Here’s when Game of Thrones started going downhill:
There are many arguable points about when Game of Thrones started going downhill.
The most common claims are that it started going downhill after the third season, after the fifth season, and in the final season.
Yet, plenty of people would contest that it never went downhill and ended very strongly.
So if you want to learn all about when Game of Thrones started going downhill, then you’re in the right place.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
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What Constitutes Going Downhill With Regards to Books and Shows?
There’s an obvious problem here.
If I’m going to tell you when Game of Thrones started to go downhill, don’t we first have to agree on what that really means?
This is very subjective stuff, and there’s no way that everyone is going to agree on what makes good or bad fiction.
So, if you ask a thousand people this question, you’re going to get a lot of different answers.
What’s more is that I can’t find some objective set of criteria to use and make a perfect answer for you.
Instead of that, I’m going to have to approach this a little differently.
To determine what counts as going downhill, I crowdsourced.
I looked at a bunch of different forums and discussions, and I used popular opinion.
Instead of telling you exactly when Game of Thrones started going downhill, I can instead point to all of the most contentious moments in the series.
In order to do any of that, I’m going to have to discuss major plot points in the series.
So, here’s your official spoiler warning. Keep reading at your own risk.
When Did the Books Start Going Downhill? (2 Instances)
There’s a second problem with the original question. Are we talking about the books or the TV show?
I’m going to answer both.
So, let’s look at the books first.
When did the books start going downhill?
There’s a lot less consensus on this question than when we look at the TV show.
For the most part, there are two answers.
The first is in book three.
The second is in book five.
#1 In Book Three
Let’s start with book three, and this might be controversial.
A lot of people love book three and even might think it’s the highlight of the series so far.
I’m not trying to contest that.
The main reason some people think book three is when the series goes downhill is because of the significant event that happens.
You might already know what I’m talking about: the red wedding.
In this book, George R. R. Martin mercilessly kills off many major characters, one of which was considered by many to be the main character of the series at that point.
Now, a lot of people loved the shock and power of the writing.
But for others, the characters they cared about the most were killed.
From that point on, it was a lot harder to stay invested in the series.
So, if your favorite characters died in book three, you might have thought the series went downhill after that.
#2 After Book Five
The other major argument is that the books went downhill after the fifth installment.
This might be a cheat, but there’s no denying that a lot of the hype for Game of Thrones has declined since the fifth book was released.
For those who aren’t in the know, that’s because George R. R. Martin hasn’t released book six yet.
The fifth book was published in 2011.
I’m writing this in 2022.
That’s more than 10 years without a release, and many people are resigned to the fact that there may never be a book six.
It’s hard to argue that the series went downhill when Martin stopped writing it.
When Did the Show Start Going Downhill? (5 Occasions)
On the other hand, the book series is actually called “A Song of Ice and Fire.”
A Game of Thrones was just the first book.
So, it’s more likely that you’re here to read about the TV show.
The whole TV series was called Game of Thrones, and there are definitely a lot of strong opinions surrounding it.
Still, we’re going to go over a lot of the most popular opinions, and you may personally disagree with some or all of them.
Since I can’t objectively prove that there was a pivotal moment where the show started to decline, it’ll be up to you to decide how you feel about all of this.
#1 When It Was Adapted Into a TV Show
Let’s talk about the literature purists.
They’re around with every major fandom, and Game of Thrones is no exception.
For some people, no cinematic adaptation can ever live up to the original books.
To be fair, sometimes I agree with that sentiment.
But, this isn’t really about my opinions.
The simple fact is that you’ll see a lot of people who didn’t like Game of Thrones from the start.
So, they can’t really say it went downhill.
Instead, the argument is that making the show at all was a mistake, and the TV show was a downhill move compared to the books.
That’s one way to look at it at least.
#2 After the Third Season
For anyone who did enjoy the TV show at all, then the first major point of contention is season four.
There are a few reasons for this.
Come people disliked some of the plot points in season four.
Some felt that it wasn’t as faithful an adaptation as other parts of the show.
I have a different theory to offer you.
Even though the Red Wedding killed off some fan favorites, most fans of the show agree that it was a major highlight in the show’s run.
It was shocking.
It was dramatic.
It was powerful.
For many, it was really the pinnacle of Game of Thrones.
After that moment, for a lot of fans, nothing else was quite able to live up to the Red Wedding.
The rest of the third season was still strong, but many fans thought that the show never got back to the highs of season three afterward.
And, there’s still the possibility that you just didn’t like the story as much after the third season.
There were no major production changes to blame, but the story definitely shifted.
If you didn’t like that shift, then you might agree with this timing.
#3 When It Passed the Books
Another major moment is when the TV show caught up to the books.
Originally, each season was supposed to represent one book in the series.
When it became clear that the TV show was going to pass the books, HBO committed to a 10-season timeline.
They had plans to maintain the show, and the main TV writers were still on staff.
But, without the source material to really drive the story, things necessarily changed.
When the plot started moving forward without George R. R. Martin’s input, astute fans could really feel the difference.
And, for the sake of giving you a clear sense of time, this happened after season five.
The first five seasons were book adaptations.
Everything in the TV show after season five was no longer adapting a book.
This, for many, was the beginning of the slide down the hill.
#4 The Final Season
At last, we come to the infamous final season of Game of Thrones.
If you go by fan polls, this was the worst season of the show.
And, considering that season seven was very well received by many fans, it’s fair to say that the last season was the worst and when the show went downhill.
Now, even though the final season was easily the most hated, there were a lot of different points that signaled the downhill slide for various fans of the show.
The first major moment that received a lot of negative attention was the Battle of Winterfell.
There were a few major complaints.
One was that the show was visibly too dark and hard to follow.
While that was a problem for many viewers, it doesn’t suggest that the whole series went downhill, as the problem didn’t repeat.
The other major problem people had was how the battle concluded.
The White Walkers were hyped up for a long time, and the Night King was supposed to be so formidable.
That his end happened in a relatively short amount of screen time was disappointing to many.
After the Battle of Winterfell, many other fans were disappointed with the fall of Dany.
She was more or less the protagonist for the final few seasons.
Seeing her become the final villain so quickly was not received well.
And, there is the ultimate conclusion.
It’s called Game of Thrones, so a lot of fans were invested in who would win the game and sit on the Throne.
Most were unhappy with the way Bran became the new ruler of the land.
If any one of these things bothered you, then you might not think that Game of Thrones went downhill in the last season.
But, if multiple issues stuck out to you, then you might be among the many fans who think the final season was when everything fell apart.
And yet, there are people who loved the ending and still stand by the show.
They are a vocal minority, but it’s ok if you loved the whole show, including the ending.
Besides that, there’s another argument to be made.
Even if you were unsatisfied with all of the concluding elements in the storyline, the production value of the show certainly wasn’t low in the final season.
The darkness problems with the Battle of Winterfell only plagued some viewers, not all of them.
It wasn’t a matter of poor production but a simple mistake in how things were broadcast.
The following episodes maintained the show’s legendary production value.
And, that’s what a lot of people loved the most about Game of Thrones.
It was a TV show where every episode seemed to be made to the same quality as a blockbuster movie.
If you watched the show, then you were probably dazzled by many amazing moments that were spectacular and fun to watch.
That didn’t stop in the last season. In fact, its production was arguably the best of the whole run.
By that logic, Game of Thrones didn’t go downhill at all. It finished stronger than it began.