Final ‘Game of Thrones’ Seasons Could Be Shortened

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It’s tough to even think about the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones. It seems like only just yesterday that the swords, dragons, and nudity showcase became a world-conquering phenomenon, and yet we’re already discussing its departure? It might be sad, but it’s also a smart thing for showrunners to do — no excuse for getting caught unawares when your show needs to start winding down. And wind down GoT might be doing soon, as sources have said that it’s very likely that subsequent seasons will be shortened, similar to Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

What does this mean? Well, it means that seasons seven and eight could each have just eight episodes rather than HBO’s customary 13. (The upcoming season, which is the show’s sixth, does indeed have 13.) The change in procedure, as well as the talk of ending the show altogether, probably has something to do with the fact that the showrunners have finally surpassed George R.R. Martin’s series of books, and so they’re flying blind with subsequent seasons.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the show has made some of its best decisions in departing from the story in the book, but the idea of the show continuing far into the future while Martin’s books are (supposedly) being written causes problems for fans of both the show and the book. If the TV show sets a precedent for the events that ultimately take place in the GoT universe — and it’s one fans like — could that influence Martin’s writing? And, if it doesn’t, would the audience be OK with having two distinct versions of a story that means so much to them, especially if neither one is given any kind of overriding authority? Especially if one isn’t ever declared canon over the other?

Maybe Martin and HBO don’t care about this possible problem, but I’m sure fans who have been following the Starks and Lannisters for decades would like to know the definitive fate of Westeros rather than having two to choose from, willy-nilly.

But, more importantly, is Jon Snow dead?