodshed, butchery and burning, Game of Thrones ended not with a bang but with a ballot."[22] Lucy Mangan of The Guardian gave a 4/5 rating, stating that "the finale just about delivered. It was true to the series' overall subject – war, and the pity of war – and, after doing a lot of wrong to several protagonists last week, did right by those left standing."[23]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series David Benioff and D. B. Weiss Nominated [24][25]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Kit Harington Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Peter Dinklage Won
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series David Benioff and D. B. Weiss Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Jonathan Freeman Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Katie Weiland Nominated


  1. ^ "The Iron Throne". HBO. Home Box Office, Inc. Retrieved June 13, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Sims, David; Kornhaber, Spencer; Cruz, Lenika (May 20, 2019). "Did Viewers Win or Lose in the Game of Thrones?". The Atlantic. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Lawler, Kelly. "'Game of Thrones' series finale recap: A disaster ending that fans didn't deserve". USA Today. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Here's Where Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 6 'The Iron Throne' Falls in Our Ranking | TV Guide". TV Guide. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Game of Thrones: Every Episode Ranked From Worst to Best : 33. "The Iron Throne" (S8E6) | TV Guide". TV Guide. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Roeper, Richard (May 19, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' finale review: Enthralling series comes to a satisfying end". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  7. ^ "2019 Primetime Emmy Awards Nomination Press Release" (PDF). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. July 16, 2019. Retrieved July 18, 2019.
  8. ^ Isaac Hempstead Wright Sees Bran’s Ending as a 'Real Victory'. Making Game of Thrones. 29 May 2019.
  9. ^ Hempstead Wright, Isaac (May 20, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' Star Isaac Hempstead Wright on His Path to That "Extraordinary" Ending (Guest Column)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  10. ^ Cupin, Bea (May 27, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' finale: Kit Harington flew to Spain 'as decoy'". Rappler. Retrieved May 28, 2019.
  11. ^ Picheta, Rob (May 20, 2019). "A Song of Coffee and Water: 'Game of Thrones' leaves plastic bottle in shot during finale". CNN. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  12. ^ Betz, Bradford (May 20, 2019). "Fans spot apparent water bottle gaffe in 'Game of Thrones' series finale: report". Fox News. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  13. ^ "'Game of Thrones' finale sets new viewership record". CNN. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  14. ^ "GAME OF THRONES Concludes with All-Time HBO Record; BARRY Quadruples Prior Season Finale". HBO PR Medium. May 20, 2019. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  15. ^ "The Iron Throne". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved August 18, 2021.
  16. ^ "Every Game of Thrones Episode Ranked by Tomatometer". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. October 20, 2021. Retrieved May 31, 2022.
  17. ^ Poniewozik, James (May 21, 2019). "'Game of Thrones' Comes in for a Crash Landing". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 22, 2019.
  18. ^ Stuever, Hank. "The 'Game of Thrones' finale, while lacking, goes out on an important note: Stories matter". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  19. ^ Prudom, Laura. "Game of Thrones Episode 6 Review". IGN. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  20. ^ Kang, Inkoo (May 21, 2019). "Game of Thrones' Ending Betrayed the Show's Lofty Ambitions". Slate. Retrieved May 21, 2019.
  21. ^ Montgomery, Hugh. "How good is the Game of Thrones finale?". BBC. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  22. ^ Quinn, Karl (May 20, 2019). "Why that Game of Thrones finale made perfect sense (but yes, it was rushed)". The Age. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  23. ^ Mangan, Lucy (May 20, 2019). "Game of Thrones review – epic final episode corrects some major wrongs". The Guardian. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  24. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (September 22, 2019). "Emmys 2019: Game of Thrones Ties Record and Leads TV Pack; Fleabag, Chernobyl and Mrs. Maisel Win Big". TVLine. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  25. ^ Hill, Libby (September 14, 2019). "Complete Creative Arts Emmy Awards 2019 Winners List: 'Game of Thrones' Torches Competitors". IndieWire. Retrieved September 24, 2019.

External links[edit]