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Game of Thrones Series By the Numbers: The Tomatometer's Final Verdict

As HBO closes the book on its epic fantasy series, Rotten Tomatoes takes a deep dive into what the Tomatometer scores for each episode say about the show.

by | May 20, 2019 | Comments

That’s it, free folks: “The Iron Throne” (55% on the Tomatometer as of publication) has closed the book on the Game of Thrones world, and completed the saga of why people with the last name of “Stark” should avoid the South at all costs. In honor of the 73 episodes that have been released since 2011, we decided to do a Tomatometer deep dive into all eight seasons.

The following statistics cover all 73 episodes of the series, and are accurate as of noon on Monday, May 20, 2019.


SPOILER WARNING! WE LOVE DATA AND WE SPOIL THINGS.

This article contains spoilers from the entire series of Game of Thrones.


THE TOMATOMETER AVERAGE FOR THE SERIES IS 91%

Game of Thrones season 8, episode 6, series finale "The Iron Throne" (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

The 91% Tomatometer average for the 73 episodes does an excellent job of summarizing the series has a whole. A little more than 5 percent of the episodes have been Rotten — four in total, including season 5’s “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (54%) and season 8’s “The Last of the Starks” (episode 4, 58%), “The Bells” (episode 5, 47%), and “The Iron Throne” (episode 6, 55%). The majority of the show, however, has been brilliantly executed and its given us classic episodes like “Baelor” (season 1, episode 9, 100%), “Blackwater” (season 2, episode 9, 100%), and “The Door” (season 6, episode 5, 98%), which are genuinely thrilling and made us feel so many feels. (We miss you, Hodor.)


SEASON 8 IS THE LOWEST-RATED SEASON, BUT IT’S STILL FRESH

Missandei in Game of Thrones season 8, episode 4 (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Critics have chilled on the GoT world since season 8 brought winter with it. However, the 69% Tomatometer average for the six episodes is still Fresh. The Fresh average can be attributed to the first two episodes, “Winterfell” (92%) and “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” (88%), which kicked things off by reuniting the core characters so they could battle a seemingly unstoppable force of ice zombies. It’s too bad that the Tomatometer scores for “The Long Night” (75%), “The Last of the Starks” (58%), “The Bells” (47%), and “The Iron Throne” (55%) plunged to record low scores.


THE FIRST IS THE BEST, ACCORDING TO THE TOMATOMETER

Forget saving the best for last: GoT kicked off its 10-episode first season with the 100% Tomatometer rated “Winter Is Coming,” and it ended with the 100% rated “Fire and Blood.” Not only was the season bookended by perfect episodes, it had a total of eight 100% episodes that critics lost their heads over (sorry, Ned). Only “Lord Snow” (86%) and “The Wolf and the Lion” (95%) failed to achieve perfection.


IT’S WAY HARDER TO HIT 100% NOW

Game of Thrones - Brienne, Arya (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

After season 1 kicked things off with eight 100% episodes, the subsequent seasons have had a hard time matching its Tomatometer dominance. Season 2 had five 100% episodes and season 3 had four, whereas seasons 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 could only manage six perfectly rated episodes between them. (Watch season 5’s “Hardhome” now. It’s amazing!) In fact, the last episode to receive a 100% Tomatometer score was 2016’s “Book of the Stranger” (season 6, episode 4), which is the highest-rated of all the GoT episodes owing to the massive number of reviews it received compared to the rest of the 100% episodes.


THE “ON-BOOK” SEASONS SCORE HIGHER THAN THE “OFF-BOOK” SEASONS

Game of Thrones: Episode 62 (season 7, episode 2), debut 7/23/17: John Bradley, Jim Broadbent. photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

An explanation for the show’s Tomatometer dip in seasons 6, 7, and 8 can be partly attributed to the show going “off-book.” By the end of season 5, showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss couldn’t rely on writer George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire source material any longer. They forged a new path, and the results were still super Fresh — at first. The 86% Tomatometer average for the episodes featured in seasons 6-8 is very good, but when compared to the 95% average for seasons 1-5 it starts looking like the Dothraki army after battling the Night King.


ONLY FOUR EPISODES TOTAL ARE ROTTEN

Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) in season 8, episode 5 of Game of Thrones, "The Bells" (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

With season 8 receiving uncharacteristically low Tomatometer scores, it might be easy to forget how stellar the show has been for 8 seasons. The majority of episodes — 69 of 73, or 94.5 percent — have Fresh scores. As for the four Rotten episodes, the first came in season 5 “Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken” (54%), featuring the controversial wedding and rape scene between Sansa Stark and Ramsay Bolton. The other three are season 8’s “The Last of the Starks” (58%), “The Bells” (47%), and “The Iron Throne” (57%).


CRITICS AREN’T BIG FANS OF DAENERYS AND HER DRAGONS DYING

Daenerys Targaryen Game of Thrones (HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Critics loved when Daenerys Targaryen’s three dragons were born during the 100% Tomatometer rated season 1 finale, “Fire and Blood”; however, critics weren’t as hot (pun intended) for the four episodes featuring them getting killed (or killed again). Season 7’s “Beyond the Wall” (84%) and season 8’s “The Long Night” (75%) and “The Last of the Starks” (58%) killed off Rhaegal and Viserion, respectively (twice for Viserion). The series finale, “The Iron Throne” (55%), featured the death of their mother. The result for all four episodes is a 68% Tomatometer average, which is well below the 92% overall Tomatometer score for the 73 episodes.

Quick Tomatometer Fact: Episodes featuring a direwolf being killed have a 96.25% Tomatometer average. We still strongly dislike the Freys for killing Grey Wind, though.


CRITICS LOVE BIG WEDDINGS, BUT THE LANNISTERS AND STARKS PROBABLY DON’T

Game of Thrones season 4, episode 2 Tommen, Tyrion, Joffrey, Sansa (HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

The five GoT episodes featuring very expensive weddings that take place in front of large crowds have 100% Tomatometer scores. Episodes including “The Rains of Castamere” (season 3, episode 9), “The Lion and the Rose” (season 4, episode 2), and “Winter Is Coming” (season 1, episode 1) go BIG with their weddings and occasionally end horribly for beloved (or hated) characters. All of these episodes have 100% scores, and have provided some of the most murderous moments (the Red Wedding), awkward moments (Tyrion and Sansa), and violent moments (Joffrey being poisoned at The Purple Wedding) of the series.

Quick Tomatometer Fact: The GoT episodes featuring smaller weddings have an 84% Tomatometer average.


LESS DEATH IS BETTER, ACCORDING TO THE TOMATOMETER

Game of Thrones Season 7 (2017): Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. photo: Helen Sloan/HBO
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

It turns out that more is less when it comes to death in the GoT world. The 53 episodes featuring fewer than 25 people dying have a Tomatometer average of 93.2%, whereas the 19 deadly episodes (more than 25 kills) have an 89.2% average. While several episodes featuring mass mayhem like “Hardhome” (season 5, episode 8), “The Battle of the Bastards” (season 6, episode 9), and “Blackwater”’ (season 2, episode 9) are excellent, they are outweighed by less deadly episodes, such as the No. 2 ranked “Mockingbird” (season 4, episode 7), that don’t relish in killing too many of our favorite (or least favorite) characters.

Quick Tomatometer Facts:

  • Episodes featuring night battles (four episodes averaging 91.25%) > Episodes featuring daytime battles (seven episodes averaging 85.8%)
  • Episodes featuring shorter battles (six episodes averaging 92%) > Episodes featuring episode long battles (five episodes averaging 82.8%)
  • Episodes featuring a Stark being killed (four episodes averaging 95.5%) > Episodes featuring a Lannister(s) being killed (six episodes averaging 89.3%)

ALEX GRAVES HAS THE HIGHEST TOMATOMETER AVERAGE FOR A DIRECTOR OF AT LEAST 5 EPISODES

The Hound and Arya in Game of Thrones season 8, episode 4 (Helen Sloan/HBO)
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

The Tomatometer average for the six episodes that Alex Graves directed is a fantastic 98.3%. Highlighted by “The Lion and the Rose” and “And Now His Watch Has Ended” (season 3, episode 4), these episodes featured classic GoT moments such as the Viper vs. The Mountain battle (season 4, episode 8) and Tywin Lannister’s death at the hands of Tyrion (season 4, episode 10). Graves’ confident direction during seasons 3 and 4 helped the show reach next-level popularity, and it’s hard to believe that his lowest-rated episode was the 96% “Breaker of Chains” (season 4, episode 3).

Quick Tomatometer Fact: Tim Van Patten has a 100% Tomatometer average for the two episodes he directed, “Winter is Coming” (season 1, episode 1) and “The Kingsroad” (season 1, episode 2), which helped establish the tone and look of the entire series.


GEORGE R.R. MARTIN HAS THE HIGHEST TOMATOMETER AVERAGE FOR A WRITER OF AT LEAST 4 EPISODES

Kit Harington. photo: Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)

Starting with season 1’s “The Pointy End” (100%) and ending with season 4’s “The Lion and the Rose” (100%), Martin’s four GoT scripts have a 94.25% Tomatometer average. The excellent 94.25% average puts him ahead of fellow four-plus episode writers Dave Hill (92.5% for 4 episodes),  Benioff and Weiss (91.8% for 47 episodes), and Bryan Cogman (91% for 11 episodes). It’s impressive that three of Martin’s four episodes have 100% Tomatometer scores, and his script for the battle-heavy “Blackwater” set up some of the greatest carnage ever seen on screen.

Quick Tomatometer Fact: We’re not the only ones who wish female writers Vanessa Taylor (95% for three episodes) and Jane Espenson (100% for her single episode) wrote more.

Have any good GoT stats to share? Let us know about your favorite episodes in the comments!

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