Why House Of The Dragon's Shorter Season 2 Could Be Exactly What HBO Needs To Avoid A Game Of Thrones Ending

Alicent and Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon.
(Image credit: HBO)

House of the Dragon brought the world of Westeros back to HBO in 2022 with a ten-episode first season that set up a Targaryen civil war that took place centuries before the action of Game of Thrones. HBO wasted no time in renewing the first Game of Thrones spinoff for a second season after just one episode had aired. Details were scarce at the time, but now it appears that Season 2 will have fewer episodes than Season 1, and that actually bodes well for House of the Dragon sticking the landing more than Game of Thrones did with its divisive final season and deadly series finale

Season 2 Is Getting Fewer Episodes

The second season of House of the Dragon will run for eight episodes instead of the ten episodes for Season 1, according to Deadline, which further states that the cut is part of planning ahead for the long term and a potential early green light for Season 3. The outlet states HBO that confirmed that eight episodes as opposed to ten is for story reasons rather than budget reasons. A major battle has reportedly been cut from Season 2 and will be held for a third. 

Showrunner Ryan Condal, who originally shared the job with Miguel Sapochnik before he departed the series, is said to have stepped back from a micro focus on Season 2 to map out the big picture for the rest of the series, expected to run for three or four seasons. This would involve where to place the big story beats from George R.R. Martin’s Fire & Blood, including key battles.

In light of these developments, Season 3 could be greenlit early to move forward with scripts and casting. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the show will run for three or four seasons, but if the House of the Dragon team and HBO continue with their long-term plans, then hopefully Ryan Condal and George R.R. Martin will settle on the number of seasons in the foreseeable future.

Fewer Episodes May Be Good News

House of the Dragon has always had an advantage on Game of Thrones by virtue of the fact that it’s based on an era of the Targaryen dynasty that has already been chronicled from start to finish by George R.R. Martin, whereas Thrones outpaced the A Song of Ice and Fire novels and didn’t have any books to follow for the later seasons. (And Martin still has yet to publish The Winds of Winter.) 

Fire & Blood tells the beginning, middle, and end of the Targaryen civil war; by planning ahead, House of the Dragon can adapt everything that needs to be adapted to tell the full story. Game of Thrones felt like it was rushing to tie off loose ends in its final season; House of the Dragon won’t have the same problem if the team takes full advantage of planning ahead. 

Plus, perhaps only having eight episodes as opposed to ten means that Season 2 could be finished and ready to air sooner. The show is expected to begin production soon and have the second season ready to premiere by summer of 2024. It is a shame if a major battle had to be cut from Season 2, but the show taking early steps to stick the landing bodes well for the future. 

For now, we can only wait for more details from HBO about the plans for House of the Dragon Season 2 and the other Game of Thrones spinoffs in the works for the fantasy franchise. Fans can always revisit the first season streaming with an HBO Max subscription, even if Emilia Clarke isn’t among those who checked out the series. Kit Harington is a fan, though, even though he didn’t watch in real time in 2022!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.