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Monday 27 January 2020

Game of Thrones: What does it take to make the perfect episode?

‘Game of Thrones’ returned with its seventh series on Monday, which will last seven episodes. Photo: HBO
‘Game of Thrones’ returned with its seventh series on Monday, which will last seven episodes. Photo: HBO
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Lena Headey as Jaime and Cersei Lannister in 'Game of Thrones'
Rory McCann as the Hound in GoT series seven (Helen Sloan/HBO)
Game Of Thrones series seven (Helen Sloan/HBO)

Ashley Kirk

The current season of Game of Thrones has been met with record audiences, with the first episode securing ten million US viewers on its first day alone.

Despite this, the opening episode of Dragonstone - which saw Daenerys Targaryen return to Westeros with the aim of seizing the Iron Throne - was relatively average when we compare it to the opening episodes of former seasons, scoring 8.7/10 on IMDB.

But like all good TV shows, Game of Thrones is building momentum, with the last episode - The Queen's Justice - scoring a much more pleasing 9.4 on the online media platform.

Many Game of Thrones seasons follow the same pattern, where they build up to a climax in episode nine - the penultimate show - which is often the best reviewed episode of the season.

This has held true for many of the show's best episodes, including Hardhome, which saw Jon Snow evacuate hordes of wildlings away from the army of the dead, and the Battle of the Bastards, where Ned Stark's bastard son then went on to face the sadistic Ramsay Bolton.

The final show often performs a little less well, due to the fact that it often has to tidy up plot lines and as such tends to lack the large blockbuster events of penultimate episodes such as Battle of the Bastards.

The best episodes on Game of Thrones according to IMDB ratings

Four episodes have got ratings of 9.9 on IMDB, the highest level seen on the platform for Game of Thrones. These are:

    Season 3 Episode 9 - The Rains of Castamere

    Season 5 Episode 8 - Hardhome

    Season 6 Episode 9 - Battle of the Bastards

    Season 6 Episode 10 - The Winds of Winter

Seasons one, two, three and six all had their penultimate show as their best-rated episode.

But in season six, the producers of the smash-hit programme seemed even more keen to go out on a big - and quite literal - bang.

While penultimate episode, Battle of the Bastards, scored a record 9.9, the show managed to equal the high score with its next and final episode, The Winds of Winter.

Does the number of deaths in an episode help boost the ratings?

In a word: yes. The bloodiest episodes to date have been among the highest-rated shows that Game of Thrones has produced.

There have been three episodes where more than 100 people have died - Jon Snow's blockbuster battles of Hardhome and Battle of the Bastards, as well as Cersei's bloodthirsty fireworks in The Winds of Winter - and each of these has achieved the Game of Thrones IMDB record of 9.9/10.

Shows that were bloody, but less so than these huge scenes of death, still ranked above average. Episodes where between 21-99 people died ranked, on average, 0.4 points better than the overall average for Game of Thrones, which stands at 9.06.

So the Game of Thrones audience loves a blood-filled battle, and we can expect the show's producer to quench this thirst in the episodes to come. After all, winter is coming.

Which shows are the most watched?

Audiences have flocked to the show in ever-greater numbers as it has progressed, with season seven being the most watched season yet.

Dragonstone - season seven, episode one - is the show's most viewed episode, with 10.1m US viewers tuning in on Sunday 17 July 2017 to see the start of the new season.

The next two episodes of season seven are the next most-watched episodes, while season six and five were the next most popular after that.

Some 8.9m tuned in to watch Cersei ascend to the Iron Throne by blowing up a multitude of her rivals in the Sept of Baelor in the final of season six, The Winds of Winter.

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