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Game of Thrones has spent so long stalling potential plots that it was beginning to seem like the show would never come to an end. Season 6 saw some of those plots start moving at last, and the finale featured most of the main players passing points of no return. Showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss had previously stated that they were only looking for two shortened seasons after Season 6, and the end finally seems relatively nigh. According to Benioff in the wake of the Season 6 finale, they have big reasons for ending the series sooner rather than later.
In a chat with Deadline, David Benioff had this to say about the decision to end Game of Thrones after Season 8:
The thing that has excited us from the beginning, back to the way we pitched to HBO is, it's not supposed to be an ongoing show, where every season it's trying to figure out new story lines. We wanted it to be one giant story, without padding it out to add an extra 10 hours, or because people are still watching it. We wanted something where, if people watched it end to end, it would make sense as one continuous story. We're definitely heading into the end game now.
So there we have it. The showrunners haven't decided to end Game of Thrones because they're tired of the world of Westeros or because they feel they're running out of story to invent for the characters. David Benioff and Dan Weiss want to tell a complete story that doesn't needlessly meander for the sake of producing as many episodes as possible. HBO programming chief Michael Lombardo had previously said that the network was hoping that the showrunners would come around and agree to more of the wildly successful series, but it looks like Benioff and Weiss are sticking to their guns about Season 8 being the end.
David Benioff had more to say about how many episodes are left and why the Season 6 finale took them past a point of no return:
It's two more seasons we're talking about. From pretty close to the beginning, we talked about doing this in 70 - 75 hours, and that's what we'll end up with. Call it 73 for now... We're trying to tell one cohesive story with a beginning, middle and end. As Dan said, we've known the end for quite some time and we're hurtling towards it. Those last images from the show that aired last night showed that Daenerys is finally coming back to Westeros; Jon Snow is king of the North and Cersei is sitting on the Iron Throne. And we know the Night King is up there, waiting for all of them.
Considering that we've had sixty hours of Game of Thrones over the first six seasons, only getting thirteen episodes combined for the last two seasons sounds painfully short. We should only be in for seven next year. Still, if David Benioff and Dan Weiss can squeeze everything they need to into those final thirteen, it should be best to conclusively end rather than drag out the finale. A Season 8 conclusion is slightly unfortunate for A Song of Ice and Fire book fans who have been hoping for new material before the show ends. Two more years sounds like plenty of time for George R. R. Martin to churn out the next installment in the saga, but he's already kept us waiting for five years. It's not hard to imagine that Season 8 could finish before Book 6 hits the bookshelves.
Game of Thrones has only just finished Season 6, so it'll be a while before we get to see what the showrunners have in store for what looks to be the penultimate season of Game of Thrones. For a peek ahead, check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 7.