• Network: HBO
  • Series Premiere Date: Apr 17, 2011
  • Season #: 1 , 2 , 3 , 4
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 28 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 22 out of 28
  2. Negative: 0 out of 28
  1. Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Apr 15, 2011
    100
    This dwarf [Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage)] has game--and so does this fabulous dark fable. Dig in.
  2. Reviewed by: Mary McNamara
    Apr 14, 2011
    100
    Though some of the visual cues will be very familiar to fans of "Lord of the Rings" or even "The Tudors," Game of Thrones quickly finds that rare alchemy of action, motivation and explanation, proving, once again, that the epic mythology remains the Holy Grail of almost any medium.
  3. Reviewed by: Matthew Gilbert
    Apr 14, 2011
    100
    Ultimately, though, even with the fantasy, Game of Thrones feels like a historical medieval saga. It's a royal, and royally good, round of musical chairs.
  4. Reviewed by: Tom Gliatto
    Apr 14, 2011
    100
    What's amazing is how quickly it all falls into place--the show goes like a shot. [25 Apr 2011, p.43]
  5. Reviewed by: Tim Goodman
    Apr 4, 2011
    100
    There's a real allure to costume-dramas that pair dense mythology with all of the crowd-pleasing elements of war, honor, pride, lust, power and, yes, even humor. Thrones has all of those in spades and supports them with exceptional storytelling, strong writing, superb acting and some stunning visual effects.
  6. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Apr 14, 2011
    91
    I mostly loved Game of Thrones, but occasionally grew a little weary of it as well. (And just to answer the obvious question, this is not a small-screen "Lord of the Rings.")
  7. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Apr 13, 2011
    91
    Stick with it. Free your eyes to take in the spectacle, and your brain will magically start following the intricate storytelling. And there's a magical realism to Game of Thrones.
  8. Reviewed by: Glenn Garvin
    Apr 18, 2011
    90
    The gloriously bloody and depraved spirit of the novels is intact and even enhanced.
  9. Reviewed by: Rick Porter
    Apr 18, 2011
    90
    It's stunningly rendered and very well-acted, and though the first few episodes have a tendency toward telling rather than showing, the pace rarely feels slack.
  10. Reviewed by: Chris Conaton
    Apr 18, 2011
    90
    Densely plotted and epic in scope, full of graphic violence and lots of sex, it's tremendously entertaining.
  11. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Apr 15, 2011
    90
    Watching Game of Thrones is like falling into a gorgeous, stained tapestry. This epic, unflinching fantasy noir takes our preconceptions of chivalry, nobility and magic and gets medieval on them.
  12. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Apr 13, 2011
    90
    The characters are so richly-drawn, and so wonderfully-played, that the exposition ultimately isn't that great a stumbling block. I wanted to know more about these characters, and within an episode or so was eager for any bit of backstory that helped better clarify all the relationships.
  13. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Apr 11, 2011
    90
    Game of Thrones excels on multiple levels--with its splendid ensemble cast (able to sell even the clunkier fantasy dialogue), intricate palace machinations, sly humor and growing sense of inevitable conflict. The production's look is a wonder, showcasing a variety of environments (lensing was in Northern Ireland and Malta) and ornate sets and costumes that approximate the feel of a theatrical blockbuster.
  14. Reviewed by: Paige Wiser
    Apr 18, 2011
    88
    The kingdoms are gorgeous to look at, down to the last loving detail - you could be entertained just by watching for the inventive suits of armor. The violence is spectacular; the sex is twisted. The producers even had a language invented for the Dothraki, which should please the Dungeons and Dragons crowd.
  15. Reviewed by: Linda Stasi
    Apr 15, 2011
    88
    The art direction, acting and incredible sets are as breathtaking as the massive scope of the series. A bit slow at first, but it's a grabber once you get into it.
  16. Reviewed by: Robert Bianco
    Apr 14, 2011
    88
    It's all very well told and well acted, but those who insist on comparing it to The Lord of the Rings are setting up expectations Game cannot possibly match.
User Score
9.1

Universal acclaim- based on 2459 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Negative: 21 out of 398
  1. Apr 21, 2011
    10
    Having not read the books, I was thoroughly surprised by the series and found myself enjoying it so far immensely. The show is good because the original author retains control, a "realistic" element runs strong and the backgrounds and extras are adequately fleshed out. Can't wait for more. Full Review »
  2. Apr 18, 2011
    4
    Coming from the perspective of someone who hasn't read George R. R. Martin's novels, but who is a massive fan of high-quality TV drama, I have to confess that, for me, Game of Thrones started in an underwhelming way. Not only that, it shows many worrying signs of being a bit of a stinker, in spite of the effort put into its undoubtedly fancy production design.

    Having read my fair share of fantasy series in years gone by, in the run-up to the Game of Thrones debut I found myself deeply curious as to what it was that made this series sufficiently distinct as to be worthy of a big-budget TV adaptation. So far, I'm not sure. Cliché abounds in the first episode, from unfunny jokes about fat kings to the awkward acquisition of symbolic familiars, from steroidally-enhanced, woad-daubed barbarians (wearing mascara) to rumblings of trouble 'brewing in the north', there's little to set the subject matter apart from the legion of other fantasy universes out there which readers swear blind to be 'brilliant' but that, to many outsiders of the genre, typically seem a little bit silly.

    Clearly a great deal of money has been lavished on the series however, with lots of candles, beautiful haircuts, distinctly cut leather armour and fur-trimmed cloaks aplenty. I do have to query why all this pageantry been assembled though - beyond providing a sort of Hercules: The Legendary Adventures for grown ups. And certainly the pilot boasts symbols of maturity - topless ladies appear every fifteen minutes or so, and brooding men with swords frequently use naughty words - but the whole thing, to me, seemed overbearingly camp and, unfortunately, riddled with adolescent preoccupations. Admittedly, there is serious subject matter here, with baddies engaged in incest and hints at the severe duties involved in courtly life, but I ultimately couldn't believe in the universe that the series-makers had fashioned for me, and as a result felt rather like I was watching people play dress-up rather than an exploration of the genuine issues to which the characters were party. So far then, the next big thing in the current Golden Age of TV this ain't.

    I'm not suggesting that fans of the swords and sorcery genre won't enjoy Game of Thrones - I imagine that many will - but I would suggest that few viewers who don't will be won over by this pilots' limited charms. It is refreshing to see Peter Dinklage given a central role in a series, and it's also great to see Joseph Mawle receiving some prime-time exposure, but the cast are hard-pressed to convince while discussing such clangingly unreal topics as orphaned dire wolf pups or their eagerness to sell family members into sex slavery. And on that topic, the pilot's eagerness to see women sexually exploited is, to me, a little worrying, and risks alienating many potential viewers before it's even got going.

    Undeniably, creating 'grown up' fantasy series' is a tough business, and Game of Thrones' pilot does seem to hint that there will be more depth to proceedings as things develop, but to put Game of Thrones on a level with other top-tier HBO or AMC output is unthinkable. Even The Walking Dead, the subject matter of which many might have thought beyond the interest of the average viewer, managed to fashion itself into a series that was, for the most part, mature and intriguing. Likewise, Mad Men's debut introduced us to a sexist culture in ways that left viewers reeling, and The Soprano's spent time exploring how counterproductive its characters' regressive views were, encouraging us to look at its characters as incredibly dangerous buffoons, and anything but stereotypes.

    In its own pilot however, Game of Thrones fails to show any of this promise, or that, in this post-Gladiator, post-Lord of the Rings world, that 'fantasy' has grown up. Although fans of Sean Bean's work in The Black Death, or such similar efforts as Nicholas Cage's recent The Season of the Witch or Michael J. Bassett's Solomon Kane, might lap up Game of Thrones as a big step forward for the genre, those of us looking for nuance, tension, believability - or even plausibility - in a drama set in an imaginary world full of axes, horses and mud... well, it looks like we're destined to be disappointed by this one.
    Full Review »
  3. Apr 17, 2011
    10
    Through one episode this is a wonderful adaptation. The writers thought thru each line of dialogue giving us the viewer insight into the world of Westeros. The art direction and the production of the show is stellar. Sean Bean as Eddard Stark is amazing in his understated reserve but the true praise goes to Peter Dinklage. If the powers that be were to open their eyes to fantasy shows they will see this piece of truly grand workmanship. Us geeks envisioned Peter as Tyrion and he truly brought the character to life. Granted he only has a couple of scenes and those scenes run for a mere seconds but they were doozies. Especially the scene with Jon Snow. Of course Ghost was to have tried to take a piece of him but hey you have to lose a few items during the adaption. If you have read the books then this is a winner. Full Review »