Game Of Thrones stars have dismissed the backlash against the series' ending and described it as a "media-led hate campaign".

The eighth and final season of HBO's fantasy epic, inspired by the fantasy novels of George RR Martin, proved divisive when it aired in May and one disgruntled fan famously launched a petition demanding that it be rewritten.

A selection of cast members from the show, including Jacob Anderson, John Bradley, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Liam Cunningham, Conleth Hill, Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead Wright, took part in a panel at pop culture convention Comic Con in California.

Asked about his thoughts on the ending, Hill joked "I don't regret starting the petition", before addressing the thousands of fans inside Hall H of San Diego Convention Centre.

He said: "We're very grateful for your fandom over the years and I think this is the reality rather than a media-led hate campaign."

Cunningham, who played Davos Seaworth in the series, also defended the ending, pointing to how beloved Game of Thrones was over the course of its eight-year run.

Despite the misgivings over season eight, there was a buoyant mood among the actors, who were given a standing ovation as they walked on stage.

The panel opened with the cast raising cups of Starbucks coffee to the crowd, a reference to the infamous production error in the final season which saw a rogue cup appearing in an episode.

Maisie Williams

Maisie Williams, who played Arya Stark, was asked about the fate of her character, who ended the show by heading off to explore "west of Westeros".

"I'm sure she's having a wonderful time, like Dora The Explorer", Williams said.

Williams was also asked about the relationship between Arya and Gendry Baratheon, after they enjoyed an intimate moment. She doesn't see a future for the couple.

Williams said: "She's a lone wolf. I don't think being with a partner is what would make her feel most at home, or the most fulfilled".

Hempstead Wright, who portrayed Bran, joked that Westeros is "now a surveillance state" under Bran's rule, due to his omniscience.