Aired: HBO, 2010-Present
Medieval (or thereabouts) fantasy is not a TV genre with a particularly exalted tradition, which is why Game of Thrones, in its lavish production values and depth of mythology, feels so unprecedented in television. Co-creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss adapted the first of George R. R. Martin's series of novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, into a gold-standard example of the epic fantasy, with an international cast, global locations and the sort of power grabs and struggles among characters that transcend the epochs. Before the show aired, Benioff promised reporters that "characters that you might think are going to go on for six seasons meet an early end." And so, a key protagonist did meet his end as season one concluded.
George R.R. Martin