Are There Any Perfect Options for Ending 'Game of Thrones'?
film / tv / lists / guides / news / love / celeb / video / think pieces / staff / podcasts / web culture / politics / dc / snl / netflix / marvel / cbr

Are There Any Perfect Options for Ending 'Game of Thrones'?

By Brian Byrd | Think Pieces | May 7, 2014 | Comments ()

Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 12.08.01 PM.png

Among television’s burning questions - How will True Detective follow its fantastic first season? Can Mad Men stick the landing? Who misprogrammed the animatronic carnival ride robot that is Colin Jost? - no subject is riper for examination than what will happen with Game of Thrones in the next two years.

Much has been written about the idea that Game of Thrones may eventually run out of narrative blacktop. What’s less discussed, however, is the next logical step: what is HBO, George R.R. Martin, David Benioff, and D.B Weiss going to do about the problem? And depending on what the group decides, what are the ramifications?

Even now, speculation around Thrones’ future naively maintains a goblet-half-full outlook. The show’s principals are all aware that their version of the story is approaching a potential crisis point. Like a man building a chalet on the slope of an active volcano, however, they refuse to acknowledge that the danger is both immediate and inevitable.

This is Martin to EW back in March: “I think the odds against that happening are very long. I still have a lead of several gigantic books. If they include everything in the books, I don’t think they’re going to catch up with me. If they do, we’ll have some interesting discussions.”

HBO president Michael Lombardo, in the same article: “I finally understand fans’ fear - which I didn’t a couple years ago: What if the storytelling catches up to the books? Let’s all hope and pray that’s not going to be a problem.”

Hoping and praying isn’t a plan. God is too busy ensuring that certain athletes win big playoff games to work this particular problem. Pretending that Martin can release a pair of currently unfinished 1,000-page books by 2016 (when production would need to begin on the seventh season) is a ludicrous, delusional exercise. Fans, HBO, Benioff, and Weiss should acknowledge that the show surpassing Martin’s novels is now a matter of when, and proceed accordingly.
Here’s what we know:

  • HBO and the showrunners think seven seasons is the appropriate length for the series

  • Martin no longer dismisses the idea that the show will overtake the books, although neither he nor the producers would “be happy” if the series divulged key plot points before the novels hit shelves

  • There is currently no release date for Winds of Winter, the sixth of a presumed seven books in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series

  • Benioff and Weiss know how the story ends in broad strokes

  • HBO just renewed Game of Thrones through season six

  • Initial contracts locked the main actors in for either five or six seasons

  • The child actors are growing older (and Leon is getting larrrrrrrrrrrger)

    A quick rundown reveals some incongruities. The showrunners want this to wrap by 2017 … but sixth and seventh books don’t have publish dates. None of the decision-makers want major plot points to appear on screen before readers get their thrill…yet HBO has three (maybe four) more years to adapt four 1,000-plus-page books. Thoughts on this, Redman?


    HBO doesn’t lack options; the network is merely missing palatable ones. The different elements in play — show fans, book fans, actors, showrunners, and revenue — are in often mutually exclusive. Devising a solution that pleases all parties is akin to playing tilt ball with a dozen marbles and no walls. Angle the board one way and few balls may disappear down the hole. But far more will find their way to the floor. Then your cat comes along, chokes on one, and dies. THANKS OBUMMER!


    Further limiting HBO’s options is the show’s incredible popularity. Antiquated Nielsen ratings can read a newspaper and get off my lawn. With Breaking Bad out to pasture and True Detective parked in the garage without insurance, there isn’t another series capable siphoning interest, eyeballs, and pageviews from multiple quadrants. Websites that don’t even cover television dedicate bandwidth to recaps and updates. People watch, people discuss, people argue about rape. HBO can’t afford to alienate fans of their flagship series, yet picking a path that’s best for the story and its creator may do just that.

    Laid out below are the five most likely options available to HBO. None are perfect.

    Scenario: HBO moves forward before Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring are published; the show ends its run in spring 2017.

    The landscape: Undoubtedly the preferred option for everyone on HBO’s side of the ledger. The pay-cable outlet would be the only place both readers and viewers can learn how the story ends (Winds of Winter will probably hit bookstores Amazon before 2016, but the final novel stands no shot), guaranteeing a massive audience and a huge pop-culture footprint. HBO also avoids potentially messy contract disputes and the child-actor aging problem. Spoilers vanish like Robert’s bastards. With a finite timeline and higher ratings, budgets soar to $90-$100 million per season.

    On the other hand, the author and creative godfather has to watch his life’s work unfold in a different medium. But Martin is a savvy operator who admits being dialed into fan feedback. He could alter plot points and change several character arcs (perhaps with urging from Random House) so the books progress and conclude in ways that diverge greatly from their televised cousin. Arguments over canon and aggrieved publishers aside, this option seems the least likely to create major upheaval.

    Scenario 2: HBO mandates that new seasons of the show won’t contain any unpublished material.

    The landscape: Random House, Martin, and book readers take turns consensually jerking each other off. HBO accountants write “KILL THE MASTERS” on the walls of their cubes in blood and openly talk mutiny. This option preserves novel-television story continuity and pleases Martin but transfers a tremendous logistical and public relations burden onto HBO’s shoulders. The network has to find a way to sustain interest in a shelved show while at the same time quelling fan animosity. Key actors may not have the desire to commit to the series indefinitely, setting up snake pits where characters integral to the story’s conclusion can’t or won’t return. Meanwhile, Maisie Williams and Isaac Hempstead Wright continue aging at the standard human rate.

    Taking an 18-24 month break with a guarantee that the show will return uninterrupted for the remainder of its run might be enough to stem the angry tide. And the buzz could be bigger than insects in Texas if the show’s return is timed to coincide with the novel’s release. The risks far outweigh the gains from HBO’s perspective, though. It’s extremely difficult to imagine them going this route absent major pressure from Martin and his publisher.

    Scenario 3: HBO puts the show on hiatus until the final two books are published; fills the downtime with a flashback miniseries.

    The landscape: One of the more interesting differences between the novels and the series is Benioff and Weiss’ decision to eschew flashbacks. Martin frequently travels into the past to bridge storytelling gaps and flesh out Westerosi history. Should HBO decide grant Martin the time to finish his final two books, the tradeoff could include the rights to tales such as Robert’s Rebellion (which the network currently doesn’t own). Who wouldn’t like to see Ned Stark and Robert Baratheon return to the screen alongside Jamie Lannister, Tywin Lannister and some legendary whispered-but-not-seen characters like the Mad King and Rhaegar Targaryen? Absent that, HBO could opt to make five two-hour episodes each focusing on a major event - the Doom of Valyria, the War of Conquest, the Long Night, the Wildling Invasion, and the First Men invading Westeros.

    This path alleviates fan grumbling and prevents the series from going dark altogether but does nothing to address actor contracts or the aging problem. Furthermore, HBO would have to dedicate a full season’s budget ($70-$100 million) to bring these stories to life.

    Scenario 4: HBO takes the series as far as it can go without revealing major plot points and calls it quits; saves the rest for a movie that premieres the month the books release.

    The landscape: This is Littlefinger-esque chaos ladder. The benefits are obvious from HBO’s position - they can maintain the rights and finish the story while pulling in $14 a ticket. Shooting a pair of three-hour films as early as next year frees the actors and showrunners to quickly move onto other projects while saving HBO from potentially protracted contract negotiations. Martin and Random House win too - they maintain their storytelling lead and vacuum up dollars from those who don’t want to wait for the theater.

    It’s not all gravy though. Does HBO shoot the films now with the actors under contract and hold them for three to four years? Will the Winds of Winter film debut with its literary companion while A Dream of Spring waits in a vault for years? How does HBO keep a lid on spoilers with 200+ people working on a major motion picture? Condensing a 40-character, 1,000-plus-page book into a three-hour film may not even be possible. And if Benioff and Weiss somehow find a way, what type of quality erosion is HBO willing to trade for increased revenues? Expanding a world from film to television is one thing. The opposite is quite another entirely.

    Scenario 5: HBO pumps the narrative breaks and extends the series until Martin finishes his saga.

    The landscape: Enjoy 15-page descriptions of food? Then you’ll love 15-minute tracking shots of peasant slaves preparing meals for a royal banquet. Like going on hiatus, this option dumps all the feces-covered issues — actor contracts, actor aging, fan retention, nebulous endpoint - onto HBO’s doorstep with the added bonus of shelling out $150-$200 million to create content while Martin writes. HBO can’t exactly claim poverty — they’ll almost certainly earn a massive profit even with increased FX budgets and actor salaries — but storytelling quality is a real concern. The current season has arguably aired two table-setting episodes in the first five weeks and it’s pulling material from the most plot-rich book in the series. “A Feast For Crows” and “A Dance of Dragons” add a slew of new characters and settings at the expense of things like “excitement.” If HBO has to string these two novels out over three seasons, the showrunners better exercise some creative freedom or risk compromising quality…and fan interest.

    Bottom line: HBO is a television network. They’ve purchased the rights to these stories and characters and are under no obligation to adjust timelines to please Martin, Random House, or book readers. The network should act within reason to protect a tale that Martin has painstakingly fashioned over the last 15 years, but if the author cannot complete his saga before HBO needs to make a decision then moving forward into uncharted territory appears to be the least treacherous path. In Game of Thrones, that’s about as good as it gets.

    Brian Byrd is a prolific tweeter of subpar tweets. Follow him on Twitter.

    Movie 'Fargo' Fantastically Intersected with TV 'Fargo' Last Night | Jon Hamm Recalls His 'Soul Crushing' Early Work in Soft Porn And His Now Famous Prom Date

  • Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

    • Really, they should have just done a prequel to begin with, and had the war of Robert Rebellion. No need to differ from the books, no need to fluff material, able to focus on a smaller cast of central characters, and no need to worry about substantive spoilers from the book readers (unless you count, "Robert Wins and then is a sucky king" as a spoiler).

    • ferryman

      Either Martin stops expressing his fondness of meals (Brown eels, brown ale, brown bread, browned venison, brown betty, brownies...) in his writing, or HBO starts expressing his fondness of meals in the show.
      Either way one or the other would work to sync up the two nicely, but may God help us all if both are instituted!

    • Fabius_Maximus

      Another (ideal) scenario: Martin already finished "The Winds of Winter" and is working on the last book. The publisher just holds back publishing the books until before the related seasons are broadcasted.

    • Souprcrackers

      In my mind, I imagine a conversation next year in which GRRM admits to HBO finally that he will not finish the books in time. I imagine the room filled with low lighting and drawn curtains to maintain an artificial sense of dread as an HBO executive asks everyone, in an almost placid tone, to leave the room. As the door finally closes on the last suit, the congenial executive looks up from his chair at the end of the boardroom and gives this speech.

      "You have messed with the primordial aspects of human nature Mr Martin! In drama, since the Greeks first made logic out of the irrationality of the universe, it has been known that catharsis requires closure. Without closure we are left with something else, something real, something unfulfilling, something unprofitable!"

      "We have spent every dollar, ruble, rupee, euro, pound, and yin in our immense possession to give your imagination life! We have crossed continents and destroyed the relics of civilizations to show a goddam dragon fly above the Pyramids of Meereen. We have entertained the world on a level that has only previously been attained by Eurovision and the Superbowl!"

      "But to properly entertain the masses, we require closure. We require Dany to reach Kings Landing! We require Tyrion to drink all the wine in the Arbor! We require Bran to get an actual plot and Jon Snow to kill every White Walker with a flaming sword! But most of all...most of all Mr. Martin...we require Arya to kill everyone in King's Landing!"

      "These are not simple requests, Mr. Martin. These are demands from the Gods of literature and art! These are the demands of the masses who believe that closure is important and real and permanent and beautiful. These are the demands of the thousands of people and millions of dollars dependent on your vision!"

      "Money...Mr. Martin...Money is the one true constant of all life and existence. Money is what makes life and art and catharsis possible. And money is what we have, its what we want, and its what the world is throwing at us each passing day your story is put on the screen! Money is not something you squander on artistic license or postmodern appeals to uncertainty and truth. Money is is held like one holds their newborn infant when they take that first breath of life! But like that newborn's first breath, it means nothing if growth does not spring from that first breath!"

      As the executive slowly crosses the boardroom, his face is suddenly covered by the shadows of the room around him. His slow pace only increases the tension as Mr. Martin looks up with awe at the father of his new, reborn, corporate television existence. The executive then slowly puts his hand on George R.R. Martin's shoulder and almost whispers into his ear.

      "You have a new purpose Mr. Martin. I have found a man to help you in your quest for closure and catharsis."

      Slowly, from behind Mr. Martin, Brandon Sanderson enters the room with a 3000 page manuscript. As he lays the tome down upon the table, Mr. Martin takes a look down and sees the title on the front of the mass of paper. "The Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring by George R. R. Martin" is written in basic Times New Roman script on the front.

      "Help me bring your new vision life, Mr. Martin."

      And scene. For inspiration, imagine the above being played like the youtube clip below from the movie Network.

      Ned Beaty-HBO Executive

      Peter Finch-GRRM

    • MrONegative

      No snarky rape comments....Am I in the right place?

    • kuzefra

      I think HBO should plot an "alternate universe" for the final couple seasons. Forge a new path that is similar but not GRRM's ending to the unfinished books. They could slow down to 6 episodes a year if they have trouble. Then, they could film a movie that dramatizes the final book if all the actors and right-issues are still on board.

    • MrONegative

      That would be so damn illegitimate to force fans to "complete" the story at a theater near you. No movie to end it.

    • kuzefra

      It worked for Star Trek.

    • MrONegative

      What? Stop it. Star Trek was cancelled for a decade, got hype in reruns, the cast all went their separate ways and couldn't be bother to do another series, so they put together the movie.

      A decade later.

      Everyone pays for HBO...right? And every nerd thinks the world revolves them and their mentality, is everyone's. No...parents and grandparents what GoT. It's more or less the biggest show on the planet right now. To put the ending in theaters only would insult all of the fans, except the very few hardcore nerds.

    • kuzefra

      How about a movie that premiers on HBO? The Home Box Office showing movies for once.

      That's not even my point. I wanted to talk about the "alternate universe" Benioff and Weis could build. Like Daenaris getting to Westeros and teaming up with Jon Snow or the rapid spread of the Lord of Light worship.

    • MrONegative

      "How about a movie that premiers on HBO?"

      You just described the show.

      "That's not even my point. I wanted to talk about the "alternate universe" Benioff and Weis could build."

      Sure. We can have an all whitewalker version of the end of the show. Then a 'what if' for Ned living, or Stannis winning the battle or Robb beating the Lannisters or Drogo never dying.

      Those could all happen...

      That just sounds like really expensive fanfiction.

    • MrONegative

      What's wrong with you?

      Star Trek was cancelled and gone for a decade. It got so popular in reruns, and none of the cast wanted to do a TV show again, so they made the movie.

      GoT is already film quality and it's insanely popular. Most fans would feel shortchanged if they owned HBO and had to go to a theater to finish watching their TV show.

    • stryker1121

      Pausing the show for GRRM to finish the books is of course impossible. A Dream of Spring will likely not be released before the decade's out at Georgie boy's current pace. It's a rather fascinating problem from a fan's standpoint - don't know how HBO can solve it besides just going on with the show.

    • Maddy

      Am I the only book reader not really that interested in the show after this season? I only ever really wanted them to get to the end of ASOS, after that I'm not sure the book plotlines really lend themselves as well to TV (although I'm assuming they're going to be making some pretty big changes)

    • Maddy

      They're already moving into Feast/ Dance territory. Dany is already in Meereen. They're going to be at the end of those 2 books by season 5 since I imagine they're going to cut out a lot of the worldbuilding (but if they cut Dorne I will be SO PISSED)

    • Maddy

      I've just come to accept it as inevitable that the show is going to outpace the books at this point. Which sucks but it's more the fault of GRRM than HBO (I'm not one of those people who think it's OK to constantly harass him about his writing speed, he should take as much time as he needs, but in this particular instance he has dug his own grave). I actually don't think it's that important that the kids are ageing at this point - it was important for the earlier seasons but not really something that bothers me.

      I would love if they put the show on hiatus and did a Dunk and Egg miniseries or something, but no way is that happening. The show is too much of a success for them to do that.

    • stryker1121

      Please don't use the phrase 'dug his own grave' in relation to GRRM. Heaven forfend!

    • Maddy

      That is super awkward. Don't die GRRM (and not just because I want you to finish the books, because you seem like a cool dude)

    • Hard Little Machine

      Never seen the show but they should definitely merge it with Glee.

    • Cheetahdriver

      The very first thing that most are worried about (but only whispering under their breath) is if Martin dies. For one who read "The Gunslinger" the week it came out, waiting TWENTY TWO years for the Dark Tower series to finish was bad enough (Thirty years if you count "The Wind Through the Keyhole"). Add in Stephen King getting nailed by a mini-van while walking down the road and very nearly dying, and we were all biting our nails.

      If HBO doesn't already have some sort of contractual agreement in the event of Martin's death with the estate, I would be surprised.

    • APOCooter

      The story is first a foremost a series of fantasy novels. Any even that isn't GRRM finishing the books first is wrong. I love the show, but I don't give a shit about HBO; anything that involves the TV show finishing the stories before the books is a travesty.

    • Laszlo

      It's the other way around, the travesty would be if they were able to finish it, but they refuse to just so they won't offend GRRM's ego or whatever. Their responsibility is to the viewers first.

    • APOCooter

      I know exactly what HBO's responsibility and desires are. Maybe this is a better way to phrase it: there is going to be a battle between GRRM and HBO over who gets to finish the story. I just hope GRRM wins.

    • I understand the sentiment, but put yourself in HBO's shoes. You've invested a minimum quarter of a BILLION dollars in this franchise between rights, marketing, and production costs. What would you propose that they do? Should they absorb potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue losses just to protect book readers and Random House? There's no real right answer to this question and I hate to ever tell creative types that they need to move faster, but this is a dilemma mostly of Martin's doing. To ask HBO to bail him out seems like a major ask.

    • APOCooter

      " Should they absorb potentially hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue losses just to protect book readers and Random House?"


      I'm well aware that I'm a snooty book reader. I don't care. I care about the integrity of the books, first and foremost, and I think that is compromised if HBO finishes the series before the books are released.

      I'd be willing to bet that while HBO has invested a quarter billion dollars in the show, they've gotten that back and more. I have a hard time feeling sympathy for them when they're still making a profit. And even if we do concede that this is a dilemma mostly of GRRM's doing, HBO had to recognize that this delemma was a possibility, regardless of it's chances at the time the deal was inked. To not have a contingency plan for it is THEIR own doing.

    • lowercase_ryan

      Scenario 1 is the only really plausible one of the bunch, in my opinion. Seriously, anyone considering stalling/postponing/delaying the TV show in order to give Martin a chance to finish the books is just high. You would be crazy to bet that kind of money that he's going to finish them by a certain date. He doesn't give a shit about deadlines and he certainly isn't about to put out something abridged.

      The show and the books need to go their separate ways. They've been mostly one and the same up until this season, but we've seen that they're willing to change things so just go for it. Let the TV writers do their thing and let Martin do his. It could actually spur book sales. Then in 6-7 years make a movie according to GRRM's end to the saga. We'd all pay to see it.

    • Laszlo

      Nah, they don't seem to be going for any significant changes. All their big changes so far were shit that don't really have a long term effect on the big picture. They seem to have quite some insider information, I'm fairly sure they'll do the same as the books.
      And the movie idea is just absurd, they can barely fit shit into ten hours, movies just aren't enough, not even a LotR/Hobbit style giant trilogy.

    • lowercase_ryan

      so you think it makes sense to pause the show for him to finish the books?

    • Laszlo

      Hell no, I've already said, they'll just go on with what they know, which seems to be quite a lot, there's no need to deliberately change or pause. It's just a flawed idea that the books have to be the first to show the "real" ending.

    • John W

      My concern is that the show will have one ending and the book will have another.

      There's already been countless changes made in the show, the biggest one probably being the scene between Cersei and Jaime.

      The show also has a propensity for omitting characters (Strong Belwas, Vargo Hoat) and inserting others (Karl, Locke) made specifically for the show.

    • "My concern is that the show will have one ending and the book will have another."

      Isn't that pretty a damn enticing scenario, though?

    • John W

      Not for me. I'm one of those kind of people. You know, we go by many names, jerks, pedants, but mostly we go by the name: purists.

      My mantra has always been: If you're going to make changes to the source material why adapt it in the first place?

      If you're building a house and the blueprints call for an 8 foot wall that's what you build.

    • Bananaranma

      You change it when you have to. They're just different media and function differently.

      GRRM tells a story from his Twilight Zone days when he adapted Roger Zelazny's Last Defender of Camelot. He scripted it very faithfully with a climactic jousting scene at Stonehenge.

      The producer sat him down and asked, "So do you want the horses or the Henge?"


      "Well, we need to make the model Henge out of paper molding. Very light and they would need to be on a sound stage so as not to blow around. But the horses couldn't be indoors. So it's one or the other."

      They ended up picking Stone Henge.

      The books can make Berristan Selmy's ID a secret because you're relying on Martin's descriptions. In the show everyone would recognize him immediately. Hell, you'd recognize his voice.

      You need to make changes from things that work in one medium but not another.

    • These are adaptations, not recreations. If my contractor builds a dick-shaped pool in the backyard when I SPECIFICALLY ASKED FOR IT TO BE SHAPED LIKE KATE UPTON'S RACK, I feel he has done me a disservice. If showrunners decide to make narrative changes when adapting something from a different medium, I'm inclined to let them be.

      I certainly understand your position and I'd rather have the books and show sync up pretty closely. But I'm also a very big supporter of the changes Benioff and Weiss have made so far (huge rape fan, in case you haven't heard) and wouldn't mind seeing them take divergent paths to similar endpoints. The comparisons alone would be fascinating.

    • John W

      "If they include everything in the book. I don’t think they’re going to catch up with me."

      Yeah, about that...

    • Maddy

      Oh GRRM, you are in denial

    • Yocean

      I heard rumors about movies but I thought it would be like flash back movies, like about Robert's Rebellion that would explain and flesh out a lot of what's going on now, with it's own flash backs to Blackfyre Revolt, Longest Night etc. I would watch those like candy.

    • JoeK

      "Winds of Winter will probably hit bookstores/Amazon before 2016"

    • MrONegative

      It's like a practical joke. George has no creative discipline. He did laps around the planet enjoying this newfound fame and let the book be something he'd find time to touch on.

    • stryker1121

      I think summer 2015 is a possibility. If I remember correctly GRRM announced ADWD as finished maybe four months before release.

    • JoeK

      A Dance with Dragons came out in 2011, was 1056 pages long and took six years to complete, and that was before HBO and screenwriting and press junkets.

      Martin has said each of the last two books will be at least 1500 pages. I'm terrible at math, but I'd say the chances of Winds of Winter hitting shelves in 2015 are both slim and fat.

    • stryker1121

      Martin knows he needs to pick up the pace, and maybe those press junkets will remind him that HBO is catching up. Or maybe I'm a hopeless optimist..

    • mzbitca

      This whole this is fascinating in that the first 3 seasons and most of the 4 is split between people experiencing the world for the first time and those that love the world seeing it brought to life. Now we are going to start seeing everyone being on the same page but where each group has different levels of investment (read book readers having years and years of discussing and theorizing): Plus the question of "was this Martin's idea or D&D's that will be discussed at length every time something happens that book readers don't like. It's going to make the internet a very very interesting place

    • Guest

      I'm hoping they go the Deadwood route. Randomly ending the show with hanging plot threads and leaving it's status in the air until a couple of years pass before eventually killing it.

      Because that didn't hurt (and at least people won't be b*tchin about how it ends).

    • Guest

      From the reactions the show has gotten this season, I'd actually be morbidly okay with that.

    • foolsage

      Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! Oh God not again.

    • chebyshov

      Unless they go with option A they will need to recast the children. There's just no way around it. And based on the "bottom line," option A seems the likeliest. We're already getting TWOW spoilers. And despite next season covering AFFC/ADWD, we're going to be dipping into TWOW stories with some characters that are already past where they're supposed to be in ASOS or don't have much AFFC/ADWD content (i.e. Bran, Brienne, maybe Sansa who's material gets thin, etc.).

      At this point, the best we can hope for is TWOW being out before next season's start (unlikely), but odds are parts of TWOW will be spoiled, and all of ADOS will be as well.

    • bardgal

      The kids are fine aging, considering where their stories go in the next two books.

    • Sean

      First, Winds of Winter will be published before 2016. I wouldn't be surprised to see it under many a X-mas tree this year,despite what Martin says. He is a tease, clearly enjoying playing games with us. He keeps releasing chapters to tease us.

      Next, they really can't fill space with the next two books. Those books were mostly filler. Could have easily been 1 book. I can't imagine 2 seasons of the stuff in those books. That stuff will be season 5. Season 6 will be Winds of Winter. Then...I really don't know.

      Finally...the casting of the kids. That is the biggest problem. Massie is supposed to be 11-12 right now. She clearly looks her real age 16/17. Sophie is supposed to be 14-15. Not the gorgeous curvy 18 year old she is. THe boys are even worse. Bran probably has to be recast. He looks like he is in his early 20s.

    • "Next, they really can't fill space with the next two books. Those books were mostly filler. "

      Maybe. We have no idea what matters to the endgame. Benioff and Weiss do, though. That's another risk HBO runs if Martin can't publish soon -- if certain characters from the novels fail to appear onscreen, we can reasonably assume they aren't relevant to the overarching plot. Which is essentially a spoiler.

      As for the kids, viewers would revolt (but probably still watch) if they recast Maisie Williams. I think they could get away with swapping new actors for Bran and Sansa. Not Arya.

    • Tinkerville

      I highly doubt we'll see anyone recast. At this point I think the show is essentially letting go of what their ages are supposed to be and are simply allowing them to be aged up. There's been no mention in the show of what the characters ages are in a long time and I'm sure that' because they're aware they can't suspend anyone's disbelief that much. The actors are far too good in their roles and recasting would lead to too much confusion. Their ages aren't actually integral to the plot when it comes down to it.

    • Maddy

      Agreed. It's not a big deal. They did have Sansa say she was 14 last season though. I can't be bothered to be nitpicky about how much time passes in the show anymore, it's all over the place.

    • bardgal

      There's enough material, especially if they invent more fun filler for the characters who can handle it - besides Arya, Bran, Brienne, and Sansa need some added adventures in the next two seasons.

      Bran/Isaac is fine considering where his story goes, as are Arya and Sansa. No one needs to be recast.

    • Judge_Snyder

      If HBO had the stones to do it they could finish producing all the story using the current cast and just sit on the final couple of series until the books catch up. Plenty of opportunity to fill the gaps with backstory and miniseries in the meantime.

    • MrONegative

      People will age and move on and sign up for new projects that suddenly might conflict. You might be able to lock in the bigger characters, but look at what happened to Daario and The Mountain. Watch that happen en masse to the supporting characters whose profiles were all raised by being on this show.

      Not to mention Sansa, Arya, Bran, Jojen and Meera will all, very obviously, have grown much older in that time.

      They started making this show in 2007, when GRRM said book 5 would be coming out that year or early next, with the 6th of 7 a few years later. They never could've guessed that this year (2007) or early next for book 5 really meant 2011. Or that they'd have the 5th season filmed before the 6th book was even released.

      This isn't their fault. It's George's. He convinced them that story was 5/7 done, 4 years before the TV show even aired, and that it'd be just about finished before they even got halfway through the story. I guess he just assumed there'd be 2 or 3 seasons a book, and lived happily with no deadlines up until now.

    • Judge_Snyder

      You misunderstand me. I'm saying film them now. Complete the story, The actors can then go off and do other stuff (like age) to their hearts content whilst HBO has the finished series ready for release whenever GRRM catches up.

    • MrONegative

      Ah. That's...actually worse?

      It's GRRM. He doesn't do deadlines. He never has and he never will. And the show has been a freight train, gaining millions of viewers every single season. And they're not sitting on a moneypile. They have creditors to fund their projects. I don't think that HBO could possibly afford to spend, what? $120M+ or hell, maybe even $200M on the final seasons of GoT, and just wait years before they even try to get their money back. Years where the show can sit and depreciate, and have the hype die down.

      And then, otop of that, spend tens of millions on brand new prequel series, for what? So that a guy who couldn't make a deadline if his life depended on, can finish writing and publishing a book he promised you would be mostly done the better part of a decade earlier. A book which may or may not disappoint the fans, or worse, cheapen and invalidate what YOU did on your adaptation that's now being spoiled to remove its immediacy.

      And there's no promises that he won't suddenly be inspired to go different directions that you didn't in that time?

      Yea, never. They cancelled Rome and Deadwood out of fear that they couldn't recoup their money from the huge production costs. There's a reason they wait so long to renew a show. They need to KNOW they got their money's worth and that they audience is there to get their money back immediately.

      There's no way out of this. This is going to happen.

    • Imagine when key plot points leak, though (and they will leak). All parties involved lose without reaping a single benefit. At least with some of the other scenarios a few groups see some gains.

    • Guest

      Wut? So it's only okay when most people (non-book readers) lose, but not all (as if losing = having to watch the show for new information).

    • lowercase_ryan

      I don't follow this at all.

    • foolsage

      That's one of the two best outcomes, I think.

      Best of all would be for George to finish the books before the show catches up, but... yeah. That does not look likely at all.

      I'd also be happy if they finished the series off then sat on the remainder until the books came out, provided George was under contract to finish the damned things within a couple more years. Failure to publish in time would trigger releasing the episodes. Basically, I think the last seasons could be delayed, but not too long. It'd be best if the interim were filled with more Westeros stuff, whether that be prequels or alternate stories there or whatever. This would allow fans to continue our attachment to the world, and would keep interest in the show up, even during a downtime.

      Again, though, time is the enemy here. Fans simply won't wait indefinitely for the finish of the show.

    • janeite1900

      My thought exactly: film the end, sit on it until GRRM releases the other books, fill the interim with Robert's Rebellion and Dunk and Egg.

      Oh, and before releasing the sat upon seasons, do hugely hyped marathons of the previous episodes. That was obvious, though.

    • foolsage

      That would be fabulous. I'd also add the Doom of Valyria and the Long Night to the list of things I'd love to see onscreen, as Brian proposed. Maybe also Aegon's Landing.

    • Laszlo

      There's no way they would be able to avoid leaks in that case. Even basic information would be spoilerish, like where the various actors are filming.

    • Judge_Snyder

      They've done a good job of keeping a lid on a few big plot points (from a viewer perspective at least). I just don't see the TV series getting ahead of the books as a viable option.

    • Laszlo

      The mentality would be completely different this time. We've already got people getting sneaky set photos and noticing the first signs of castings, how do you think it would be if there's actual new clues about the books nobody knows to be gained from it.
      Really, all these ideas are silly, in the end there probably aren't too many people who would refuse to watch the rest until reading it first, they probably won't give a fuck about them and just go ahead.

    • stryker1121

      Agreed...the viewership is gargantuan. How many of those viewers have read the series from cover to cover?

    • foolsage

      It's a problem, agreed. There are a number of ways to address that though, from press blackouts on- and near-set to deliberately releasing disinformation.

    • bardgal

      As much as I would hate the break in momentum, and as much as I want a prequel, it's not a bad idea.

    • Kate

      I really do wonder what possessed HBO to start production when it was obvious they'd hit this wall at a certain point. I mean, I'm glad we have the show now, with these actors, but from HBO's pov I don't get why they didn't just hold off a couple of years and save themselves a huge headache.

    • Tinkerville

      Probably because they had no way of knowing whether it would have been a "couple of years" or much, much longer. Remember that it was about six years in between Feast for Crows and Dance With Dragons. If it ended up taking as long for the last two, that's over a decade. It was an interesting move on HBO's part, but given that they were able to get George himself involved in the process and undoubtedly put deals in place in the contracts with him to address the issue, it wasn't a bad business strategy at all. And really, it's more of a huge headache for the fans of the series than it is for HBO, who with the notes from Martin in hand, will know exactly what to do.

    • chebyshov

      They made this deal back in 2006. The first 4 books were out (AFFC had just come out in 2005), and the publication of the first 3 books were within 3 years of each other. AFFC was 5 years after ASOS, but people attributed that to Martin getting rid of his "time jump" that he had planned (it was originally going to be 2 trilogies with 5 years separating their events).

      No one was predicting that it would take 6 years for ADWD to come out, and that 3 years later, no word on a relase for TWOW. Martin clearly has writer's block and is struggling to finish up. But at the time production began, everyone assumed Book 5 was around the corner, giving ample time for 6 and 7 to be released while the series was running in its first few seasons.

    • bardgal

      And I'm sure they thought that picking up the series would give GRRM some amazing motivation to finish too....

    • A lot depends on when TWoW publishes. If it comes out next year (3 years after ADWD), I could see how HBO extends the show 1 more season and that final year and ADoS both come out in 2018. If TWoW doesn't come out till 2016, forget it. HBO goes ahead and finishes it's show and Martin doesn't finish ASOIAF until 2022.

    • Scully

      Scenario 6: The Avengers Nerds Assemble. Team A will dig up and cut GRRM’s internet cable and cut his phone line. Team B will be GRRM’s cheer squad. Team C will be responsible for all meals (GRRM is forthwith under a strict Kale Smoothie Diet). Team D is enforcement (duties [exempt from the Geneva Conventions] to vary per daily needs). Annnnnnd, GO!

    • stryker1121

      Also need a team to hock calenders and figurines. Possibly another team to keep GRRM apprised of what the Jets are doing. This is going to get expensive!

    • bardgal

      I fully support this plan!

    • foolsage

      So... wait, George R.R. Martin IS our bitch? I get so confused with this topic. Neil Gaiman says one thing, then you say another...

    • Target_Blonde

      I really really really wish I had something as intelligent and pithy to say as other commentators are already doing but in truth I just keep playing the "Leon's getting laaaaaaaaaaaarger" clip over and over again.

      (Also I totally believe HBO and GRRM are going to go the way of Scenario 1. A Song of Fire and Ice has become such a massive cultural touchstone since the television show began, I honestly can't see it going any other way.)

    • vic

      If the show outruns the books - and it almost certainly will - I'm still up for reading them. They diverge a lot of places, so they are different enough experiences. In addition, what GRRM can do is write a bunch of things differently from how the show depicts or resolves things. Maybe an entirely different ending, even. That would be annoying, but it would ensure book readers get new things.

    • Target_Blonde

      Either way I'm reading the books as well, there's no question about that.

    • PDamian

      Well, if HBO and GRRM have to part narrative paths, and HBO's show ends one way and GRRM's books end another, at least there'll be a good excuse for a reboot a few years down the road. I can't imagine HBO would pass up an excuse to re-milk what's been a veritable cash cow. I'm not saying it'd be the best solution -- certain roles, like Tywin, Tyrion and Arya, are impossible for me to imagine without the faces of Charles Dance, Peter Dinklage and Maisie Williams -- and it'll cause some fan opprobrium, but then again, it'll also give the fans something to chew on ("who do you like better as Tywin, Charles Dance or X?").

    • It seems inevitable the HBO series will finish things up way ahead. The book fans will still read when and if the final two are published. My fears are more that Martin will adjust to the television characters, instead of the series adjusting his writing. He's already spoken to expanding Osha's book role because he likes the actress. Benioff and Weiss will have no choice but to write with the knowledge Martin has given them about each character's endgame, so what then? Will Martin (if he lives long enough) write around that, or will he completely ignore how the series handles it and write his own way?Will Benioff co-write or help him finish? I'm sort of thinking they've already made a pact about that, in case something happens with Martin health-wise.

    • Maddy

      I REALLY don't want him to let the TV show affect his writing. I'm not a show hater, but they are two different things at this point.

    • BWeaves

      I sometimes wonder how much JK Rowling was influenced by the Harry Potter movies when she got around to writing her last few books. In particular, how much of Neville did she beef up, because of "damn, hot Neville?"

    • Emily Smith

      I think she said a lot of Luna was influenced by Evanna Lynch.

    • Maddy

      I think hot Neville was just a lucky coincidence (forever bitter about how much of Neville they cut out of the movies but that's a rant for another day)

    • BWeaves

      I'm forever bitter about how much of the Weasley twins they cut out of the movies. They were my favorite characters in the books.

    • mzbitca

      I know she said that she started to see Alan Rickman as Snape but I don't remember anything else

    • freetickles

      I've seen a lot of discussion about what will happen, though most of it was probably on I used to think GRRM had a shot, but I've come around to realize your scenario 1 is most likely, though if they do 8 seasons, and I give it 60% chance they do, it ends in 2018 meaning Winds of Winter will be out before they need to use a lot of material from it - or at least before that material airs. Everything from A Dream of Spring will air on the show before we read it, and yes I do think GRRM will be influenced by viewer reactions to the final couple of seasons. He has admitted he has already been influenced by the show (I think he said he's going to keep Osha more involved b/c he loves the actor). So I think it looks like this:

      Season 4 - 2nd half of ASOS, parts of AFFC/ADOS (we've already seen the Bran, Brienne and Reek stories go there)
      Season 5 - AFFC/ADOS
      Season 6 - Finish AFFC, begin WOW
      Season 7 - Finish WOW, begin ADOS
      Season 8 - Finish ADOS

    • bardgal

      Season 5 - AFFC/ADWD (fixed) :)

    • freetickles

      Yes - that was what I meant, and S6 would also include finishing ADWD.

    • Laszlo

      The only real option is to go on without any pause and use GRRM's notes, without giving a fuck about when the books come out. Maybe one year of hiatus is acceptable, the Sopranos and Mad Men did it as well, but no more.
      Also, why is making a prequel always mentioned in relation to this problem? I mean, they can do it if they decide to take a hiatus, but if it's so long that they need to worry about people forgetting about the show they're already fucked.

    • Sean Van Damme

      I think prequel only comes up because Spartacus did it with great success to try and give Andy Whitfield time to recover from cancer. But there it was one year, slowed them to bring back some dead fan favourites and there was more good will in the fan base of sick actor over slow writer.

    • freetickles

      Agree, not necessary - if the show takes a break, people will be salivating for its return during that 2 years or whatever

    • The Replicant Brooke

      "(and Leon is getting larrrrrrrrrrrger)"

      I love you so much right now.

    blog comments powered by Disqus