I’m going to miss “Game of Thrones.” Despite its best efforts.

In its early seasons, the show felt like something different: A complex fantasy series featuring fire-breathing dragons and ice zombies and blood sacrifice that was accessible because of the very tangible human drama underpinning it all. In George R.R. Martin’s Westeros, actions had consequences, and beloved characters died because they made bad decisions. The world and its inhabitants felt strangely real.

This initially proved a winning formula. The TV series, based on Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, reeled in viewers by the millions as the seasons progressed. Last week’s episode, “The Bells,” broke records for HBO, becoming the most-viewed show in the cable network’s history, according to Deadline.

Now, as it races toward its series finale, which airs Sunday, the show seems to have cemented its legacy as one of the most-viewed and most-talked-about pieces of pop culture of its era. So should we view its success as validation? Should “Thrones” be held up as the gold standard of modern serial storytelling?

No. Not by a long shot.

I’m going to assume, if you’re reading this, that you’re caught up on all the most recent episodes. If you’re not, I suggest you stop here. If you choose not to, and some major plot development is spoiled for you, you have only yourself to blame.

Game of Thrones Economics Skills Conquer Death

Maisie Williams in a scene from “Game of Thrones.”

To put it mildly, Season 8 of “Game of Thrones” has drawn its share of critics. Viewers complained after the season’s third episode, when the Night King and his army of White Walkers — established early in the show’s run as the series’ final boss — were dispatched in a single night.

And social media exploded after last week’s episode, when Queen Daenerys Targaryen, a fan favorite long considered one of the series’ heroes, suddenly broke bad and slaughtered thousands of innocents from the back of her dragon.

The problem isn’t the plot developments themselves. Longtime fans have become used to sudden twists and numb to the show’s habit of mercilessly killing its darlings. The problem is that “Game of Thrones” isn’t living up to the promise it made to its audience in the beginning: that big moments would be earned.

In its early seasons, the show was refreshing for just how seriously it took its fantasy setting. Adapted from Martin’s books by showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the series followed fully realized characters, spread across a continent roughly the size of South America (plus a second continent to the east). Yes, there was an overarching story, but the plot served the characters, and not the other way around.

The honorable Ned Stark, arguably the protagonist of the series’ first season, is executed by the king. Why? Because he was outwitted by the shameless, scheming nobles of King’s Landing. And the show marched on, only growing in scope.

But as the TV series began to outpace Martin’s books, its writers had to wrestle the sprawling plot to a satisfying endpoint in a fixed number of episodes. (While HBO, likely concerned about the end of its gravy train, offered to extend the series, Benioff and Weiss declined.) And so things started to feel rushed.

Our heroes survive an onslaught from the White Walkers mostly unscathed. Why? Because there are still three episodes left. Daenerys, in two hours of screentime, devolves from a principled ally into a rampaging war criminal. Why? Because it “subverts expectations.” But really, because the last episode needs a villain and a poignant conflict.

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It’s a disappointing, ham-fisted way to round out a series that began so skillfully.

But you can bet I’m still going to watch on Sunday. There are plenty of things I still enjoy about the show that I’ll miss once it’s over: the world-class actors, the elaborate sets, the stunning visual effects.

But what I, and likely many others, will miss the most once “Game of Thrones” is over: complaining about it.