Few shows in television history have inspired rabid fandom quite like Game of Thrones, with its penchant for sex, violence, and dramatic twists rousing many a heated internet debate. Fewer fans are as devoted to Thrones as its cosplayers, those who show their devotion to the series by wearing costumes to impersonate the likeness of a beloved character. With the series finale airing Sunday, we spoke with six cosplayers to hear their thoughts on the highly divisive final season. (Warning: many, many spoilers lie ahead.)
Based in London, Eliza, 19, cosplays as Daenerys Targaryen.
On Dany’s fashion sense: “She has some of the best outfits on the show. The way they’ve done Dragon Smocking—I think that’s the term —where on a lot of her outfits the stitching resembles dragon scales. It takes hours and hours. It’s like a mathematical adventure to pull it off. If you sew one stitch a millimeter out of place it ruins the whole pattern. [I love] the fact that her braids have gotten more and more intricate. In season one, she says, ‘You’ve no right to a braid. You’ve won no victories yet.’ I think it’s interesting that the more victories that she’s won, the more braids [she has]. It’s quite clever.”
Her craziest theory: “There’s a video that Emilia Clarke did where she was reacting to these crazy fan theories, and one of them was like, ‘Tyrion is a time-traveling fetus.’ I was like, ‘You know what, yes. That is what I’m going to go with.’ It could work!”
Her favorite meme from the show: “When Emilia Clarke’s grinning, and she looks like she wants to kill [Sansa Stark], that’s me. I use that everyday now.”
Her advice to the Thrones showrunners: “Don’t listen to the angry teenagers who are saying you ruined the show.”
Samantha, 27, based in Ohio, dresses as Jaime Lannister, immediately post-loss of his hand.
On season eight’s forgetful writing: “There was a prophecy with Cersei where the younger brother was supposed to kill her, and they straight up ignored that. They were like, ‘No, let’s have her die in a pile of rocks.’ That was frustrating. All of last season they discussed how Daenerys can’t get pregnant, and then they ignored that. I thought they were making it seem like she was going to get pregnant. There have been a lot of things where they’re like, ‘Yeah, actually no!’”
Her advice for Jaime: “He needs to forget about Cersei and move on. Honestly, the best way to do that would be to kill her, and be done with it! In the first place, he shouldn’t have left Winterfell. Since he did decide to leave, he should have gone and killed Cersei and then go back to Brienne and had beautiful blonde babies with her.”
On Jaime’s endgame: “Why you gotta do Jaime dirty like that?”
Meme of choice:
MATTHEW & AMBER
“THE NIGHT KING & NIGHT QUEEN/MELISANDRE”
Based in Minnesota, Matthew, 34, dresses as the Night King, and Amber, 29, dresses as Melisandre and the Night Queen (pictured, though not an actual character on the show). The couple is happily engaged.
On why the Night King wasn’t all that bad:
MATTHEW: “I don’t think he was necessarily a bad guy. The only reason I say that is because he was forced to become the Night King. I honestly think that because we don’t know his history, we can’t figure out why he does what he does. He doesn’t talk! I think the Night King can identify himself as a good guy. He could’ve been a good guy at first. He might have been doing something good, and then got turned into the antagonist.”
AMBER: “Daenerys killed everyone [in King’s Landing]. She said, ‘Let it be fear [over love],’ but, like, there’s no one left alive to fear you. It made me think, ‘What makes Daenerys any less of a villain than the Night King?’ The Night King didn’t have a choice! He was created to destroy people. The Night King was just doing his job.”
On going to a Thrones DJ set:
MATTHEW: “We went to the Rave of Thrones, which is a set by Hodor himself [actor Kristian Nairn] DJing. People were booing me, which is kind of funny. We got to the Hodor DJ set, and we met Kristian. I said to him, ‘No offense, but you’re blocking the damn door,’ and he found that pretty funny.”
AMBER: “He was in a great mood. He was nice enough to let us get a group picture. We also won the costume contest that night.”
MATTHEW: “We actually got to hug him.”
On why Jon Snow is a bad dog owner:
MATTHEW: “Jon Snow and [his pet wolf] Ghost—come on! Don’t leave your dog behind like that!”
AMBER: “It leaves a sour taste in the mouth, because they were saying, ‘Ghost is going to do something cool this season.’ We see Ghost, then we see him all beaten up, then the last time we see him is Jon walking away from him forever, like it meant nothing to him. I thought we’d have touchy-feely moment.”
MATTHEW: “You can hear the dog whining, too. It broke my heart! It’s like, ‘Dude, you’re leaving your dog in a forest. Don’t do that!’”
A word for the showrunners:
MATTHEW: “Mistakes happen. It’s one of those things where I’m not going to hold a grudge against them. They did a good job, for what it’s worth. If people can do better than them, then bring it.”
Based in Montreal and using a cosplay pseudonym, Aminie, 33, dresses as Arya Stark.
On her cosplay journey: “The first one I tried to cosplay was Margaery [Tyrell]. I didn’t feel comfortable as Margaery. She has too much sex appeal. I didn’t like the way people look at that character when I was the character.”
On why Daenerys has always been the bad guy: “Everybody is like, ‘She’s so great and she’s so powerful!’ She doesn’t see herself right. A few seasons ago she was like, ‘Free the slaves, break the wheel.’ Then she’s like, ‘Stop the rulers, it’s always the same families on top.’ But then she’s like, ‘I am the true ruler of Westoros.’ How can you have such a double standard? It pissed me off so bad. I do love her wardrobe. It’s always pissed me off, because her costumes are amazing. I wish I could cosplay her, but I hate the character so much so I can’t let myself do that.” [Laughs]
On the books: “I really take the show as the visual part of the story that is in the books. For me, the story is more important in the books, and the visual is more important in the show. Visually-wise, the show has been amazing this year. All of the scenes from the last episode were magnificent. I have studied art history, and the composition was flawless.”
“DAENERYS/LYANNA MORMONT/TYENE SAND”
Monica, 34, based in Chicago, dresses as Daenerys, as well as the characters Lyanna Mormont and Tyene Sand.
On the show’s gender politics: “One of the things I posted a couple of minutes after the episode ended last Sunday was that I am sick of this narrative where there’s this lady in power, and all of a sudden, they’re depicting her as crazy and irrational. It’s as if she’s letting her emotions get the best of her. Yes, we are presented with strong female characters like Arya, Brienne, and Sansa, in a way. But I was expecting more from Dany. All of a sudden, it just went all downhill. Why did they have to ruin that arc for her?”
On why Dany needs some armor: “I feel like it makes more sense for her to have it, even if she’s riding a dragon. With all the projectiles and arrows and crossbows flying around her, you would think she’d have more protection than just wearing a dress. Sansa had some armor, but she didn’t even go to battle! How come Dany didn’t have one? When she went on the ground with Jorah [in episode 3], she had, like, zero armor on her. She had zero defenses.”
On her plans for the finale: “I’m hosting a dinner party at my house. I’m having a celebration with my friends, and I will be cooking food from the Game of Thrones-inspired cookbook A Feast of Ice and Fire. I’ve made a lot of food from there before, and it’s really good. I’ve even done the pigeon pie.”