'Game Of Thrones' May End With Two Shortened Seasons

Even as we look ahead to another thrilling season in Westeros, it may be time to start preparing ourselves for the very end. A new report indicates Game of Thrones could go out with abbreviated seventh and eighth seasons, meaning we may only have 13 episodes left once season 6 wraps up. 

Speaking with Variety, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss revealed that they are considering two final, shortened seasons for Game of Thrones, with season 7 consisting of seven episodes and season 8 consisting of six. "I think we're down to our final 13 episodes after this season. We're heading into the final lap," said Benioff. "That's the guess, though nothing is yet set in stone, but that's what we're looking at."

HBO has been quick to clarify that no official decision has been made. "In every conversation, that's been [the showrunners'] thinking," HBO entertainment president Michael Lombard told Entertainment Weekly. "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."

For the past several years, HBO and the showrunners have been at odds about the length of the series. Benioff and Weiss have been eyeing a seven- or eight-season run for a long time now, while HBO has understandably been reluctant to let them go. Game of Thrones is HBO's most popular series ever, at a time when the premium cable network has struggled to launch new drama hits. "As a television executive, as a fan, do I wish they said another six years? I do," said Lombard. "[But] I'm always an optimist, and I do believe we will figure this out."

Some shows are designed to run indefinitely, petering out only when audience interest does. Game of Thrones could, theoretically, go on forever — as long as there are greedy, power-hungry people in Westeros, there will be stories for the show to cover — but from the beginning it's been a single, massive story about the battle for the Iron Throne. At some point the show is going to have to deliver on a definitive ending to that story, and it's likely to be more satisfying if it gets to go out on its own terms rather than just spin its wheels for the sake of ratings.

Game of Thrones season 6, which consists of 10 episodes, premieres April 24.