As last night’s season premiere reminded us, Game of Thrones is a show that has the occasional big moment, but really it moves in increments. There are loads of plotlines, each one gets a scene or two every week or so to advance its story, and that’s how we’ve come so far over the past 51 episodes.
But now it looks like an endgame is in sight. While Game of Thrones has been renewed for a seventh season (and renewals are basically automatic for Game of Thrones; as long as the showrunners and the fans still want the show, HBO will keep greenlighting new seasons), we learned a couple weeks ago that the final seasons could be shorter. Showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff wouldn’t comment on the length of the upcoming seasons, but they did tell THR that the “finish line” is coming into view for the popular HBO series:
We’re approaching the finish line. From the outset, our hope was to tell a complete story — beginning, middle and end. We are writing the final act now, and the last thing we want to do is stay on stage after the play is over.
And that’s definitely the smart movie. Unless your show is a procedural like Law & Order, then sticking around for longer than seven or eight seasons is rarely a good idea. It’s hard to list all of the shows that stayed strong until the very end, and Game of Thrones has already tried the patience of some fans as it dragged out the arrival of the zombies and the dragons.
The showrunners also explained when they realized that the books and the show would diverge, and how they want to use that divergence to the advantage of all fans:
We realized we’d probably catch the books when we spent several days with George in Santa Fe in 2013, discussing the future of the book series and the television series. George’s schedule is very much his own, as it should be for a novelist. But we’re locked into a set schedule — a new season every year. In the beginning, we hoped that if the show worked, we’d get seven seasons to tell the tale. Seven kingdoms, seven gods, seven books — seven felt like a lucky number. The actual messiness of storytelling might not be quite that numerologically elegant, but we’re looking at somewhere between 70 and 75 hours before the credits roll for the last time.
The show has diverged from the books quite dramatically by this point, but it’s still George’s world: The characters he’s dreamt up in the world he created. At this point, given the fact that we’re outpacing the novels, we all see the upside in the divergence: book readers won’t be spoiled by what’s to come on the show, and the show audience won’t have to worry about spoilers from the unpublished books. And we’re very happy that the show has led so many people to discover George’s amazing books.
Game of Thrones airs at 9pm on Sunday on HBO.