'Game of Thrones' season 6 battle: Is the show too violent?

A 'Thrones' producer says a battle segment in the upcoming episodes will be the 'biggest' seen on the show. The program has been criticized for its depictions of violence.

Macall B. Polay/HBO
'Game of Thrones' stars Peter Dinklage.

The HBO program “Game of Thrones” takes place in a world of civil war and brutal living, so fans know that the show is no stranger to battles big and small.

But in the upcoming season, “Thrones” producers say the show will include the largest fight ever seen on the program.

Producer Bryan Cogman said that the upcoming battle scene will top them all.

“It’s definitely the biggest [action sequence yet],” Mr. Cogman said in an interview with Entertaiment Weekly. “We’ve always wanted to get to a place – story-wise and budget-wise and time-wise and resource-wise – where we would be able to do a proper battle, with one army on one side, one army on another side.”

Almost every season has included a large fight of some kind, though viewers can chart the program's ascendancy as a pop culture phenomenon by the battles that the show stages. In season one, one of the main characters, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage), is knocked unconscious and so missed a big battle. (Hitfix writer Alan Sepinwall noted at the time, “[‘Thrones’ author George R.R. Martin] said one of the things he'd be curious to see in the adaptation was how [creators David] Benioff, [D.B.] Weiss and company wound up depicting the battle scenes. This week, at least, the answer was ‘by skipping over them entirely’ … it sounds like the earlier battle went on quite a bit longer in the book before Tyrion got knocked out. Ideally, we'd get a few epic, ‘Braveheart’-level battle scenes at some point, but I also respect the demands of time and budget here.”)

Since then, conflicts have grown larger, with the last seasons including the storming of a castle, Castle Black, and an army of strange creatures attacking a town called Hardhome. With its status as a hit show, "Thrones" likely has more freedom to stage these big scenes.

Whatever the scale of the battles on the show, the violence on the program has prompted controversy. A 2014 episode that depicted a trial by combat raised concerns in particular.

“In many ways, the most shocking thing about last night’s episode of 'Game of Thrones' is that it shocked us at all,” staff at The Telegraph wrote at the time of the 2014 episode. “Past installments … have left us reeling.… But the climax of ‘The Mountain and The Viper’ outdid them all with a display of such frenzied violence and bloodthirstiness that it’s left many asking – not for the first time – if 'Game of Thrones' has gone too far.” 

However, some feel the violence demonstrates the difficult world in which the characters are living.

“’Game of Thrones’ has always seemed a TV show, at its core, about presenting a more brutal and realistic vision than similar sword and sorcery epics like ‘Lord of the Rings,’” NPR writer Eric Deggans wrote. "This is a series which tries to marry the most realistic vision of Medieval-era life with a fantasy world where dragons are real.  It's also a world where the innocent are exploited, the strong abuse those who are weaker, heroes are killed for their heroism and only the most ruthless seem to prosper. So, if you accept that notion, these acts of brutality make more sense.”

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