Alas, ’tis true, Thrones fans. The globally beloved, groundbreaking HBO fantasy drama will end in 2018, after two more seasons, HBO programming president Casey Bloys said over the weekend.
The seventh season, in 2017, will have seven episodes (as opposed to the normal 10). It’s unclear how many episodes the final season will have, but it’s likely to be closer to seven than 10.
Bloys didn’t officially declare the eighth season to be the show’s last, but he did say “the plan” is for the show to end then, following the lead of creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who have been saying for months that’s what they intend to do.
Before you go cry in the fetal position for the rest of your day, know that setting a concrete end date for a TV show is usually a good thing. HBO would be thrilled to have its blockbuster series continue indefinitely (indeed, Bloys said “we’ll take as many as they want to give us”), but if the Thrones creators think the show should end, then it should end. The last thing fans of the show should want is for it to overstay its welcome, like so many popular shows have done, tainting their legacies. Fans must know when to let go and move onto their next obsession.
HBO is hoping that’ll be Westworld, a sprawling sci-fi western created by Jonathan Nolan and produced in part by J.J. Abrams, debuting Oct. 2. Thematically it’s very different from Thrones, but the two share some DNA. Like Thrones, it will feature a large ensemble cast, span multiple genres, and perhaps raise similar questions about the portrayal of sexual violence on television. Ramin Djawadi, the composer behind Game of Thrones‘s fantastic music, will also score Westworld.
If Westworld is already a hit by 2018, it should lessen the blow of Thrones ending. But that’s a big ‘if.’
The other hope, of course, is that HBO develops a spinoff to Game of Thrones. Given the show’s resounding success, it seems more likely to happen than not. “It’s something I’m not opposed to, but it has to make sense creatively,” Bloys said. “I’m open to it. The guys aren’t opposed to it, but there’s no concrete plans.”
Game of Thrones will return in the summer of 2017, a few months later than usual (Production was delayed in order to accurately depict winter, which has finally arrived on the show.) That will disqualify it from the Emmys next year, but HBO will survive. Even if you subtract all of Thrones‘s nominations for this year’s awards, HBO would still lead all other networks.