Freefolk is a light-hearted Game of Thrones community on Reddit, where fans come together to share their memes about the series. Recently, all the community wants to talk about is their gripes with its legacy.
The first episode of Game of Thrones took the world by storm and soon became an international phenomenon. After 10 years of appointment viewing, that same series seems to have completely disappeared from our public consciousness. In fact, the 10 year anniversary of the series' premiere came and went this year with a "month long celebration" from HBO this April which I don't remember happening at all. We've come a long way from Khaleesi becoming a popular baby name and "Winter is coming" memes.
According to the subreddit's FAQ, r/Freefolk first started as a place to talk about Game of Thrones episode leaks, which was not allowed at the time in r/GameofThrones, then the major subreddit for talking about the show. Over time, the overall laissez-faire philosophy for how the community has been moderated has let it blossom into a haven for memes and conversation as the leaks died out, and then the series itself ended. The community ethos is in part inspired by the free folks beyond the wall that the community takes its name from. To quote a post archiving the history of the subreddit, "The real enemy of r/FreeFolk is RULES," though the community does forbid racist slurs and references to politicians, as noted in its sidebar.
Freefolk isn't quite a shitposting community, but the shitposts are allowed to run wild and free, especially now that the show no longer has any new content to discuss. By comparison, taking a trip over to r/GameofThrones or r/ASOIAF feels like going back in time to the glory days of Thones. In these communities, which have stricter rules on spoilers, people are mainly discussing finer parts of the lore and showing off their crafts.
At this point, the disappearing relevance of the series is what the people over on r/Freefolk are most interested in talking about. Nestled next to jokes about Ygritte being excited for six to eight inches of snow, a post about the overall decline in popularity of the series sits at the top of the subreddit with over 30,000 upvotes and almost 3,000 comments. The post contains a screenshot from someone who says that they work in merchandising describing retailers sending back Game of Thrones merch "as if the product was toxic." It doesn't really matter to posters whether or not they can confirm this person's account. They all have their own examples of watching Games of Thrones going from inescapable to near invisible since the series finale in 2019.
"I remember the Christmas before Season 8 premiered I went shopping at the mall by my place. Bookstores, Hot Topics, Sears, Candleshops, coffee places, literally any store that could sell something with the Game of Thrones logo would," the highest upvoted comment reads. "The next Christmas, nothing. It was insane to me. The only thing I saw was at a Target. It was a sock of the month calendar or something."
To these fans, HBO's mismanagement of the series, and especially showrunners David Benioff and D. B. Weiss ruined something they once loved. A r/Freefolk poster who goes by MaximumEffort433 compared it to the similar decline of Dexter, except that fans remained hopeful that Game of Thrones could turn it around until the end.
"With Dexter we had three seasons to prepare for the belly flop into a bowel movement; Game of Thrones gave viewers no time to prepare, it hit season 7.5 and fell off a cliff," MaximumEffort433 said. "There have been shows as good as Game of Thrones before, there have been shows as bad as Game of Thrones before, but there are very few shows that made the transition from one into the other quite as quickly as Game of Thrones did."
Put more succinctly, r/Freefolk poster TheRXBandito told Motherboard, "Forever fuck [David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.] Those incompetent trustfund twats. They could have gone down as these legendary Hollywood visionaries but will forever be the losers who botched one [of] the best shows ever made."
Both of these people are self professed fans of Game of Thrones, who spend at least a little bit of their free time posting about the show online, even as they profess to hate at least part of it. But this is what Game of Thrones fandom looks like now, after the end of the series and before any new material is released; it's a collective mourning of what could have been.
When you sort the submissions from today on Freefolk by the amount of upvotes, a snapshot of what the Game of Thrones fandom feels about the legacy of the show, at least according to this one Reddit community, begins to emerge. One user edited footage of a late season table read for the season eight episode "The Bells" to emphasize awkward reactions from the cast, which was upvoted over 3,000 times. Another post with close to a thousand upvotes gives props to the character Daario Naharis, "the only living character to dip before the show went south for good."
Multiple spin offs for the show are in the works, but so far only one has been greenlit for a full series. House of the Dragon, a prequel series focusing on the Targeryan family, is one of two potential series concepts that are based on works from George RR Martin, who wrote the book series on which Game of Thrones is based.
While fans will have to wait until 2022 to see House of the Dragon, there is simply no end in sight for the book series itself. In a recent interview with PBS in Chicago, Martin expressed regret that the show eclipsed the book series and he also said that when he does finish it, his ending will be different. The next book in the series, The Winds of Winter, was announced in 2011. According to his blog, Martin hopes to finish it this year, though he says he won't make any predictions on when it will be finished.
With no new Game of Thrones content to dissect, the new submissions coming into the Freefolk subreddit are less shitposts and more sadposts. "It's crazy to think I'll never watch it again after 8 years of watching," reads one such submission to Freefolk. There's nothing to lol at there, just sigh in recognition. The only thing left for fans to talk about is where things went wrong.