And with that, the biggest TV event in recent years is now officially a memory. Eight seasons of Game of Thrones came to a close with Sunday night’s broadcast of the sixth and last episode of the show’s final season (*Spoilers* to follow, of course). The decision to appoint Bran as king of Westeros may have been a turn of events few saw coming — fitting, in a way, given that this series has frequently taken the road less traveled when it comes to the story and given us one surprise after another over these many years. Everyone will now be taking stock, since Sunday night also marked a milestone moment in the history of pop culture and television as a medium, but it’s worth remembering: The looming threat that winter is coming, all those battles, deaths, beheadings, a Night King and his inscrutable motives, power plays for a throne made of swords — what was it all, if not the digital equivalent of a campfire around which we all sat to hear the slow unspooling of George R.R. Martin’s dense and daunting fantasy. It’s like Tyrion said Sunday night. The storytellers are the most powerful people in the world, a truth HBO knows as well as anyone.

Sunday night certainly was the catalyst for an hour of appointment TV that spanned the globe, the likes of which we may not see again for a long time — if ever, as TV fragments and demographics keep getting more finely sliced in an era of upstart streaming platforms. No wonder the stars who made Game of Thrones such a cultural force found themselves at times overcome with emotion and nostalgia at this turning of a page. “Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me,” Emilia Clarke wrote in a farewell post on Instagram, as did many of her fellow GoT stars.

You can read some of them below, all of which are the perfect capstone to a monumental eight seasons of imperfect but perfectly compelling television:

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Finding the words to write this post has left me overwhelmed with how much I want to say but how small words feel in comparison to what this show and Dany have meant to me. The mother of dragons chapter has taken up the whole of my adult life. This woman has taken up the whole of my heart. I’ve sweated in the blaze of dragon fire, shed many tears at those who left our family early, and wrung my brain dry trying to do Khaleesi and the masterful words, actions (and names) I was given, justice. Game of Thrones has shaped me as a woman, as an actor and as a human being. I just wish my darling dad was here now to see how far we’ve flown. But to you, dear kind magical fans, I owe you so much thanks, for your steady gaze at what we’ve made and what I’ve done with a character that was already in the hearts of many before I slipped on the platinum wig of dreams. Without you there is no us. And now our watch has ended. @gameofthrones @hbo #love #motherofdragonsoverandout

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So tonight we have our very last episode. It’s the final step of a long and wonderful journey. A journey that, for me, started at 10am on Monday 19th of July 2010. I know this because recently I found my rehearsal and prep schedule for season 1, week 1. This was given to me when I landed in Belfast for the first time, weeks before we even started shooting. Listed here is the rehearsal where I first met Kit, and the first time I wore the costume that’s seen me through 8 seasons. I’m glad I kept this. I met so many people that week who have come to mean so much to me. Back then we couldn’t have known the journey we’d go on together. I wouldn’t swap that experience, or those people, for the world. Enjoy the episode and thanks for everything. ❤️❤️❤️ @gameofthrones @hbo #GOT 👋

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BEING TOLD THE ENDING TO @gameofthrones 🖤⚔️

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Sansa, Thank you for teaching me resilience, bravery and what true strength really is. Thank you teaching me to be kind and patient and to lead with love. I grew up with you. I fell in love with you at 13 and now 10 years on.. at 23 I leave you behind, but I will never leave behind what you’ve taught me. To the show and the incredible people who make it, thank you for giving me the best life and drama lessons I could have ever asked for. Without you I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Thank you for giving me this chance all those years ago. And finally to the fans. Thank you for falling in love with these characters and supporting this show right through till the end. I’ll miss this more than anything.

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