Every year since 2011, Game of Thrones has aired a season. Like clockwork, the show always arrived in April and aired for 10 episodes.
But this year is different. The show isn't arriving until July, and we're only getting seven installments.
Next year may be worse... because there may not be a next year.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss admitted though there will be a Season 8, and it is confirmed to be six episodes. Beyond that, they know nothing -- not even if it will air in 2018 or if HBO will push it back to 2019.
We honestly don't know yet. There's been a lot of back and forth about air dates. That's a long way off from being settled.
Though fans would likely go ballistic if there wasn't a season next year, HBO has good arguments on their side to wait until spring of 2019 to air the final six episodes. For one, it buys more time to get a follow-up show in place.
It's not like HBO has to worry about the ratings. No matter when it air Season 8, it will be guaranteed to be the largest ratings getting no matter what. That's the benefit of being the six-thousand-pound gorilla of television.
However, a major consideration for the final season is the Emmys. Game of Thrones is already the most decorated show ever in the history of the awards. HBO desperately wants the final season to be an awards-getter and go out with a bang, but airing the show in the summer works against that.
If it was to air Game of Thrones Season 8 in the spring of 2018, HBO would wind up with two seasons being eligible for the 2018 Emmys -- this one that's about to start, and the final season.
If HBO were to air Season 8 in July of 2018, it would have these amazing final six episodes... followed by Emmy trophies for Season 7. Not only would that confuse fans, but it would then be over a year before Season 8 would get their turn, by which time, everyone would have forgotten about the show.
Holding the final season until spring of 2019 solves all of that. Plus, they get to use the 2018 Emmys to help hype the final season and then get to end the show just as voting for the Emmys for that year wraps up, ensuring them maximum exposure just as everyone submits their votes.
Will Benioff and Weiss comply? Will be granted the extra time (and hopefully budget) to make those last six episodes spectacular enough to get them to agree? We'll find out when the deal is made.