When a show is as massively popular as HBO's Game of Thrones, it is not surprising that its network would be keen to ensure the continuation of this success. After the show's staggering amount of 2015 Emmy Wins and ever persistent fan fervor, future season renewals are clearly a no brainer for HBO execs.
The epic fantasy drama currently holds the record for HBO's most watched series to date and is the network's longest running series at present. The official air date for season 6 has just been announced and both fans and cast members will be pleased by reports that the network intends to officially renew, not only for season 7, but also for an eighth season very soon.
Game Of Thrones is based on author George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice And Fire saga. The colossal book series has always had huge potential for on screen adaptation and has found an ideal home in TV format where the intricate story lines and multitudes of characters can be explored with sufficient depth at the hands of showrunners Dave Benioff and Dan Weiss. As Martin has now confirmed that season 6's parallel novel 'The Winds Of Winter' will not reach bookstore shelves before the season air date, readers of the series will for the first time be as uninformed about the upcoming story lines as show viewers - something that will no doubt increase the spectacular levels of theorizing the show's fans enjoy so much.
The series popularity has been reflected with a double season renewal once before in 2014 for seasons 5 and 6, the same year that key cast members received significant pay rises as incentive to remain with the show beyond their original 6 season contracts. THR have reported that the cable network are near to reaching a deal for seasons 7 and 8 although it is not yet known whether season 8 will be the last. HBO president Michael Lombardo has recently discussed the projected longevity of the show at the ongoing TCA (reported by TVLine):
“I think ‘seven seasons and out’ has never been the conversation; the question is how much beyond the seventh season are we going to do........ [The producers are] feeling like there’s probably two more years after six. I would love for them to change their minds, but that’s what we’re looking at right now.”
With the known consensus being that Martin has disclosed at least his intended ending for the show's source novels to Benioff and Weiss, what is unknown at present is how much the author has mapped out his yet to be finished 'The Winds Of Winter' with the showrunners, let alone any further novels from that point. Martin recently described the transgressions of the show from his books as a “butterfly effect” on his blog - and whereas plot diversions from source novels to suit on screen format is often an inevitable practice, adapting from unpublished material is a fairly unique situation.
As Game of Thrones has roughly covered a book per season as standard so far and unwritten novels are also subject to the butterfly effect of the work proceeding them, the material covered by the time season 8 reaches screens could vastly differ from the novels by the time they appear. These possibly significant diversions between book and show will be disappointing for some fans that would prefer a more faithful adaptation, but the news of at least an eighth season offers more than a little atonement for those who could be waiting considerably longer for the story's conclusion otherwise. It's difficult enough waiting for those standard excruciating cliffhangers to be resolved between seasons!
Game of Thrones season 6 will premiere on Sunday, April 24th, 2016 on HBO.