HBO's Game of Thrones returns on Sunday for its eighth and final season, but instead of the more normal 10 episodes the series enjoyed for Seasons 1-6 or even the seven episodes that populated Season 7, this final season will only consist of six episodes to wrap up the saga. For showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss, it's just the right number of episodes for the story, but it turns out that the network would have been quite happy with many more.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the showrunners revealed that HBO was prepared to give them the resources they needed financially to pull of the final season -- and would have happily paid for more.
"Yes. To their credit, they put their money where their mouths are — literally stuffed their mouth full of million-dollar bills which don’t exist anymore," Weiss said regarding previous comments that they had considered doing the final season as movies. "They said, 'We’ll give you the resources to make this what it needs to be, and if what it needs to be is a summer tentpole-size spectacle in places, then that’s what it will be.'"
"HBO would have been happy for the show to keep going, to have more episodes in the final season," Benioff said. "We always believed it was about 73 hours, and it will be roughly that. As much as they wanted more, they understood that this is where the story ends."
The idea that Game of Thrones -- at least the television show version -- simply concludes at the end of Season 8's six episodes is one that fans have come to accept, but it's one that franchise creator author George R.R. Martin himself questioned last fall.
"I don't know," Martin explained last year at the Emmys. "Ask David [Benioff] and Dan [Weiss] when they come through. We could have gone to 11, 12, 13 seasons, but I guess they wanted a life.”
As Martin went on to explain, he believes that the series omitted quite a lot of content from his original novels, which would have theoretically helped the show carry on.
“If you’ve read my novels, you know there was enough material for more seasons." Martin added. "They made certain cuts, but that’s fine."
It's a sentiment Martin still maintains, though that's partly because he's still writing the books and there are additional Game of Thrones shows in development.
“I don’t think it should be the final season. But here we are,” Martin told THR. “It seems to me we just started last week. Has it been longer than that? The time has passed by in a blur. But it’s exciting. I know it’s an end, but it’s not much of an end for me. I’m still deep in writing the books. We saw five other sequel shows in development. I think I’m going to be hanging around Westeros while everyone else has left. [Laughs].”
Game of Thrones returns April 14th