Gregor "The Mountain" Clegane, Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones showrunners open up about why final season is taking so long to finish

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Sep 18, 2018, 11:44 AM EDT (Updated)

Game of Thrones fans, or at least the book readers among them, are no strangers to the long, cold wait between seasons or books in author George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire saga. With the HBO adaptation’s final season on the horizon, it seems that showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have taken a lesson from Martin’s playbook and slowed down its arrival to seemingly glacial speeds. But why?

According to EW, the writer/producers explained the situation backstage at the Emmys (where Game of Thrones cleaned up). The eighth and final season may be only six episodes, compared to the usual 10, but the team was going for quality over quantity — and that takes time.

“The final season’s taking a long time because it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done,” Benioff said. “It was nearly a full year in Belfast either prepping it or actually shooting it. I think when people see it they’re going to understand why it took so long. The last season is far beyond what we’ve ever attempted before.”

The battles have only gotten bigger as the show has gone on, with the Battle of the Bastards being one of the highest-budgeted and largest-scale fight scenes on TV. According to Benioff, the final season hopes to top that.

Martin, also at the event, chimed in on the show’s end as well. “We could’ve gone 11, 12, 13 seasons,” the author said. “David and Dan have been saying for like five seasons that seven seasons is all they would go. We got them to go to eight, but not any more than that. There was a period like five years ago when they were saying seven seasons and I was saying 10 seasons and they won, they’re the ones actually working on it.” So if Martin had his long-winded way, the show would be going on for even longer — but it’d likely have multi-year breaks in between seasons.

By the way, how goes work on The Winds of Winter, George?

Game of Thrones begins its end in the first half of 2019.