Is The Future of HBO’s ‘Game of Thrones’ Set in Stone?

By June 11, 2014

Last night, Vulture spoke with HBO’s president of programming Michael Lombardo at a swanky New York gala, and since “Game of Thrones” has officially surpassed “The Sopranos” as the network’s most-watched series, naturally the conversation turned to the goings on in Westeros. Author George R.R. Martin’s book editor (and then the man himself) mentioned in the past week or so that there could end up being an eighth novel in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series. Martin has a lot of work to do as it is to finish the planned seven novels, but the showrunners already have a plan to make the show seven or eight seasons long.

But in this interview, a few of Lombardo’s comments might have some troubling implications for the series:

When George R.R. Martin said that he might extend the Game of Thrones series to eight books, did that make you delighted or horrified?
Delighted beyond comprehension.

Yes. I’m a huge fan, I mean [blanches; he could not possibly articulate his love of the show] I am a huge fan, I am a Game of Thrones geek. It’s a show I’m depressed I have to work on because it means I have to read the outlines before I experience it in real time.

The whole production seems so daunting that I didn’t know if an eighth book would be considered one more obstacle.
No, no. Honestly, I mean, the thought that we would end it [is upsetting] — by the way, there’s so many stories left to tell, I just hope [showrunners] Dan [B. Weiss] and David [Benioff] are still game. It’s a little bit of a personal challenge I don’t think they contemplated when we initially found our location in Belfast, what that meant for them personally … Belfast is not the most cosmopolitan of cities to spend half of the year.

Are they having a hard time?
I don’t think they have a hard time, but the good news is work keeps them busy, let’s just say that.

To me, these quotes read as if Lombardo thinks Benioff and Weiss might leave after seven or eight seasons, and then HBO would need to find someone else to come in and finish the story. Martin has already shown that he’s not interested in completing the novels quickly enough that the show doesn’t catch up to his books, and at the pace he’s going now, it will be years and years before an eighth book is finished. That would mean the show would need to be put on a “Sherlock”-style schedule after Benioff and Weiss finish their seven or eight season run before Martin’s books are completely finished, and then HBO could theoretically continue the show from there.

Game of Thrones Dany

I realize this all sounds very alarmist, and if I had to put money on it, I’d say HBO respects their showrunners enough that they’re going to let Benioff and Weiss do whatever they want and finish the show on their own terms. The show has been their baby from the beginning, and it would be a colossal dick move to keep it going after they’re done with it. Plus, it wouldn’t make much sense on a story level, considering how quickly the kids in the show are already aging. Maisie Williams will be in her mid-twenties (at least) before Martin finishes the novels, so it’d strain believably if they brought her back after a long break to still play Arya, for example.

But with smash cable hits like “The Walking Dead” planning on running for ten years or more, it’s not too hard to see how HBO might want to keep their own record-setting series going for as long as humanly possible. I’ll just hold out hope that when Lombardo said there were “so many stories left to tell,” he was talking about stories that will be wrapped up in the next four or seasons, not ones that would be stretched out for the next decade.

What do you think about Lombardo’s quotes?

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.