. As the fantasy epic readies to launch its sixth season, HBO and showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are nearly ready to confirm a seventh season, plus are talking about an eighth season that
also include an end-date plan. “We’ve known for several years now how many hours roughly we want it to go,” Benioff tells EW. “It hasn’t changed.”
The proposed magic number? Roughly 73 hours, with the final run split between seasons 7 and 8.
would have six 10-episode seasons and then shortened seasons for its seventh (with seven episodes) and eighth (with six episodes). So this could, in theory, mark the final year of a 10-episode
season and there could only be 13 hours left. But nothing has been officially decided, this discussion has been going on for quite a long time and may continue well into next year. “In every conversation, that’s been [the showrunners’] thinking,” says HBO’s entertainment president Michael Lombardo of setting a season 8 end date. “It will be interesting to see how strongly they feel about being definitive about that when we are in a position to announce seasons 7 and 8.”
team first told EW a version of this idea back in October. We’ve been holding on publishing because of the level of uncertainty involved. But a few minutes ago,
published an interview with the showrunners where they essentially said the same thing. So we’re telling you what we know along with some caveats. Keep in mind HBO and the
producers might not decide to announce an end date plan for another year or more, and could eventually agree to different numbers entirely.
team decides to drive a sword through its own production, some would consider it a Herculean act of creative integrity above financial gain.
is HBO’s most popular series ever, an international sensation that gains a bigger audience every season (racking up 20.2 million viewers in the U.S. alone for season 5). Just as crucial to HBO, the series shattered Emmy records with 12 wins last fall, more than any other drama series in history for a single year. This combination of audience passion and critical acclaim is an enormous incentive for a subscription-based cable network to keep a title going – especially while fighting off streaming rivals like Netflix and struggling to find new Sunday night drama heirs (HBO’s recently launched period drama
, despite being renewed for a second season, didn’t pop in the ratings charts, while the upcoming sci-fi series
] will be a tough one for me – partly as an executive and partly as a fan,” Lombardo says. “A show that resonates this way and works on all levels, it’s painful to imagine it ending. At the same time, David and Dan have a big responsibility and I respect that enormously. If we just keep going then we’re doing what the [broadcast] networks have done – and nobody wants to do that.”
is also evolving past the story in George R.R. Martin’s novels this season, there’s no longer even fan expectations that the show will follow a certain path. This is a sprawling fantasy tale without a singular quest – there’s not a magic ring of power being carried to Mount Doom – so the producers could presumably drag the tale out beyond what they and Martin consider the most ideal path. But Benioff and Weiss have long sought to end
on the most epic possible note, and the show’s notoriously grueling production pace has also become an exhausting factor. “We wanted to end while we’re still ambulatory and going strong,” Benioff says. “We love the show too much.”
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