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Spoiler warning

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCrNm089jyE

I heard that Season 8 of Games of Thrones was a total joke because it didn't foreshadow how one of the major characters in Game of Thrones ends up becoming a Hitler-like figure. How late is too late? In this case, would it have made sense to foreshadow it one season before, or would it have been better to foreshadow it all along? In this case, I am not too sure what the best way to salvage the script is because foreshadowing it too early in this case would have made the character too unlikable.

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  • Some things. There was not really a "Hitler-like" character in GOT. There was no shortage of foreshadowing of what was about to happen with regard to the ending. And, the ending was by no means the totality of the "suck" for Season 8.
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 22:18

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It's more of a percentage game than an actual to soon or to late.

The example you named, (Game of Thrones spoilers)

Daenerys' descent in to madness had a good start, just a lousy ending. (She had dictator traits from as soon as season one due to her birth right claims and marital claims she was rather fond of.)

During her journey you see her slowly become more violent and less sympathetic to her enemies. It gradually built it up during two seasons, so slow you don't see it while watching but if you go for a second watch after seeing the result you see the signs. (Like crucifying the slavers). Everybody was okay with what she did at first because she was doing it to bad people, but burning a woman alive in season 1 already showed she wasn't as innocent as she looked.

The problem is not that she went crazy, and it was properly foreshadowed, but there was a lack of triggers. In the past her madness came out of vengeance not out of malice. If, for instance, she would have gone crazy after losing Missandei or one of her children it would have worked, but those events did nothing to her state of mind. Then after she won she went crazy.

Coming back to the percentage game, she went from 10% crazy to 15, to 20, to 30 to 40, to 50 and suddenly a major leap to 100%. The build up was good but they rushed the landing and then the foreshadowing didn't work because of it. This is more a character development thing than an actual foreshadowing thing.

Now to the actual foreshadowing, it's a balancing act. IF you foreshadow something, it needs to be in the readers/viewers mind when it actually happens otherwise it will feel out of the blue. You will need small reminders (a small percent increase towards the goal) between the first foreshadowing (1%) and the pay-off(100%) something they started in the example you mentioned, they just didn't follow through properly.

This, however, has a risky downside. Those reminders will stack up soon and a perceptive person will see the big twist coming.

A generic example: In a zombie apocalypse setting you can have people talk about a weak spot in a wall that needs to be patched, but keeps getting delayed and ignored - then, boom, in a crisis situation the weak spot gets exploited and people die. You can do this in chapter 5, but when the wall breaks in chapter 10 most people would have forgotten this minor detail. If you keep mentioning it for 5 whole chapters the reader will know it is going to break sooner or later making more of a waiting till the clock runs out situation than actual foreshadowing.

If your goal is to write your specific example, the solution would be to make the last two seasons longer and make her gradually become more unhinged because the big problem was simply they wanted to do to much in to short of a time span.

Else generally speaking there is no magic number that fits all scenarios. There is a big difference between the foreshadowing of events and character development. That's why so many fail at it, either it is so well hidden that people forget about it or so obvious they predict it far before it happens.

A good example (Sixth Sense spoilers)

Would be the Sixth Sense. Everybody knows the big plot twist at the end that Bruce Willis his character was dead all along, but the foreshadowing was done during the entire movie by subtle nods that nobody except the boy ever acknowledged his existence.

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  • Spoilers are introduced by the two chars greater-than and exclamation mark at the start of a paragraph >! like so
    – Boba Fit
    Commented Jan 15, 2023 at 22:23
  • @BobaFit when i try it i only get block quotes for some reason, have done it in the past but for some reason it isn't picking it up for me this time.
    – A.bakker
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 7:27
  • Google, and you shall be rewarded. There is of course a ton of fun stuff one can do in a SE article...
    – Erk
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 16:33
  • @Erk actually found that, but still it gave block quotes, maybe because i did it on my phone?
    – A.bakker
    Commented Jan 16, 2023 at 17:57
  • @A.bakker You cannot have any extraneous new lines in the spoiler; like trying to do multiple paragraphs. In the original text (I edited it to add your spoiler alerts) you seemed to be using another editor to compose your answer, and then copying the text and pasting it into the answer. This introduced line feeds between lines of your answer. the Spoiler Alert text has to be one continuous line ending in a line feed and a blank line, or it doesn't seem to work. You can edit your own answer, and see how I did it. I don't know how to do paragraphs within a single Spoiler alert.
    – Amadeus
    Commented Jan 17, 2023 at 14:40

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