Another season of Game of Thrones has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped thinking about what’s next.
There are a number of questions that we have, including when Game of Thrones will return for its eighth and final season. The answer is that we unfortunately don’t know.
On a more positive note, there are some things we do know for certain. We know that Game of Thrones’ final season will contain six episodes. We know that most of the major players from the seventh season will return for the show’s eighth, and we know we can expect a trailer by the end of this year.
Here’s what else we know...
Game of Thrones won’t return until 2019
It’s true that HBO hasn’t announced a specific date for when Game of Thrones will return, but it will be at some point in 2019. Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will start production on the new season in October. Sources close to The Hollywood Reporter have suggested that this will be one of the longest shooting periods for the show and could run through August 2018.
This isn’t the first HBO series to take extra production time between seasons. Westworld, HBO’s new series that premiered in 2016, was quick to build a rabid audience. When the show came to an end, however, Bloys confirmed that Westworld wouldn’t return until 2018, allowing showrunners Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy time to write the series and spend more time on production.
Despite Game of Thrones’ final season only being six episodes, this will be one of the most extravagant to date. There will be massive wars across multiple continents and, most important, warring dragons. There’s a reason the shoot might take close to a year to complete.
HBO president Casey Bloys told journalists at a Television Critics Association (TCA) conference on July 24 that Game of Thrones will premiere in the first half of 2019. That shouldn’t be too surprising, considering the majority of the show’s seasons have premiered around the end of March or beginning of April.
When will we get a trailer?
Bloys suggested during the TCAs we may get a trailer by the end of 2018, but said he couldn’t be certain.
How long will the episodes be?
Just because there will only be six episodes doesn’t mean Game of Thrones fans will lose out. In July, sound designer Paula Fairfield reportedly told an audience gathered at Con of Thrones, an annual Game of Thrones convention, that each episode would be feature film length. That means instead of the traditional 60-minute episodes we’re used to, each episode will run around 80 minutes.
Bloys, however, corrected this assumption during the TCAs. Bloys told Entertainment Weekly the episodes won’t be two hours in length. He did not provide an approximation of how long each episode will run, though.
Is the script for Game of Thrones’ final season locked in?
Oh, yes. Earlier this year, Bloys confirmed that Benioff and Weiss had finished writing the scripts and were trying to determine how long it would take to film each episode. Bloys couldn’t say anything about the episodes — remember this is the most tightlipped television series in existence right now — but everyone involved is very aware of how the show ends.
Do we know anything about what happens in the final season?
Officially, no. Unofficially, well, that’s a different case. HBO suffered from hacked emails and script leaks in the summer of 2017. Those scripts are reportedly available to read right now. How authentic those scripts are or whether they’re real is undetermined at this time.
Bloys did tell Entertainment Weekly during the TCAs that the finale is “epic,” and should please fans of the long-running series.
“I think it’s a fitting way for one of the greatest shows in the history of television to go out and that people are going to be very happy,” Bloys said. “There’s going to be a lot of conversation.”
What about those Game of Thrones spinoffs?
HBO is working on one Game of Thrones spinoff with writer Jane Goldman, whose pilot script was chosen out of five potential spinoff ideas. Bloys couldn’t give much away during the TCAs, but did confirm the prequel will start shooting in 2019 — the same year Game of Thrones comes to an end — and that it takes place in a different period. It’s just different enough, Bloys hinted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, for the show to not echo Game of Thrones.
“The story’s time period, another 8,000 years before [the events in GoT], it’s far enough away so it feels like a different story, a different world, because it is — the kingdoms do not exist at this point,” Bloys said. “So it felt distinct. We’re not trying to do Game of Thrones Part II. No one is going to duplicate what [GoT showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss] did. By setting it when we did, there’s a lot going on, a lot of dynamics that are related to Game of Thrones, but it’s different enough with its time period and characters its duplicative.”
Though there are rumors HBO was interested in another script for a possible second spinoff, Bloys said the network isn’t actively looking to develop more spinoffs right now.
HBO confirmed last year that it is looking at ideas from Max Borenstein (Kong: Skull Island), Jane Goldman (X-Men: First Class), Brian Helgeland (A Knight’s Tale) and Carly Wray (Mad Men). None of the series will revolve around “Dunk and Egg” and “Robert’s Rebellion,” which are prequels to A Song of Fire and Ice and were believed to be potential candidates for spinoffs.
Polygon will update this article with more information as it becomes available.
Update (July 26, 2018): This story was updated with information from HBO’s time at the Television Critics Association conference in July 2018. The original story was updated to reflect these changes.