Let’s not mince words: if David Benioff and Dan Weiss, the creators and showrunners of Game of Thrones, decided that their show could live on for an infinite amount of seasons, HBO would be down. Not only is Game of Thrones one of the most pirated shows in the history of the Internet, it’s also one of the most watched. And with a paid subscriber base that is increasing by the day with services like HBO Now, the network knows where its bread is buttered. The answer is in Westeros. It’s bread is buttered in Westeros and served with a side of mead.
So when Michael Lombardo, president of HBO Programming, says something like this at the Television Critics Association press tour this week:
“Seven seasons and out was never the case. The question is how much beyond [seven seasons] it will go.
… David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] are feeling there are two more years after Season 6, that’s what we’re looking at right now. We hope that they would change their mind, but for that’s how they are feeling now.”
There’s no reason why we should be surprised. HBO has been subtly pushing the showrunners toward more than seven seasons (the original idea, coinciding with George R.R. Martin’s planned seven books) for a long time now. The Game of Thrones phenomenon is such that its financiers are down with “anything” the show wants to do. This is great for fans, as the money is flowing toward a story we like. For the showrunners, it might get a little uncomfortable. Benioff and Weiss have reiterated numerous times that seven seasons was their plan all along. But there are variables at play that might influence them into making a longer series. This includes network pressure, but more importantly involves the potential that author George R.R. Martin might be writing more than 7 books worth of source material. There are rumors that his next book, “The Winds of Winter,” has barreled toward the 1,000 page mark. It’s possible that we could end up with more books, more seasons and more Thrones than was originally expected.
No matter how long Game of Thrones lasts, the network seems to be fine with it. Lombardo also left the door open to prequel and spin-off series, saying that the network would be interested in “anything Dave and Dan would like to do,” Game of Thrones or otherwise. It’s very vague and dependent upon Benioff and Weiss (who have said all along that they have other things to do once Thrones ends), so not entirely surprising. Of course HBO wants more Game of Thrones.
Now, on to something a little more spoilery for show watchers. An update from Mr. Lombardo about that one guy who died at the end of season 5. If you have not finished season 5, please don’t scroll down past Walter White Walker, Lord of Spoilers.
When asked about the fate of Jon Snow, Lombardo said that “Dead is dead. He is dead.” He continued, “Yes, everything I’ve seen, heard and read, Jon Snow is indeed dead.”
Once again the creatives behind Game of Thrones are playing a game of technicalities. Of course Jon Snow is dead. But will he stay dead? That’s the better question.
We know that actor Kit Harington has been in Belfast, where Game of Thrones is currently beginning production of season 6. Unless he’s the best buddy in the history of best buddies and visits his friends daily on-set, he’s there for work.
There are plenty of theories about how Jon Snow will be brought back to life, a number of which seem very plausible. There is also an important element to this entire Parade of Lies in which HBO, the showrunners and the actors have been participating since the season 5 finale: deep down, they don’t want to spoil something huge in George’s books. They don’t want to spoil what could be the most climactic moment in the “Song of Ice and Fire.” I stand by my own real life spoiler theory that “The Winds of Winter” will be on bookshelves prior to the debut of season 6.
Jon Snow is dead. But will he come back? At some point, someone is going to have to answer this very important question.