In content marketing, believable storytelling is essential for a brand to create a strong sense of trust with its audience.
Sadly for Game of Thrones, this approach didn’t hold up in last year’s penultimate Season 7. Each episode’s content just had too many gaps for Thrones to maintain its tight bond with diehard fans—which is a major concern heading into the pop-culture phenomenon’s final season on April 14.
So what happened? How did Thrones lose sight of its moral storytelling compass so fully in such a short period of time? Well, there’s the cold hard fact that Season 7 continued to forge new territory past George R.R. Martin’s books containing his world-building wizardry and storyline-weaving mastery.
But looking past that, the show simply wasn’t real with its audience. It didn’t stay true to the story it had crafted so carefully over the past eight years, which, at its core, is so enthralling because of its deadly accurate character decisions, timelines, pacing and world-travel principles.
Here are just a few of the numerous (and often humorous) instances of content gaps that made even the most loyal Thrones fans think “I don’t buy it.” And needless to say, many spoilers below! If you’re not caught up and ready to experience Season 8 on April 14, proceed with serious caution.
When Jon (cough, cough) Snow finally meets Daenerys Targaryen on Westeros soil, he does so with the knowledge that he’ll be face-to-face with the Mother of Dragons—and her legendary dragon children.
And in this dangerous discussion, which started with a little bit of humor from the clip below, Jon doesn’t choose to bring his own magical creature—his direwolf Ghost—who not only is his constant, trusted companion but is literally the sigil of his house, Stark. Why wouldn’t Jon decide to show off his own mythical creature when meeting Daenerys and her dragons? Jon, do us a favor and go full-blown wolf vs. dragons, Stark vs. Targaryen! It’s just something your character would do.
Ah, the infamous Loot Train Attack. This battle was dubbed a horribly lame, boring title, which doesn’t add up whatsoever with George R.R. Martin’s consistently epic battle names (Battle of the Blackwater, Battle in the Whispering Wood, Field of Fire). Compared to these, Loot Train sounds extremely off-brand—and was yet another small, obvious hint that people other than George were taking the creative lead in Season 7.
This one is just basic physics. Person falls in a deep pool of water wearing a full suit of armor, carrying a large sword, with only one hand—the other being made of pure gold. That person is not swimming to the opposite shore. End of discussion.
In the first five episodes of the season, it’s all about the importance of mining dragonglass. It’s all Jon Snow talks about. Dragonglass can kill the undead while other weapons can’t—but the second that our heroes are confronted with wight soldiers and bears, they completely forget to use their freshly minted dragonglass weapons and instead opt for their useless steel ones. This was just silly storytelling after how often the show’s characters discussed their desperate need for dragonglass.
Looking past the randomness of the entire wight-capturing plan (which also didn’t make sense for our characters to decide to do), everyone who traveled North of the Wall on that mission should have easily been killed on that boulder. It was a small boulder, and there were thousands of undead soldiers sprinting at our heroes with ferocity. They should have been almost instantly overrun, no matter how talented of swordsmen they all are. Yet another instance of unrealistic storytelling for drama’s sake.
So we’re expected to believe that, when the Night King sees the largest dragon sitting motionless at a fairly short distance with all of his greatest enemies on its back, he instead chose to chuck a spear at a moving target way up in the sky? And then, after showing this incredibly accurate (and totally casual) spear-throwing skill, he missed his second toss at the bigger target at a closer range? Both the choice and outcome didn’t really seem logical.
Where did this absolutely massive chain come from? How did the wights tie it around the dragon’s neck? And when did the wights even learn to swim in the first place? All questions left unanswered.
Heading into Season 8, this content marketer is hoping Thrones returns to a time-tested storytelling principle: communicate with credibility. Because a relationship-building content strategy takes time. It brings an audience on a journey that makes sense: a trusting journey full of personal stories, candid thought leadership, friendly advice, helpful tips and maybe even a few reasons to ultimately become a customer.
And unfortunately for Thrones, Season 7’s journey didn’t make sense. It took its audience on a rushed, confusing path too full of flabbergasting plot holes to keep us engaged through each episode—ultimately breaking bits of our trust along the way.