President's Letter

Timothy P. Villegas, M.D.

Timothy P. Villegas, M.D. | President's Letter

Whether you were a fan of the show or not, it was hard not to notice the hype surrounding the hit HBO television series "Game of Thrones" (GOT). The series finale aired this month - a culmination of 12 years of production. George R.R. Martin began writing the first book of what was a planned trilogy back in 1991. It was published in 1996, and the next two installments followed in 1999 and 2000. Two additional books have since been published, and two more are still planned. The original novel was on the USA Today Best-Sellers list for 220 weeks! With the success of the trilogy, producers wanting to create a feature film series similar to "The Lord of the Rings" franchise approached the author. However, Mr. Martin felt that the plot and characters of GOT were far too complex to be properly portrayed in this medium, and instead chose to work with a pair of relatively unknown writers named D.B. Weiss and David Benioff to create the television series we now know today. The show went on to be a great success, garnering the acclaim of critics and audiences as well as 174 award nominations and 63 wins.

Some interesting statistics about the series underscore the tremendous scope of the production and the worldwide impact it has had. The first episode aired in 2011, followed by 72 more episodes over 8 seasons. The cost to produce each episode in the final season was over $15 million, and it is broadcast in 207 countries. Some fun facts: the production has used 1.5 tons of metal for shields, 52,000 bags of paper snow, 65,000 bags of plaster, 20 million screws and bolts, and 24,000 pounds of silicone for prosthetics. The list goes on and on...

The show has been filmed in over 10 countries around the world including Northern Ireland, Scotland, Morocco, Spain, Croatia, Malta, Canada, Iceland and the U.S. Nearly 13,000 extras and 2,000 crew members have been used in Northern Ireland alone! One obscure statistic is that of the 330 "important" characters introduced into the story, 186 of them died, representing a 56.4% mortality rate (someone has too much time on their hands). Furthermore, there was a 14% probability of dying within the first hour of appearing on screen. This may account for the use of over 4,000 gallons of fake blood over the years.

While viewership numbers vary due to difficulty in accounting for all of the different streaming services, it is estimated that well over 30 million people watched each episode of the final season. Interestingly, GOT is also considered to be the most pirated show in history, with over 50 million copies of the final season premiere made illegally. With all that said, some of you may recall that the most watched television episode in history was the series finale of M*A*S*H in 1983 with 105 million viewers, which I would guess cost a lot less than $15M to produce. Television was much simpler in those days, but then again, there were very few dragons.