The episode count for the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones is official. Although each of the first six seasons of D.B. Weiss and David Benioff's mega-hit HBO series has spanned 10 episodes, the final two seasons have long been expected to be truncated. At this point, the series has passed by George R.R. Martin's beloved books, leaving the ultimate fate of the series' main characters up to fan theories and speculation.
The seventh season is already known to be shortened to seven episodes. Benioff said last year, before the premiere of season 6, that the final two seasons would likely span 13 episodes, leaving just six for the eighth and final season. That number was never set in stone -- but now, the final season's episode count is reportedly a done deal.
As reported by EW on Thursday, sources confirmed that season 8 of Game of Thrones will indeed span six episodes, confirming the long-held belief that Benioff and Weiss planned to tell the story of the final two seasons within a 13-episode arc. The final two seasons will bring the total episode count for the series to 73 episodes, which appears to have been a formality all along. According to the report, Weiss and Benioff are currently writing the final season amid post-production for season 7, which premieres in July.
Just because Game of Thrones will end after the next 13 episodes doesn't mean that its creators or HBO are done with Westeros. There are up to five spinoff ideas in the works, although none of them are guaranteed to be green-lit. But considering the historic success of Game of Thrones, it's hard to believe that none of the five planned spinoffs would become a reality.
The news of the final episode count comes amid massive hype for season 7. The newest trailer generated over 61 million views in just its first 24 hours online, becoming the most-watched online trailer in TV history. Besides the promise of fully grown dragons and the biggest threat of the White Walkers yet, the show could generally benefit from having a faster pace in the shortened seventh and eighth seasons.
Of course, there's no doubt that fans will be disappointed to know that the final two seasons are as short as they've long been rumored to be. The show could inevitably leave fans wanting more. The main cast may also desire more episodes, considering their record-breaking salaries. But with every member of the audience now in the dark together about where the plot is going to go, the final two seasons of Game of Thrones will carry more intrigue than ever, regardless of how many episodes they span.
Game of Thrones' seventh season premieres July 16 on HBO.