Even by the admittedly high standards of HBO original programming, Game of Thrones has been nothing short of a phenomenon.
Since its premiere in 2011, the show has adapted George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice novels into six seasons of compelling storytelling, attracting record viewers and critical raves. It stands to reason then why HBO would be eager to keep the show on the air as long as possible, but showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss are aiming to wrap it up in 2018 after Season 8.
Despite the announcement of the show’s endpoint, HBO has yet to officially renew Game of Thrones for that final season, and now – thanks to HBO programming president Casey Bloys’ recent interview with Entertainment Weekly – we know exactly why this is the case: The episode count still has to be finalized.
Then, there’s the matter of the network’s plans for a spin-off, which is more likely to be a prequel set in Westeros.
“They’re still figuring out the shape of the season, what they want to do. I’ll take as many as they want to do. If they give me eight, I’ll want 10. But it’s really up to them. They’ll let me know.”
“It’s such a big property we would be foolish not to explore (a spin-off), but it’s a pretty high bar. We’ll take some shots at it. I’m not going to do it just to do it. It has to feel very special. I would rather have no sequel and leave it as-is than have something we rushed out.”
“A prequel feels like it has less pressure on it (than a spin-off).
Author George R.R. Martin’s history of Westeros “gives you areas in which to say to a writer, ‘If you were going to do this, then go flesh it out,’ and we’ll see what comes back. But I don’t feel any pressure that we have to have something.”
HBO has never been one to stretch out one of its hit shows, but Bloys has a point regarding the richness of the Game of Thrones world.
With such a sprawling fictional land and a long history to explore, any number of stories could help keep the franchise alive without sacrificing the quality of the current story by overextending it beyond the showrunners’ vision. The cultural impact has been such that Game of Thrones fans aren’t likely to be ready to say good-bye whenever Season 8 (however many episodes it contains) does come around.
By the sounds of it, Westeros will be around in some form for quite a while anyway.
Robert Yaniz Jr.
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