Right now on Facebook, one of the trending topics is, "Game of Thrones finale shocks."
Well, I would certainly hope so. If it said, "Game of Thrones finale exactly what everyone saw coming for months," that would be shocking.
What I find impressive is that the show traffics in shock and yet, still has the capacity to shock. (Disclosure: I don't watch Game of Thrones, apart from one early episode. I'm viewing this from an outsider perspective, much as someone indifferent to sports is probably seeing the World Cup right now.)
Back in 1999, I tried out (for the second unsuccessful time) to be my college paper's political columnist with a column about the nature of shock. My argument was that artists like Marilyn Manson can only go so far with shock as their schtick, because eventually people expect it, which defeats the purpose (a point the Onion brilliantly ran with two years later).
Game of Thrones apparently defies this logic, at least for now. I can see why. "Which important character are they going to kill off this week?" is pretty compelling television. Though that can still go wrong if the showrunners are too reckless with the plot device. Because then it will eventually be, "Oh, more deaths. How hard will they try this week?"
One of my professors in grad school read a screenplay I wrote for her class — which followed several groups of people attending a movie screening — and decided it would be a lot better if everyone was brutally murdered at the end (her suggestion for most things I wrote, really). The reworked ending actually played well in a class reading, so she clearly had her finger on some pulse.
A pulse that's pounding all over the Internet with outrage and shock!