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'Game of Thrones' deaths are crucial, say execs

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Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones

© HBO

Warning: This article contains spoilers that some readers may prefer to avoid. Please click here if you wish to continue.

Game of Thrones' exec producers have defended killing off major characters in the first season of the HBO fantasy drama.

Fans of the show who had not read George RR Martin's books were shocked by the death of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) in the penultimate episode and the departure of Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) in last night's season finale.

Execs David Benioff and DB Weiss described the exits of Stark and Drogo as crucial to the "experience" of the story, arguing that there was no "simplistic redemptive message" in the Ice and Fire novels.

"If you're just watching the show for Ned Stark, I'm not sure which show you're watching," Benioff told EW.

"Clearly there's a huge number of characters and Ned and Drogo have been vital parts of the story. But it's crucial for us we create a world where you're constantly in fear for these characters - that was our experience reading the books. It creates a huge amount of suspense. You kind of cling to the characters when you know you can lose them at any moment."

Weiss commented: "Ned dying is telling a hard truth about the price of honour and the price of morality in a world where not everybody has the same values as you do. It's not a simplistic redemptive message, where you sacrifice yourself and it saves the day. At lot of times sacrifice ends up being futile."

The pair claimed that the opening scenes of episode ten, which featured Ned Stark's severed head and corpse, were used to emphasise that his character had genuinely died. "There was a bunch of viewers who had a denial reaction - that Ned can't really be dead. But in episode ten we make it clear he's dead. There was a lot of discussion over how many frames of sword-into-neck to include," said Weiss.

The finale of Game of Thrones airs in the UK tonight at 9pm on Sky Atlantic.

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