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6 seasons of Game of Thrones had 10 episodes each. Then it dropped to 7, and now the last season has only 6 episodes.

What is the reason for the producers of the show have decided to wrap the show up in such a rapid fashion?

Because, in a vacuum, it seems an unfathomable decision. It's the most popular TV show in the world and is making a lot of money, and now, for some reason, they have to decide to quickly wrap up most storylines without proper explanation and seemingly end the show as quickly as possible. I mean,

Night King

being killed off in 1 episode after 7 seasons of build-up doesn't exactly seem to be story-writing at its best.

What's going on here? Is it a money issue? Are the producers just tired of the show?

I know it is based on some books that haven't been finished, but why would that lead to the show being wrapped up quicker: surely the opposite should happen: if the books aren't coming out, then it should cause more delays and more storylines getting dragged out by being given some filler material so that the writers get some time to either wait for the books or come up with their own material.

  • 8
    I for one find it refreshing they don't force a story over many episodes with ridiculous 'twists' just to last longer. Most us tv shows indeed do that and I usually dislike it. Nobody complains about astory being iver in a single movie... We've basically been brainwashed that a plot wrap should be stretched but that doesn't make it actually good – KillianDS May 1 at 7:57
  • Season 8 is only something like 12 minutes shorter than season 7's total run time. I also think we should let ourselves see how the last 3 episodes play out, before we call foul, because certain things might not be as wrapped up as they seem (which I really hope it's not as tragically straight forward as 8.03 makes it appear). – Darth Locke May 2 at 14:00
  • I can't find it right now, but I'm sure that a few years ago Benioff & Weiss said they'd storyboarded the entire show to be something like 73 hours & that was why the last 2 seasons would be shorter. ah, found a link - A 73 Hour Movie: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss on Game of Thrones – disassociated May 8 at 10:24
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    Added as an answer. – disassociated May 8 at 10:43
  • I feel like Benioff and Weiss are just tired of keeping up the energy for the show. It is a daunting task. They clearly also want to move on to other things, Star Wars for instance. I know I've read countless interviews with GRRM saying the show should've gone on longer. They have cut out tons of material and butchered other book material by their own bad writing (Dorne). I think they just want to move on and don't feel the need to fill in the details. – Gabriel May 9 at 20:45
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Until now the story has involved setting up many new plot threads and watching the progress of many different characters in many different locations.

Finally everything is being concentrated as all the major characters come together for the final battles. They are all in the same place, interacting with each other, and the writers don't want to start opening up new threads that they can't resolve satisfactorily before the show ends.

As such the pace of the show is accelerating a little. I say a little because the first two episode of season 8 were fairly typical of GoT. Episode 3 was an extended 90 minute episode, getting into movie territory for length and budget and visual effects.

Which brings us to the other major reason: cost. To film a major battle episode, especially one involving massive amounts of effects, stunts and CGI, is expensive. And they decided to do it at night too. So they had to pack a fair amount of plot into it because they couldn't afford to make 8 episodes this season.

You could also argue that it was more realistic to do the whole battle in one episode too. It was pretty much done in real-time and while the approximate hour it took is a bit short, with an army that never gets tired and dragons on the field it seemed quite reasonable. Especially as it ended so abruptly.

  • I believe the best answer is contained in this one: cost.The scope of the battle scene against the dead is - epic. Even if most of the extras are, well, extras, you still have to outfit them, make them up, etc. CGI only gets you so far. Plus, rather than a couple of rooms and a courtyard representing Winterfell, they bloody almost entirely built Winterfell as a set (see expanded videos about S8E2). Consider all of the outdoor sets of the ruination of Kings Landing had to again be very, very expensive. I'll bet this season cost as much as any other. – JackLThornton May 20 at 17:38
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The show is being wrapped up as it is because we are far, far beyond the original source material the show was based on, the wonderful books of the A Song of Ice and Fire Series.

When the show began, there were already five of the expected seven titles of the series available, so the producers had some very, very rich source to pull from to write great episodes with compelling narratives. Here are some quotes from that time frame.

[What if the show catches up to the books?] “I don’t think I’d be happy with that,” the author (George RR Martin) says. And neither would the producers. “We still have our fingers crossed that George will get there,” Weiss says. “That’s what’s best for us, it’s what’s best for the fans. We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.” Adds Benioff: “Ideally the books come out first.” - Source, Fansided

Benioff and team have gone on record that they feel they shown the bits of the story that they want to show.

So it’s exciting to me that we’re at the end of the story. There’s no desire on our part to add on a year because the show’s going well, and we love our jobs. When we shoot that final day and we know we’re saying goodbye to the actors—not the last time because I hope we’ll see them again, but we’re not going to have them all together the same way—it will definitely be emotional. Dartmouth Magazine, Masters of the Game interview

If I had to boil it down and make an educated guess I'd say this: Benioff and Weiss are big fans of the book series, they could even answer tricky trivia questions about the books (Martin famously asked them 'Who is Jon Snow's mother' before he would agree to let them make the TV Series) and I think they're good producers.

But I think they signed on to adapt Martin's material, and didn't ever expect to have to largely write up their own endings. Martin provided them with his notes on where he thought people would end up, but he had no outlines or detailed guidance to offer the producers.

So I think they're really ending the show because it's not as much fun to have to make their own plot lines and resolutions to these stories.

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The show-runners, Benioff and Weiss, claimed a few years ago that the show was initially storyboarded and presented as a 70-hour series, from start to finish. They apparently later realised they couldn't quite squeeze it into that and expanded to 73 hours.

I guess we'll discover over the coming weeks whether they managed to actually stick to that, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say they have stuck approximately to their original plan and any apparent "rush to the end" is not how they envisaged it at all.

Late thought: I suppose it may be more accurate to say they achieved it in 73 episodes, even if some are over an hour.

From Creative Screenwriting - A 73 Hour Movie: David Benioff and D.B. Weiss on Game of Thrones

Benioff: We’ve had this sense from the first time we pitched the show to HBO that we wanted basically to tell a 70-hour movie. Actually it’s going to turn out to be 73 hours, but still it’s stayed relatively the same in terms of a beginning, a middle and now we’re coming to the end.

  • I seem to recall that they were originally going to do 7 seasons, but realized they needed a few extra hours and broke the final season into two, resulting in the lower episode count for S8. – DukeZhou May 9 at 16:38
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    Sounds like a fair assumption, commercially - stretch it over 2 years [or 3, as it turned out] rather than extend just one season. – disassociated May 9 at 16:41
  • I'm pretty sure they're on record talking about this. (imo this should be the accepted answer:) – DukeZhou May 9 at 16:58
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The last season 8 has long episodes, especially episodes 5 & 6.

Some explanations are given here

The season premiere is on April 14 just 54 minutes long and the second instalment is 58 minutes log. Episode three is 60 minutes, episode four is 78 minutes, and the final two episodes are a staggering 80 minutes each.

Basically, watching the last two episodes is like watching two movies.

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    Doesn’t answer the actual question though does it? I agree with OP that it all seems inexplicably rushed. – Darren May 1 at 6:31
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    Is this the cause for the show being wrapped up quickly, or an effect of the show being wrapped up quickly? – JAD May 1 at 6:43
  • Those timings are already drifting, 1 & 2 were just under an hour, 3 was 80 mins, 4 nearly as long. We've still to see how far the last 2 will stretch. – disassociated May 8 at 10:21
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Another consideration may be maintaining the value of the content by wrapping up the series before enthusiasm for the series lapses. Going out with a bang instead of a whimper.

In the old days when there was only broadcast, hit shows would run until ratings declined to the point where the series would be cancelled, but cable presented a new model, spearheaded by HBO, initially with the Larry Sanders show.

Essentially, where HBO was originally a movie streaming service, over the decades it built an unmatched stable of critically acclaimed original series such as The Sopranos, Band of Brothers, and even acquiring shows such as The Wire. There's a saying that "content is king", and despite recent elevation of shows on networks like FX and AMC, HBO has what is still probably the strongest package of such series. This is becoming even more important as the business model switches from access via cable to direct access via apps. (Disney & Apple are aggressively pursuing this via exclusive content, following the lead of Amazon and Netflix.)

Wrapping up Game of Thrones when viewer interest is at record levels is a very good business strategy:

‘Game of Thrones’ Returns to Record Ratings in Season 8 Premiere (NYT)

‘Game Of Thrones’ Battle Of Winterfell Hits All-Time Series & HBO Viewership High (Deadline)

Game of Thrones ratings down slightly from premiere, still stupid high (winteriscoming.net)

HBO's wrapping up of the series falls under the showbiz axiom of "Always leave them wanting more."

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