After weeks of discussion online about the various ways to interact with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss at the upcoming San Diego Comic Con Game of Thrones panel, it has now been confirmed that they will no longer be attending the event. The news also includes the cancellation of director Miguel Sapochnick, Ian Glen, and Nathalie Emmanuel from attending the panel.
The #GoTSDCC panel taking place Friday, 7/19 at 5:30PM in Hall H will now consist of panelists @Maisie_Williams, @RaleighRitchie, @nikolajcw, @isaac_h_wright, @johnbradleywest, @liamcunningham1 & Conleth Hill.— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) July 17, 2019
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The remaining panel members include actors Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Raleigh Ritchie (Greyworm), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Isaac Wright (Bran Stark), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), John Bradley West (Samwell Tarly), and Conleth Hill (Varys).
From the outset of the panel’s announcement, described to be a “triumphant celebration” of the conclusion of the show, various online forums, especially r/freefolk on reddit, have been busy discussing how best to question, ridicule, and generally show their disapproval with the showrunners Weiss and Benioff for what they considered to be a lackluster or disappointing final season to the show.
While at first some considered the suggestion of harassing the two men at the panel a joke, it seemed that enough people were attending who claimed that they would be hammering questions, voicing disapproval, and generally seeking to have them admit to creating shoddy work.
Unfortunately, all this needless rattling of online sabers seems to have had an impact. It is not certain that this type of online discussion led to the withdrawal of the showrunners, nor has it even been alluded to as the reason for the change, but the overall discussion likely did nothing to encourage the two men to participate in the panel.
Whether the potential for disruption contributed to the change in participants, there can be no denying that this news may shift the dynamic of the Q&A period during the panel. Hopefully, the conversation and questions will remain on a positive note, but there is also the distinct possibility of the frustration instead being directed to the actors.
Imagine a disgruntled fan asking Conleth Hill, “Why do you think they screwed up your character so bad?” The actor has already stated that he has felt frustrated in how his character was handled in the last few seasons, and the questions could still easily veer off in this tangent of negativity, to the benefit of no one.
Despite the response to the final season, the show has still received 32 Emmy Award nominations. Alfie Allen, Lena Headey, Gwendoline Christie, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Carice van Houten, Kit Harington, and Emilia Clarke have all been nominated for their respective roles.
Although the show is over, HBO is not finished with the Game of Thrones universe as it ramps up production on a prequel series still unnamed staring Naomi Watts. It will be interesting to see how that story plays out as it appears to be original content, and not based on any books by George R.R. Martin.