The Game of Thrones panel at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 was supposed to be a chance for attendees to say goodbye to the show and have some season 8 questions (and criticisms) answered by those involved, but instead it ended up being another disappointment for Game of Thrones fans.
The panel represented Game of Thrones' final appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, and was coming off the fan backlash to season 8. While that put more scrutiny on the event than normal, it also made it more highly anticipated, especially when showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss were announced to be attending. They haven't done any press since the season 8 finale, "The Iron Throne", aired, so it could've been a chance for them to address some of the concerns.
However, they dropped out of the panel earlier in the week - along with director Miguel Sapochnik, and actors Iain Glen and Nathalie Emmanuel - because of a scheduling clash. Given the backlash to Game of Thrones season 8 was mostly aimed at Benioff & Weiss, it's not too surprising that they ultimately decided not to attend, whatever the reason. That might well have been for the best, at least if all that was going to happen was they'd be abused, but it meant the Game of Thrones Comic-Con panel was left a little short.
There were still some big names present, including stars Maisie Williams (Arya Stark), Isaac Hemsptead Wright (Bran Stark), and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister), so it's not like the Game of Thrones SDCC panel couldn't give those in Hall H some value for money. And yet, despite their presence and the fact they were able to be occasionally funny and charming with their answers, the panel, moderated by EW's James Hibberd, didn't offer much in the way of what fans had wanted or expected.
There was only a slight effort at addressing any of the criticisms to season 8. Coster-Waldau said that each season had brought its own controversy, and endings always annoy fans; Liam Cunningham (Davos Seaworth) stated it was about the journey, not the end; Conleth Hill, who had previously been quite open regarding his disappointment at Varys' death, said that the Game of Thrones backlash had been "media-led". About as good as those moments got were Jacob Anderson putting on a Spider-Man mask when asking why his character, Grey Worm, didn't kill Jon Snow, and Hill, when asked about Varys' death, jokingly responding: "I don't regret starting the petition."
A few other fun little touches could be found elsewhere in the Game of Thrones SDCC panel, such as Anderson's response when asked if there was something they were told about their characters that didn't make it into the show, with the actor saying: "Dick, no balls." Hill provided another of the panel's best moments, responding to a question about whether they'd stolen anything from the set, saying: "Most of the scenes."
Still, while these provided some brief highlights, it didn't make for much of a fitting goodbye, especially not in the face of such controversy. The majority of the questions they received during the panel itself were light and relatively basic, without delving too deep into the bigger issues, and then because the Game of Thrones stars were given the opportunity for one final message it left no time for questions from the Comic-Con crowd.
In any other year of Game of Thrones, that might've been enough. It is, after all, what a lot of panels are like. But coming off the back of its final season, one marred by controversy, and being the final time Game of Thrones would be at Comic-Con, it was hard to feel like it was anything other than another disappointment.