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Game Of Thrones Actors Who Expressed Frustration With The Series' Ending

Since the eighth and final season of HBO's massive hit series Game of Thrones premiered on April 14, 2019, reactions have definitely been mixed. With only six total episodes to conclude this behemoth of a show (with some running nearly 90 minutes), fans expected that the showrunners insisted on an abbreviated final season for a reason — but rushed storylines, disappointing endings, and hasty character deaths have left some viewers furious, and a number of disgruntled audience members even started a petition to re-do the final season. Every movie or television series is sure to leave some fans out in the cold, but when it comes to Thrones, the reaction seems particularly vociferous — and a sudden turn after years of widespread acclaim.

The cast of Thrones, all of whom have spent months sworn to secrecy over the ending of the series, entered the final season finally able to speak out about how the show would come to a close — and while some are happy with their endings, others seem to be less than thrilled. Here are some of the Game of Thrones actors who ultimately found themselves frustrated with the way the series ended.

Lena Headey

One of the most compelling, infuriating, evil, and dynamic characters on Game of Thrones is Cersei Lannister, the erstwhile Queen of the Iron Throne, thanks in no small part to an incredible performance by star Lena Headey. Even as Cersei committed unspeakable atrocities, killing anyone and destroying everything in her path to make sure the Lannister name stayed in power, fans were occasionally swayed thanks to the heart and depth Headey put into Cersei's well-developed character — and fans expected an ending for Cersei that was just as sensational as Headey's performance.

Unfortunately, Cersei's grand exit didn't exactly pan out as planned — while fans were mulling over theories that ranged from everything from death by Jaime's golden hand to an assassination attempt by Arya or the Hound killing his original queen, they were ultimately given a sequence in which Cersei and her twin brother/lover Jaime (Nikolaj-Coster Waldau) are simply crushed by rocks in each others' arms in the bottom of the Red Keep as Daenerys lays waste to King's Landing. Even Headey was annoyed at this closing scene, saying she wanted something bigger or any sort of fight at all, and though Coster-Waldau eventually talked her around, it isn't hard to understand Headey's original assessment.

Nathalie Emmanuel

As Missandei, a freed slave who became a trusted advisor and close friend to Daenerys Targaryen, Nathalie Emmanuel brought a considerable amount of heart and emotion to this often cruel show, as well as representing women of color as a strong, smart woman finally free to make her own choices and forge her own way in the world. Fans loved her friendship with Daenerys as well as her relationship with Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson), the leader of the Unsullied army, but grew apprehensive when, on the eve of the Battle of Winterfell, Missandei and Grey Worm started to make plans for the future (which seemed like a death wish).

Even though the pair survived the battle against the Army of the Dead, Missandei ended up captured by Cersei's forces in the next episode, and was beheaded in front of Daenerys in a show of cruelty and power. After the episode, Emmanuel opened up about her character's demise, admitting that it was disappointing to see the one woman of color killed so abruptly and speaking to the challenges of carrying that burden alone throughout her time on Thrones. She also spoke to the emotional weight of Missandei dying in chains, which brought her full circle in the most heartbreaking way possible. Fans and critics agreed with Emmanuel, and it seems there's no shortage of viewers who think there should have been more justice for this compelling character.

Conleth Hill

One of the most mysterious and interesting characters in Thrones, Lord Varys, as played by Conleth Hill, seemed to know every whispered secret in all of Westeros, and spent his life using these secrets to help himself rise higher in the world as well as make sure the realm was in good hands. Though Varys began the series firmly in the Lannister camp, he eventually switched sides to join his friend Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) in Daenerys' court — but having known Daenerys' dangerous father, he remained cautious around his new queen.

Varys was right to be cautious, and after Missandei's execution, he concocted a plan to tell the Seven Kingdoms about their alternate heir, Jon Snow (Kit Harington) — as well as potentially poison the Dragon Queen — only to be found out and burned alive by Drogon, the one remaining Targaryen dragon. After his death, Hill told Entertainment Weekly that he was upset not just by his own ending, but by the last couple of seasons; specifically, he was disappointed that the showrunners couldn't devise a final meeting between Varys and Littlefinger (Aidan Gillen), considering how closely the two characters often worked together to pull the strings, and added that he wasn't sure the series was able to successfully move past author George R.R. Martin's source material. Hill was fairly blunt, but it's likely that most of the fans agree with him after season eight.

Peter Dinklage

Over eight seasons, Peter Dinklage gave fans the gift of Tyrion Lannister, known by many as the "Imp" or "Half-man." The least loved Lannister by most of his family, Tyrion forged his own path in the high-ranking world of Westeros, looking out for himself above all else while cementing his legacies as one of the brightest minds in the Seven Kingdoms. By season eight, Tyrion has been Daenerys' Hand of the Queen for quite some time, but in her eyes, he's beginning to falter — between underestimating his sinister sister Cersei and being too trusting of his brother Jaime, as well as Daenerys' ill-advised sacking of King's Landing, relations between the Dragon Queen and her Hand are splintering.

Dinklage certainly has a good relationship with his character, but it's hard to move past his not-so-subtle hints at his frustration with how the show ended. In a video regarding the end of the show, he criticizes the decision to put all the women and children in a crypt full of the dead during the Battle of Winterfell, but the most telling moment comes when Entertainment Tonight asks how he feels about the ending, deadpanning that there are "no better writers" than showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and maybe rolling his eyes a little, in what some on the internet have deemed a "hostage video."

Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams signed onto Game of Thrones at just 14 years old, and likely had no idea that her character, Arya Stark, would grow from an impish, stubborn tomboy to one of the most fearsome warriors in Westeros and beyond, let alone that she would be the one to take down the Night King and go on to survive the show's bloody, brutal final season. Turning in honest and emotional performances throughout the series all while working to become a formidable fighter, Williams has brought Arya fully to life throughout eight seasons and made this murderous character into a fan favorite.

One of Arya's driving motivations throughout the entire show is her "kill list," which she repeats every night before she goes to sleep. By the show's end, most of the list is completed, save for one: Cersei. She heads to King's Landing to kill the queen, but once she's faced with the rampant destruction caused by Daenerys' siege on the city, she turns and runs, letting Cersei get crushed to death by the fallen Red Keep rather than sacrifice herself. Fans were pretty disappointed at this turn of events, and so was Williams, who admitted that her "biggest regret" about the final season was that she missed an opportunity to work with Lena Headey one more time. Headey even agreed, so it seems even more frustrating that the show didn't allow them this chance.

Emilia Clarke

Throughout her run on Thrones, Emilia Clarke has taken Daenerys Targaryen from a naïve, frightened child bride to a formidable and lethal dragon queen, but underneath it all, Daenerys has always had to juggle her desire for justice with her genetic makeup — after all, she is the daughter of the infamous Mad King, Aerys II Targaryen. However, audiences have always rooted for Daenerys throughout these eight seasons, cheering her on as she frees slaves, saves innocents, and fights those in power to give it to those below... that is, until the end of season eight.

Daenerys' torching of King's Landing during the penultimate episode, "The Bells," wasn't entirely unexpected, but her descent into madness was seen as abrupt and unearned, as if viewers were supposed to forget about Daenerys' humanity and believe she would kill thousands of innocent people without a passing thought. For her part, Clarke might have tried to warn audiences about this way before the season aired; in 2018, Clarke revealed to Vanity Fair that her final scenes were incredibly upsetting and that fans might look at Daenerys differently, and during an Emmys event before the final season premiered, it's hard to overlook her facial expression when she hesitantly declares "Best season ever!" after being asked whether she was "happy" with how the show ended.