May 2019 was truly a banner month for nerd culture. Even as major releases like Detective Pikachu and John Wick 3 made their way into theaters, neither could compare in terms of cultural impact to either of the month's biggest events: Season 8 of Game of Thrones and Avengers: Endgame, the latter of which will conclude the "Infinity Stones" saga. The world watched two of the most popular multi-year sagas in recent memory wrap up, and no one watched more intently than fantasy fanatics, comic book connoisseurs, and all-around nerds. But with so many epic battles between powerful and bitter rivals happening this May, we at Ranker had to ask — between Game of Thrones and The Avengers, which franchise won the battle of the finales?
It's not an easy question to answer, especially since most hardcore fans are likely to be biased in favor of a particular franchise rather than split their allegiances. Luckily, our strength at Ranker is learning from the combined wisdom of millions of fans. We looked through all the votes our readers have cast for and against these two finales to learn more about how people felt about the way these captivating, long-running stories finally came to a close — and, of course, which closing was better.
All In All, 'Endgame' Had More Fans Than 'GoT' Season 8...
Endings are hard, so it's no surprise that neither finale ranked quite as high as earlier episodes in the two sagas. Still, there's no debating that between the two of them, Endgame was the far more popular installment.
According to our list of the best movies in the Marvel Comic Universe, Endgame occupies a pretty middling position in the MCU echelon, sitting at #13 out of a total of 22 films. If you take a look at this line graph displaying how each Marvel movie was ranked in the order of its release (lovingly crafted using Google Sheets), you'll see the franchise has a pretty uneven trajectory, especially towards the end. The saga's most popular movie, Infinity Wars, was the 19th to reach theaters, and only two films later came its least popular installment, Captain Marvel. Given this wild swing downward, maybe Endgame should consider itself lucky it didn't end up far lower on the list — which is exactly what happened to the final season of Game of Thrones.
Fans' reception of Game of Thrones over time was a little more typical, peaking in the middle before dropping like a rock as the series drew towards its conclusion. While fans enjoyed both the final season in general and final episode specifically of Game of Thrones far more than what the media hype would suggest, it's clear that for the vast majority of viewers, they didn't stack up to the standard set by the series' glory days.
...But 'GoT' Fans Are A Lot More Willing To Criticize Their Franchise
While there's no denying that Endgame was more beloved by Marvel fans than Season 8 was by its own fandom, there's one quirk that could potentially be contributing to that outcome: Avengers fans don't really seem to take criticism of their favorite superhero franchise very kindly. Every single item on our list of critiques that "the haters" have made of Endgame has been downvoted by at least 69% of fans. It's not like we don't understand getting defensive about the movies we love, but come on, guys! It's okay to admit that the way time travel is supposed to work in the movie doesn't make any goddamn sense!
By contrast, Game of Thrones fans have been very comfortable voicing their problems with the way the series ended. 63% of our readers thought it was insane that Bran was made king in the Season 8 finale, and 57% said the episode left them feeling "a bit underwhelmed." Maybe that's because Game of Thrones completely whiffed their big moment in a way that Endgame didn't, and maybe it's because one fanbase is a little more sensitive than the other — it's not for us to say. Seriously, we're not saying anything — not drawing any conclusions, just giving you guys the facts. Please don't get mad at us.
Our Favorite Characters Came Out On Top
There's some disagreement over whether or not these two big franchises really delivered the kind of endings their fans wanted to see, but both Game of Thrones Season 8 and Endgame did at least one thing right: they made fan favorites instrumental in the major victories that defined both finales. MCU fans ranked Iron Man as their number two favorite character in the entire Avengers universe, second only to franchise creator Stan "The Man" Lee, who sadly passed away late last year. So it's only fitting that in Endgame (BIG, BIG SPOILER ALERT), Iron Man sacrifices himself to save the universe and help the Avengers secure their victory over Thanos, securing his place as one of the most important members of the Avengers, redeeming himself as a moral and unselfish character, and earning him the coveted Endgame MVP title from Ranker readers. Arya Stark also sits at #2 on the list of best characters from her franchise, and she very similarly was crowned MVP of Season 8's most important and pitched battle, the Battle of Winterfell, after she (MORE BIG SPOILERS AHEAD) stabbed the Night King right in his icy tummy.
That's how fans feel about both these big finales for now, but things could always change in the future. There will certainly be more MCU movies, and perhaps even more Avengers films, which could affect how viewers feel about Endgame in retrospect. And with buzz of a Game of Thrones spinoff growing louder, new information in the canon could shed a more favorable light on the original show's eighth season. No matter what happens, you can be certain that we'll be watching and fielding feedback from mega-fans like you.