Game of Thrones did not with a bang like Avengers: Endgame, but with a "ugh, really?" Whether or not it was Jaime and Brienne's breakup, Cersei's death, Arya killing the Night King, Daenerys death, Jon Snow being sent back North, or Bran becoming King, there was a WTF moment for fans of every stripe. But how does author George R.R. Martin feel about fans' reaction to the series, and what essentially was a gross outline of how the books conclude? Fans might not be surprised to know that George R.R. Martin's quotes about the Game of Thrones ending prove he's no more moved by the hatred of fans for the ending than he is any other internet response.
After a decade of his unfinished series becoming the biggest show on the planet, it's clear Martin developed a thick skin for fan criticism. Having failed to keep ahead of the series with his novel releases, and still painfully crawling through The Winds of Winter (which the show covered in Season 6 and 7), Martin says the entire experience of the show finishing the story was weird enough without the fan response.
The whole last three years have been strange since the show got ahead of the books... I told [showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] a number of things years ago. And some of them they did do. But at the same time, it’s different. I have very fixed ideas in my head... It’s like two alternate realities existing side by side. I have to double down and do my version of it, which is what I’ve been doing.
Martin also talks about how the internet and the show's popularity, lead viewers to put things together; things that once upon a time would not have been so easy to figure out.
The internet affects all this to a degree it was never affected before, like Jon Snow’s parentage. There were early hints about in the books, but only one reader in 100 put it together... But in the age of the internet, even if only one person in 100 figures it out then that one person posts it online and the other 99 people read it and go, ‘Oh, that makes sense.’
This is why Martin sees it as even more important to stick to his guns.
[T]here is a temptation to then change it... But that’s wrong. Because you’ve been planning for a certain ending and if you suddenly change direction just because somebody figured it out, or because they don’t like it, then it screws up the whole structure... I want to write the book I’ve always intended to write all along. And when it comes out, they can like it, or they can not like it.
As for when fans can expect the next book, Martin refuses to give himself yet another deadline to blow. "There’s no longer a race. The show is over. I’m writing the book. It will be done when it’s done."
Whether or not fans will like Martin's version of the end of A Song of Ice and Fire remains to be seen, but at least they can all be assured whatever is published is his ending.