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Game of Thrones Stars, HBO Thank Fans Ahead of Finale, Amid Backlash

Game of Thrones Series Finale

Winter has come and gone at HBO, as Game of Thrones is mere hours away from ending its eight-season run.

Ahead of the drama’s series finale (9/8c), stars Emilia Clarke and John Bradley took to social media to express their gratitude to the show’s devoted fans.

“Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me,” Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen, wrote in an Instagram post.

Clarke effused that Thrones has “shaped me as a woman, as an actor and as a human being,” adding that “I just wish my darling dad was here now to see how far we’ve flown.” (Clarke’s father died of cancer in 2016.)

“But to you, dear kind magical fans, I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we’ve made and what I’ve done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams,” she continued. “Without you there is no us. And now our watch has ended.”

Bradley, who has portrayed the affable Samwell Tarly since Season 1, also got nostalgic in an Instagram photo, in which he posed with a rehearsal and prep schedule that he had received before filming his first episode.

“Listed here is the rehearsal where I first met Kit [Harington], and the first time I wore the costume that’s seen me through eight seasons. I’m glad I kept this,” Bradley shared. “Back then we couldn’t have known the journey we’d go on together. I wouldn’t swap that experience, or those people, for the world. Enjoy the episode and thanks for everything.”

Also on Sunday, Game of Thrones‘ official Twitter handle posted a thank-you photo, which recognized “the cast, crew and fans around the world.”

The sentimental posts come amid significant criticism of Thrones‘ eighth season, with many fans frustrated by the creative decisions made in the final episodes. In fact, a Change.org petition, which calls for Season 8 to be remade “with competent writers,” currently boasts more than a million signatures.

“[Showrunners] David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have proven themselves to be woefully incompetent writers when they have no source material (i.e. the books) to fall back on,” the petition’s creator argues in its description. “This series deserves a final season that makes sense. Subvert my expectations and make it happen, HBO!” (The network has not publicly responded to the petition.)

Scroll down to see Sunday’s nostalgia-filled Thrones posts, then drop a comment with your hopes for the final episode.

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Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me. The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart. I’ve sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice. Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor and as a human being. I just wish my darling dad was here now to see how far we’ve flown. But to you, dear kind magical fans, I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we’ve made and what I’ve done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams. Without you there is no us. And now our watch has ended. @gameofthrones @hbo #love #motherofdragonsoverandout

A post shared by @ emilia_clarke on

View this post on Instagram

So tonight we have our very last episode. It’s the final step of a long and wonderful journey. A journey that, for me, started at 10am on Monday 19th of July 2010. I know this because recently I found my rehearsal and prep schedule for season 1, week 1. This was given to me when I landed in Belfast for the first time, weeks before we even started shooting. Listed here is the rehearsal where I first met Kit, and the first time I wore the costume that’s seen me through 8 seasons. I’m glad I kept this. I met so many people that week who have come to mean so much to me. Back then we couldn’t have known the journey we’d go on together. I wouldn’t swap that experience, or those people, for the world. Enjoy the episode and thanks for everything. ❤️❤️❤️ @gameofthrones @hbo #GOT 👋

A post shared by John Bradley (@johnbradleywest) on