Rolling Stone

31 Game of Thrones

HBO 2011-19


Welcome to the blockbuste­r age of television, as kicked off by this lavish adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s fantasy novels set in a parallel version of England circa the War of the Roses. Thrones would eventually become known for its jaw-dropping spectacle: fire-breathing dragons burning armies into ash, a horde of icy zombies overwhelmi­ng a fishing village’s defenses, or an angry giant crashing through a castle’s gates. But all of that came later. What made Thrones a phenomenon in the first place was not only its willingnes­s to brutally kill off major players like Sean Bean’s noble Ned Stark, but also its absurdly deep bench of colorful characters — fast-talking imp Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), aspiring young killer Arya (Maisie Williams), and towering warrior Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie), to cite just three — that allowed the show to be so ruthless with some of them, while the rest remained locked in thrilling physical or verbal combat with one another.

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