Since the sprawling, intricate story of HBO's fantasy drama series Game of Thrones kicked off in 2010, the show based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books has become massively popular. For six seasons now, fans have watched as the many families of Westeros - from the Starks and the Boltons in the North, to the Lannisters and Tyrells of the South - wage political and literal war for the Iron Throne. Season 6 was the first time Game of Thrones operated off-book, since the show's timeline had surpassed the last novel in Martin's series. As a result, TV and book fans alike are eagerly anticipating how the story will continue in season 7.
However fans will need to wait longer than normal since earlier this summer it was reported the premiere of season 7 would be delayed beyond the show's traditional spring date due to weather. The report was later confirmed by HBO - with season 7 expected to arrive in the summer of 2017 - and the network additionally revealed the upcoming season would only be seven episodes, down from the usual 10. With season 8 confirmed to be the last season, Game of Thrones will be wrapping up in the coming years. Now, Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams, who plays younger Stark daughter Arya, teases season 7 and the series' end.
In an interview with Variety, Williams acknowledged that fans may be disappointed by the shorter seventh season, though she admitted she's glad Game of Thrones isn't drawing out the narrative in order to continue the success. She said:
It sucks for the audience because they love the episodes, but what we’ll never do on this show is drag it out, and I’m so thrilled about that. Too many shows start out about making a great show, and by season 6 it’s about making money and all they want to do is write more episodes and make more money. This show makes a lot of money, and it would be easy for HBO to be like “we’re gonna do four more seasons and we’re gonna extend them to 12 episodes.” I really respect David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] for holding their ground and for HBO to be like “no… we’re gonna tell this story and we’re gonna end it and that’ll be final.”
Certainly, though fans may appreciate Game of Thrones not drawing out its final seasons in an effort to make more money at the expense of the story, some have argued that season 6 did the opposite. After five seasons of slower-paced storytelling, season 6 included a number of major plot points and character developments in quick succession. Arguably, this shift in pace may have been the result of the show surpassing the books - or it may be the case that Martin will include a faster-paced narrative in his own works.
Either way, Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss have notoriously known how the series ends for as long as they've worked on the show. As a result, no matter the pace or length of seasons 7 and 8, they will be wrapping up the series as it was intended to be. Williams expanded on the story's end:
Good things must come to an end or they’re not good anymore. It doesn’t last forever and we’ve done what we came to do, it’s time to wrap this up, and it will have the ending it was always supposed to have, and that’s very special. David and Dan started writing this show knowing the end, not knowing that it might actually come around and we might be allowed to make that many [seasons] — at the beginning we were just willing to make one [season]. They started this with an end in sight, and so it’s exciting to be closing it…
Of course, with its massive popularity, fans will be disappointed to see Game of Thrones come to an end. Plus the series will be tasked with resolving the storyline in a way that is satisfactory to viewers - which is no small feat following so many years of buildup. So, it remains to be seen how Game of Thrones concludes and how fans react to the ending.
Game of Thrones will return for its seventh season in the summer of 2017 on HBO.