After eight epic years, 47 Emmys, two dead dragons and lots of sex, "Game of Thrones" has said an emotional goodbye to devotees worldwide of one of the most popular shows in television history.
The blood-spattered tale of noble families vying for the Iron Throne wrapped with the 73rd and final episode of a ratings juggernaut that has demolished audience records worldwide and redefined weekly "event TV" for the instant-gratification Netflix generation.
And while millions watched at home -- some nursing a bittersweet goblet of Dornish wine, one would hope -- thousands celebrated and mourned the show's denouement in bars, banqueting halls and backyards from Alaska to Armenia.
"It was even more intense than a football finale," said Ewald Klautky, 52, one of around 200 fans gathered in Brennan's Irish bar in west Los Angeles, where guests were enjoying a blue whisky cocktail called "The Night King."
Cries of joy, sobs and applause followed the peaks and troughs of what many regarded as a poignant but so-so finale, with one couple even stealing a furtive kiss as the tension built.
"I'll watch the episode again when I'm quiet at home," said 28-year-old manufacturing engineer Shobhana Chetri, who found the episode a disappointment on first viewing.
In China, the show's rights-holder triggered outrage among legions of die-hard fans -- some of whom took the morning off work to tune in -- by mysteriously delaying its broadcast just before it was due to air.
That did not stop fans flocking online, with one dramatic twist -- in signature style, not every main character survived until the end credits -- provoking a discussion on Twitter-like Weibo that was viewed more than 230 million times.
Hacked, burned, flayed
One of the darkest and most controversial primetime series ever made, "GoT" has been the target of criticism over the years for senseless violence and its repeated use of rape as a dramatic device.
The scriptwriters have brutalized women, killed children, depicted graphic sex and had their characters hacked, stabbed, flayed, poisoned, decapitated, burned alive, eye-gouged and eviscerated -- all in glorious close-up.
The adult themes have not deterred fans, however, nor the industry awards circuit, which has seen fit to make the HBO show the most decorated fictional series in history.
Airing in 170 countries under its portentous tagline, "Winter is Coming," the show is also the most expensive ever, with a budget of $15 million per episode.
The season seven finale set an all-time US record for premium cable TV, with 16.5 million people watching live or streaming on the day of transmission and 15 million more tuning in later.
Season six was the first to move beyond the source material, George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" novels, and carve its own path.
Critics said it marked a return to form, but the shortened final two seasons have been more of a mixed bag, with many fans furious over what they consider poor writing and a rushed conclusion of the various plot strands.
Fans of the epic show in Uganda took to Twitter to give their thoughts on the final episode of the show with mixed emotions.