Game of Thrones just got a big new update after a fan rewrote the show's ending to give the fandom what they want, and many like it even better than what they got on screen.
Warning! Spoilers for Game of Thrones lie ahead!
Game of Thrones came to an end a couple months ago, and many were left hanging by the ending of the iconic series. For most, the fault was in the writing, as the last two seasons were shortened by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss. The pacing, presentation and even the events themselves were just off to many longtime fans, and screenwriter Daniel Whidden took matters into his own hands. Whidden wrote his own ending for Game of Thrones on the ThinkStory YouTube channel just to show how it could have been done.
In his video Whidden acknowledged that fans have no right to make demands of a show or take creative liberties with intellectual property that is not theirs. Nevertheless, he felt that it was in the spirit of fan fiction and literary analysis to put down his ideas for the rich world of Westeros.
“I’m a screenwriter from Toronto and have worked in Film and Television for about 6 years now,” Whidden explained in an interview with Bored Panda. “I felt season 8 was rushed and clunky and that it deserved a better ending."
Whidden draws on a rich knowledge of lore from both the show and the novels it is based on, A Song of Ice and Fire, to make his ending work. He also connects the dots on some long-running character arcs, forgotten bits of foreshadowing and magical prophecies. Much like author George R.R. Martin, Whidden wants to see the show's ending deliver what fans wanted but not in the way they expected.
Whidden sets down the ground rules in his video before getting into the details of his ideas. He explains that his two major complaints about the show's ending were the rushed death of the Night King and the rushed conclusion of many beloved character arcs. For Whidden -- as for so many others -- it was unsatisfactory for the supernatural threat that has loomed since the pilot episode to end so quickly. Likewise, he felt that many character arcs were left in the lurch, or ended too conveniently.
Whidden promised viewers that he would not do a "scene-by-scene rewrite," as it would take too long. However, he also held himself to the same time constraints as the show, with just six episodes to work with. He did not want to grapple with the issue of extending Season 7 and 8 to 10 episodes each, as it would complicate the pacing of so many existing stories.
Whidden's alternate ending has been well-received, with over 4.3 million views on YouTube and over 160,000 likes. Here is a look at his idea for the ending of Game of Thrones.
For his ending, Whidden began making changes in Season 8, Episode 3, "The Long Night," also known as "The Battle of Winterfell." Whidden first noted that he would not have put the non-warriors into the crypts of Winterfell, feeling that Tyrion or another tactician would have thought of the danger ahead of time. Instead, he would have put them into the castle's great hall, where they could have faced the same danger and action when the wights eventually knocked down the door.
Whidden felt that it would be that much more impactful if the people of Winterfell were forced into the crypts, knowing that there would be mummies waiting for them down there. That way, Tyrion and Sansa could still share a moment of bravery before plunging into battle just like those above.
Like in the show itself, Whidden wanted to see Jon drop from the sky and join the fight on the ground. However, not because he fell but because he could not resist helping his men in any way he could. Whidden's ending saw Jon and Rhaegal descending to aid in the battle.
Whidden also wanted to see Jon torn between saving his men and Bran, but trusting in Theon. In his version, Jon would dismount and run to the godswood just in time to see Theon stabbed by the Night King. At that point, he would take the leader of the ice zombies on by himself, in the greatest sword duel of the show's long history.
In a climactic moment, Whidden would have Jon stab the Night King with a dragonglass blade. However, it would not effect him, revealing to the audience that common obsidian cannot kill the Other.
Whidden's ending would have wights overrun and kill Jon's dragon Rhaegal as Jon himself battled the Night King. Then, he would have Bran skinchange with Viserion, the undead dragon controlled by the Night King. Bran would lead the dragon to breath fire onto the Night King, but this would not kill him either.
It would, however, turn the Night King's spear into dragonglass, which he would then use to kill Viserion, taking him from Bran's control. Bran would then be left trapped in his warg state, with Jon unable to awaken him.
If he had been running the show, Whidden explained, the Night King and the Army of the Deaad would have won the battle. Jon Snow, Daenerys and the forces of mankind would have been forced to retreat to King's Landing, where Cersei was holding out against them. He would have Dany scoop up Jon and Bran on her last remaining dragon, join with the other survivors and flee as Winterfell burned behind them.
They would then cut to King's Landing, where the refugees begged Cersei to let them in. The queen would grudgingly agree, with the help of Qyburn's information and a diplomatic plea from Jaime.
Of course, there would be a price to Cersei's deal. She would demand that Daenerys kneel and pledge fealty to her in front of everyone. Rather than flying into a rage, Whidden's version would have Daenerys agree, putting the lives of her people before her pride, just as Jon has done so many times.
Of course, when the Army of the Dead arrived at King's Landing, mankind would not stand a chance. Whidden's ending would feature an epic battle in Episode 5, but between the living and the dead, not Daenerys and Cersei. He would have the castle fall to the dead, but just as all seemed lost, he would show Bran snapping out of his trance.
Whidden draws on an element of the lore from the books that is rarely discussed in the show for his solution to the Night King problem: the God's Eye. In Martin's novels, there is a great lake in Westeros with a mysterious, magical island in the center called the God's Eye. There, the magic of the Children of the Forest is strong, and Whidden would have the wierwood tree where the Night King was created positioned there.
Whidden would have Bran come out of his trance and tell the surviving leaders that the only way to kill the Night King is to burn that tree. The best way to do that would be for Daenerys to fly there on Drogon and torch it. However, because Bran has been marked by the Night King's touch, the evil ice monarch would know what they were up to and hurry to defend the source of his power.
Whidden would add that destroying the wierwood would also end all the northern magic in the world, which would mean that Jon would be dead again. Here, he would also tell us that Daenerys is pregnant with Jon's child, meaning Daenerys would have to kill the father of her child to save mankind.
Whidden's version follows Daenerys to the God's Eye, where the Night King waits to protect his tree. After a climactic battle, Daenerys would wind up face to face with him on the ground.
Just as all hope seemed lost, Drogon would unleash a torrent of dragon fire on the tree, the Night King and Daenerys himself while she drove a Valyrian steel sword into his chest. The tree would burn, the Night King would melt, and for the last time, Daenerys would miraculously survive the worst fire of her life.
All the wights would fall at this point in Whidden's version, and Daenerys and Drogon would head back to King's Landing.
Whidden does not give details on the ending for all of the characters left in King's Landing. In his version, he said, Euron Greyjoy would die at the hands of the wights, and the Clegane brothers would die in a similar showdown. He would have Arya wear Jaime Lannister's face and attempt to kill Cersei, only to be stopped at the last second by Elaria Sand, who would rise from the rubble of her castle cell. Arya would survive this attack.
Meanwhile, the real Jaime would approach Cersei, and she would demand the deaths of every single person who had been loyal to Daenerys. Jaime would hear this as an echo of the the Mad King Aerys. At this point, Cersei would also tell him that she had never really been pregnant, but had only said she was to manipulate him. Jaime would then stab Cersei, completing his arc as a kingslayer and a queenslayer.
Returning to King's Landing, Daenerys would mourn for Jon, who would have fallen down dead as soon as the wierwood burned. She would then ascend to the Iron Throne on shaky legs and assume her place as ruler.
Whidden's ending would include an epilogue, set 5 years after the battles. In it, he would show us that Sansa is the new lady of Winterfell, which had been reconstructed. He would then take us down to the crypts, where Jon's grave would sit beside his father's. We would follow his direwolf, Ghost to the statue, along with a five-year-old son and Daenerys. She would put her hand on the grave and then say: "come, Jon," informing us that they shared a name, and the realm would be in his hands one day.
Whidden's ending is just one of many ideas laid out by writers, fan theorists and others online. There are countless YouTube videos, essays and forum discussions on the show, which brought a fantasy world of epic proportions to the forefront of pop culture for almost a decade.
Game of Thrones is available to stream in its entirety on HBO Go and HBO Now. The next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, is expected to come out in the near future.