Game of Thrones is riding high following the release of the full season 3 trailer – teasing the return of fan-favorite characters along with some new faces, not to mention some epic dragon action! The show continues to cull a strong and passionate following, leading many viewers to wonder just how long can the show keep up the pace and how many seasons will HBO produce. After all, the series is limited by creator George R.R. Martin’s book series, which includes five published installments with two more on the way.

So how many more seasons will HBO’s Game of Thrones stay on the air? If showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss have it their way, the series’ lifespan could ratchet up to eight seasons, but only so long as the network wants to keep producing it.

Benioff and Weiss recently opened up about the program’s longevity in a recent interview with Mother Jones, in which they discussed not only the duration of the show but also some of the difficulties and challenges they faced in shooting its upcoming third season. On the specific topic of Thrones‘ remaining seasons, however, they had this to say:

MJ: I gather that Game of Thrones could last eight or nine seasons. Does that mean putting novel writing on hold for a decade?

B&W: Yes, if we live that long and HBO keeps wanting to make the show. We have the opportunity here to tell a coherent story that lasts for 80 hours. And while a canvas of that size presents all sorts of storytelling problems, it also allows us to spend more time with these characters we love than we’ll ever get again. Every once in a while we get five minutes to think about thinking about novels. But mostly we’re just happy when we get to read one now and again.

There has always existed a degree of uncertainty over how long Game of Thrones will last, but with the critical and mainstream success the show has enjoyed since first airing back in 2011 (not to mention the slew of Emmy nominations it has received and won), it seems likely that it will soldier on to the very end once George R.R. Martin has completed his as-yet unfinished septet of epic fantasy novels. If nothing else, it’s clear that Benioff and Weiss are game to continue serving as executive producers for as many seasons as HBO gives them.

For fans, 80 hours of television spent in Westeros and Essos should sound like a dream come true. If the span of Martin’s original work serves as any indication, however, that figure might be somewhat conservative. Season three – which premieres on March 31st, 2013 – only covers the first half of the third book in the Song of Ice and Fire series, titled A Storm of Swords; season four will adapt the remainder, a natural split given the immensity of the story. (The novel is so long, in fact, that the UK and Australia editions were sold in two parts.)

That leaves books four and five – A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons, respectively – left to transplant from page to screen, as well as the incomplete sixth and seventh entries, titled The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring. The latter two novels remain unknown quantities in the television show’s scale; they could fit into a single season each or require separation just like A Storm of Swords. Meanwhile, A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons both boast impressive page lengths, but could arguably be cut down and combined into one total season together. Eight seasons, as suggested, seems like a good ballpark figure, but as Martin has neither finished The Winds of Winter nor A Dream of Spring, we can only go by what Benioff and Weiss have to say for the time being.

In the meantime, the show’s viewers can look ahead to season 3. Are you in it for the long haul, and does another five seasons of Game of Thrones excite you? Put your two cents in the poll below and in the comments section, and we’ll see you back here when Game of Thrones returns to television at the end of the month!

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Game of Thrones season 3 premieres Sunday, March 31 on HBO.

Source: Mother Jones