With more than 17.8 million viewers at the time it aired its final season, it’s no secret that “Game of Thrones” has been one of the most influential cultural phenomena in the past decade. This is made no secret by fans of the show, as they flaunt their Stark banners, order goat-horn ale cups online, and dress up like Daenerys Targaryen to appear in TikTok videos.
Following suit with this passionate display of love for the show came an arguably greater passionate display of disapproval for the show’s ending. When “Game of Thrones” aired an anticlimactic, dark, and unfulfilling conclusion to an eight-season saga, fans were livid. Many fans turned their rage to show-runners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss, creating top-tier memes and even video essays that pointed criticism at the final season.
In fact, even nine months later, there is still a very active community that exists solely to never let the past die: r/freefolk. If you happen to use Reddit, you’ve likely come across this group in the featured tab at least once or twice. The subreddit is home to more than one million users and remains a very active subreddit.
Every few minutes, a new post is uploaded to the subreddit that praises or condemns various parts of the show. The community lives on in spite of the disastrous final season and the drought of content that followed it. This continued presence online is indicative of the impact that the show managed to have on people as a whole.
For disappointed fans of the show, there was still hope for continuing the Westerosi story in the form of spinoff series. In fact, “House of the Dragon” will be set roughly 300 years before the time of the original show, and will feature a deep dive into the history of House Targaryen, one of the major families featured in the show.
It’s very likely that this promise of new content, coupled with the continued passion fans seem to have for the franchise, will be enough to keep online communities such as r/freefolk going strong for years to come. However, it is worth some consideration how fans will actually receive “House of the Dragon.”
Not only did “Game of Thrones” leave some gigantic shoes to fill, but due to the way it ended, fans have been left in a rather stand-offish state with the franchise as a whole. It will be interesting to see whether the current mood of the fanbase will have any effect on the way in which the new series will be perceived. People may, inadvertently, bring their frustrations along with their prejudices into their viewing of “House of the Dragon.”
The issue can be adequately summarized with one long-running tagline of “Game of Thrones”: the North remembers. Fans will not soon forget the disaster of season eight and given the eclectic and vibrant online community that persists even today, there’s no telling just yet how “House of the Dragon” will be received.