Game of Thrones is the most expensive series on television to make right now, but it wasn't always that way. The show had a big budget, but it was spent on the on-site locations in Croatia or Northern Ireland. When it came to things like giant battles, the first season skipped them all together. (Tyrion, as fans might recall, gets knocked out. When he wakes up, it's all over.) How times have changed. The finale will now be the most expensive series ever, including what's being billed as Game of Thrones Season 8's "biggest battle in TV history."
The entire point of George R.R. Martin writing A Game of Thrones back in the early 1990s was to create something unfilmable. He'd spent a decade in TV, writing fantasy like Beauty & The Beast, and he was tired of having to take budgets into consideration. He wanted to create battles that would break the biggest movie budgets around.
But the technology explosion of CGI in the 1990s changed the landscape of movie-making, and suddenly what was once unfilmable was within budgetary reach. But still, even with the direwolves, dragons, and the continent-spanning saga, the battles have been the budget-busters every time. Season 1 managed to skip it, but Season 2 had to break the bank with the Battle of the Blackwater.
The show managed to keep all major battles off screen for Season 3, but since Season 4's Battle of Castle Black, each season has seen them up their game. Season 5 brought Hardhome, the first major wight battle. Season 6 saw the amazing Battle of the Bastards, which was groundbreaking in the direction as well as the way it ended. Season 7 topped it by bringing dragons to the party on the Attack on the Wagon Train and the battle Beyond the Wall. Each time, the show topped itself not just in direction, but in how much it cost.
So, is anyone really surprised the series has started to hype Season 8 as having the biggest battle ever put to TV film?
According to Game of Thrones armorer and weapons maker Natalia Lee, this is the big one. Speaking to CNET, she said:
There’ll be people in there fletching arrows, making bows, building siege weapons. We may bring in carpenters to help us make large catapults and trebuchets. We have a bowyer who’s a specialty bow maker. We’ve got model makers that specialise just in safety components. It’s like a museum archive now. We’ve accrued a lot of weapons of dead characters.
And for Season 8, things have grown exponentially, even as technology like 3D printing has made the creation of multiple props easier.
There’s always cool weapons and swords. I can’t really say much. It’s gonna be the biggest battle in TV history, I can definitely say that. It’s just getting bigger and badder.
Fans knew some of this from filming. This year, the production spent the longest it ever has filming a battle scene for the series. In the words of one now-deleted Instagram post:
55 consecutive nights. 11 weeks. 3 locations. You’ll never again see anything like it.
Fans assume this is the battle Lee is talking about. But if it is, she's not going to confirm or deny. As for exactly what will happen, all she'd say was this:
Someone’s gonna die, and it’s always gonna be our weapons that do it.
Exactly who will be killed will have to wait for the final six episodes to air. Game of Thrones Season 8 will arrive whenever it damn well feels like it in 2019 on HBO.