Game of Thrones set a new viewership record with its series finale, which had 19.3 million people watching.
The final episode of Game of Thrones, titled simply "The Iron Throne," was the highest-rated installment of the entire series. According to a press release from HBO, it broke the show's own record for multiplatform viewers, which includes fans watching on cable or streaming on HBO Go and HBO Now.
The episode broke HBO's record for most-watched telecast as well, with 13.6 million people watching it live at 9 p.m. The network's previous best came in 2002 with the Season 4 premiere of The Sopranos, which was watched by 13.4 million people.
As for Game of Thrones, the previous record did not stand long. The show's best before the finale was Season 8, Episode 3, "The Long Night," which aired last month. It had 17.8 million multiplatform viewers.
Overall, the series had an average of 12.5 million viewers per episode this season, as short as it was. This was even higher than the 12.1 million total viewers for the Season 7 finale in 2017.
While many millions of people tuned in for the show, not every fan was satisfied with what they saw. The show has been met with more fan outrage than ever this season, with some let down by the lightning fast pace of the finale. An online petition to remake the season with "competent writers" has garnered well over a million signatures, and fans are threatening to boycott the future projects of showrunners Dave Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
The two writers adapted the novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, for TV. Starting in Season 5, they were adapting storylines from outlines provided to them by author George R.R. Martin, who has not finished his books yet. Some fans feel that Benioff and Weiss were lost without their source material, especially because they worked almost entirely alone. Season 8 did not even feature any scripts by their former writing companion Bryan Cogman.
The real source of outrage came last month, when Benioff and Weiss confirmed that they made the decision to shorten the final two season themselves. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, they admitted that HBO would have liked for the show to keep going, but they were done with the series.
"HBO would have been happy for the show to keep going, to have more episodes in the final season," Benioff said. "We always believed it was about 73 hours, and it will be roughly that. As much as they wanted more, they understood that this is where the story ends."
For some fans, extending Seasons 7 and 8 to 10 episodes like all the previous seasons would have been enough to fix the pacing issues in the ending. Therefore, Benioff and Weiss' arbitrary time table stands out as the biggest issue in the ending of the show.
Next weekend, HBO will air a feature-length documentary on the making of Season 8 titled Game of Thrones: The Last Watch in the place of the series. It airs Sunday at 9 p.m. ET. The next novel in the series is expected soon, although no release date has been announced yet.