The “Game of Thrones” phenomenon


Photo courtesy of HBO

Emilia Clarke stars in “Game of Thrones” as Mother of Dragons, Breaker of Chains, Daenerys Targaryen. This still from season six episode three titled Oathbreaker highlights Daenerys being escorted by the Dorthraki.

Story by Will Hanson, Assistant A&E Editor

The Home Box Office television show, “Game of Thrones,” began as a somewhat smaller success compared to what it has become today.

The story follows nine families fighting for control of the fictional lands of Westeros. The show stars Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Kit Harington, Sophie Turner, and Maisie Williams among others.

“Game of Thrones” was originally created as an adaptation of “A Song of Ice and Fire,” a series of fantasy novels written by George R. R. Martin. The first two seasons each adapted one novel, where the show continued as an adaptation of the overall book series rather than one novel at a time.

Finding Success 

When “Game of Thrones” was released in 2011, it was met with a 91 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The pilot episode was viewed by 2.22 million with the season one finale being viewed by just 3.04 million.

This is a stark comparison to the 11.76 million viewers of the premiere of the shows’ eighth and final season.

The show is now known as one of television’s first global blockbusters. HBO improved the global viewing of the show by selling the series to channels all around the world.

Although “Game of Thrones” is recognized as one of the most successful shows in modern day, it is widely known as the most pirated show in the world.

The episodes in the earlier seasons cost around 6 million dollars. The most expensive episode prior to season six was season two’s “Blackwater,” which cost HBO eight million dollars.

Starting in season six, each episode costs about 10 million dollars. This large budget makes “Game of Thrones” the most expensive television show of all time.

Although seasons seven and eight were given a smaller episode count, each were able to spend the same amount as previous seasons with the price per episode being upped to an estimated $15 million.

According to IMDB, “Game of Thrones” has been nominated for a total of 132 Emmy nominations with a total of 38 wins. This includes seven consecutive nominations for Outstanding Drama Series.


Dr. Joe Watson, Professor and chair of the department of Mass Media and visual arts, is a huge fan of the show for many reasons.

“The quality of sets and costumes and the acting. The actors are just amazing, and you truly forget you’re watching actors,” Watson said.

Watson believes that the show is so successful because it does a great job at creating strong, fully formed characters to which viewers become attached.

“There’s a thing called ‘parasocial breakup,’ that when your favorite characters in a TV show go away you mourn their loss,” Watson said. “There are certain characters that I relate to in such a way that I feel like I know them like my friends.”

Junior Daniel Griese also believes that “Game of Thrones” changes things when it comes to how it handles its beloved group of characters.

“I think that the show does a great job of making you attached to characters and their development while making no characters safe,” Griese said.

The show is known for rarely hesitating to kill off a main cast member with going so far as to kill multiple off in the same episode or even in the same scene.

Its cast of characters can make for strong opinion on the best character.

“My favorite character is Tormund Giantsbane because of (the) giant’s milk and his comedic pursuit of the big women,” Griese said.

Powerful Music

The widely recognizable theme song has become a staple in songs hummed, sung and used alongside memes. The theme was composed by Ramin Djawadi and was first included in the pilot episode of the show. Djawadi began writing the title sequence after seeing the first two episodes of the show and being shown an early animation of what would become the famous title sequence.

Djawadi composed musical themes specific for many of the central characters and will incorporate subtle alterations over time to symbolize development a character is going through. Djawadi won a Emmy Award for his work on “Game of Thrones” and has been nominated for two Grammy Awards.

He has scored many other famous films and television shows. Some of these include “Westworld,” “Iron Man,” “Prison Break,” among many others.

In late 2017, Djawadi led a 72-date tour across North America and Europe, that was titled the “Game of Thrones Live Concert Experience.”


“Game of Thrones” has been propelled to become one of the most successful television shows of all time. This is partially in thanks to the large amount of coverage and conversation about the show on social media. 

Watson also believes that the internet has had an impact on the success of the show.

“People don’t want to be left out of social interactions,” Watson said. “When everything in your Facebook, or Snapchat, or Instagram, or Twitter timeline is about ‘Game of Thrones’ I think it enhances that sense of that you’re missing out on a cultural moment.”

The Legacy

Senior Kelli Peltier is also a huge fan of “Game of Thrones.”

“I like that the show is so original,” Peltier said. “I’ve never watched anything like it.”

Peltier enjoys the unpredictability of the storyline and how each episode always makes her want to continue watching.

“Every episode always ends on a cliffhanger. I have to know what happens next.”

She enjoys the overarching story of the fight for the seven kingdoms and believes that this, along with the extreme level of unpredictability constantly present in the show, is what Peltier finds so compelling.

“Game of Thrones” currently sits at number 10 in IGN’s list of “Top 100 TV Shows of All Time,” preceded by “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” and “Lost.” The show is also included on other similar lists.