Although we've always known, intellectually, that "Game of Thrones" would have to come to an end, up until now it has only ever seemed like a distant, theoretical horror, and nothing we need worry our pretty little heads about anytime soon.
Unfortunately, a new interview with show creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss has made it clear: The horror is a lot less distant and theoretical than we'd hoped.
Although "Game of Thrones" is definitely returning for at least one more season beyond this one, Benioff and Weiss revealed to Variety that the political intrigues in Westeros are hurtling rapidly toward their inevitable conclusion, saying, "We’ve got a very definitive idea of how much longer it is, and we’re getting there. We’ve just started writing episodes for season six. I think we’re heading into the home stretch. Hopefully, we’ll have a clear answer soon."
In the meantime, though, it's clear enough that the coming winter (it is still coming, right?) is going to be a short one.
"We could go another four years — and we could come up with good stories — but the one thing that really got us excited when we pitched this to HBO was that this isn’t just a regular series. It’s a real story with a beginning, a middle and an end," Benioff said. "We know what the end is, and we’re barreling toward it. So the idea that we’re going to try and stretch it out by an extra couple years just because we’re all having a good time doing it and people are making money off it just feels like it would be a betrayal."
Logic problem: If a ten-season run for "Game of Thrones" is out of the question, but Season 6 is already being written, how many seasons will the show ultimately run?
An announcement from HBO will likely come soon enough, but it seems likely at this point that the show's seventh season will be its last -- which would be tragic (that's only three years away!) but also thematically appropriate (seven kingdoms, seven hells, and seven years in Westeros.)
Benioff and Weiss also revealed some interesting facts about "Game of Thrones"' early days in development, including how they convinced the notoriously recalcitrant George R.R. Martin to let them adapt his saga -- they had to accurately guess Jon Snow's parentage -- and how a serious blooper in the show's first pilot nearly torpedoed the entire project.
"[Nobody] realized that Jaime and Cersei were brother and sister, which is a major, major plot point that we had somehow failed to establish," Benioff said, describing an excruciating test screening of the first episode. (The pilot was ultimately re-shot.)
But after those early hiccups, the creators are now on top of their game, and clearly focused on keeping it tight as the show heads into its final stretch -- which, fun as it is, is an experience that they insist nevertheless needs to come to an end.
Said Weiss, "It’s like sometimes you’ll be at a party, and you’re surrounded by people you love and you’re having a great time and it’s late and you’re like, “I should really go home, but man, this is a great party. I’m going to order one more beer, why not? When’s the next time I’m going to be in a party this great again?” And then you have another beer and you have a martini, and then it’s 6:30 in the morning, you’re like, “Why the f— am I still at this party?”
"You wake up ashamed and covered in your own feces," Benioff said.
"We want to go home before that happens," Weiss said.
"We don't!" said "Game of Thrones" fans everywhere.