In a sudden change of plans, HBO announced on Wednesday that Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will not be attending San Diego Comic-Con to take part in the show’s panel, previously described as celebrating the show’s triumph. Two cast members, Nathalie Emmanuel and Iain Glen will also be opting out, along with Miguel Sapochnik, the director who told you that your TV settings weren’t calibrated right for his episode (“The Long Night”).
Before we raise our pitchforks and form our delightfully petty theories as to why these five key names suddenly decided not to show up, let’s examine the tiny shred of information we have to go off of. This tweet:
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.
Follow our ravens for updates.
— Game of Thrones (@GameOfThrones) July 17, 2019
So HBO never even explicitly states the change in panelists, let alone why. That was left up to eagle-eyed fans to notice on their own. For those paying attention, the panelists are now parsed down to a smaller, though still impressive list: Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Raleigh Ritchie (Greyworm), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), Isaac Wright (Bran Stark), John Bradley West (Samwell Tarly), Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth), and Conleth Hill (Varys).
Now that that’s over with – onto speculation!
The obvious reason to ditch, for Benioff and Weiss at least, falls down to the huge controversy behind the show’s finale. Though neither are on social media and are notoriously quiet when it comes to their show’s following, it’s difficult to believe they haven’t heard any of the complaints of character assassination and a garbage fire of an ending. There are even reports of fans planning to attend this panel, for the sole purpose of heckling Benioff and Weiss. Perhaps, then, they’ve turned tail in hopes to further avoid any fans still holding onto their rage.
Sapochnik falls into a similar boat, especially after he told fans they didn’t appreciate his episode, which featured the epic Battle of Winterfell, because they didn’t know how to operate their TVs. Despite backlash to his elitist comments, he still received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. In fact, Game of Thrones earned a record-breaking 32 nominations for season eight, announced just yesterday; Benioff and Weiss were also nominated for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for the series finale.
Speaking of which, there’s even more behind the scenes drama when it comes to awards season. The Hollywood Reporter noted on Wednesday that three of the show’s Emmy-nominated actors were snubbed by HBO and submitted themselves for consideration to the Television Academy. Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), our Lord and Savior Gwendoline Christie (Brienne of Tarth) and Carice van Houten (Melisandre) were all left behind. That’s made even more ironic by the fact that Lena Headey (Cersei) was ushered into Emmy recognition despite relentless memes about her minuscule screen time in the show’s final season. That being said, it’s hard not to notice that Glen’s and Emmanuel’s names are both absent from the list of nominees.
However, cast and crew dropping out of Comic-Con panels at the last minute is not without precedence. The cast of Futurama he still received an Emmy nomination and even David Lynch missed out on a Twin Peaks panel last year. Neither of those shows were met with as much fury as Thrones‘ final season, which makes this a special case.
The Game of Thrones SDCC panel takes place on Friday evening at 5:30 in Hall H, without its two most prominent and least likable players. If your tomatoes are already rotting, it’s time to throw them in the compost bin.