In just a few weeks, the end begins for Game of Thrones, but there's one thing those final epic episodes won't have: A visit from the creator of Westeros himself.
George R.R. Martin, whose A Song of Ice and Fire novels formed the basis for Thrones and who dreamed up its massive world and hundreds of characters, was originally supposed to make a cameo appearance in the show's pilot all the way back in 2011. Martin would have appeared as a guest at the wedding of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa), but his cameo was actually filmed during production on the original pilot, back when Daenerys was still played by Tamzin Merchant. The original pilot famously didn't work for HBO, and significant adjustments were made, among them the recasting of the Daenerys role. The wedding was reshot, Martin wasn't around the second time, and so he's never had a cameo in the hit series based on his work.
With the production of the eighth and final season of the series, Martin had another chance to finally appear onscreen for Game of Thrones fans to spot, but this time he said no. Why? Well, because he's got writing to do, namely work on the long-awaited sixth A Song of Ice and Fire novel, The Winds of Winter.
“[Executive producers David Benioff and D.B. Weiss] invited me to a cameo in one of the final episodes, which I was tempted to do,” Martin told Entertainment Weekly. “But I didn’t think just for the sake of a cameo I could take the time to return to Belfast.”
So, Game of Thrones will come and go without an appearance from Martin, but he certainly hasn't left Westeros, and he likely won't for quite some time.
First of all, there's The Winds of Winter, which Martin has been working on for nearly a decade (the last Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons, was published in 2011). Martin recently promised he's returned to his "fortress of solitude" in New Mexico to hunker down on that book, which will still be followed by one more concluding novel in the saga, A Dream of Spring.
Then there's more HBO projects based on the world of Westeros. The network expects production to begin this summer on a still-untitled (though Martin prefers the title The Long Night) prequel series set hundreds of years before the events of Game of Thrones. Martin co-wrote the pilot episode with showrunner Jane Goldman (Stardust, X-Men: First Class), and the pilot will be directed by S.J. Clarkson (Jessica Jones). Plus, as Martin pointed out in a recent update, it might not be the only Thrones spinoff series to ultimately get the greenlight, as other ideas are "still being scripted."
Game of Thrones returns April 14.