The creators had already started warning fans the Game of Thrones could be coming to an end in the next two or so years, and now we have a semi-confirmation.
While speaking at the recent Television Critics Association’s press tour in Beverly Hills, HBO programming president Casey Bloys seemed to indicate wide reports that Thrones would end after its eighth season were true. When asked if the network planned to adhere to the producers’ apparent eighth season plan (Season 7 will arrive next year with seven episodes, and Season 8 is expected to have a similar order), he said:
“Yes, they have a very specific plan about the number of seasons they want to do. Believe me, as the new [programming executive] coming in, if I could get them to do more. I would take 10 more seasons. But we take their lead on what they think they can do the best version of the show.”
For what it’s worth, BuzzFeed reached out to HBO for confirmation that Season 8 would be the show’s last, and the network said he “didn’t really say for sure that’s the end,” though that seems like a quibble. The producers seem fairly set on wrapping the show in 2018, and the network has said it’ll support that decision. So, yeah, it’s pretty much over by Season 8.
But, just because Game of Thrones is ending, that doesn’t mean the world of Westeros will be fading into history. Bloys indicated the network would be very open to a spinoff series, and they’ve spoken with the producers about the prospects. But there isn’t currently anything in development (though that could certainly change by 2018):
“We’ve talked about [a spinoff]. It’s something I’m not opposed to, but of course it has to make sense creatively. I’m not sure that [showrunners Benioff and Weiss] could really wrap their heads around it when they’re just about to start production [on season 7]. It’s a pretty intense production, they’re about to start production soon. I’m open to it. The guys weren’t opposed to it, but there’s no concrete plans for it at this point.”
Though HBO is playing coy with spinoff buzz, you’d have to think the network is certainly looking at options to keep the Thrones franchise rolling once the main saga is complete. George R.R. Martin has built an amazingly large world, and there could certainly be some worthwhile stories still worth telling.