HBO has renewed Game of Thrones for two more seasons, but according to the show's creators and network executives, they could look much different.
Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss told Variety that following this next season, there may only be 13 episodes left of the series. Benioff and Weiss further explained they had plans to split the seventh and eighth seasons into six and seven episode parts.
"We're heading into the final lap," Benioff told Variety. "Though nothing is yet set in stone, but that's what we're looking at."
It's not the first time a network has decided to either shorten a season or split a season in half. AMC did it with both Mad Men and Breaking Bad, for example. In both those series' final seasons, episodes were split into groups of six or seven and aired over the course of two years.
There's a couple of reasons why Benioff and Weiss would want to explore this route. One of the most prominent issues the show will face starting with this new season is outpacing of author George R.R. Martin's novels. It's the first time that a season will spoil events for devout readers of the series and there's been major blowback from the community over it. Benioff and Weiss have said before that they wanted to work in conjuncture with Martin to try and write around any major spoilers, but in a recent blog post, Martin said there major narrative arcs in the new season that couldn't be avoided and would also be in his upcoming sixth novel.
HBO programming president Michael Lombardo also told Variety that he was aware this is what Benioff and Weiss wanted to do, and added the network was behind them completely. He acknowledged that as a fan of television and of the show he wished they'd do another few seasons, but respected their wishes.
The sixth season of Game of Thrones premieres Sunday, April 24 at 9 p.m. ET on HBO.