Sometime a particular TV series is just so good that it stays with fans for years and years, and HBO’s Game of Thrones is definitely on that level. From season one, the fantasy drama has delivered epic twists, heartbreaking performances, and breathtaking visuals. It’s a fixture in all award nominations, and its sixth season took home prizes for directing and cinematography this year. Now, fresh from those wins, the show is looking to get fans fired up for its upcoming seventh season.

This will be the show’s penultimate season, and the cast is excited and sad to prepare to wrap the show, as they immediately set to work on seasons 7 and 8 following the end of season 6. Season 7 will contian seven episodes, while eight will contain six. Though the show has aired April premieres for five of its past six seasons, many have been speculating a later premiere date for season 7 — and it looks like those predictions are correct.

HBO announced the Game of Thrones season 7 premiere date via Facebook Live this afternoon, a day after revealing the season 7 teaser poster. The show will return to HBO on July 16th, 2017, much to the mixed “love” and “angry” reactions of many. UPDATE: You can now watch the Game of Thrones season 7 teaser online, too!

game thrones battle bastards episode images Game of Thrones Season 7 Premiere Date Revealed

Though Game of Thrones is typically a tight-lipped production, we do know a bit about this upcoming season. Actor Maisie Williams has been especially keen to divulge show secrets, as she has spoken multiple times about season 7’s compelling finale. We also know some key characters set to return, due to set photos and actor resumes. We also know Game of Thrones season 7 will bring on the dragons, and — of course — the blood.

Though this announcement brings fans even closer to the end of the beloved show, it also signals the return of our favorite characters – many of whom, like Sansa or Jon Snow, are at a serious crossroads. It will be fascinating to see what showrunners “D&D” do with these upcoming episodes, as they prepare to bring this epic series to an end. All may not be lost for the iconic show, though, as HBO continues to explore spin-off and (more likely) prequel options for the franchise. Considering the overwhelming popularity of the show, it would likely be in HBO’s best financial interest to continue exploring the Game of Thrones universe (though the network might instead move on to other fantasy hits).

This isn’t the final season for Game of Thrones, so hopefully fans can enjoy a bigger, more awesome celebration of their favorite show this summer, without the bittersweet edge of goodbye. No matter what, we’re sure the show will continue to deliver on shock and awe — even if they’re getting started later than usual this year.

NEXT: What We Want to See in Game of Thrones Season 7

Game of Thrones season 7 debuts on HBO on July 16th, 2017.

Source: HBO

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